Thursday, August 21, 2014

little bit of life

It has been nearly 2 MONTHS since I posted a "Coming Soon" post.  I guess I'm awesome on follow up. . . ha.

We have had such a busy summer with family/friends visiting our home or us visiting theirs, weddings, and other shenanigans, that my blogging has really fallen by the wayside.  I'm actually fairly disappointed in myself for this because I do very much enjoy writing posts.  It's a nice creative outlet and/or hobby.

Another time consumer this summer has been the sweet new updates for our home.  I finally feel like it is becoming ours instead of just . . . ours.  Our own personalities and such are coming out in our home and it makes it feel a bit more cozy.  We actually have BEDS to fill our spare bedrooms and have finished painting a large majority of the areas we wanted to change.  The challenge now is deciding where to hang things.  We patched all of the nail holes prior to painting, so driving a nail into the wall breaks my soul a bit.  Mistakes cannot be made and we need to know for sure we want something there FOREVER.  Maybe it isn't that serious. . . 

Speaking of decor, I recently had a yard sale and disposed of most of my Hobby Lobby style decorations.  Ben and I both agree that we want to decorate our home with things that are meaningful to us and not just pretty.  Or not pretty at all, but are full of meaning! So far we have hung a poster from the American Players Theater because that is where we went on our mini-honeymoon, and a pencil drawing of an old man without teeth in that looks strikingly like my Grampaw Sparrow.  As we save up a bit more money and get a few more things framed, our home will be a reflection of who we are and what we have done. I love it!

Once we have all of the house painted and things hung and what not, I will post before and after pictures.  It is already wowing when you see the transformation of just the living room! (I think).


(Plus I have some cute, gauzy white curtains hanging now - and no pictures sitting on the floor)
For life as of now, Ben has started his 2nd school year at Prairie Crest Elementary as their k-4 music teacher and I am staring my 2nd semester at Iowa AND I am no longer on probation for being a horrible student!!!  YAY!

Life is good.

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Friday, June 13, 2014


It is evident by looking at the date of my last blog post that I have severely neglected the blog.  Sorry blog.  

We have been running around so much on the weekends that I just haven't gotten a chance to really sit down and type about life. I would actually have to go back and read the last post in order to know where, exactly, I left off! 

This post is not going to be anything other than a "Coming Soon" message.  

So. . . 


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Monday, May 12, 2014

2 weeks - 1 post

It has been a couple weeks since my last post.  Since the 28th, we have had many things happen.  Some happy, like Ben completing his master's program, and some not so happy, like our transmission going out of our car. (Is that proper use of punctuation and sentence structure?  I don't care.  I'm too tired.)

As I mentioned, Ben has successfully completed his masters program and received an A on his final project or paper or presentation or whatever.  SO proud of him!!  To celebrate, we went for supper at R.G. Books in Cedar Rapids.  Ben ordered a 12 oz. steak and it was huge.  He was very excited.  He grudgingly allowed me a bite and it was delicious.  Otherwise, he ate the entire thing.  I was impressed. . . 

Continuing with education, my wonderful mother has completed her first year of college!! It is amazing to see how much she has grown and the confidence she has gained from this experience.  It is also amazing how quickly that year went by!  I always tells her to enjoy her time as a college student, because as soon as you are at a job 40 hours a week you really envy the freedom of the student life.  I would LOVE to go to the gym in the middle of the day for a couple hours, or sleep in until 8 a.m. and study with a cup of coffee.  Ben agrees, so I know I'm not alone in that thought.

And again with education: I am officially signed up for summer and fall classes at the University of Iowa!!!!  I have wanted to be able to say I have a bachelor's in something (anything!) as well as to be able to say that I'm a true Hawkeye and Iowa Alumni.  Insha'Allah, that will be a reality in the spring of 2016.  I'm excited and nervous for classes to start.  I keep having these dreams that I have skipped class the entire semester and am down to finals week and if I don't pass the class then I don't graduate.  I'm nervous to fail. 

Even when we have crazy schedules, we always try and fit in a "family dinner" at least one night a week.  Since it is finally warming up, we are breaking in the grill!  We had everyone over this week to make kabobs and socialize.  I also like to use the time for some baby lovins from my sweet Goddaughter:

Sweet nugget! :)

Aren't they precious?!
 Switching gears to Mother's Day, I was able to celebrate with my mother in Cedar Rapids.  She came up on Saturday and stayed through mid-day on Sunday.  We did a bit of light shopping and then went for a 5 mile ish bike ride.  Ben and I then took mom out to the Lincoln Wine Bar which is my absolute favorite place.  Ma has been wanting to try it and they had a cellist playing so we decided to go.  It was crowded, but comfortable and we enjoyed delicious food and quality music.  After supper, we went to a local ice cream place for some soft-serve and ended the night with a movie. 

On Sunday, we had a leisurely morning and ma went with me to grab some groceries. She had marinated salmon and brought it up, so we fixed that, asparagus and rice for lunch.  Absolutely amazing! Ben and I will be making that same dish in the near future.

I am so blessed to have such a truly wonderful mother.  I love her so much and always get a little down whenever she leaves or we have to leave her.  There really is never enough time.  

On a final note, I leave you with this picture of Ben.  We took a car full of large objects to the dump during city dump day and Ben had to practically sit on the steering wheel.  Not safe, really, but makes for a funny picture. :)

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Surprise piano!

I play piano.  I have wanted a piano since moving out of my parents' house and leaving behind the green beast upright that weighs a bazillion pounds.  Well, on Saturday, April 26, 2014, I came home to a piano in my living room!

Piano as I found it when I came home!
My darling husband surprised me with this beauty out of the blue! He coordinated with our friends so that he could (1) get the piano to our house; (2) get me out of the house; and (3) have help in getting the piano up our hill and through the front door.  Well, he succeeded on all fronts.  I had NO idea that this is what he was doing!  

Earlier in the week Ben mentioned doing lunch and beers with a couple of our guy friends at a nearby bar he had been wanting to try.  I thought that sounded great and I would either chill at home or see what Johnna was up to.  Johnna beat me to the punch by asking if I would want to run errands with her and Maelynn. 

Saturday I showered and headed out with Johnna.  Ben was getting ready to leave at the same time, too, and when he forgot the address to the house so he could pick up the piano, he was sure I thought something was going on.  I didn't think anything of it.

When we were getting close to the house after our errands, Johnna had me call Ben to see if he'd help carry in the bags.  Danny and him were sitting out on the patio waiting for our return.  They helped us carry in the bags and when I walked in I did a double take and exclaimed "WHOA!".  My initial thought was, "Who are we storing this for?".  

What surprised me almost as much as the piano, was that Ben kept it a secret! He did say something midweek about how now that he has his guitar, we need to get me a musical instrument.  He also had told me that on Saturday he would have a surprise for me, but I had completely forgotten.  He received the piano from a student's parent.  They asked him if he knew anyone who wanted a piano and he said that he would take it.  He explained that I have played for years and have wanted one for a very long time.  The piano was in her family for three generations, but her sons didn't want it so they were looking to get rid of it.  Now it is ours.  :)

Doesn't this just make you want to snuggle up with a book and tea? 
Now we have the piano set up in our entertaining area and it has made the room that much more cozy.  I love it!  I especially love my romantic husband who so thoughtfully orchestrated all of this!

My happy place! 
1.  NO pounding on the keys.
2.  NO food or drink to be set on the piano. Anywhere.
3.  NO chop sticks. 
4.  NO making fun of my doily.


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Easter Weekend +

I have not been very faithful to my posting the past few weeks.  It has just been non-stop going!

A few weekends ago Ben and I decided to paint our main entertaining room & bedroom.  We finally narrowed down our colors, bought the samples and tested them out.  We used French Grey and Warm Caramel for the walls in our entertaining room and Atmospheric for our bedroom.  The results are beautiful!  I'm hoping in the next week or two to do a post with pictures of our house and I will include some in there.  As a preview, here is the following before/after pictures in the living room:



Grover appreciates the new set up and has happily found his perch:

After our exhausting weekend of painting and clean up, we headed into a short work week.  Ben and I had Good Friday off and welcomed my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, & wonderful nieces into our home for some respite from their drive down from Minneapolis.  We enjoyed smoothies and play time at the park.  They headed down to Ft. Madison around 1 p.m. and Ben and I followed later.

Our time in Ft. Madison was fun and relaxing.  We went to a candy-pick up in the park with the girls for Easter, shared delicious meals, and enjoyed the outdoors.  It was a perfectly beautiful weekend.  Unfortunately, I didn't take very man pictures, but I did find this gem on my phone of Nina & me:

A little blurry, but still so sweet! :)
On Easter Sunday, we had lunch with my mom, Clif, my brother and his girlfriend.  We have the tradition of feasting on ribs on Easter and thankfully we had gorgeous weather for grilling.  Before, during and after dinner we enjoyed each other's company and conversation. 

Ben and I both enjoy all of the time we spend with our families.  There never seems to be enough time with any of them.  The weekends pass so quickly and then we are back up to Cedar Rapids and to work.  On our way home from our Easter weekend, Ben and I both agreed that while we would have enjoyed being somewhere besides the mid-west, we love that we are able to take a two hour trip south to see our parents/siblings.  Ben's siblings are a bit further away, but with social media we are able to stay in touch a bit more easily. That will, of course, never replace our face-to-face time, but it helps us to stay close.

Another thing we have discussed is how lucky we are that we both truly enjoy our in-laws.  Thanks, families, for being awesome. :)

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

This week at the CR Jackson household . . . 2.0

This has been a fairly productive week for us.  We filed our taxes, I finished my FAFSA, we cleaned, spent much needed time with friends, and I gave the dog a bath. It seems a bit more impressive in my head than written out. . . 

Last Sunday I was getting a bit of cabin fever and was able to convince Ben to do a mini-date of browsing at the used book store and grabbing a coffee.  We found a book on growing a small garden that we purchased because we plan to do a raised garden of sorts in our backyard (and hopefully lots of canning!!!! With the help of my mother-in-law hopefully!).  Ben also found a book of ideas on how to integrate technology in the elementary music classroom which is something he is very interested in.  I struggled to find something that I found interesting, so as we on our way up to the register to pay, I grabbed the book Half the Sky: How to Change the World, and it has turned out to be AWESOME.  It is truly heartbreaking, but also inspiring.  I highly recommend picking it up!  Not pictured is my oober awesome Sound of Music record that I picked up! 

^^ This little tooty has been enjoying the spring weather.  He knocks on the door alllllll the time so he can go out and tree squirrels, bask in the sunlight, and do whatever it is that doggies do.  He has also enjoyed more frequent walks since it is not below zero and grody out.  

Since it is changing seasons and we are emerging from hibernation, Ben and I are putting our heads together on how to decorate our home/clean it up/improve it.  We are going to paint our living room/dining nook/entry way (all one area) and have narrowed it down to our paint choices.  We are also going to paint our bedroom so it no longer looks like a tampon box.  We also are going to remove the bajillion cans of paint we inherited with the house, along with the crappy, smelly, broken furniture the previous owner left behind.  We want to get our garage cleaned out and made into a nice and organized space.  We are going to organize our downstairs pantry (once all the paint cans are removed).  We are going to go through the spare bedroom closet and get rid of things we no longer need.  We are having a yard sale at some point in Hamilton with Ma.  So excited to continue de-fluffing our junk.

I often find myself daydreaming about where we were a year ago.  Mostly because I miss the people we met in Dubai and the bond we shared with them.  On our way home from Dubai, I was sobbing in the airport and when Ben asked why, I told him it was because I was really going to miss my dear friend, Soha.  I still shed a tear every once in a while for those I miss.  Naomi, Casey, and David -- Ben and I both want you to move in next door to us, please.  We miss our nights of conversation and cards!  :)  

Anyway, in looking back at pictures on Facebook from this time of year in 2013, these are a few of my favorite pictures:

Naomi and I showed up to work wearing the same outfit.
We did not plan it. :)

Wonderful people


I miss sharing shisha. . . 

SKY DIVING! Most awesome experience EVER!

I don't think he is having any fun.

I would love a pet camel!

I think one day Ben and I will again be abroad.  It may be Dubai again, it may be somewhere completely different.  Until then, we have wonderful memories with amazing people from our time in the desert.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

This & That

I want to write a post but can't think of anything interesting to report.  

Last weekend Ben and I went back to Ft. Madison/Hamilton to spend time with our family.  Ben was able to relax and help out at his parents, and I was able to get in some much needed mother-daughter time.

This week I met a girlfriend for supper at Zins in Cedar Rapids.  Amazing food.  Amazing wine. 

I started reading The Body Book by Cameron Diaz.  Good so far.  

I am doing at least one logic game a night to start getting my brain geared for the LSAT.  I'm hoping to take it in the spring or summer of 2015.  

Ben had his 3rd and 4th grade program on March 6th (also his bday).  His parents and my mom & Clif came up to watch.  They kids did wonderfully.  Ben wrote the entire show himself - all the lines & all of the words to the songs.  Impressive, in my opinion.

Grover is cute and fluffy.  

That's all I've got.

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Smarts 2.0

You know what is completely refreshing and thrilling?  KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU GROW UP!  It only took me 26 years to figure out, but I got it!  As mentioned here, I have officially applied to the University of Iowa to complete my bachelor's, and then, inshallah, be on my way to law school!  Thankfully, Iowa has an online program for those of us who have 60+ credits (I currently have 91) where you can complete a BLS and focus on whatever courses will benefit you most.  I emailed Iowa's School of Law to confirm that that degree would be accepted (I don't want to pay for something that will get me nowhere) and yay, it would! I will hopefully be starting classes in May. Fingers crossed it will take two years or less to complete the BLS.  

Ben is almost finished with his masters and starting to think more seriously about how to go about getting his Ph.D.  He is exploring his options a bit and trying to figure out the best path for him.  This is a new area for both of us, so any advice is happily accepted.  Before we start towards our higher degrees we plan to meet with a financial adviser and figure out things in that department or at least get an idea of what to expect.  Our biggest worries aren't necessarily about getting into the higher ed. programs, but about surviving financially during and after earning our degrees.  Kind of a scary thing.

I'm so excited for our future!  Ben knows what he wants to do and is figuring out how to accomplish it, I have finally figured out my calling, and we are slowly, but surely, working towards our goals.  I find it laughable that a year ago I thought I might want to be a librarian.  Or a teacher.  What the heck was I thinking? HA.  SO not for me.  I enjoy working in the legal field and I want to learn more.  Ben enjoys having in depth conversations with other educators about different teaching styles and what works best in the classroom and wants to eventually be a professor.

  Basically, we both like using our brains to the max.  

We're excited.  We have the motivation.  We have the support.

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Friday, February 28, 2014



After much thought and consideration, I have applied to University of Iowa to complete my bachelor's degree!!!

Ultimate goal - law school!

Also, once I earn my bachelor's I will have accomplished a life-long goal to be a true Hawkeye Alumni!

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Progress: Scale Obsession

I work out.
I can remember back to the beginning of my freshman year of high school when I was sitting on the bleachers of our gym with my friend Kelsey after having just been weighed in front of everyone.  We were both pretty mortified.  I couldn't believe I actually weighed 121 pounds. . . Man, what a fatty.
I'd kill to be "fat" like that again.
I think it was sometime around middle school when I was actually told by a classmate that I was "fat" that my obsession with the scale began.  I had to have my weight at a certain level or I was eternally doomed to the single life and moo moos.  What ridiculousness! That actually led to unhealthy eating/workout habits my junior year of high school which, thankfully, I overcame. 
Since then, I have continued to struggle with focusing on the number on the scale instead of focusing on being healthy.  It took awhile, but I am finally getting away from that bad habit.  I have been lifting weights and know that inevitably I'm going to gain weight due to more muscle mass.  My pants are starting to fit better by just a smidge (I think - or maybe that is just in my head), so why do I need to get on the scale each morning to "check in"?  Answer: I don't.  Maybe I'll weigh in once every month or so just to guage things, but I'm not going to let the number tear me down. 
I should just get rid of my personal scale and use the one at the gym.  . . . I don't think I'm quite ready for that step yet.  But progress is progress!
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Christmas 2013

I never did get around to how wonderful our Christmas was this year.  

Our tree! It was given to us for free by my work.
They had it stored under an old elevator & it smelled so they bought a new one.
This aired out for a week and ta-da! No more smelly!
It was an exciting year for both of us since we hadn't had a Christmas close to family since we'd been married.  Happily, all of Ben's siblings & significant others were able to gather at Ben's parents' home in Ft. Madison.

Ben, Andy, me, Tescia
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)
Prior to our travel to FM, my brother-in-law, Andy, and his gf, Tescia, stopped by for a visit.  Most of our time was spent sitting around the Christmas tree telling stories and catching up.  Tescia brought the world's largest box of cookies & a case of wine, so we were set for good times. ;)

Can't take them anywhere. . .
Trip to Iowa City to show Tescia Andy's old stomping grounds.
After their departure, Ben and I had our own Christmas.  We cooked a delicious, healthy shrimp Mediterranean pasta for supper, turned on the xmas tunes, and enjoyed a glass of wine.  When we opened gifts, Grover was excited to receive new, yummy treats, Ben was excited for his $$$ to invest in an electric acoustic guitar, and I was excited to get my groove on with my new Kinnect & dance games!

This is how I presented Ben's $ for a guitar. :)
I had to work until noon on Christmas Eve, so we weren't able to get to Ben's parents' home until close to supper on Christmas Eve.  Bri was the only one home when we arrived, so we took a minute to unload our things and check out the newly remodeled basement. (It's awesome, btw).  When everyone else returned from church, we were greeted with many hugs and smiles.  We soon were indulging in appetizers and fine wine.  When everyone was hungry, we sat down to a meal of oyster stew or chicken noodle soup (whichever you prefer).  

Story time!
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)
Before the Kara and Nina went to bed on Christmas Eve, Glenda read us all The Night Before Christmas.  Kara helped Glenda to remember to show us all the pictures.  Her concern was adorable and made us all chuckle. :)

Photos from Christmas Eve:

We had matching bows!
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)
Nina watching Ben play his new guitar.
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)

Beautiful fireplace! Andy and Jon were looking for Santa!
Or lighting a fire. . . whatever.
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)

Keith, Nina & Kara
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)

Glenda & the girls.
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)
Jamie, Nina, Kara, Keith
Andy, Nina & me
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)
Andy & Tescia
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)

Nina was very curious.
I think we have a musician on our hands!
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)
Love Kara's face in this picture!
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)

The girls LOVED the train!
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)

Glenda playing a bit on Ben's guitar.
Christmas Day began with French toast casserole, then presents galore! It was fun to see Kara and Nina get excited about their presents from Santa.  Kara received play make-up and my goodness, she was in love!

Playing with the girls and their Santa gifts.
(Photo courtesy of Tescia)
After gifts and thanks were given, Ben and I headed over to my mom's house for lunch.  We arrived early enough to help her cook and get things ready for company.  I really regret that we didn't pull out a camera, or even our phones, to capture our time spent with Ma, Clif and Shane.  We enjoyed our meal, opened gifts, and then Ben and I headed back to his parents' house.

Here is what we did with the rest of our Christmas Day night:

Bill & Jon boxing

Bri, Jamie & Andy dancing to Applause

Tescia & Andy boxing
Needless to say, everyone was sore the next day. 
I look forward to many more happy holidays with our families. 

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