Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Time 4 Webbs

Merry Christmas friends and family,

I'm into the middle of my second week off work in a row.  It's starting to really feel like vacation now!  I didn't get many pics of our house all decorated, but here's one of the living room during one of our many parties.  A couple of people described this as one of the best Christmas parties they've ever enjoyed.

Our family together time was a big hit.  We were happy to have Christmas eve at Logan and Bree's house before hosting Christmas day at our house.  Easton was treated to a cooperative game of Lego Star Wars on the PlayStation with Logan, who is a full-time gamer.  For real...  He makes his living playing video games and Easton got a crash course lesson from one of the gaming elite.

Then I played Halo with Logan and he beat me by a little.  You know...  a score of 23 to 1 isn't considered a close match, but my ego doesn't do well with getting skunked on my own gaming system!

The video of Layla and Easton dancing from the last blog post doesn't show the view I had of the rest of the church time.  I sat across the way with Easton and got to watch as Kendra, Mom, Dad, Bree all listened to the message.  Layla got to play on Kendra's iPhone.  Maybe next year she'll be ready to pay attention to the preaching?

One of these fine sunny days Ouma and Oupa went with the twins and I to the skate park.  We watched as they zipped around the concrete jungle.  There happened to be one other girl there that day.  She was shy and her mom was sitting next to us.  Layla came up to us and I encouraged her to go say hello.  She did and the two of them scootered around the park together the rest of our time there.  Layla is as friendly as they come.

Not sure why this video is sideways...  The reason this video is important is because this is probably the last year the twins will be small enough for me to walk around with them sitting on my feet.  By this time next year they'll be so tall and heavy that I doubt i'll be strong enough to lug them around.  The mentioned the mistletoe we just walked under so I gave each of them a kiss.  I love this view of my twins.  I'll miss it as they grow up so this video is as much for me as it is for everyone else to see.

and in case the video doesn't work for some reason, he's a picture of my view as we walked around the house together.  

Every day includes two snacks.  One between each meal.  I had the privilege of taking care of snack time so I made it a little fun.  I made a happy face for them.  Fresh ginger for the hair, cream cheese on crackers for the eyes, a raspberry for the nose, ants on a log for the mouth, and chocolate chips to make the curve of the smile.

Sometimes going the extra mile is as simple as adding a little fun into the mundane.

The strider twins are here!  For over a year we've been working on the twins to ride their bikes without training wheels.  We haven't had much luck though.  They insist it's too hard.  So dad helped me take the cranks off their pedal bikes and we turned them into striders.  That means bikes where they scoot along with their feet while balancing on two wheels.  Sorry my filter was set wrong on my camera, but here is Easton on his big boy bike.  notice the pedals and crank are all gone.

Layla hadn't received her big girl bike for Christmas yet so we turned her smaller bike into a strider.

They got the hang of it within an hour or so.  I decided to show them how fast and far they could go on two wheels so we went to the bakery about a mile away from our house.  It was a bit further than I expected, but they got really good at balancing really quickly.  By the time we got home they were practically begging me to put the pedals on their bikes because they saw how much faster I could go by pedaling compared to their striding.

Christmas day was spent in our pajamas.  The whole family for the whole day.  Here's a picture of our post-present unwrapping mess and hang out time with the family.  This picture is a good representation of how blessed I really am.  I am grateful beyond words for the chance to live such a blessed life.

One more post tomorrow and I'll wrap up Christmas!

See you soon.

Monday, December 29, 2014

On Stage Performances

Merry Christmas friends and family,

It's time to play some catch up on the blog posts.  Last weekend was Layla's first ice skating recital/program/routine or whatever it is called.  I've been watching her practice this for several weeks at the end of each weekly lesson she attended.  She was blessed with a whole crowd of supporters to cheer her on.  The 3 Webbs, Ouma and Oupa, Uncle Logan and Aunt Bree, and even Alan and Denise who are our friends came to watch.  The whole thing lasted about an hour long, but our Layla was out on the ice less than two minutes.  hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

Prior to the performance, Kendra helped her backstage with all the other ice princesses and moms.

Easton and I followed the order of performers with him reading each name and song title.  He does well with a "you are here" map and an idea of where we're going.  Layla took the ice and shined like the star we all know and love.

After it was over we congratulated her as if she had just won an Olympic gold medal.  Alan and Denise were kind enough to bring flowers for her!

This being our first event like this we were not prepared so it worked out perfectly for them to bring flowers for her.  As we were leaving the building Layla was on cloud 9.  She said something like, "I never want to stop ice skating!  I want to do this forever!"  Her passion for it is incredible.  We are very grateful to Aunt Mary for providing the funds for Layla's lessons.  The only thing that would have made the experience better would have been for Mary and Joel to be here with us, but the timing didn't work out.  There will be a next time and we look forward to them coming to visit this winter.

Oupa was able to make it into town just in time to see Layla's performance.  At home we were well prepared for him to hang out with us for a few days.  Layla and I created a sign for their bedroom door to welcome him to the festivities.

The day after the ice skating performance was Sunday.  Easton and Layla were on the main stage at church dancing and singing their hearts out.  I think the twins stole the show, but that is probably just the bias of a father.  Easton was a little too focused on the large TV at the back of the church that showed the camera view of the stage.  Basically he was looking at himself on screen.  Not in a narcissistic way, but a wonderment of technology kind of way.  I asked him afterwards and he said, "I could see myself right there following every move I made!"  Layla made use of all those XBOX 360 "just dance" games she's been playing for months.  Stars in the making...

I was completely unprepared with the proper camera so this video is all the footage I have of it.  there are a few good pics i have from Layla's ice skating and I'll post those tomorrow with my next catch up day!  only two more days this year so i'm determined to go into the new year with a clean blog slate.

see you soon!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to You

Merry Christmas friends and family,

We've been in our pajamas for the past four or five... days...  That means there are no Christmas dress-up pictures from the 4 Webbs yet.  I learned this year that the trick to getting a good Christmas picture is to take one when we are dressed up for church during a previous Sunday in December. Live and learn.  I have many adventures to share, but this time of year is heavily focused on the adventuring and less on the time spent posting about it.

I'll give a little peek into our Christmas morning with a single picture of the twins holding their stockings waiting for the opening of presents to begin.  They were the most patient kids I've ever heard of.  Kendra and I slept in until almost 9:00!  that's a small victory for us as parents.  Ouma and Oupa kept the twins quiet and entertained.  A big "thank you" to them.  We lazied around and ate breakfast while listening to classic Christmas songs.  Finally after all that we gathered in the great room to share in the giving of presents.  These are two of the happiest, most grateful kids you'll meet.

See you soon!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hole in the Rock

Merry Christmas friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are completely partied out. The Christmas season started the day before Thanksgiving with hanging decorations.  We've hosted so many parties at our house since then I can't even keep track.  Kendra loved every moment of hosting and sharing Christmas cheer with our neighbors, friends, church family, and business ventures.

but now it's finally over.  Our house was built by Aunt Mary as the perfect party home and we are fully utilizing it the way it was designed.  We describe our humble abode as the "house of healing" because the atmosphere we create is providing many opportunities to help people.  Relationships matter!  The amount of time, money, and effort we use to create relationships is all well spent because we are making a difference in the lives of those around us.  I am grateful for the opportunity to impact others by just opening our house and our hearts with those who choose to be a part of our lives.

Ouma and Oupa are both in town, finally...  We had a daily countdown for the past few months of when they would be here and now is the time!  Oupa took a detour in LA to watch the California state football championship.  We rigged our TV at home to stream the game live through the internet.  Here's a picture of Ouma and Kendra cheering for their hometown.  They won by a landslide, which made Oupa's trip there even more enjoyable.

The twins are both sorta sick.  Doctor said they are both just fighting the same ole' viral crud many other people are working through this season.  We're minimizing the adventures so they can be full-speed ahead for Christmas eve and day.  We took a short trip to the Hole in the Rock.  The last trip we took here was almost two years ago and this is the picture I took of the twins standing in the hole.

this time we have Ouma and Oupa with us so I took their pic as proof they wuz here too.  They are troopers for climbing up the path to get to the top.

and here are the twins posing for a picture next to a different hole in the same rock.  They have grown so much in just two years it is eyebrow raising to see the comparison pics.

We stood out on the edge looking over the city.  I take every opportunity of lifting the twins up to heights where they can see the city and landscape from the tops-down view.  Too many kids get an isolated, tunnel vision view of their environment by just seeing their little corner of the neighborhood or streets.  Our adventures almost always provide situations to use as teaching tools.  I am constantly looking for ways to explain the world around the twins.  The better they comprehend reality as God sees it, the more they will believe the truth of the power and authority they carry.

The downtown Phoenix view in the background of our 4 Webbs picture is barely visible because of the haze.  We could use a little rain to clear the air, but other than that we were given a perfect day with no wind, plenty of sun, and temperatures well suited to going for a hike.

I am grateful for Kendra's ability and desire to teach the twins.  She uses all the senses to build  into them the wonders and mystery of the world around them.  I walked up as she was sitting on the bench by the mayor's pyramid tomb.  She was pointing out all of the animals in the zoo down below and asking them questions about their characteristics.  Just because school is out for a break doesn't mean we should disconnect their brains and let them play video games all day.  There is an amazing world outside of our doors and we are doing everything we can to make sure Easton and Layla are aware of it.  Some day they'll get to live in it!

These posts are completely out of chronological order, but i'm looking forward to the next few from events in the past week.  Christmas is only one day away!  All six of us in the Webb house are equally excited to have a big family day.

See you soon.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Repticon surprise

Greetings friends and family,

Adventures don't always turn out like you expect, but that's part of the fun.  If everything went as planned then it's just a rehearsed play, not an adventure.  Take, for example, our experience at Repticon.  My expectation was an enormous gathering of top-notch reptile lovers who look and act like the crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin. I expected exhibition areas where reptiles large and small display their wild behavior in a controlled area. I expected festivities and shows and a carnival atmosphere.  Repticon was not that.

Thank God I didn't share my expectations with everyone else in the car on the way to our adventure because there would have been much disappointment.  Was it worth the half-price tickets I bought on Groupon?  No.  But we all went in with happy hearts and the twins had an open mind about what they would encounter.

I'll go ahead and whine about the missed expectations by sharing how lame it was.  I need to get it off my chest so the rest of the post can focus on the valuable part of the outing.  Repticon had no signs of welcoming, no parking directions, no fanfare whatsoever.  It was a small building off to the side of the Phoenix Convention Center.

We walked inside and I quickly realized this was the weirdest place with the oddest, outcast people I've ever seen.  There was no Steve Irwin, but there were many kids in adult bodies.  I'm all for having a passion and chasing after it with all your heart for as long as the passion burns.  This was not the case for 95% of the people there.  Old men and women who never grew up and still play with bugs.

Repticon was  a gathering of reptile pet stores who brought their stuff to sell.  People were buying and selling scorpions, tarantulas, and snakes as though this were a flea market.  Nothing wrong with that.  It was just weird and not what I saw advertised for the event.  Everything was for sale and the only show or interaction was just sales pitches.  The animals were smashed into tiny containers with condensation on the lid making it difficult to see if anything was even alive inside.  My expectations would have been much more aligned if they would have called this "reptile sales emporium" or something more accurate.

Easton and Layla were amazed by the interesting creates we saw.  Many of them were recognizable based on TV shows they've seen.  For example, Pascal from Disney's movie Tangled was right there in living color for the twins to watch his eyes independently move.

The snake from Robin Hood was much friendlier in person according to Layla.  This is some sort of boa constrictor.  Layla and Easton both had the chance to feel their bodies wriggle through their hands.  Getting to hold a snake was the highlight of the day.  You can't normally do that at the zoo or the pet store.

Holding a snake was fun and "not a big deal" because we made it that way.  The snake salesman was cool...  and more importantly Kendra was cool.  She held the snake and described the interesting features she noticed.

I think this huge lizard in the tub was an iguana.  I had to hold up the twins one at a time to let them reach in and pet the scaly beast.  

Repticon even had a bit of Christmas to share.  They were selling see-through Christmas bulbs with a real spider and livable environment inside!  Easton said, "please can we get one?"  Kendra said, "no" before he even said the whole sentence.  Just....  no.  Easton's interest in spiders is great as long as he doesn't bring one into our house.

I'm glad we went to Repticon for Easton and Layla's enjoyment.  It was worth it for them to experience creatures we would never otherwise encounter.  All of their senses were engaged and they even learned some things that they'll never forget.  It was memorable for all of the right reasons.  It was the 4 Webbs briefly jumping into the deep end of a different culture and being perfectly comfortable.  We were kind and interested in the people and the creatures alike.  The thing I liked most was the lack of judgement.  Yes, it was weird, but Easton and Layla interacted with everyone and everything around them without a single critical word.  Not a negative word, not a scrunched nose, not a single eye roll.  Just curious questions and an open mind interested in the mysteries and wonders of the world.

I don't recommend anyone waste their time going to Repticon unless you have curious, open minded six year olds.  3 is too young and 10 is too old. That's a wrap!

Christmas is coming and presents are stacked under the tree.  That means we need to make room in their room.  Out with the old and in with the new! Kendra and Layla spread out her toys over the floor and negotiated what to keep and what to give away.  Their rooms are cleaned out and ready for the new!

We were invited to join some new friends for a birthday party.  The location was Peter Piper Pizza.  I asked the twins if they want to go and I have yet to meet a six year old who said "no" to going to Peter Piper.  We burned through two small buckets of tokens before the cake came out.  Layla wanted the birthday girl to have the best birthday ever, which means Layla sat right next to her and sang the loudest for the birthday song.  

Then, as we were dumping our last few tokens into a useless ticket dispensing game someone gave me another bucket of tokens because they were leaving.  There is a ride where the seats move around as you watch a first person roller coaster ride video.  It's as close to virtual reality we have at this point in technology.

The year is wrapping up quickly so i'm speaking and writing the year as "2015" already.  Seems strange that it's already almost here.  In 2015 I'll turn 40 and the twins will be 7.  that's tough to get my mind around, but it'll happen whether i'm ready or not!

For now I get a loooooong vacation. the longest of the year for me.  We are happily staying at home this year for the Christmas season.  Time to sleep in and play all day!

See you soon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Princess of City Skate

Greetings friends and family,

Lots of work going on around the Webb house lately.  Home work for the twins means reading lots of books, completing math problems, and conducting mach spelling bees.  We sent them to Easton's room to read and walked in to find them propped up on their elbows as Easton read his Titanic book.

I'm doing career work trying to button up everything for the year so I can take some vacation days starting Thursday.  I'm also doing ministry work of developing the annual budget for the church.  Not a small task considering I'm using new software and making a lot of big decisions all by my "big boy" self.  Kendra and I are doing ministry work together as we build our leadership team for 2015.  The process is deep, but the reward of seeing lives changed makes it worthwhile.  Kendra is doing house work to prepare for the happy flood of family coming into town soon.  We are so excited for family to be here!

Even with all that busyness going on, Kendra and I stopped the world and spent an evening with just Layla.  I can't remember if we ever have done this before.  Many occasions in the past were one parent and one child, but I'll have to search back through the blog to find the time when both of us took one of the twins out for a whole evening.

I found a Groupon for ice skating in downtown Phoenix.  They block off a city street and build a temporary ice rink right there on the street!  Welcome to City Skate.  The ice was in terrible condition.  It was almost like snow 2 inches deep covering the rink.  Layla couldn't even skate backwards because it was like drudging through a blizzard in a snow storm.  Even so, the experience wasn't about the condition of the ice.  Layla was grateful and happy the entire evening.  We even received one of her famous lines of "this is the best day EVER!"

Layla was the belle of the ball with here skating outfit and personal skates.  she was clearly the best ice skater on the entire rink.  There were kids falling all around us the entire time we were skating.  Even one mom who thought she broke her wrist.  Kendra heard her complaining of the pain so she prayed for her right there on the ice.  She has great faith and believes in miracles!

Kendra skated around the rink several times, but wore a blister on her leg from the less-than-padded rental skates.  Kendra is in focus, but Layla is a blur because of her speedy movements.

In the middle of the rink there is a huge tree lit up.  This is my favorite picture of the week because Layla's expression shows just how special she felt.

I skated around with her many times as well and never fell even once!  chalk one up for the old guy.  The two of us skated around holding hands and even throwing in a dual leg-lift swan move to show off a bit.  Hey, confidence is valuable when it's warranted.

I asked Layla if we could get a picture with the rink in the background.  She voluntarily gave me a big kiss on the cheek.  I am the richest person in the world because I have this.

We skated about an hour and then walked next door to Squid Ink Sushi.  The three of us sat at the sushi bar with Layla in the middle.  We talked to the sushi guy who made our night special.  We shared a big plate of raw fish, sashimi.  The sushi guy was impressed how our six-year-old Layla happily ate raw octopus, salmon, and tuna.

He even made a special hand-carved fruit dessert from an orange.  The eyes on the panda bear are suckers from an octopus tentacle.  Layla pulled them off and ate them first!

Easton spent the evening with our friends who have an 8 year old boy.  He was neck deep in legos and pizza.  He was having so much fun that we had to ask a couple of times for him to stop playing and get his gear ready to go home.  The night was a success on so many levels.

Even in the midst of one of the busiest weeks of the year we blocked out time for Layla.  This is a great example of how people take time for what's important.  words simply aren't enough.  They sure help, but our actions are the true gauge of what we believe is important.

Easton's turn is coming up this next week.  :)

See you soon!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Parties and Preparation

I'm Blogging from the bed tonight since Kendra and I spent the entire evening in "intense fellowship".  Sometimes it be that way. Tomorrow is a new day though!

All is well at the Webb house as we prepare for Christmas company and holiday cheer.  There will be no room at the Inn when after everyone arrives. We are excited to get family together for sharing, adventures, baking, and all the fun stuff that goes along with this season.

I walked into the great room to find Kendra holding still so that Layla could braid her hair.  It's time for Layla to start braiding Mommy's hair.  Layla would make a great beautician.

Kendra hosted the annual Christmas cookie exchange party for the neighborhood ladies this year.  Everyone had a great time, but I was not involved or invited at all.  The house is excellently decorated this year and we're getting good use from the party place known as the Webb house. The annual tradition for these neighbors dates back to when Mary lived in our house.  Kendra jumped right in to the baking and friendly role that Mary left behind.

Layla has a friend at school who is so similar to her in personality that they clash.  Last year they were at odds with each other more than friends.  However, this year they are in separate classes.  Layla asked repeatedly when she can have a play date with Alex.  Kendra made the appropriate arrangements and they had a blast at our house.  They danced and sang Frozen songs, played dress-up, and had a tea party.  This was a few hours worth of entertainment for Layla and some peace and quiet for Easton.

Easton's friends at school are football fans.  More than likely because their dad is.  I haven't watched a game all year, but Easton keeps referencing players on teams that I've never heard of.  He also asked for football for Christmas, which he will get.  Easton is happy to throw the little rubber football around with us in the backyard.  He's getting better every day with using his hands to catch and learning the game.  I don't think his personality nor body are designed for football, but i'm all for helping him follow his passions.

We've been hanging out at the park often lately because of the excellent weather and their desire to ride scooters around everywhere.  layla is getting really good at hanging out!

Easton knows he's getting his lego titanic for Christmas.  We tracked the package all the way to our doorstep.  We heard the UPS truck driving up our street and he ran out the front door to meet him.  From the moment he brought it inside he's been excited about Christmas day.  I am so very proud of his self-control because it is sitting wrapped under the Christmas tree staring at him every day and he hasn't opened it.

One morning at 3:00 AM Easton came into our room wide awake.  He was complaining about his ear hurting.  Once I realized he wasn't going to go back to sleep I got up and we went to the emergency room.  Easton is a hard sleeper so it must have been terribly painful to wake him up.

We drove to the hospital where the nurse sat him in a reclining bed - chair thing.  The nurse gave him the remote and he played with the chair for the next 30 minutes while we waited for the doctor.

He was brave and calm the whole time even with the pain in his ear.  The doctor looked in his ear and said, "it's a little red.  Here's a prescription for Amoxicillin.  Good luck!"  That'll be $400 please...

By the time we left the hospital easton was very hungry, but not much was open for a meal.  We stopped by Dunkin Doughnuts because, well... they had doughnuts.

We made the most of the time together even though I'd rather be sleeping and avoid Easton getting an ear infection.  We just go the flow and take it one day at a time together.  His ear infection is almost completely gone and everything is back to normal.

The twins get screen time (or device time or computer time) once in a while.  I heard some video coming from Easton's room and walked in to find him watching a documentary on Youtube about how the Titanic was built.  He just can't get enough of that ship.  He also asked if we could have a party this coming April 14th or 15th to celebrate the day it sank.  I remained non-committal on the whole party idea.

Another moment with the girls involved Kendra with her new friend Mallory.  She and her boyfriend are friends of ours.  I won 4 tickets from work to see Handel's Messiah performed by the Phoenix Symphony.  I would definitely not pay $80 per ticket to see this event, but since the tickets were free and last-minute (due to a cancellation) we invited our friends.

We planned on meeting for a nice dinner, but their busy day didn't allow them to meet us out in time before the event.  Kendra and I were content to eat In-N-Out burgers from the drive-thru.  I had visions of seafood or steaks with a candle lit table, but instead I got mustard on my pants.  Even so, I was with Kendra and that made the whole night worth every minute.  The baritone sounded so much like the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz.  The two of us were giggling through his solos.  I know, it's childish and unrefined, but we had a great time.

Last minute preparation for the Christmas season is on tap for this week. last week of school, last week of work, last week of shopping.   I'll be happy when Friday gets here so I can relax and vacation like nobody has every vacationed before.  it'll be check-out time from work and I've got a serious case of senioritis towards work.  It's difficult to care about much of anything related to work because I just really need a break.  Almost here!

see you soon.