Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Man Camping

Howdy family,

Easton and I had the most excellent camping trip weekend.  This is what we "boy time" at the extreme end because it was just the three of us boys being away together alone.  We camped at Larrabee State Park where the campsite was right on the ocean.  Well, it was in the "sound".  According to locals, the ocean is different than the Puget Sound.  Anyway, this is the view we had a few hundred yards away from our site.

A campfire made it feel authentic.  I got to teach him how to build a proper fire and he'll be amazed by flames for the rest of his life, like I am.  This attempt failed because the wood was too wet, but we were both too tired and ready for bed to bother anymore.

Our campsite was awesome and disastrous.  We were nestled between a main road where cars and motorcycles roared by and a railroad track where the train went by hourly...  all. night. long.  That's the rough part.  The good aspect was the mostly-flat, dry ground and large space for us to spread out our stuff.  I bought a new tent because our old was wore out.  This one is canvas and will probably outlast me in years.

We went to bed fairly early and after a sleepless, cold night I woke up at 5:30am to find this. 

Easton staring at me waiting for me to move a muscle.  I did and he immediately jumped into a sales pitch about how great it would be to see the sunrise over the ocean.  So we did!  Max was bouncing off the walls, I mean bridges.  He was running back and forth so fast that he looks like a blur. We walked through some green forest scenery that looked like the set of a movie. 

down to the ocean where we were the only people in the entire bay.  Easton used his pocket knife to stab tiny crabs that would crawl out when rocks were turned over.  Max ran free all over the beach and I followed wherever they wanted to go. 

I bought some wood because it's illegal to cut anything down out here.  Easton learned how to chop with a hatchet so that we could get the fire started. 

This time it really worked well.  I was impressed with Easton's ability to kick back and relax.  He's an active kind of kid, which is really awesome.  However, it was pleasant to simply "be" without doing anything at all.  We had several thoughtful conversations where I loved every minute.  I want so badly for the twins to be open and honest with us about everything in life, including the good, bad, and the ugly.  That's not always the case from my own personal experience and stories from other kids and adults.  The thing I noticed most about this moment in the picture was how grown up he looks.  it's a little bit of a shock when I realized the little toddler is almost a "pre-teen". 

No campout is complete without eating some fire roasted meat products.  Easton's nick name is "hot dog" so this moment had several jokes and laughs. 

We walked to the beach several times during our two-day trip.  One time was to explore a cave.  Easton and I climbed up this make-shift ladder and found a cave.  We came back with flashlights and muddy clothes so we could check it out. 

We squeezed our way into the muddy opening.  Easton's responses of amazement were such a joy.  I am proud of his adventurous spirit and curious nature.

whittling is an essential skill and very enjoyable in the right setting.  Easton felt so empowered to keep his pocket knife with him during the entire trip.  I used my grandpa's knife that was well-worn and sharp as a razor. 

Nobody in the entire campsite had more fun than Max.  He had the time of his life because the wide open spaces and endless wildlife kept him entertained the whole time. 

There wasn't much of a museum or history experience here other than the plaque declaring this as the oldest state park in the state of Washington. 

When we arrived home, Max poured out of his seat and onto the driveway pavement.  He didn't move a muscle as we unloaded the smelly, dirty camping mess.  We were all dog tired, including the dog.

While the boys were freezing our booty off in the woods, Layla had a girl's weekend with Kendra and Alaysha.  Layla's figure skating organization took over 200 skaters to the stars on ice show in Seattle.  Alaysha was kind enough to take Layla and they had an awesome time.  Their early arrival resulted in Layla getting a picture with Gracie Gold who was an Olympic medalist in the 2014 events.  Layla was star struck, but had enough courage to talk to her and ask for a picture. 

Each weekend seems to bring its own unique adventures even more so here in Seattle.  We are ramping up for summer fun by swapping out our scarfs and hats for shorts and flip-flops.  summer is coming...

See you soon!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Developing Relationships

Howdy family,

The 4 Webbs are sliding into home plate for the school year.  A month from now the twins will wrap up 3rd grade.  They attended 4 classrooms this year:  Tempe, Redmond, home school, and Bothell.  That's a lot of changes in a short amount of time, but I am extremely proud of their flexibility and going with the flow. As we settle into the spring season and exit the wettest winter ever in Seattle, we are discovering more neighborhood community in a few months than we had in 15 years in Phoenix.  Easton declared his new best friend is our next door neighbor.  they hang out every chance they get and sometimes include me in their fun. 

Easton invited me to play out a scene from Halo with their Legos.  He still wants to include me in their play time.  that means so much to me. 

Cain had three blow-up punching gloves which the boys used to chase each other around the street beating each other up.  I gave mine to our other next door neighbor, Tashinga, and took pictures instead of getting hit. 

I took the three amigos to the park for a hike down to the lake.  Easton and Cain wanted me to spin them in the tire swing, but Tashinga was not interested in joining.  Nobody puked and there was plenty of laughter.  that's a successful day at the park with three boys.

I convinced them to sit still long enough to take a picture.  We hiked down to the lake about 15 minutes from our house where there is plenty of trees and rocks to climb on.  They burned a ton of energy playing in the mud and beach.

Tashinga is a couple of years younger than Easton so the connection for friendship isn't quite as strong as it is with Cain.  But they all three have fun together and it's good for Easton to include someone younger so he can be a big brother.  Most everyone has a best friend at some point in their life and I'm really happy for Easton to have Cain. 

However, nobody replaces the bonds of brother and sister when it comes to the twins. They still spend most of their time at home with each other when their neighbor friends aren't around.  I walked with the twins home from Easton's track meet.  They were picking dandelions along the way and blowing them into the wind.  Layla found a flower she knew Mom would like so she ditched the dandelions and gathered a bouquet for Kendra. 

I bribe Easton and I'm not ashamed at all as a parent to employ this technique.  I bought a used copy of Halo 2 from Amazon for $7 because I heard Easton asking about the game.  It arrived in the mail, but I talked with him already about what is required for him to earn it.  I told him to read the book of Mark and John in the Bible and then compare and contrast them in a conversation with the family. He read both books in two evenings and was able to explain the key points and differences.  We were all super impressed, but he set the bar really high now that we know his potential. 

There are all kinds of ways we are developing relationships and reaching out to our neighborhood and city.  Kendra and I went to breakfast for a morning date once the kids were dropped off at school.  during breakfast at the diner she told the waitress she wanted to pay for an elderly couple's breakfast.  We paid for their meal and Kendra went over to sit with them.  She explained that God asked her to do that for them as a way to honor them. 

Then, as we left the restaurant Kendra was on the phone with a friend, praying with her about a medical situation with her husband. 

When we arrived home she grabbed some cookies and put them in a bag.  She walked down to a neighbor's house where she prayed with her for healing in her family because they were sick. 

A few months ago I asked a dangerous question:  "What is The Church?"  I've been reshaping what I believe about the answer to that question by using only the Bible to define it.  The camera lens of my heart is coming into clearer focus with answers to what The Church is just by watching Kendra step into the reality of what the Bible describes.  The fruit is coming, but right now we are busy planting seeds.   

Thursday, May 11, 2017

track, tulips, and trails

Howdy family,

The 4 Webbs are all swell.  Kendra's CT scan last week confirmed she is still cancer free and free to be who she is meant to be.  We survived the rainiest winter in the history of Seattle.  Now it's time for a spring season like we've never experienced and the best summer of our lives.

Layla's eye for beauty is opened wide and being filled with God's glorious nature.  She loves picking flowers, even weeds that look like flowers.  I saw her walking across the sports field and took this picture.  I glanced at the camera screen to see if i caught the image I was hoping for and I stood there in shock wondering, "who is this young lady?"  and just like that...  I'm the father of a young lady.

Easton signed up for track and field.  Not because he has a love of sports, but because he thought it would be fun to get out of school 10 minutes early each Tuesday to drive across town to the other schools.  Whatever gets him going!  He practices every day at recess and this was his first "meet".  Layla didn't know that the word meet is synonymous with competition.  She wishes she had signed up because she sees her friends competing, but Layla is just as happy to be a cheer leader for her school.

Easton says there are no girls at his school who have a crush on him, but I am convinced he's just missing out on the signals, which is totally fine by this dad.

Easton competed in the 75 yard dash, the 400 relay, and kick ball.  His relay team came in second, but when Easton completed his leg of the relay they were in first place.  He's a good runner!

Kendra and Layla provided plenty of cheer support and congratulations to encourage Easton.  in between events they hung out together looking like angels on the field.

We gave him some pep talks so he would stay out trouble.  He started climbing the trees on the school property and some other boys followed his lead.  I'm glad he's a leader, but he's figuring out how to lead in the right direction...

kick ball was a new competition since i last participated 30 years ago.  The green ball at the top of the picture is Easton's attempt.  He earned third place for this event and he didn't even really try his hardest.

He walked away with a few ribbons that he'll probably keep for the next couple of decades.  I could see the sense of pride in his accomplishments, but I didn't see the passion for track events that I see in his eyes about other things.  We'll keep him running through the remainder of the short season because we make sure when the twins sign up for something that they finish strong and stay with it.

I have a new employee on my team whose family just moved up from Texas.  I wanted the 4 Webbs to give them a warm welcome to the Pacific North West so we took a day trip up North.  We stopped at Roozengaarde where they are tulip crazy.

Layla's favorite color was obviously the rows and rows of pink tulips.

Kendra jumped into the scene because I really wanted to capture the two lovely Webb girls among the colorful field.

My favorite was the red ones because they are so vibrant and deep in color.  The day was a little chilly, but at least we didn't have to deal with wind or rain.  The fields are a real sight to behold and I was most grateful to walk hand-in-hand with Kendra through them.

The twins found the tallest dandelions I've ever seen.  The weed field next to the tulips was two feet high and full of these things.

As we walked away from the fields, Layla came up next to me and grabbed my hand.  we smiled at each other and shuffled along the dusty path as she sniffed the tulip that had fallen off the stem.

Here's the main sign for the company.  My employee's son hung on tightly to the sign for no apparent reason other than he is 5 years old.   The twins were extremely kind to him, which made me proud.

After the flower stop we drove up to Deception Pass State Park where we crossed an amazing bridge and parked.  We walked down from there to the beach area where we played and soaked in the sun, sights, and sounds of the ocean.

The twins found a hollow log of driftwood that was so huge they climbed inside!

After the beach time we took a hike around goose rock trail.  It was probably around 4 miles climbing to the summit and then down the other side.  The twins found another tree to climb because their eyes are keenly trained to spot any tree worth climbing.  This is such an odd idea considering there are virtually no trees in the whole town of Phoenix big enough to climb.

We paused at the top to take in the views of horizon.  Layla laid down on the grass and voluntarily posed for me to take a picture.

Then I told Kendra and Layla to show me the Sound of Music scene because that's what it felt like on top of the mountain.  Kendra danced around and sang as we smiled along with them.

The reality is that Kendra's dealing with sadness in her own time and these moments of joy and happiness are equally as authentic as the sad ones.  Almost eight months ago we left Phoenix.  She is slowly coming around to adjusting to the new realities of life.  It's not all sunshine and rainbows, but I fully appreciate every moment when it is.

See you soon!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

April Showers to May Downpours

Hey family,

The 4 Webbs survived the wettest winter in Seattle's recorded history.  We finally hit our limit and have joined in the crazy, homeless-looking, screaming people who appear to be talking to themselves as they walk down the street.  I discovered these are just Seattle residence who've hit their limit on rainy days.

A sunny day or two came along and we stopped the world to enjoy it.  My neighbor wasn't sure if it was manly enough to ride Kendra's mountain bike because it is a gender-neutral, red one.  I told him i'd ride Alaysha's bike a mile to the elementary school with Max in the basket if he would just go ride mountain bikes with me.  He called my bluff so here's the result.

We had a great ride past a baseball field full of spectators and players.  I smiled and waved and rang my little bell as we rode past.  People smiled and waved back after a few double-takes from people who have never seen a grown man ride a pink bike with a dog in the basket.  Max was relaxed and happy the whole time just sitting comfortably as the wind crammed all manner of smells up his nose.

"Love your neighbor" should look like something.  We are doing more than just praying for our neighbors. We are spending time with them, caring for them, sharing with them, and discovering who they are.  Our next door neighbor's daughter is a few years younger than Layla.  Layla treats her like a little sister as they play dress up, dance to music, and color outside... in the sun...  on the one sunny day we've had this year.

It's been a while since I've blogged so this is a lot of catching up.  After Easter we went to Christy and Doyle's house for a family reunion of sorts.  They get together every holiday and we get to be included in their fun.  They even had an Easter egg hunt where Easton found the money egg with $25 in it!  They had a blast finding and opening the plastic eggs filled with candies and coins.  The family fun day made the Easter holiday weekend feel more normal. 

I took the twins and Evelyn to the neighborhood park while the adults chatted.  They went on a nature hunt without my prompting.  They dug up worms and flipped over rocks looking for roly poly bugs.  They came to me with their hands full dirt and creepy crawly things.  At least they all had smiles to go along with the dirty hands.

Layla is still going strong with her weekly regimen of figure skating.  I usually take her to the private lesson and Kendra takes her to the group lesson each week.  She is working on improving her routine for the next competition, but that won't be for a few months.  I'll be joining her and about 200 other ice skaters from her arena to watch Disney on Ice in a few weeks.  i'll be wearing my skate dad shirt for that one!

Easton's latest kick is still Halo.  He and the next door neighbor are continually playing with Halo building block toys and playing the video game.  We still have the old XBox360 so he can't play the latest and greatest game, but i'm very happy that he is content playing the older games.  His earned money beyond giving and saving all goes towards Halo Lego sets.  

There is this dog, Max, who loves to cuddle with Kendra.  We talk almost every day about how awesome he is as a family dog.  Easton and Layla are keeping their end of the bargain by taking care of food, water, and the dooty duty.  This makes life with Max even better for Kendra and I.  The twins get some responsibility and Kendra gets a companion who goes with her everywhere.

Am I a good or bad parent for bribing the twins to do 30 minutes of P90X3 exercise?  I'm still undecided.  They sweat their butts off and the low impact, heart-pounding exercise is good cross-training for their other sports. 

Layla does: figure skating, hiking, mountain biking, dancing (XBOX 360 style) and climbing trees in the park.  That's a typical week for this girl.  I wanted to introduce her to the great Washington biking scene and she loved it!

The roots were way more teeth-chattering with her bouncing around behind me than when I'm by myself, but it was worth it.  we rode some of the most technical trails I've come across.  She's a warrior.

And a princes...  "Dad look at this little lady bug I found!"

No fear for this girl.  We didn't ride our bikes across the dangerous wooden tracks, but she was excited to climb and run off the end.

Easton does: Ninja gymnastics, mountain bike riding, hiking, track & field, and climbing trees in the park. Our neighbor takes Easton when they take their son to the gym where the boys get to bounce and jump around on all manner of equipment.  He loves it and we are glad for the boys to enjoy doing something more than playing video games.

Seattle has so much to offer when it comes to outdoor experiences.  I heard people talk about it before moving here, but it's hard to describe without seeing it in person.  An example of this is when  we spontaneously decided to take the 4 Webbs and Max for an outdoor hike.  Kendra spun through the options in her head and 15 minutes later we were deep in the forest exploring scenes from the set of Lord of the Rings. 

It's hard to believe, but this picture below is unfiltered.  The colors really are this vibrant and there is so much life that living things grow on living things. 

And of course there is a park so we gladly take a few minutes to play on all the equipment.

By "we", I mean all 4 Webbs.  This is a family outing so let's take advantage of the 4 person seesaw!  I had hoped for a more professional picture, but this is the best we could do with a random stranger taking the picture of us in our outside, muddy clothes.

Let me get back the "love your neighbor" idea...  My next door neighbor is really cool and their 4-pack of family members all get along swell with us.  We have them over for dinner, take them cookies, and care for their kids in our house.  I invited my neighbor to go mountain bike riding, but he hasn't been and doesn't have a bike.  This is not a problem because I'm happy to take him and let him use Kendra's bike and gear. 

I am so fulfilled by getting to ride my bike on the amazing trails of Seattle. I've been waiting for almost a year to ride because of the brutal Phoenix summer and freezing Seattle winter back-to-back.  Now it's time to get my lungs, legs, and heart back in tip-top condition.  I also took Layla out for a ride but i'll save that for the next post.

See you soon!