Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trashy Eye Opener

Over the Thanksgiving holiday Husband and I had some house guests, his brother, wife, and their (almost) 4 year old son.  They stayed with us for a week.  They've stayed with us before and we always offer and never mind. We have the room and since they live out of state it's always good to be able to see them.

This year was a bit of an eye opener though. I'm not talking about having a 4 year old around either, we'll be there before we know it.  I'm taking about waste.  Over the last couple of years I've slowly been making changes in our household so as to reduce waste, waste of all kinds.  These changes have turned into habits for us and we don't even think twice about it.  That is, until this past week.

The monthly challenge on Reduce Footprints was to reduce the electricity usage this month.  Perhaps that is why I was very aware every time lights were left on and devices plugged in.  I noticed that a laptop was plugged in and charging almost the entire time.  Yikes!  I only plug mine in when I need to charge the battery, which isn't daily or even every other day.   We also left the router and modem on the entire week.  Ok, most people do this.  We don't. We're in the habit of turning the router off when we aren't using wireless and unplugging both at night and not plugging them in until they are needed again.  I also noticed lights being left on and the tv being left on when nobody was around to use them.  I think these are ones that really bothered me.  Why leave a light on if you aren't in the room?

The other thing I noticed was the amount of trash and recycling.  In a normal week we fill the recycle bin about half way.  It was full this week and I had more to add to it.  Yes, I'm glad all of that was kept out of the trash but, wow, that is still a lot of "waste".    The trash? Oh my!  Normally we have 1 bag of trash per week, it's not even a full bag normally.  With having the holiday at our house I knew there would be more waste and figured two bags, that's pretty normal.  Oh no..we had two trash cans full.  FULL!  How does that happen?  I don't even know what was all in the trash.  I know some of the waste was due to having a child around.  There were a lot of single serving containers for drinks and snacks.  These were recycled when they could be, but not all of it was recyclable.  But that shouldn't have caused us to have so much waste this week.  Should I even mention how it can take us months to go through a roll of paper towels, but in one week almost an entire roll was used? Yikes!

There was also one incident at dinner.  Husband and I were getting containers together for his parents to take leftovers home and his Mom kept telling us to put it in a ziplock bag.  I ignored this as much as I could but she didn't let up so finally I commented that using ziplock bags would be wasteful.  I prefer to just give them containers they can then return to us at a later time.

This was really an eye-opener for me.  The things Husband and I do to be more eco-friendly and to keep waste at a minimum have become habits for us. I still slowly add in more things as I come across them and I think adding things in slowly has helped us become as eco-friendly as we are. None of what we do seems out of the ordinary or like it causes us too much work etc.  It's all so natural for us.  It also showed me just how different our household is from others.  I would imagine the things I noticed are normal for a lot of households.  That's really scary.  

I don't want this to seem like I'm complaining about having house guests either.  I will readily offer our house for their next stay in STL.  I just find this very fascinating. It almost feels like my own person science experiment. somehow get them to slowly change their ways..that's the challenge.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Change the World Wednesday - Food Waste?

Last Wednesday the challenge posted on Change the World Wednesday was to work on wasting NO food over the holiday. Well, really it's to waste no food for the week.   I read over the article that she linked to in how to help keep food waste down.  I'm happy to report that the suggestions are pretty much ones that we follow in my house anyway.

Husband and I provide the Thanksgiving meal for his side of the family and we always take the minimalist approach.  Instead of having a ton of sides and options, we limit it to three: stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green beans.  We then, obviously, have turky and gravy.  You can't forget the bread or my favorite part of the meal, dessert.    One reason we do it this way is because whenever we go somewhere for a holiday meal there is always way too much food left over.  The other reason is that normally it's us and his parents.  Every other year, just about, his brother comes in town along with his wife and kid.  It's a very small family meal so there really isn't a need for a lot of food.

This year his brother and family were in town and staying at our house.  Due to our nephew turning 4 soon we also celebrated his birthday.  This means that if there was any extra food to be had, it was with dessert as I made a birthday cake and pie.  However, dessert NEVER goes to waste in our house (especially not yummy applie pie).   The only other place where there could have been waste was the fact that two turkeys were made. I don't eat turkey, so I had no part in this.   The good thing is that almost all the turkey was sent home with others who would eat it, so no waste there.

I was also super excited when making the fruit pies and peeling the potatoes and making the stuffing that all the normal "waste" would be composted this year.

All-in-all, I would say this year was very successful with have zero to little food waste.  Other waste, well, wait for another post on that one. It's interesting having house guests who aren't as eco-conscious as you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Things NOT to say to somebody dealing with infertility

People deal with infertility in different ways, some people talk about it and don’t really mind telling people.  Other people don’t tell people and prefer to keep it private. I’m of the type that preferred to keep it private.  For me it was easier to deal with people asking me when we were going to try for kids than to get the pity looks and be asked how things were going.  In fact, Husband and I told very few people we were even trying.  I knew before we even started that it would be a long process and I had issues.  The less people who knew the better.

So the following are things that people said to me during the time I was struggling with infertility.  The people who said these things all knew I had fertility issues and was working closely with first my regular OB and then a specialist after a year.

1)Hold this baby, maybe it’ll rub off on you
Yes..because babies have some kind of magic fairy dust that only works on those females who are trying to get pregnant

2) Hurry up and get pregnant
I rather enjoy being depressed that my body doesn’t work correctly and I can’t get pregnant, I’ve been delaying this on purpose. Now that I know you want me to be pregnant though, I’ll get right on that.

3) Try harder
Right, I’m sorry, let me put in 110% effort instead of the 100% effort I’ve been doing.  That’s all it is, I’m just not TRYING hard enough.

4) You workout too much and/or you need to stop running
Working out and running have nothing to do with infertility issues.  I didn’t do anything extreme to cause issues with my body.  Working out is actually a good thing for those wanting to get pregnant. 

5) You need to gain weight
I work out, I eat healthy about 90% of the time. I’ve always been skinny. These people know that.  I’m actually in a lot better shape than the people who told me this.

6) I know what you’re going through
This is the worst one.  Not when it comes from somebody who really does understand, but when it comes from somebody who has no clue. I had somebody who already had one kid (no problems getting pregnant), and it took them roughly 5 months (which is average) to get pregnant with their 2nd kid, tell me that they knew what I was going through and I could talk to them about it if I wanted to.  This is after I had been trying for a year, had gone through an OP surgery, and was on fertility drugs.  No..they have no clue what it’s like to have infertility issues.

I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t think of any right now.  Have you dealt with infertility?  If so were there things people told you that really bothered you and you wished they hadn’t said anything?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Change the World Wednesday - eco-friendly holidays

WEEK-LONG CHALLENGE: At this time of year, many people are planning holiday dinners, family get-togethers, etc. Typically, decorations play into these events. So this week, we'd like your tips & ideas for decorating in a "green" way. And, of course, we'd like you to choose Eco-friendly decorations for your event.

Or ...

If you are not planning to decorate for a special occasion this year, we'd like to know how you generally adorn your living space. For example, do you purchase recycled items (wall hangings, knickknacks, etc.). Is your furniture made of Eco-friendly materials? Again, we'd love your tips & ideas for creating a comfortable, "green" living space ... and if you're thinking of adding anything new to your home, please choose an Eco-friendly item.

And don't forget, we're still working on a month-long challenge ...

MONTH-LONG CHALLENGE: This month make note of the electricity (Kilowatts) used in your home (find this number on your electric bill, by reading the meter, by using a home electricity monitor, etc.). Then, spend one month reducing that number by 10%. In December we'll come back and report on our success including the actions we've taken to reduce our usage.

We're pretty much minimalists in our house.  We don't have a lot sitting out and don't do a lot of decorating for the holidays.  In fact, while we have the Thanksgiving meal at our house for my in-laws, we won't decorate at all.  I think cooking and baking everything from scratch is enough.    There have been times in the past that my MIL will bring decorative paper plates for us to use, I usually just stuck those in a drawer and use the normal dishes anyway. I know she's trying to be helpful by doing this, thinking it's less clean-up for me.  However, I would rather use real dishes and put everything in the dishwasher.

The only holiday that Husband and I decorate for is Christmas.  We don't buy new things each ear, we just use things we already own and have been given to us.  I know there's a big debate on fake tree's vs real tree's and which is more eco friendly.  We personally have a fake tree that we've had for 7 or 8 years now. We didn't do it because we thought it was eco-friendly but rather I'm extremely allergic to the real thing.    But least I don't plan to buy another one anytime soon.

As far as normal, every-day decorating.  Again, we are pretty much minimalists.  We haven't bought a lot to decorate our house.  The photo's on the wall are almost all from trips we have taken in the past.   Husband recently built some shelves we hung in the kitchen and he put pictures of the nephews and family up there. I plan to put pictures of the kitchen before the makeover as well.   Anything that sits around was mostly given to us or we've had for awhile.  I personally don't want a lot sitting around because it's just more for me to clean.  Besides, having a big dog means her tale could knock things over.  I also have 6 nephews 5 years and under, so we don't need anything out they could mess with.

I also had an update on the month long challenge.  Husband and I FINALLY bought a new window treatment for the master bathroom.  We've been using the pink blinds the previous owners left since we moved in 4 years ago.  We re-did the master bathroom earlier this year and have been wanting to replace the blinds but they worked and we were lazy (ok and cheap).  We finally bought on that can be lifted up from the bottom or pulled down from the top.  The reason we wanted one we can pull down from the top is because this is a huge window that is directly across from the shower.  We couldn't lift up the bottom for light because then people can see in. I was more worried about this than Husband was, go figure.  Husband actually replaced the blind while I was on my long run over the weekend.  When I got home and took my shower it was sunny enough outside that I could pull down the top a couple feet and let in enough light that I didn't need to use any lights in the bathroom while showering and getting ready.  I love this!  Unfortunately right now it's too dark in the morning and at night when I'm mostly in there to take advantage of this, but in the summer I look forward to using a lot more natural light in that room.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Winterize your Home - Change the World Wednesday

This week's CTTW has us looking at our houses and how we can be more eco-friendly for the weekend.

WEEK-LONG CHALLENGE: This week, prepare your home for winter. Do at least one thing which will ensure that your winter is Eco-friendly. Need some ideas? Click HERE. If you are moving into spring/summer, prepare your home for the warm months ... you'll find some ideas HERE.

Or ...

If you've already prepared your home for the cold (or warm) months ahead, we'd like to know what you've done. Please include tips, ideas and any do-it-yourself advice.

I can't say that we have deliberately set out to winterize our home however we have done several things that are on the list.  One thing I can say we definitely do is keep the thermostat pretty low.  I'm pretty much always cold in our house. haha!  I learned early on just to layer up and keep blankets on the couch.

One thing the husband does this time of year, and I have no idea if it helps or not so would like your opinion on it, is that if he uses the oven he will leave the door open after he turns it off. I suppose he feels this helps to heat the kitchen/house a bit?  I have no idea if this makes a difference or not, but I don't say anything. I figure that since the oven is off, it can't hurt. 

I think I feel we do need to do is clean behind the fridge.  I know I haven't done that in a year, which means it hasn't been done.  

Ok, so not a lot to share with this one this time around.  I'll do better next time.  :)

I haven't mentioned the month long challenge yet, which is to reduce energy use by 10%.  You know, we actually do really well with our electricity.  So I've been trying to think of ways to reduce our usage.  I haven't come up with anything yet.  Unfortunately, I think it might actually be a bit higher.  Due to my insomnia I will often get up once I've awaken and head into the family room to watch tv.  Sometimes I actually watch tv and sometimes I just turn it on for the noise and try to sleep.  While I feel this is a waste, especially on those days that I turn it on and then immediately turn my back to it and try to sleep, I also feel that if I can get even an  hour more of sleep it's worth it.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Every day should be Veterans Day

I'm glad the US sets aside at least one day to honor our veterans.  I feel this should be done every day, and I know a lot do, but I'm still happy we have one dedicated day.  A lot of countries don't.

My paternal Grandfather and my paternal Grandmother's brother (whom we called Uncle) both enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor.   According to them it was the right thing to do.  I think we can all agree that it was actions like this that have many calling them the "greatest generation".

My Grandmother's Brother,
my Grandmother, and
my Grandfather
Nov. 26, 1944
 My Grandfather joined the Navy and served on the USS Perry until it was sunk due to a mine explosion (luckily my Grandfather was not on board when this happened).   My Uncle joined the Air Force and ended up making a career of it.

While both men had different reactions to fighting in the war and were effected differently, both deserved to be honored for their willingness to give up their lives to fight for our country, to fight for what they believed in.

While my Uncle is no longer with us and I am unable to thank him for his service, I do make it a point to thank my Grandfather on Veterans Day every year. 

My Uncle was buried at a local veterans cemetary, Jefferson Barracks.  This was the first, and possibly the only, military funeral I'll attend (My Grandfather does not want a military burial).  While I know how this sounds, I'm just going to say it. I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience a military burial at some time.  There is just something about it that really touched me and made me proud to have a family member who served. 

I also take time on this day to contact a good friend and let her know I'm thinking of her and her family.  Her son was killed in action 2 years ago.  He was still a teenager.  It always makes my heart heavy because he died so young and had so much yet to experience in life.  Yet I thank him and I appreciate his willingness to serve our country in a war that many don't understand or feel the need for.

Today is for these gentlemen.  Those who were brave and loved their country enough to risk losing their life so we could remain safe and free. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

I am not a vampire

It's been months (except for 1 day due to drugs) since I've slept through the night. I was beginning to think I had been bitten and turned into a vampire, except that I'm still able to function in daylight.   I checked to see if I had become sparkly without knowing it or was somehow wearing new jewelry that would allow me to live in daylight, but both are false.   I'm pretty sure I'm not a vampire.  So that leaves me back to questioning why I'm not sleeping.

When I say it's been months, I do mean months. I started having trouble sleeping in July.  This is different from my normal sleep issues, which consisted of constantly waking up but going back to sleep and then waking up for good anytime after 4am.    Now I'm waking up anytime from 10:30 pm -12:30am.  This means I'm getting 2-4 hours per night.  I'm not falling back asleep.   For a couple of months I functioned pretty well like this, those days are over. It's showing at work. I have a bad temper anyway, now I'm having trouble controling it.

I did talk to a dr. recently and was given a prescription to Ambien.  The first night I took it, I slept 8 hours. It was awesome.  Since then, I've only managed to get 4 hours of sleep using the pill.  Last night I thought I was smart, I went to bed when I was tired and didn't take the pill.  When I woke up at 10:30, after 2 hours, I took the pill. I slept another 4 hours. I felt rested.   While I'm not supposed to take the pill every night, perhaps if I remember this I can at least gett a decent nights sleep every other night.

If I notice a couple of sharp teeth and that my skin starts to burn in the daylight, I'll let you know.  The vampire conversion process is finally coming to an end.  Until then, I guess I'll just deal with the insomnia as best I can.  Perhaps I'll go online and try to make some vampire friends so we can chat at night.