Friday, January 30, 2015

20 Dollar Tooth

Greetings friends and family,

So much for my fatherly instinct about how long Layla's tooth would last before falling out.  My prediction in the last blog post was 2 weeks.  Well, it turned out to be about 5 hours.  Early in the morning Layla came bounding into our room with her tooth in her hand.  She was extremely excited and we were extremely tired.  In our delirious sleepy state we congratulated her.  The new tooth is well on its way into the new open slot.   I only have a few days to get good pictures of the gap.

The next night was time for the tooth fairy to swing into action.  Layla and Easton know I am the tooth fairy.  I refuse to lie to my kids and tell them the tooth fairy is real.  It only sets them up for confusion and frustration later when they find out the truth.

Anyway, Layla and I talked all about how her tooth would be under her pillow and I would come in while she sleeps to put money under her it.  I came in late at night and quietly made the switch.  I had my mind set on $10, but we only had 20s and 1 dollar bills.  I made a rule on the fly that the first front tooth is worth $20.  You know Easton will expect the same when his turn comes around too...

The next morning I went to wake up miss sleepy head.  She is normally more like Snow White's dwarf, Grumpy, than Snow White.   However, this morning her eyes popped open as her mind focused on the tooth fairy's visit the night before.  She reached under her pillow and pulled out the money.  Here is Layla's bounty and the tooth that hauled it in.

At school she told every person once or twice about her tooth.  I know that because as I picked them up from school she was still telling every girl who would listen, "I lost my front tooth!  see?" with a big smile.  I took her outside on this rare cloudy, rainy day.  No need for the sun... She is bright enough to light up my life.

See you soon!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Indian Food

Greetings friends and family,

I am having the time of my life while being pushed to the limits of my capabilities.

Coverage for my boss at work
My corporate day job
Church - preparation for delivering the Sunday message with Kendra
Church - develop and present the annual business meeting financial review
Church - create and approve the 2015 budget
Church - train our ministry leadership team
Caretaker of Kendra while her back is out of whack
Caretaker of the house and kids because of Kendra's restrictions
Oh, and occasionally i get to sleep, but apparently that is optional to a certain extent. This is why i've been working from sun up 'til midnight or later for the last few weeks.

i would probably dread every day if I were doing the same mundane thing all day long, but there is no chance for moss to grow under my feet during this season of the year.

The good news is that Kendra's back is healing slowly and she has a little more mobility each day.

On Sunday after church Kendra attended a prayer training event.  The twins and I had no lunch plans.  Our East Indian friends invited us to go to lunch with them at their favorite restaurant.  Easton and Layla had no idea what to expect or what their taste buds would experience.  My friend walked with me as I scooped a couple of samples of everything that was not really spicy.  I sat the plates of unrecognizable stuff in front of the twins.

They spent the next 30 minutes saying things like, "This tastes disgusting!" and "What is that?" and other embarrassing things that we corrected afterwards.   On the van ride home I asked, "What should you do differently next time?   That simple question spawned an entire conversation about table manners and other cultures and how to respond when food is yucky.  We'll see how well this sticks next time we go to indian food...  if there ever is a next time.

Layla liked the Naan bread.  I have no idea what was so special about burnt, puffy flour tortillas, but it seemed to be the highlight of the lunch for the twins.  Maybe it's because the bread and rice were the only recognizable items on the entire buffet?

Mama, thanks for the comment!  Layla hasn't lost a tooth yet.  Her new front tooth is coming in behind her existing one and squeezing the other teeth out of the way.  Her front wiggly tooth is about two weeks away from falling out.  That estimate is based on my extensive experience as a parent of kids losing teeth.  Haha. Three, to be exact...

At Layla's first golf lesson the lead instructor pulled this set out of the back storage room and sold it to me for $20!  Driver, 5W, Hybrid, 7 iron, 9 iron, and Sand wedge.  all pink.  perfectly Layla appropriate.  I offered to take the twins to the green belt to hit golf balls.  The cheers and quick movements towards the door were all good indicators of their desire.  Layla had one golf lesson and a new set of clubs.  She instantly became an expert golfer who excitedly explains the game to us.

She is practically teaching a clinic with every lesson and fact she knows about golf.

Easton's personality was on full display here in this picture.  This is genuine laughter at something silly that I can't even remember.  

He was happy with the distance of his hits before Layla started playing this week.  There were a few times when Layla hit her ball further than him.  He made some whiny comments about Layla being better than him.  He was on the verge of tears and I have no idea why he was so competitive about it.  His swing is coming along nicely though so I don't think Layla will pass him up in golf skills any time soon.

We hit practice balls until the sunlight was almost gone.  Layla is coachable just like Easton.  I'm thankful for that.  there is no attitude of "I don't need your help!"  so I'll continue to do what I can to encourage them with proper swing mechanics.

these next few days won't produce many pictures or stories because Kendra and I will be focused on the other efforts at hand.  Starting Monday I'll be back in full Daddy mode with many adventures to come.

See you soon!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sharing Sports

Greetings friends and family,

Each night before I go to bed I go into Easton's room.  Before I unplug the Christmas lights outlining his window I see him snuggled on the edge of the bed with his face directed towards the nightlight.  It is one of the most peaceful sights I have ever seen in my life.  Completely silent, completely still, completely resting.  I have to hold my finger in front of his nose to make sure he is still breathing.  I always stop for a few seconds and record the moment in my mind.  He might be just another soon-to-be seven year old boy to everyone else on the planet, but this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.

Easton and Layla's worlds are colliding in sports.  Neither of them found a passion for soccer so we're done with it for this season.  Easton is really enjoying ice skating and doing very well.  Layla started golf today.  that means both of them are jumping into the other's sport.  It may be just a season, but we'll go along with it as long as the cost is relatively low.  Easton and I convinced Layla that other girls are in the class.  That was enough to catch her interest.  We showed up and sent Easton to the tee box.  I signed Layla up at the pro shop and we headed towards the crowd. She held my hand tighter than normal and stayed close by my side.  She spotted a few girls and felt more comfortable knowing there really are girls in the class.

Easton's swing is coming along nicely.  The green driving range and Papago park mountains in the background provide an incredible background to learn the game.

I couldn't get close enough to Layla for a clear picture, but this is as good as I could do with my iPhone since I forgot my big boy camera.  Her swing needs some serious work on the mechanics, but she has plenty of tenacity and athleticism to get her functional quickly.

Layla's first real golf lesson deserves a good twins picture to commemorate the milestone.  I have no idea where these two will go individually.  I just know I was there when they started heading that direction.

The weekend is finally here.  That means a full Saturday of family time and more preparation to preach, teach, and deliver the message on February 1st.  One week from today we will be on stage.  Time to sprint to the finish.  and.... we're off!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Busy Cycle Starting Now

Greetings friends and family,

Our down time during the holidays is a distant memory.  We are back to full-throttle with work, school, and ministry.  My work just took a turn towards the busy cycle as it always does this time of year.  I met with my boss to start the conversations about my annual review.  It looks like they'll keep me around for another year.  That's a new record for me!  18 years straight now.

I also have the privilege of  developing the church budget and working through normal finance related issues.  The executive pastor role is half of my time allocation to church.  The other half is with Kendra focused on the discipleship ministry we lead.  Our efforts are directed towards the 13 members of our leadership team.  We teach, train, and develop them because 13 of them can do many times more than 2 of us.  Our plan is to take 70 people through our program in the spring for an 8 week journey that ends with a 2-day conference.  We get to do this whole cycle twice in 2015.   It's a big responsibility, but the reward of seeing people living the life God intended for them is well worth it.

I also do this thing called parenting.  When do i do this?  well, during the weekdays it happens from 5-7pm every night and all day Saturday.  Thank God Kendra is able to give her time and attention to the twins throughout the week.  It is a huge blessing for her to be a stay-at-home mom and I am extremely grateful.

We made the most of MLK day.  I worked because my company didn't give us the holiday.  Kendra got to use our annual zoo pass to take her friends and all the kids.  I don't have any pics of that time together, but I did get one of Easton ice skating.  He's getting a couple of private lessons to catapult his ice skating skills.  This is the same girl who started Layla in the right direction so she comes highly recommended.  :)  Easton is a little stiff-legged, but he'll get there.  just needs the guidance and practice.

This was a Craigslist weekend extravaganza.  I sold a few things on Craigslist including Easton and Layla's old bikes.  I bought Easton's for $40 and sold it for $40 almost 2 years later.  He got to ride for two years for free!  not bad.  I know my dad would be proud because of his wheeling and dealing genes.  A lady came by with her baby girl and handed me a wad of $1 bills. I handed it to Layla and she knew exactly what to do with it.  She opened up her Give Save Spend containers and started counting it out.  one dollar at a time in the right order.  give, save, spend, give save spend.  When she ran out of dollars she shoved each wad of cash into the containers with a happy heart.  She knows the "give" container money goes to church this Sunday.  She knows the "save" container money is not to be touched.  She knows the "spend" money is for her to do whatever she chooses.  Watching her manage this cash transaction made me a proud father!  How's that for a cheerful giver face?

Our weekend was full of bike riding.  We continue to expand our distance to other restaurants and businesses close by.  The 4 Webbs went home after church and rode to the local diner for lunch.  Layla's big girl bike is working out very well.  She is still figuring out how to brake on the steep downhill section, but we are hopeful that no more crashes are needed for her to learn the lesson.

When Layla crashed, Easton parked his bike, walked back towards Layla and gave her a kind hug as a few tears fell off her cheeks.  Kendra and I just sat back and watched the painful wreck as well as the gentle response.  It was wonderful moment, but I hope she gets it now.  Easton spent the next few minutes repeating to me quietly, "I TOLD her to use her brakes, but she didn't listen!"  Yes, son, I know you did.  just take care of Easton and she'll eventually get it.

The winter time is extra fun because the twins get to wear their full length, zip-up onesies.  It's a short season in Phoenix, but they make the  most of it. Each night I give Easton a piggy back ride while carrying Layla in my arms.  I drop off Easton like a sack of potatoes on his bed.  Then Layla insists on giving him one more hug before saying good night.

The picture is a little dark, but this is a great descriptive picture of brotherly and sisterly love.  It's not a once in a while moment.  This is the norm around our house.  The once in a while moment is when there is kicking, pinching, and yelling involved.  They aren't perfect angels, but i'll gladly take the ratio of love to unkindness between these two.

February 1 is coming up quickly.  Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare to deliver the most important message, sermon, speaking engagement of our lives (so far).

See you soon!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Relationship Building

Greetings friends and family,

I'm still working on part two of the $5 wedding ring post, but in the mean time i'll focus back on our adventures.

Easton is continuing to request more mountain biking with me.  I keep happily agreeing to go.  We loaded up the gear and had a hearty sub sandwich while waiting for the sun to set.  I thought it was going to be chilly so we geared up with warm outfits, but it turned out to be a perfectly pleasant evening with just a long sleeved shirt on. I'm not saying Easton wasn't peddling as hard as me, but I had a sweaty back when we arrived back at the battle wagon.  Check out that sunset behind Easton!  My cheesy iPhone camera doesn't do it a bit of justice, but take my word for it.  we were riding towards a sky on fire.

After the sun fully disappeared and night set in our lights were well used to light the path.  At the highest point of our ride we dismounted to take in the views.  The city horizon is at my helmet level, but i know it's hard to see in this picture.  Easton's light shined right in my eyes and he was laughing as I tried to dodge it.

That selfie, er... usie?  not sure what you call a picture of two people taken by one of the two people.  Anyway, it captures our night pretty well.  His favorite part of the ride is when we get to use the Starlight app on my phone to find where the planets and constellations are located relative to our position.  We saw Mars and Venus.  That made his night.  My favorite part was the whole evening together having guy time.  This brings me to my latest understanding or revelation or whatever you want to call it.

Relationships are built on two things:
1. shared experiences
2. trust

and you can't have trust without first having shared experiences.  You only trust those people you know.  For me, this explanation captures my parenting philosophy really well.  Why do the 4 Webbs have so many adventures?  The shared experiences must be... well... experienced...  and shared.

It is possible to get the same effect over dinner with a friend or watching a football game with a coworker.  However, when you put two men in a foxhole with gunfire going over there heads, there is a different level of shared experiences and trust.  Somewhere between sitting around eating together and getting shot at is where I want to have relationship with Easton.  For example, I don't have any special memories of eating with my dad other than big holiday gatherings, but I do have memories of catching fish.

We also signed Easton up for weekly group golf lessons, which are surprisingly cheap.  Here's the first page of his first book showing the starting point of what could be an inspiring career in golf.  or maybe just a college scholarship?  or maybe just 8 weeks of him trying something new and then deciding he doesn't like it.  However it turns out, I'm glad he's interested in doing this and I'll do everything in my power to make sure he has an opportunity to find his passions in life.

I don't have any pictures of him swinging clubs because while he was on the course learning to use his wedge I was inside with the rest of the parents listening to a boring guy talk about all the orientation stuff.  On the way home Easton said, "why are we driving in traffic?"  My response was, "because I'm giving up my time driving on highways instead of sitting around at home watching TV so you can have fun and this is the best place at the best time to do it."  He got it and was grateful.  mission accomplished.

Since I had a few outings with Easton I took time to spend an afternoon with Layla for our own special time together.  We went to the mall because that's what she wanted to do.  We went to sears where we sifted through the entire girls clothing section looking for bargains.  I love shopping for dresses with Layla.  I shamelessly admit it.  We have the best time together just looking for outfits.  I hold one up.  She says something like, "seriously, dad?  I don't like that collar."  or "that is so awesome!  Look at the sparkles!  and you know how much I like belts."

One of the reason's we went shopping is because Layla is the only one of the 4 Webbs without a full Onesie.  We found a red one with pink polka dots and a girly bear face on the front.  It's behind all those blankets.

After shopping we shared a burrito.  During lunch Layla asked if we could eat a cupcake for desert.  I agreed and we went to the grocery store.  They have cupcakes and bread.  We eat the cupcake and the ducks eat the bread.  I found a massive cupcake with plastic Rapunzel rings on top.  Perfect!

As we were eating the cupcake by the pond all the ducks had radar going off to indicates humans with duck food had arrived.  I forgot napkins so we broke the rolls in half and wiped our hands with it.  You gotta use what you have available!

Layla handed out bread like the generous girl she is.  The ducks came right up to her and surrounded her. They even took pieces from her hand. They were like domesticated animals almost.

Our Saturday was completely unproductive, which is exactly what we needed.  We slept in, slowly ate breakfast without saying "hurry up" even one time.  We milled around the house for a few hours in our pajamas and let the twins do whatever they wanted to do.  Easton chose to build an igloo fort.  I supervised and he built 90% of it himself.  As soon as he is big enough to do something for himself, it's time for me to step out of the way and let him do it.

I needed a light switch at the local hardware store so I casually mentioned how it might be possible to ride bikes there.  The twins jumped on the idea and we enjoyed the long ride together.  We stopped for a lemonade and fries to refuel for the ride home.  Notice the gap in Layla's front teeth?  She can wiggle the one on the right with her tongue.  It didn't fall out in time for the ole' Christmas song about front teeth to be used, but I suspect it'll be coming out in the next couple of weeks.

None of Easton's teeth are even slightly loose.  I'm waiting patiently for the model rocket launch to pull his next one out.

Kendra and I are two weeks away from taking the pulpit at church for the weekend message.  Pastor is giving us the entire sermon time to share our hearts in three services.  If you're still reading this blog post then you're probably involved in our lives enough to know what I'm talking about.  We appreciate your prayers as we hit the home stretch of finalizing our content and practicing our duel-speaker style of presenting.  I'm excited.  Kendra's a bit apprehensive.  Nobody is worried.  :)

See you soon!

Friday, January 16, 2015

The $5 Wedding Ring

Greetings friends and family,

Many people have a wedding, but few people have a marriage.  I am grateful to be one of those who have a marriage.  I'm not perfect.  She's not perfect.  We, together, aren't perfect.

I lost my wedding band last year and replaced it with this one I bought on a website...  for $5... with free shipping.

I don't clean or polish it.  There are scratches all over and I don't care.  This ring was probably made in China and it is not special or identifiable in any way.  I came to the startling conclusion my wedding band is virtually meaningless and worthless.

There isn't a single shred of evidence that shows the cost or value of a wedding ring determines the quality of a marriage.  There may actually be an inverse relationship between the cost of a ring and quality of a marriage...  I'll have to think about that one.

I know girls and guys who have extraordinarily expensive and intricate rings, but are miserable in their marriage or get divorced.  But I also know couples who have dime-store rings that are decades old and their vibrant marriage is equally as old.

What matters more than the ring itself is what the ring symbolizes.  When I make that statement some people immediately think of a piece of paper or a covenant or a contract or words spoken during the wedding ceremony.  This is legalism and law-based and cannot be the basis for a thriving marriage.  I'll prove it...
Let's say I'm out with Kendra on our anniversary date and I look across the table and say, "Kendra, I married you 14 years ago and because I signed a piece of paper legally binding us together and put a ring on my finger I'm still with you today".  That would not go over well.


I could say, "14 years ago I chose you and because I love you so much I've chosen you every day since then.  I choose you today and I will choose you every day for the rest of my life because of how much I love you".  That's the difference between law and grace.  It is choice.  that choice has nothing to do with my emotions or circumstances or even Kendra's emotions or circumstances.

Let me describe it more bluntly:

I know adulterous men who've never taken their wedding ring off.  The ring didn't stop them.
I know faithful men who never wear their ring.  The ring isn't their source of truth.

I know men who take communion who are the worst criminals the world has ever known.  Communion didn't stop them.
I know men who have never taken communion, but have a clean conscious.  A religious ritual isn't their source of truth.

I know men who hold a Bible in one hand and shout hate at those we are supposed to love.  The way they knew the Bible spread death everywhere they went and holding a Bible didn't stop them.
I know men who have never read a full book in the Bible and can't tell you a single book and chapter reference, but they have a transformed life that looks more like Jesus than any evangelist I've ever seen.  The leather and paper isn't their source of truth.

The measure of a man's character and integrity are not always visible in his outward behavior or material possessions.

The first 7 years of our marriage were painful and miserable.  Kendra agrees with me on this, by the way.  However, the second 7 years have been amazing and beautiful beyond what I ever thought possible.  My wedding ring made zero difference in the success or failure of our marriage and isn't even in the equation of marital success.  No matter how much it costs and no matter if I wear it or not, the ring has no power to influence what happens in my heart.  What I choose to believe about Kendra and what I choose to believe about myself makes all the difference in the world.

Part two is coming soon.

See you soon.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Camelback and Camelbaks

Greetings friends and family,

True story:  The 4 Webbs went out to with a husband and wife from church.  The twins met the husband earlier that day because he taught Sunday school and interacted with the kids well.  He is bald on top and very down-to-Earth.  During lunch he referred to his wife as "my wife" and Layla said, "She is your wife?"  He said, "Yes!" Layla said, "Oh... I thought she was your mom."

Talk about an awkward moment.  Kendra and I were just speechless for a moment.  Whatever apologetic words came out of our mouth weren't sufficient, but we tried.  We couldn't reprimand Layla because she didn't say anything wrong and her heart was completely innocent in motive.  That was one of those moments I will never forget as long as I live.

Much of our time together is on two wheels lately.  Any excuse to get the bikes out is met with immediate cheers and scampering for shoes.  I throw out a comment like, "Daddy needs some medicine...  I wonder if the drug store down the street has what I need?  You know... that store is in bike riding distance for us."  Then the light bulbs go off and they immediately become experts in medicine and know the inventory levels of the drug store.  Easton will jump in with, "I bet they have exactly what you need, Dad.  We can go along with you to make sure they have it...  and maybe get a lemonade!"

We ride there on the main road for part of the one-mile journey.  I struggle slightly to provide guidance so they stay away from the edge where a few feet away cars whiz by at 50 miles per hour.  They are very safety conscious!

I gave them $5 and sent them inside while I watched the bikes.  The only instructions I gave them was to find three lemonades and pay for them.  They came out a few minutes later with lemonades and change.  That's a big deal for the twins to do some unassisted shopping.   This is my proud-dad smile.

I've been searching for a sale on camelbak hydration packs for the twins.  I have mine, but I get tired of carrying their snacks and water on the hikes.  We stopped by the sporting goods store where I found half-priced kid-friendly Camelbak packs, called the "Scout".  The only difficulty in the purchase was convincing Easton that purple is a fine color for a Camelbak.  Mission accomplished!

Our hike was close to sunset.  We paused at the top of the second peak to take in the sights.  Layla pointed out the structure close by our neighborhood and said, "we live right there."  Easton knows all the land marks such as the zoo and Camelback mountain.  I am thrilled for the twins to see our city the way God does, from the top down, and to recognize where our little nook of the neighborhood fits into the bigger scope of the city.  Layla said, "I think I can see Ouma and Oupa's town way out there on that mountain."  She was disappointed to learn that isn't possible to see from here, but I will always tell her the truth no matter what!

We are working our way up to conquer Camelback mountain, but I'm guessing we won't attempt that until this fall.  Until then we'll keep on training and hiking and mapping out the world one step at a time.

This weekend we dressed up in costumes for no reason at all.  Layla wore her renaissance princess costume and Easton wore his ninja costume.  I wore my Spiderman costume and Kendra chose to wear her normal mommy clothes to work in the garage.  They are maintaining their imagination and creativity as much as could be hoped for considering they are stuck in the normal school system.  

I've been asking for a measuring board on the wall for many months.  kendra bought one a few months ago, but my request was finally met when we mounted it on wall and drew some measurements.  Kendra measured Layla first, then Easton had to keep his head off the wall because he is taller than her and would have got his hair in the paint if he'd leaned back.

Kendra wrote "E" for Easton, "L" for Layla, and the date for each one.  Easton has maintained the inch and a half height advantage over Layla since the day they were born (or shortly thereafter).  I don't know if she will ever catch him, but I think she likes being the little sister.

I enjoy seeing the twins in their church clothes.  They look so grown up.  I took them out back today and asked for a quick pose by the greenbelt gate just for fun.

Kendra and I are neck-deep into the next round of our ministry and classes.  We are building our team of 15 leaders and ramping up to host two classes this spring where 60-70 people will go through the program we lead.  The excitement is building in all of us.  We hosted a lunch meeting with everyone just to build relationships and do some planning for the next month.  One of our leader's was told by her daughter, while watching the controlled chaos in the kitchen, "This is what family looks like."  I agree completely and this is what our house was designed for.  Full tables, full bellies, full of life.  We are blessed and highly favored, but don't take a single moment for granted.

See you soon!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Two Wheeled Riders

Happy new year friends and family!

Thanks for the comment on my last past, Mamma.  I'm glad to know you are still enjoying the blog!  The 4 Webbs are passing around a strand of some virus that won't leave us alone.  Kendra and I have been coughing like a symphony of phlegm.  Easton and Layla are past their 10 day cycle of fever, coughing, and sluggishness.   Our house sounds like a Nyquil commercial.  We are all on the downhill side of this mountain of mucus so victory is in our sights!

Life goes on, even for sick parents.  Ouma and Oupa left us.  I'm still a little bitter about that, but i know they had to go home sometime.  Oupa had several rounds of rough-housing in the den.  They giggle, attack, laugh, squeal, and have a crazy fun time wrestling with Oupa the strong man.

anyway, enough of crying over spilled milk.  Here is what the twins have been up to lately...

Ice skating for Layla is nothing new, but how about that boy, Easton?  Yep, he's out on the ice and learning how to fall properly.  I'm the best teacher at this, but once he learns how to fall and then how not to fall he will have reached the limits of my ice skating skills.

Luckily Layla is all about teaching her young student how to skate.

here's a cute video clip of how best friends help each other.  Layla shows Easton how to skate and Easton gives Layla a teachable person to instruct.  win-win!

I took the twins for a public skate session because I had two free passes.  Easton is scheduled to begin classes along with Layla's continuing class this week.  We didn't push him at all, but just being around the ice sparked his interest and he wants to try.  I'm not sure it will last, but who knows?  He is interested in hockey and football, which are the two least favorite choices for me to get him into sports.  Alas, it's not up to me to tell him what to be passionate about.  I'm just here to help him discover on his own (within reason) what his passions are.

Meanwhile in beautiful downtown Burbank, the twins are loving their wheels.  They have Y-bikes, roller skates, Razor scooters, and bicycles.  Layla is getting brave after seeing the guys at the skate park do tricks.  It's hard to see in the picture, but she is jumping her scooter in the air.

Easton is more of a risk taker than Layla, but she's a little stronger than him.  he is only able to get the front wheel off the ground and do a one second wheelie, but i'm proud of him for giving it all he's got!

The story of Easton and Layla learning to ride a two wheel bike is amazing to me.  One day they are convinced they can't ride a bike without training wheels.  Then we took off the cranks and turned them into strider bikes, sometimes called balance bikes.  They scooted around and became proficient in no time.  when Layla got her big girl bike for Christmas I took off the training wheels because I wanted her to know it was a big girl bike and not just a bigger training wheel bike.  less than 48 hours after they were convinced they could not ride a two wheel bike, here they are riding their bikes with no training wheels.

Within 10 minutes of other they learned to ride.  No classroom was needed.  no convincing or begging or demanding or shoving them down a hill being scared.  Just a simple adjustment to remove the cranks and they could then believe it was possible to ride a bike without two wheels.  Kendra and Oupa taught them the safety rules of the road.  and off they went down the street by themselves.  This was a great day for independence.

Once they realized how much easier it was to pedal using cranks they were convinced and ready to take on the world.  I rode with them down the street to get a Frosty from Wendy's.  that was plenty of incentive to ride.  I told them, "some day you'll be able to ride together all by yourselves."  They barked back at me saying, "No, Dad!  We want you to ride with us all the time."  I smiled and soaked in the moment because there will come a day when they think they are too cool to ride bikes with Dad.  Until then, I'm a hero.

See you soon!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Closing Out 2014

Happy New Year friends and family!

I'm a day late in closing out the year, but this will give me a fresh start for 2015.  We ended 2014 on a highlight worthy of it's own post, but since I have so much to pack in here i'll just call it out first and get on with it.  The twins went from riding a bike with training wheels to riding a bike with no pedals to riding on two wheels all within 48 hours.  Layla received her big girl bike on Christmas day while Easton has had one for over 6 months but never rode it.  Oupa and I prepared them ahead of the Christmas day reveal by removing the cranks and allowing them to scoot around on their bikes to get the hang of balancing.  Oupa took Layla out to the driveway

Within a couple of minutes she was pedaling her bike with no training wheels!

Easton saw Layla's quick conversion and excitement.  That was enough for him to believe he could do it also.  a few minutes after this moment above Easton stepped onto his bike and was pedaling with no problem.  I am excited to announce that the 4 Webbs are done with training wheels forever!

This two-week break from school and work included many games.  card games, board games, football games, and more.  One of the new gifts for the twins is Battleship.  The old game I played many times with my own brother 30 years ago hasn't changed much.  

Layla seems more interested in the strategic process required to play this game.  She is also more competitive than Easton, which made her a formidable opponent.  

The twin's bed time routine is captured pretty well in this picture of them brushing their teeth.  I have no idea what Easton is saying "yes, sir!" to or why Layla looks so tough, but it sure makes for a funny picture.

I've been sick on and off for eight days now.  During one of my better days I took a casual mountain bike trip with my friend and his two kids.  It was their first time riding on the mountain.  I really enjoyed being their tour guide on South Mountain for a short run. Nobody was injured and his kids had a great time.  I call that a success!  His kids want to go again sometime so that's a good sign.

Back at our house Easton and Layla had a play date with our other friend's kids.  We heated the spa to get a taste of summer time fun during the Christmas season.  Kendra's strategy was to allow the two boys to play separately from the two girls.  She's a smart mom. It worked out much better than throwing all four of them in the hot tub together.

Meanwhile, inside Layla was playing dress up and sharing her new Hello Kitty makeup set she got for Christmas from Aunt Joanie.  

Layla spent several minutes explaining each item in the makeup kit and what it is used for.  I think she's a little too young to be so excited about makeup, but then I see other kids around town her age and notice they are all into that kind of thing.

The 4 Webbs went to their house a few days later for dinner and hanging out.  They have lots of instruments and audio equipment.  We were treated to a karaoke version of "The House of the Rising Sun" with Layla playing the bongos.

Back to Christmas morning...  Easton's most anticipated gift was the Lego Titanic.  We gave him a blank marker board and said, "draw something Christmas-y".  The result was this...  See the people plunging to their death off the back of the ship?  Well, Easton is more than happy to tell anyone who will listen about the event in great detail.  I had no idea his artistic talents were so deep until he had the chance to draw something he was passionate about.

The gift he received is technically not made by Lego, but another knock off building block company called Cobi.   He didn't care one bit.

We tore right into it and began building the 500 piece ship. Easton did the building with a little help from the adults to interpret the instructions occasionally.

Each layer of the boat included new stories from our hero boy about 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class.

He'd been talking about the smoke stacks for weeks because they look so cool.  When it finally came time to build them he was overwhelmingly proud of his accomplishment.

I went in his room a day or two later and found him reenacting the fateful night when the Titanic hit the iceberg.  His most common comment is, "They should have had more life boats, huh Dad..."

For Christmas morning we were able to Skype with some family members.  We were mildly successful with my sister and her family, but the connection kept cutting for some reason. We also video conferenced Kendra's brother, Casey, and his girlfriend Barbie.  It wasn't as good as being with all of our family, but it was as good as we could get!

One of the best gifts we received was having Ouma and Oupa with us for 10 days.  The time always goes by too fast and my begging never changes their minds when I ask them to stay longer.

GG sent gifts with Ouma and Oupa.  Layla went into a high pitched squeal when she saw her gift of ice skate protectors.   Easton has never met a Lego box he disliked so these two were all smiles at the end of the big day.

The other family we spent a lot of time with was Logan and Bree.  They came over several times in the past few days to get as much time with mom and dad and the 4 Webbs as possible.  Bree is such a good Auntie that she played Dance games on the XBox with Layla.  I think Layla showed her a few new moves...

One of my favorite pictures from the Christmas season is this gem of Layla and I.  These moments of her sitting on my knee are dwindling with each passing day.  I still happily carry her to bed each night, give her piggy back rides to the mailbox, and lay next to her each night in bed to sing our duets.  

Kendra did some kitchen teaching these past two weeks.  It's time for the twins to start cooking!  I know kids their age 50 years ago who were out milking cows and cooking chickens.  We'll settle for them being able to pour their own cereal bowls in the mornings.

I didn't get many pictures of the decorations inside the house, but here's one of the great room all decked out.  Kendra did a super job of decorating cheaply.  For example, she wrapped the window coverings and pictures on the wall in wrapping paper to look like presents.

One of the parties included a house full of friends.  Many of us went for a walk through the neighborhood to the guys house who really knows how to go all out.  The girls took a picture on the sleigh next to the oversized gingerbread people.

Us guys were just goofy as we jumped in front of the background of lights.  Turned out to be a fun night

During that same night we had a white elephant gift exchange.  Some of the gifts were outrageous, but mine was just plain funny.  I opened my gift to find a pair of "Farter's Underwear".  It was a gag gift that has a big stop sign on the butt, which supposedly traps the stinky gas.  I played along with the fun by putting them on right then over my jeans.

Yeah, that happened.  I've lost a lot in 2014.  Many things I should have let go of many years ago.  For example, I lost the control I gave to other people by considering what others think of me.  It's been a slow process over the past few years, but I reached place where I no longer care what people think.  I am still very considerate and kind and thoughtful, but there isn't an ounce of "what will people think?" left in me.

I hear this place of peace is usually discovered by the elderly who lose the filter between their brain and their mouth.  That's not such a great place to be and I'm not that far overboard to be offensive to people.  The way I describe it is by saying, "I'm so free from myself that I'm free from others."  Now that's freedom.

See you soon!