Styrofoam balls & stringy beans

The kids & I made the solar system last week.  It was a fun project, everyone was able to participate & we learned much about the planets.  Building a model was a great way to give Silas an idea of the planets’ orbits around the sun, why some are colder or hotter, & how huge space really is in comparison to our tiny selves on our tiny planet.  Good learning.

I bought the kit for eight bucks, everything included.  The planets are styrofoam balls.  Yuck.  I could have made the planets from some organic material & felt much better about myself.  The reason I chose the kit…it was easier.  That’s it.

Which leads me to consider…Just how earthy is our family?

First off, I never intended for this blog to be one of those ‘look how perfect we are’ kind of blogs.  You know the ones.  The perfectly lit photographs showing smiley sparkly children adorned in hand-knitted creations, picking flowers without getting dirty.  You can practically smell the bread baking & hear the celtic music playing softly in the background.  Love to read them, feeling both completely envious & completely skeptical that any family is really so calm & loving & perfect all of the time.  Because no one is perfect.

But, I do wish to focus on the happy.  On the successes of my days, rather than the many fails.  On the right choices, the calm moments, the good.  I suppose I should just be honest, & the good & bad will sort itself out.  The honest truth is, my family is made up of many contradictions.

I pride myself in not having stepped foot into a Wal-Mart in well over a decade.  But I have bought diapers by the case at Costco.  Speaking of diapers, I cloth-diapered Silas but I didn’t even attempt it with the twins.  We grow & hunt much of our own food, but my kids certainly know what a Happy Meal is.  I work hard to provide my kids with engaging educational activities.  But as I write this post, they are plugged into a Disney movie.  I could go on.  Many contradictions.

Does this mean that we are not authentic?  Not truly earthy, green, crunchy, locavores…or whatever box that we are supposed to fit into?  Is it all or nothing?  When, instead of the healthier choice, I go with the easier, does that then negate all of my crunchy credibility?  Should I feel guilty over this?  Do I even have the time or energy to feel guilty over this??

I was at a craft show last year, selling soap at our booth.  A nice lady came up to chat with Paul & I about our products.  I do not remember exactly what her thing was, but she was very active in our local green movement.  Very informative & passionate, a pleasure to talk with.  Then…she scolded me for wearing toe nail polish, for poisoning myself with those chemicals.  The funny thing is, I usually do not wear polish!  I had been gifted a pedicure (& it was wonderful, so there!).  My first reaction was to explain this to her, as if I were caught being naughty or a fraud.  Then I thought, really lady?  Really?? Is this a competition??

Reminds me of the mommy wars.  There seems to be a lot of this type of competition between moms in the AP movement as well.  Like, are you truly AP if your baby ever sleeps in a crib or wears a disposable diaper (or a diaper at all!) or sucks on a synthetic nipple?  It could become exhausting if you allow yourself to start competing or comparing or dissecting all of your choices.  Exhausting.

The answer, for my own comfort & sanity, is simply to try.  Try to do well, try to do better.  Not always, but often.  Sometimes we make great choices & we should be proud of that.  Sometimes we makes lesser choices, because it is more affordable or more practical.  Sometimes we make poor choices, just because it is easier (or dammit I’m craving a whopper!).  And I cannot be bothered with justifying or feeling guilty over our poor choices.  That takes time & energy that I just do not have to spare.

Maybe, by being honest about our successes & failures, we can even serve to inspire others who are intimidated by making some changes to their lifestyle.  That keeping hens or a garden, or shopping a local farmers market, or even making some of your own toys or clothes (or even soap!), does not mean that you must also give up cable tv & restaurants & shampoo…you don’t have to move out to the country & become Amish!  We live in the same big box, fast food, throw-away society as everyone else.

We are authentic in our values & intentions, but we are not purists.  We do not fit neatly into that crunchy little box, instead we are a big messy collage of a million different passions & skills & tight budgets & lazy days & wins & loses.  The important thing is, we try.

Let’s leave it to a five-year old & his green bean to put things into perspective.

We had some delicious, from last year’s garden, green beans for dinner the other night.  As we were all sitting down to eat, Paul mentioned off-hand that we would probably find many strings in the beans because Si had helped with them.  I thought nothing of it.  There were many strings, so what, they were yum.  Well, today for lunch, I heated those same leftover beans.  Si pulled a big string out of a bean & said, “Mom, do you know why this string is here?  Because I did it wrong.”


I said, “Hey Silas, you tried!  You helped Dad plant those beans, you helped care for them as they grew, you helped pick them & you helped prepare them for us to eat.  You did all of those things well.  The strings are no big deal!”


(It should be noted that this blog is written from Kaye’s perspective only.  Kaye, who is admittedly less earthy than her dear husband.  Paul would never buy the kids a Happy Meal &…well, if it were up to Paul alone I think we just might be living as Amish in the country!)

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