Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Family Earth Day Resolutions

I was thinking about Earth Day yesterday, and how I should have Brandon and I celebrate this day. I thought of the stereotypical things that we could do to better our planet, like plant a tree, and recycle. While these actions are monumentally beneficial, they are not practical for our situation right now, as we live with my parents and cannot force them to recycle, or plant a tree in their yard without permission. So, as a tribute to Earth day, and in an effort to make the world a better place, I am compiling a list of resolutions that we, the Hays family will begin to do to better our planet. I realize that the small steps that we take as a family will not drastically change the world, but it is my hope that we can raise Brandon and our future children to be aware that every little bit helps. Perhaps educating our children about the reality of pollution, and the impact that it has on our planet will bring them up to make smarter decisions and do their best to become part of a generation that aims to better the treatment of our globe. As a family, we will implement these resolutions when we move this Summer, and hope to continue to take steps to learn everything we can to be environmentally conscious. So, here are the steps that we vow to take in order to help better our environment.

1. Start recycling when we move to Killeen.
2. Plant a tree (or a few) in the yard at our new home.
3. Use our cloth bags EVERY time we go shopping. (We always forget we have them.)
4. Use all CFL lightbulbs in our home.
5. Buy each of us a reusable mug/thermos/water bottle instead of using styrofoam or plastic bottles.
6. Learn about and use cleaning products that do not contain chemicals.
7. Buy a water aerator to conserve water.
8. Buy a water filter or pitcher instead of buying bottled water.
9. Buy all Energy Star appliances for our new home, evenutally of course.
10. Use cloth towels instead of paper napkins.
11. Buy a water heater insulator to reduce the amount of electricity used to heat our water.
12. When we paint the new house, we will use no VOC paints.
13. Buy low-flow shower heads for all of the showers in our home.
14. Try to be aware of the amount that we drive and attempt to combine outings.
15. Reduce our junk mail by joining
16. Use reusable plastic containers for food storage instead of buying pre-packaged foods/snacks.
17. Start having a "Meatless Monday" in order to reduce the amount we contribute to the processing of animals and the energy that it consumes.
18. Try to eat/buy foods that are the least processed to reduce the amount of energy that is put into the processing of foods.
19. Start a small vegetable garden at the new house to reduce our carbon footprint and to eat healthy produce. This activity will also bring our family together and allow us to have a common interest.
20. Put all of our appliances on Smart Strip Power Strips and turn them off when we are not home.
21. Install a programmable thermostat in the new house.
22. Look into obaining electricity from a 100% renewable Electric company.
23. Become more aware of the amount of electricty that we use by making sure that we turn off lights when we are not in the room.
24. Keep our cars tuned and well maintained to reduce their emissions as much as possible.
25. Regularly change our filter in our air conditioner.
26. Weather strip any window or door in the new house to ensure there is no air leak.

These are steps that our family is vowing to do to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment. We hope that by taking these steps, we can help create a better, healthier world for the future generations of our family and yours.

Friday, April 10, 2009


It's Easter time! I remember this time last year, we were celebrating Brandon's first Easter. It seems like SO long ago! :) This year, he will be much more active in the Easter festivities. He LOVES to put things "in" anything. So, the Easter egg hunt should be a blast.

Today, Grandma and I took Brandon to get his picture taken with the Easter Bunny. I was really worried that he would freak out when he sat in the Bunny's lap, but he did really well. He has recently developed a tendency to be scared of things, so I was relieved when he smiled for the camera. He started to get a little creeped out for a second, but when he looked at me, he smiled and was fine the rest of the time. I am adding the pictures at the bottom of this post. He wore an ADORABLE little suit. Of course, I bought it, and he will only wear it for Easter before he cannot wear it again. Houston is too hot for him to be wearing a blazer. Oh well. It was SUPER cute, and I waited too long so most stores were sold out of the Easter outfits. He is seriously the cutest baby boy on the face of the planet! Not to brag or anything (but I'm going to brag, heh) but we get stopped on a daily basis by people that just love him, and we get SO many comments on how adorable he is. He gets compliments on his eyes, and cheeks the most. He perpetuates the complimentsby hamming it up for everyone and waving, laughing and smiling. :) I am not biased or anything, but I have to agree that he is the cutest baby EVER!

Tomorrow, we are going to bake and decorate Spring/Easter sugar cookies. I bought some Spring-ish sprinkles, and we will see how many end up on the cookies. Heh, it should be fun. Then, we are going to dye Easter eggs. I doubt that we will be interested in the cookie decorating, and egg dyeing, but he will surely appreciate eating the cookies and eggs. Not together of course. :)

Sunday we are having a little Easter celebration. He will get his Easter basket from Mommy and Daddy Sunday morning. We got him a huge basket and filled it with puzzles, books, sidewalk chalk, colorwonder markers and paper, and some other toys. He can't really have candy yet, but we did get him a chocolate Easter Bunny. We also got some m&ms, but he won't get to eat much of the chocolate. Grandma and Grandpa Bennett got him a new swingset for Easter. He outgrew the one they got him for Christmas, and since he LOVES to be outside, a swingset was appropriate. Grandma and Grandpa put it together today, and he will get to play on it tomorrow. I am so excited for him! He is going to LOVE it!

Now, as far as pictures of Easter are concerned, I will post them as I take them. Perhaps I will make a little slideshow of all of the Easter pictures, we'll see. For now, I will share Brandon's picture with the Easter Bunny. :) Too cute.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wow....we are going to be BUSY!

I just posted the R&R blog, but I need to post a general update on our little familia.

Where to begin...

Well, after Brian's R&R, I had to turn my focus to figuring out what courses I needed to register for this Summer. In order to do that, I needed to call Tarleton State University in Killeen, TX and have them draft a tentative degree plan for me since Tarleton is where I was planning to go to school in the event we got stationed at Fort Hood. After submitting my list of courses I have already completed and speaking with the advisor, I discovered that the earliest I will be able to graduate is the Spring of 2012! The reason it is going to take so long is because Tarleton only offers the education classes in 4 class blocks, and there are 4 blocks. These blocks are only offered in the Fall and Spring semesters. So, after finishing up all of my undergrad and lower grad level classes, the earliest I would be able to start my education classes would be the Fall of 2010. Brian is scheduled to get out of the military in the Fall of 2011. So, we needed to do some decision making and decide what the next step was. After discussing with him the details of my school plan, we made the decision that he needed to re-enlist. We decided that he would re-enlist for 4 years (which will start the day he signs his enlistment papers) for an additional 2 years and 2 months added to his original enlistment. This will put him getting out of the Army in April of 2013. The benefit to this is that once I start teaching, we will have 8 or 9 months to put his salary in savings. Another benefit to him re-enlisting is that he will be able to choose his next duty station, so he can be guaranteed Fort Hood! That will take a TON of uncertainty our of the next couple of months. In the end, him re-enlisting is what is best for our family. So, that is the decision that we have made.

We found out yesterday that his re-enlistment and request for Fort Hood is approved. So, he is officially re-enlisting for another 4 years, with a guarantee of Fort Hood as his next duty station. Plus, he gets a $5,500 bonus! Yay!!! Things are really falling into place!

Another decision that we have recently made is to purchase a home in Fort Hood as opposed to renting a home. With the new $8,000 tax credit and the other benefits to home ownership, we just cannot justify throwing our money away in rent. Initially, I was really hesitant to this idea. I just did not see how it would be possible to purchase a home before July, especially with Brian only being home for the month of June, and me being in school all day Monday through Thursday while he is here. After some thinking, and discussing with Brian, we realized that it made no sense for us to move to Fort Hood and sign a lease, just to turn around and have to break the lease because we purchased a home. It is also ridiculous to move twice in a 6 month period. The new tax credit is only good for homes purchased before November 1, 2009. So, we needed to make the decision to buy a home, and start the process as soon as possible. So, Friday, I spoke to a real estate agent, and started our journey to home ownership. The tentative plan is to narrow down houses that we are interested in as per the weekly emails we will be receiving from the realtor. The realtor has our search criteria, and will send us an email containing the homes that match our needs. From there, we will narrow it down to a few houses that we are really interested in. After the first week of May, I will have a 3 week break from school, and I plan to go out to Fort Hood to look at the houses that we have chosen. I will then take more pictures, and have my parents look at the houses as well to make sure that we are not leaving out anything important. I cannot stress enough how lucky we are to have family members in the housing industry to help us out with buying our first home! Then, after we have narrowed it down to a few houses, when Brian comes in June, we will make our selection, and make our offer(s). We are hoping to close by the end of June, so that I can start the moving process by July. So, that is huge! We are both SO excited!!!!!

So, these next couple of months are sure to be very busy and exciting for us. In addition to all of the changes and events that are going to be taking place, we also will be starting Brandon in daycare. I am extremely nervous about putting him in daycare, but I am also excited for him. It is important for me to make sure that we are at Fort Hood with enough time for him to be transitioned into daycare. The poor guy is going to be going through so much that to just throw him into daycare may be a bit much for him, and for me. He is going to have to deal with having Brian home for a month, then gone again. Then we will be moving away from the only home that he knows, and he will not be seeing his grandparents everyday like he is used to. Plus, he is going to be in a new home, and new environment, so that is going to be a big adjustment for him. So, to just put him in daycare worries me. So, the plan for that is to slowly introduce him into daycare. To start off with, I will be with him at daycare, then I will leave him there for a short time and gradually increase the length of time that he is there. Hopefully, that will make that transition easier for him. I am very nervous about it. Yikes!

So, the goal for the next 3 months is to buy a house, go to school full time in June, get moved and set up at Fort Hood, get Brandon enrolled in daycare, and get registered at the school there. Whew! I can't wait!!!!!!!!!! :)