25 April 2011

Special Series: How It All Began

The Why

Warning:  This post is going to ramble.  Just saying.

My husband's college roommate came to visit, and he mentioned his wife reads my blog.  Thanks, Lynn!  Anyway, he also mentioned about some of the changes that they are trying to make in their family, and my husband told him about a couple of the resources I use.  When we were talking about it later, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to post how we got to this point in our lives.  I don't know, Lynn, if you are interested in any of this, but regardless, this post is dedicated to you.  After all, Nate's blog inspired me to start blogging about our family, and now here we are, 2 blogs and several years later.

I've never been too fond of convenience foods, mainly packaged meals.  The sole reason for this is that I'm a little bit of a picky eater.  It's gotten a lot better, but suffice it to say I have texture issues.  Mushy noodles, veggies, and casseroles are not my thing.  But I never considered I had an alternative.  So I just kept trying new stuff hoping I would like it.  And then out of curiosity I started reading labels, wondering how much sugar I was feeding my kids.  I thought I was doing pretty good, since they didn't drink juice or eat "candy" cereal.  But holy cow almost everything I bought, from sauces to crackers had added sugar or corn syrup.  Still, I thought my only alternative was to read labels more carefully.  A sign of the times, I guess.  I mean, these convenience foods were designed to make my life easier…why would I want to complicate things by making my own stuff?  

Well, the label reading got more and more discouraging.  At the same time, I was getting frustrated that I had to shut myself into the bathroom to clean it, or wait until the toddlers were asleep, because I didn't want them breathing all the chemicals.  So instead I got to breath them in concentrated doses because of poor ventilation, got dizzy, and had to do the cleaning in spurts.  That was just no fun at all.  

I finally started to turn on my brain and realized there must be an easier way.  I think I'd been so conditioned to listen to all the media telling me I must have this cleaner for this job, this food for this meal, and take my kids to this restaurant for this kid's meal.  Advertisements are effective.

We live in America, the land of the free.  But I just felt more and more like I didn't have true choice, that I was only choosing between different brands of the same items.  I felt like I was blindly following the masses, like a lemming to the sea.  I decided I was smart enough to learn more.  That my family deserved better.  That even if I ended up buying the same foods or using the same products, I needed to make an informed choice rather than an ignorant one.  

On my road to information, I naturally concluded that I should be shopping at places like Whole Foods.  Great idea - they have a ton of awesome food.  I love all of the alternative things you can find there that aren't in a conventional grocery store.  And I love the healthy prepared foods also.  But…I soon discovered that money stewardship was going to suffer if I continued that habit.  Places like that are great for special items, but it just wasn't feasible as a primary shopping destination.  Same goes for "natural" cleaning products.  Some I do like, but again, continued use was going to break the bank.  By this time, a small seed was germinating in my mind, but I couldn't yet put my finger on what it was…

So I started reading.  First books, like The Omnivore's Dilemma and Cradle To Cradle.  The seed was growing.  And then I started reading blogs.  At first I literally followed links from Google searches.  And I followed links from those links.  And gradually that seed in my mind grew and I saw the world and my place in it in a whole new way.  I realized that people never used to have all these specialized chemical cleaners, or all this packaged food, and they turned out ok.  

And here's the thing:  I grew up thinking that environmental issues are for hippy tree huggers.  And I'm not exactly that.  But I am a lover of Jesus.  And a lover of the earth God created.  And if that's the case, then being a steward of ALL that has been entrusted to me (money, my family, our world) is just a natural thing to do.  But I didn't just wake up one day and throw out all my toilet cleaners and boxes of mac and cheese.  In fact, I still have some emergency boxes in the pantry, because you never know.  The point is, I had to start small.  Really stinking small.  

How small?  With what?  Well, you'll just have to wait for my next post, because I have rambled on and on and on enough for one day.

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