Thursday, December 22, 2016

Moving... again

Merry Christmas, family!

This is the first time Easton and Layla have seen snow fall from the sky at their residence!  And the twins had their first (and probably only) snow day.  It's been an epic season of firsts for all 4 Webbs, but even more so for the twins who haven't experienced the kinds of weather and locations Kendra and I have.  They woke up to a tiny amount of snow on the ground and it continued to fall all morning long.  We went out to the corridor between the apartment buildings at Evan's Creek and played with the neighbor kids.  One family built a snow man early, but by the time we arrived, the precipitation turned to rain so the snow had already started to melt.  We at least had the chance to throw some snow balls and catch snow flakes on our tongues.

We have enjoyed lots of indoor time together as a result of the cold and rain.  I sat on the couch in my Christmas tree pajamas while Easton laid on one side and Max on the other.  They sniffed each other and I found the moment to be picture worthy.  We did absolutely nothing for a few brief moments and it was as memorable as any Disneyland ride I've been on.

Easton earned his Bobcat badge in Cub Scouts.  He and I were called to the front during the pack meeting where about 40 kids watched as he received his badge.  I got a Bobcat pin as a token gift for being the one who brings him every week.  Christy is the den mother (or pack leader or something else?)  I'm still learning the hierarchy, but anyway she was the one who gave him the award.  I hugged him with a big bear hug and told him how proud I am of him as they clapped and cheered.  It was a great moment for him because I'm continually looking for ways to for him to experience success and wins and completion.

During the last day of Easton and Layla's school before Christmas break, Kendra and Max and I went for a walk at the Marymoor dog park.  It's our favorite outdoor activity lately.  It's close, free, and the most social environment we could hope for Max to experience.  We posed for this shot by sitting on the bench that overlooks one of the entrances to the river where dogs swim.  Not Max, but other dogs that aren't afraid of the water.  We held hands and walked through the paths greeting other dog owners.  We love being around the twins, but I love the occasional date times where it's just Kendra and I.

My boss recommended I get a wake up light so that I get sunlight early enough to wake me up for work.  It slowly gets brighter on an alarm clock timer so that by the time my eyes pop open our room is fully lit.  Seems bizarre to need something like this, but it gets dark at 4:00pm and doesn't get light again until 8:00am.

There are many aspects of our Redmond apartment dwelling that am thrilled to have experienced.  One is the diversity of people.  I don't even remember this girl's name, but as we were packing, her family drove by in their minivan and she yelled hello to Layla out the window.  Layla waved and yelled back.  A few minutes later, Layla's friend came strolling down the sidewalk to visit us.  Layla told her we were leaving for good at that very moment.  They hugged and talked about how much fun it was to be friends at Alcott elementary.  She is from India and her culture is a vastly different than ours.  I like that so much.  Layla asked many questions about their holidays, beliefs, traditions, and language.  I was able to have some open conversations, explaining how we love others who are different than us.  It is possible and even mandated that we love every person regardless of culture.  Layla understands that she can hold tightly to her beliefs and thoughts while being interested enough in others to get into their world.  That is where love happens. in their world.  Not when they get into Layla's world.

Our tiny tree is all we have, but i am completely grateful!  The twins added their ornaments and play with the lights every day.  They flash and twinkle and shine at varying rates, which makes Easton a thousand times more interested in them.  our presents are still wrapped in Amazon and UPS box labels because we are too busy to wrap gifts.  Once we get the flooring done we'll have time to wrap gifts, but for now we are taking thing OUT of boxes.  723 boxes, to be exact.  We are through about 39 of them...  so guess what we'll be doing for the rest of the year?

On day two of our stuff being delivered from storage, the twins were using candy cane decorations as Star wars light sabers.  They have been such great troopers as Kendra and I manage the dump of all our stuff into the garage.

The was still a little afternoon sunlight left so we walked down the street to our neighborhood playground.  They weren't super excited about it, but at least the equipment was age-appropriate for them.  I was happy to be out of the house and feel the setting sun on my face for a few brief moments.

and here is a picture of our first meal in our new house.  hamburgers on a cardboard box.  Completely boring and not fancy, but I am the most excited person to be in the new house.

Maybe Easton is equally excited.  He grabbed the ream of printer paper and made a ton of paper airplanes.  Here is a picture of his fleet set up on the second story ledge.  He loves having a two story house because his airplanes fly much further and longer than in our one story home in Phoenix.  See, there is goodness about every aspect of life...  even two story homes.

Our kitchen flooring is in demolition mode so we are forced to eat out for every meal.  Layla asked if she could go in her pajamas.  I said, "why not?" like I always do and she happily went to dinner like this.

I really dislike construction, remodeling, and DIY projects.  but I like how happy these things make Kendra so here we are deciding at the last minute to remodel our guest bathroom.  We are replacing the flooring throughout with vinyl tile flooring.  Every square inch will look like dark wood. It is turning out very well and Kendra is happy with it.  The vanity is gone so this is the last picture of that flooring with that vanity in our guest bathroom.

This is what our font door entrance looks like.  The contractor is tearing up the hardwood entry way while the other contractor is demolishing the coat closet in the entry way.  I'm very grateful for the improvements and how we are able to pay cash for them instead of going into debt.  it is truly an investment because it will add value to our house.

There is a downside to having your items packed and shipped...  This unique vase was given to Layla by Alaysha, who has had it for many years. it was broken in the box during shipping and Layla was sad to see that in her box of treasures.  It's hard to put a price on gifts like this that have such sentimental value!

Welcome to our dining room, living room, bed room and guest room. We had to move our bed and Alaysha's bed out to the main living space while the flooring guys did their magic in demo and install.  Kendra almost shed a tear of joy when the movers unloaded our mattress off the truck.  We've been sleeping on terribly uncomfortable queen beds for three months.  Our awesomely comfortable king sized bed was a site for sore eyes.

Christmas is just around the corner!  i'll be so grateful for the vacation days off since I haven't taken one since I started work at my new company three months ago.  Every night we are exhausted and sleepy, but i stayed up an extra few hours to write out my thoughts and post some pics because this is a very memorable season in the Webb house.

See you soon!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

accomplishments and movement

Greetings family,

The 4 Webbs are officially moving on Sunday to our final destination.  Lots of excitement over the past few weeks and I'm really proud of how we have managed through it.  One of the biggest accomplishments is that Easton has his official cub scout uniform.  He's feeling like one of the boys now when he goes to the scouting events.  We are all very proud of him for jumping in with the other scouts and being himself around a whole new crew of people.

We had snow fall that accumulated enough for Easton and Layla to earn their first ever snow day!  The night before I took my camera and captured a few clicks of our backyard.  The total amount must have been less than two inches, but it was still exciting to see and experience.  It hasn't snowed like this in the Seattle area for three years! These kinds of weather anomalies keep on happening.  just coincidence...

Each year I take a picture of Easton and Layla in front of our Christmas tree.  For the past five years it was in front of a massive 13 foot tree at our house in Phoenix.   this year it is in front of a 4 foot tree that was given to us by our mortgage broker because he felt bad for us.  As you can tell by their smiles, we aren't letting the size of our tree determine the size of our joy.  We are all very content as we prepare for the long holiday break.

My company had a dinner party for my organization.  We made the most of the evening by going for a real date together.  Alaysha watched the twins and we went for a night on the town.  Kendra rented a dress because our stuff is still locked in storage and she didn't want to drop so much money on buying a new outfit.  She looked amazing and I was happy to be with her.

At the party we waited in line to get our picture taken.  Most couples did the side hug pose or held up some props like glasses or hats.  I chose to do this pose and Kendra followed along.  I'm not even sure how i described it, but this is how I really felt.  we were in a big group of people, but we loved being with each other and around each other.  There wasn't anything amazing about the party.  food was ok, meeting my coworkers was ok.  the thing that made it memorable is that we were dressed up and out on the town being totally in love in the moment.  these are the kind of things I dreamed about so many months ago when Kendra was bedridden.

I don't know when i'll get to blog again because this is the last night we have wifi at our corporate apartment in Redmond.  We may have internet tomorrow when we move into our house or we might not have internet for two more weeks as i dig for a router and modem through boxes.

See you on the other side of the move!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Four cities in four months

Hello family,

Every morning I go the street where 75 (that's not a typo) kids from our apartment complex stand in line to wait for the bus.  Easton and Layla have never ridden the bus to school prior to this experience so it's a new world for them.  We leave 15 minutes early because the twins like to choose their seat.  It's cold and usually raining as we stand out there, first in line.  as the kids start trickling in, their friends come up and chat.  Layla talks to the girls about their clothes and things happening at school.  Easton talks to some boys about Pokemon cards and trades some occasionally.

Speaking of Pokemon... Easton's latest obsession is all things related to Pokemon trading cards.  Every time he gets a dollar to spend it goes towards buying cards and coins and toys.  From the start, I gladly accepted his invitation into this world of playing.  He invited to play the card game and I dove right in to learn the rules together.  He asked me to draw some of the characters with him since he found Youtube is filled with instructional videos for drawing.  I am so happy he wants to include me in his passion.

Alaysha is working two jobs now so her time with our family is limited.  For a while she wasn't working at all so she was around all the time, but lately it is a special treat to have her join us for dinner or an outing.  She went with us to the dog park over the weekend.  Max was too muddy to pick up so he didn't make it into our selfie.  Kendra was off doing something related to the house like shopping for flooring or furniture ideas.  Lately her free time has been consumed with preparation for the house move coming up this weekend.  One of the things i'll miss the most about this area is the close proximity to the off-leash dog park.  such a cool place...

It's not easy to find outdoor activities lately because of the cold temps and rain/snow.  I brought out the P90X3 videos and we worked out like champs in our living room.  the next day Easton said his legs were aching.  yeah... that's the point, boy!

Easton is getting interested in drawing.  Not sure where that idea came from, but he is asking for colored pencils, paper, and ideas for what to draw.  who knew?  I'm happy to help him grow in these areas where it will come in handy some day.  The only problem I see is that his penmanship is as lacking as mine.  I remember in my third grade class how my teacher wrote a note on my homework saying i should end my "c" with a definitive stopping point instead of a flick of my pencil.  subconsciously I gave up on hand writing that day and I'm happy to report that my job depends on my typing skills entirely and not a single bit on my handwriting...  So there, Mrs. Griffin.

Layla is drawing more often lately too.  her creativity is expressed most often on the windows and glass doors of our apartment.  The Christmas scenes and self-portraits are so entertaining to watch them come together and hear her explanations.

The twins and Alaysha and I went down South of Seattle.  Kendra visited Phoenix and left us all alone for 5 days.  On our way to pick her up from the airport we visited Neal and Angie, our new friends who know Neill and Jenny.  He is our mortgage broker who helped us buy our house.  we visited his house and then drove to the Living Nativity event in Gig Harbor at the Discovery Baptist church.  What an amazing setup.  It's a small pop-up village on the church grounds that includes a typical roman town and walks through the whole Christmas story as you go through the village.  At the nativity scene where the tour ends, they invited people to come up and see Jesus.  Layla isn't shy at all so she jumped right to the front of the line and watched the scene in amazement.  That was by far the best living nativity event i've ever seen.

The Webbs are home owners once again.  Our house is about 2,400 square feet, two story, four bedrooms, corner lot, with a massive tree in the backyard that I am excited for Max to pee on.  We will spend our first night there on the 17th.  The rest of the year will be fully consumed with unpacking boxes, selling stuff, and re-flooring every square inch.  I'm grateful for the corporate housing made available to us, but all 4 Webbs and Alaysha are super exited to be in our own house again.  We moved from Phoenix to Bellevue to Redmond to Bothell.  Four cities in four months is really taxing, but we are almost to the finish line!

See you soon!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Turkey Weekend

Greetings family!

This is the Thanksgiving edition of the 4 Webbs.  I have some pics from our Thanksgiving day, but unfortunately I didn't wrangle all of us together for a family photo even though we had almost 5 full days together.  

This Thanksgiving was spent with Kendra's mom's best friend's sister's family...  I know that is a long way removed from a personal connection, but we were happy to experience some togetherness with some great people who welcomed us in.  We spent the evening out on the deck overlooking the Puget Sound and figuring out who's who with the cousins and friends.

Easton and Layla miss cousin time with our Sacramento family and Missouri family, but this is making due with what we have and finding community in a whole new way.  The young adult son who lived there had a massive collection of Lego models and video games for the boys.  Consequently, Easton played all evening and wasn't ready to go home.  Layla played with Evelyn as they discovered the joys of Mad Libs.  Still a big hit since my childhood.

Kendra met me at work one day for a lunch date.  This is something so simple and normal to everyone else, but not to me.  This is amazing to me because she is alive for starters.  Even more than that she is healed and well and healthy enough to drive herself in our new van and go for a walk with me around campus as we hold hands.  I pray that i never lose the gratitude and amazement for the miracle of just being with Kendra each day.  I don't care what her hair looks like or if she even has any hair at all.  I'm just extraordinarily thankful for the chance to sit across the table from her and talk about life over lunch.

There are real benefits to having a twin.  For example, when you can't get that little Alf-alfa clump of hair to go down, there is a sister who is more than happy to dump water on your head and mash it down with a brush.

The Webb household made another leap forward in child rearing.  The twins are becoming self-sufficient enough to do their own morning routine.  Easton wakes up at o'dark thirty and waits for 7:00am to roll around before waking Layla.  The two of them get dressed, make their lunch, eat breakfast (including taking vitamins), and take care of Max.  All of this is done with minimal arguing.  What a day to be alive!  I didn't know how long this would take, but apparently the answer is 8 years and 10 months.

I remember thinking, "when will these babies stop burping up globs of gross stuff after every time they eat?  Then, one day it happened.  They stopped spitting up and those crusty re-used rags I draped over my shoulder were put away for good.  I don't even know the exact day that happened, but at some point I thought, "hey they stopped spitting up!" without even knowing it.

The number of times where we have daylight hours and warm enough temps to go for hikes is dwindling as we head into winter.  That's why every chance I get, we load up Max and hit the trail.  The twins stepped into the river, ankle deep, in their waterproof rain boots and walked back and forth a few times.  I wanted to say, "be careful!"  and "don't walk too deep or you'll get water in your boots!"  but I didn't.  We've reached the stage where i get to enjoy watching them choose and succeed or fail.   They have to.  If not, i'll be forever worrying and commanding and protecting them from every little thing.

As we walked through the dog park, the sun broke through the clouds and shined down on us like a spotlight on stage.  I gathered the twins and Max for a photo of what we did.  We closed our eyes, faced the sun, and just soaked in the rays.

Our apartment complex has a clubhouse.  in that clubhouse is a big room where Easton is learning to fly his quad copter.  He wants a drone, but the starter version I bought for him must be mastered first.  As we were playing I noticed a chess set on a table.  He and I sat down and we played through a game of chess for the first time.  He's a smart boy and gets strategy very well.  I tried a couple of years ago to teach chess, but he was uninterested.  However, this time he was the one who asked to play and he's asked a few times since this picture when we can do it again.

This picture caused enormous laughter and giggling for several minutes.  Allow me to introduce the most humorous face swap ever.

When the twins look at the picture they burst out in laughter because it looks almost believable.  I took the pic while we waited in line for the ginger bread village located in a fancy Sheraton in downtown Seattle.  I saw a cub scout acquaintance post a Facebook picture of their visit.  Being the spontaneous dad with no responsibilities other than work, we loaded up the battle wagon and headed for downtown.  We waited in line for about 45 minutes and Kendra said it was worth it.  The Harry Potter themed village was a work of delicious art.  The twins have not seen any of the movies yet so Kendra did lots of explaining as we admired the work.

Taking pictures of kids is difficult because if they are in front of something visually stimulating, it is
nearly impossible to get a natural smile while forcing them to turn around with threats.

We went to the ocean because... we can.  While in downtown Seattle we decided to go to a state park nearby.  Kendra stayed in the van because we didn't get a parking pass at the visitor's center before driving down to the waterfront.  Layla immediately looks for shells.  Easton skips rocks.  just like clockwork I know exactly what the two of them will do as soon as their feet touch the shoreline.

and I just get to help them find shiny shells and smooth rocks.  I'm glad they are so unique.  makes parenting so much more interesting.  I made them get into the picture and said to make a weird face.  Layla came up with that and Easton had no idea what i even meant by it.

We walked by an old lighthouse in Discovery Park.  It was closed and raining so we did a quick peek in the windows and kept on going.  They've seen enough light houses in the past few months to last them another year or two.  The rain was steady and annoying.  This is the most rain Seattle has ever recorded in the month of October and November is the rainiest month of the year on average.  That means we're getting immersed in the local scene in fine fashion.  

Easton is into Pokemon.  Layla is mildly interested, but only because it is something she can play with Easton.  I told him I would buy him a set of Pokemon cards if he completed all memorization and understanding and work to get his first badge in cub scouts.  I was shocked at the motivation and speed at which he became Mr. "I can do anything I put my mind to".  He did it all in one afternoon.  I'm a man of my word so we went to Target before bedtime to fulfill my end of the bargain.  He is really getting excited about cub scouts and Pokemon!  The thing i like most about the trading card game is that he invited me into his world.  I learned the rules with him and play the game almost every day.  Not because I think it's awesome, but because I am interested in him and whatever he is pursuing.  When he says, "come on, Dad!  sit here with me and look through my cards."  I am overjoyed inside because he still wants me to be in his world.  i'm interested in maintaining this level of connection through his whole life and it starts with the little things like this.

See you soon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Settling in Seattle

Greetings family,

Today is just another Monday.  There were months in 2015 when I dreamed of a plain old Monday where I go to work and Kendra stays home and the kids go to school.  I won't suggest we are back to the same ole' same ole', but there is so much peacefulness in getting back to basics and back to simplicity.  Kendra is experiencing some pain still in her back and hips, but it's nothing compared to what she went through last year.  Layla and Easton are not liking school because their classmates are not being kind to them, but i'm glad for them to be on the other side of the "new kid" equation and understand how they can respond to new kids once they get established next year.  My job is roughly twice as time consuming as my last job and i'm in over my head technically, but i'm grateful for every meeting and decision and success. 

My 12 year old car with 110,000 miles ( the one I brag about how awesome it is) cost me $3,500 in repairs in the past week.  sure beats having a car payment, but I'm really starting to question the financial smarts of keeping it another 5 years while we pay off the van.  This is the kind of stuff that my dad/husband brain thinks about in my idle time.  Hoping for a smooth winter with no car problems...

Kendra's hair is in that in-between stage where it's not short enough to just wash and go, but it's not long enough to put in a pony tail.  So Layla brushes her hair and keeps her from cutting it off when she gets frustrated about it.

When Ouma cleans, she uses the special gloves.  When Layla cleans, which is a new thing around our house, she also uses the same gloves.  She said, "wow, it's not so disgusting to touch yucky food with these on".

Layla is back on the ice.  She has a new coach, new rink, and new routines.  Now it's time to get her some new skates too since she grew out of her old ones.  I am thankful for a flexible work schedule here similar to what i had at my old job where i can be an active part of the kid's world in the afternoons.

See that white stuff on the mountains?  yeah, so...  we're gonna get some snow.  but if we don't then we'll be going up to it this winter.

Easton needed the cub scout gear in order to jump in with the program.  we went to the boy scout Mecca in Seattle where they have every badge and book and piece of gear you could think of.  He'll be ready to join in at the first of the year when the holidays are over.

I told him to look scared for this next picture of the bigfoot holding him in a headlock, but he doesn't even have a scared look that I know of.  He's a little too serious sometimes for a third grader, but whatever he puts his mind to, he can accomplish so i'm expecting him to jump in with both feet as a scout.

The other big news for the Webbs is that our house loan is approved, appraised, completed, and almost closed.  we close officially on December 7th and move in on the 16th!  We are all tired of living out of a suitcase and ready to really settle into our new life in Seattle