Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

Something that has captured my interest over the last several years (much more intensely since I've had my kids, I'll admit) is the whole "natural living" movement. Our MOPS presentation today was about "Creation Care," which is the concept of taking good care of what God has given us. I have noticed that many of the things that are important to me are connected, and that it is well worth the time and energy to seek out ways to conserve energy, reduce waste, eliminate toxins, save money, and focus on healthy habits.

Is this an easy thing to achieve? Well, I suppose that depends on what your goals are, what your current lifestyle is like, your level of interest, and if you are willing to rethink your budget a bit. For me, it has been a back-and-forth cycling between a more natural approach and a convenience-based approach. I think there is a happy medium, and the more research I do, the more I see that I can achieve my goals of natural living without sacrificing everything that makes life comfortable and easy.

I am working through the process of outlining how to achieve my goal of really living naturally, and the first step is figuring out what is most important to me and why. I know off the top of my head that my big areas of focus are:
  • Good Health
  • Stewardship/Saving Money
  • Organization (read: getting rid of the clutter!!!)
Natural living is an obvious choice for me when considering these issues. I know that to have good health I need to eat good foods and try to limit the amount of toxins I am exposed to. I can save a LOT of money if I cut down or eliminate the pre-packaged, pre-processed foods and the multiple types of paper products I use, make a few adjustments to help conserve energy, and stick to a budget. And I could certainly be more organized if I got rid of unnecessary items and make sure that the things I keep meet certain criteria.

So where do I start? This could really be an overwhelming transition process. Not to mention how expensive organic and natural products are - there's no way I could switch everything at once! I need to list out everything that will require transitioning, and prioritize from there. So I have come up with some specific goals for myself:
  • I would like to transition ALL household cleaners to be all natural, earth-friendly, and either chemical-free or nontoxic.
  • I would like to have an organic garden on our property to save money on buying produce and fresh herbs.
  • I would like to eliminate (or severely reduce) the use of paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates, and plastic storage bags.
  • I would like to reuse glass containers for food storage rather than using plastic, unless the plastic is BPA free.
  • I would like to do mostly scratch cooking: making my own flours, breads, yogurt, butter, etc.
  • I would like to transition all personal care and beauty products to be all natural and chemical-free.
  • I would like to get back to using cloth diapers (except for travel and outings) for the remainder of time until Blake is potty trained.
That is not the total list, but it's a pretty darn good start. And as you can see, many of these items will require some real work. But I am getting there, little by little. I bought a steam mop so that I could clean the kitchen and bathroom floors sans chemicals (plus it's quick and easy!), and I'm considering a handheld steam cleaner for other jobs. I've decided to start making my own laundry detergent once I run out (which will probably be like a year or more since my mom gave me like 10 bottles of liquid detergent since she has to now use the HE kind).

I definitely have a long way to go, and I know that certain aspects of this process will be a struggle for me (I really love paper products!). But I know that once I have good habits in place, it won't be a big deal to maintain them. Plus my kids might gain more of an appreciation for our world if they are investing in its care from early on.

I hope to keep up with posting about my process to "go green." I am looking forward to sharing my progress.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Good Day

Today we put an offer on a house in Tennessee. I think this was the fifth house that we have bid on since we knew our house was going to sell. The first house that we lost was a real heartbreaker for me. The second one was not quite as bad, but it was still very disappointing. Then I decided that my attitude needed to change. I would allow God to open or close the doors as He saw fit, and I would accept (and be grateful for, and even enjoy) whatever house He provided.

And then we found out a couple of hours after we put in the offer that the owners were willing to negotiate. They countered with a very acceptable offer, and we agreed and were totally elated! This house is a wee bit rural (but not too far out), on an acre of land, and is very new (I think less than 3 years old). And the interior is GORGEOUS. It is 2280 sq.ft., with well-done, fresh looking paint, 4 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms! We will have to do NO work on this house. We will be able to move right in. We will need to get a shed soon, as there is no garage or shed currently, and we'll need to figure out a landscaping plan (garden, fence, etc.). There is great closet space, an actual pantry, an office that is connected to the Master Bedroom...it is far more indulgent than we would have ever chosen on purpose. But we will love this space. We will enjoy all of the little upgrades, and we'll get lots of use out of the whirlpool tub. We will take nothing for granted.

Now we just need to trust that the timing will all work out the way we hope. We will be getting a VA loan, and we've been told that those can take some time to process. If it does take more time than we anticipate, we have a workable plan B. But if it goes through quickly, then we may be able to coordinate everything so that the day we close on the house here in Indiana, we will drive our filled U-Haul down to our new home and begin our new life there. Today was a really good day. But THAT would be an incredible day.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

Nothing like reflecting on what Christ did for us on the cross to cause a shift in perspective. Several times today I have had words from songs or hymns pop into my head, and each time I paused to thank God for giving up His son so that I might live. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • He's alive! He's alive! He's alive and I'm forgiven; heaven's gates are open wide. He's alive!
  • Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know, he holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because He lives.
  • Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o'er His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
  • Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering. Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King. But He chose to walk that road out of His love for you and me. Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary.
So today I have been reflecting on what Christ did for me and how blessed I am. It is so easy to to pull out the "poor me" card and get bogged down in daily stresses and complain about how tough life is. But the truth of the matter, in my case anyway, is that life is GOOD. God is GREAT. And I have been blessed beyond measure.

Sure, I am away from my husband. But we are still together after 12 years (today is our anniversary, in fact), and I would say that our marriage gets better and better all the time. We have had some amazing experiences together. We have had our share of struggles and doubts, but God has done a mighty work in our hearts and lives, and we recognize that without him we would not have stayed together anywhere near this long.

Yes, I have 3 kids to care for without having their daddy around. But we are living with my parents, and that has allowed me to work on the house to get it ready to sell, and it STAYS clean. They go above and beyond EVERY SINGLE DAY to help me out. They let me sleep in most mornings, and they watch the kids so I can run errands or make it to various appointments. They have essentially allowed us to take over their lives so that we could have a smoother process. Without them I would be a wreck! And so would the house, and the kids...I shudder to think.

We have yet to find a home in Tennessee. But I believe that God is trying to teach us something through this piece of the journey. And I was reminded the other day that God is more interested in our character than in our comfort. He is more interested in knowing that I am trusting in Him to provide for our needs (not necessarily our wants) than He is in making things easy or quick. When he closes a door to something that I REALLY think that I want/need, He is interested in how I'm going to respond. Will I still praise Him and trust in Him? The answer is, yes. Well, if I'm being entirely honest, the answer is, I'm coming around. He is giving me peace that He will provide. Are there obstacles? Sure. But because He lives, I can face tomorrow, and all fear is gone. He knows the future, and life is good because He lives.

Thank you, Lord, for constantly showing me grace, mercy and love. Thank you for forgiving me, even though I make some mistakes again and again. Help me to focus on you consistently and continually. Thank you for blessing me with this life, and for suffering and dying on the cross so that I may be forgiven.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Early Talker

So I got my weekly BabyCenter e-mail and I have decided that Blake is an early talker. BabyCenter says that some early talking babies at this age (14 months) have as many as 20 words in their vocabulary, though it would seem that most have a mere handful. So let's see. Here are the words Blake can say (and understand their meaning):

1. Mommy
2. Daddy
3. Mamaw
4. Papaw
5. George
6. Josh
7. Doggy
8. Kitty
9. Ball
10. Bubble
11. Choo-choo
12. Bye-bye
13. Brush
14. Eat
15. Drink
16. Up
17. Cheese
18. Cracker
19. Thank You
20. No
21. Fish
22. Turtle
23. Bath
24. Bottle
25. Hi
26. Uh-oh
27. Hello
28. Baby
29. Gucky
30. Nummy
31. Go
32. Keys
33. Poo-poo
34. Teeth
35. Night-night
36. Book

Well, that's not the end of the list, but you get the picture. I believe he qualifies. This kid is scary smart. He picks up on things instantly! He also signs several words that he does not yet speak (light, fan, more, all done, please). We haven't been as diligent about signing with him, but it's probably because he's talking so much already. I was hoping he would ease us into some of these phases of babyhood (mobility, speaking, climbing, getting into things, etc.), but he has decided to take the accelerated route instead. Lord have mercy - we are really in for it with this one.