Sunday, November 30, 2014

Still in Our Pajamas

Gobble, gobble friends and family,

The 4 Webbs were Lazy with a capital L and I am feeling more refreshed and peaceful than I've been in months.  Our vacations for the past 6 years with the twins have been epic.  I am grateful beyond words for the opportunities we have to travel and be with family.  I wouldn't change the experiences we've had together for anything in the world.

Kendra and I can't remember the last time the 4 of us spent 4 (or more) days in our own home with no work or school.  We've traveled for days and weeks at a time together, but I never realized the value of just being at home until now. This Thanksgiving we decided to stay at home for a change.  Partly financial as we recover fully from the busy summer, but also because we wanted to be together experiencing true rest and relaxation.  The only visitors we allowed into our house were Logan and Bree.  We slept in.  By "we" I mean Kendra and I.  Early bird Easton was up at the crack of dawn like he always is.  He woke up Layla early too because playing together is always more fun.

The rules of the house were very relaxed along with our general demeanor.  However, we don't allow green juice on the couch so they sat on the tile next to our real Christmas tree for a healthy start to the day.

TV watching was scarce, but we sat around a few times to watch documentary shows and Wild Kratts episodes.

Kendra threatened me if I posted this next pic to social media so I respected her boundaries.  However, the blog is much less visible and mostly for family, so here's my sweetheart in her leopard print onesie.  It was afternoon, by the way...

I woke up one morning to the sounds of the twins playing.  I shuffled towards Easton's room where the playtime action usually occurs.  The conversation coming from the room was humorous and I could tell it would be a good picture to capture.  I opened the door and snapped this one of their fort.  Notice Layla peeking out from the bottom edge of the blanket.

They were playing snakes.  I have no idea how they choose what kind of animal to be each day, but for some reason they decided being a snake would be fun.  They asked me to be the daddy snake, which I proudly accepted!  I crawled into their snake cave where they had a spot already designated as the daddy snake spot.  The part that made me most happy about this little scenario is how they had an expectation that daddy would come in and play with them in the snake cave.  Their default assumption is that daddy plays with them in their space.  That makes my heart proud!

Kendra had the bright idea of going to the next level of snakes in a cave playtime.  She said, "Layla, you should paint brother's face like a snake!"  They looked at each other with a glimmer of excitement and cheered their way to the toy closet where the water paints are located.  Layla did a great job for her first time painting a snake face.

Kendra gave Easton and I a haircut because we were getting shaggy.  Easton sat in the sink and did his best to stay still.  I would post a picture of me getting my haircut too, but I stripped down to my drawers and sat in the bathtub while Kendra sheared me like a sheep.  Not exactly a picture I want floating around on the internet.

We had a couple of more days worth of fun that I'll have to work on tomorrow.  I'm sick.  It's late.  Work tomorrow.  you know how it goes!  I can't believe December is here.  The weeks and months are starting to go by quicker and quicker all the time.

See you soon!

Friday, November 28, 2014

And Checking it Twice

Greetings friends and family,

The holidays are much more meaningful with kids around.  I didn't care much about the excitement of Halloween or Thanksgiving for a couple of decades between the age of my childhood and the twins coming into the age of interest.  All the crafts and parties and stories have been a real boost of joy for me to join the twins on their celebration of the holidays.

Layla wrote a story at school to demonstrate her skills of first, next, and last.  It's about an ice skater who is being mistaken for a Thanksgiving turkey.

We cuddled on the couch while she showed me her awesome cover picture and read the story to me in character.

I used a vacation day Wednesday, then added the work holidays on thursday and friday.   Add to that a rare "open" saturday with no soccer or church or work and that turns this into a 4-day lazy-a-thon.  Wednesday felt like Saturday and every day since then feels like Sunday.  I have these freak out moments where I think, "I should be at church!" even when I logically know what day it is.  I can't remember the last time the 4 Webbs spent 4 days straight at home with nothing to do but spend time together.  It's been amazing.

The twins wanted to write up their Christmas list so we went to the best place in town to window shop:  Toys R Us.  With pen and paper in hand we scoured the aisles for whatever trips their trigger.

Layla found several items I never even knew existed.  Hair chalk?  yes that is a thing.  When Layla saw it she squealed, "I've been wanting pink hair for my whole life!"  I didn't disagree with her either.  She was drawn towards the princess aisle.  Every dress and accessory she didn't have turned into the most important thing she wants to get.  You know how that goes...

The sunny day and plans for outdoor activity dictated the need for hats.  Easton and Layla wanted to wear the hats Papa gave them.  I wore my 10 year old Moab hat because it is the most comfortable hat in my closet.  It's more obvious with each passing day that I don't give a care about fashion or looking good for anyone except Kendra.

The plans for hiking turned into one-on-one time with Layla.  Easton has days where he is hyped up to go hiking and other days where we would rather stay in his room and play.  I gave Layla the choice of where to hike and she chose the peaks we always go on.  We only made it to the second peak because this was really just a warm up to ice skating right after our outdoor fun.  We climbed to the top and surveyed the city around us.  I sat for a moment with my eyes closed facing the sun.  Layla asked what I was doing.  I said, "just recharging my batteries!"  I explained how sometimes just a few minutes face to face with the sun feels so good.  Especially for a cube-dweller like myself who stays inside most days.

On our way down we hopped and skipped hand-in-hand.  Layla and I sing together all the time even when we are descending down the mountain.  As we passed other hikers they smiled and laughed because Layla's joy is simply contagious.  She asked to do a solo of the song, "Tomorrow" from the movie, Annie.  It was her polite way of saying, "just listen to me instead of singing along with me."  I agreed and decided to do a little lip sync video to go along with it.

for the past several nights Layla and I have been working on this song together as a duet.  other than the tap dancing, I think we're doing really well!  Now she calls me Daddy Warbucks occasionally and we both know exactly what she means based on this video clip.  

After the hike we went to the ice skating rink.  There was no class, but I didn't bother to check the schedule to find out.  Luckily, there was a freestyle hour for high-level ice skaters to practice.  I begrudgingly paid the extra dollars for her to skate.  Watching her practice on her own and do whatever moves she likes most was a good change of pace.  Instead of just doing what the instructors tell her each week she was able to do her own thing.

The only family we enjoyed (in person) this Thanksgiving was Kendra's brother Logan and his wife Bree.  Our feast was over the top for just the six of us, but we enjoyed the turkey, potatoes, pies and everything else just as if we were a group of 20 people.  I chose to keep this day as a "no picture" day for a couple of reasons.  We didn't do anything exciting and that was exactly what we desired.  kendra stayed in her pajamas until 4PM!  that means any picture of her would have been off limits to publish no matter how cute she looked.  The second reason is that I want that day to be just in our memories.  No posing, no multiple pictures to get one where nobody blinks, and no social media time taken away to post such pics.  

I'm not against any of that, but every once in a while I just shut it down completely and the 4 Webbs just "be".  I got to Skype with my mom and also Kendra's family.  They sat in front of their TV and we chatted it up with many of the aunts and uncles who attended Ouma and Oupa's Thanksgiving dinner.  

Just for fun I'm posting Easton and Layla's Christmas wish list.  I don't expect anyone who reads the blog to buy them anything, but it will be fun in a few years to look back and see what they desire most:

Easton and Layla:

The first link below has these kid-friendly hydration backpacks for $35 each and it’s possible to find them in stores for $50 at REI or sporting goods stores, but I can’t bring myself to pay retail.  This is the one thing I want them to have because we do so much adventuring and it’s time they start hauling their own drinks.

Camelbak Kid's Mini-M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack (blue for Easton, Raspberry for Layla)


For Easton, anything Titanic is a winner.  He has expensive tastes as you can see by the cost of the items he requested below, but these are just ideas. J  I plan to buy him the Cobi (Lego) titanic listed below unless someone speaks up quickly.  I know it’s really expensive, but if he only got that one thing this year he would be a happy boy. 

$100 - (like LEGO) Cobi 1913 RMS Titanic, White Star Line, Limited Edition, building bricks

$120 - LEGO Star Wars 75055 Imperial Star Destroyer Building Toy 

$70 - True Heroes Sentinel 1 Attack Submarine

$30 - Despicable Me Minion Dave Interactive Plush

$22 - LEGO Star Wars 75015 Corporate Alliance Tank Droid


Layla will enjoy anything related to Disney princesses.  She also likes some Hello Kitty things.  Layla also has lots of ice skating needs like a good set of ice skating gloves that are pink and water proof.

$14 – PINK Guard Dog Ice Skate Guards

$45 - Disguise Inc Girls Disney Aladdin Jasmine Classic Child Costume Blue Small

$13 - Disney Frozen Enchanting Dress - Elsa, 4-6X

$80 - Disney Princess: Vanity Table with Stool

$7 - Tara Toy Frozen Sticker Activity Fun Kit

$15 - Totally Me! Fashion Angels Hair Chox Plus Accessories Kit

$31 - Disney Princess Merida Bow and Arrow Set

$20 - Hello Kitty KT3098 Glitter Glow Lamp

$60 - Hello Kitty Train Case

$12 - Artistic Studios Disney Princess Lock Box with Diary

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Turkey Trotting

Happy Thanksgiving friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are DONE with Christmas decorations before turkey day.  We busted our humps for the past three days to decorate inside and outside like never before.  Our December will be packed full of parties for church, friends, and Kendra's Arbonne business.  How about that for being on the ball this holiday season?

Inside we added a real tree for the first time in many years.  driving to the mountains to cut down a fresh one is a novel idea that I hope to do sometime.  This is not that day.  We drove to Lowe's and bought the first tree they sold this year.

Kendra grabbed the six-wheel cart to haul the tree.  Easton and Layla hopped on and hung on for a ride.  We did exactly what the warning label says not to do.  Although I teach them respect for the law and rules I also have some flexibility now and then.  Was this a safe thing to do?  probably not, but the penalty for failure was low enough I didn't even consider being a party pooper for this free thrill ride.

Kendra picked a winner within a few minutes of assessing the dozens of trees to choose from.  We tossed it onto the top of the battle wagon, strapped it down with a single strap and took the short drive home.

Easton did a goofy dance to celebrate the tree standing upright for the first time.  I would have done the dance with him if I weren't taking a picture of him.

If you search the internet long enough you can find an article to support any idea or belief.  I'm a hard-lined sleep Nazi when it comes to getting the twins in bed by 7:00 each night.  I came across this article titled, "Why I put my kids to bed at 7".  I wasn't even looking for support of my beliefs, but the article references a sleep recommendation chart from

Easton and Layla get to sleep by 7:30PM and wake up at 6:30AM. that puts them right on track for 11 hours each night.  I can't imagine any good coming from a kid going to sleep at midnight and getting 7 hours of sleep.  There is flexibility for occasions like the Walking with Dinosaurs event where they were alseep by 9:00.  I'm proud of myself for not making a big deal out of that, but I cringe when I see a 3 year old kid running around Walmart at 11:00PM on a school night.

OK, that's my soap box for the week...  Now I get to brag a bit.  After church I went to pick up the twins from kids church and saw Easton and Zander voluntarily putting the benches away.  Their act of service warranted a high-five and verbal reinforcement.  I am happy to see Easton catching the servants heart Kendra and I have.  It is not working FOR God, but working from God. It makes a difference.

The twins' school held a turkey trot.  I had never experienced one before. The parents stand in the middle of the playground while the kids run around the perimeter.  I coached the twins on the way to school that morning by reinforcing the old adage, "slow and steady wins the race".  Layla took my advice and lapped most of the students by the fourth time around.  She was barely winded while a couple of her classmates puked.  We cheered and clapped like a rock concert each time they went by.

Easton ran the first few laps, but then did a walk/run social thing for the last lap.  He may have taken my "slow and steady" advice a little too far.

They were happy we took time to watch them race.  I skipped out on a meeting at work and one at church because there are at least two things that are more important than work and church:  Easton and Layla.

The twins are loving their new outdoor scooters, but are continuing to ride their indoor scooters every day through the house.  I'm getting to the place where my focus in parenting is letting them succeed and fail with a safety net.  I allow them to have bumps and bruises in my own household from choices and consequences.  The alternative is to fix or prevent every problem.  Doing that will lead to them making their own choices for the first time after they leave my house.  How does that method normally work out for parents?  Yeah, exactly.

They rode the scooter together down the hallway without breaking anything or anyone.  They stopped right in front of me as I sat on the couch.  I could tell they were wanting to see my reaction and determine if the double riding was allowed.  I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "let me take a picture?  Nana will love this one".

See you after the tryptophan induced coma from eating turkey all day!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Seasons Change

greetings friends and family,

The computer I normally use to blog is...  dead.  I killed it.  After several years of heavy, daily use it started running hot, loud, and slow.  It was so loud that Kendra couldn't sleep with it on anymore.  My most common blog time is after Kendra goes to sleep, but since the old computer is so loud I have to sit in the living room on my laptop to blog.  I found a deal I couldn't pass up on a new computer and merged the best parts from both to create a new computer for us to use.  I enjoy building computers so much that I would gladly offer my services free for anyone who wants to build or buy one.  It truly is that fun for me.

The winter pajamas are in use now finally.  We had about 2 weeks of fall and the temperatures fell off a cliff.  Ouma bought slippers for Layla and Easton because the mornings are too chilly for toes to be on the cold tile floor without slippers.

Layla is proud to show off her bunnies and Easton loves his shark slippers.  Easton's been under the weather for several days now.  His nose is red and raw from wiping it so much.  I feel bad for him, but his happy attitude is a better indicator of how he feels than the redness.

The last soccer game of the year was successful.  by that I mean no one was injured and our team won.  Not like the score matters one bit, but it's nice to celebrate a win at any age.  Layla's face captures the level of excitement after our team scored a goal.  Easton sat out most of the game because he was still not feeling 100%.  The season is over and now we get Tuesday evening and Saturday morning back to use the time in other fun ways.

I walked down the hall one evening because I heard the twins having a delightful conversation about something funny but i couldn't understand the words.  I look in the bathroom to see Layla brushing Easton's hair.  Their friendship is a real treat to watch in action.  They have plenty of moments where they yell at each other, hit, push, tattle, and say mean things.  However, I am so impressed with their normal state being peaceful friends who love to play together.  

layla is learning to express herself through written words.  Easton would never write me a note, but for some reason Layla chooses to do that sometimes.  After church they wanted to go eat lunch with another family who has kids close to their ages.  I said "no" because we had a different church family coming over already.  On the way home Layla wrote me this note to express her displeasure with the matter.

I convinced the twins to take their scooters to the skate park.  Both of them were a little hesitant because of how large the park is and the "big kids" who run around on bikes and skate boards.  I can understand their concern, but I also know they need to get out there and have some fun beyond just our driveway.  I have several good pics of them scootering (is that a word?) on my other camera, but i took one selfie on my cell phone just for fun.  Safety first!

Our house is a wreck with Christmas decorations everywhere, but it is looking awesome.  Kendra is doing a great job of decorating this year.  We have several parties and family get togethers coming up over the next few weeks so we're pulling out all the stops this year.

See you soon!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Walking with Dinosaurs

Greetings friends and family,

After not seeing the twins for several days in a row last week we made up for lost time with lots of Daddy adventures.

Monday night included a trip to the dollar store and Culver's hamburgers.  Kendra hosted a party for our friend to sell snake oil or whatever the bottles of witches-brew potions had in them.  I'm all for homeopathic medicine so whatever Kendra wants to support is fine with me.

Tuesday was soccer practice where the parents played the kids.  The parents won because one of the dads had a 'show no mercy' attitude.  he scored all three goals and knocked two of the kids down to the ground by playing too rough!  Kendra went to Bree and Logan's house for some family togetherness.  I'm happy we have family in town to hang out with.

Wednesday was ice skating time with just Layla and I.  This is working out to be our special time together each week.  I lace her up and send her out on the ice for an hour while I sit comfortably in the cold stands.

Thursday was the big outing.  It started with a dinner at the Pita Jungle.  We ate our weight in hummus and pita chips.

The 4 Webbs headed downtown as the twins anxiously guessed at what the surprise event might be.  I told Easton three days ago.  no matter how much i tried to convince him he would never guess it, he kept trying.  We strolled around down town to kill time and ended up in Charming Charlies where Layla found the perfect chair.  Completely pink and just the right size for a princess like her.

Inside the arena there was an advertisement for the Marvel Universe Live, which is coming soon.  They weren't very intense about showing their super hero powers.

The sunset with the buildings around us was an unusual experience for us suburbanites.  Easton noticed how noisy and chaotic the downtown scene is.  He told us how happy he is to live in our neighborhood where the streets are quiet.

It was finally showtime.  We walked in to find the entire arena set up like a prehistoric world.  The twins had no idea we were about to see the show called Walking with Dinosaurs.  I won the tickets from work so it was a no-brainer about whether we would go or not.  4 tickets = $168.  that's not a typo.  it really costs that much for 4 tickets.  I'm very thankful we got them for free!

At this point in the evening Easton and Layla still had no idea what to expect.  they thought it was going to be a movie displayed on the wall where the teeth were.

and then life-sized dinosaurs came wondering out into the area.  Check out how small that man (the narrator) is compared to the gigantic brontosaurus.

The dinosaurs looked very real and their movements were amazingly life-like.  We watched two triceratops battle for leader of their herd.  The music and sound effects made this a very well-planned event.  

To put this into perspective, the smaller dinosaur below is a costume over the top of a man.  You can see his legs just inside the dino legs.  The Ankylosaurus has a man seated just below its belly in a race car position.  he is driving it.  I read that it takes 4 people (some remotely) to operate each of these beasts.  

The pterosaur came down from the ceiling and flapped its massive wings slowly.  It's hard to see the scale, but this thing was probably 20 feet across the wingspan.

and the big finale was the massive T-rex.  wow, that was intense.  neither of the twins were scared at any time in the show, but hearing that roar and seeing the magnitude of its size was nothing short of amazing.

Was it worth $168?  Not a chance.  at least, not to me, but the show was great and I highly recommend it, if you can afford it.  Considering the tickets were free I was completely satisfied with the experience.  Easton asked, "when can we come again"?  I was honest about the low likelihood he would ever see it again.  What a great experience though!

After work one evening I took the double impact of Easton and Layla running at me for hugs.  They ended up around my legs and asked me to walk with them.  I stepped slowly like a giant dinosaur down the hallway as they hung on and laughed.  they are both getting so tall and so heavy that I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to walk with them attached to my legs.  they keep growing quickly just like everyone said they would.  I'm enjoying every moment to the fullest.

The other thing I haven't done much of lately is ride.  I am excited to ride every chance I get, but haven't had much chance in the past two weeks.  I went out for an easy solo ride just to get my heart, lungs, and legs pumping a little.  Being away from work, church, and my family for an hour or two is very therapeutic!

See you soon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cross the Finish Line

Howdy friends and family,

Hooray for the 4 Webbs!  Please join me in celebration as we bid farewell to the most intense busy season of 2014.  Here are some of the roles I've been actively involved in lately:

Executive Pastor
Mentoring group leader

and Freedom Ministry Director.

That last one consumed much more time than any other role during the past few weeks...  and now it's over for 2014.  Even though I'll still be active as we plan 2015, it will be much less demanding.  Thank God.  Kendra and I have been running on fumes while preparing for, coordinating, and leading the two-day event. I took two vacation days for preparation.   One of the fringe benefits of this serving opportunity is that we were able to spend many hours each day together.  Yes, we were rowing the boat and working our tails off, but there were dozens of moments where we were able to stop and give a long hug or stare into each other's eyes.

The event was an overwhelming success!  50 people showed up and we walked them through a discipleship process for how to work through past, present, and future relationships.  We are equipping people with the tools they need to be functional Christians.  This event is just an intense two-days of experiencing moments within the process.  Kendra's speaking sessions were amazing.  She's getting very comfortable in front of crowds.

We had a few joint sessions where we teach together on stage.  People often say we are a "power couple" which means (i think) we work well together and reach the whole audience because of the different ways we deliver the message.  The other thing we have going for us is brutal, unfiltered vulnerability when we share about ourselves.  I am extremely pleased with how well the event flowed and the results.  I have 27 pages of overwhelmingly positive evaluation feedback to transcribe.

Ouma's presence and time with the twins freed us up to be intently focused for the past 6 days or so. Easton and Layla had the time of their lives.  The twins wore her out every day and enjoyed every minute.  The past 4 days we didn't see the twins for more than a few minutes each day.  We left early in the morning and arrived late at night.  Although we were wiped out and spent we were comforted to know Ouma had been with them.  There is a whole new level of peace knowing the twins were with her instead of a baby sitter or friends.

They went to an indoor amusement park one afternoon.  Layla found the most artistic, cuddly creature in the forest.  

The place was filled with climbing structures to burn some of the never ending energy that fills every six-year-old.

The twins begged Ouma to let them try the super jump trampoline.  didn't take long to convince her... imagine that!  This was the highlight of their experience.

Easton took a little longer to get comfortable with the equipment and feeling, but after that he was bouncing off the ceiling.

I've been on the stage at church each Sunday for the past month to give a short message during the offering.  This Sunday I showed this picture to church and explained our simple plan of how money is allocated around the Webb house.  It's so simple even a six-year-old can get it.  Give first, save second, spend what's left.  When the money is out, of the spend folder, stop spending.  Sounds simple, but about half of our country doesn't understand or live by this.  Luckily, I'm only responsible for these two and my own household.

I've been looking for two Razor scooters for several months.  Researching, comparing prices, and surfing Craigslist for deals.  We went into Toys R Us to buy a birthday gift for their friend and there was the biggest sale on scooters.  I told them to carry their own scooter to the car.  I figure, if they are old enough to receive such a gift, then they are strong enough to carry it!

Layla had a little struggle, but she got it to the van!

After they went to bed I unpacked and assembled them.  Then I took one for a test run around the house just to make sure they were safe.  Yeah... that's why... just to check their safety.

I was having a ball rolling around the house.  I offered for Ouma to join me and we raced around the halls like little kids.  I'll never get too old to enjoy the simple things in life like rolling down the hallway on a scooter.  I was impressed with Ouma's balance and willingness to hop on and ride like she stole it. I foresee many more trips around our neighborhood in the near future now that the weather is so perfectly awesome.

Sunday was Daddy day with my kids.  After church I had a solid 6 hours straight to live laugh eat and play.  part of that time was spent at a birthday party.  It was held at a local fitness club with an indoor pool.  outdoor pools are way to chilly this time of year even in Phoenix.

The twins and Ouma randomly ate at the same Rubio's as the birthday girl a few nights ago.  she is one of Layla's best friends by proxy because her Mom is one of Kendra's best friends.

Notice the peace sign consistency between the dinner pic and the birthday party pic?  Layla had a blast swimming with all the girly friends.

I was happy to see a few boys for Easton to splash and throw beach balls at.  Their interactions are so different than the girls playing mermaids and princesses.  That variety is what makes parenting boy-girl twins exceptionally interesting.  At least, that's how I see it.

The rest of 2014 will be a cakewalk compared to the past few months.  In that list of roles at the beginning of the post I neglected some of them so I could focus on others for this short season.  Some roles, like brother, I did absolutely nothing, but hopefully the rest of the year will look different with my priorities getting straightened out.  I'm looking forward to taking time off work and away from church to spend more family time focused on Kendra and the twins.  Let the fun begin!

See you soon.