Monday, December 25, 2017

Sliding into December

Hello family,

The 4 Webbs are staying home this Christmas.  After our adventurous trip for Thanksgiving to Missouri we are preparing for our epic Disney vacation and cruise in February.  That means it's time get our financial house in order.

We bought a real tree because we plan to buy a fake one after Christmas during clearance time.  We decorated inside really well, but didn't do much with our outside.  Could be my laziness, but with the cold, wet weather I wasn't excited about hanging from my gutter to add lights.  Maybe next year.

Our neighbors are becoming close friends quickly as we do life together in ways we've never experienced before.  Kendra hangs out with Amber almost every day, our kids go in and out of each other's house as if they were family, and I am hanging out with Simba more regularly than any other guy in our world.  Even Ouma is getting in on the neighbor time as they love her as much as we do.

Easton and Layla are still best friends after all of these almost 10 years.  In six weeks we will be parents of two double-digit aged kids.  They both have extra warm onesie pajamas they wear all weekend long and every night to bed.  I like their willingness to be silly.

Layla performed at the "winter solstice" figure skating event.  It's Washington so they can't bring themselves to call it Christmas, but we do what we can to spread Jesus to an overly politically correct metro area of Seattle.

Anyway, Layla skated with Ivy, who is a cute beginner.  Layla skated circles around Layla while Ivy just moved around being cute.  It was just a simple routine to have some fun together.

The bad part is that my video camera didn't work... again.  It's so difficult to know if it is recording or not.  The good part is that Ouma was here to cheer her on and congratulate her afterwards.  Seeing this three-generation picture is heart-warming for me.

In the midst of our Ouma week, my uncle Wayne came through for a few days as he waits on work to be done towards his house building project.  Wayne brought the most basic of all family traditions to our house:  dominoes.  Growing up i remember dominoes being played at every single family reunion and gathering other than funerals and weddings.    Easton and Layla picked it up easily and we had a great time playing and learning together.

Easton sat with me at first and I showed him the ropes.  After a game he was on his own and scoring points.

Layla is catching up to Easton quickly when it comes to math skills.  She is showing great improvement in the key measurements for 4th grade.

Reading is the other common skill besides math that seems to get regular attention at home and school.  Easton completed 12 of the Warriors books and Layla is working her way through them to catch up.  He started reading the series first, but then it caught Layla's attention.  Now they are both soaking in these books as fast as we can buy them.  The third series is in the mail to us already.

I took the twins to my gym when they had a kids evening.  We played badminton and basketball as well as running through obstacle courses together.  They are getting the hang of it, but they don't have the deep love for it that Oupa does, yet.  I'm proud of them for trying and improving little by little.

Easton spends every spare second with our neighbors Kain and Tashinga.  They play legos and video games and nerf gun wars.  I regularly say, "where are them boys?" and invariably they are playing together from house to house doing a great job of staying out of trouble. I'm happy for Easton to have buddies close by.

Layla is at the point of testing for her next level in figure skating.  She is finally getting in the harness to train her jumps.  It's a big transition from being on the ground to in the air.  Her passion for skating is unwavering.  I'm impressed with her continual improvement and we'll do our best to support her in her passion.

Ouma brought the advent calendar tree with her to give the twins a special treat every day.  Easton is the first one awake as always.  He heads downstairs and opens the door for the matching date to find a piece of candy.  It's Ouma's way of sweetening every day of the month.  That other paper calendar next to it with "60 days" on it is our count down to Disney!  we're ready to start counting down the days. :)

See you soon!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Turkey Day 7-8

Howdy family,

This is the last post of our trip to Springfield. The big Thanksgiving day turkey feast at Joanie's house was a grand event.  I haven't had Thanksgiving with my family since I moved after college 20 years ago.  I know my mom and dad appreciated having everyone together as much as we did. 

Joanie made the whole experience amazing for the kids.  Since we aren't around for the other holidays and birthdays she planned a full sleep-over extravaganza that included every holiday and birthday for the next year.  The twins will never forget this.

Each kid sent up a paper lantern into the sky for the 4th of July celebration.

They floated high into the sky as each kid's lantern went up and out of sight. 

They did each month and made the birthday time special for each person.

I happened to be there for the March birthdays so they sang to me and I ate my cupcake in one big bite.  The kids were inspired by my cake eating abilities.

They even did halloween trick-or-treat time together.  Their neighbors were prepared with candy as the whole crew went door to door in November to get candy stuffed into their bags. 

The summer celebration was a field trip to a hotel with an indoor pool and water slide.  The whole crew burned major energy through this part of the evening.

They finished the night with a dance party, complete with DJ Eli and Silas.  This was Layla's favorite part of the night. 

They went to bed late and crashed on the bedroom floors together.  The sleep-over part of the night was exciting because we never let Easton or Layla do that with friends or neighbors.  The next morning they continued the year of celebration with breakfast.  I don't know how Joanie managed to pull that off, but it was an incredible feat. 

We had a family photo shoot out at a local park.  Mom and Dad have always cherished the family photos of everyone and they haven't had a new one since we were there three years ago. 

We took some pics of the 4 Webbs and they turned out even better than I expected.

Easton and Layla had minimal screen/display time during this week of adventures.  On this rare occasion they rested on Nana's bed watching tv for some down time.  It's rare for them to be surrounded by Nana and all of her belongings and style. 

Papa gave Easton some knives.  He opened his toolbox full of knives and let Easton pick out whatever he wanted.  Easton found a few that excited him.  He asks regularly if he can whittle on the front porch, but it's not exactly front porch weather right now.  When spring comes he'll get a chance to use these for camping and cub scout outings.  It's nice to have some things that represent Papa.

Our flight home was uneventful.  Max held his bowels for the entire 8 hour trip home.  Kendra did some stretching and yoga in the airport while we waited during the layover.  Layla joined in and they did their thing without one bit of worrying what anyone around them thought. These two are so much alike that it still surprises me.

Now that we're done with the great turkey adventure I'm hoping for a slowdown into the final few weeks of the year.  We'll be spending our time laying low as we save and wait patiently for Disney trip in less than 60 days!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Turkey day 5-6


Most of my extended family took a trip across town to the Wonders of Wildlife museum in Springfield.  It'll be difficult to fully describe it in a blog post, but i can share a few slivers of how incredible it is.  A room exists where the walls are covered with big game.  this picture doesn't even show part of one wall, but at least it's a good one of Kendra and I.

There is a whole separate section of the aquarium containing an unbelievable number of live creatures that live in the water.  The rooms are massive and scale of animals on display dwarfs every other aquarium i've ever seen.  The twins are typical kids who run from one exhibit to the next.   We did our best to walk at a measured pace for us to enjoy the experience. 

One of the aquariums has a bubble in the middle where Easton and Layla stood in the little area surrounded on all sides by sea life.  it's as close to snorkeling as they have seen so far.

I'm including this other picture as well because the twins are at that in between age and size.  They are too short to stand next to us, but too big to pick up and hold.  so we're stuck with these pics for a while where we squat down next to them so we can get our faces together.

My brother's kids didn't come, but Joanie's did so it made for some excellent cousin memories.  When I was a kid we played tag in my grandma's front yard and watched the uncles play dominoes.  These experiences are so much greater and memorable than during my childhood. 

Back at my parents house I took the twins for our daily walk in the woods with Max.  I convinced them to pose for a picture on the hillside where the large, barren trees dot the landscape. 

A miniature red barn sits empty in the field.  I have no idea why it is there, but it made for some interesting fun as I put Easton and Layla on top of it. 

We watched Max play in the big field with his full smile and extra sharp senses.  He sniffed so many new things during our week that he was on overdrive. 

We spent an evening at my  brother's house where we had a full family meal and hang out time.  Easton played one on one with his cousin Beckham for the first time.  playing superheroes with nerf guns is second nature for both of them. 

This picture came out at a different time/day, but somehow ended up in this group.  Layla loved every minute playing with her cousins.  They were cheer leading, singing songs, and playing princess dress up.  Her experience of being one of the girls made the whole week special.

See you soon!  one more thanksgiving post and then we'll be ready for the Christmas season of adventures.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Turkey day 3-4

Howdy y'all,

After a couple of days around the Ozarks I could tell my accent was already back in action. Three years ago we visited here for my parents 50th anniversary.  We told Easton about the Titanic museum in Branson, but weren't able to go.  In our discussions about taking this trip, Easton made it clear he only has one expectation and that is to go to the Titanic museum.  I drove him there for some father-son time alone.  We arrived and were amazed by the size of the building and the likeness of the ship.

Unfortunately they don't allow any pictures inside the building so all we have is this one above and our memories.  The museum is full of real items from the ship and many others, such as Easton's favorite.  He really like the key to the locker where the binoculars were kept.  The guy left it at home and this is thought to be one of the many fatal mistakes.  Anyway, he was extremely satisfied with the hyped up experience and wants to go again... tomorrow.

Our daily hike out behind Papa's house was another successful romp through the woods with Max.  Easton brought Papa's binoculars to get close up views of red tailed hawks and rabbits. 

Easton had some learning time with Papa as they stood up three bird houses in the back yard.  There was drilling, sawing, and measuring going on to get them proudly mounted on the back fence for all to see.  Within a day, birds were building nests and taking up residence on the Webb property.  I'm glad Easton was able to have some instruction and learning time with Dad.

I didn't see Layla hardly at all this day because she was wrapped up in girly cousin fun dress up time.  Easton is in a gap with the cousins where there aren't any boys close to his age, but Layla and her cousins are right in the sweet spot for making good connections.

I went by my old university where i earned my under graduate degree.  two of my professors, one in math and one in computer science, were still there teaching in the same area.  Hard to believe it's been 20 years!  I took Easton with me for that trip (he took the picture). I'm glad he came because he was able to experience life on a college campus for the first time. 

My best friend for life is Ryan.  We've been friends since high school and will always be friends no matter what.  Lucky for me, he lives across town from my folks so Kendra and I took Easton to meet them out for an evening.  At his house he showed us around the property including some horse petting to make the farm feel complete.

Easton and I stayed the night at his house spontaneously.  I had no toothbrush or clothes, but that didn't matter.  We had a great time with Nerf gun wars, riding the self-balancing scooter, and staying up late talking.

Really made my week to have time with him and his family.  Easton had some much needed play time with his son, who is the same age.  We decided we will plan a trip in the summer of 2018 as a father-son double adventure somewhere.  not sure where we will go, but I set the target as "epic" and "achieving something substantial".  now we just need to get this in motion because summer will be here before we know it.

See you soon!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Turkey Day 1-2

Howdy family,

The 4 Webbs took a little trip to Missouri for a marvelous week of togetherness with my extended family.  I'm breaking this up into each day because there are just too many stories and pictures to capture in a single post. 

The trip started out great with our neighbor driving us in the battle wagon to the airport.  We walked up to the ticket counter and that's when I realized I left my driver's license at home.  Kendra and the twins breezed through and luckily I had my concealed carry license, a credit card, and my TSA precheck approval letter.  They let me on the plane!  The twins were dismayed at the thought of me not getting on the flight, but we kept our heads cool and showed them what it looks like to remain calm and go with the flow even when dad forgets his license. 

on the flight into springfield, the twins sat two rows behind Kendra and I.  It was a test run of what it would be like for them to fly together alone without us.  some day we'll let them go for real, but today is not that day. 

We arrived in springfield to cheers from Joanie's family and Nana and Papa.   They even had a sign made for us.  It was a pleasant surprise with lots of hugs.  We stopped by Culver's on the way home because we were hungry, then ate at Nana's house all together. 

I spent the next morning with Easton being productive and relaxing at the same time.  I went for a hair cut because i knew family portraits were on the agenda. While i was getting my hair cut by a lady named Kendra, she asked if she could fix Easton's hair too because the last place he went for a cut didn't do an excellent job.   

Then we went for Andy's because I set a goal to eat their delicious custard every day. Us two Seattle boys aren't used to so much direct sunlight.   You can tell by his expression how bright it was.   

The other thing we did every single day was walk Max in the massive acreage behind Nana's house.  I'm not sure if Max or Easton enjoyed exploring more.  We took my niece Trinity with us hoping to see some wildlife.  We were all delighted, including Max, with the sighting of a fox, a rabbit, a woodpecker, and many other birds.  It was like going to a zoo.

In the evening all of our family got together for dinner and games.  We haven't been here in three years so it was almost like a brand new experience for the twins.

Papa bought a new foam mattress for our room, which made Kendra's body very happy.  We both have a very narrow tolerance for sleeping conditions, which include bed firmness, temperature in the room, number of pillows (7 between the two of us), and thickness of blankets.  just to name a few.  We would never have made it as pioneers on a dirt floor with a pillow made of hay.  I am thankful we live in these wonderfully advanced and spoiled times.

see you soon!