Monthly Archives: April 2010

Extra Cargo

Nothing says “American Family” like a good old-fashioned road trip. While nowhere near the scale of the cross-country trip we took pre-kids, we’ve got a few excursions planned as we are anxious for summer. We’ll be heading to my parents, which is a four hour trip and then meeting friends for some cabin camping next weekend.


The only glitch is that while we love our Doggy, it’s hard to pack our whole family and our gear in our rig with a big black beast taking up the bulk of our cargo space. We toyed for quite some time after we first got him with the idea of trading in for a family mini-van. It seemed like the only option. We have many friends who love their mini-vans, and it seems like almost everyone opted in when kid number two arrived. 


We did a fair amount of research. We considered buying a Mazda5, but it felt like it wouldn’t really gain much room. There would barely be enough room for the kids’ friends once they are bigger, and team sports are closer than I realize. We checked out Odysseys and Siennas, and it felt tempting.



My biggest hesitation about buying a mini-van is the low fuel economy. I just seems wrong to be going in the wrong direction when we are trying so much to reduce our carbon footprint. 

We’ve decided to try out a large cargo carrier for our family trips. In theory it will give us plenty of room for all the necessities, and reduce our mileage by a small margin. We won’t have to exchange our car just yet, which we’ve had for only two years. If we are all lucky, by the time we may really need a mini-van a hybrid version will be on the market. 

On the cargo carrier research, we found out from friends that Sears actually purchases from Thule manufacturers. They cost about half the price, because you don’t have to pay for the brand name. Of course, just after we bought ours, I found out about a local shop called ReRack. You can’t win every time.

How do you handle the need for extra cargo room?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

My Sustainable Community

Envisioning a sustainable and abundant future is the first step to creating one. 
As good as life already is in our neighborhood, I can’t help but think about what the future might hold. So, when I was on a roll creating my “Home Wish List,” I started one for “My Sustainable Community.” 


I began by creating a list of our current neighborhood places. One of the things that attracted us to our neighborhood is its walkability, and short bus ride or bike commute to downtown. We have a very high Walk Score, and just last week I was able to run five errands on foot. We save money at the gas pump by only filling up about once a month, and we only own one vehicle.


After I had my neighborhood places in hand, I considered what types of places we’d like to be able to eat, shop and visit. I also added the types of community events that we’d like to enjoy to create more social capital, like an annual summer block party. 


I’ve been excited to see that several of the things I wished for have already come true. A yoga studio just moved in around the corner, a kids’ music school opened, a new consignment store, and bicycle shop. All the type places that help us live healthy and local. There’s also a new community group that helps employ alter-abled adults raising food for a CSA.

Our neighborhood will never be LEED certified, but that’s OK as long as we are growing in the right direction.  

Do you try to live local? What do you envision for your own sustainable community?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Home Wish List

Our family is very fortunate, since we live in what I consider to be our dream-come-true house. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s our home and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But as any homeowner knows, there are always desired improvements no matter your satisfaction level.


When we moved in almost two years ago, my mind went racing with all kinds of ideas and creative household project possibilities. Yet, there’s only so much time, money and energy to go around. In order to prioritize our precious resources, I developed a long-term wish list on Google Docs. My Twin Sis also turned me on to a fun way to save idea articles and product research using Clipmarks, like everything else these days, you can share with your friends. 

My wish list is both qualitative and quantitative with things like “year-round organic harvest” and “energy-efficient refrigerator.” There are practical items, like repairing our old windows and covering bare CFL light bulbs in our entryway. There are also items for pure fun, like building a play fort and adding more garden art.


This wish list is a touchstone in several ways. I now have items that we’ve already created, designed or bought highlighted in green. This helps to show me how much we’ve accomplished in two short years, which makes all of the dangling “to-dos” a little less urgent. If I can live without something for two years, how critical can it really be to our daily lifestyle? They are really icing on the cake.


As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve always been very thoughtful about our household purchases. Our list helps us keep our eyes on the prize by only wishing for things that truly increase our quality of life without causing environmental harm. By being patient about when we may (or may not) get something, it makes it more likely that we’ll be able to find it used or from an eco-friendly local business.


When I occasionally revisit my wish list, it makes me smile within to reflect on how we are reaching our goals. Envisioning my ideal home relieves any angst about the imperfections that exist at the moment.


Do you have your own wish list?
How has it influenced your perspective?

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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Google Docs Sharing

Documents may not be so inspiring, but they are oh so practical. In the new year I’ve become a huge fan of Google Docs. I feel like I’ve turned a new leaf in terms of my financial organization, and Google Docs become favorite tool. Being able to share a common document to share is pure genius, even if you just want to share it with yourself on multiple computers. Hubby and I finally have some key documents handy. It’s also been very helpful for sharing info with my Sis regarding the blog admin.


One of my first tasks in getting a handle on our finances was to create a document that lists every account we hold, including account number, password/login, and web page. I have to admit that up until recently I would repeatedly forget my login/password, and feel feeble and foolish every time. During my first maternity leave I would have placed a bet that my accounts had been flagged “lady who can’t seem to remember anything!” I feel so much relief knowing that I have the info at my finger tips and don’t have to waste my time with the hassle of resetting passwords. Plus, I shared it with Hubby via Google Docs, so now we both have all the info to deal with our finances (I’m sure glad that I didn’t get hit by a bus before drafting that doc! 😉



I created a handy document for “Home Carbon Stats” that includes all the standard info asked on carbon footprint surveys. It makes it much easier to fill them out and to make sure that my results are consistent. It will also help for longer term tracking.

I’ve also uploaded our 2010 Family Goals, which include our finances, recreation, community volunteering and home improvement goals.


I also got a tip from a co-worker Mama recently who has created lists for each of the grocery stores she visits for specific items, like Costco and Trader Joe’s.


I have two more documents that I’ll share more about later this week, one called “Wish List” and one called “Neighborhood Places.”


Do you use Google Docs? Let me know if you have tips of your own.


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Reaching Goals

“The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, learn about them, or even seriously consider them as believable or achievable.  Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.”
– Denis Waitley



A friend of mine recently started a blog dedicated to sharing her favorites quotes, Wise Word Bandit. While I can’t claim to have reflected about quotes as much as her, I’ve always loved the eloquence and timelessness of a great quote. The beauty of a quote is that it can be so simple, and yet resonate so deeply. This quote speaks so much to why I put my  last bits of energy into creating this blog.


For me, this blog is more than just about defining my goals and taking baby steps to achieve them. It’s also a process of learning, which I love. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to complete my Master’s and mastering motherhood has kept me plenty busy with its own learning curve. But I was starting to long for a deeper goal-oriented way of learning, and writing this blog has been successful on that personal level. I can only hope you’re gleaning some insight from our story.


Aspiring to reach your potential means believing in yourself, and trusting in the Universe. While I have my moments of doubt, I make an effort to listen to the mumbling of my brain and filter out the thoughts that leave me feeling unworthy. Believe me, my Twin Sis had to give me several pep talks before I was ready to launch my goals into reality.


So, let’s continue to dream and plan and share this adventure of sustainable abundance together.


How can I help you reach your highest goals?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.