Friday, April 29, 2011

Our Family Mission Statement

Shortly after we got married, Aaron and I decided we wanted to have a family mission statement. We wanted to put down in writing those values that are important to us and that we would like to instill in our children someday. Since then, I started following a great blog, Simple Mom, that had a post on how to come up with your own family mission statement. We didn't follow her steps, but if we ever redo ours I think we would revisit her post and give it a try!

Here's what we came up with:
In our family, our mission is to:

Be RESPECTFUL in all that you do. Have reverence for God's people, creatures, and earth.
Be SERVANTS to those who have need, great or small. You are the hands and feet of the Lord.
Have COMPASSION. Especially for those whose cries are not heard.
Be HUMBLE in everything. Your honor comes from God, He will lift you up.

And the foundations of all these fruits shall be LOVE. Love for family, for self, for others, and for God. Love will open the eyes and hearts of the world.

"Let all that you do be done with love." 1 Corinthians 16:14

After getting this all down and feeling pretty good about it, we wanted to display it somewhere central in our home. So we got to photoshoppin' and put everything in pretty fonts, printed it out on some colored cardstock, and then put it in a nice frame. Right now we have the frame on our kitchen counter and it serves as a nice reminder.

Disclaimer: The characteristics/principles that we decided on for our family's statement aren't necessarily things that we ourselves claim to be good at (in fact, sometimes we just plain suck at them). Instead, these are things that we value and want our family to strive for, aka we wish we were better at them and are trying really hard to not suck at so much.

Monday, April 25, 2011

House Tour!

Today we had our inspection, and everything went pretty well. There were a few things that came up that we didn't know about but no dealbreakers! And the things that we were worried about turned out to be OK! Warm fuzzies.

While we were at the house, I took the opportunity to do a quick video tour. Enjoy!

House Tour from Aaron Wimmer on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Garbage Challenge - Month 1

Happy Earth Day! (Only a day late)

We have been weighing our garbage for about a month now and (as promised) we want to share the results with you! Overall, we had almost 73 lb of trash in 4 weeks. Here is the breakdown across the 5 categories we have been tracking:

What we've called "Misc." is basically just everything that doesn't fit into one of the other categories, and, as you can see, it is a huge portion of our trash. It's quite perplexing to me, really that we have that much random garbage. I don't even know what that consists of. I guess that's one of our goals through this process though is to become more conscious of what we are throwing out and figuring out how we can minimize it.

In my original post, I gave you some stats on how much garbage the average American produces in a day. Here's how we stack up:

There are some caveats to our data that make us look far less wasteful than we actually are. In particular, our data only includes trash from our home. The data we collected from the Clean Air site includes waste generated at work, restaurants, etc.

One of our goals in this project is definitely to reduce the amount of trash we have overall. The thought that we could potentially produce almost 1,000 lb of garbage in one year make me sick to my stomach. Eek.

A second goal of our is to increase the percentage of our trash that is reusable in some way (recyclable or compostable). This first month our garbage was pretty much 50-50 between reusable and "true waste".

And how are we going to reach those goals? Still trying to figure that out. Check back later!

Monday, April 18, 2011

House: For the win.

A little backstory for those that don't know about our home-buying experience thus far, check out this post. By the way, that house did not work out, and it was our 6th contract that fell through.

We have had a more frustrating path than most, I believe, when it comes to our first-time home purchase. As of last week, we were feeling exhausted and a tad pessimistic. We had been on a trend of seeing 5-10 houses per week, and there was always one reason or another why any house was not right for us.

The first time we saw this house, we didn't actually like it. It was well out of the price range we were looking at, and it needed some work. A few days after we saw it though, it dropped by $20,000! We saw the house again after the price drop and, looking at it under a different lens, we LOVED it! We decided to put an offer on it the next day. We left our Realtor's office that day holding our breath, remembering that we had been in this spot several times before and still never actually made it to a closing day. This house is a foreclosure though, so we were hoping to hear back one way or another pretty quickly.

Three days later we had still not heard anything back on the house, and we were starting to get anxious. At our Sunday morning church group, we heard a message on God's will. We have been working through the book of James for the last few months and this particular Sunday we were on James 4:13-17:
Look here, you people who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit." How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog – it's here a little while, then it's gone. What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that." Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
These words hit very close to home because of this whole housing situation and how it plays into our long-term plans for our family. As a "Type A" person, this was not exactly a message I felt enthusiastic about. I love making plans. I have a 1-year, a 5-year, and a 20-year plan. And when my plans get changed, I freak out. So the reminder that God can just uproot my life and destroy my plans makes me less-than-pumped.

That night I was reading and reflecting on these verses from Matthew 6:
Seek first the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.
I made a commitment last night that when I get frustrated or stressed or worried about our housing situation, I'm going to dive into God's Word. I gave it all up to Him. The stress, the worry, and the decision itself. If it works out, God has decided that's the house for us, and if it doesn't, He's got something else in store for us.

I was reading these verses at 9:30pm, just before bed. I wouldn't see the email until the next morning, but at 9:33pm we got the accepted offer email from our Realtor.

God is awesome.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reducing Waste

My husband comes up with several crazy ideas per week, examples:

"Hey let's drop everything and bum around Australia for a couple years!"
"Hey let's sell all our stuff and live in an RV!"
"Hey let's become beekeepers!"

Not even joking, those are all real things he has pitched to me. And they are almost always inspired by some crazy blog he just found. So one day, he found this crazy blog. The idea I want to tell you about was actually just one part of one post on the site (the Early Retirement Extreme idea was also presented to me, but I'll save that story for another day). Instead, his crazy idea was something like this:

"Hey let's start weighing our garbage and keep the data in a spreadsheet!"

My response was: "OK yeah, that sounds cool." Aaron pretty much did a double take. "Really? You're on board with this?! OK!"

So we came up with a plan, at the start of the next month, we were going to start weighing our garbage, and we are going to keep track of everything in a few different categories: Recyclables, Paper, Compostables, Bathroom Garbage, and Miscellaneous. We gathered up a kitchen scale for food waste, a bathroom scale for the heavier stuff, and different boxes/containers that we'll use to separate everything. Then before we take anything out, it gets weighed and recorded. So after the first 30 days, we'll have a sense of how much of our garbage is reusable in some way and how much is true waste.

Our motivation for this challenge can best be outlined by a few datapoints from this site:
In 2008, the average amount of waste generated by each person in America per day was 4.5 pounds. 1.1 pounds of that was recycled, and .4 pounds, including yard waste, was sent to composting. In total, 24.3% of waste was recycled, 8.9% was composted, and 66.8% was sent to a landfill or incinerated.
The first month is going to be our control period. We're not going to alter behaviors when it comes to our garbage, other than trying to collect a baseline. However, we will be doing research to find various ways that we can reduce our total waste. The second 30-day period will be spent trying to put those strategies to use! At the end of that period, we can compare the data to see if anything we did actually made an impact (on our impact). We plan to post our results (and strategies) along the way. So stay tuned.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Zealand, Part III

The last leg of our New Zealand trip was pretty jam-packed. After skydiving, we headed to a small town called Turangi, which is just North of Mordor. We stayed at a nice hostel with a very animated owner (does a spot-on impersonation of Gollum and can act out just about any scene from the LotR movies), and we prepped for the next day's hike up Mount Doom, aka Mt. Tongariro. Years ago, Aaron bought a replica of the One Ring (it's also his "backup wedding ring"), and we planned to take it to the top of the volcano to be destroyed, of course. But when we actually got up to the start of the trail the next morning, the weather conditions were pretty treacherous. It was very cold, rainy, and foggy/cloudy. We didn't get that great view from the mountain that we were hoping for. We actually attempted the climb on two different days, but the furthest we got was only 2 hours up (only about 1/3 of the way there) before we decided to come down because of the unbearable weather.

We didn't get any great pictures from/of the volcano, but we did stop at a neat waterfall that was used in a scene from the movies:

Our next stop was Masterton, which is a small town on the Southeast corner of the North Island. Masterton probably does not make it on to many tourists' itineraries, however it is the site of the world's most prestigious sheep shearing competition: the Golden Shears. It was a fascinating event. There were several competition categories including wool handling, wool packing, and, of course, shearing.

The last few days of our trip, we did typical tourist activities: visited museums, beaches, etc. We also stopped at the Waitomo Caves, which are a huge underground limestone cave system and home to millions of little glowworms. And on our last night in NZ, we went to a rugby game, which was pretty fun.

We had an amazing time. I had many experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life, and I'm so glad we did this.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Ok, be honest - how many of you thought I was going to make a baby-related announcement? HA! April Fool's!

Our news is that we're thinking about going on another adventure! We're not totally committed to another big, 2-week holiday yet, but we're seriously considering it. We've got a few destinations on our bucket list that would be good to do now (before we have kids):

Egypt - See all the major ancient Egyptian landmarks and do some diving in the Red Sea.

Peru - Hike the Inca Trail to the top of Machu Picchu and explore the Amazon Rainforest.

South Africa
- Go on a wildlife safari and cage dive with Great White sharks.

We want to hear what you think! Cast your vote:

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