We finally finished reading the Book of Mormon together as a family. We started when President Hinkley gave the challenge, what? two years ago now? We've enjoyed reading together for the most part, in the morning, before school, during breakfast.
But this week, as we finished Moroni, I did something I've never done before: I deliberately censored the Book of Mormon. Specifically, Moroni 9:8-10. Prisoner of war atrocities and forced cannibalism.
Now, I'm perfectly okay reading Beowulf, with all it's gruesome bloodiness to my kids (they enjoyed it). We read the Odyssey, with cyclops crunching down on the ship's crew like tastly little morsel of popcorn chicken. So why didn't I want to read that passage in the Moroni to my kids that morning?
Instead of supporting our PTA and buying the exorbitantly priced Lifetouch school pictures (which inevitably have the strangest facial expressions my children have ever conjured, along with strange hair comb-over adjustments made by well meaning teachers) I took my own pictures of the children before they left for school on picture day. Of course, that just means they have more opportunities to make bizarre faces...
Whenever we settle for the convenient choice, we pay a higher price for less value.
Costs more per serving than an actual, from scratch home cooked meal.
Far less nutritional value, much higher load of empty calories, fat, and sodium.
Social value of eating a meal together is diminished.
Lose opportunity to work together to prepare, partake and clean up.
Far more expensive, even when costs of water, detergent, and wear on washing machine are taken into consideration. (Even when we had to use a laundrymat, it was less to pay to wash diapers than it would have been to buy disposables.)
Ever smell the inside of a diaper genie? With cloth, waste is flushed away pretty quickly. (Even poop in disposable diapers is supposed to be flushed--read the package if you don't believe me. But who does that? It wouldn't be convenient.)
Once you have a supply of cloth diapers, you don't have to buy anymore. No more monthly trips to a big box store for something that you intend to throw away. Independence.
Generally earlier potty training. I'm certainly more motivated--after all, it's inconvenient to scrub those diapers.
Obviously, there are far more examples (and arguments in the ones that I did list). The main point is that whatever we do, we should do well. We should take pride in our work. If we settle for something out of convenience, we're cheating. And on some level, we will feel some level of uneasy dissatisfaction, even if we can't quite pinpoint the cause.
We're big fans of Michael Pollan here. Each time I read one of his books, or others in the food politics genre (Fast Food Nation, Supersize Me, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) I am motivated again to revise our family diet. Over the years, we've quit eating at fast food chains and switched to more local, seasonal produce. So it wasn't that big of a change when we took up the challenge of In Defense of Food, an Eater's Manifesto, Pollan's latest book. "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."
This book came out as we were revising our food budget, cutting it almost by half, and as food prices have increased dramatically. Now we're eating better, more healthy food than ever before. We have less trash, because we are buying no prepared/packaged food products. We have more compost, too.
The price is time. It now takes me 1-2 hours every day to make dinner, plus extra time to bake bread, make granola and granola bars and other snacks. But, interestingly, I don't resent the time spent in the kitchen or feel unduly put upon. On the contrary, I feel better about the work I do at home. Because I put more time and effort into our food, I take more pride in it.
I like his ideas, the vision he has for new local agriculture economies in our country. But the biggest problem I see with his proposal becoming reality is labor. Just as feeding our family now takes more time, thought and work, the small, sustainable farms he envisions will take more time, thought and much, much more work. And just as I receive no monetary payment for the astonishingly valuable work I do in our home, no small farmer is going to make money that reflects the true value of her work. She and her family may well live on the tight edge of an unforgiving budget for their entire lives. A few people have signed up for that life, but I can't see enough doing it to transform our agriculture system as Pollan wishes.
It comes down to the basic values of our society. Society determines our individual worth by how much money we are paid for whatever job we happen to have. Mothers, childcare providers, teachers, and small farmers, who do unquantifiable work hardly make enough to live on, if they make anything at all. And so, the work that is most crucial to our society is least valued.
I recently salvaged several books of fabric swatches from the trash outside of a local interior design shop. So far I've made several bags, book covers, stuffed animals, and a baby quilt top.
Probably the two coolest things so far are Claire's fairy princess Halloween costume and my little old rocking chair that I was able to reupholster for Isaac.
Why so prolific, you might ask. Well, I had to prove to Clint that I wasn't just introducing pointless clutter into the house with these dozens of books of fabric. And to be honest, these fabric samples are a lot of fun. Each set is like a game. I pull a book apart and start shuffling around the pieces until it becomes apparent what needs to be made. And then it's a little puzzle, sewing it together.
Happy Birthday Clint! This Columbus Day brought us our first pumpkin cake. Everyone except Clint thought it was pretty much the same as carrot cake, but as Clint hates carrot cake and liked this, they are obviously different :) Jacob wants it to be known that he didn't think it was like carrot cake either. We didn't have 33 candles, so Claire cut up soda straws and artistically arranged them on the cake.