Sunday, September 28, 2014

What I Learned from Doing Whole30

A Whole30 is a dietary plan where for 30 days, you eat nothing but eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, fish, spices and fats
(olive oil, coconut oil, and something called ghee, which is "clarified butter"). No grains, no dairy, no sugar, no sweeteners, no legumes, nothing processed and no baked goods made with "Whole30 foods".

Yes, it is as dreary as it sounds.  But actually it's not that bad.

And, just to get this out of the way, I did not follow this perfectly. In fact, I cheated A LOT.  In the following ways.

1) I ate all natural bacon/sausage that DID have some added sugar. No MSG or nitrates or anything like that, but yes to sugar.
2) I ate regular mayonnaise, instead of making my own. 
3) I went totally off the plan for any meal I ate out of the house (which was about 1 meal a week, except for 1 week where it was like 3 meals).  And I didn't follow it for my daughter's birthday dinner/cake. 
4) I did try to make "treats" using whole30 ingredients (see below for details).

Nonetheless, it was still a major and positive change.

What I ate:

Breakfast: eggs, and sausage or bacon (except on Fridays), fruit
Lunch: chicken or tuna salad with onions, lettuce, tomato and nuts along with some sorts of vegetable (roasted eggplant, sauteed mushrooms, roasted zucchini).  Or leftovers if we had any. 
Dinner: meat or fish, green vegetable and a starchy vegetable (potato, sweet potato, winter squash, carrots, spaghetti squash, etc.)
Snacks: nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, shredded coconut

What I Learned:

1) Eating is very much a social experience.  It is EXTREMELY hard to eat this way when eating out of the house.  Which is why I didn't, because I'm not about to isolate myself.  And, I figure that if 20/21 meals a week are whole and clean, that's pretty good.

2) Without dairy and grains, it is VERY hard to do meatless Fridays. Or at least, I feel the lack of meat more.  We ended up eating more fish, which *I* like, but no one else does.  Too bad for them. Actually I made a really good recipe with flounder breaded in coconut flour and everyone said it wasn't too bad.  And, as we eat more fish, I'm sure everyone will get accustomed to eating it more. 

3) Sugar/chocolate has a very powerful stronghold.  Which is why I ended up  making "treats" (mostly combining nuts, dates and cocoa powder to make little balls).  They are actually quite tasty. However, combining avocado, dates and cocoa is not nearly as good. I'm sure if I followed the plan "perfectly" it would have been easier to break the sugar/chocolate addiction.  However, to be honest, I don't really want to. Chocolate makes me happy. 

4) Eating this way is both very simple and very monotonous when you can't afford steak.  That's both good and bad. It's good in that portion control is much easier. It's bad in that can get boring in a chicken again...kind of way. I've had to learn how to cook new dishes, since a lot of our old favorites (pizza, tacos, macaroni and cheese) were out the window.

5) I generally felt very good eating this way..more energy for sure. The only issue is really with eating TOO many vegetables, all that fiber can be a bit rough on digestion if you know what I mean. And, I had less food cravings and less sugar lows and less feelings of being hangry (that's hungry/angry for those not in the know). And it's pretty much impossible to overeat, eating like this..which is probably the best thing about it.  I left each meal feeling satiated but not overly full. 

6). Weight loss.  I know this is what everyone is really interested in.  I did lose some weight.  Probably about 5-7 pounds over the course of the whole month.  Nothing spectacular, but nothing to sneeze at either.

7). Generally my food expenditure stayed about the same. From what others have written it seems as though some people have their food expenditure go down because they cut out eating out, alcohol and fancy coffee.  Some people have their expenditure go up because they are buying more meat/veggies. Mine pretty much stayed the same, although it would have probably gone up if we didn't have the generosity of my parents who supplied us with ample fresh organic vegetables from their garden each week.  That helped a lot. 

Moving Forward: I generally plan to continue eating this way on an 80/20 basis.  Follow the plan generally 80% of the time and deviate it from about 20% of the time for special or social occasions.  It's working, it's healthy and I think it's good for everyone.  I do think I may add in more legumes as many sources say they are healthy and I have never noticed them bothering me.  However, definitely going to keep the dairy/grains limited. 

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Why I Need A Goose for Monday and other Random Things

1. Remember how I was worried about Elsa's speech.  Well she seems to have picked things up a bit in the last few weeks and is now combining words..sorta.  She still isn't speaking in full sentences, but she has combined 2 or more words a few times. 

where baby
on ack-et (John, jacket)
Mommy, out.

She has even added a few phrases. "I don't know"... seems to be her current favorite phrase.  Probably because she hears it so much.

Me: "Where's your math book?" 
Kid: "I don't know."

Me: "Why is there cocoa all over the floor?"
Kid: "I don't know."

2. Thank you for all your prayers on our unemployment situation.  While still no job yet, there have been some positive signs that things may not be totally hopeless and even an interview scheduled in early October.  Keep praying friends. 

3. Is anyone else completely penny-wise and pound-foolish?  When we are watching our budget I tend to balk at buying simple things (like a can opener) but then somehow feel I NEED more expensive things (like vitamins or downfall).  It doesn't make sense, but it's the way my mind works until I finally breakdown and buy the darn can opener anyway. 

4. Speaking of things worth spending money on, if you homeschool and have a middle or high school student, I can't recommend enough the recorded classes from Homeschool Connections.  It has made my life SO.MUCH.EASIER.  Heidi is basically doing Spanish, History, Literature, Math and English all independently.  Independent work is the name of the game folks. 

5. Speaking of homeschooling, are you ready for another I've changed my mind post.  Everyone loves those, right?  When I first started homeschooling I was pretty much against all homeschool oversight, and now I'm generally in favor of it.  Not super stringent regulations, but enough. to help prevent educational neglect, which I now think IS real. Stay tuned for that future post coming.

6. So, in the interest of healthier eating, I've been trying to make healthier "treats" without any sugar at all.  You know, things like avocado cocoa balls sweetened with dates. can't be done.  I mean, it can be done but it probably shouldn't be.  

7. So, until I started reading Catholic blogs, I had no idea that the feast of Michaelmas (September 29) was even a thing.   But apparently it is, and a lot of people make it a BIG THING.  Which is kinda cool. But, I'm terrible at parties and celebrations and all that.  But maybe I should look for a goose and blackberries we can eat on that day.  Apparently there is an old British saying that goes like this.
“Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day,Want not for money all the year”.
 So...if you hear of any missing geese from the local duck pond..well I admit to nothing.

Now, go see Jen for more Quick Takes 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Reader Questions: Supporting the Unemployed and Non-Dairy Milks

I've had two readers ask questions recently, so I figured I would go ahead and answer them here in one big answering questions blog post.

Mary asked about how to helpfully support families who are going through unemployment, uncertainty or financial troubles.  

Well, Mary that's a good question.  One I actually had to think about quite a bit, because really there isn't that much one can do other than pray. I think the biggest things are just to be a supportive, listening ear and share whatever encouragement you can. Sharing your own story of unemployment or financial difficulty (once you are on the other side) can be helpful, but only if it is done in an encouraging way and not in a this is what you should do way. 

I suppose the other thing would be sensitive to their financial issues and suggest free get-togethers instead of those that cost money (ie. meeting at your house instead of at a restaurant). Or suggest going to a free park instead of a museum or zoo that has an admission fee.  

But, DO ask to get together with them. When one is dealing with a "crisis" it can be easy for them isolate themself. There is embarassment and other issues at play, so don't let your friends do that. Make an effort to reach out.

And, I know I always appreciate any kids' clothing anyone is willing to pass on (even when not dealing with financial hardship).  This is especially true for clothing that is more expensive to buy (like winter coats, boots, etc.).

Question #2

I was asked about grain and nut based milks.

First of all, I don't know too much about these, as I don't buy them, but I do view them with suspicion.

What we do in my house is that my babies/toddlers drink breastmilk until they are age 3 or so, and after that they may or may not drink milk, but I try not to make it a regular part of their diet. I have one child who is a big milk drinker, but the other ones not so much. Right now, the only milk I buy is regular, full-fat milk.  If we had more money I would buy organic, grass-fed milk, but I don't. 

I think the healthiest milk is raw milk from your own cows that have free range to graze around happily mooing at your from green fields filled with sweet clover.  I have neither a clover filled field nor a happy, mooing cow. Personally I would only drink raw milk from my own cow or a small farm I trust VERY WELL. Pasteurization was invented for a reason, ya know. 

Anyway back to nut and grain-based milks.  

I suppose they are useful for people who can't tolerate dairy and want to have some sort of milk-based drink to use in recipes, but I tend to think that they shouldn't be drunk in any great quantity.  

Keep in mind that animal milk is designed to be a perfect, whole, food and provide ALL the nutrition a young animal member of that species needs. So cow's milk is a complete, whole nutritious food for baby cows.  Of course we aren't cows, so it's not perfect for humans and some people can't digest it.  Personally, I'm a big fan of human milk for human kids, but, once a child is weaned, I generally think that cow's milk or goat's milk is going to be more nutritious than "milk" made from a nut or grain because animal milk is complete nutrition for baby animals while nuts or grains are nothing of the sort.

However, to talk about non-dairy milks on an individual basis.  

Coconut Milk: This is probably the healthiest if it is pure coconut milk.  Coconut milk is made by blending coconut meat with water, so it's basically just coconut and has all the nutritional properties of the coconut (which is pretty healthy).   The kind which is sold in a carton and sweetened is more processed and less healthy than if you make your own or buy canned.

Almond Milk:  If you  make your own, it isn't too processed but the kind you buy in the carton really isn't all that good for you.  Almond milk is made at home by soaking almonds and then grinding them up with water and straining out the remaining pulp. It takes A LOT of almonds to make a little bit of almond milk and really I wouldn't say that it's all that nutritious as it's probably better to just eat a handful of almonds. 

Rice Milk: This provides almost no nutritional value and is generally highly processed and sweetened. 

Soy Milk:  Need I even mention this?  Terrible stuff.  Highly processed and generally just overall bad for you. 

Hemp Milk: Again, you are getting into a highly processed and usually sweetened food.  Hemp protein does contain some nutrition so I would say this is better than rice milk.  And, it is best if you make your own (basically made by soaking hemp seeds and then grinding them with water and straining...very similar to how almond milk is make). 

Quinoa Milk: You can make this at home by cooking quinoa and blending with water.  It's going to be basically as nutritious as quinoa is. I haven't seen it in stores, but I imagine that in stores it's pretty processed and sweetened and not that great for you. 

My Opinion (which probably isn't worth much): If animal milk is not an option for you, I would use either coconut milk or make your own almond, hemp or quinoa milk. I would generally stay away from any processed milk that comes in a carton.  And I wouldn't really drink any of those milks...just use them in recipes that require milk.

So...those are my answers.  That was fun.  I love answering questions.  If you have any more questions just leave them in the comments (or email me) and I'll try to answer them. And, if I don't know the answer, I'll just make it up. ;)  

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Baby-Steps To Healthier Eating

Food matters y'all.  Everyone knows that right, everyone knows that what we put into our bodies effects how they function. 

But, that doesn't mean that eating healthy is easy.  It isn't. Things like lack of time and lack of money and lack of know-how get in the way. 

It takes a lot to change eating habits, and you don't get there overnight.  We eat a mostly whole foods diet, but we didn't always eat that way.  It took a lot of "baby steps" along the way to reach the point we are at now.  

I thought I would detail some of the steps I took along the way...and how I moved from more conventional eating to healthier eating.  Maybe it will help someone.

To start at the beginning, I did have an advantage in the healthy eating lifestyle.  When I was a kid, while all the other kids were eating Twinkies and Lucky Charms and marshmallow fluff Sandwiches, we had to eat stuff like homemade whole wheat bread, collard soup and home grown green beans.
Plus, we had to go out and weed the HUGE vegetable garden every day in the summer (I hated weeding!). 

However, once I left home, like your typical college student, I didn't eat well on dorm food, and then I fell down the low-fat, low-calorie rabbit hole where I thought diet Pepsi was the best thing ever.  It took many years to dig myself back up to a place where I would voluntarily eat collard soup again. 

So here 7 steps I took to get into a more wholesome eating lifestyle....and keep in mind that these steps took YEARS, to get me where I now am.  And, our diet still isn't perfect, we do enjoy treats and during times of travel or holidays healthy eating goes out the window. But the rest of the time, we try to stick to whole, clean, unprocessed, healthy foods.

1)  Eating vegetables every day at dinner. I started out with canned vegetables, then moved onto frozen vegetables before finally tackling fresh vegetables. It took a long time for me to be comfortable cooking or preparing fresh vegetables
on a regular basis, but now I find them some of the easiest things to cook. 
e 2) Avoiding certain ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, BHT, BHA and MSG, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, unpronounceable things, etc.

3) Learning to make everything from scratch...learning how to cook things like breads, yogurt, cookies, soups, sauces, salad dressings was the next step.  This sorta goes along with step 2, because to avoid all those "bad" things, you either need to spend a fortune at Whole Foods or learn to make everything yourself.  I chose making it myself. 

4) Adding in high-nutrient foods like bone broths, fermented vegetables, new vegetables (like avocado). 

5) Giving up gluten. Now obviously lots of people don't need to do this, but once I realized that gluten didn't agree with me, it was the kiss of death for processed food in our household.  No more crackers, cereals, pretzels..things I had held onto before were no longer a regular part of our pantry.

6) Following the perfect health diet (liming dairy, grains, sugar etc.)  After Elsa was born, I started following the Perfect Health Diet.  Not perfectly by any means, but it was an impetus to limit dairy and avoid certain grains, like corn, sugar, etc.  We always still allowed ourselves treats, but I no longer made these foods a regular part of our everyday diet. 

7) Trying Whole30.  I'm still in this right now, but this seems to be another step I needed to help me really clean up my diet.  I had gotten into the bad habit of stress-eating chocolate and cooking with too much cheese (which really isn't good for us) and eating too many carbs (like rice pasta which is pretty nutritionally defunct). We still eat those foods, but not in the same frequency or at the same quantities that we used to.

Keep in mind. This was NOT a linear progression.  There were LOTS of backwards steps and regressions...sometimes for things like pregnancy or a new baby or a move and sometimes just because life was extra stressful.  But one thing I've learned is any baby steps I make are positive, because even if we regress on them, it's a lot easier to get back into healthy eating once I know-how to do it. And, we still eat ice cream on Sundays and chips on occasion, but generally I try to follow the 80/20 rule.  If 80% of your diet is good, it's okay to eat junk food 20% of the time. 

(linking for 7QTF)  
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Would You Rather?

Did you ever play the "Would You Rather" game?

You know...where you ask would you rather have x thing or y thing happen.

We used to play it with my cousins.

Some of the questions were normal enough?

Would you rather be super tall or super short?

Would you rather be super good at art or at school?

Would you rather have a horse or a swimming pool?

But some of the questions were rather tragic.

Would you rather be blind or deaf?

Would you rather you husband died or your child?

Would you rather lose an arm or a leg?

It's a pretty terrible game because life doesn't work that way but it's tempting to think that it does.  It's tempting to think that because we are going through X terrible thing that Y terrible thing can't also happen. Or it's tempting to think that once we are no longer suffering from X than suddenly we will suffer from Y. 

Right now we are dealing with unemployment and financial worries and uncertainty about the future.  And, it is HARD, HARD, HARD. 

But, everywhere I turn, I see friends suffering from various health-related issues.  Both children and adults diagnosed with life-long chronic diseases, severe allergies, behavior issues, mental illness, unexplained illness, cancer, hormonal issues, extreme fatigue, chronic pain, hospitalizations, needed surgeries, asthma.  The list goes on and on. It seems as though almost every family has SOMETHING going on health-wise.

And. so far we don't.  So far, we have been fortunate to only have to deal with minor, acute illness or the occasional accident/broken bone thrown in there just to remind us why we do need health insurance. But nothing serious and nothing far. 

And that scares me.  Because I have this irrational fear that once we are no longer suffering from unemployment or financial issues that a health crisis will descent upon us like vultures on a decaying carcass.  I know it's irrational...because life doesn't work that way.

But that's the way my mind works.  I blame it on Would You Rather games as a child. Suffering from X doesn't protect us from Y and suffering from Y doesn't guarantee that we won't also suffer from X, Z and Q. 

Suffering is a strange thing and it's hard not to compare our trials to someone else's trials.  Some people seem to have lots of suffering and others not so much.  And what one person finds a major trial, another person might find to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

I will admit that I have this tendency to get irrationally annoyed at moms who complain about things like their husband working late or they have to do bedtime by themselves or that their kids wake up too much.  I forget that their trials are a real trial to them and that I've never walked in their shoes so I don't know what it's like. Everyone has their difficulties and their sufferings and fortunately we don't get to choose

Right now, I'm just trying to get through what we are dealing with right now and not worry about what might happen and not compare what I'm going through to what others are going through. Because everyone is going through something and we all just need to support each other as best as possible and not worry about whose suffering is worse or harder or more terrible.  
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

I'm definitely not a fashionista but I've learned a thing or two.

Or, this is my way of telling you about my new favorite wardrobe staple.  

The denim jacket. 

And, just to show you have much NOT a fashionista I am, I didn't even own one back in the 80's when they were first in style. 

But, I own two, now, and I love them.

And, I'm thrilled that it's been cool enough to wear them recently. 

They are super flattering and basically go with everything and work for all body types. 

They give that whole dressy-casual look which I love.  Looking pulled together enough to be well...pulled together.  But not so dressy that one looks overdressed or out of place. 

I got mine from ThredUp (if you are a first time buyer and click through my link you get $10 to spend and so do I!!!)

So, needless to say, one of my denim jackets showed up in today's What I Wore Sunday post!

This may be dorky, but I'm planning to wear my denim jackets all winter in lieu of a sweater or cardigan.  So, yes I would totally wear a jacket under a heavier jacket once it gets colder.   I never said I was a fashionista. And clearly I don't have a full-length mirror, because looking at this outfit, I'm not so sure I like the boots with it.   Probably should have taken the picture BEFORE we went out all day, instead of after getting home.

I still have a long way to  Which is why I'm still posting What I Wore Sunday.  Posting what I wear helps me figure it all out.  Thanks for reading!!

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

7 Quick Takes, Speech, Shoes, Bar and Viruses


Ben passed the Indiana bar exam!! We're very excited!  And very grateful that they posted the results on September 12th.  Last year when he took it in Virgina (and passed) we had to wait until October 31st to find out.


He's still job searching prayers would be appreciated.  Although we are hopeful that passing the bar will help him find a job easier.   


It got colder here today...highs in the mid-60's.  This is basically my favorite weather ever...except we are not prepared for colder weather and I need to somehow dig out all our cold weather clothes.  But, I LOVE the cooler weather like this.


It totally makes we want to take everyone and go hiking. 
Except Greta has a broken no hiking for her. 


I did dig out some of our colder clothes and found a pair of boots for Elsa.  Except now she wants to wear them ALL THE TIME. I mean ALL THE TIME.  Heaven forbid we take them off for anything (like to change her pants).  Cries of "boots, boots, boots, boots" until she gets them on again.  In stark contrast to the rest of my kids (who prefer to be discalced) this girl loves her shoes.  I forsee a very full closet in future years. 



I'm toying with getting Elsa evaluated for speech.  She's mostly fine and actually says lots of words, but isn't really combining words yet and a lot of her words only we understand (like she says "A-ah" for herself (Elsa).  I don't think she's that behind and she's pretty good at conveying what she wants across, but I think she might be a tiny bit behind.  Anyone has experience with early intervention or speech therapy for young kids.  Heidi was in speech therapy but she didn't start until she was older (over 4) and in hindsight I wish we had started her a lot younger.


So, I'm sure you've heard about the mysterious respiratory virus in the midwest that is landing numerous children in the hospital.  I'm trying to decide if I should be worried or not.  Well, obviously I shouldn't be worried, because worry  never changes anything.  Or so, my husband tells me (personally I'm not convinced).  Nonetheless it's probably wise to load up on Vitamin D, Vitamin C and immune-boosting herbs (like garlic).

 Go see Jen for more takes.  
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday Elsa Rose

Born  at home on September 11th, 2012..13 days before her due date after only 3 hours of labor.

And, hardest child.

Even though she is the 4th child, she has a lot of characteristics usually attributed to the first child.



Rule-Follower if she's following her own rules.

But, she's also sweet and cuddly and loving.

Elsa loves to draw.
A Future Renoir No Doubt
And read books.

And play with stuffed animals

And her new kitchen she got for her birthday (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!)

And wear fancy, clicky shoes

And her older brother's shirts

And band-aids...they have to be on each side.

She's not ready to wean anytime time soon.

She's not a big talker yet, but she's getting there.

And she's almost potty-trained.

Happy Birthday Elsa!!

Enjoy Your Big 0-2!!

We love you!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blood, Broken Bones and Poop

It's been an interesting last few days. 

Saturday Late Afternoon: We were at my parent's house and Greta comes in the house screaming bloody murder with a trail of blood following her.  And, I do mean bloody murder.  If someone was actually being murdered, I'm not sure that they could scream any louder or be any more hysterical than she was.  It took A LONG time, Charlotte's Web, and a Snickers bar to calm her down and find out what actually happened. Although it was quite obvious that it was her big toe that was injured...the copious amount of blood pouring out of it was a big clue.  We could clearly see the nail was barely hanging on, but she was too freaked out and there was too much blood to see much more.

Finally we got the story out of her and learned that she got it caught in the hinges of a porch swing.  Do you think this will teach my kids to wear shoes from now on???  Probably not. 

My mom called her Doctor friend and we texted him pictures.  He told us how to treat at home (peroxide, gauze, petroleum jelly and hibi clens) and not to worry about the toe nail as it will just fall off and grow back.  So we did.

Sunday Morning: We go to change the gauze and now that the bleeding has stopped we can see the huge gash on the side of her toe.  So, hi to the ER we go.  Well actually we went to Urgent Care first but they said it was so bad we had to go to the ER. Five hours, 1 X-Ray (yep, it was broken), 5 stitches, 1 tetanus shot, 1 orthopedic boot, 2 antibiotic shots (along with an antibiotic prescription) and a scary warning later about watching for dead tissue we went home.

Monday:  RIGHT before we were supposed to leave for our first day of homeschool coop, we notice that toilet is clogged. I mean really clogged.  As in, the plunger isn't cutting it clogged.

I don't think there is anything more panic-inducing other than having your ONE TOILET in your ONE BATHROOM be non-functioning when you live in a household of people with small bladders (the smallest of which is mine). 

So, with much reluctance, I pried myself away from trying to fix it and we had a nice time at our first coop.  Only to come home and have to face the epic toilet problem again. 

Much googling later, I was able to experience the fun of digging through poop again.  The last time I did that, I wore long gloves and the poop was still inside the cow.  This time, I made do with heavy duty trash bags, instead of gloves and the poop was on the bottom of the toilet.  I had to unscrew it from the floor, lift it up and clear it out from the bottom. I'm unsure, but I think the culprit was some sort of cloth thing.

Yes, I did that.  All by myself!!!! But when your bladder is screaming, you can do amazing things! 

It.was.disgusting...but it saved us an emergency plumber call and we got a functioning bathroom again. And what with all the cleaning stuff I used afterwards, the bathroom hasn't been that clean in awhile. So there is that. 

Thankfully, so far today has been uneventful.  Well, except for the $119 the doctor's office charged us to look at her toe for all of 1 minute and say "It looks good, come back in a week to get the stitches out."  So, no scary tissue loss, thankfully. 

Hope your weekend was NOT as interesting as mine. 

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Friday, September 5, 2014

The Limitations of Science

You can learn a lot from a 7th grade science textbook 

This year Heidi is taking a general science class, and since it's the beginning of the year, the beginning of the science book talks about general sciencey-stuff.
 The history of science, the scientific method, and the limitations of science. 

That's one thing I don't remember ever learning...the limitations of science.  Do you know what they are??

Well, it depends on who you ask, really. 

According the College of Dupage the 3 limitations of science are
1) Science can't answer questions about value,
2) Science can't answer questions about morality.
3) Science can't answer questions about the supernatural.

All that is very true of course. 

However, according to Heidi's science textbook the 3 limitations of science are

1) Science can't prove anything. 
2) Science is not 100% reliable
3) The constraints of the scientific method.  

Why do I bring this up?  Most of my readers are probably moms or other women who have no desire to go back to science class.  

I bring it up because I am a scientist. I've conducted scientific trials.  I'm very familiar with the scientific method and how to read a scientific article and how to conduct a scientific trial. That is what my education is in.  I have a Bachelor's of Science in Animal Science and a Master's of Science in Reproductive Physiology of Dairy Cows.

I'll let you stop laughing actually CAN get a degree in that.  A mostly useless degree (unless you are a dairy farmer) but a degree you can frame and hang on your wall and everything. 

The reason I bring this up is because there seems to be some controversy about faith and science and reason lately. 

As some of you know, we use a lot of natural remedies. That's doesn't mean we are anti-Western medicine by any means.  Not at all.  We do see traditional doctors should the need arise.  But it also means that I'm likely to try to alternative means of healing an ear infection before using antibiotics and I'm likely to use vitamins and herbs to treat the common cold (with great success, I might add).  

Some people seem to find this confusing.
 They don't understand how someone with a scientific background or degree could use "unproven remedies". 

But, let's go back to the limitations of science. 

Science can't prove anything.  Science is not 100% reliable. 
The constraints of the scientific method. 

Science can't prove anything.  That means that anyone who says "X is proven safe" is wrong. This also means that anyone who says "X is proven unsafe" is wrong. Anyone who says that "It is proven that X causes Y" is wrong. Likewise, anyone who says "It is proven that X does NOT cause Y" is wrong.

All we can say is "Currently studies shows that....blah, blah, blah"

This DOESN'T mean science is worthless. Science is a wonderful thing. It just means that it's not 100%.

Some people seem to treat science like an infallible god...they seem to forgot all the numerous ways scientific thought has changed over the years.  A good scientist questions everything and takes NOTHING for granted.  All scientific thought is open to refute.   History is full of examples of scientific facts changing. Just think of poor Pluto, the former planet.   

Furthermore, science is constrained by the scientific method.  I believe that constraint is especially important in the area of health and medicine.  Why? Because you can never design a perfect scientific trial using people (or animals).  Everyone's body is different.  People have different genetics and different health histories and different diets and different strengths or weaknesses in their bodies.  

We all know this.  

Sally, Suzy, Sam and Stefan all have depression. With the help of a pharmaceutical Sally is able to lead a normal happy life.  With the help of dietary changes and nutritional supplements, Suzy is able to lead a normal happy life.  Sam is helped by a different pharmaceutical than that which helps Sally and Stefan is helped by different dietary changes or supplements than those that help Suzy. 

We all know that the same treatment doesn't always affect everyone the same way. 

We all know that the same foods don't affect everyone the same way. 

Little Timmy can drink milk every day of his life and be totally happy.  While if little Tommy drinks milk he gets stomachaches. And, little Tiffany can drink milk as long she doesn't have too much, but if she does, her little digestive system protests.

Three different kids...three different outcomes. 

This is why scientific trials involving and health and medicine and treatments are so tricky.  There is so much room for error because no two people are the same. That's not to say that they are worthless.  They are the best we have, and they are pretty darn good at that, but it does mean that nothing is proven and nothing is 100% reliable. 

So what's my point? 

We should all extend a little more grace to each other if other people choose different health paths than we do.  

I've tried chiropractic care. It didn't do anything for me. Mainstream science doesn't really support it.  But that doesn't mean I'm going to pooh-pooh it and say it's worthless.  
If YOU find benefits from chiropractic care, that's great.  And, if you find benefits from pharmaceutical medicine, that's great.  And, if I find benefits from certain herbs and eating gluten-free, that's great for me.  We should all respect each other's health choices, because we are all different, and we all respond a bit differently to different things.

Maybe you feel just wonderful eating a typical American diet.  Maybe the person next to you, loves her vegan diet and feels awesome on that.  And maybe the person on the other side feels awesome eating Paleo.  That's okay.  It's important to respect each other's health and dietary choices, because no matter what anyone says, no one really knows the best way to eat or the best way to treat disease or pain. 

For just about every study you find that says X, you can probably find another study that says Y. I think ESPECIALLY in areas of health and medicine, we need to extend more grace and understanding to each other.  No one way is proven because science can't prove anything and there are an awful lot of conflicting scientific studies (even properly conducted ones) out there.  

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day! Things NOT to Say to Those who Don't Labor (The Unemployed and Underemployed)

Happy Labor Day!

Labor day is a bit of a difficult holiday for me, as we are still struggling with finding a job. It's been a long, difficult road and one we've been down before. 

Dealing with unemployment is discouraging and depressing and all sorts of horrible. It's easy to be filled with self-doubt and self-questioning and there are difficult decisions to be made.

As the days/weeks/months go by, it gets harder and harder.  Not only are there financial worries, but it's easy for depression and discouragement to sink in. The uncertainty of the future can be pretty unsettling.

Sometimes the well-meaning words of friends or family only add to the difficulty. 

Here are the top worst things people have said to us about being unemployed or underemployed.

1). In my experience, the faithful Catholic families seem to find jobs right away after graduation because God takes care of them.   To be fair to the person who said this, they said it to me while my husband was still in his first year of law school, so they had no idea what the future would hold.  But still..those words still haunt me.  Still. And, that was almost 4 years ago. 

2). Focus on finding a place to settle and the job will follow. 
And when it doesn't? Last year we spent a year living in an area we didn't want to live for a job my husband didn't really want and it was HARD. When that job ended, we moved to a place we want to live but are still waiting for a job.  Both situations are HARD and it's a tough, tough decision. 

3.) So and so and so and so and so and so (in the same profession) is having a hard time finding a job too. This is just not encouraging, it's just not.

4) You can always start your own business.  No, no you can't.  Some people are entrepreneurial and do fine with starting their own business.  And some people aren't. Being a business owner is NOT for everyone.  It's just not.  (edited to add...It also costs a lot of $$$) And making it sound easy is not helpful. 

5). You should do x.  Advice like this usually isn't helpful. Usually we know what we should be doing and are trying to do it.

6.) Pray x novena. We've prayed dozens of novenas and still nothing.  Prayers are not like a lucky charm or magic spell and saying things like "so and so prayed x novena and on the 9th day was offered a fabulous job" treats it like such. It doesn't work that way. Not to say that prayer can't help or that it's worthless, but don't treat it like a magic spell to get whatever you need.

And that's all my venting for now. 

Happy Labor Day!

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