6

It starts next Monday!  LENT and our adventures with our first Whole30.

If you are unsure of what a Whole30 is, I'll explain, but you can read LOTS more here at wpid-IMG_20140225_093916_387.jpgthe Whole30 Website!  This program was started by the folks over at Whole9 - Dallas and Melissa Hartwig - authors of It Starts With Food.

Melissa and Doug started the Whol30 program back in April of 2009  as a way for 30 days to strip all food groups (sugars, grains, dairy, legumes) that have a negative impact on our health without us necessarily being aware of such.  I learned about this program when I became introduced to the Paleo Diet and read their book- which I must say is a book I highly recommend as it really explains the reality of these foods and how they affect our bodies in pretty basic and understandable terms for the layman.   As you may be aware, our family is Orthodox Christian....so as we have been experimenting with the Paleo Diet and seeing the differences it is making within us, I have been grappling with what on earth to do when Lent comes around....  It is Orthodox Tradition to abstain from all animal products during the 6 weeks of Lent and Holy Week - the week before Pascha (Easter).  I struggled with this until speaking with our priest.  He set me straight in realizing that our health comes before the standard rules of the fast....and there is certainly more to the fast and preparation for Pascha than abstaining from meat.  So for this year at least, we have his blessing to follow the Whole30 for an extended period of time in lieu of the typical fast.  Of course, doing this during Lent is all the more reason to STICK to it and not even THINK about straying from the plan!

So .....  What does it entail?

For the 6 weeks of Lent and Holy Week (an extra week) we will be avoiding the following foods that will help our bodies regain a healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation and discover how much these foods may be impacting our health...and determining which we might still want to keep in our diet as a daily, weekly, monthly routine or NOT AT ALL.....

  • no sugar of any kind..... no artificial either (of course, we don't do this anyway) - no sugar includes honey, stevia, maple syrup, etc.
  • no alcohol
  • no grains
  • no legumes (this includes beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, etc and all forms of soy) - the only exception is that green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are allowed if you desire as while they ARE technically a legume, they are more 'pod' than 'bean' and green plant manner is generally healthy.
  • No dairy (well at least that's SOMETHING that's part of our normal Lenten fast)
  • No white potatoes (or red or purple or gold....you get the point...- sweets are allowed!)
  • No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites (This is a no brainer for us...we avoid the MSG and sulfites completely anyway and usually swerve from carrageenan - frankly I'm surprised that's all they list...  there's so many hidden ways of hiding MSG...most people wouldn't know this...)
  • No desserts or junk foods even if made with "approved" ingredients...in other words, avoid replicating junk food for the 30 days -   I'm still making my son his birthday cake for his birthday...  it may be gluten-free - and my husband and I won't eat it but my boys can...
  • No stepping on the scale or taking body measurements during the program - this is to help you realize it's not about weight loss (though lots of participants experience it)- it's about focusing on health and lifelong benefits...

So what shall we eat?

3 meals a day - each containing a protein ( Ruminants- a.k.a. beef, buffalo, lamb, elk, venison, etc.. - Poultry, Pork, Eggs, Seafood and yes, even processed meats IF they are organic or 100% grass fed with no added sugars or sulfites, nitrites, MSG, etc.), LOTS of vegetables, and a healthy fat.

We are allowed fruit in moderation with our meals.

We are not supposed to snack between meals if we can at all help it.... they say if you get hungry between meals it's because you didn't have enough protein or healthy fat with your meals to tie you over.

We are allowed Ghee - which is clarified butter as it does not contain the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter which could impact the results of the program.

We are allowed limited amounts of fruit juice as a sweetener within a recipe.  LIMITED

We are allowed vinegar as long as it doesn't contain added sugar or malt vinegar as that usually contains gluten.

I've started my meal planning.  I've used our favorites from these great cookbooks!

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I've bought some 100% Paleo snacks to have on for my husband's work meals and to have on hand for those 'just in case' moments.  My husband works 12 hour schedules and can not always sit down to a meal....so we've planned.  He'll take things like salads that contain a serving of protein and a healthy fat (avocado or guacamole, salad dressing made with olive oil, or a handful of healthy nuts).  But he'll also have Lara Bars that are paleo (not all are...we have to read labels!), RxBars, and Chomps Snack Sticks to have in his locker at work JUST IN CASE he forgets to take his food with him!  So at least if he doesn't get a meal in, it's at least REAL food he's eating and doesn't have to starve or give in to a food that's not allowed.

I'll have those things in my purse too in case we get stuck somewhere unexpectantly - traffic or something.

My son is 15 - and while he wants to support us in our decision - especially Dad as it may help him lose some weight - and has an understanding that it really is healthier,  he's not thrilled as you may imagine.  We are making some exceptions for him and our toddler.  They will not be limited in snacking - but it will be Paleo foods only.  They will be allowed all the fruit they want for snacks as long as they are eating protein and healthy fats too.  I've also consented to allowing my teenager gluten-free pancakes 1x a week.... on SATURDAY....NOT a school day.  I really want to see if eliminating added sugars from his school days might make a difference in his attention and focus with school stuff.  And if he's at a friend's place.... he doesn't have to follow the Whole30 strictly.  That shouldn't happen too often so we should still be able to see a difference in the school week.

During the last two weeks, we will be adding the foods from the 'Not Allowed" list to try them out and see if and how they affect us.... one food for 3 meals for one day every three days....   in this order :   dairy, grains, wheat, legumes

So That's the plan....  It starts next Monday - so maybe I'll post weekly to let you know how it's going along with our menu plan and maybe a couple of recipes.

WISH US LUCK!  🙂  We are exited.....but a teensy bit scared too!

3

So my family is planning on doing a Whole 30 in about a month or so.  I'm taking lots of time to plan this thing because I do not want to fail. Plus, it's the whole family ... not just one of us.

A Whole 30 is about taking 30 days (or more) to feed your body only what gives it true nourishment.  It is not a 'diet'.  It is 30 days of being good to and taking care of your body with REAL food and real food only in order to help  reach ultimate health.   It's 30 days of no cheating, no putting anything on your fork or lips that causes anything negative to occur in the body.  To read more extensively what I mean by this, read It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig or visit the Whole30 program at the website.

Essentially, for 30 days our family (our daughter is not participating as she will be away at school and our sons will have accommodations made) will:

- Attempt to eat 3 meals a day (hard for my husband since he has a wacky work schedule but he will do this on days off) - all of which will contain a protein ( quality meats and/or seafood), LOTS of vegetables, and a healthy fat (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, ghee).

- Will NOT be eating ANY - not a speck - of the following:

  • dairy(ghee is the only exception)
  • legumes
  • wheat or ANY other grain
  • SUGAR of any kind....not natural or artificial -  the only exception would be very minute amounts of apple or orange juice in recipes...you know, like maybe a teaspoon in a meal that will feed 4...
  • No white potatoes
  • No MSG, carrageenan or sulfites  -  that's the only truly easy one for us since we don't consume those anyway!
  • no alcohol of any kind
  • no snacking between meals -  if we are hungry between meals it means we are not eating enough at mealtime and need to do better with amounts at those meals.

Our challenge during the Whole30 is to focus on making good food choices. There's no need to weigh or measure (Not even of ourselves - no stepping on the scales allowed during the 30 or so days)no  need to count calories (my husband and I learned that a long time ago - calories mean nothing.  The biggest part of this challenge will be figuring out how to   stick to the Whole30 in any setting, around every special circumstance (even if we go away from home!)for 30 straight days(or more).

So for 30 days we need to  eat Good Food.  The only way the Whole30 will work is if we  give it the full thirty days: "no cheats, slips, or “special occasions.” The  idea is to not ingest any amount of any of these inflammatory foods to break the healing cycle— not one bite of pizza, not one splash of milk in my tea and no hot chocolate during my writing time  (  🙁  )  not even taste of someone else's cookie within the 30 day period. For the program to do what it sets out to do, we must commit to the full program, exactly as written.

It's not going to be easy.

So..... this is my first post of what I'm sure will be plenty.  I am planning.  My husband and I are going to follow it 100%.  My son will follow it about 95%....  I'd love to see the results of 100% for him...but he's 15-  and I know many Dallas and Melissa followers would say - it's not a whole 30 if you don't do it all the way -  but I think this will still be a dramatic decrease of sugars in all forms for him and I'm betting it will STILL make a difference even if it's not the full program.    And my little guy - well he eats what we eat.  We'll just play that one by ear but I don't foresee any problems.

So the planning....

I'm looking through cookbooks and previous menus and all sorts of menus online.  My goal right now is to load up the menu with EASY and tasty meals so we can be totally prepared.  I'm also searching the web for any Whole30 approved snacks/easy to take along foods so that we are not caught without a backup.  Snacks are not to be daily things but my husband will need Whole30 Approved  things at work and I in my purse for those unplanned times where we are not home for meals as planned.

So.......   anyone out there do a Whole30 before?  Any ideas or suggestions on simple tasty meals or especially those easy backup plans would be great!  I  already know one weekend will be difficult because we will be away for a weekend with no kitchen access.  It is highly doubtful anything offered will be Whole30 Approved so we need a way to have 3 meals a day in our rooms without being able to cook anything!  HELP WANTED!!

Stay tuned for more....  🙂

2

Who doesn't love books?

Okay, I realize there are a few but those are just crazy people....lol... actually, I believe  those people were just  never given the right books!  My true passion for books started with this one:

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I read lots of books before that...true...but my need to devour a book began with Nancy Drew.  I polished this one off in two days and I was only in 2nd grade!  I later devoured many more and I plan to devour quite a few this year.  I thought I'd share my plan for books with you for 2014....   I touched upon it in my New Year's Resolution post...  but since then I've made a list and updated my photo for the blog with the books I'm currently reading or plan to read in the upcoming year.  They are not ALL on the shelf yet, obviously...  I haven't yet purchased all of the Newberry Medal books yet and I hope that I will add more as the year goes on.  But here is what's on the shelf so far:

NEWBERRY MEDAL BOOKS: 

  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman*
  • Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz*
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  • Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
  • Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
  • Carry On Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
  • ?  still deciding....
  • ?  still deciding
* They are not in the picture because I haven't purchased them yet!

HOMESCHOOL SOURCES:

  • Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Englemann - I've read the parts I need to 'read' but we are still using it for the exercises so I don't count it as totally completed yet!
  • Exploring America by Ray Notgrass -  Reading Book #2 with my son for school
  • Laying Down The Rails - Sonya ShaferThe Early Years - Shafer & Smith
  • All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar  &  The Books and Things Seminar - DVDs and workbooks presented by Simply Charlotte Mason
  • When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper

THE WRITING CRAFT:

  • Writing Picture Books: A Hands on Guide From Story to Creation by Ann Whitford Paul
  • 2014 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market
  • A Family of Readers - The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature
  • Honey For A Child's Heart - The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life  (this one easily falls into the Homeschooling category as well as A Family of Readers)

ORTHODOXY:

  • The Orthodox Study Bible - yes, I've already read it 🙂  But the bible is a daily must no matter how many times one has read it,
  • The Faith by Clark Carlton
  • Inner River: A Pilgrimage to the Hart of Christian Spirituality by Kyriacos C. Markides
  • The Open Door by Frederica Mathewes-Green
  • 2014 Daily Lives, Miracles and Wisdom of the Saints (Fasting Calendar by The Orthodox Calendar Company)

FOOD/NATURAL HEALTH:

  • The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
  • The Coconut Miracle by Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D.
  • It Starts With Food by Dallas & Mellissa Hartwig - I've read this before but I have a feeling I'll be reading it again...it was that good and packed with great information.
  • ??  More to be Determined!

OTHER FICTION:

  • Dr. Sleep by Stephen King  ***  I couldn't let this one go by, no matter how many other books I'm reading!  It's the sequel to The SHINING....my first Stephen King book that I ever read!
  • Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff - a Newberry Honor Book
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson  -  sadly it's not in the picture because it doesn't come out until January 7th.... but I should be getting it delivered that day!!
  • Glimpse - the debut novel by Kendra  Leighton... apparently based on the epic poem, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes... this book is due out in August.
  • The Red Badge of Courage (my son is reading this one this year and I never have)
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck (Another my son is reading)
  • The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway (And another)
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare (My son's first Shakespeare - wish us luck!)
  • Others, if time, To Be Determined.....

PICTURE BOOKS:

  • No current list made.... I'm sure there will be tons....  at the very minimum we go to the library every 2-3 weeks and get at least 12-15 books..... that should involve a lot of reading!

What's on Your bookshelf to read?

7

It has occurred to me that a lot of people don't eat real food. In fact, they eat a lot of fake stuff.

 Those are sort of bold statements, I know.  I know a lot of people will argue with me.  I don't mean to offend. Really I don't.  But I've done a lot of reading on this subject and experimenting and this is my conclusion.  I'd like my readers to take a few minutes and think about this. 
DO you eat FOOD?  Or...do you eat food PRODUCTS?
REAL Food
Processed Foods
Well, first---- what exactly IS food?
The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary lists the following definitions for Food:
1
a:  material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy; also:  such food together with supplementary substances (as minerals, vitamins, and condiments)

b:  inorganic substances absorbed by plants in gaseous form or in water solution
2
:  nutriment in solid form
3
:  something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies <food for thought>
Wikepedia writes this:

Food is any substance[1] consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.

Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture. Today, most of the food energy consumed by the world population is supplied by the food industry.

Whoa!  What??? supplied by the food industry???  INDUSTRY??  Somehow I don't think they are talking about Old MacDonald down the road with his grass-fed cows, organic lettuce and apples....  While farmers fall under the primary sector for industry, note they are comparing industry of today to the gathering methods and agriculture of yesterday. This is where the problem lies.

Real food should nourish your body WITHOUT causing health problems.  Just as the definitions above state, food should sustain and  has the ability to repair the body.  Doritos don't heal your body.  Neither do Twinkies. Real food should come from Old MacDonald's farm, not the big industry that processes his produce and puts it into a Campbell's soup can laden with preservatives and additives and MSG that I've talked about in my post The Truth About MSG. Real food doesn't come with an ingredient label.

Douglas and Melissa Hartwig talk about what food is and what your standards for real food should be in their book It Starts With Food.  The standards we should have for real food, according to Melissa and Doug, are that foods we eat should promote a healthy psychological response (obviously MSG does not do that), a healthy hormonal response (dairy products pumped full of antibiotics and hormones will not do that), support a healthy gut, and support immune function and minimize inflammation.

You will not meet these food standards if you are consuming processed foods each day.  You will not reach optimal health. You are bound for health problems.  You will not feel the best  you can feel.

Now don't get me wrong.  It's not that you won't find ANY ingredient labels in my kitchen.  I'm not perfect.  I am human and I do like the occasional fast treat.  But my labels are minimal compared to the other foods in my kitchen. The majority of my grocery cart is filled with produce and grass-fed or organic meats and wild caught fish.   I'm encouraging you, for the nourishment and health of your body, to lower the amount of processed foods that come with ingredient labels into your home.  And, if you do bring those items into your home, read the ingredients, ponder over them... minimize the ones you buy with artificial ingredients and minimize how many of them you bring into your home and consume each day.  You don't have to do it overnight (though your body would later thank you)...but try to improve.

Challenge yourself. 

Buy a couple more vegetables this week.  Buy a couple less processed snacks and grab a bag of organic apples or a bag of nuts instead. Start your day out with some free-range chicken eggs and sautéed vegetables instead of a bowl of processed cereal. Make your own soup instead of opening a can.  What are you going to do to strive to eat more read food instead of more food products??

 Be well  🙂

3

"Your genetic history is not necessarily your destiny."                   ~ Tana Amen  B.S.N.,  R.N.

Epigenetics.

I am fascinated by this.

I am new to the term but not the concept.  My husband and I came to the conclusion, after the research that we've done over the past 7 years or so, that genetics was not what it was cracked up to be. We no longer believe that just because a disease runs in a family, one is certain to get it.  That doesn't mean we don't think it's possible...but we believe that other factors come into play and that these 'genetic' or 'hereditary' diseases are preventable.  Now I have a word for it.

I first ran across the word in The Omni Diet.  And then again in It Starts With Food.

It turns out this term has been around since 1942 when the word was coined by Conrad Waddington, a developmental biologist and geneticist. So perhaps I've come across this word before -  but it didn't sink in before now.

Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression which is  not caused by changes in the DNA sequence.  It is the coming together of your genes with your environment. While we are all born with a particular genetic code, our environmental input including diet, exercise, sleep patterns, emotional stress, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, air quality, exposure to chemicals, etc. affects whether certain aspects of that code are switched to the 'on' position.  In other words, one can carry a gene but that doesn't mean the gene has to be ignited or become active.

So the old term "you are what you eat" really does bring truth since the relationship between environment (the food you eat) and chemical compounds that make up the epigenome is intertwined and continual.  It determines whether your genes are expressed as health or in illness.  You will not develop heart disease, bipolar disorder or Parkinson's disease because your father or your mother did. It takes the combination of your genes with your environment to bring on this chain reaction.  Therefor, as Tana Amen states in her book, The Omni Diet, "Your genetic history is not necessarily your destiny".   

Furthermore, YOU are in control of many of these factors!  YOU determine what food you eat, your exercise level, your consumption of drugs and alcohol, whether you buy organic vs. conventional produce which strongly affects the number of chemicals your body ingests, and more!

Online Resources:

The Epigenome NoE

DNA Isn't Everything 

Why Your Genes Don't Determine Your Health

Summary of the Whole 30 - It Starts With Food

**  Just to note.  The resources and links I give you are for your information.  I do not receive any monetary benefits from telling you about them.

3

It has been forever since I have written here. So this may be long, seeing as a certain little man is not here to interrupt, nor are the other men in my life, nor my daughter.... I have taken advantage of my husband and son being away at a conference to ask our dear sweet neighbor to take my little one for several hours today so that I could have some 'me' time. And what I miss the most about 'me' time is being able to just read or write uninterrupted. I catch a little reading time here and there, so at this moment I'm going to make a cup of tea and WRITE. It's not enough time to start any fiction writing.... but I can at least start catching up here.

So..... Where to begin??

HOMESCHOOL

My daughter is not here this year. She is at IUP doing incredibly well. I am really proud of her. She seems to be adjusting well and enjoying college life for the most part. I am happy with that she still texts and calls home sometimes though sometimes I feel horribly guilty for not being able to talk to her the way I'd like when she calls because, unfortunately, life goes on here at home....

My son has started his 9th grade year, his first year of high school here at home. He is having a hard time adjusting to all the reading required and balancing that between scouts, hunting, and all the things he likes to do (distractions) through the day but still doing very well. We've made some adjustments. I will be reading his history lessons to him for awhile and verbally doing the questions with him to help save time in the day and my husband downloaded his biology onto his Audible account ( I got the account for my husband for his birthday and he LOVES it.... has been 'reading' a lot!) so that he can listen to it as he reads, enabling him to go faster. He's a good reader as far as comprehension goes, but is a bit slow. So hopefully, these two adaptations will help shorten his school days.

My smallest is too young for official school. He's only 3 1/2 but is incredibly smart. I have been investigating the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling for him. We spend LOTS of time reading. He knows his alphabet (has known it since before age 2) and a lot of sounds and about 7 'sight' words. He can count to over 50, including one to one correspondance, and has an incredible imagination. (I just wish it would turn off at 7 when bedtime arrives!)
I'm having fun with him.... just wish I had more time in the day to give him more attention.

FOOD

Food is a big part of our lives. Really, it's not about food but about HEALTH.
We gave up artificial ingredients a long time ago.... things like MSG (total poison), artificial dyes, flavors, preservatives, etc. We moved closer to more whole foods and more natural ingredients. Though the more I studied the more I realized that even a lot of those things we were trying to convince ourselves were natural, just weren't. So lately, my husband and I (and kids much to their dismay) have been getting further and further away from those processed, so called 'natural' food items...even the organic ones and coming closer and closer to real food... truly what God created. Most of what we eat falls under the Paleo diet plan, which isn't really a diet but a way of life. Some call it Primal. Whatever one calls it, it gets one away from the grains that causes inflamation leading to so much horrible disease (probably if you are reading this and suffer from anything thats not 100% health, grains play a really big factor in that whether you realize it or not). I admit, I started looking into it because of my hairdresser. (strange that I've even started seeing a hairdresser that I actually talk to.... still a bit of an introvert here) But she and I started talking about her lifestyle and I thought...hmmm... wonder if this would work for my DH to lose weight? So I started reading..... and reading... and wow, read some more. So the first books she recommended was The Paleo Diet by Robb Wolf and the Omni Diet by Tana Amen. I don't know if I'd recommend Robb Wolfs book to anyone.... he came off as rather super sarcastic and I'm not sure that if I wasn't really really super interested by the things I heard and read about Paleo eating that I would have kept up with it. I wasn't really offended by Mr. Wolf's writing, but could imagine that others might be.... Anyway, the book was very informative if you could get past his higher than mighty attitude. I really liked the Omini Diet book. It was very informative as well. But then I stumbled upon IT STARTS WITH FOOD by the creaters of the Whole9 website, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.
WOW. Great book. I'm sure to read it again and again. It's a wonderful book and program that has truly cured many many many people from all sorts of illnesses, including diabetes, bipolar and immune disorders and so many others. And I want to do the Whole30 program... just not yet. It may drive my son bonkers. Anyway, the food plan addresses the importance of really good animal protein, stressing to strive towards as organic as possible and understanding that some people can't so explaining what to eat if one can't get the best quality meat sources. The Whole30 program also addresses what to do if you are vegan though they state outright that they don't feel one can achieve total health if vegan. But they were not cocky about it at all. So we are eating a lot of meat, lots and lots of veggies, a little fruit and avoiding grains and most legumes. We are not there 100%. I still have quite a few perogies out there in the freezer and I am not willing, at least at this point, to make life any more difficult for friends and family that like to feed us. We already have to ask these people to cook without artificial stuff that actually causes us allergic reactions now... I can't further complicate and say, Oh, by the way, we won't eat your bread, your rice, your lasagne, your...... yeah, you get it, right? So we are eating it a little here and there... a couple times a month in smaller quanitities, to make sure if we can, that we can tolerate small portions without getting sick. At least that's the plan.

The results? Well, we've done this for about 6 weeks. My DH has lost, last checked, about 16 pounds or more 🙂 and is feeling a lot better! I've lost about 6.... I don't really care if I lose... I just don't want to gain anymore. But I feel really good. I have energy! I have started exercising again and actually have the energy to do it. I'm sleeping better. I feel less achy. There's no swelling in places I was starting to feel some, like my fingers, etc. I could go on but this is pretty long already. I'll save it for another day when I update this again... hopefully it will be a LOT sooner!!!

By the way.... this is not another LOW CARB DIET!!!!! I can't stand when people count calories, carbs, fat, etc. It's not about that!!! It's about eating good quality food that gives the body nutrients and doesn't cause inflamation or other problems. We don't count carbs. We don't care what vegetables we eat or stay away from fruit. While we try not to make white potatoes a staple anymore and know that berries are the better fruit, we will not say no to those things or worry about counting the carbs if we do. We eat a large variety of vegetables! I tried parsnipst the other day....mashed... we prefer mashed cauliflower...but hey, they weren't bad.

Anyway, enough about that for now... other than if this continues working, and I highly suspect it will, I have no idea what to do about fasting and Great Lent!!!!

FAITH

In Eastern Orthodoxy, we fast from animal products for the entire duration of LENT. This means most of our protein comes from legumes! Which is one major thing we avoid now.... hmmmmm..... well, we are not there yet. The Fast is not supposed to center so much on the food as growing spirtiually so maybe our Spiritual Father will give us some guidance if we sit and talk with him. Though my spiritual father is different than my husband's who is our parish priest.... but we'll probably just talk to him. We can use seafood.... but I know that a varied animal protein diet is important.... but I can't drive myself crazy about that yet. For now, we use fish and seafoods on Wed and Friday which are days we always fast all year.

I'm doing better spiritually. I had a really really hard time with it spiritually after the miscarriage last year. It's been a year. It's been a really long year. It's been such a very very incredibly long year. Full of struggles in so many ways. But things are better. I can at least pray now with my heart in it. I'm not where I was before that... or maybe I'm stronger in some areas and weaker in others? I don't know... but it's a day to day challenge but I guess that's what it is supposed to be.

Miscellaneous

Well, what else is new? My DH thinks I'm paranoid. (Wait? Is that new? lol) There was a murder that took place about ten miles from our home a few weeks ago. This brought back lots of old feelings of 'paranoia' or nervousness about being home alone (without husband), locking doors, safety, etc. that I know stem from an experience I had as a young college student in my home one summer. Without going into details, let's just suffice it to say that I think waking up with a strange man in your room once is enough to call this extreme caution and not paranoia. Okay, maybe the first week of the murder was paranoia.... but I have moved back into a much calmer sense of mind now and I would just call it cautious. They may have the lady in custody now...not for murder though (yet) for something else... but it wasn't really ever about just thinking that particular lady was going to come and kill me too.... it was about awareness. It was "oh, yeah, just because we live in this beautiful low crime area does NOT mean it can't happen and yes, we really should lock all the doors and windows at night and we should take precautions". My DH thinks locking the dog door at night is overdoing it. (though he thinks we need a handgun... which I have considered but can't get past the saftey issues regarding the little guy). So yes, I lock the dog door. Sue me.

Let's see... what else? I'm trying to keep up with my gratitude journal. My goal is to write two things in there each day. I don't always get to it but I am keeping up with it much better than I was. Recent entried have included : My Godmother, Nutrients of abundance in the foods God has created for us, A smile on the face of a friend that's been down, A friend who calls me cautious rather than paranoid and A sunny October morning! Writing in my gratitude journal is one of my 5 goals I set to create better healthy habits. Gratitude is a wonderful habit!

Well for someone that hasn't written anything at all for months (aside from in the gratitdue journal) I'd say I did pretty well here. Now if only I can keep it going! I need to pick at least one evening a week to try and do that. I just always hate saying no to my older son who always wants to play a game or watch something with me. Who else has a 14 year old that wants to spend quality time with their parent(s)??? Not many, I'm sure.... so it's hard to say no. But once a week shouldn't be awful...

Well, wish me luck with that!
Have a wonderful blessed day and go start a gratitude journal if you haven't already!

🙂