Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I remember in one of my lit classes reading the myth of Narcissus. Basically, he was incredibly handsome and saw his reflection in a reflecting pool and fell in love with it. There's more to the story...but it's pretty depressing.

Anyway, Narcissus isn't the only one who has fallen love with their reflection:

Eva, meet...Eva.

Winning herself over with a smile...
That shadow is lookin' pretty fly too...you go girl!
I think she's made quite an impression with herself...

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Two of us were nursing wounds yesterday. I had to tend to my wounded pride and the little miss was in tears over a skinned up face.

It was a beautiful morning yesterday so we opened up our windows and doors to let in the cool air. We placed a baby gate securely at our back door so we wouldn't have any escapees. Brent answered a phone call and I turned my back to clean up breakfast just as Eva gave the baby gate a good shove and went skidding down our back steps onto our patio. I jumped to grab her, thinking the damage was going to be pretty bad. Luckily for her, the fall wasn't far, but it was enough to leave a red abrasion across her forehead, nose and below her eye.

I gathered her up and brought her in while she sobbed in my arms. Just as I came in, she saw daddy, pushed me away and reached for him. She wanted nothing to do with the comfort I had to offer...she wanted daddy. A piece of me was a little sad, but there was something so sweet in watching her lay her head on his shoulder sniffing back her tears while he brushed her hair back from her forehead, gave her kisses and called her beautiful. He could make it better too.

After a few minutes in daddy's arms all was better and she was off climbing again (lessons aren't learned quickly in our household).

Here are a couple of pics of the damage:

This was just a few minutes after the incident...

unfortunately for the little miss, the redness increased as the day went on.
She is increasingly becoming a daddy's girl. Seeing her run to him for comfort after a spill just sealed the deal. Now, forgive me as I go drown my sorrows in a little Eddy's Slow Churned French Silk ice cream.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy...

I once had a friend in high school who wanted to be a dentist. Not sure if he pursued that path or not, but I remember something he told me way back then..."Dentist's have the highest suicide rate." I don't know why I remember that, but it stuck with me and so I always try to be super- pleasant and upbeat when I go to the dentist. I'm sure it's depressing enough to hear all day long about a patient that just dreads coming, so I figure I'm just doing my part. "Hello. My name is Nikki, and I'm a people-pleaser."

My little Mister? Not so much in the people-pleasing department. Yesterday was a D-Day of sorts for the Jackson's. Our whole family converged on our totally innocent dental assistant for a cleaning and check-up. Poor gal. She didn't even see it coming. The hubby and I went first, letting our little ones watch. Eva loved it and even stood to get a better look at why it's okay to let people put their hands in our mouth, but we won't let her put her hands in the dog's mouth. Life's so unfair.

Ethan just sat in the corner with his hands over his mouth and his eyes wide with horror. This wasn't even his first go around considering we go every six months. When it was his turn, he was adamant that the assistant could see his teeth just fine from a distance. He wanted to negotiate terms to skip the visit altogether. To his dismay, she was having none of it. So, we sat, like we have every six months for the last few years, with the Mr. on our lap, kicking, screaming and tantruming the entire time. This time I chose to step out of the room and let Brent hold Ethan on his lap. At least his mouth was open wide enough between screams for her to get a good look and begin the quick cleaning process...Oy Vey was it a process! No calming techniques or convincing on our part could calm him down. The other assistants in the office were leaving their posts to come check out all the commotion. I really don't need a lesson in humility...with two toddlers, I live it every day.

I had every intention of grabbing my camera and snapping a few pics for my blog, thinking this would be such a cute post of my sweet kiddos perched in the chair, an example of pediatric dental care. But, somewhere between the screaming and my frazzled nerves, pulling out my camera and capturing the image of my son mid-scream just wasn't a priority.

Once it was all over, he shut off those tears as if they never began, happily accepted his new toothbrush and alligator floss and planned to be on his way. He was even waving and smiling and tossing out good-byes without a care in the world. But, I stopped him. Oh yes. There was no getting out of this one. No free pass. I got down on his level and told him that while I was glad he let Miss Tami clean his teeth (between screams...a person's got to get a good breath), he needed to apologize to her for throwing a fit the entire time and that his behavior was unacceptable. He knew I meant business as the smile faded from his face, he lowered his head and nodded then turned to Miss Tami and SINCERELY apologized. Then he thanked her for taking care of him. I'm sure he was mostly just glad it was over. And I'm sure Miss Tami needed a huge break after a morning with the Jackson's.

I have a feeling, after yesterday, Dr. H. may be forever over-booked and unable to fit us in the schedule.

Do you have a trick up your sleeve to make doctor and dental visits a pleasant and happy experience for all? Or is a visit an all out war?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gathering Spaces...

Everyone has a special place they like to gather with their loved ones. You know, a sentimental spot where you can enjoy one another's company, discuss the day and relax. For some it's the kitchen. For others, sharing a meal around the dining room table. Some enjoy the comforts of a living room, den or family room.

For us, it's the bathroom. I know, it's a bit unconventional. It's borderline quirky. Alright, I'll admit, it's absurd.

It's crazy that a family of five will cram themselves into the ONLY household bathroom just to be together. One goes in to brush their teeth and suddenly everyone feels the need to be together. The dog is sprawled out on the floor, the kids are dragging all their toys in and playing, meanwhile the hubby and I are trying to shower, dry our hair, apply make-up (this only applies to me) and get ready for the day.

I realized this absurdity this morning while trying to get ready. Why it just hit me, I'm not sure. Somewhere between stepping over the dog, bumping elbows with Mr. B while brushing teeth, and the little miss wrapped around my leg I began to think this wasn't normal. So, I took action and did what any exasperated wife and mother would do, I took a picture...

Not one, but two dogs got in on the family togetherness...after only two days
of dog-sitting, miss Ellie decided she likes how we do things.

Forget about bathroom privacy in the Jackson household. A closed, locked door invites all to bang upon it shouting questions of, "When's lunch?", "Can I play Candyland?", "Are you almost done?" and, "WAHHHHHHHHHHHH" (followed with insistent pounding). The lack of peace and quiet during personal moments would probably cause even the Dali Lama to shake his head.

My sweet hubby and I are all about the craze of living on a small footprint, making use of small spaces and living efficiently. We love to see a well-organized and functional space that's less than 1500 sq feet. But, somehow I think it's going to be difficult to convince the masses that the bath-den, living-bath, or even the *cringe* dining-bath is the way of the future.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Not talking about Gwyneth's...

and, sadly, not talking about this 'apple' either...

*sigh*...maybe one day...

The little miss is obsessed with the word 'APPLE'. She uses it as frequently as possible. It's really pretty funny. A conversation would go something like this:

"Eva, do you want to go bye-bye?" (head nodding excitedly) "Apple! Apple!"
"Eva, we're going to go night-night." (again, head nodding and pointing to refrigerator) "Apple! Apple!"
"Eva, let's change your diaper" (this time head shaking "NO" and tears forming) "APPLE! APPLE!"

Sometimes she's just saying it quietly to herself while playing with her baby doll. She really loves this word! 'Hi' is up there on her list too. She greets everything. The chair. The dog. A tree. You name it, it's greeted properly with an exuberant 'HI!' from the little miss. It's fun listening to her trying to figure out language and participate in conversation.

It reminds me of my days in French class. My French was really horrible, but I tried to fake my way through the language by using the words I knew best as frequently as possible. It worked, until I had to have a conversation with my French teacher. She looked at me confused through the duration of the conversation as I replied 'oui' to every question. She eventually stopped me and said in her quiet sweet voice, "Your French is atrocious."

While Eva's language is extremely repetitive with a few key words, I don't think it's anything to be concerned about. As I type, the little miss is crawling around on the couch next to me greeting me with 'hi' over and over (and yes, she expects me to respond each time). I love her. Well, gotta go...the kids are calling and I'm pretty sure play-doh just got mushed into Stella's fur.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mr. Mom...

Mr. Jackson would kill me for posting this...something about gender roles and manhood. But, I have to say he has been quite the happy homemaker lately. Initially there were a few chaotic days, and he was informed by Ethan that he was, "doing it wrong," but he's found his groove.

He's made good use of his time off work. He's been working on his portfolio and resume and doing a little side work. A friend gave him 10 sheets of plywood (the good stuff...not particle board) and he's been drawing up designs to build furniture. On top of this, he's been cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids on my days at the office. When I come home for lunch, he's got a plate all ready for me (complete with a salad) WOW! I totally hit the jackpot with this guy.

The kids love having him home and so do I. Ethan and daddy have had some great times going on walks and running errands, and the little miss is soaking up every moment with dad. Our little family is functioning in a happy utopia. All this coming from what I would have initially dubbed "A Crisis" (I'm a little melodramatic).

It's got me thinking about how important dads are in the family unit. My kiddos have no clue that dad lost his job. We've shielded them from the unnecessary stress of those details...all they know is that he's here to spend more time with them and they need him. I've seen such a change in Ethan (less tantrums) and Eva follows him everywhere. My percentages have dropped a bit in the approval rating, but no matter, I love seeing my sweet kiddos following his every step. It's like a little 'Brent train' as they follow him from room to room to see what he's doing.

He even taught Eva a new word: 'apple'. I was thrilled (although a bit sad that I missed it). There are days we worry, and sometimes find ourselves anxious for God's answers. But, for now, we are seeing God changing our little family. He's showing us the desire of our hearts, and reminding us of the joy we can find in HIM:
Psalm 5:11

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Excuses, Excuses...

I'm suffering from a bit of deadline-induced writer's block. I rarely find myself short of words (keep your comments to yourself), but now I have. It really stinks. So, to hopefully draw myself out of my thought-hole (thanks Caleb K.) I will leave you with a few 'Ethan Excuses'. These have been really good as of late. He's raised some very valid points, and I've had to get creative in my rebuttals.

1) I can't eat my green beans. The seeds in the middle will grow in my tummy.

2) Ice cream has milk, and milk makes me strong. And we can have milk stuff for breakfast.

3) If I put my toys away now, then it's too hard to play with them later.

4) On why sharing with sister doesn't matter: Mommy, she really wants me to have it...she's not sad, she's crying cause she's happy.

5) Mommy, if you eat your dinner, I'll let you have a fruit snack. And I'll have one too.

6) On why bathtime should be postponed: I'm not dirty enough yet.

7) T.V. is good for me. I learn lots of things like counting and letters and playing with swords.

8) Mommy, you only read two stories...I don't get sleepy until five stories.

9) On Delaying bedtime: If I lay down I'll fall asleep. I don't want to sleep yet.

10) Vegetables are yucky. I hate vegetables. But, if I can have a cookie I'll eat two (I said five) no, mommy, four (we struck a deal).

Now, reading these I'm realizing these quotes were far funnier in person paired with Ethan's exuberance. Oh well. He serves as inspiration and my creative juices are now flowing so, I'm going to take off and do some writing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Little Housekeeping...

I did a bit of housecleaning at my second home (no, not the South of France) right here on the good ole' Jackson "5". This is a big deal for me considering I never switch around my furniture, rarely swap out accessories and never move pictures. But, since I'm going through God revealing change, I might as well freshen things up and get ready for the ride. I feel so refreshed and renewed.

I felt inspired by my good friend Mary, and figured, why not give it a go? Hope you feel relaxed and comfy when you visit!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wind Knocked Out Of Me...

I love surprises. I really do. Surprise parties. Gifts. I don't even mind the occasional gotcha from a person hiding around the corner...scratch that...too many people I know will take advantage of that one.

I received an unusual surprise today at lunch time. I had just arrived home from a play date with friends. I prepared to unload my two sweet kiddos (a.k.a: hot n' sweaty and cranky n' hungry) from the car and was greeted by my sweet hubby coming out of the backdoor.

Pause. Rewind. My hubby is NEVER home at lunch time. He's usually at the office about five minutes away working on some fantastic building requiring his sweet design skills. Usually lunch is him hunched over his desk, absent mindedly taking bites from last nights leftovers and working autocad.

So, I was surprised when he walked over and began unloading the kids from the car. I laughed, gave him a hug and kiss and said, "This is a surprise, what are you doing here? What'd ya do? Lose your job?"

He kind of smirked. Uh, oh. Not good. Mr. Jackson has a habit of smirking during awkward situations, embarrassing moments, and when he's about to deliver bad news. I was praying this was just an embarrassing moment. Like, "Oops, I rode my bike to work and forgot to pack clean clothes."

Nope. It was more like, "I got temporarily laid off from my job." I felt like all of the air was sucked from my lungs while someone sucker-punched me in the stomach. Not really the surprise I was looking for. I was shocked. I knew things were getting tight at the firm, but really felt things would be okay. He told me that hopefully it would be temporary, but there were no guarantees.

We gathered our kiddos and walked inside as he informed me he had already filed for temporary unemployment. He was reassuring me that everything would be okay. He was taking all the necessary steps and had already crunched a few numbers. I on the other hand was having a meltdown and making macaroni and cheese. You know, the important things.

Like the rest of the nation, I've watched the news with trepidation and shook my head with sadness when hearing of the millions of people out of a job. We are now one of the millions. They always say, "There's strength in numbers." Well, no offense, but I was kind of hoping to opt out.

As my parents often said during my childhood, "What can we learn from this situation?" Or as Dr. Phil would say, "What's the take home from all this?"

Here goes: In as much as I've placed my trust in Jesus, I've placed a significant amount of my hope, trust and security in the ability to keep the numbers in my bank account at a comfortable level. Now, we've always lived a very simple lifestyle, but my security was in the knowing that we were bringing in income, that we had the physical ability to contribute.

I'll admit, I've been one of the first to offer the encouraging words of, "Trust the Lord to provide," to many a friend in need. But, guess what? I certainly didn't trust the Lord to provide for me. I certainly thanked HIM regularly for HIS provision, but I never imagined, what if I had to actually rely on HIM. What if my ability to contribute was removed?

Now, it is. My eternal security is steadfast, but my physical security is on shaky ground.

After my meltdown, and I consumed an absorbent amount of mac n' cheese, I was reminded of these words from Philips, Craig and Dean:

You are God alone from before time began,
You were on Your throne, You are God alone,
And right now, in the good times and bad,
You are on Your throne, You are God alone.

I'm reminded that nothing surprises our Heavenly Father. Nothing shocks Him. And He never finds Himself unprepared to handle the seemingly difficult situations in life. He is still reigning on high...He is still in control.

Matthew 6:25-27 says:
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "

My Heavenly Father certainly cares about my circumstances. He grieves when I grieve. He offers comfort in pain. He draws near when I cry out to Him. But there is one thing I am learning: My Heavenly Father cares a great deal more about the condition of my heart than the condition of my circumstances. He's not in the business of granting wishes. He's about showing me how HE HAS NEVER CHANGED. My circumstances may have changed, but He has not. He is sovereign.

I spent so much time focusing on earthly comfort that I lost sight of HIS efforts to capture my heart. Do I believe God allowed Brent to lose his job to teach me a lesson? No, absolutely not. But, HE is certainly using this as an opportunity to cultivate my heart. Will I praise HIM no matter what? Will I honor HIM even when things are not in my favor? Absolutely.

I am clinging to Psalm 93:1

"The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

I share this not because I believe this is the most difficult situation I will ever experience. I share this in transparency, because I do believe God is using this moment to change my heart, mold it and prepare me to serve HIM and seek HIM more fervently. This is my holding pattern.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Child Rearing And Torture...

What do those two words have in common? Nothing and everything according to my handsome hubby. When the little Mr. arrived, he came complete with various accessories which included: sleepless nights, spit-up, dirty diapers, crying and pure unadulterated joy. I frequently refer to those early days as 'shock and awe'. We were two bleary-eyed, albeit joyful parents.

Then, by some divine intervention by God, the hubby seemed to have complete amnesia of those early days and suggested we give our crazy little Mr. a sibling. In his words, "We don't want him to be an only child." I couldn't help but think we were giving him a battle buddy. So, three years later, we welcomed the little miss, who also brought an arsenal of tactics to weary any adult.

They seem to have devised the perfect battle plan. First, create a distraction. This can look different depending on the day, but it always involves some form of tag-teaming, usually one has a melt-down. While the parent on patrol is distracted and attending the emotional child, the other takes the opportunity to get food (usually some form of sugar), play in the dog water bowl, smear something to create another diversion, or get incredibly quiet (which is really bad). Then they switch. It's really a clever plan and tends to get me every time.

Now, do I really think my sweet kiddos are always on the look out to wreak havoc on my household? No. But, I'm learning from them a lot when it comes to parenting and discipline. We've definitely entered a new phase, and on most days I feel completely lost. Then I see little nuggets that I'm getting through to them: a repentant heart, gentleness, kindness, and yes, even obedience.

I can't remember who wrote it, (maybe Kevin Leman) but I love this quote, "Discipline without relationship, leads to rebellion." Sometimes I find myself constantly hounding the little Mr., trying to will him into obedience. The more I hound, the more he pulls away and continues doing that which I've asked him not to do. Because I choose to take issue with him on everything, instead of choosing what is truly willfully disobedient, we have a fight. And because I make everything a "CODE RED" alert, he's begun to ignore my nagging.

It's so easy for me to just say, "I'm so done. Go ahead and squish play-doh in your sister's hair, because I'm beat." But, then I'm reminded of this verse:

Proverbs 29:17
"Discipline your son, and he will give you peace, he will bring delight to your soul."

Yet, in our discipline, we are cautioned with this verse:

Proverbs 15:1
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

I have to wonder, if in my approach, am I stirring up anger? Are my harsh words (or tone of voice) demanding obedience rather than teaching obedience. I read an example of a parent, who was really hounding their child into obedience. The parent was demanding the child to sit down. Finally the child replied, "I'm sitting on the outside, but on the inside I'm standing up."

I don't want his obedience to merely be outward, putting on the appearance of obedience, while truly seething on the inside. My heart's desire is for him to obey, with understanding that it's the right thing to do. This, of course, will take time, and as my sweet (and super-wise) friend reminded me, comes with a personal relationship with Jesus.

I can't help but look at my relationship with my children and then look at the ultimate example of a parent-child relationship and be reminded how the Heavenly Father pursues us in gentleness. HE is not forceful. HE is patient. He is swift in HIS discipline, yet abundant in giving us HIS grace and forgiveness. He is merciful in seeking to restore HIS relationship with us.

This is what I am striving for; the balance of love and discipline, avoiding permissiveness or harshness. Patiently administering correction and freely offering restoration.