Monday, September 27, 2010

Easy Ways to Go Green

We've been in our new house for almost two months now and we're really starting to make a lot of progress on our household projects. One of the changes James and I agreed to make with this move was to really put an effort into running a "greener" household. The primary reason, of course, is to be better stewards of our environment. God created this beautiful world and then put it in our care, so it is the responsibility of ALL people to do their part in keeping it as beautiful as we found it. I will also point out that going green can SAVE you green by reducing monthly energy costs, which is especially important to us because the new house is so much bigger than the old one. So, all that being said, here are some of the easy, inexpensive changes we have made for the betterment of our environment and our wallets.

The single easiest way to cut down on your energy bill is to simply use less energy. That means turning the thermostat up during the summer and down during the winter. We're lucky in that our new house has a ceiling fan in every single room except the kitchen and the bathrooms. We've been able to comfortably keep the temperature inside set to about 78 degrees this summer. With the ceiling fans on, it feels very comfortable. On really hot, sunny days I often pulled the curtains/shades to cover the windows. It made the house a little bit dimmer, but it really made a big difference in the temperature.

I don't know how low we'll put the thermostat once it gets to be winter. Typically we'll set it to about 68 degrees, but we may have to do things a little differently now that we're in a two-story house.  We have a separate thermostat controlling the temperature upstairs, but I'm not sure how much of the downstairs heat will rise. We also have a propane fireplace, but I don't know what the energy costs for running it are going to be. We may end up heating some portion of the downstairs with the fireplace. 

This may seem like a "duh" suggestion for anyone blessed enough to have curbside recycling pick-up at their home, but it has been a challenge for us. Since we don't technically live inside the city limits (Again! Argh!), we don't get city trash service and that means no recycling service either. But there are several convenient recycling locations between our house and the base, so we're learning to just drop things of ourselves.

But it's more than simply taking the recyclable materials to the drop-off stations. We've made a serious effort to buy products that come in completely recyclable packaging (or as close as we can get). That sometimes means we can't buy things in individual packaging (like oatmeal) the way we're used to. Instead, we have air-tight glass containers (which are totally adorable, I might add) that we use to store foods in the pantry. So instead of buying a box of oatmeal packets (which can't be recycled because they have a waxy/plastic material inside the paper packets), we buy a box of plain oatmeal and keep the oats stored in the jars. The downside is we can't get flavored oatmeal anymore (they apparently only come in packets), but the upside is that my homemade brown-sugar-and-cinnamon oatmeal is all natural.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Marathon Training

It's that time of year again... marathon season! Yay! Ok, technically there are marathons going on all-year-round. But who in their right mind would want to run a marathon in July or August?? Crazy people, that's who. Personally I prefer races in the late fall or early spring, and sometimes in the winter depending on the location. Really my favorite time to race is in the spring because that means I've been able to do all my training during the cooler part of the year. I haven't run a full marathon since April 2007 when we did the Kentucky Derby Marathon in Louisville. I've been a little gun-shy to do it again since that race experience was so negative. I've done several half-marathons since then and I feel like I'm ready to take on another full. So here we go!

I'm starting my pre-training period this week by starting P90X again. James and I tried to do P90X last year, but fizzled out for a variety of reasons. I'm doing things a little differently this year with the hope that I'll be able to stick to the program or at least do enough of the strength training workouts to regain some of the lean muscle I had when I was dancing in college. In addition, I'm going to double up on my workouts either by running on the days I'm doing upper body strength work or by running (4-5 miles) in place of doing the Kenpo or Cardio workouts... or maybe both. I'll finish the 90 days by the beginning of December and then move into a more specific marathon training program right after in preparation for my March marathon. More on this to come soon.

If you're interested in keeping up with my training, I'll be posting regular updates on the pre-training and formal training periods. You can also go to the "Marathon Training" page for a full schedule of what I have done and plan on doing to prepare. Happy running!

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

September Adoption Update

Wow I can't believe how crazy fast September is going by! How did we get to the middle of the month already? There still isn't much to report on the adoption front. We've had our two visits with our social worker already and our home study should be done very soon. All our criminal clearances have already come back (spotlessly clean, of course) and we've turned in all our paperwork so we're just waiting for Jaclyn, the social worker, to write up her report. Once she's got the first draft, she'll send it to us to review to check for errors on names, ages, dates of important events, or any details that we told her about ourselves or our life together. If everything is correct, then she'll send the final draft back to the home study agency to compile her report with all our clearances and paperwork. A complete home study packet will be sent to us and an additional copy will go to our agency. I'm hoping we can be finished by the end of the month, but we'll just have to wait and see.

As soon as we are home study approved, I'm going to call our agency and insist that we be put back on the featured families list. We are VERY quickly approaching the one year mark since our disruption (today marks 11 months and 1 day). We paid them (a lot of) good money to present us to prospective birthmothers. I know for a fact that there are MANY birthmothers using our agency every month. At this point I feel like our file should be presented to all of them for their review. When the right birthmother for us comes along, she'll know and she'll pick us... but only if she is given a chance to see our profile. At the very least, I think we should be presented to any birthmother who's adoptive family search criteria loosely matches our stats (ages, ethnicity, location, religious background, etc etc). I don't think that's an unreasonable request. If a birthmother isn't interested, then she isn't interested. But at least we tried, right?