Friday, April 27, 2012

An Experimental Mutiny: Parts One and Two (Food and Waste)

I've mentioned it multiple times, but Peyton and I are reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  The premise of the book is that over the course of seven months you tackle seven different areas of excess in your life.  I wanted to write a little update about the first two months because the third is about to draw to a close.

Month 1: Food
The challenge this month was to eat only seven foods.  Peyton did choose seven foods and, with a couple of exceptions, he stuck to his diet.  A couple of the foods were kind of "cheaters" because they weren't really just one thing (salsa for example). Here were his choices, in case you're interested:
- eggs
- wheat bread
- dried beans (kind of a cheater- lot of variety there, but they do all kind of taste the same)
- salsa
- cuties (the tiny oranges that are SO good)
- chicken
- spinach
(plus water)

Since I struggle with keeping weight on, especially when I'm nursing a little one, I decided this would not be a healthy thing for me to try.  Instead, I only drank water for the forty days of Lent.  I'm a HUGE fan of Coca Cola Classic so it was *really* hard, but it was good for me.  I was able to focus on Christ when I felt like I "needed" one and also I prayed for those throughout the world who lack the basic necessity of clean water.  It was also good because I realized that I could do without that crutch and in an emotional moment I could call out to the Lord instead of popping a can.

Month 2: Waste
*We actually went out of order because I wanted to do clothes in April when I felt the weather would be more consistent.  In March, we were still going back and forth between really hot and really cold, so we decided to do "waste: that month.*

 Jen had a list of seven areas of waste she tackled and we used a couple of her ideas, modified one, and came up with a few of our own.  Here were our challenge areas:
1. Be more intentional about recycling
2. Try to find things in recyclable packaging
3. Begin composting again
4. Buy local produce
5. Use reusable bags
6. Use *only* cloth diapers
7. Use only one car

"How'd it all play out?" you ask...

Recycling- Being more intentional about recycling wasn't a huge adjustment- we've recycled at some level since we got married.  We just tried to be more conscience of letting things "slip" into the trash- not tossing a plastic cup I didn't want to rinse out in the garbage out of sheer laziness, for example.  We also did take some time and try to organize our system a bit better.  We got four green totes for each category, so we could sort it better: glass, plastic, paper, metal.  We did try to buy things in recyclable packaging, but we weren't always successful.  We could have done better at that.

Food- We've composted before, but had gotten out of the habit.  It was really easy to start up.  We just designated an area in our back yard and started tossing stuff- banana and orange peels, bread crusts, and egg shells.  We don't have a bin, Peyton just puts leaves on top of it and we've never had an issue with critters or rodents.  We could have done much better with buying local, but we did make a few farmer's market visits and we also started buying seemingly more healthy, locally produced bread.  The farmers' market is something we need to keep up this Summer!

Reusable Bags and Dipes- We made an effort to use our reusable shopping bags except for at the grocery store because we like to use the paper bags to line our trash and recycling cans in the kitchen.  There were a couple of times I forgot and just told the cashier "I don't need a bag" (which for some reason, always makes me a little uncomfortable) and walked out with my purchases in hand.  The diaper challenge was a pretty big deal because when we're on the go, we typically always use disposables.  I bought a new wet/dry bag for the diaper bag specifically for this (I still use it around the house and sometimes in the diaper bag) and just decided to work really hard at it.  I'm not going to lie, it took some extra planning- there's a lot of extra preparation that goes into packing the diaper bag and I felt like I washed diapers a lot more frequently (like daily instead of every two to three days).  There was one day where I ran out of diapers, but since I had a clean cover, I put some of AP's pink training pants on under it.  Ha! Overall, though, it wasn't too bad.  The one thing I was a little worried about was other people- I just hate to be an inconvenience to people.  But everyone at Mother's Day Out and the church nursery acted like it was no big deal and the couple of times my parents and in laws kept the kids, it was fine.  It actually gave me confidence to try to try to do cloth more often.  Like I'll take Graves to my parents' house in a cloth diaper, for example.

One Car Family- This was *by far* the hardest one and I was hesitant to agree to it.  We did agree that in the event we had conflicting work schedules, we'd make an exception and we'd make an exception for church activities that we had already committed to.  We actually ended up only using two cars a handful of times (maybe three?) the whole month.  The hardest part is that Peyton works a solid half hour from our house and there were several days I needed the car when he was working until 10:00.  Loading up two babykins at that hour for some dark interstate driving (which I hate!) was kind of a pain in the butt.  We really didn't save money by doing this, because more often than not, we didn't choose to stay home we just took each other to the places we needed to be which created more driving. [There were some days where the kids and I did just stay home, days that I know we otherwise wouldn't have, and I think we did benefit from that.] However, it did give us a much greater appreciation for one car families across the country.

Overall, I think this project has been positive.  I feel like we're learning a lot by intentionally cutting things out and it's neat to watch God reveal areas of excess in our lives. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Ugliness of Pretty

Yesterday my friend Becca tweeted about Beyonce saying she didn't "feel pretty" while giving birth.  Now, whether Beyonce did or didn't actually give birth is totally irrelevant to this post, and my life in general, so I won't touch on that.  Several people of Twitter responded with the expected- "What? I was smokin' hott in labor!" "Um, yeah, that flew right out the window after the first big contraction", and something about Jay Z, the Illuminate, and the baby being made in a lab.  Again, I will not pass judgement on these things.

What I will say is that our culture has become far to concerned with the "pretty" and it's to the detriment of true beauty.  You may remember me writing a post awhile back, but as a refresher: pretty = physical attractiveness; beauty = character, truth, and sometimes also a pleasing aesthetic quality. The pretty is focused on me and my appearance; the beauty sees, and loves, the world around me. The pretty is shallow; the beauty runs deep.  The pretty causes insecurity; the beauty begets confidence.

I never thought of it before, but birth is a perfect illustration for this.  Is birth pretty? I would say rarely, if ever.  But is it beautiful? I would say always and without a doubt.  There is beauty in the mess.  In the pain.  In the pushing.  In the God orchestrated work we were designed to do.  In the first takeyourbreathaway contraction and in the new life that appears at the climax. There is so much beauty.  And so little pretty.

Why do we desire the pretty so much?

Why do I oogle over the elaborate Pinterst-y crafts when my child is happy scribbling with crayons and mashing play dough between her tiny fingers?

Why does it always need to be a smocked bishop set when she really wants to wear her crocs and her raincoat atop a faded dress that's been cycled through the dryer too many times?

Why do I need to vacuum and mop before my best friend comes over when she knows the beauty of toddler boy-man messes better than I do myself?

Why when my husband says he likes me best with little or no makeup do I mock him with a mascara wand and a distracted indifference?

Why do I want only photographs where we look like we're sailing smoothly when we're really barely keeping our heads above water?

This week, I will embrace the beautiful mess and enjoy it.   And leave the pretty to Beyonce.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Three Decades = A Bucket List Concert with the Boss

Y'all, I cannot stand it I'm so excited.  Peyton is turning thirty next week and we're taking a trip we've been dreaming about for years.

We are going to see...

I know it's not really typical for people our age, but Bruce Springsteen is one of mine and Peyton's all time favorite singers and we're pretty big music fans.  Like, he's definitely in my top three favorite artists and could well be in the number one seat on a given day.  He just has such an extensive collection of great songs and lots of his albums are really unique and different from each other.  

We decided a LONG time ago that if he came anywhere near us (like within ten hours), we'd pay whatever and go see him.  I always say I want to make a "bucket list" and just never have, but this is something that's been on a mutual mental bucket list for so long.  

Well, about a month ago, Peyton found out that he was coming to New Orleans (only a few hours away) and since the venue is festival style, the tickets were really pretty reasonable.  Of course, we were faced with the question of what to to do with the kiddos, namely the boy babe who refuses to drink more than an ounce from a bottle, cup, or anything that's not a um...body part.  Ahem.  Especially since, as we found out today that he's in the .4 percentile, I just didn't see leaving bottles and going with the "if he takes them he takes them, if he doesn't he doesn't" option  to be a good one, even for a short trip.  

Enter MINNIE from stage right.  When pitched to my mom as "all Peyton wants for his thirtieth birthday", she just jumped at the chance to spend the night in the hotel with us and two ill sleeping toddlers.  [I kid about the "ill sleeping", but Graves has had a bad few weeks due to being sick and poor Annie has a hard time keeping her covers dry, but I really am trying hard not to go backwards toward diapers.]

Peyton has to work on Saturday and I have a Junior League obligation, as well, but the concert isn't until Sunday night.  So, we're headed down Sunday morning to enjoy the day in the city and then we'll go to the concert and probably channel our younger selves with a bit of New Orleans night life and then turn in and head back home on Monday.  It's going to be a whirlwind, but I'm so thrilled. 

Several months after we started dating, this song was playing in Peyton's car one night after I ran out the front door of my parent's house and hopped in.  We just looked at each other and we both felt something there we had never felt before.  I remember we both had tears in our eyes and I kept asking Peyton "What? What is it?" and he said "I think we're falling in love" and I said "I think that's it" and we cried and hugged and kissed.  I will always love this song and that memory.