Family: November 2008 Archives

After the Smart Martha Seminar


by Mama-Lu

A few weeks back I posted that I would be attending a Smart Martha Seminar. Last Saturday, I did.

As I expected, there were no earth shattering revelations, but I left highly motivated and validated. I can admit skepticism now (three boys, a clean house and sanity? in this lifetime? right), because the seminar really was useful. It was nice to share problems most mothers face in a positive "what can we do about it without going crazy" kind of way. Plus I got some new ideas.

So, now what have I done? That afternoon, I came home and asked Chris to finish building our compost bins. Then we shredded a month's worth of the Wall Street Journal. It felt great! I also started removing all toys from the boys' room. This project stalled because we have some sickies here.

I have a whole list of other projects to tackle. It's pretty much the same list I had before the seminar. This was just a good push in the right direction. Next on the list is signing up for adoration.

Since the seminar, I've been wondering what other attendees have done. It occured to me that if I am using this blog to crow, others could too, maybe every Friday. If you have a Martha or Mary victory to brag about leave it in the comments.

Here's to happy homes!

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Sunday Morning Conversation


[Puliing out of the Church parking lot]

4yo: Poppy, you don't have to worry. The world is never ever going to end.

Poppy: Why do you say that?

4yo: Because shooting stars only shoot at night, so they can't destroy the world.

[10 minutes of continuous conversation on the end of the world and the resurrection of the body later]

4yo: Poppy, why do some animals die and stay on the ground until they rot away?

Poppy: Animals don't bury their dead, only humans do.

4yo: Do animals not like digging holes? I like digging holes.

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Fair Trade Coffee


by Mama-Lu

There's fair trade coffee and then there's fair trade coffee.

In our house we do not use "Fair Trade Certified" coffee beans. "Fair Trade Certified" is a relatively new group of programs and they have their flaws. The most significant one being the cost to certify. Farmers have to pay inspectors to certify their farms, and the same goes for organic certification. So the farmer sees even less of his already small profits.

Instead we prefer to buy from small roasteries whose buyers investigate the farms themselves as part of the purchasing process. There is no extra cost for this, and the roasteries or buyers also get a chance to see in what way they might build up the communities in which the farms are located.

Here in Champaign, our own local Columbia Street Roastery is doing just that. So not only are we buying fair trade, but we are also supporting local business. It's a win-win. There are many other roasteries with practices like this; it just takes a little poking to find out what the companies values are.

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Fair Trade


by Mama-Lu

October was Fair Trade month. All month I meant to put something up here about my thoughts on fair trade. Better late then never!

For some time I have been making a concerted effort to only purchase items that are sweat-shop/abuse free. The idea started with a simple question from our eldest, at the time 3 years old, "Who made my shoes?" The shoes came from Target and were made in China. My response was, "People working in a factory in China." The conversation continued with requests from him to visit China and see the factory where the shoes were made. Then we moved on, but in my mind I could not stop thinking about the "who" and the conditions under which that person worked.

In thinking about this person who suffered unknown injustices to make a pair of cheap shoes for my son, I felt complicit in their abuse. The obvious next step was to avoid this in the future. The question was and is, "How?"

So far, it has not been possible for me. Despite high ideals, I have all kinds of loop-holes and exceptions. Abuse of persons in the third world is frightenly common in our ordinary life. In our house two simple, yet significant, steps reduce participation in that abuse. First, we buy second hand as much as possible. The item's origin might have been a sweatshop, but our money is not supporting systemic abuse. Second we buy fair trade coffee and cocoa/chocolate. Coffee and cocoa are widely sold at prices that cannot support even remotely just practices. A few extra dollars for these luxuries prevents our money from driving a farmer deeper into debt or supporting the routine kidnapping of boys for labor.

These steps are not going to change the world, but they can bring about solidarity. We cannot avoid every level of abuse in our society. It is barely possible to avoid the abuses we are aware of let alone the ones of which we never even hear. Yet giving up and saying there is nothing that can be done is not an option for a person of conscience. Something must be done; something that says "I will not participate in the suffering of my brothers and sisters." These things are our small way of saying that. Hopefully, we will grow toward greater solidarity as we relearn how to shop.

Dorothy Day explained this much better than I ever could. I will try to locate her words on the subject and share them here, but until then I have a few more things to say on this subject, which I will save for another day.

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[... 5 AM, Lu-household]


Poppy: [Poppy scrambles out of bed, being careful not to strain his injured knee, and rushes to child's bedside.] What's the matter pumpkin?

2yo: Poppy, can you spread out my blankets?

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My little chain gang


What do you do when you little punks angels spend their quiet time dumping almost out every box of toys and clothes in their closet?

Why, you send them outside with rakes to work it off.


Good job boys!

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Me: "Lord Byron famously proclaimed that lobster salad, served with champagne, was the only thing a woman should be seen eating."

She: I hate lobster

Me: You're not a big fan of champagne either.

She: And I don't really like Byron.

The review is actually pretty interesting.

The most gripping moments in Barbe-Nicole's saga occur in 1814 as Russian troops, retreating from battlefield defeat at the hands of Napoleon's armies, threatened to overrun Reims, where the family's then-flailing business was based. Ordering workmen to seal the entrance to her cellars, the widow hoped to prevent the soldiers from raiding her wines, especially those made in 1811, the year of a legendary grape harvest. The cellars were not looted, as it turned out; the soldiers mostly bought the wine, spreading the word of its nectar-like qualities when they returned east. "Today they drink," she said. "Tomorrow they will pay!"
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He knows me, he really knows me

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4yo: "Poppy, you should get a job selling animals! I bet you could make a lot of money and you'll get rich and then you can buy lots of shiny, expensive things. And lots of BEER!"

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Family category from November 2008.

Family: October 2008 is the previous archive.

Family: January 2009 is the next archive.

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