Traveling is Not for the Faint of Heart

The girls and I are currently visiting my folks in GA. Family is really about as good as you can get and having my momma, daddy, sis, bro-in-law, and nephews & niece around for an entire week is a special kind of sweetness.

Single-parenting and traveling alone with my own babies is another story. Still sweet, but it's a hard-hard-difficult thing that pretty much makes me feel pretty neutral about traveling and visits in general.

My kids are REALLY well-traveled for their ages and I feel as though we have an airplane routine that works for us. A lot of parents worry about the airplane routine...I never really worry about the plane. (1) It's a limited amount of time with an end in sight (about 3.5 hours). (2) A bag of Cheetos given to a zealous 3-year-old to share with her sister lasts approximately 4 hours. (3) No one is really caring about your parenting philosophy or judging too harshly at several thousand feet. Everyone just wants to get to the ground alive and with their ear drums fully functioning.

Best air travel advice I ever got: "You want the moon honey? With a cherry on top? It's yours. How 'bout some whipped cream with that?" For real, if it's not too outlandish a request and does pose an imminent threat to the other passengers, my babies get what they want on an airplane. As an aside: my children have received several hundreds of compliments from skeptical-turned-pleasantly surprised passengers.

So, what's HARD?

Well. Single parents are my heroes. It's hard being the only one parenting. Because let's face it, my relatives are going to spoil the snot out of my kids...which doesn't work so great for consistency or routine. Also, if you're flying on a plane, you're most likely gonna deal with a time change. If I multiply our "Spring Forward" experiences by THREE, my kids are living in a special kind of through-the-looking-glass-sleep-deprived-dementia. Also, poop.

The past three days have been so good, but so hard.

For one, I openly admit my husband is a much better parent than I am. I try, but he and my oldest can handle "conflict" (read: fits) much more effectively. When I am left to my own devices, my three year old and I end up crying piles of mess. Lack of sleep and consistency + three-year-old brain (minus daddy) and you have the perfect equation for EVERYTHING being a fight. As an example: I was yelled at today for making her bagel EXACTLY how she has liked it for forever.

If you ever want a crash course in patience and trying not to lose your stuff with your kids. Travel solo. After several thousand tears, you'll get the hang of it.

The time changes are harder. Namely, because I can't control time. I've talked to God about that job title and the possible extra responsibility - usually at 5am EST which is 3am MT, the kids having gone to bed mere hours earlier. God and I have decided that I couldn't handle the time/space continuum and that my efforts in bathing and drinking coffee would be better appreciated by the general public.

If you travel, just know it could result in your kids sleeping like champs or not sleeping at all. Again, roll with it and try your hardest to not have an emotional break down. You're gonna need coffee.


This one is tricky. Nothing magnifies to difficulties of travel like your potty-trained kid deciding to completely disregard all rules of basic society, biology...Leviticus. Expect there to be bowel trouble. If you expect the worse, then those mornings when you DON'T awake to poo-covered sheets & a traumatized kid will be icing on the cake, my friends.

Bottom Line:
Traveling is hard on your kids. It's for real hard on you. Do not engage in anger. It can't fix anything and it confuses your kids...who are already confused, struggling, and nervous (but have no way to talk about or express those emotions).

If you travel alone with your kids often, you are a hero and deserve a parade. Go'head with your bad self...and don't forget the Cheetos.


It can't come soon enough

As a mom (and hey, even as a plain 'ol person), I have always had to fight that nagging desire to speed things up or along. Basically pushing a fast forward button on life in hopes that I could get to the more fun and entertaining bits.

And then you get to the ripe old age of 33 and these things called hindsight and 20/20 and wisdom and thoughtfulness and mindfulness start to take root in your soul. The desire to fast forward starts to ebb as you live IN the moment.

Do not get me wrong. I still find myself wanting to fast forward our way out of X, Y, and Z and into a new season. BLABLABLA. The desire NEVER really leaves. For me it hasn't. It just seems to fade and then pop up at times.

Today I was once again "rotating" the girls' clothes. (Tangent: we have stashes of hand-me-downs that we change out for the seasons, as they grow, etc. I seriously think I have my children outfitted until they are both at least 5 or 6). Looking at little sleepers and dresses and booties, I couldn't believe that the time had gone by so quickly.

Nothing really slaps you in the face with your babies growing up like going through their clothes and seeing the physical change (I'm sure the development of reading skills or doing long division, moving out, getting married are just as striking, but we're not their yet).

I'm putting my baby in clothes that my big girl was JUST WEARING. It makes my heart ache.

This life is a vapor.

Oh how I pray that I soak in every fleeting moment, that I am a loving and compassionate person. That I am fun-loving and free spirited, and that I do all those cheesy things that most country-western songs written on this topic illustrate (I'm staring straight at you Lee Ann Womack).

So, stop reading this silly post and go do something. Something REALLY awesome.

Whether that be saving the day or hugging your kiddos.

Live it Well.


Sickness & Other Hard Things

The last few weeks have been rough ones for our little tribe.

We did get to go away to Jackson, WY for a few days, but it wasn't a happy-go-lucky type getaway. It was much more of a retreat, sabbatical, fleeing-the-current-situation-in-hopes-of-getting-some- perspective-and-making-a-plan-type thing.

The day before we left for our long weekend, I developed an earache and my throat was a bit sore. I didn't think anything of it. I started taken a few over the counter drogas that generally cut short whatever I am fighting and help to eliminate symptoms. Las drogas stemmed the tide and I hoped that I would be right as rain in a few days.

We came home and returned to our normal routines. I started cleaning. I had an AM energy spurt and wanted to take advantage. I was wiping down the kitchen and moved onto tackle the laundry room. I started wiping some lint of the walls.

Oh wait. That's not lint. It's mold. Mold. Dark mold. All over our walls.

So, I got the Clorox out and went to work. I went to other parts of the house that are poorly ventilated and looked for mold in those places as well. By the end of the day I was exhausted and angry.

The next morning, I woke up feeling worse and continually getting worse. Note to Self: Don't tackle the cleaning of mold until you know what kind of mold it is and are perfectly healthy and taking the appropriate precautions.

The sickness lasted another week. A lump in my throat developed and made it difficult to swallow and eat. We took samples of the mold and had them sent to labs. I finally decided that giving my body 2 weeks to fight off infection was sufficient and that a medical professional might know best. Yay antibiotics. Thank God for Penicillin as a reactive lymph node and several white spots in my throat were not gonna just leave of their own accord.

So, to recap.
Fear of Deadly Mold.
Lots of Anger about it.
Still Sick.
Fear of thinking sickness related to Deadly Mold.
Feeling Better.
Waiting on Lab Results from mold samples.



Radio Silence

I'm going quiet(er) for the next few days. My apologies.

A cold that has turned into an infection + a few other 'real' life fun times are demanding most of my attention...and I have two tots.

I hope to meet you again, fully-worded and raring to go on Monday.



...almost always and forevermore on a budget and with children.

The family and I took a jaunt up to Jackson, WY the weekend before last.

My husband had to be there a few days for work, so like the social pariah/leaches adventuresome girls that we are, the tots and I tagged along.

Full disclosure: we as a family do not do well apart. We need each other and cling to each other and notably long for any member of our little tribe who is absent at the moment. It's a precious and beautiful thing.

Jackson, WY is gorgeous. It's a little mountain ski-bum town snuggled away in the North-Eastern part of the state. It gets thousands of visitors in the winter and summer months - normally outdoor enthusiasts. Like any small town, boasting beautiful vistas and subsisting off of tourism dollars, it is RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE.

The hubs and I are well-traveled, but not as a result of having tons of money. We vacation in camp grounds and dive hotels. We maybe eat "out" once a day or not at all to conserve money, opting instead to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while enjoying the free cable in our hotel room.

We know our means, live within them, and don't expect to "have everything" simply because others might have more. We know where we stand in the pecking order. And while awesome vacations to Europe (or hey, even going to Jackson and being able to afford to ski for the day) would be nice, we're kind of okay with where we are.

A weekend away was thoroughly needed. Our part of Wyoming (and I use the term "our" loosely) is windy...the wind pretty much makes all outdoor play for adults and tots impossible. Jackson does not have said wind problem. It was as though we experienced true quite and silent for the first time in two years.

Our days were filled with happy girls running on sidewalks and playing in snow. We even splurged and went to the Children's Museum (I'm thoroughly convinced that all children's museums are not at all worth the money when you have 2 toddlers and are just visiting the town for a day or two). The girls had a great time and the adults enjoyed a few nights of serious talks and dreaming...

Good for the soul.

How do you vacation?


Happy {Music} Friday


I love me some Regina Spektor. 


Eleven Years

Eleven years ago today...

A very handsome, curly headed 19-year-old boy knocked on my apartment door.

I was expecting him. See, earlier that day we had talked about "needing to talk." Not just any talk - the DTR {Defining of The Relationship}.

We had been on a few dates and had been shamelessly "fake dating" for MONTHS before that.

Fake dating (as defined by Lydia): Hanging out a lot, always in groups, and chatting about anything and everything while obviously having a possible romantic interest in one another.  Fake dating also entails being absolutely terrified to make a move that would change the label of said relationship from "friend" to "dating" practicing self-discipline and wisdom in truly taking a step back and prayerfully considering whether this is a person you could marry.

Aside: Fake dating is what I, Ladies and Gents, will encourage my girls to do. 

That curly-headed, clean-shaven fella walked into my apartment.

We sat down and talked...just like we always had. It was EASY to talk because we had been friends for a while. 

Nothing too romantic or soppy was said. That's not our style.

And I won't share any particulars because they are pieces of sweetness that I have treasured in my heart for the last eleven beautiful years.

But I will divulge that the conversation ended with

"I want to pursue this."
"I would like that."

It's burned into my memory and forever will be. It was the moment my husband chose ME. It is the moment he chose to pursue ME...and he didn't have to do anything, but be wise enough to take his time in asking and brave enough to ask when he felt he needed to. {Go'head Hubs} 

Best. Gift. Ever. 


Less Words Wednesday


I've always liked being a little nut(s)


Dear Barnes & Noble:

Dear Barnes & Noble,

I've been shopping with you for years. I do love local "Mom & Pop" book shops, but as those are fading into the background of our society's cultural fabric, I have found my way to your front door on several occasions.

You have a killer kiddo section. I have killer kiddos.

It's a match made on a Tuesday afternoon when some poor soul has to don a Dr. Seuss costume and dance for the natives in heaven {cough}.

I've enjoyed coffee with you as I've perused your travel section and bargain-priced Dr. Who trinkets.

You've offered me comfort on a rainy day, solace when I need to clear my mind, and WiFi when I was a cheap college student who couldn't afford it.

But our relationship stops here.

I was once again wandering your aisles looking for some literary goodies as my husband chased my children after story time. I found my items, took my almost 4-year-old by the hand, and she helped me "check-out" as always.

My Big Girl is smart, independent, and she likes doing things by herself.

She's also observant.

Which comes into play when she innocently asked me "Momma, what are those girls doing?"

I could sense that something was off in her tone. I looked down and it smacked in the face.

Three naked women with their {there's no other word for it in this context} lady parts hanging out, hugging on one another and smiling seductively: Sport Illustrated: Swim Suit Edition

...at eye level with my three-year-old. The sexual objectification of over half the human population (which I have tried to shield her from) starring back at her- as I look on slack-jawed and enraged.

Thank you B&N for willfully assaulting the innocence of my child. You should be ashamed.

As a fairly obvious question: WHY?

Who is that display for?

Is it for the 3-year-old sized man who happens to want to grab a bit of soft-core-porn on his way out of the store?

Because as I see it. The "Swimsuit Edition" has become the "Birthday Suit Edition" and that filth needs to be burned put behind a screen on a high shelf in an area not frequented by children. 

As it was, I tried to flip it over...only to find an equally disgusting depiction of a woman. I then angrily muttered that there was "simply no escaping it."

To which your female employee embarrassingly hung her head and whispered, "No there isn't."

Just so you know, B&N, I responded to my daughter's question:

"Those girls are not honoring God and are showing us how little respect they have for themselves and other girls...like you."

And my response to your EXTREME lapse in basic judgement:

Sexual objectification is hurtful, detrimental, and damaging. See video below.

Until Never. Losing a customer.


Check out this great Ted talk by Caroline Heldman on the dangers of sexual objectification.


Perspectives and Opinions

We as a people have lost the ability to actually have conflict...healthy conflict. In real life. And by this I mean actual discourse.

It's as though no one wants to actually say, "Hey, I disagree" or "Hey, that's not logical or "Wow, that is pretty wrong on a lot of levels" as an invitation for further discussion. We just want to tell people that they are wrong, but lack the conviction to actually have a discussion.

So, we engage conflict in funny ways or we do it super passive aggressively or super passively for that matter. We don't actually WANT to have a conversation where we are forced to be challenged or (God forbid) challenge others.

It's too much responsibility. It gets messy. And more often than not, it gets personal.

Well, I have an opinion. I express my opinion via this blog...which has like 17 readers...so, I'm not changing to world or anything. But I am expressing my opinion. It's cathartic. I get something out of it and I know a few other folks who enjoy reading what I write (Hi, Mom!).

I am a passionate person. I am an opinionated person. I don't apologize for it. I used to, but I'm a grown woman...and at some point in the past few years, I have felt a lot of freedom in being able to BE ME.

For some unknown reason, God made me this way.

It doesn't mean that I can't be gentle or understanding, but it does mean that when I see poor behavior in adults, I'm probably going to call it out. When a see something in our society that I don't agree with, I'm going to speak up. When I have an opinion on something, I'm going to share it.

I'm sure many of you feel (and act) the same way.

I want to have daughters (children) who are okay being themselves and who don't have to feel weird or odd or less...or like they are not worthy of forming or holding an opinion. I want them to THINK on subjects and openly have debate and discourse. These used to be activities that took place around the dinner table or in coffee shops (read: taverns) helping us hone our identities as people.

So, if something I write offends you - just tell me. I'm a big girl and you're entitled to your opinion (just like I am mine). It's one of the awesome things about becoming an adult - You now have enough life experience to form an opinion and to come at life from YOUR perspective.

And we all have different ones (perspectives).

So, we should walk through life expecting a clash in perspectives and inviting the opportunity to learn from one another.

Let's not shy away from being challenged or growing or sharing or debating.

I do apologize if any of my words have been harsh or biting (or maybe just too honest). Believe it or not most everything I write (be it a blog post, a letter, or an email) goes through a vetting, editing, and filtering process by people I love and respect and trust. They know me and they try to keep harsh and biting at bay.

So while I might apologize when a certain phrase or post is taken the wrong way or in a way that is unintended, I'm not going to apologize for my opinion.


Noonday Collection Giveaway {Winner!!!}

And the winner of a $50 Noonday product voucher is.....Erin (#1)

Congrats, Erin. You should be receiving your product voucher via email sometime tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who participated...and don't forget to keep the blog train rolling for more chances to win wonderful hand-crafted pretties.


Happy {Music} Friday

Gungor is a favorite. I hope the words are a balm to your soul today.


Noonday Giveaway Contest is still open! 
Enter to win  $50 Product Voucher.
{Contest closes 3/08/14 at 10pm MT}


Less Words {Thursday}

"And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty inflames the heart and enchants the soul." 

~Lupita Nyong'o


Just as a reminder. The Noonday Giveaway Contest does not close until 3/8/2014 @10pm MT.


Shopping With Love {Part 2}

Today is my day to write for the 40-Day Noonday Blog Train {Giveaway}.

Here is the rest of my talk on Ethical Consumerism + My giveaway and how you can enter to win.


On November 24, 2012 a fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions Factory in the garment district of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

On the night of the fire, more than 1,150 people were inside the eight-story building, working overtime shifts to fill orders for various international brands. Fire officials say the blaze broke out in the open-air ground floor, where large mounds of fabric and yarn were illegally stored.
But on some floors, managers ordered the employees to ignore a fire alarm and continue to work. Precious minutes were lost. Then, as smoke and fire spread throughout the building, many workers were trapped, unable to descend the smoke-filled staircases, and they were blocked from escape by iron grilles on many windows. Desperate workers managed to break open some windows and leap to safety on the roof of a building nearby. Others simply jumped from upper floors to the ground. 117 died and 200 were injured. {Thanks, NY Times}

A factory building collapsed in April of 2013 outside Dhaka, killing more than 1,000 workers. That building was constructed with substandard materials and in blatant disregard of building codes. The factory owners again told workers to return to their jobs despite evidence that the building was unsafe,

I highlight these two recent tragedies for one reason:
1100 people have died because WE wanted shirts that cost $10.

Bangladesh has more than 5,000 garment factories, which employ over four million workers, many of them young women. Bangladesh handles orders for nearly all of the world’s top brands and retailers. It has become an export powerhouse largely by delivering lower costs, in part by having the lowest wages in the world for garment workers. Garments constitute about four-fifths of the country’s manufacturing exports, and the industry is expected to grow rapidly. {Thanks Again, NY Times}

Changing the practices of the garment industry will take a mountain of people voting with their dollars to change such an integral part of the global economy.

BUT it has always taken a mountain of people doing what is right at the cost of their own welfare, good, or interests to affect change.

We don’t hear about these tragedies happening in the USA often. That’s because we have labor laws and unions. We’ve had factory fires and tragedies (the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 that killed 123 women and 23 men). These events became a catalyst for labor unions and worker safety legislation. We are very lucky to currently live in an era of our country’s history...where this is not an everyday concern for you or me or our husbands or our children.

What happened as a solution to US public outcry against poor working conditions?
Every problem or bad practiced was simply exported to another developing country. We ended slavery HERE but essentially enslaved thousands of others in their own homelands all in the name of "good business."

These jobs are the only jobs available for so many men and women (and children) and they are only available because there is a demand overseas for inexpensive & fashionable clothing...and because we choose to turn a blind eye to the plight of the oppressed.

And there is a better way.
There is a gospel-centered way.
Buying ethically is not just a social movement. It calls us to be fair and just and mindful and purposeful. It calls us to go without plenty so that others can have something. It calls us to stand up for the oppressed. To shine a light in the darkness.

I wish I could put it in the back of my mind and choose to see it as just a social movement, but Ethical Consumerism is a kingdom movement.
Jeremiah 22:3
This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
Zechariah 7:9
"Thus has the LORD of hosts said, Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother;

Proverbs 22:22-23
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Or crush the afflicted at the gate; For the LORD will plead their case And take the life of those who rob them.

Psalms 82:3-4
Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
Luke 11:42
"But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

The bigness and the enormity of social justice issues make them intimidating to us as individuals. I for one do not think that I am an elegant mouth piece for justice and change when I am elbow deep in dirty diapers and temper tantrums. But God has been very clear. He has never turned from the afflicted, the needy, the oppressed.

As a stay-at-home-mom, I feel like I am in a season where my children are my “ministry” and that I indeed will have to WAIT for any other, higher, calling - for these BIGGER things...And so I put these BIGGER things in the back of my mind. I discount them. They are not for me right now.
Proverbs 31:8-9
Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

Isaiah 1:17
learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

I write today to tell you that as Christians {or as people who believe in human dignity and equality} we have a calling to the least of these. That calling is now.  
We cannot physically be on the ground (right now) to rescue a family out of a brick kiln in India; We cannot picket the front lines of a garment factory in Bangladesh; We cannot break into the brothels worldwide and rescue children from their traffickers.

But we can shop. We ALREADY SHOP. We can buy things. We can protest with our dollars and our cents. We can raise our collective voice...as consumers.

I think most of you do what I do. We work the coupon, we save the money, we make the most out of what we have. We make a lot of the decisions when it comes to when and why and how and where purchases for our families happen. That is a lot of power in a global economy when the only voice that matters is that of the dollar.

All of the sudden we can take consumerism that doesn't recognize the gospel nor the love of Jesus Christ...and we can turn it on its head! And we can purchase the things we need for the good of others.
It’s not charity...it’s purchasing with a conscience. It’s purchasing with a purpose. It’s shopping ethically - consciously choosing to do the right thing.

So what does that look like - being an ethical consumer?

1. It means buying less, but spending just as much.That sounds unrealistic, wasteful, and “not worth the trouble.” But in essence what you are committing to doing is trading MORE “okay” stuff for less “I love this!” stuff.
My husband and I have made the decision to no longer buy something JUST because it’s a “good deal.” In saying that I mean that we no longer ‘settle’ on something we don’t love, or that doesn’t fit perfectly simply because it’s cheap.
It means I don’t eat a lot of chocolate. I have changed my life to reflect what I can afford to buy (when I factor in the TOTAL cost of the good).

We can no longer justify buying LOTS of cheap goods on the backs of slaves, rather than supporting another ethically sound business.

It means I live with less - which is incredibly freeing.

2. It means that I do my research and find companies who have ideals and visions that line up with my own (Toms, Warby Parker, Seamly, Noonday Collection) ...and I support them. It means that in doing that same research, I have to walk away from retailers that turn a blind eye to injustice. Which is not a FUN thing...I really like OLD Navy and Target, but I can’t support them.

3. It means (sometimes) I buy second hand. If I am buying my clothes from the local consignment shop or the goodwill - then I am not feeding the companies that turn a blind eye to the complete disregard for human life in their overseas factories. Along these same lines, you can organize clothing swaps among groups of women that you know. Everyone coming together and exchanging gently used clothes for gently used clothes. Costing nothing.  

4. It means that my family and I save money differently. Do you know that millions of people around the world live off $1 a day? Many of these men and women do not have the ability to save money in a way that enables them to get ahead or invest or create businesses. Work is never steady and the money is spent on basic necessities as soon as it is earned. Many men and women have formed saving clubs (a community savings system that pulls community money to benefit one family at a time) or they apply for microloans (traditional loans are next to impossible for many of the impoverished to get). Did you know that you can invest in the LIFE of someone else for as little as a $25, no-interest microloan with a 98% payback rate? $25. That is equivalent to 5 trips to Starbucks...changing someone’s life.
5. It means that I am a mouthpiece. As most of you know. I am an ambassador for Noonday Collection {a company whose vision is to provide men and women paths out of poverty by providing dignified employment in...FASHION}. Noonday Collection works with Artisans around the globe and is CHANGING LIVES. One thing I am good at is being loud. Noonday Collection allows me a platform, to enter into peoples homes and share the stories of the hundreds of lives that are being changed through...work. Not charity. Not ministry...dignified work.


So, Here is my Giveaway. I want you to go to Noonday Collection and read our Artisan Stories. Fill your soul with stories of redemption and second chances. Post a comment below about your favorite story...and you will be entered to win a $50 Noonday Gift Voucher. 

{Contest will be closed to entries 03/08/2014 @ 10pm MT}

Thanks for Reading & Best of Luck!

Don't forget to check out yesterday's Noonday Giveaway (and Tomorrow's). {wink}


Shopping with Love {Part 1}

Today begins a two-part series on "Ethical Consumerism." Today is a primer, if you will, and a basic introduction to my post tomorrow which is part of the 40-Day Noonday Collection blog train. A bunch of us ambassadors get together every start of a new season to spread the word, share our hearts, and host fun giveaways. {Check out my "Noonday Blog Train" Page for more details}

Anyhow. A few weeks ago, I gave a talk on "Ethical Consumerism" to a group of wonderful ladies from Ft. Collins, CO. It was a blast. Here is part one of that talk.

I was born to be a shopper. Meaning that I was raised from a young age on a diet of eye-buying, Black Fridays, the day after Christmas, Presidents Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day. You name it and I was shopping it. My mom could work a store. She would always find the best deal and she taught me and shopping became “our thing.” We shopped a lot. I have way too many childhood memories that take place in stores or malls or bazaars or markets or factory outlets.They are good memories.

And then I got married.

My husband and I lived below the poverty line for a good portion of our first few years of marriage. I did not get to shop a lot. My mom and I would still go shopping (her treat), but it became less of a regular thing and became a “when necessary” thing. When I did venture out to shop, my husband and I only looked at sales or clearance racks ONLY (out of necessity). To buy something at full price seemed really extravagant and wasteful. We might not be able to get something we LOVED, but we were able to get the things that we needed. We were being good stewards of our funds. Only buying what we needed and actively trying to get the best deal.

Then, my husband and I found a new church. It met in a downtown bar on Sunday evenings in Athens, GA. We walked in and they had little coffee carafes waiting on us. We grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down for worship. It was a good service and we found a few couples we knew afterwards and started talking. I distinctly remember one of the elders telling us about how the coffee was fair-trade.

The fair-trade terminology had been around a few years at that point. I knew Starbucks had a few fair trade blends and I knew there were some fair trade shops in town. But I also equated fair trade with EXPENSIVE and kind of useless. It wasn’t until we started regularly attending that church (who admittedly had a social justice vision) that I even knew what fair trade was. I was ignorant.

Fair trade can be defined as:
an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold
{Thanks, Wikipedia...which is not a valid source, but will do just fine for my purposes today}.

So, what that definition is basically saying is in the fair trade movement we pay a higher price to insure that certain social and environmental standards are being met - whether that is paying a living wage or creating sustainable practices within business.

Looking at it from that definition (which is a good one), at that time in my life I didn’t have access to buy many of these things labeled “fair trade.” Not only that, but these goods are by definition MORE expensive...and not NECESSITIES. So, thinking that it was merely a “social” movement, I just kind of put fair trade in the back of my mind. It was a great thing for other people to do, but it just was not a possibility for me.

But we kept going to our church and having conversations about social justice. We learned about International Justice Mission and began supporting them. and through IJM our eyes were pried open and we had to stare into the injustices of the world - the plight of widows in Uganda, the orphan crisis, the global sex trade, modern day slavery.

But wait! Hey, Lydia. Stop! We were gonna talk about shopping and maybe mani pedis and frilly pretty things.

But this is where shopping gets ugly. It's where shopping got ugly for me.

Because it’s basic economics, right? I mean, businesses want to make the most profit. So, they manufacture a shirt. Which means that there is a cost for making that shirt. Factor in hours of labor, materials, advertising, health insurance, rent,electricity, water, maybe dental (if you’re lucky), and a decent profit margin. We (as the smart and frugal consumer) walk into OLD NAVY and buy that same shirt on clearance for $3.99. And at $3.99 that company is STILL making a profit. And the numbers do not add up.

So you think - Well, clothing factories aren’t in the USA. Most of them are overseas where we can pay less dollars and people can still make a decent living because of currency exchanges and different standards of living, etc. etc.

And here is where I have to stop you and tell you:
That shirt that you bought for $3.99 is really worth $40 and the the difference wasn’t made up by Old Navy’s shareholders taking a cut to their quarterly earnings…

the difference was PAID by somebody having to SACRIFICE their human dignity.

The difference was TAKEN from someone’s worth.

The difference was STOLEN from someone.

And I’m sorry to say, that you and I can never look at that $3.99 shirt the same way again. 

{Until Tomorrow}


Conversations in the AM

Our little family has been making a point as of late to spend meal times at the table, together, talking....what a novelty. During the course of our married life, Hubs and I have gone through phases of how and where we eat. While Hubs was in law school we formed some very bad habits of spending most evenings on the couch, in front of a movie, eating quietly. What a shame. I think of all the wonderful conversations that we failed to have...all the iron sharpening iron moments that we missed out on. I am so glad that we are currently on an upswing.

Early morning conversations are another beast entirely. Neither of us having ever been too chatty in the AM. I'd like to think there was depth to them...but most of our morning conversations go a lot like this:

"WHY do you choose the alarm that sounds like a nuclear bomb has been deployed?!"

"I got up first last time...I get to sleep in today."


"Momma. Daddy. I peed in the hallway."


"I want pancakes for breakfast."

"My tongue hurts. Can I have some milk?"

(Loud Noise) "Ta-Da!!!!! It's me - the super princess girl!"

"Foggy? Foggy? Pa? Pa? Momma, get Foggy. Momma, get pa!"

"Up. Up. Up. Up." (pick child up) "Down. Down. Down. Down." (put child down)....repeat ad nauseum.

Happy Monday - I hope it is filled with many wonderful conversations.