Thursday, January 26, 2017

Building and Remodeling

Greetings family,

The controlled chaos at the Casa de Webb continues as we slowly make progress on the home remodel.  At any given moment you can see what I call the "Pigpen dust cloud" effect where Kendra and I look like Pigpen from Charlie Brown.  On some days entire rooms look that way.  Here's a kitchen a few days ago.  We laugh about it and have grown way too comfortable with this disaster area.  and our microwave broke.  still laughing about it...  nothing gets us down and we know our functional house is just a few short weeks away from becoming a maintainable reality.

One of our guiding principles for the home remodel was to get Easton and Layla's room settled as a top priority.  Kids need to have stability more than adults.  Easton is happy to have his room, but he's super excited about having his toys back.  It's Lego city in his room again.  He's already reassembled every star wars and jurrasic world lego set.  now, if he just had shelves big enough to display them...

Layla's room is more of an aqua than Easton's light blue.  Her new bedding and accessories, i mean stuffed animals, are neatly organized in her space.  She has new paint and new flooring to go along with her new bedding so it's like a whole new world for her.

The other adventure we had was the pinewood derby with Easton's cub scouts. This was our first try at building any wood craft like a slot car.  We went to a "build clinic", which was just a guy's garage full of wood working equipment who allowed Easton's group of cub scouts to work on their cars.   The bonus of the adventure was the "sibling" category where Layla built her own car and raced against other cub scout sisters.  Here she is sanding her car body in the wood shop full of boys and men.

Easton chose his car design from a stack of papers and I used the band saw to cut out something that resembled a car.

Not exactly a master piece, but as you can tell he didn't even notice.

The worked for an hour here at the wood shop and then we put in another couple of hours at home building and painting the coolest cars we could think up.

Layla gladly used the power tools including the dremel sander tool. Girls and boys should both know how to create with their hands and I'm glad Layla was able to join in the fun.

This is the scene on race day where 75 kids and cars ran down the track 4 times each.  Do the math and you get an idea of the long, enthusiastic day we enjoyed.

Layla was so busy being social with the other cub sisters that she didn't even care to take a picture with her car.  Easton was considerate enough to pose with his after the event was over.  Neither of them won even a single race, but that is because we didn't put in the time to polish the nails, buy graphite for the wheels, or spend hours getting the weight perfect.  We weren't there for the winner's circle anyway so I consider it a great experience for all of us.

Our house-mate, Alaysha doesn't make it on the blog much because she's busy working and volunteering so we don't see her as much as we would like, but I still get to have regular conversations in the evening about life and God and her future.  She met some new friends at church who invited her to a formal evening event.  Kendra jumped right in to help her pick out a dress, do her hair, and get ready for the special event.  I especially like how Layla is seeing what it means to be a modest, classy young adult who is developing her character and integrity.

The finish line for our insanely full schedules is just a few weeks away...  i can't wait...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Welcome to 2017

Happy New Year, family!

The Webb house remodel is consuming 110% of our free time, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  The light is made up of hope that one day soon we will be able to choose what to do with our free time, for a change.

I am in Chicago on a business trip and the first free moments after work, meetings, emails, and social events happens to be at 1:00am.  Things will get better and I know this is just a season.  life will slow down.

The twins started their new school, the fourth 3rd grade classroom they will have.  They are in separate classes, which seems to be going very well for both of them.  Layla's teacher is a man and Easton's is a woman.  They are making friends and adjusting even better than I expected.

One of the constants in Layla's world is figure skating.  She goes every week and is progressing well.  She has a performance coming up in a few weeks and is learning her routine.  She grew out of her old skates and wore them out at the same time.  They looked like they were ran over by the garbage truck, but it's not a big loss since we bought them used in the first place.  We bought her a brand new pair of skates.  Here she is getting a lesson from Miss Dara.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...  Ouma and Oupa rang in the new year at our house.  This is a pile of moving paper that was stacked from the copious amount of boxes (750?) we emptied.  The twins were paid handsomely for helping Ouma with this big pile.  Layla kept her dollars and Easton spent his on Pokemon trading cards.

We had very few moments of rest or adventure during the holiday season because our moving process consumed every bit of strength and time for all 4 Webbs and Ouma and Oupa.  On the way to drop Oupa off at the airport we stopped at a local favorite.  There is a photo opportunity with the sign in front of the restaurant where Easton and I made some faces while others watched our silliness.

This place is known for their root beer floats.  The twins have never had one and Oupa is a big fan.  As it turns out, the twins loved them and Oupa proved to be an aficionado by giving it a so-so rating.

After days and days of diligent work, our kitchen looked even more like a war zone than the day before.

There was a break in the rain and snow long enough for me to get the kids out of the house.  I wanted them to have some form of activity and excitement since they were cramped up in the house while we all focused on the move-in.  I asked my neighbor where to take our dog and the twins.  He gave me the name of a park and off we went.  They climbed around on everything in sight.  This tree made for a nice picture too!

There was snow/ice/sleet lightly covering the ground, but that didn't stop them at all from playing on the playground equipment.

We stomped through the mud down a one-mile trail that led us by lake washington.  Another family was down there and their son was out on a limb... literally.  Easton immediately climbed up there and began to shimmy his way out to say hello.  I discovered something about him.  He can go as far as someone can show him how to go.  I am certain he would never have ventured out onto the tree over the water unless that other kid was out there.  However, since he proved it can be done relatively safely, Easton was eager and successful.

Layla had her rain boots on so she was not sure-footed enough to join him.  This is one of my favorite picture in the past few months.  because it shows how comfortable we are becoming with our surroundings.

Even Max is starting to fit in like a native.

Max gets more cuddles than any dog I've ever met so I call him a pet-hole.  It's like a black hole that never ends, except he is a pet who likes to be petted and he never gets enough.  It's like a black hole of petting where he will always gladly accept more if anyone's hands are free.

We were sad to see Ouma and Oupa go, but grateful for their love and support.  Neill and Jenny will be joining us for a few days and Kendra is doing her best to get our house somewhat livable by then.  having a place to sit in the living room and a shower to use would be a hospitable place to get to before then.

see you soon!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Craziest Christmas Ever

Howdy family,

The 4 Webbs spent Christmas eve and Christmas morning with our mortgage lender's family, who we met only one time last month.  The story gets even weirder and better, but i'll save it for the pictures below to explain.

I've been sharing so much of time with the twins over the past few days that I'm even proud of myself, as a dad.  There are many things I could do with my time, but i'll never regret the adventures and experiences and conversations with my two offspring.  Yes, it's cold and yes, we are struggling a bit with being stuck indoors most of the time but there are some great things about cold and rainy weather.  The twins have been building forts and playing games and learning to work around the house.

As we unload our belongings into the house, piece by piece we are putting things back in order.   My bike was uncrated the other day.  This is the first time i've seen my most prized possession on the Earth in over 3 months.  I smiled from ear to ear when they pulled this beauty out of the box.

We've done more shopping in the past 2 weeks than in the past 6 months combined.  So much to buy for our new house that it's ridiculous.  On one of our trips to Bed, Bath, and beyond,  Layla saw the candles and asked to buy one.  After smelling 20 or so candles she settled on some berry medley.  She proudly lit it up at home and we've been smelling the lovely scent all week long.

This is what it looks like to be trapped inside when it is cold and snowy.  The view from our dining room across our small side yard and white fence, to the street next to us as the snow comes down.  I read an article about how it is good for kids to be bored sometimes. The reason is because it gives them a chance to figure out some imaginative things on their own.  It is rare for Easton and Layla to both be standing still, but the huge snow flakes falling on our property was awesomely shocking for them to see.

Meanwhile, Kendra filled holes in the walls with putty. I know she doesn't like me posting pictures of her in "work mode" with her hair messed up, but i like to express the realness of our lives and not just the glamour shots highlights.  Layla asks her often to let her hair grow out so Kendra is committed to keeping it shaggy through this phase so that she can get to the long hair stage again.

Oupa said the number 5 cause for divorce is moving.  It is stressful, but we have done really well together in spite of the odds.  I told her to pretend she is choking me just for fun, but she didn't play along very well as being the psycho wife.  We've had our moments of disagreements, but even through the furniture shopping, repair projects, and improvements we are still holding hands, talking through the issues, and being a good team.

So now we get to the Christmas story to beat all...  Neill and Jenny know a family in Seattle.  He is a mortgage lender and we needed to buy a house.  Neill connected us and he helped us get through the home buying process.  As we were texting he asked if the 4 Webbs wanted to come over for Christmas weekend.  I don't mean "stop by for some dessert" or "lets go caroling".  He offered to let all of us stay with them in their house for Christmas eve and Christmas morning.  Many people make offers just to be polite, but I could tell he was serious.  I agreed and we showed up on Christmas eve with our battle wagon packed for the festivities.

Come to find out, they had another newly wed couple, who is his best friend, staying the night as well.  Their son, Ace, is 11 years old and did a decent job of spending time with the twins.  Monopoly is a very good weekend-sleepover kind of game.

I was glad to see Easton experience what it would be like to have a "big brother" to put him in a headlock and rough house a little.

We've been wearing our onesies everywhere; around town, to the store, out for dinner...  people look and make comments and smile and some even pay us compliments.  I do this because I want Easton and Layla to know it is ok to stand out and be different.  it's ok to be fun and silly and have people look at us.  going over to Neal's house and staying with them for Christmas eve/day was spontaneous, but I'm glad we went.

We stayed up until 2:00am talking with the adults.  Christmas morning was exciting for all of the right reasons.  We slept in a bit, the twins were awesomely patient, and after a big breakfast we had presents to unwrap and stockings to empty. This is crazy neighborly love.  Neal invited our family to stay the night with them in their house.  They fed us meals.  They gave us presents.  This is not normal, but i want us to live this way.  We were the recipients of the most amazing gift of hospitality that i've ever experienced.

some of the gifts were from family, like Nana and Papa and aunt Joanie.

Watching Easton and Layla open gifts is a joy in it's own class of greatness.  I love seeing the anticipation and the expression of excitement for the gift inside.

Even Kendra and I got in on the present unwrapping goodness.  My mom made a vest for Kendra to match the ones she made for the rest of the ladies in our family.  Even though we weren't able to be there it was a small link to the togetherness of the Webbs we are missing lately.

After presents we had a birthday party for Jesus.  We had candles and a cake and a birthday song just for him.  It was odd because we've never done that, but I'm glad we did because that is really the emphasis of why we have Christmas.  Every person who takes a day off work, every business that shuts down, and every dollar that is spent all are in honor of Jesus' birthday whether people recognize it or not.  

We left around lunch time to get back home to the crazy chaos of our house.  I took the twins out for a hike because we all needed some physical activity and sunshine.  The old saying, "make hay while the sun is shining" applies.  If the sun comes out, then we go outside.  period.  

Ouma and Oupa arrived the day after Christmas.  Their presence is the present.  Although Christmas wouldn't be the same without gifts.  She made Easton and Layla their own personal quilt.  My grandma made me a quilt and I still have it to this day!  I bet the twins will have these for decades because they are so personalized.

The last week of the year was spent painting.  I mean every second of every day from december 26th to January 1.  After the new flooring went in, we painted every square inch of our house.

Ouma and Oupa were given yet another opportunity to wear their "in-law moving and repairman service" shirts.  They have been such a blessing for us to make Kendra's personal touch on the house and clean up effort become a reality.  i can't imagine doing this without them.

Max has been bored for days.  cold weather and busy family leads to inactivity for poor Max.  He laid down on Alaysha's bed by the fireplace.  She is sleeping on an air mattress in the living room while we remodel her room.  Max takes advantage of the comfy spot by resting peacefully as we scurry around the house like worker ants.

There is a city park just down the street from our house.  I took a break from the work to get us all some exercise and vitamin D.  The twins have been so amazing this past week as we work long hours each day to reduce the chaos and bring order to the functionality of our home life.  I'm proud of them for making these many transitions so gracefully.  Kids are resilient and I believe that even more after seeing them do so well in the past 4 months of craziness.  

I consider this final picture to be our official Christmas picture of 2016.  Everyone is supposed to act like the character of their onesie.  I'm a tree...  Just a silly Christmas thee and this is the wrap up of my 2016.

Here's my facebook post that I want to be sure to capture on the blog because it summarizes my attitude about the new year:

2016 was awesome! I had difficulties, pain, loss, concern, and change just like everyone else. Hollywood stars died just like they do every year. Political elections and voting happened just like every year. I got older, just like every year. 2016 was not perfect nor insurmountably disastrous. No year is.

I'm going to focus on two things: firstly, great things happened this year and I choose to focus on what is good and right and positive. Secondly, i am the same person on the last day of this year as I am on the first day of next year. I am the only thing I take with me into 2017. Just me. The amount I am willing to adjust regarding what I believe about myself will determine the level of growth I experience in 2017.

I don't blame a calendar or a politician or friend or relative or any other external circumstance for who I am or who I become. The responsibility rests entirely on me and my response to whatever 2017 has in store. I get to live in a peaceful rest even in the middle of incredible change. At one point in 2016 I was car-less, homeless, and jobless. I have a new job, new house, new state, and a new life. Fresh starts are a blessing. Trials are a blessing. Overcoming is a blessing.
I am thankful for 2016 and the people who were a part of my journey through it. I am excited about the functional relationships I get to discover and develop as we plant our roots deep in the community in 2017. Happy New Year, family!

see you soon