Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Memory Lane - the kitchen


is the kitchen.

It's where we had birthday parties. Surrounding the table with our favorite meals and cake - and every other year, our friends.

It's where we did our homework - me, spread out across the whole table, my brother shooting me dirty looks from the little corner I left him.

It's where we did the dishes together every night, taking turns sweeping, clearing, and washing. Sometimes we grumbled and fought. Sometimes we ignored each other. Sometimes we laughed our heads off and got into towel fights. (My dad is REALLY good.)

It's where my parents finally had the genius idea to reoutfit my grandpa's old poker table and turn it into a kitchen table big enough to fit all seven of us (with one extra seat!) that would also fit in the kitchen.

It's where everything got dumped at the end of the day, and my mom would get really mad at the state of slob-ness upon which our entire family had descended and from which there was no recovery.

It's where we had family get-togethers. Countless troops of aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, step-aunts and step-uncles, ex-step-aunts and ex-step-uncles. All having a marvelous time eating shrimp cocktail, spinach dip, olives and barbecue ribs.

It's where my mother would wait for me at the end of the day - after theater or yearbook or someimportantclubmeeting - and listen to who said what and why.

It's where we gathered for Sunday morning breakfasts - after my dad's clarion call of "Good morning, Jackson family! Time for breakfast!" - and the MoTab playing in the background. Waffles with peanut butter, syrup, walnuts, bananas, chocolate chips and a fruit salad to boot. Or maybe scrambled eggs with cheese, lemon poppyseed muffins, bacon and orange juice so pulpy you had to strain it with your teeth. Whatever he made, it was consumed with gusto.

It's where we played games. Card games. Lots of card games. Scum and Uno and Hand and Foot and Kings Corner and Rummy and Phase 10 and Skip-Bo and who knows what else. If there were more than four of us home, and the Tigers weren't playing, we got our card game on.

It's where we said hello and goodbye, coming and going from the garage. It's where we welcomed missionaries and sent them off.

It's where love seems most concentrated.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Memory Lane - the den wall


is one wall of the den.

It is significantly pilfered now, as my brother and I attacked it this week. (Thus thoroughly improving our own libraries.) But I think you get the idea.

We love movies.

We love movies.

We're famous in the neighborhood for being better than Red Box.

And pretty much any time, day or night, my siblings and I can be found quoting movies.

"Wanna see my deck?"

We sometimes have whole conversations consisting only of quotes.

"That fell right off there, sir."

It's pretty awesome.

"That's neew."

Though some might find it annoying.


I can't imagine why.

"L seven weinieeeeeeeeeee!"

*That Thing You Do, Anastasia, Princess and the Pea, Kung Fu Panda, Sandlot.*


Monday, July 26, 2010

Memory Lane - the roof


is the roof ledge outside my bedroom window.

I sat out on it almost every day.

Watching people go by. Watching clouds. Talking to my best friend. Talking to myself.

Reading. Writing. Pondering.

And eating saltwater taffy.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Memory Lane - the hallway


is the hallway.
(My room on the left, my brother's room on the right.)

It's where I read my scriptures every night, because my little sister was sleeping in the room.

It's where I gained my testimony of said scriptures, often losing myself to the canon until way-too-late-o-clock.

It's where I hated scrubbing fingerprints off the walls during spring cleaning.

It's where pictures of all of us as babies used to hang.

It's where I watched a one-year-old Sunshine fall down the stairs, and my mother dive after him. (Him: a bruise. Her: a shattered foot and three screws.)

It's where my brother and I would whisper at the end of the day, both of us sitting cross-legged in our respective doorways, sometimes leaning against the frame when it got too late to hold up our heads. Snorting and laughing and being serious, too - and always listening for the creak of Mom's footsteps to tell us to GO TO BED ALREADY.

I will probably miss that hallway more than anywhere else in the house.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Memory Lane - the living room couch


is the living room couch.

It's where we convened for home teaching - the teenagers sulking, the little kids bouncing, the parents soaking in the gospel message.

It's where we squedged together on Christmas mornings, eyes reflecting the twinkling strands and mountains of presents, trying to remember to open just one at a time so Mom could get a picture.

It's where I escaped with a book when a football game was on.

It's where I would sit and listen to my mom and dad sing, practicing their parts for the choir.

It's where my parents would sit and listen while I practiced the piano. Usually "Jurassic Park." I play a really mean dinosaur theme song.

It's where we were gathered when we heard the SCREEEEECH of a car slamming to a stop, followed by hysterical screaming and sobs. My brother had been hit by a car on his bike. The bike was folded in half and the helmet broken. He was unscathed. It was a miracle.

It's where we took all the homecoming, Sadies, and prom pictures. The pose was the same every time.

It's where my best friend had her bridal shower, and we bought her as many embarrassing pieces of nothing as we could.

It's also where My Man first said "I love you."

I told him I loved him, too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Memory Lane - the window


is my brother's window.

I threw rocks at it one night when I was late for curfew and didn't want to wake up my parents.

He about had a heart attack, and I got in trouble anyway.

I was only late once.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Memory Lane - Meijer


is Meijers. It is always plural, because that's what Michiganders do.

It's where bored teenagers go when they don't drink.

It's where we had shopping cart races.

It's where we hunted the aisles for expired food, then turned them in for free fresh food. We'd go at midnight to find the food that was expired yesterday.

It's where we tried on stupid sunglasses and funky accessories and played with all the toys.

It's where we annoyed the heck out of every employee there.

Goodbye, Meijers.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Surviving Summer - Week 7

This week was


First, read:

and visit a nature preserve.

Then, read:
and draw pictures of what you'll be when you grow up. (Little Prince: an artist, a teacher, a cooker, a soccer player, and a DAD. Sunshine: a planedriverpilot. It's one word.)

Then, read:

make Thing cupcakes

and fly kites.

For our service project, I was planning on picking up Kathy's Lego room (ala Cat in the Hat, of course) - but we're in Michigan. Can we do it when we get back, beb?

Memory Lane - the bathroom


is the kids' bathroom.

It's seen me through puberty.

It's where I ran to after cheerleading practice - the one where I got my period. I probably stayed in there a good hour. Freaking out.

It's where I learned how to put on mascara.

It's where I popped my zits.

It's where my cousin and I got into our famous laughing fits, often peeing our pants in the process. (Good thing it was tile.)

It's where my mom and I would have serious talks at the end of the day.

It's where my brothers and I would make stupid faces in the mirror when we brushed our teeth.

It's where My Man totally won over said brothers. He was visiting my family for the first time. They locked the door by accident. He helped them bust the door open at about 2 AM, and never breathed a word to my parents. (Cat's out of the bag now ....)

It's where I got ready for my wedding day. I shaved my legs three times. I put on approximately forty-five layers of mascara. I didn't need blush - I was already pink. And I fixed the do the hairdressers gave me. (Sidenote: They thought I was going to the prom. THE PROM.)

And now my mom has it set up as a changing table for my sweet baby boys.

Goodbye, bathroom.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Memory Lane - the field


is the field.

It's just down the street from my parent's house.
It's where we played baseball.
LOTS of baseball.
My family is rawther obsessed with the game, see.

It's where one of my brothers pulled a total Sandlot/Babe Ruth moment and hit the ball STRAIGHT INTO MY GLOVE. (Or would have, if My Man hadn't jumped in front of me.)

It's where a lotta lotta inside jokes were born.

It's where we went for a standard afternoon's game of catch. I was facing away from my brother. He threw the ball. I wasn't looking. And I had a baseball-shaped bruise on my right butt cheek.

It hurt a lot.

And my brothers still double over laughing every time we bring up the story.

Goodbye, field.

Friday, July 16, 2010

In which I'm home, but not

So I'm in Michigan right now.

I'd forgotten how humid it is here. The air, it's close and heavy. Lungs have to work harder. My hair takes twice as long to dry and I feel like I'm wet long after the shower is over.

Michigan is a place where you can believe fairies exist. It's full of little forest glades and wooded groves. The colors are somehow more intense here, and you can find every shade of green on a short summer stroll.

image here

I've missed the trees. I'm friends with several, you know. They don't seem to mind that I've been away for so long; there aren't any awkward pauses in our conversations. They know me. And I've measured my life by theirs.

We're packing up my mom and sister. It is a bittersweet, melancholy process. They've been in this house for almost twenty years, and I greet memories in every corner.

I'm going to be doing a Trip Down Memory Lane series for the next few weeks while we're here.

Watch me grow up - and say goodbye.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Surviving Summer - Week 6

This week was


Because it's summertime, folks. We don't have to learn something every day.

We kicked it off with seeing Toy Story 3. I might have bawled my eyes out. Twice.

We also made TVs out of cardboard boxes and gave news and weather reports. That was hours of fun right there. (Sunshine also liked to give suggested menu plans for the day. He likes chicken and rice. And cookies.)

For the service project this week, we're making a DVD to send to our friends in Brazil. We drove around the neighborhood, waxing eloquent on the differences in traffic. We also showed them Little Prince's school and a typical American grocery store. Our friends are so gonna love this.

And ..... that's it. I had plans to make popcorn, act out movies, and make elaborate craft video cameras, but we didn't. We were too busy playing at the pool and the Children's Museum.

I think that's okay.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My recipe

I have a really good cookie recipe. I've blogged about it before.

Whenever I make these cookies for someone, they request the recipe. Without fail. And because I'm nice like that, I give it to them.

But I've never had somebody say, "Gee, you know, I don't agree with butter. So I'm not going to put that in." Because seriously. The cookies will not turn out unless you have butter.


And yet I get it in other respects all the time.

When I tell people how I get my babies to sleep by themselves - or later, to stay in their rooms - I get, "Nah, I don't agree. It must be something else."

When people ask how I've lost so much weight, and I tell them about waking up at 5:30 in the morning every freaking day to exercise, and eating really healthy and staying away from sweets and snacks, it's, "Nah, that's not it, you must have really good genes."


And when someone wants to know why I'm so happy, and I tell them it's because I've found the truth, they don't believe me.

I still have trials. I still have problems. I still have down days and I've had my share of depression. But I'm able to withstand them. I'm better because of it.

I'm not talking about the fleeting happiness that chocolate brings (though it does bring that.) I'm talking about the deep-down peace and joy that truth brings. And that's as easy as this-recipe-equals-good-cookies.

I know Christ is truly the son of God. I know He came to this earth, and taught us how to live. I know that prophets on various continents recorded His visits and teachings. I know that through those prophets' words, we can come to know Him, too. And I know that by knowing Him, we can be happy. Really, truly, happy. Happy in spite of our trials, and perhaps because of them.

I know that we still have prophets today. I know this because I've asked Him. I know this because my spirit recognizes truth. I know this because I've prayed to know for myself if the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are true. And they are. And it is. I know it.

And that's why I'm happy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In which I drool over my own kids

So the ever-amazing Kathy took pictures of my kids the other day. She did an incredible job, and I bow before her.

And I just have one thing to say. Dang. My kids have really blue eyes. (No PhotoShop involved!)

This may be my favorite shot of the whole thing.

Now THAT'S real life!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


So I read a lot of blogs.

But I don't really know that many bloggers.

Have you noticed this? How many bloggers might take beautiful pictures - write beautiful words - even be beautifully, ridiculously popular - but you really don't know them at all?

I don't like that.

So I'm going to introduce myself. For real.


I'm married. I think my husband is the most amazing person on the face of this planet. Like, really.

I have four boys. I love staying home with them. But I lose my temper more often than I should, and don't get down and play like I should either. I do think I get drastically better every year, though. Maybe I'll be the perfect mom by the time they move out?

They are all two years apart and sometimes I wonder if that was so smart.

But gosh darn it I love my boys.

I'd like a daughter, but don't know if I want another kid. This leads to majorly stressful thoughts.

My parents are getting divorced. Thirty-five years. That makes me sad.

I really hate the hour before dinnertime.

(I think about the statement-two-sentences-ago a lot. Yeah. Moving on.)

I limit the television mucho-lot-o. Sometimes it's hard to stick to it when my children are bored.

I'm strongly religious, and it influences my every thought and deed.

I hate money. I hate credit. I hate debt. I have a hard time when people make poor financial decisions.

I love being outside.

I think I'm fat.

I don't like chit chat. Maybe that's why I hate the phone? I like deep, meaty conversations with lots of soul searching and belly laughs to boot.

I have a very hard time being the first to bridge the communication gap.

I cannot be overly busy or overly at-home. Both drive me nuts.

I still feel like a homely wallflower nerd most of the time.

I'm still cowed by 'the popular kids' most of the time.

I'm still stupid most of the time.

I'm generally open to suggestions, and I admit when I'm wrong. But once I've made a decision, don't get in my face.


I can be really weird.

I fart whenever I feel like it.

I'm crafty, but not in your face about it.

I try to be healthy. But love desserts.

I still bite my fingernails sometimes.

My mom and sister are moving in with us. I'm actually pretty excited about it, but maybe I shouldn't be?

Things are about to change around here.

I struggle with motivation and proactivity.

Most of the time I'd rather be reading a book.

I really want a fudgesicle right now, but I shouldn't ....

I get really depressed when I think of all the things I want to do and buy.

And I want to get to know you better.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Surviving Summer - What week is it now?

This week was


This may have been the favorite so far.

We measured out various dinosaurs in the back yard, marking them with little flags. Find different lengths (along with a whole bunch of different dinosaur activities) here. We were very glad to find out that a brachiosaurus would fit. THANK GOODNESS.

We tried to do a wooden dinosaur puzzle, but it was too dang hard. Oh well.


Awesome book. Awesome. We read it approximately 19731984147 times this week.

Can you tell by my face?

(Love that I'm wearing an apron in this picture.)

We also cut out dinosaur footprints and put them all over the house. Then we had a Dinosaur Parade, acting out different kinds of dinosaurs. (Like a COMPSOGNATHUS or a PACHYCEPHALOSAURUS. My kids can totally pronounce their names.)

We made dinosaur eggs. They were pretty tasty. Suspiciously like shortbread cookies. Who knew. (We acted like OVIRAPTORS the whole time. They eat eggs, you know.)

We also made fossils. Quite easy. Just make an impression in damp sand and fill with plaster of paris. (2 cups of plaster to 1 cup of water.) Dig them out once they're dry and dust them off with a paintbrush like real archeologists!

And, um, we also made a fossil of a bus-drivin' alligator.

And of course Dinosaur Week wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Dinosaur Museum!

This summer ROCKS.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday day is a speeeecial day ....

It's the day we have rotisserie chicken sandwiches on sourdough bread - topped with the best of our garden.

Mmmmm ... garden tomatoes ....

Friday, July 2, 2010


So a very popular blogger recently posted about her "new favorite brownies in the world." Seriously the "very best brownies ever" and even her husband raved that they're the "best brownies of all time."

Since she usually has excellent taste, I believed her and decided to try it.

But I am skeptical.

So. The ingredients. There are two.

First. BLACK BEANS. Yes, you read right.

Rinse and drain them, then add a cup of water and puree.

(Don't put in the bananas.)

The second ingredient: brownie mix.

(I actually had to go out and buy a brownie mix to make these. I had mucho faith in this blog.)

Stir. Bake.


So they smelled heavenly and the batter was awesome. Very tasty. I didn't detect a drop of the (truly vomit-producing) bean slop. They looked good too - nice and fudgy.

But the taste?


If you're going to have a brownie, folks, HAVE A BROWNIE.

I like Betty Crocker's recipe. And I never reduce the butter.

Melt and cool five minutes:
2/3 cup butter
5 oz unsweetened baking chocolate

Separately, beat for five minutes:
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs

Beat in the chocolate mixture, then add 1 cup of flour just until blended. Add 1 cup of walnuts if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

No regrets. Only happy tastebuds.