Thursday, March 31, 2011

Embracing The Camera Jackson Style...

This is how we Embrace The Camera around here...

You see friends, I didn't have anything in my pockets to bribe my children to hold still for the camera...I found myself ill-prepared.  So, this is what the Jackson's look like sans bribes.

I believe that bribery is vehmently discouraged by most parenting you'd best not follow my example.

Well, this was the best out of three.  Now, go fill your pockets with M&M's and Embrace The Camera with Emily...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder...

Hey friends!  Well, I've been out of sight, out of mind for about six days now...but who's counting?  I didn't intend on taking another extended break, it just sort of happened.

B and I have had a lot of doors open and close over the last couple of weeks, so we have been in deep prayer, searching the word and reflecting (sometimes even speculating) on what GOD may have in store.  We don't have answers, but there is a peace in the waiting.  We've transitioned from, "Lord, please provide!" to "Lord, you have shown us your provision and now, let us be filled by every word from your word." 

I wrote more about it Here on the FaithBlogs site.  Sorry, if that seems like a shameless's really not...I just want to share what HE is doing.  He's merciful friends.  I pray each of you experience the width, depth and vastness of His mighty love for you. 

I'm not going to insult you by pretending that each of you are not, in some way, experiencing a struggle deeper than mine.  But as my best friend Sarah and I say to each other...pain is pain.  Struggles are still struggles.  They look different for each of us, but the impact at the core of our very soul is still the same.

I pray that His goodness and mercy washes over each of you. 
Take heart...your redeemer Lives.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let's Go Fly A Kite...

A few days ago we had a beautiful (windy) day...So, what did we Jackson's do?
We went to a park to fly a kite...

The Little Mr. took a turn...

And then it crashed, so it was my job to get it fly ready...

We got it soaring, and the little Mr. was on the chase...

The little Miss was in awe of this weird thing in the air that was taking up so much of our time...

But, then she realized how much fun it was to chase...

So, how long was the song, "Let's Go Fly A Kite" stuck in your head while looking at these pictures?

Well, get it out of your head and go EMBRACE THE CAMERA with Emily today!


It's been a while since I've done a Thrifted Threads Thursday post...mostly because I've been in a clothing rut, and haven't felt like being creative.  But, after a few nice days, I felt renewed inspiration, and broke away from the same old cardigans I'd been using as my standbys all winter...

 I remembered I had this fun, thrifted jacket.  I sort of wish I would have paired it with a different colored tee...but you get the idea.  What do you think...should the tee be tucked in?  I couldn't decide, so I left it's more comfortable that way...

I also broke out my wide-leg jeans!  Yay!  I read a few blogs that said they were 'in', and I couldn't put them on fast enough.  The whole skinny jean/leggings thing has been a bit hard for me.  I love the way they look on other people, but had a hard time getting them to work for me.  So, I'm going to ditch them for a while, and dig out my wide-leg pants for this spring.

I love when trends come full circle.

Jacket:  Abercrombie, Thrifted $3
Scarf: $5
V-Neck Tee:  Target
Jeans:  Gap old???
Shoes: Target $4

Monday, March 21, 2011

Little Miss Adventures...

I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.  The little miss was in rare form, and all I can say is she's been...adventurous.  For the past few weeks, we've been faced with the challenge of her climbing out of the crib and potty training.  I suppose she has both mastered...which leads to our challenging weekend.

I'll tackle the first subject:  Crib Adventures...
For the past couple of weeks, we've gone to get the little miss up in the morning, only to find her precariously perched on the crib railing...just sitting there waiting.  It freaked us out enough, that B decided he would teach her how to climb out of her crib so there would be no more, 'bird on a wire' moments.  Great for deterring roosting, not so great for deterring scaling.  So, we were up at all hours of the night because the little miss decided it was time to wake 2am.  She came running into the hallway exclaiming, "Pee-Pee" so I took her to the bathroom and then ushered her back to bed.  A couple of minutes later she stood in our doorway, "lululuyah?"  she wanted me to sing her favorite, I rocked her and sang, then took her back to bed.  Two minutes later she was standing in our doorway again, "nak peese!"  I told her no snack it was bedtime...then again took her back to bed.  Finally, she came yet again, "Hiiiiiiiiiiii!"  So, I brought her in bed with us where she chatted, rolled, stood and flipped until she finally gave up and fell asleep between us.

She woke bright and early Saturday morning, but was thankfully in a fairly good mood despite the late night partying.  I, on the other hand, was a mess, but decided to make the best of the day.  Which, leads us to our second adventure...

Potty Training...
In all honesty, the miss has got it down.  She was so easy to train, and has been doing great (although she is not able to stay dry at night...but, she's not even two yet, so that will come).  Anyway, she's done really great overall.  But, something went awry Saturday afternoon.  She suddenly stopped playing and exclaimed, "Ouchie" which is code for, "I have to pee now!" and took off for the bathroom.  I got her situated and briefly left the bathroom to get something...which was the wrong thing to do.

All of a sudden I heard her exclaim, "Uh-oh!"  Upon entering the bathroom, I was shocked at what she accomplished in the short time I was away.  The little miss had managed to finger paint with poo all over herself, the bathroom floor and toilet and was beginning to make little poo footprints.  Friends, I was so grossed out, that taking a picture of the crime scene was not even an option (I'm sure you are all breathing a collective sigh of relief).  I picked up the little miss (trying to touch as little of her as possible) and placed her in the tub, then turned on the faucet.  I began mopping and disinfecting every surface while the little miss played in the tub and supplied commentary of her artistic endeavors, "Veva ucky." "Poo-poo toes." "Uh-oh poo-poo."  "Yay!  Poo-poo floor." At which point she stood in the tub and pointed to a spot I had missed...thanks, doll.  You're a gem.

I got her cleaned up (nearly loosing my lunch in the process), explaining that playing with poo was dirty and yucky.  I can't believe I had to tell my daughter not to play with her poo.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend is a bit foggy...I think she finally wore herself out, as she's been sleeping much better, and all bathroom ventures have been stricly supervised.  I think my brain is a bit traumatized....

So, how was your weekend?  I hope it was adventurous...though not Jackson style.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Cleaning...

I. Love. Spring.

Seriously.  I love everything about it.  New grass.  The sun.  The fresh smell of the air.  Flip-flops (when the temp hits 60 degrees).

I don't even mind spring cleaning.  In fact, it puts me in such a good mood to cast-off winter by giving the house a fresh scrubbing. 

Today, I'm tackling my upholstery.  With little ones (and light furniture) it seems by winter's end, I start casting sideways glances at my couch, noticing that hint of dinge (is that a word?) from little paws.
I couldn't take it anymore and pulled out my trusty upholstery cleaner recipe and went to work.
Seriously, this homemade upholstery cleaner works amazingly well, and it costs mere cents to make!

Upholstery Cleaner:
1 Cup warm water
1/4 Cup clear dish soap
*I use Palmolive Pure+Clear because it smells amazingly fresh and it's gentle*
(This recipes is enough to clean my couch and three upholstered chairs)

Place ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until stiff foam appears.
*Or, in our case, let your almost two-year-old stir it with a plastic just might take a while*

Use a clean cloth to gently apply the foam to the fabric.  Apply more foam to heavily soiled areas...

As the foam in the bowl begins to deflate, leaving behind extra liquid, simply beat it with the mixer again to get more foam.  Once you have applied the foam to all of your upholstery, fill a bowl with cool water and rinse the fabric by gently wiping the damp cloth on the fabric (being careful to not soak your fabric).  Change the water frequently if it becomes dirty.

At this point, let your upholstery air-dry (you can point fans on it to speed the process up).
I've been using this recipe for about a year now, and will never go back to the commercial brands. 

Do you have any cleaning tricks up your sleeve?  I would love to hear them!

Happy Spring Cleaning everyone!

*You may want to do a test spot to be sure the cleaner will not fade fabric...although, I have not had this issue.
**This cleaner is very concentrated, and it does burn if you get it in your eyes...not that I would know from personal experience...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This Is Where He Plays...

It's a built-in buffet...

It's a lego town...

It's a race track...

It's where his make-belive comes to life...

This is where he plays...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Slide Adventures...

Today was a gorgeous day in the Midwest.  When I saw that bright yellow orb in the sky and felt the warmth, I knew I couldn't continue sitting in the pile of kleenex that took up residence all around me.  Yep...I traded last weeks virus for this weeks sinus infection...but that wasn't going to keep this girl down.

So, this afternoon, B and I piled the kiddos in the car and took ourselves to a park to run, let the sun shine on our pasty faces, and feel the breeze.  On the way to the park the little Mr. piped up from the backseat:

" you like slides?"  "Yes, I do."  "Did you like them when you were little?"  I was wondering where we were going with this.  "Yes, I liked them when I was little."  "How about when you were eight, nine, or ten?"  "Yep, I liked them then too."  "Then, what color were they?"  Ummmm...that was a lot of years ago, and I began wondering how to answer this, and why it was important. 

As I was quickly trying to come up with a color, I suddenly remembered the one bad slide experience I'd had.  I was about eight years old and I was climbing up this twisting metal slide when all of a sudden a kid came barreling down the slide, knocked me over and I landed face first on the metal, knocking my two front teeth loose.  Dirt and tears were streaming down my face as I ran to find my mom.  I remember she picked me up and carried me to the car, and then everything was a bit fuzzy after that.  I remember popsicles to ease the pain...confirmations from many adults that the teeth were saved, and my fear of large slides for a very long time.  The little Mr. piped up again, "Mommy...what color was it?"

"It was actually metal was a big, twisty, metal slide."  He was quiet a bit and then he said matter-of-factly, "Oh, that sounds old and not very fun."  I instinctively touched my tongue to the back of my teeth and replied,"Actually buddy, it was really fun...they don't make slides like those anymore."  "Because they're super-old?"  "Yeah...because they're super-old."

Monday, March 14, 2011

B Cleaned House...

B decided it was time I had a big-girl he cleaned house, did a little Photoshop work, and made me get rid of clutter.  I happily obliged to let him have his way, but then he let me know it would cost me.  I forgot...nothing is free.  So, for his effort I made him chocolate lava cake...and I praised his awesome skillz... I may have even pulled a Wayne and Garth...I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy.

I shamefully admit I don't know my way around Photoshop...I can crop...that's about it.  But, B is like a Photoshop wizard.  He's like the Bruce Lee of Photoshop.  He was all clicking here, clicking there, and typing commands as fast as his fingers could fly.  I contributed by standing over his shoulder and painting my nails...

Any way, all that to say I'm going to post the recipe for the chocolate lava cake...because that's all I can bring to the table.  Sorry, I don't have a picture..we ate it too quickly while celebrating B's awesomeness.

Chocolate Lava Cake
4 squares Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Whole Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
6 Tbs Flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (I set my oven to 400)
Spray 4 custard cups with cooking spray and place on cookie sheet.
Microwave chocolate and butter in large bowl on high for about 1 minute, until butter is melted.  Whisk chocolate until melted.
Stir in sugar until well blended.  Whisk in eggs and egg yolks.  Stir in flour.
Divide between cups.

*Bake 10-12 minutes until sides are firm and center is soft.  Let stand 1 minute.

Serve with *vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream

**Do not over bake or the center will be done instead of nice and gooey.
We serve ours with homemade buttermilk ice cream...the tanginess of the ice cream pairs well with the cake.

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Burt Reynolds Has Competition...

I’m always so grateful when my sweet hubby offers to do a grocery store run. Especially if I only need a couple of items…or the occasion that I’m missing a key ingredient and I’m elbow deep in dinner preparations.

I can always bank on one thing when he returns…he usually snags an item not on the list that he simply can’t resist. Sometimes it’s ice cream or cookies. Occasionally it’s Captain Crunch.

This time, B came home, handed me the grocery items and announced, “You will never believe what I got for Ethan!” He’s right. I didn’t believe it until he whipped them out of his pocket…a couple of faux mustaches from the little quarter trinket machine.  Oh if facial hair wasn't obsessed over enough by the Jackson men, now we were giving the little Mr. a taste of the life of 5 o'clock shadows and crumb catchers.  First, The little Mr. went with the Burt Reynolds:

He savored the power that came with the stache. 
After stroking the stache a few times and letting out a manly growl,
he decided he was ready for a change...

Next up, Hulk Hogan.  He gave me a few WWF poses circa 1982 and embraced his new found strength...even going so far as to do a few body slams for good measure.
For the record he has no idea who Hulk Hogan is, but in his words, "He's so donimated!"

  So, for the last couple of days, he's been sporting the stache and struting around the house.  He told me, "Mommy, if you were a grown-up mans, you could have one too...but you're not."  Then he strutted off, stroking the stache mumbling to himself about being a man.  Oh, the power and possibilities that come with a little upper-lip-fuzz.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just Wait...

I've said this a time or two to my kiddos, "Ethan please wait."  "Eva, please wait patiently."  I am usually met with frustration at the request to wait.  To them it seems an eternity stands between them and their desires.  To them, I am the obstacle standing in their path.

Oh, how I understand their growing restlessness, and yet, the Lord still makes his firm request plain to me, "wait."  No explanation.  No reasoning.  Just, wait.

If patience is a virtue, then I am sorely lacking.  A short time after we were married, B said that the Lord never requested him to wait patiently until he married me.  He made it clear that I should stop wrestling with the Lord over patience so he would no longer be the casualty of our struggle.  Fair enough.  Unfortunately for him...he's along for the ride.

Last night, I wrestled through prayer, "Lord, I know I am learning during this is it time?  Have I fulfilled what you've asked of me?  Is it finished?"  And like a child I whined, "Are we there yet?"  And while it may not have been audible, the words, "not yet" settled over me...and then this:  "Make My ways your ways.  Make My thoughts yours.  Desire Me above all else.  I will direct your path."

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own
understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6
Tears flowed in the darkness, and I quietly whispered, "Okay."  He knows how hard this is for me.  He knows He is asking something of me that is painful.  Did  He reveal the outcome?  No.  It was still, just wait.  But, it was also much more...He desires to direct my path.  

As doors have opened and closed the last few months, I have put my hope in their possibilities.  I turned my eyes from the Lord to put my faith in searching for answers.  My whole life, I've surged forward to find answers, thus closing the box, tying a neat bow around it and placing my packaged circumstance on a shelf.

When I'm met with the obstacle of waiting, I soon realize I cannot wrap a neat little bow around my circumstance and shelve it.  I'm forced to turn to God and lean on Him for understanding until His time and purpose is fulfilled.

Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you
the desires of your heart.  commit your way to the Lord, trust
also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  Rest in the Lord
and wait patiently for Him...
Psalm 37: 4-5, 7

Herein lies the difficult part of walking out my faith in Him.  He doesn't force or make demands.  But, He requests I hand over my boxed up circumstances, and then wait on Him.  No doing it myself.  No putting it neatly on the shelf my way.  It now becomes His.  He takes it and promises to give it back when the time is right.  He reveals that the gift of waiting is allowing Him to fulfill His perfect His perfect perfect completion.

It's hard to wait.  And I don't do it gracefully.  I stumble.  I complain.  But, it's what He continues to ask of me.  My resolve, my strength, crumbles in His able hands...and He quietly asks me to keep waiting and draw my strength from Him.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall
mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not grow faint.
Isaiah 40:31

What is the Lord asking of you?  Wait?  Obey?  Give something to Him?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Second Verse, Same As The First...

Today looks a lot like seems that all those hugs and kisses I gave and received, has me joining the kids on the couch today among a pile of my own soggy Kleenex.  I know, gross.  But, such is life.  I actually don't mind...I still get a ton of cuddle time.  So, it's a trade-off.

Well, to distract you from the TMI of my viral symptoms, I thought I'd share a yummy recipe from our foodie weekend.  We love good food...but I wouldn't call us 'food-snobs'.  Okay, we're a little snobbish, but it's just because we love good food so much.

This weekend, we tried our hand at homemade deep-dish pizza ala Giordano's style.  Ever been to Giordano's?  Am I crazy for even asking that question?  It is hands down the best deep dish in Chicago (in my snobby opinion). 

Our homemade version may not be Giordano's, but, it was definitely delicious, and satisfied the craving until we can get back to Chicago.

A couple of key things:  You're going to want to do this in a cast iron skillet to achieve that crispy Giordano's- style crust, and you're going to want to make your own sauce and crust.  It simply won't be the same if you skip these things...

The recipe is kind of long, but don't be scared off!  If you want a printable version, you can go to this link.  For our pizza, we sauteed some mushrooms, diced green pepper and diced red onion and layered that on our bottom crust with cheese, italian sausage, pepperoni, more cheese, then topped with a very thin crust (like Giordano's) and topped the crust with sauce.  Put the pizza in the oven (we placed our on top of a sheet of aluminum foil, just in case we had a boil over situation).   Let me tell slice was enough! It was so delicious, that we couldn't wait to eat it the next day!

Just thinking about this pizza is making me feel a little better...just a little.  Now I'm going to go put my sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fevering self down for a nap.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Throw-Ups Are Coming...

Whew!  It's 7:15pm and my wee ones are already in bed.  It's been a long, tiring, day friends. 

It started at 2am when the little Mr. came to our room, got in B's face and exclaimed, "Dad, the throw-ups are coming!"  Yeah, we high-tailed him to the bathroom and made it just in time...we had a couple more rounds of that until the little guy finally fell asleep out of pure exhaustion. 

We all woke at 7am to discover both kiddos had fevers...thrown into the mix was the little Miss, coughing, sneezing and snotting everywhere.

So, we had a movie day, cuddled on the couch, camped out on the living room floor (barf-proofed everything...I was hoping we wouldn't be following in your kiddos footsteps Have) drank lots of water and juice, and napped... 

*the barf-proofed couch...*

It's so gut-wrenching (no pun intended) when your little ones are sick...but, I have to admit I loved having all of us crammed together on the couch.  Sometimes hugs and kisses do make it a little better.  Now, we'll see if B and I come away unscathed or if round two will be coming in 24-hours...until then, I'm signing off to veg on the couch and crash early.

Good-night friends!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

An Announcement...

Hey guys!  I hope you are enjoying your Saturday!  You may know that I usually take the weekend off from blogging, but I have something exciting to share that can't wait until Monday!!!  And I'm not even pregnant! 

The Jackson '5' has been selected to be a part of Faithblogs.  Faithblogs is a growing website started by  husband and wife team,  Justin and Katie Troup.  They started the site with the goal of connecting people who write blogs, who read blogs, who love Jesus!  Justin and katie are awesome, and to see them using the growing blogging community to bring honor and glory to God is amazing.  They have so many wonderful blogs in their network, so I hope you'll all head over and check them out! Don't forget, you can 'like' them on Facebook, 'follow' their tweets on Twitter, and follow Faithblogs

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Be Who God Made You To Be…

pics 968

Or, I could have simply said, “Be yourself,” but, being yourself means sometimes I’m selfish, or cranky, or envious…sometimes I whine or get angry needlessly.  The person I let myself be doubts my abilities, or sometimes wishes I could be like someone else.  Sometimes I criticize my appearance, and sometimes, I don’t put others before myself.  Did I mention that I can be negative?

I heard an amazing quote from speaker Staci Mason at church last night:  “Who you are should be defined by the Lord you follow.”  Isn’t that great? I have to say, that quote totally pierced my heart!  Does He define me? Do I give Him that place in my heart? Am I in fellowship with Him?

God wants me to be more like Him and less like…well…the person I often let myself be. 

I feel like in raising children, I’ve learned the most about the way in which God desires us to be.  We’ve been teaching the little Mr. the concept of ‘put-off/put-on’.  It goes something like this:

When the little Mr. is doing something that is say, selfish or rude, we teach him to ‘put-off’ rudeness, and ‘put-on’ patience, kindness and self-control.  We follow it with explaining that God desires us to to be kind to one another Ephesians 4:32 and share with him the Biblical truth that God points us to in His word.

In teaching our kids this, I am often sooooooooo convicted.  I have realized that God desires so much more from me than I am often willing to give Him.  I’ve learned that the person I often let myself be is not who He has created me to be. He created me to be in fellowship with Him.  He created me to desire Him.  He created me to reflect Him…so what kind of reflection do others see?

For me, Being yourself is more than personality, I’m learning it’s being a person after God’s own heart.  A person who is willing to cast aside selfishness and do His will.  A person desiring to allow Him to mold my heart and fashion me after Him.  Sounds so easy, right?

Matthew 12:4  Out of the overflow of your heart the mouth speaks. 

When my heart is more in-tune with God, then my thoughts, the words I speak, and my actions are more like Him. 

Looking at the book of Psalms, King David was in heavy pursuit of God.  He cried out to Him, leaned on Him for understanding, and praised Him for the character of His goodness.  King David was described as, “A man after God’s own heart.” Acts 13:22

King David wasn’t perfect…far from it.  He made a lot of mistakes, and even disobeyed a time or two.  But, His pursuit of God never waned, and His desire to allow God to mold him was there. 

These days, I have a lot to ‘put-off’ in order to ‘put-on’ the character of Christ, striving to be who God made me to be.

What about you?  What are you learning/challenged of in your walk with the Lord?


Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No Sign Of Intelligent Life...

The little Mr. is always in deep make-believe play... today, he was Buzz Lightyear.  I was loving everything about his imaginative exploration...he's very creative.

*Yep...that's a clear rubbermaid tote on his head...

How cute right?  I thought so too, until he looked right in my eyes, raised his wrist to his mouth all covert 'buzz style' and said, in his most serious Buzz voice, "There is no sign of intelligent life anywhere!" Hold the phone!  What?!  That's just rude...

 The little Miss was playing Buzz too.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember the toy company
marketing a 'pants-less' space ranger...

Either way, she's of the pants-less persuasion and would be
glad to support a 'Free The Buns' campaign...

Hope your day was full of adventure!