Friday, August 30, 2013

Fitness Friday

I've come to realize in the past few weeks that I am really the only thing standing in my way of reaching my goals.  It's easy to make a lot of excuses.  It's easy to create lofty goals that never get accomplished.  It's easy to be an all or nothing person.  What isn't easy is changing my mentality and my habits.  So that is what I have to work towards.

I tried Crossfit.  I said I wanted to give it a try and see if it was for me.  I'm glad I tried it.  However... it's not for me.  I went 3 times which I think is a fair try.  The last time that I went, I felt like I was pushed too hard.  That day, I did 30 sit-ups, 30 pushups, and 30 ring pulls as a warm up.  Then the guy walked me through deadlifts and cleans and kept adding to the weight 'til I was lifting about 100lbs or so.  Then I did 50 squats, 40 sit-ups, 30 pushups, 20 ring pulls, and 10 cleans (lighter weight that time).  The next day...and really the entire next week, I did good to just function in my daily life  lol  It was bad.  And it was bad enough that it kind of made me mad that they would let me do that just starting out.  I live on the 3rd floor and I felt like I was about 95 years old every time I had to go up and down the stairs.  I didn't like the way they did things.  So I decided that it just wasn't for me.

So after that experience, I talked to a friend who has been in the fitness industry for several years and that I trust.  I had made this goal of exercising 4 days a week which never happened.  I was encouraged to just set a goal for 2 days a week.  It's about changing habits.  And the biggest thing, which I have now started doing, is to start praying for a desire to exercise.  When I don't feel like it, I need to pray about it.  I need to think of my exercise as an act of worship.  We are called to give our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice...the kind that He will find acceptable (Romans 12:1).  How can I do that if I'm so complacent with my fitness.

I read on Peak313's blog the other day a really great paragraph.
"Everything we have in life- our bodies, marriages, children, houses, etc- are ours to steward.  God OWNS all of it.  He doesn't NEED any of it.  He is giving us these areas to show us how we may honor Him, and also draw closer to Him! When I approach each day with this mentality, it is so much easier for me to let go and walk in wisdom."
 I wrote this quote on a sticky note and it's hanging on my monitor at work so that I see it everyday. 

I also had an eye opening experience with my nutrition yesterday.  I am re-examining my carb intake...starting today.  I've tried to keep up with everything in My Fitness Pal but sometimes I slack a little.  Someone on a facebook group for people who had weight loss surgery that I'm in posted a question asking people if they count the carbs that are in their multivitamins and calcium citrate chews.  So I added those in MFP for yesterday and it added 9 additional carbs.  I said I was going to try to keep my carbs below 50.  But now a days, I find myself craving my protein bars....which really means that I'm craving the carbs.  When I put everything in yesterday, I had 75 carbs! Yikes!  That's way too many for me personally (everyone is different!).  So I'm going to try to keep my carbs below 35.  It's those hidden carbs and the carbs in the "good" things (like protein bars) that really add up.  But I had gotten to where I was eating 2 protein bars a day.  I decided I have to break up with my yummy protein bars and only have one every so often.  I'm going to go back to drinking my Oh Yeah shakes since they are low in carbs and high in protein.  Hopefully that and the exercise will jump start my weight loss again.  I've been holding still for a little while and frankly...I'm tired of it.

Last night, I went home, changed clothes and went to the fitness center at my apartment.  I was the only one in there for most of the time.  I put my headphones in and put some praise and worship music on (which I NEVER did before!) and just went to it.  I did about 11 minutes on the treadmill, a strength training routine that my friend gave me that included a dumbbell chest press, bicep curls, 1 leg dumbbell cone touch, lat pull down, tricep pushdown, and a plank....and I added in crunches, Russian twists, and bicycle crunches...then I finished it with 13 minutes on the bike.  I know I need to do more cardio but hey...it was my first day trying something different.  I felt good about what I did.

So here's to setting more attainable goals and changing my mentality. :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Marriage Monday: So, You're Getting Married...Part Two


Today's Marriage post comes from a collaboration of input from a few friends. The pink is my thoughts on their input :)

1.  Marriage is Hard Work and no one said you would live happily ever after.  Nobody ever guaranteed your happiness.  You can't just toss in the towel because you're "not happy".  Marriage takes work!
      ~Kristen...married 11.5 years
   Trying to find fulfillment and happiness in another person can leave you feeling empty.  God is the only one that can truly make you complete.  You choose to love someone everyday.  Maybe some days you don't feel head over heels "in love" with that person, but you love them none the less.  It takes work.  It takes changing your frame of mind and your attitude. 

2.  Talk about your expectations before you get married.  Living with a guy can be frustrating and hard work.  It's really helpful to talk about your expectations before you get married.  Talk about things that you think are just common sense to make sure you are on the same page.
              ~Janelle....married almost 7 years
  We've had to kind of learn things along the way.  Darren grew up with a mom who cleaned up after him... laundry, food, dishes, etc etc.  That's the way she was raised so I don't fault that at all.  In my mind, it should not be up to me to take care of everything in the house.  I think it should be a partnership.  If you see dirty dishes in the sink...wash them or put them in the dish washer.  If laundry needs to be done...start a load.  It's NOT that difficult.  We're still working on all of that but it's a lot better now than it was when we first got married :)

3.  Submission.  It's not an evil word, I promise.  I had two friends who both said that this is the biggest thing that they have learned.  Sometimes women think that submitting to their husbands means they are inferior or a "doormat".  But really, it comes down to trust...trusting your husband and trusting God.  God has put the man to be the head of the household for a reason.  If you are submissive to that role and trust him to make decisions for your family, God can do some great things in your marriage.  Overcome your fears and put aside the power struggle.  A good book that Theryne recommended is "The Strong-Willed Wife" by Debbie Cherry.
     ~Shelley...married almost 7 years.  and Theryne....married 4 years.
   I think this is a sensitive subject for some women.  We live in a society where we are taught to be independent and feminism is everywhere.  But we are called to submit to our husbands just as they are called to love us as Christ loves the church.  When the two are combined, God can work through your marriage to bring glory to Him.  Marriage is a partnership.  Being submissive doesn't mean that you don't get to give your opinion on things before decisions are made.  I probably need to check that book out.  I can be quite stubborn. :)

4.  Every Marriage is Different.  You may or may not have the same struggles that others have.  Pray for your husband, encourage him, and give him the same love and respect that you want in return.  Open communication is key!
      ~Deana...married 6 years
   This is a big deal.  Give him the same love and respect that you want in return.  It's the same thing as treat others as you want to be treated.  I have to remind myself of this and even if that love and respect is not reflected back to you right away, it will be eventually.  Sometimes that may come in the form of an apology and flowers...but none the less...it's reflected. :)

5.  Be Intentional. This one is my own.  As I was typing the others, I thought of a couple more.  There is a lot of power in just being intentional.  Leave a note of encouragement for your spouse.  Leave it in their car, their bag they carry to work, their lunchbox, their pants pocket, note pad on the refrigerator, post it note on the bathroom mirror ....wherever.  It doesn't have to say much.  Just be honest.  Tell them you appreciate their hard work.  Tell them you are proud of them.  Thank them for loving you just as you are. Tell them you are praying for them and you hope they have a wonderful day.  Just do it!  And when you get one back...you'll see why I say it's powerful.

6.  Counseling.  No...seriously.  If you are having problems personally or in your marriage, seek counseling.  Preferably Christian counseling.  I have a strong view on counseling since I've been through several months of it myself.  I didn't go for my marriage...I went for things I was dealing with personally that was in turn slowly beginning to affect my marriage.  It's so refreshing to be able to sit down and talk to someone who doesn't know you or your background or anything about anyone else in your life.  Someone who is not going to judge you or put you down for feeling the way you do.  I think everyone would benefit from counseling.  You have to start by putting your pride aside.

**And just a small disclaimer.  Please remember that this is advice (and opinions) coming from myself and other women.  If you are in a marriage where there is physical or emotional harm being done, please seek professional help as soon as possible.**

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Sunday Social: Week 2

Well...it's hard to believe it's Sunday again already.  That means we are about to start another week.  And it's the last week of August...can you believe that??  My friend posted a little picture that said we are about to enter the 'ber months lol  I thought that was cute.  Anyway.  I said that I wanted to stay consistent so I'm going to do the Sunday Social again from Ashley Lately's blog.  If you'd like to participate, go to her blog and copy the link for the picture, answer the questions on your blog and link your blog via the comments on her page.

Sunday Social
 
Today's questions are all about your childhood.
 
1. What do you miss most about being a kid?
    The thing I miss most about being a kid is being carefree.  We didn't have responsibilities beyond doing our chores and doing the best we could in school.  My friends lived within walking distance and we could ride our bikes all around the neighborhood without feeling scared.  Oh to be a kid again.
 
 
 
2. Did you have a nickname growing up? What was it?
   I had lots of them and I'm not quite sure if I want to share them  lol  As long as no one that reads this dares to call me any of them...I guess I could share.  I was always Missy when I was a kid...I HATED it!  My dad called me (and still does and is the ONLY one allowed to) Matilda, Miss Tilly, Tillison, Thelmer, babydoll, etc.  I don't even know how all of those came about.  Around high school, I picked up Issa which wasn't horrible.  I still get called Mel every now and again and that just kind of bugs me.
 
3. What was your favorite thing to do at recess?
   Double dutch and the tire swings.  Otherwise, I just sat with my friends and we worked on the latest hand slap game thing lol  whatever those are called....you know...Miss Mary Mack. (mack mack)
 
4. What did you want to be when you grew up?
   I wanted to be a teacher.  My friends and I always played school.  I had chalkboards and workbooks to play with.  I got a type writer for Christmas one year because I wanted one SO badly. My mom believed in educational toys and workbooks, etc so I'm sure that's why.  However....I am not a teacher.  Funny how that works right? 
 
5.  Did you participate in any school activities?
  In elementary school, I was in the girl scouts and 4h club.  I tried ballet, cheerleading, etc and those lasted about 2 minutes.  In high school, I was in French club, Future Business Leaders of America, Yearbook, National Honor Society, a candy striper at the Hospital and I'm sure a few others that I'm forgetting.
 
6.  What is the funniest thing you did as a kid that your parents still remind you about?
   I probably remember more funny things than my parents do  lol  One year, at Christmas, my brother and I wanted to scare my dad when he got home from work so we crawled behind the tree and were going to jump out from behind it.  Well...that didn't turn out the way we planned and the tree just about tumbled completely over.
 
That's all :)  I'd love to see your answers so make sure you link your blog in the comments if you filled out the questions as well.

Oh yeh...and I put 5 month progress pictures up on my progress page! Not a huge difference.... slowly but surely though :)  New goals this week.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Marriage Mondays: So, You're Getting Married... Part One

I thought it would help me to be more regular in my blogging if I came up with posts that I was passionate about and that I could turn into a regular thing that I do on the same day of the week.  Hence the "Marriage Mondays".

After reading Wife After God, I started thinking about the things that I've learned during my 6 years of marriage.  I also thought about those things that I've learned that I wish someone would have told me before I got married.  I spoke with a few of my friends about this as well and got their input.  So I thought it would be cool to do a couple of blog posts geared to young women who are getting married (or even those who have just recently gotten married).  I'm going to do a mini-series on "So, You're Getting Married...".  If you've been married for many years and you are reading this...feel free to add your advice in the comment section.  The points from this first part are solely from my own personal opinion based on experience.  Take from it what you will :)

1. Do not vent to your parents about your spouse.
     Before I got married, my mom told me "do not come to me with any problems you are having with Darren or tell me bad things He's done or said".  I took that to heart and am glad that I've never done that.  The reason being....you may have an argument or a problem with your spouse and vent to your parents and then shortly after that you reconcile with you spouse and go about your day.  You've forgotten all about it but your parents...they remember!  It puts a really bad taste in their mouth about your spouse.  So make sure that you are lifting your spouse up instead of tearing them down.  This really goes for when you talk to your friends about problems too.  Be very careful about that.  Take the high road.

2. Take a budgeting class.
    I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace".  You can go to the link to the left and see if there is a class near you or I believe there is an online option now.  Either way...it's a must.  And it really helps for you both to take the class so you are on the same page when it comes to your finances.  Having the same expectations about money is key.  Money is one of the lead causes of arguments in marriage.... especially the first year or so when you're still trying to figure each other out.

3. Communication. Communication. Communication.
   This may be a given and I'm sure you've been told before but communication is SO important in your relationship.  Remember that everyone is different.  We all have different personalities, different opinions, different upbringing, etc.  This plays a big part in how we communicate with each other.  It took us a while to get to know how the other reacts to things and really, we are still learning.  Choose your battles and don't sweat the petty stuff.  And if you do get into an argument....don't say anything you'll regret and don't bring up things that you've already forgiven him for.  As cliché as this sounds...count to 10 before responding.  Seriously :)

4. Date your spouse.
   Date nights are important.  Even if it's just the two of you and you spend time with each other every night.  Set a night each week where you plan something and go out.  It doesn't have to cost much or anything.  Go to the mall and walk around window shopping, pack a picnic and go to the park, find things around you that don't cost much but interest both of you.  But also, do things that he likes to do.  Hopefully in return, he will be willing to do something you enjoy as well.

Good Books to read...
Wife After God
The 5 Love Languages
Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married (I haven't read this one personally but Gary Chapman is a GREAT author so I'm sure it's great)
Men Are Life Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti (this is a good one if you like learning about personalities)
From Blushing Bride to Wedded Wife (looks like this one may be out of print but you can get it used)

There are SO many great books out there.  I really like authors like Gary Chapman, James Dobson, Elizabeth George, Dennis Rainey, etc.  And I'm definitely preaching to the choir here but find a couples' devotional that you can do together.  It doesn't have to be long but get in the habit of doing the devotional and praying together every night (or every morning...however your schedule allows).
 
   That's all for now.  I have some more for next time that go a little deeper :) Stay tuned and happy Monday!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Sunday Social: Week 1

  I like the idea of these fun little link-up posts so I found a new one that I'm trying out.  It's from Ashley Lately's blog.  So if you want to participate, go to her blog so you can pull the cute lil' graphic she has, copy the questions, answer them, and post the link to your blog in a comment on hers :)
Sunday Social

1. What is something you've always wanted to do but are afraid of?
I would really like to go sky-diving because I can imagine how freeing it probably is but then the thought of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane stops me in my tracks :)

2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
So many things could happen in 5 years but if I were to dream a little, We would be back in a home of our own that we love with a couple lil' kiddos running around and I would be a stay at home mom and we would be out of debt.  Hey...I said I was dreaming but I think that's reasonable.

3. What are you looking forward to before the end of 2013?
We are going on a cruise in December with friends that we haven't seen in way too long and I'm really looking forward to that.  And hopefully we will sell our house before then so I look forward to that as well.

4. What are your hopes for your blog?
I don't really have any high hopes for this blog.  I just hope that maybe I can encourage someone.  And I like the idea of being a part of a community of other bloggers.  If something else becomes of it...that's cool but that's not really what my goal is.

5. Do you always see yourself living in your current town/city?
I probably should have said this in the first question.  I've always thought about how it would be cool to move somewhere else...completely different and just start over but that terrifies me.  Darren and I both grew up around here.  Our families are all around here.  When we have kids...the thought of moving away from our family is just not appealing at all.

6. What is your morning routine?
I hit snooze twice, get up, shower, sit on the couch and put makeup on and check facebook or read my devotional (what I really should do), dry hair, get dressed, curl hair, put food for the day together, kiss Darren goodbye as he's still layin' in bed, then leave and call my mom.  I am creature of habit for sure.  I have everything down to the minute.


Hope everyone has had a great weekend.  Mine has been very lazy but I'm completely okay with that!  Let me know if you do the link up....post the link in the comments on my page too so I can go read them :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Review: Wife After God: A 30-Day Marriage Devotional for Wives

I've always been really picky about my devotional books.  I've bought several only to be disappointed or not engaged enough to finish the entire thing...until now.

Wife After God, written by Jennifer Smith, is enlightening, easy to read, and challenging all in one.  This 30-day devotional encourages you while pushing you to strengthen the two most important relationships in a married woman's life...your relationship with Christ and your relationship with your husband.  Just reading through the first few days, I felt convicted of how I need to work on my marriage.

What's Inside?
   Each day there are scripture references, a couple of pages of thoughts including stories and scripture, a personal challenge for you, as well as thought provoking journal questions.  This would be a great book to use in a ladies' Bible study or in your personal quiet time.

Why this book?
   There are so many great topics within this devotional that really hit home with me.  Real topics that we as women face everyday. 
Topics like... 
              ~Finding fulfillment through Christ alone
              ~Overcoming a poor image of self-worth
              ~The importance of prayer
              ~Being thoughtful and intentional
              ~Viewing your spouse as a gift
              ~Protecting yourself and your marriage with the Armor of God
              ~Relying on God's wisdom

    These are just a few of the topics that are covered that spoke to me personally.  These devotions are not sugar coated and if you allow yourself to tear down the wall of pride that we all have, they are convicting and encouraging all at the same time. 

   I've talked quite a bit about my self-image on this blog before and reading the section on "Confident Worthiness" was eye opening.  I can't look to anyone else to make me feel worthy or good about myself other than Jesus Christ.  He made me who I am.  He finds me worthy of His unconditional love and reminds me every day of His presence....so I really need to work on my trust in Him. Wow.

   Another section that got me was "Perfect Posture".  I surely am bad at crossing my arms in anger, rolling my eyes, huffing, etc.  I think I have gotten a lot better at it over the past couple of years but I still have my moments (don't we all??).  But I think Jennifer says it best when she says,

"Your actions that occur as a result of your attitude play a huge role in your daily communication with your husband.  You can choose to operate out of selfishness and disrespect by justifying your body language or you can choose to live in obedience to Christ with self-control as you contort your posture to reflect humility, compassion, selflessness, patience, and unconditional love.  By expressing the latter you will win your husband over with true love, fill your home with peace, and provide an atmosphere for intimacy to flourish.  This choice that confronts you exists with every new day."

Who's it for?
    There really is something for EVERY MARRIED WOMAN in this devotional.  Whether you've been married for many years or are still in the "honeymoon" phase, there's always more to learn.  I honestly wish I had found a book like this while I was engaged or maybe even given as a bridal shower gift.  But after being married for 6 years, I know there is a lot I need to work on for myself and for my marriage.

Where can you purchase Wife After God?
    If you'd like to purchase your own copy (or a few!), click HERE.  This book is available in paperback as well as a version for your kindle 

Want more information?
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Jennifer's blog, The Unveiled Wife.  For more information on Wife After God, you can view her website HERE.

    I highly recommend this devotional book.  I look forward to reading it again!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reflection


I'm going to get a chance to do crossfit for one month thanks to Living Social!  So I know I will be good in that department but I also want to start waking up earlier and doing my quiet time first thing in the morning.

As I created my goals last week (most of which I have not done well with!), I also started thinking about how I need to also be doing some spiritual transformation and not just physical. 

Funny that at the same time I started thinking about that, I was given the opportunity to do a book review on a new devotional book that is out.  When I filled out the questionnaire to do it, I first thought there was no way I would be picked.  Sure enough...I was.  Then I regretted it because I'm very picky about devotional books and I've never really found one that speaks to me.  But I started reading it anyway and it's been just what I neededI will be sharing my review later this week.  It's a 30 day devotional but the author wanted the review within 2 weeks so I'm reading several "days" each day so I can finish within her deadline.  I may go back and do it as an actual devotional after I'm done with the review.

Anyway.  I want to make sure that I'm relying on God first and foremost.  I want to be more thoughtful, less selfish, more intentional and encouraging.  I want people to see Christ through me.  One of my favorite Bible verses is "Let your light shine before men so they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16).  To me, that says that we need to love others as Christ loves us.  On Sunday, we talked about God's love and how if we have a relationship with Him, He pours His love out onto us unconditionally to the point where we are over-flowing with it.  The overflow is what we show to others.  If we don't invest in a relationship with Him, we aren't able to pour out as much love to others so that they can see Christ's love themselves.

So I'm adding that to my list of goals for this month.  And since I haven't done anything that I said I was going to do last week....I'm starting from today lol

Goal #1: Have a quiet time each morning.  Start my day off right!
Goal #2: Drink 64 oz of water.
Goal #3: 3-4 classes per week (starting crossfit tomorrow for one month)
Goal #4: Lose 10 lbs this month (giving myself 'til Sept. 13 for this)

Also, I was looking back at my previous posts and I'm obviously not good at following through with things that I say I'm going to do.  So hopefully I can change that this month.

Do you have a good devotional that you recommend?  Has it helped to change the way you do things?
Do you do Crossfit?  If so...how's that going?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bloglovin'

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/9710123/?claim=fdpu5rtqc37"> Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Just in case you weren't aware....Bloglovin' is a great way to keep up with your favorite blogs all from one place.  I have the app on my phone so it makes keeping up with blogs easy.  Try it out if you haven't already.

And I don't know why the link comes up that way....that's just the way the Bloglovin' site tells you to do it so you can claim your blog lol

Monday, August 5, 2013

Just ONE month...

I've decided to set my goals a month at a time.  I can do anything for a month right? And if it doesn't go all that well, I can re-evaluate and change things up for the next month.  I am a member at a gym and have been since December but haven't gone once lol  So I checked out the classes that they offer and found a couple that worked with my schedule.  For one month, I'm going to attempt to do 4 classes a week.  My schedule will look like this...

Mondays: Group Power (much needed strength training)
Tuesdays: Zumba (or the Yoga class afterwards to change it up)
Wednesdays: Group Power
Thursdays: Zumba (or the Pilates class afterwards)
Fridays and Saturdays....I may do a class or I may work on my 5k training. not sure yet.

So that's the goal for the next month.  Come September 5, I may change it up a bit or I may keep on doing exactly the same if I find it is working for me and I enjoy it.  I really do *LOVE* dancing and Zumba but isn't this the truth?? haha


I also have a goal to lose 10 pounds this month.  This .2-1 lb a week thing is not cutting it for me and I know it's because I've been slack on my exercise.  I only have 4 months until we go on our cruise and I want to look great....toned, in shape, slim.  And I want to lose another 40 lbs by then.  That will put me about 10 lbs from my final goal.  Not going to get there by coming home and sitting on the couch that's for sure!  But like I said...I'm going to focus on one month at a time.  Oh and my 3rd goal for the month is to drink MORE water!  I probably only drink half of what I'm supposed to a day.  Not good at all.

What are your goals this month?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Photo Shoots are awesome for moral

I was SO happy to get a package in my mailbox this afternoon!  It was an awesome lil' package with a flashdrive of our pictures from the photo shoot we did with Kristin Byrum Photography a few weeks ago.  Our session was just after a storm and even though the ground was sopping wet and the humidity hated my hair, the colors in the sky were AMAZING and it was totally worth it.  Here are just a few of my favorites from our session.  Although I can be quick to pick out my flaws...these are probably some of my favorite pictures that we've had done.  Of course it also helps to have awesome photographers ;)  I like a mix of traditional and non traditional art.  Kristin and Aaron always nail that. 

 ^ My two favorite of myself at least.  I love b&w.

 Yeh I'm a lucky girl ;)



^How cool is that tree, right? 




No joke...the sky really transitioned to look like that.  Gotta love Carolina sunsets after a storm.  God is the best artist ever.  I can't wait to work on my photo wall!  Woohoo!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

House Pictures

The listing for our house should be up by now.  Not really sure if it is or not but I thought I would post some before and after pictures.  The before pictures are the day we went in to start the deep cleaning and found the nastiness that the renters left behind.  Granted the before pictures were taken with an iphone and the after pictures were taken with a canon 5d but you get the point.

 
Starting top left: Living room with junk left behind and filthy floors.  Next is master bedroom with the grossest carpet I've ever seen and he smoked in the bedroom and bathroom and it smelt disgusting.  Third is the master bedroom door that the door scratched.  Fourth...who the heck cuts a rectangle out of the carpet and padding of a house that is not theirs?? That's going into a spare bedroom.  Fifth is random stuff they left in the other spare bedroom.  Sixth is the backdoor where the dog ate the facing off and scratched it a bit and the deck looks gross.  Seventh is the filth they left in the kitchen.  If I could have taken pictures of the dozens and dozens of flies that were in that house, I would have...blech!  Last is the front of the house.  Just looking run down.  Sad looking really.
 

With a LOT of help from friends and family, we got the house to look like this.  I took several other pictures but these will give you an overall of what a big difference was made.  I took all the pictures myself and sent them to the realtor.  I'm really picky about stuff like that because I think that pictures can really make or break a house on whether someone wants to take the time to see it in person.  I think these showcase the house pretty well.  I would want to see the house.

Several people have asked us why we don't just move back in...especially now that it's clean and new paint and new carpet, etc.  Well there are several reasons.  First reason is that we really wouldn't save any money moving back in and we would be right back in the position that caused us to want to move out in the first place.  Secondly, it would add 30 minutes (at least) to Darren's commute to and from work and it's really not worth that at this point.  Thirdly, I don't want to move back in because I feel like my house has been violated by these people and I really don't think I could get over that  lol  There are a couple of other reasons but I'll stop at those since those are the top 3 :)  It really is a nice house.  It's a good size, good layout.  Before we rented it, if I could have picked it up and moved it to about an acre lot with trees around it, I'd have been perfectly happy staying there.  Oh well.  I'm certainly not emotionally connected to it.  It's the first house that we owned together and while that part is sad...I'm ready to move on.  We learned what we liked about it and what we didn't like about it and that will help us in our next house search (whenever that will be).

So what do you think?  Big difference right?