Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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The worst best Christmas ever

Every year, I dread the days between Christmas and New Year. It feels like the year should be over. You celebrate Christmas, and then BANG, it should be New Year's Eve. But not so. There are a few interminably long days in between where there really isn't anything to celebrate. Everyone is just waiting for the year to end. Christmas, that we've been waiting for all year, is over and gone. And those days from the 26th to today, the 31st, just DRAG.

But this year was different. Actually, this entire Christmas season has been unlike any other I've experienced. It wasn't bad, but it certainly was the most difficult one. Thanks to our friends the Willises, our Christmas was amazing. Words cannot express my gratitude for all they did for us. We went over there on Christmas Eve, leaving the house in a hurry in an attempt to miss the impending snow storm. Unfortunately, in my hurry to get out the door, I grabbed Eva's nebulizer but forgot her asthma medicine, rendering the nebulizer as useless as a mateless sock. We had a wonderful time talking all day and had a delicious feast of gay hens - ahem, I mean game hens - and other yummies for dinner. We did the nativity scene with Eva as Mary, Matthew as an adorable Joseph in a baby blue bathrobe, and Leighton as a cranky, whiny baby Jesus. Oh, and Brian as a donkey, complete with brown socks over his ears, and Melanie and me as angels and shepherds. The traditional opening of Christmas pajamas was made better by the surprise of Eva and Leighton getting pajamas from the Willises. We watched Elf, and I talked to Andrew on the phone, trying not to complain when I found out he wouldn't be home until very late Christmas night. Then Eva's asthma started getting worse. She fell asleep but woke back up at midnight sounding terrible. Having asthma myself, I know how impossible it is to relax when your lungs are closing down. I tried to lay with her to calm her down, but the stress of her asthma attack and Andrew being gone started to get to me. Eva was crying and I was trying to hush her up, seeing as we were a mere few feet from Melanie and Brian's room. A few minutes later, Mel came out and asked if I wanted Brian to give her a blessing. Of course, I did. Leighton woke up crying, so I left Eva in their capable hands and went to feed the baby. I couldn't help but cry as I knelt over the crib. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the Willises, and at the same time, loneliness and a desire for Andrew to be with us. Eva finally fell asleep at about 4am. Followed by Leighton and Eva taking turns waking up throughout the night. It was, hands down, the absolute worst night in my parenting history. Never have my children acted that way, and never have I needed Andrew more in sharing the load.

Fortunately, we woke up to a new day, and Eva's breathing improved markedly. Melanie and Brian again spoiled us by bringing "Santa" for my kids. I didn't even know what to say to thank them - I have never been shown such love and generosity in my entire life. I only hope that one day I can do that for someone else who needs it. The Willises got me through those 2 days and made it feel like Christmas, even without Andrew. I spent most of the day there at their home and then hurried home in the late afternoon to finish cleaning the house before Andrew was to arrive at midnight. The kids were exhausted, so I put them both down early. Then came the fateful phone call - the one that almost did me in mentally and spiritually. Just when I thought I couldn't take one more minute without Andrew, he called to say he was snowed in at the Salt Lake airport and couldn't say when he would make it home. I lost it. I broke down. I said an angry, hopeless prayer of complaining. I cleaned the house anyway, and sadly set out our Santa presents by myself with tears running down my face.

Finally, at 5am on Dec. 26th, Andrew walked in the door. I woke up and, in truth, I have never been so glad to see someone in my life. We spent that day as our own Christmas. The kids were so excited to see him, and Eva was so happy to get her Santa gifts: a new easel, complete with paint, chalk, and a dry erase marker. She spent the next little while coloring with the marker and then erasing it as she said, "Bye bye!" to the lines she had written. We lounged in our pajamas. Andrew set up my awesome gift, which deserves a post of its own. We had a Christmas feast (my second one - I was not good to my thighs this season) and fell asleep early after watching our new "Little Mermaid" DVD. (I broke down and paid $20 for a Disney movie. All in the Christmas spirit.)

Now, suddenly, here we are on December 31st. For the first time on this date I ask, "Where has the time gone?" We have thoroughly enjoyed having Andrew home. We are all going through a bout of the cold and have just spent time at home together, mostly. Reflecting back on our Christmas events, I am reminded of a book my aunt once read to us on Christmas Eve called "The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever." This Christmas was just that - the best and the worst ever. In the end, I got everything I wanted: tradition, time with friends, time with Andrew, seeing my kids happy, and good food. It definitely wasn't all in the way I asked for it, but I guess I can't complain. And there's always next year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Eve Eve

That's what I used to call today when I was little. It was the third most exciting day of the year, in my mind. Christmas day 1st, Christmas Eve 2nd, and Christmas Eve Eve third. Then when I got in junior high and wanted to pretend that I knew about numbers and hadn't failed pre-algebra, I liked to think of today as Christmas Eve squared. Pretty smart, huh? Bet you've never thought of that one. I was quite the trendsetter in junior high, I tell you what.

So this morning my Christmas spirit returned. I have been the beneficiary of the charity and generosity of one of my favorite people in the world: Melanie Willis. She has taken me and my kids under her wing, so to speak, and invited us to her house for Christmas. See, this is what I love about Melanie. Other people might be hesitant to invite others over for Christmas Eve, because it's mostly a "family time." But she was so kind about it that I didn't feel overbearing saying yes. We're even sleeping over there! Can you believe how sweet she is to let me do that? She understands that I didn't want to be home alone on this most important eve of the year. Even though I don't have family near by, Melanie is as close as it gets to family. I love her with my whole heart for making me feel so welcome in her home for this holiday. Thank you, thank you, thank you with all my soul, Melanie. You'll never know what a difference you've made.

With a celebration in the works and tradition returning to my life, I am filled with excitement for Christmas again. I braved the Walmart crowds to shop, both for my feast tomorrow with the Willises and my feast with my love when he returns. I am planning to make a yummy salad and brownies tomorrow and spend the day hanging out and letting the kids play with little Mattie. We will act out the nativity scene and open pajamas - thank heavens for common traditions! Then I will snuggle up with my babes for some Christmas sleep, and then in the morning open one or two presents. Then, HOPEFULLY Andrew will come home sometime Christmas Day. That night we will do it all over again, but then Santa will come. Don't worry - I sent him a memo to please delay our gifts one night. He was pretty happy to oblige - one less house to worry about. So instead of getting gipped of Christmas like I felt before, I am actually getting two Christmases. One with my pretty-much-family and one with my family. I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Free therapy

Rough day. I haven't felt this lonely in...ever, actually. I'm not saying that to get sympathy: it's just a fact. I haven't had any social interaction in what feels like forever thanks to this stupid snow, except when 2 kind friends dropped off some Christmas treats on Saturday. And it certainly doesn't help to have Andrew gone. Oh, with no hope of returning until after Christmas. I can just stop praying for him to come home in time for Christmas and start praying for strength to deal with it.

I spent most of the day feeling sorry for myself. And then, after I put the kids down, I decided my kitchen needed a good, deep cleaning. I put on my magic rubber gloves and went to work. And you know what? I feel better now. I'm going to dig in to my favorite comfort food on the planet, a Drumstick (I'm confident that will be the main food group in heaven), and read my friends' blogs now. With a clean kitchen and vacuum lines in the living room, nothing is as bad as it seems.

Fence posts wear marshmallow caps

This morning I sat with Eva in my lap in front of our big sliding glass doors in the living room and watched the snow fall. It was beautiful. It reminded me of a poem I memorized when I was little, so I said it to Eva.

Fence posts wear marshmallow caps on a snowy day,
And bushes in their nightgowns are kneeling down to pray.
And all the trees have silver skirts and want to dance away.

This afternoon, after putting both kids down, I sat on my bed and looked out my window at the snow falling again...but this time falling off the trees because it's melting. The sun has come out in answer to my prayers, and is taking away all the snow that might hinder Andrew from coming home to us.

So trees, enjoy your silver skirts for now. Because they are about to fall right off. And I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'm done!

I'm all up to date with my Blurb book. All the pictures and everything. And aren't you relieved to see that all those 140 something blog posts from yesterday are gone? If you missed it, be thankful. It was like a serious Webb family overload, and I got them off as soon as possible.

I guess technically, I'm not really done anymore, because as I write this blog post, I am putting myself behind again. :) Oh well. I can have up to 440 pages in my book, and I intend to use every single one of them. Right now I'm at 410 and the year's not over yet.

I highly recommend Blurb to anyone who wants to print their blog into a book. It is very reasonably priced and very good quality. The drawback is that they don't support Blogger, but that didn't matter to me because my blog wouldn't "slurp" in the first place. It was a lot of work last year, it's a TON of work this year because I have to copy paste every single blog post in and format it and everything. But guess what - it's worth every single minute. I love having my whole life by year in a book I can pull off the shelf and flip through. So no matter if it takes me 100 hours every December (which I have probably spent that so far), I'm going to keep doing it. Hey, it's a lot faster than journaling by hand, right? Thank heavens for technology.

Speaking of thanking heaven, I am doing so for another reason: church was cancelled again. I think we have about 6 inches out there now. I am praying Andrew's plane will be able to make it home in time for Christmas with all this weather craziness. If you need something extra to pray for, I invite you to join me. :)

Well, it's insanely late and I'm tired. But I just couldn't be on the computer for so many hours without writing a blog post. It goes against my very nature.

Good night, stars. Good night, air. Good night, noises everywhere.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dear reader

You may be unhappy to find that I have practically doubled the size of my blog in one night with about 8 trillion pictures. I apologize. See, I've been working like a mad woman on my blog book. And, as you can tell, I take a LOT of pictures. As you can also tell, I am horrible at posting them regularly. Hence this end-of-the-year blowout. I promise that once I get this finished - hopefully in the next day or so - I will delete all those useless pictures and put my blog back where it was: almost pictureless, boring, and just the way I like it. Thank you for your patience while I am "under construction."

Dear self,
You idiot. Please learn your lesson and in 2009 either A) take about 3,000 less pictures, or B) be better about posting them on your blog on a weekly basis. You do NOT want to repeat this process again next year. Do you?

Dec 19

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Friday, December 19, 2008

So easy, even a boy could make it.

Back in my first semester of college in 2002, when I was roomates with Samye and Marissa, I met a guy named Biff. (I'm pretty sure it was that semester; correct me if I'm wrong, girls!) That was not his real name, but I don't know his real name because Biff is what he went by. One day, Biff brought us a pan of delicious...things. I guess I'll call them cookies. They were SO good. When I asked him for the recipe, he said, "It's just saltine crackers covered with butter and brown sugar and chocolate." But I never got the recipe. And I never forgot those cookie things.

Fast forward to the day after Thanksgiving. I had borrowed my Mom's Lion House Christmas cookbook (which I call her at least once a week to get a recipe from - that or the Lion House Classics) to look through on the drive to Salt Lake. I was enjoying myself immensely reading over the recipes and imagining in my mind how good everything would taste, when BAM. I found Biff's recipe. Soda cracker cookies in the Lion House cookbook. My heart sang with gladness...after all those years, this delicious treat that had eluded me would finally be mine.

So tonight after dinner, while Eva played with Leighton in the living room, I made the soda cracker cookies.

Pause. Why must there be a story behind everything I cook? Why can't I ever just cook something without it being a big fiasco? Why can't I be more like normal people? I guess it's so that all you foodically challenged blog readers can feel a little more confident in the kitchen. I just made up that word foodically, and I think I like it. I think I'll use it again someday. Resume story.

I lined up the 35 saltines close together on the greased and foiled pan. preheated the oven to 350. I melted the 1 c. butter and 1c. packed brown sugar in a pan, brought it to a boil, and stirred constantly while it boiled for 2 1/2 minutes. It reminded me alot of making caramels and toffe, actually. Except a LOT faster. Then I poured the mixture on top of the crackers and put it in the oven for 5 minutes. Ran to the pantry to get our 2 c. of chocolate chips. WHAT? I don't have enough chocolate chips?? How can that be? How can I, Stephanie Webb, be out of chocolate? I had one cup. Panicking, I rummaged around in my impeccably organized pantry and managed to find a half package of semi-sweet baking squares. Then I stood there with a knife trying to chop them up before the buzzer dinged and it was time to take the cracker pan out and sprinkle the chocolate on top. Chopping, chopping, trying to get those fatty squares to the same size as my smattering of semi-sweet and fully sweet chips. Wait, why isn't the buzzer dinging? I swear it's been 5 minutes...oh CRAP. I didn't set a timer. Of course. Leave it to me.

I checked the pan. What is it supposed to look like? The caramel was all bubbly...I'll give it one more minute. Chop, chop, chop. I took out the caramel crackers and sprinkled my chocolate chips and chunks on top. Unevenly, of course. I wouldn't want it to look presentable or anything. When they had melted sufficiently, I spread them on top. There wasn't enough to go all the way to the edges, so it looked pretty homely. Then I topped it with some chopped pecans. I should have used walnuts, but I didn't want to dig in the pantry again.

So here I sit with the whole pan of ugly cookie things on my lap. They are pretty good. They are not as good as I remember Biff's being. The caramel is a little too hard, and I wish I had used all fully-sweetened chocolate chips. Just because I'm a fully sweet kind of gal. But you can't really go TOO wrong with chocolate and caramel. I'll probably make them again.

So thank you Biff, for inspiring me all those years ago to make this treat tonight, which is only making me fatter. And by the way, I forgive you for that time when you were the emcee at the Miss BYU-Idaho pageant and you said that I enjoyed croquet instead of crochet, like the paper said. Because really, crocheting is no cooler than croqueting so it doesn't matter in the end.

Facts about Leighton at 5 and almost a half months

-He drools like no child I've ever seen. Literally, it is like rivers flowing out of his mouth CONSTANTLY. He always has his chubby little fist shoved in there, just drooling away. And it's not just from teething - he has been like this his entire life. Poor girl who he kisses first...she might get a little pool in her mouth as a parting gift.
-He is the world's worst baby food eater. He had a really hard time figuring out how to eat milk in the first place, but solids are a whole new world. One I would rather not enter, thank you very much. We have been trying just about every day for almost 2 months now, and today was the first time he opened his mouth in response to the spoon full of food. Normally it's a battle to shove it in his mouth and around his fat tongue. It's not that he doesn't want it - he does. He just cannot figure out how to eat it. Some days I want to pull my hair out, give up, and save myself some time by slapping it on his bib myself...because that's about the only place it goes. Until today. Thanks for swallowing some, buddy. You give me the courage to try again tomorrow.
-He goes crazy for books. I am not very good about reading to him alone - he's usually there while I read to Eva. But I have been trying to give him more alone reading time, and he's starting to go insane about it. Whenever he sees a book in front of him and I start reading, he starts breathing all heavy and flapping his arms and legs. Yesterday I let him pull it to his mouth, and after a miniscule touch of the tongue, there was a dripping puddle of spit on the page. Good thing Santa is bringing him a "teething book" for Christmas.
-He still spits up. He is slightly better than a month ago, but not cured yet. What a horrible thing; I cannot wait until that phase is over.
-He has terrible exima. At his 4 month appt., we got some magical steroid cream to put on his face because he had it really bad on his cheeks. And it worked like a charm. Then it started popping up in patches ALL over his body. His elbow, his stomach, his head, behind his ears...everywhere. That cream saves us. Everyday I find a new spot. One clears up, and another one comes along. Can't wait until he's a teenager and we have acne to deal with. Awesome. Fortunately, he's still as cute as can be even though he looks like he has rhino skin sometimes.

-He loves playing ball. As in, he loves having a ball thrown at him. Near him, on him...doesn't matter. It makes him laugh every time. Even if the only ball we have is pink. He doesn't seem to mind. :)
-He adores bathtime, and always has. Now when I lay him on the rug in the bathroom and turn on the water, he starts flapping so hard I think he's going to take off. He knows what the sound of water means, and he loves being in the tub with Eva.
-His other favorite sound is when I'm shaking up the formula into his bottle. If he is crying, he'll do this big smile to say he knows what's coming, but keeps on crying. He now recognizes his bottle by sight and if it's anywhere near his face before I'm ready to feed it to him, he cranes his neck to try to suck on it.
-I love you, Boonie Boy. Even with your spit-up, drool, and exima, you are still my favorite Buster in the world.
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One might conclude this boy has a sister.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Heather Mann Photography

Well, look at me just putting on links left and right. Apparently blog advertising is the wave of the future. Or the present. Speaking of presents, I just learned on my friend Elisa's blog that an awesome photographer here in Washington is giving away a free session of photography! If you live around here, enter to win here. She's really good.

English Toffee Anytime

You may remember my toffee making experience from a couple weeks ago. But toffee is still my absolute favorite candy. So when I read on my friend Amanda's blog that by putting a link on my blog to this toffee company's website called English Toffee Anytime I could get FREE toffee, I simply could not pass it up. And it's guaranteed to be better than mine was...what is there to lose? Definitely not any weight. :)


I haven't left the house since Saturday, other than grocery shopping on Tuesday. I rented a Redbox and every night I get charged another dollar because I haven't taken it back. And I'm not going to. And it wasn't even that great of a movie to begin with. It has been snowing almost straight since then Saturday night, and I'm too afraid to drive on the roads with the kids. I have heard people around here are terrible driving on snow and ice, so I don't dare risk it.

But I am feeling pretty stinking cooped up. I'm considering ordering pizza for dinner, just to have some contact with the outside world. The most I have done today is traipse through the several inches of snow wearing Andrew's boots and coat to get the mail. Thanks to those of you who have sent Christmas cards - they have brightened my day considerably. I wish I had done the same for you all this year...but I didn't. Next year.

If anyone is bored and brave, come visit me. Right now. Please.

Save the toys

You will notice the widget on my sidebar about saving the toys. If you haven't heard about this, please go here to read about it. And then go here to vote. This is proof that when the government gets their fingers into everything, it all starts going downhill. I can't believe people can't even sell toys anymore without it being all regulated and costing an arm and a leg. Thanks, China. So let's all step in and do what we can to help save the toys!

The Twilight before Christmas

I just have to share this video - it's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. For all you die-hard Twilight fans (Ali), I hope you get a kick out of it too. :) Click here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How in the world...?

The funniest moment of the day happened when I left Eva in the computer room to go get Leighton. She had been sitting on my lap coloring with a pen, and I told her I would be right back. When I came back downstairs, I heard Christmas music playing from the computer. How odd...I hadn't been listning to any music.

I walked in the room to see Eva sitting on the desk on top of a bunch of papers holding an inkpad in her hand - she had crawled up there to get it. She had ink on her hands and mouth (apparently she tried to eat it - I hope she didn't like the way it tasted)...and on the computer, the internet was open to, a radio station in Utah that plays Christmas music.

How she navigated to this webpage, I have no idea. It is not saved in my favorites, and I listened to it once back in early November but not since then. I could not stop laughing...and it's still a mystery to me of how she turned on that music. Maybe turning on the music herself if easier than trying to tell me she wants to listen to And maybe she's smarter than I think...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A recipe mishap

Since my baking extravaganza, I haven't made anything. But this morning, while eating my Oatmeal Squares for breakfast and perusing through a cookbook, I came across a recipe for peanut butter cookies that I have been wanting to try. So, after cleaning the kitchen and the living room and solving Eva's crisis, I made the cookies. Used my awesome cookie scoop to shape them into little balls, rolled them in sugar, and pressed them with the tines of a fork to make those beautiful criss cross lines that are a must on any good peanut butter cookie. I noticed the fork was sticking to the cookie alot more than normal. And it also made a tremendous amount of dough; the recipe said it would make about 18. After the first pan of 20, I realized I had a LOT more than 18 cookies on my hands. The first batch finished baking. I took them out of the oven and ran upstairs to see why Leighton wouldn't fall asleep. 20 minutes later, I came down to try a cookie. It was like biting into a big ball of peanut butter. Yuck. Maybe I didn't cook them enough. I know you're not supposed to do this, but I put them back in the oven. To no avail. I couldn't get them to harden, even though they were burning. Strange.

So I decided to make a second batch. (Still TONS of cookie dough left after 40 cookies.) Watched them carefully to bake for the right amount of time. Not done. Cooked them longer. Still doughy. Then I decided to give up on the stupid cookies. I threw away the rest of the batter and let the second batch sit out on the counter staring at me for the rest of the day. Occasionally, in passing, I would taste a little chunk...maybe if they sat out for a while, they would harden. I was angry, because I followed the recipe exactly, and the lady who wrote the recipe had ranted and raved about how good they were, it was a top-secret family recipe, blah blah. Was her taste really that different from mine? Would anyone think these peanut butter blobs were good?

I stewed over it all day. I called my mom and told her not to try the recipe because it was gross. Told Andrew the whole story, and lamented about wasting all those ingredients on gross cookies.
A few minutes ago, I was doing the dishes (the never-ending cycle) and staring at the recipe that still sat on the counter. I read over it again. It just didn't make sense. And then, the lightbulb in my head came on. Which proves I have at least a little baking experience under my belt, because I figured this out. (Obviously not quite enough, or I would have noticed this in the first place.) Where the recipe should have called for 3/4 cups of peanut butter, it said 3-4 cups. Are you kidding me? Who wrote this thing? And what idiot didn't catch it as she was scooping a half a jar of peanut butter into the mixer? That would be me. Dare I try this recipe again now that I've figured it out? I don't think so. I'll just stick with my trusted, old recipe. Maybe there is a little bit of my mom in me after all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's a wonderful life

Yesterday we woke up to this beautiful sight.

Not only was it beautiful because of the way it looked, but because of the miracle it produced.
I can't lie - I prayed for this very thing to happen. I know the Lord probably doesn't honor such sinful prayers, but in any case, my wish came true. I didn't have to sing that stupid solo in church.
We spent a wonderful, relaxing day together as a family at home. I organized all of Andrew's pictures from his entire life into an album. Yes, that is ONE album, singular. My, how digital cameras have changed things! I probably couldn't even fit the first 6 months of Eva's life into that same album.
We watched "It's a Wonderful Life," and, as usual, I had to fight back the tears on several occasions. I LOVE that movie. I think I might watch it again tonight, in fact.
Andrew took Eva out to play in the snow, and she loved it. They came in and had hot chocolate together; it was so cute.
I stared out the window for a while and watched the fat, puffy flakes fall down. Real snowflakes look nothing like the ones we cut out with paper. Maybe if I had a magnifying glass, I could find more simliarities other than just the color white.
We stayed in comfy clothes all day and just enjoyed being together.
I love days like yesterday.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Eva is obsessed with stickers. Several weeks ago, I gave her this pack of stickers leftover from our garage sale about a year ago. Now we find them all over the house, in her hair, stuck to the inside of the washer and dryer, on the bottom of our socks, and inside of books. One day I walked in to find Leighton looking like this.
Eva was putting stickers on his face, and he loved it. As evidenced by the pure delight on her face, she loved it too. That is, until I pulled them off. I laughed so hard and was proud of her for sharing. But Leighton certainly didn't like it when I pulled them off. He got this look on his face like, "Why in the world did you just hurt me like that?!", got a quivery bottom lip, and screamed loud and long. So no more stickers and Bubba's face. But it sure was funny.
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The endless hunt for Henry

Eva loves Henry. But she also loves to hide him in weird places. On this particular day in late November, I had finally found him at the bottom of a toy bin after searching for 2 days. 20 minutes after presenting him to Eva and seeing her squeal with joy, I look over to find her trying to stuff him into this drawer. It is annoying, but also really funny how she puts him in random places. He was left in Twin Falls and we went back to find him in the bottom of the hotel dresser. He can often be found under the Christmas tree, in the master bathtub, on a bookshelf, in the pantry, or in any number of drawers. Thankfully, we always find our beloved Henry. Maybe I should get a backup just in case...

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On the way to Utah

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4-generation shot with Grandma glad I could dress up for the occasion.

Linds taught Laura and me some of her mad cake decorating skills. I am really good at eating the icing.
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Backus Family

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