Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthdays!

Yesterday she came into the world and stole our hearts... she's a year old and we're still completely smitten.

Happy Birthday Juju! My Sweetheart is another year older too!
Happy Birthday Ben!

See the slideshow for pictures galore of our family filled fun weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wish I wasn't busy on Saturday!

Check it out! Saturday is MUSEUM DAY! Print out your free admission card here. Click here to search for participating museums near you! Thanks again Celia for the tip!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Busy bee

What I'm busy with this week:
  • Preparing for our baby girl's first birthday party this weekend!
  • Finishing unpacking and finding a place for everything in a house with much less built in cabinetry than the last house. Does one buy a container to house C.D.s and DVDs that will some day be obsolete? I really don't know!
  • Thinking about my grandparents visit from TN next week! Yay!
  • Taking pictures of two houses and making their virtual tours
  • Doing bills and laundry and making meals - this was a given, but I want credit
  • Trying to maintain a resemblance of normalcy keeping up social activities for the kiddos including play group, soccer* and a play date - homeschool co-op starts next week!
  • Buying a rug to keep the food off our nice carpet under the kitchen table. Yes...carpet in the kitchen...perhaps there's lovely wood underneath, we'll hope, eh?
  • Oh, and don't forget changing diapers and taking wee Z to go pee in the loo. I'm learning not to fill his tank with juice right before a long car ride. "Got to go potty, Mommy!" Ack! I just passed an exit! "Hold on, Buddy! We'll stop as soon as we can! You can do it! Hold it!" He did. {{Long sigh, big smile}} Another rewarding moment in mommyhood.
*It's official, I'm a soccer mom!!! A soccer mom with a station wagon, mind you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Irresistible Revolution

The BOOK REVIEW you should read!

Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne

I have truly struggled with how and when to share my thoughts about this book with my readers. There are parts of this book that would truly offend many of you. Also, there is a growing popularity of the author in many circles that borders on idolatry. So, I hesitate. I don't want to offend and I don't want to be yet another wannabe dread head that follows Shane Claiborne and becomes part of a trend. I can live with being offensive, but I hate trends.

That being said, I really really liked this book. Not since I read, C.S. Lewis', " The Great Divorce," have I been so affected by a book other than the Bible. This book, which my pastor recommended, coupled with the impact of our new church has made me challenge some of the most significant soap boxes I've stood on in my life.

So, what did I like about it? First I'll tell you what I didn't like. I didn't like that the author did a lot of name dropping throughout the book. It was slow at one point, but it picked up again at the end. Also, he was rather blunt at times and I was offended, at first.

Instead of summing up the book, here's just a couple ways the book impacted me, you'll have to read the book for the controversial points:

  • I'm reading the Bible with new eyes, asking with many others at our church in jest, "What if Jesus really did mean what He said?" For instance, "Feed the poor". I realized I don't actually know many poor people to feed. Thankfully, I'm starting to meet a few, but I have a long way to go! I've started giving my clothes and things away to actual people and not just sending it all to Salvation Army or Goodwill just to get my donation slip {YES, I endorsed this practice in my Money For Nothin' series a while back} . Here's what Shane Claiborne says about that:
I'm just not convinced that Jesus is going to say, "When I was hungry, you gave a check to the United Way and they fed me," or, "When I was naked, you donated clothes to the Salvation Army and they clothed me." Jesus is not seeking distant acts of charity. He seeks concrete acts of love: "you fed visited me in welcomed me into your clothed me."

...The church becomes a distribution center, a place where the poor come to get stuff and the rich come to dump stuff. Both go away satisfied (the rich feel good, the poor get clothed and fed), but no one leaves transformed. No radical new community is formed. And Jesus did not set up a program but modeled a way of living that incarnated the reign of God, a community in which people are reconciled and our debts are forgiven just as we forgive our debtors (all economic words). That reign did not spread through organizational establishments or structural systems. It spread like disease - through touch, through breath, through life. It spread through people infected by love.
  • Community. "Love your neighbor as yourself" has taken on a refreshingly new meaning where I don't translate "neighbor" as just everybody in the world, but rather my actual neighbors, that live next door to me. I'm trying to truly love them, then branch out from there. I've taken bread to all of my neighbors since our move, with a note that invites them to call us if they need anything. Better yet, I'm trying (and so is Ben) to make genuine relationships with them. Sadly, at our last house I can count on one hand the number of good conversations I had with my neighbors and we lived there for nine years!
The community concept is much much bigger than just what I mentioned, but I'm taking baby steps. I have many aspirations that I'll share with you as they unfold. For a much bigger picture of community and how we can live out His will on Earth as it is in Heaven, read this book for some inspiring stories and some gut wrenching convictions.

Finally, I want to end with one last quote (actually of a footnote) that I love to share with others:

The story of Minucius is a beautiful glimpse of irresistible revolution. As a lawyer who was persecuting Christians, Minucius understood the empire and the religious establishment well. But he soon caught the contagion of love. Here's what he had to say about Christians before his conversion in AD 200: "They despise temples as if they were tombs. They despise titles of honor and the purple robe of high government office though hardly able themselves to cover their nakedness...They love one another before being acquainted. They practice a cult of lust, calling one another brother and sister indiscriminately.

And here's what he said after his conversion: "Why do they have no altars, no temples, no images?...What temple shall I build him [God] when the whole world, the work of his hands, cannot contain him? Should we not rather make a sanctuary for him in our souls? The whole heaven and the whole earth and all things beyond the confines of the world are filled with God...I would almost say: we live with him. What a beautiful sight it is for God when a Christian mocks the clatter of the tools of death and the horror of the executioner; when he defends and upholds his liberty in the face of kings and princes, obeying God alone to whom he belongs. Among us, boys and frail women laugh to scorn torture and the gallows cross and all the other horrors of execution" (Eberhard Arnold, ed., The Early Christians: In Their Own Words [Farmington, PA: Plough, 1998]).

Wowee Zowee!

Ugh, I just noticed I hadn't listed the name of the first magazine in this,
it's fixed now, so you can read it!


Hello! Had to pass on the savings my homeschooling guru, Celia, shared today on our homeschooling co-op discussion forum:


You can purchase a one-year subscription to Homeschool Enrichment magazine at 60% off AND as a bonus you will also receive a one-year subscription to HOMESCHOOL LEGAL ADVANTAGE!!! You get BOTH for only $14.57!!!! HS Legal Advantage alone is usually about $80 a year.

So, if you've ever thought about becoming a member of HS Legal Advantage for extra "peace of mind," now might be the time to go for it!

Expires midnight Monday, Sept. 21st, so hurry! You can pay by credit card, PayPal, mail in a check, or call and give credit card info over the phone.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Swiftly Speaking


See the slide show for all new pictures!

We're enjoying our country living. I'm a little surprised at how noisy it is out here though! Between the crickets, the frogs, the cicadas (17 years my foot!), the cows and the birds, oh my the birds! It's pretty loud. A good loud though.

According to our neighbor, we have a swarm of swifts living in our chimney at night. It's a chimney we won't be using, but Ben says it's not good to have animals living in our house or our chimney, so he capped it. I usually only hear the birds while they're jumping from tree to tree around the neighborhood. There seems to be a thousand of them by day. Here's about a hundred of them swarming to their nest in our chimney and finding the motel closed. It was hard to get a good picture. All of the black blurs are birds!
* photo of swift courtesy of

We've been having lots of campfires in our back yard. We'll probably have one after Juju's first birthday party in a few weeks. I wonder if I can get the place looking good in time! One room is still filled with boxes. We'll see! Here the grass was wet so we used some of our many boxes to stay dry. Lawn chairs are not nearly as fun!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Historic Zoar House

Play VisualTour

I finally finished this and had to share. I won't share all my virtual tours, just the outstanding houses, I promise! If people haven't noticed yet, the property prices in our area are fabulous! This house is asking $229,900 and it's worth every penny if you see it in person and the house I showed you yesterday is only asking $109,900! Crazy, huh?

Friday, September 4, 2009

When did our little girl get so big? She'll turn one year old this month!
Play VisualTour
Above is a sample of what's been keeping me so busy! Yes, Juju too, but my computer time has been zapped by my new job. Right now I'm working on a super cool historical home in Zoar, Ohio. I took almost 200 pictures of it because it was so beautiful and now I'm sifting through them to make the tour. For those that don't know, virtual tours are not videos of the home, but rather panoramic pictures of a room stitched together with software then they just pan the still shot so it looks like a video. Stitching software is awesome, you just upload the pictures and it pretty much does the rest. I'm learning to better take pictures for stitching, you have to overlap 20-30% of the edge of the picture and if you tilt the camera at all it doesn't work. I probably would benefit from using a tripod, but it's working fairly well to just wear contacts, use the view finder and hold the camera against my face for stability.

I had my first paid staging consultation on Monday. It was difficult actually because the home owner actually had cleaned well and had bought lots of fancy decorations. She graciously accepted my suggestions on defluffing her home. I'm NOT a decorator. What I do is equip sellers with the knowledge to sell their home for the maximum profit for the least amount of expense. So, I have a standard list of tips I hand out that I wrote myself and then I go through their home and write personalized ideas to better stage their home for sale, most of which are free for them to do. Decorating implicates artistic creation and I mostly deconstruct and tell people they have too much stuff. Very different.

Just as a disclaimer, if I ever come to your home, reader, or you come to mine, I'm not examining your home in this fashion any more than I'm trying to counsel you every time I talk to you, I'm helping people try to sell their homes, that's it. I like to think that I'm putting seven years of higher education in psychology to work when I go into a home and see it from a buyers perspective. The counseling part comes in when I try to convey my thoughts to the seller. That's an art, let me tell ya!

Mr. Big Boy Pants is doing spendidly! I'm so proud of him! He was telling us he needed to go just a few days after we started training. He rarely has accidents, except in the #2 department. That's a hurdle we're still working on. We weaned him from the dollar store presents by telling him he only gets presents for poopies now. Let me clarify: Poopies IN the potty. He's motivated, there's just something scary about it still and he's holding it for 3 days at a time. Yesterday, I think Ben thought I was being too pushy trying to make Z try to poop on the pot, so I said, "Are you going to clean it up if he poops in his pants?" He thought about it awhile and he told Z that if he pooped in his pants he'd clean him off with the hose outside and it'd be cold! That's probably exactly what he needs! Maybe I'll try that if he goes today.

Now, on that note, have a lovely day and when you go potty, just take a moment to be thankful that somebody taught you how!

{quick update}
I no more had clicked "publish" on this post and Z told me he needed to go potty and whaddaya know? He got his first present in a week! If he keeps this up, the whole earth and all it's landfills will breathe a giant sigh of relief. Here's hoping!