Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Daddy Camp

Howdy family,

The weekend after Kendra and the twins arrived home from a 15-day trip to Sacramento, I loaded up the twins and headed to the mountains.  Leaving Kendra in her freshly cleaned house alone for a weekend was hard for me to be away from her, but happy for her to have some peace and quiet.  Wouldn't it be funny to name my twins Peace and Quiet?

Anyway, this is my primo photo from the trip showing the sun, the forest, the river, the rustic railroad bridge and three smiling faces.  We had a blast.  No major injuries = successful camping trip.

but wait!  there's more!  Our next door neighbors joined us for the weekend.  Clay, Kain, and Rowan made this a daddy campout times two.  His wife stayed home as well so the six of us had a memorable time together.

We did some semi-dangerous things like walk out on a railroad bridge, knowing a train could come at any moment.  The scenery was just too much to capture in a picture, but this is a decent representation of what we experienced.  Our weekend in the Cascade mountains was much richer and different than I expected.  The last many years of camping in the desert has it's own beauty, but setting up our tent next to several 60 foot tall trees was a whole new ball game.

On Saturday afternoon we took a trip into the small town of Skykomish.  The names of many towns in Washington are Indian so they sound very odd to me.  Anyway, we heard a tip from our campground host that they have free train rides.  He was right!  This ride-on train took a loop around the property.  It was a longer ride than expected and that was a good thing.  We all rode it once together and then the kids rode it without the dads twice. 

There were two trains on separate tracks and this guy rode facing all the passengers every time.  kind of creepy to be stared at the whole time, but not enough to deter us from riding it again. 

The train conductor driving the train looks exactly like you might imagine one to appear.  These are all volunteers and the nicest people you'll ever meet.  The tunnel was super fun for Rowan, the five year old, as well as the bigger kids.  Us dads screamed loudly as we passed through it, much to the embarrassment of the kids.  

Back at camp we had a great fire both nights.  wood was purchased at $6 per tiny bundle of logs from the camp host because although we were standing in a FOREST it is illegal to chop dead wood for logs.  so here's us, following the laws because that's just what we do.

I brought an extra tent.  I told Easton and Kain that if they want to stay in their own separate tent, then they have to put it up all by themselves.  no whining, no instructions from me, and definitely no help from Layla, the extreme helper.  Well, they did it in record time just as I expected.  It's amazing how resourceful and full of grit these boys can be when there is something on the line.

As they were getting ready for bed they poked their heads out of the tent to keep the mosquitoes out while responding to Clay's instructions. this sums up their friendship really well.  Easton has never had a best friend before, but these two get along so well and like to hang out every day if we let them.

These pictures are out of order because i'm lazy. just and FYI.  When we first arrived at camp, Kain rode with us to stake out the camp sites and lay claim to one.  We jointly decided on a sweet one between the main road and the railroad tracks... because all of them were in the same lousy location.

The saving grace was the river a few yards away from our tent.  we went down to check the current and conditions.  I staged this shot for grins.  It's my favorite one of the trip too.

Layla and Easton brought their water socks because we are overly cautious parents who don't want our kid's feet being lacerated with glass or barnacles.  Layla looks much older than nine.  Some moments I look at her and think, "wow, she's already a young lady?!"

The only good part about the railroad tracks being so close is the excitement of watching a train go by. We were up close and personal with this train with 125 boxcars in it.

I requested Easton and Layla to hold hands and walk down the railroad tracks.  This is not a normal thing for them to do, but their hearts really are like this when it comes to friendship.  They are best friends and we are fortunate to have set that foundation from birth.

As with all of our campouts, we ate like ravenous raccoons including ice cream for afternoon snack overlooking the river.

We asked the camp host where to go for a river with a beach and he directed us to a bridge on an abandoned highway.  We walked down to the water and found a jewel of a location where the water wasn't too deep or fast moving.  Easton looked in the water and saw a newt or salamander creature moving.  He bravely scooped it up and we spent the next two hours making a newt zoo.

Clay built some dams with sticks and rocks and mud.  the water flowed through and the creatures stayed put.

Layla jumped in on the action and caught her own collection of newts (or salamanders... whatever they are).  She gave them names like daisy and rainbow and jumper.  This adventure was the most memorable one of the trip.  We were splashing and playing and catching these things until we were water logged and hungry.

Easton discovered the joys of using a hatchet on dead wood.  This stump was fair game for him to whack away although the blade was so dull that it barely stuck in the wood.

On the other side of camp, Layla and Rowan were coloring pages from her coloring book.  They got along so well.  I'm proud of Layla for being a big sister and taking care of her.

We watched the sunset by the river as we avoided mosquitoes and skipped rocks.  I skipped so many rocks that my elbow as sore.  The boys were throwing rocks up in the air and watching them break so they can look inside.  They are little, inquisitive explorers.

The water wasn't as cold as I expected.  It was tolerable up to our knees, but that's it.  There was no sitting in a tube and floating down the river.  forget that!  The warm sun and cool water with sand between my toes was good enough to get through the days.  Besides...  it was the only bath or shower i took in 48 hours.

The trees are indescribably huge.  I don't even have a scale to reference how tall and wide they are.  I stood the kids up in front of this one for a little perspective, but it doesn't do justice at all.  Our tent was nestled in between two massive trees with moss growing on the branches.  It was a unique experience all the way around and I hope to repeat it often.

See you soon!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Without my squad for 15 days

Greetings family,

Kendra and the twins have been away in Sacramento for 15 days!  This is the longest I've been away from Kendra in 13 years.  The aloneness has been awesome and awful.  I only have a couple of pics of their time there so I only have my own screen captures during facetime. At least I was able to see their smiling faces every other day or so.

Kendra has been about three times as busy as I expected her to be.  There were entire days where she was out and about seeing friends, having play dates with other moms and spending time with relatives.  It's probably hard to see in this picture, but I am still in bed and Kendra is up and around.  I gladly slept in several days.  The house was quiet and I took full advantage of being lazy knowing Easton wouldn't be up at 7 o'crack in the morning foraging through the kitchen for breakfast.  Even so, I miss the kids and Kendra terribly.

I went for a mountain bike ride with my neighbor and had a blast.  The whole time there I was thinking about how much fun the twins will have when the three of us go together some time.  The oddest part of being without the fam was the crazy situation where I had a thought such as, "I want to go to Home Depot".  I would stand up, grab my keys, and walk out the front door.  that was bizarre.  No conversations, no lists of other stuff to buy or get, no explanations or confirming the kids are ok...  nothing.  I just walked out the door and drove away.  I was glad to take the joys and pains of being without my love and my offspring.

They had a great time with cousins on several occasions including the 4th of July for fireworks and swimming at Aunt Susie's.  We've done that the last few years so it was good for them to have some annual events to anchor their experiences of life.

Alaysha was off of work a few days, which is rare, so we made the most of it by cleaning the house and spending time on the beach.  Alaysha was a huge help as I went room to room cleaning the entire house.  On Saturday we took almost the whole day off from work and house cleaning because the weather was too perfect to be inside.  There was plenty of sun rays to soak in and plenty of people to watch and wonder about.

I'd rather not be away from Kendra and the twins even for a day, but if I have to, then this is the way to do it.  Being home where I can relax and have a change of pace in work and play time.  The freedom to come and go as I please and stay late at work is a small benefit when it comes at the cost of being away from my family.   The real benefit was for Kendra and the twins to have all the fun they can manage with relatives and friends.

Now it's time for Ouma and Oupa to join us in Seattle for our local adventures.

See you soon!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

loving our neighbors

Hey family,
We are kicking into high gear with the whole "love your neighbor" thing.  With spring weather approaching we'll be having more front-porch-sitting time.  Kendra and I are being the light in the world because we were never called to be the light in the church building.  This is the only girl on our street who is close to Layla's age and she happens to have very similar beliefs to our family.  And she is also similar to Layla in her adventurous spirit of finding frogs in the pond.  Makes me so proud.  :)

And our next door neighbors are getting a full dose of the 4 Webbs because we are loving on them as intensely as they will allow us to.  Instead of zero sunny days per week we are averaging one sunny day per week.  It's an improvement we are making the most of.  Here is Layla coloring with our next door neighbor on a blanket in the front yard.  She is getting with the groove as we talk regularly about what it means to love our neighbors. 

Layla is a figure skater, but she's dabbling into the world of cheerleading.  She joined a week-long cheer camp and we are extremely proud of her for jumping in (pun intended).  Every parent thinks their kid is the best at whatever thing they do, but I am not biased when I say she was the best in her age group.  She had a high school cheer leader pair up with her as her buddy through the learning and performing.  I know cheer leading can get expensive, but it sounds like there is a way for her to be involved without having to go all-in crazy with time and money.  we're just letting her explore some new things to help her discover her passions. 

On the last night they invited the parents for a performance.  Layla was loud and proud through every cheer and the thing I enjoyed the most was watching her be genuinely enthusiastic about it 

The end of school finally arrived.  The twins started early in the fall in AZ and ended late in the spring in WA.  They attended four 3rd grade schools if we count Kendra's month of home schooling them.  That is a ton of transition and adjustment, but their grades help up and their spirits did too.  Here is a pic on the first day of 3rd grade and the last.

let the summer begin!  that means we get many beach days.  we took Max to Medowdale beach park for an afternoon of playing in the sand and soaking in some sun.  The twins found shells and seaweed and all manner of weird creatures to explore.  This is probably one of the last pics we will ever take of us giving them a piggy back ride because they are just so tall and lanky it barely works for us to hold them this way. 

We walked along the beach with handfuls of sand and gross stuff.  Easton and Layla both like to squish it in their hands and throw it in the water.  We are big encouragers of Layla feeling comfortable getting her hands dirty (literally) and being a well-mannered princess.  She doesn't need a label or her friends to tell her who she is.  One of the great things about Kendra is her versatility in being fully womanly and willing to get her hands dirty with rough and tumble play or digging in the sand. 

I am grateful for the way our twins still see each other as their best friend.  They play together so well.  There are definitely times where they bug each other, but I like how they are forced to understand and cooperate with the opposite sex.  It will serve them well when they get married.

We brought snacks and the twins laid out in the sun to get some toasty buns.  Layla's normal bikini tan lines are non-existent for the first time since they were toddlers.  My pasty-white skinned kiddos are becoming fully Seattle residence without their AZ tan.  

Easton said they made a tide pool for the tiny crabs they caught.  being constructive is a core value of the Webb house.  I'm haven't defined the full list of core values for us, but I regularly tell Easton he is a constructive boy as a way to bring out the real Easton instead of the occasional destructive actions he does.  That being said, he discovered the excitement of breaking rocks with a hammer.  I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but I was happy for him to head out to the front sidewalk and smash the rocks into dust as he enjoys seeing what's inside.  I like his curiosity. 

The thing I am having trouble with is his lack of caring about his hygiene and clothing.  He would wear the same outfit ever day and never shower, if we let him.  He grabbed his Velcro shoes and I said, "let me see the bottom of those".  He stuck his feet up in the air and I see this...  completely worn out soles that don't even have enough tread to be water proof.  oh well, there are bigger fish to fry than forcing him to wear proper shoes for playtime. 

I took Easton for a dual haircut outing.  my hair gets bushy on the sides and his grows like a chia pet all over.  What I noticed most when he was getting his done is that he is so kind and respectful to the hair lady.  They werent engaged in conversation much, but when they did interact I was proud of his demeanor and responsiveness.  Everyone says he looks so much like me and I take that as a compliment every time. 

Uncle Wayne will be living in Washington with Dawn Marie in a few years.  Kendra went to Sacramento with the kids so they weren't here for the time Alaysha and I spent with them before Dawn Marie took a flight back to Wisconsin.  Once she is ready to retire they will move to Goldendale, a few hours away south of Seattle.  We had one evening together with dinner, coffee, and a long walk by the river in town.  

see you soon!