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“Spring Break” : My April in Review

My boss and I were talking just the other day about how we’d both been looking forward to the month of April; she’d purposefully taken some time off the road to work on a big writing project,  which means I had time off the road as well, and we were both looking forward to some rest, relaxation, getting things done that had been put off.  And now I look at the calendar and its the 24th of April for goodness sakes and I’m having trouble figuring out what happened to my “off” month.

So I thought I’d give you a quick review of some things that have gone on.  Mostly to try to wade back into this blogging pool.  Dip my toe in.  I’ll give you some photos.  Everyone loves photos, right?

First up in un-blogged-about-April-adventures was a little bluegrass fun on April 5th with my friends Andrew Greer and Kyle Buchanan.  We kicked off the morning playing happy instrumentals and “country-fied” versions of the hymns I grew up on in the Southern Baptist Church…all in the front yard of speaker Patsy Clairmont for her “On The Porch With Patsy” event.  It was a blast to meet such a sweet group of ladies and then close out the night with a special Hymns For Hunger concert with singer/songwriter Cindy Morgan.  Being home and still playing great music all day was a gift.

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L to R: Kyle, Me, Andrew & Patsy @ “On The Porch With Patsy” April 5, 2014

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L to R: Kyle, Cindy, Patsy, Andrew , Bethany at Hymns for Hunger, April 5, 2014

 

Next up was a trip home to see my parents in Columbus, MS.  The theoretical “purpose” of our trip was to help my parents with a garage sale to help clear out my grandmother’s house.  It was a sweet time to pick through items that we knew we wanted to keep to remember her by, telling funny family stories and laughing at some of the “junk” that had for whatever reason been living in Gran’s house for so long, etc. etc.  My brother and his son Drew also made it down for part of the weekend and so it was great to get to visit with them and bonus that Drew finally got to meet his “Uncle Keith.”  That one’s been about 5 years coming.  Mom made her famous lasagna (totally worth ditching the whole paleo thing for) and dad took us fishing.  Then we also got to celebrate Palm Sunday with them which was awesome since we knew we couldn’t make it back for Easter.

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Fishing with Dad. Love getting to hop in the boat in the backyard and paddle around a bit.

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I was SO surprised to catch this little guy. And I may be 31, but my dad still has to take the fish off the line.

 

Easter weekend was lovely as well.  We started off the week by celebrating a Passover Seder with our dear friends the Moritzes, who are Messianic Jews.  I’d never been to a Passover celebration and he did such an amazing job guiding us gentiles through such a beautiful dinner and celebration.  To hear the symbolism, the history, the meaning behind how this holiday has been celebrated for literally thousands of years added a layer of richness to my faith that I doubt I would have gotten any other way.  To understand that THIS was what Jesus and His disciples celebrated right before He was arrested and crucified and then subsequently rose from the grave was a powerful lens through which to view a week that we typically color with plastic grass and stuffed bunnies and as much candy as we can possibly stuff in our tummies.  In a culture so far removed from the circumstances and traditions that were commonplace in the time of Christ, we miss so much of what the holiday is truly about.

 

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The elements of the dinner.

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Adam teaches through the dinner and impressively read a vast portion of it in Hebrew. He’s a smartie.

The saturday before Easter, we headed to the Ryman Auditorium to catch the fourth stop on the Nickel Creek reunion tour.  I’d seen their farewell tour there 8 years  ago and so it was really special to be back with my husband to hear their reunion.  They did not disappoint and I reveled in old favorites and new tunes all night until my toes wouldn’t stop tapping and my cheeks hurt from grinning.  I neglected to take photos, but I’m not so sad about that as I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have captured the awesomeness on film.

Easter Sunday was lovely beyond measure.  We headed over to our fabulous church for Sunday morning service and as a bonus had along Keith’s best friend who basically is Never. In. Town.  After church, our friend Sarah cooked an “Easter Feaster” extravaganza for us and some other folks.  These great girls and I have all been friends for a long time.  I’ve known some of these girls for about 1 or 13 years and the rest of them for at least 6.  That’s alot of year of friendship to share.  Over the years we’ve all met our husbands, gotten married, and now some of the braver folk have even started having babies so our collective group of friends now boasts the addition of one boy and one girl.  Baby Jude and Sweet Kara have added a whole additional level of joy and chaos to the mix and we are grateful for them.  And of course, we’ve made all our husbands be friends (they didn’t really have a choice, but fortunately all love each other so it works out fine.) and they keep us all laughing with their antics.

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Easter at St. B’s with the best husband ever.

L to R: Holli & baby Kara, Jenni, Me, Amanda, Sarah and Shanna.  I can't even add up all the years of friendship represented here.

L to R: Holli & baby Kara, Jenni, Me, Amanda, Sarah and Shanna. I can’t even add up all the years of friendship represented here.

L to R: Blake, Keith, David, baby Jude, Russell, Jacob and Jeremy.  So grateful for these amazing husbands.

L to R: Blake, Keith, David, baby Jude, Russell, Jacob and Jeremy. So grateful for these amazing husbands.

So that’s been my April!  Whew.  So much for having “down time” but grateful for all the folks I’ve gotten to see this month and ready for life to crank up again next month as I hit the road again.  Fear not, I have 4 posts half-written that I promise to finish and some great new recipes to send your way.  One of them isn’t even healthy.  Happy Spring!

So Your Child Wants to Quit Violin Lessons….

So we’ve been slacking a little bit on the blog this week.  Mary-Hall, as you all know, has been busy with her first week of being a mom of TWO sweet boys, (if you missed the big news, check it out here!) and I don’t really have an excuse.  I’ve just been lazy.  So today I’m doing something that we never really do….I’m re-posting a blog that was originally posted on my music website, www.bethanybordeaux.com.  But I really love this particular post because my mom has some great words of wisdom.  So here you go!  I hope you enjoy the read….and the bonus picture of me playing the violin as a tiny munchkin.

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I love getting to meet people on the road and talk and hear their stories and questions.  Often times I get asked how I started playing violin as a career, my stance on music education, etc.  But then sometimes I meet moms of tiny violinists and the question comes up…“If my child isn’t as excited about lessons as they used to be, do I make them keep going? Do I let them quit?”  I always share my experience as best I can to encourage them.

Then a few weeks ago, a mom sent me a message on Facebook.  I’d met them at an event a few years ago and we had talked…I’d encouraged her that violin could be a great thing for her then 6 year old daughter and she and her husband had felt that it might be exactly what the Lord had for them and their little girl.  And apparently the little girl had the same idea.  Lessons were begun with a beloved teacher and it was a great experience all around.  Well, for a while.  Then she’d been moved to write me a letter.  Her daughter is now on the verge of turning 12 and they feel at a crossroads.  To quote her letter, “She has a natural gifting so there’s not that desire to practice, which I’m sure that’s totally normal for her age. But we aren’t going to let her quit because at this point we feel like we’d be letting her out of what we know God spoke. But I don’t want it to be miserable for her!!!  My question is, did you ever go through that? How did your parents encourage you to stay the course? What could I be doing to really make the violin something she loves?”

I felt a tiny bit at a loss. I can cheer-lead for music education all day long as I’ve been both a student and a teacher.  I know the impact it’s made on my life.  But there was a key element missing here as I’ve never parented a child at ALL, let alone through the decision to persevere or call it quits with an activity.  But fortunately, I DID know someone who had been through this, not only with violin lessons, but with a myriad of extra curricular activities that I chose to be a part of as a child, adolescent and young adult.  My own mom.  So I emailed her asking if she’d be willing to sit down and write a response.  Fortunately not only was she willing, but the letter she wrote was excellent.  So excellent that it seemed a shame not to share it with you all.

Dear Fellow “Violin Mom”,
I’m Bethany’s Mom.  Bethany passed your message on to me, thinking that perhaps I could give you some feedback from the point of view of a Mom whose “been there, done that.”

Now, believe me, I’m not claiming to possess the wisdom of the ages, just a little bit that comes from experience.  Here are some things I’d consider, although you may already be aware of all these:

  1. Is your daughter actually asking to quit, or is she just at the stage where the novelty of playing violin has worn a little thin?  Maybe her playing needs a little “new life” breathed into it through attendance at a special workshop or a few lessons into a different genre of music – some bluegrass or Celtic fiddle (which is usually pretty lively, fun stuff that can expand a player’s overall ability).  If she is actually asking to quit, find out why.  Sometimes at that age, kids get teased about their activity, if it isn’t the “cool” activity of the day. Also, that is the age at which girls’ lives are really beginning to open up and they see other activities and opportunities that compete with their music.  Bethany primarily took violin and piano up until age 11, at which point her schedule began to truly burst with other interests (horseback riding, 4-H, a theater group for children that she founded, show choir, jazz ensemble, etc. etc.).  These all had merit and gave her great experiences. There were many times all the way through high school when she barely had time to practice violin, but we plugged away at lessons from week to week.  After all, a girl may play soccer for a season in her life, but music can be taken THROUGH LIFE.  If she wants to “try other things,” allow it, if you can possibly afford the time and money for it all.  Not having to choose between violin and another activity may make it easier to stick with her music, even if her progress plateaus for a while.
  2. I’m assuming she takes not just private lessons, but has the opportunity to play [music] with other kids?  If she’s not in a group class of some sort, playing violin can be an “isolating” experience, and I’d recommend a class, workshop, etc. so she can develop camaraderie with other young musicians.  Also, help her find ways to use her violin playing as a ministry – at church, at nursing homes, etc. (Bethany even “sold songs” at a church bazaar to help with the fundraiser.) Using her talent may be key to maintaining interest.
  3. It’s difficult to think of an 11-year-old going through hormonal changes, but the fact of the matter is, a girl that age is changing internally, and whether or not you can see the transformation just yet, her endocrine system is cranking up and can cause mood swings that may make her act like she’s “miserable” one minute and perfectly chipper the next.
  4. It’s difficult to know whether God was speaking about your daughter’s entire life, but she’s now had 5 or 6 years to gain a valuable musical education and all that goes with that (fine motor skills, listening skills, brain development, poise, etc.).  Just like riding a bicycle, IF she did take a break from violin, she has already benefited from the training and she could pick it up again without having lost too much – although again, sometimes we just have to plug away and maintain.
Let me share my own experience. As an 8-year old, I wanted to learn the guitar.  I was so small, and my parents unable to afford much, so they bought me a ukelele – which doesn’t sound much like a guitar.  However, I taught myself a number of chords and still desired to learn the guitar.  At age 13, I was almost tall enough to handle my aunt’s guitar, which we borrowed. But it was just a difficult age at which to start. I wanted to go out with friends, and for other reasons, I stopped lessons after only a few months.  “Life got in the way,” but in the back of my mind I still desired to learn to play the guitar, even while I learned the violin alongside my daughter (as you may know, part of the Suzuki Method is that a parent learn along with the child).  Anyway, to make a long story short, I always WISHED I had persevered with the guitar back when I was a teen, and finally, about 2 years ago – at age 60, I again took up the instrument.  I’m never going to be a “Chet Atkins,” but I sure have fun with it.  I always wonder, though, how accomplished I could be now IF I had plugged away when I began at 13.  But those chords I learned on the ukelele and during my 3 months of guitar lessons stayed with me and gave a little jumpstart.

I sure hope your daughter will hang in there – not necessarily to become a professional (that was not our goal with Bethany – just that music would be beneficial to her overall development) – but to have a skill she can enjoy throughout her whole life – and use to the Glory of God on many occasions.

Best wishes to you both!
Barbara Daniel

Spring Chickens

I know we’ve had a lot of chicken posts recently, but I needed to add one more.   For those of you who have been tracking with the Saga of Sylvia the Sick Chicken, I have sad news….Sylvia went to that big chicken coop in the sky last Wednesday.  She’d rallied there for a little bit…and then just started getting, well, slower.  She’d stop in the middle of the yard to nap.  She stopped eating.  She wasn’t really pooping (sorry, but she wasn’t).  She stopped getting excited about seeing us.  And she barely weighed anything.  So Wednesday morning I decided to spend some quality time with her.  I wrapped her up in a towel and put her on my lap while I got some work done on my computer.  She napped most of the day.  She didn’t seem in pain, just content to sleep on my lap.

That afternoon I had to run to a meeting and about 10 minutes after I left Keith sent me a text message: “I think Sylvia just died.” it read.  Then, about 15 seconds later, “Yep.  She’s definitely dead.  She just laid over on her side and went to sleep.”  We were sad to see our girl go, but happy she went in peace.  If you’re wanting to reminisce her short life (like I did) then you can check out this video from last August when she laid her first egg.

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Sylvia snuggled up on my lap napping. She passed away about 30 minutes after this photo was taken.

 

Yesterday was nice weather and Spring seems to have finally sprung, well sort of…so Keith and I decided that it would be a good time to do a “Spring cleaning” in the coop and de-winterize all the little cold weather tweaks that we’d made.  You might remember that we added a heat lamp and a made a few other temporary changes.  So Sunday we shoveled out the pine shavings from the coop floor, removed the heated waterer, heat lamp and indoor roost, rehung the outdoor roosts and gave everything a good cleaning.  The girls seemed really happy with their tidy home and hopped around the backyard eating as many earthworms as they could find.

Although I’m super thankful that we brought Beverly Clucky home to replace our first chicken casualty, Gertude, (who had a brain tumor,) we’re not rushing into getting a new girl this time.  I know it’s Spring and all the co-ops are starting to put out all those cute little chicks and it’s so tempting to bring home a new little critter.  Please, before you do….read all about my experience adding a new girl to the flock.  It’s not all fun and games and cute little feathered friends.  It’s a slow and painstaking process, one that for us worked out well despite my doing everything wrong, but one that I’m not sure I’m up for repeating anytime soon.  So for now, we’re going to hang on to our three amigas and be thankful that everyone else is healthy and happy for the time being.

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L to R: Louisa, Jane and Beverly Clucky. Our little flock of remaining hens.

Paleo Pepper Pot Roast

I’ve actually been making this dish since before I even know what Paelo was.  In fact, it was the first “grown up” dish that I learned how to cook.  It’s a crock-pot recipe so that’s not exactly saying a whole lot, but it was a big deal to me to say that I could cook something.  It was also the first dinner I ever cooked for Keith, way back before we were even officially dating….and it’s been a staple for us since.

So as I was looking for a simple yet tasty dinner to put together for tonight, I remembered we hadn’t had this particular recipe in a while.  And then I realized that it was totally in line with the Paleo diet, so I immediately headed out to the grocery store.  And I thought you guys might like it too…it’s got a little bit of a kick.  So here ya go.  Pot roast anyone?

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Paleo Pepper Pot Roast

Ingredients
  1. 1 chuck roast (mine was about 2 pounds.)
  2. 1 jar peperoncini peppers
  3. celery – chopped
  4. diced or sliced white onion
  5. carrots -chopped into 1 inch chunks, or, 1 package baby carrots
  6. one packet Kroger brand (or comparable)  “Salad Magic Zesty Italian” salad dressing mix (**note….this is just a seasoning packet to make your own salad dressing….not actual liquid salad dressing.)
Instructions
  1. Put half the carrots, celery, onion and jar of peperoncini peppers into a crock pot.
  2. Pour half the salad dressing mix packet mix on top of the veggies and pour in half the pepper juice.
  3. Add the chuck roast, then add the rest of veggies on top along with the rest of the seasoning packet and pepper juice.
  4. Turn crock pot on low setting and cook for 8 hours.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

*Note:  Although it renders the recipe “non-paleo” it’s also really yummy to cook red new potatoes in with the roast.

 

Winner, Winner, Chicken….Winner.

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After having had a long week of hand-feeding Sylvia the chicken and freezing weather, we had a brief moment of beautiful sunshine and the girls were more than ready to run around the yard eating whatever they could find.  Booger the cat and I sat outside with them and as I fed them treats, they all started to congregate around me on the steps to our out-building.  Keith, ever-ready to grab a great photo op, snapped a photo and posted it on facebook where a friend mentioned we should enter it in the “Flaunt Your Flock” photo contest that Tractor Supply Co. was running.  We did.  And we voted and asked people to vote, but with so many entries, we didn’t hold our breath.

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Fast forward to this morning when I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing.  Since it was a number I didn’t recognize, I screened it….and then squealed with delight when I listed to the voicemail from Matt, from TSC, who was calling to find out what prize I would like to choose as I’d been selected as the week 2 winner!  What!?  Awesome.  Since our girls have been eating food like they were teenage boys, I chose the ten-pound bag of feed and container of dried meal-worm treats (the favorite delicacy to our feathered ladies) which they assured me would arrive in the mail in about a week.  I’m sporting my brand-new “Sriracha” rooster tee all day in celebration.

Here’s the thing though.  The weekly winners are based on the merit of the TSC judges.  The overall grandprize is based on popularity….so your vote counts….and there’s still time to vote for my photo.  Just CLICK ON THIS LINK (or on the photo below) and it will take you straight to the contest so you can vote for me.  And, you can vote for me once every 24-hour period if you feel super motivated/dedicated.

My photo as featured on the winners page!

My photo as featured on the winners page!

So excited that my sweet girls got some recognition…….and some yummy food coming their way!  THANK YOU Tractor Supply Co, for such a great competition and for supporting hobby farmers like myself.  We appreciate all you do!

Paleo Mashed Faux-tatoes

When we started on our Paleo adventure we certainly started branching out a bit, but there were some things we swore we’d never do.  Or at least, one thing we swore we’d never do…mashed cauliflower.  If you just gagged or said “ewwwww” out loud, I feel ya.  I did too.  All the way through about 5 Paleo cookbooks I gagged.

Then for some reason, I just decided what the heck.  Keith had planned Bison burgers one night and I thought mashed potatoes sounded amazing.  But potatoes aren’t on the diet.  (Well, sweet potatoes are in moderation….but that wasn’t what I was craving.  I was craving mashed potatoes like my grandma used to make.  White, fluffy, buttery, creamy mashed potatoes.  And that made me start thinking about all those recipes I’d seen in all those cookbooks claiming that mashed cauliflower was the perfect substitute for mashed potatoes.  I figured why not give it a whirl?  All I had to loose was the $2.50 for a head of cauliflower and the 20 minutes to make it.

I was shocked at not only how easy this recipe was, but how absolutely delicious they were.  They took me back to my grandmother’s kitchen and my cauliflower-hating husband not only ate a gigantic portion, he also declared they should become a “staple” in our household.  So without further ado, I bring you:

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Paleo Mashed Faux-tatoes

Ingredients
  1. 1 head of cauliflower (about 4 cups of cauliflower)
  2. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  3. 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary
  4. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  5. pinch of onion powder
  6. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop cauliflower (florets & top piece of main stem) into 2 inch pieces (I broke off the leaves, held the head over a bowl and just sort of hacked at it, then threw the bottom of the main stem away.)
  2. Steam the cauliflower until it’s tender (I think it was between 10 – 12 minutes for me).
  3. Once the cauliflower is steamed, dump it into a food processor.  Add coconut oil, rosemary, oregano, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Puree until creamy and smooth. Serve with steak, grilled chicken breast, etc.!

(if you don’t own a food processor, you can use a stand mixer, hand mixer and bowl, or possibly even a blender.)

Oil Pulling

I first discovered the joys of coconut oil when Keith and I started our journey into the Paleo eating plan.  It was a recommended alternative in cooking to butter or other fats and so we bought a jar and started using it in our cooking.  Then my mother-in-law mentioned that not only did she use it in her cooking, but she often used it as a makeup-remover or in place of facial lotions.  My love for the stuff was cemented when I got a painful sunburn on our trip to Mexico last year.  I rubbed coconut oil into the burn, went to bed, and it was almost completely gone the next morning!

But then I started to see things online about a mysterious thing called “oil pulling” that was being credited for solving just about everything except world peace.  What could this magical cure-all possibly be?  So the other day armed with some spare time and intrigue, I did some research.  Since the list of potential benefits is high and the cost is low, I decided it was worth giving it a try so this past Friday night I purchased a gigantic tub of coconut oil from CostCo for $14 and Saturday morning I started my regimen.  But I’m getting ahead of myself and you’re probably thinking, what the heck IS it?  I’ll give you a brief run down.

What Is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is a practice supposedly rooted in some ancient medicinal practice from Asia.  You swish the oil around in your mouth and it supposedly absorbs or “pulls” all the toxins from your mouth into the oil, then you spit it out.  You’ll want to use the highest quality oil you can find, of course as it is the purest and has the most benefits.  And just what benefits does this practice have?  Well, here’s a list of what I’ve found online:

* Helping to strengthen the gums, jaws and teeth.
* Helping to prevent gum disease, cavities and even gingivitis
* Helping to prevent bad breath
* Provide a holistic method and remedy for dealing with bleeding gums
* Helping to prevent dryness of the mouth, throat and the lips
* Helping to prevent general soreness around the area of the jaw (such as TMJ sufferers)
* Relief for migraines and headaches
* Reducing arthritic inflammation
* Helping to reduce the signs of eczema
* Helping to reduce insomnia
* Reducing the effects of a hangover after consuming too much alcohol
* Helping to support the normal function of the kidneys
* Helping to reduce the symptoms of bronchitis
* May help to reduce pain
* Some oil pullers have even reported that it helped to improve their vision

How-To Steps

  1. Oil pulling is apparently most effective when you do it first thing in the morning before you eat, drink or brush your teeth.
  2. Take a teaspoon (approx) of coconut oil and stick it in your mouth.  (I stick it in there in its room temperature state and it quickly melts in your mouth.  However, it does make me gag a little at first, so if you have serious texture issues, you might want to melt it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
  3. Set a timer for 20 minutes (no more, no less) and swish the oil around in your mouth.  (This would be a great time to take a shower, read your morning devotional, cook breakfast check your email, whatever.  Doing an activity makes the time pass quickly!)
  4. At the end of 20 minutes, spit it into the trash can.  DO NOT SWALLOW (remember, it’s got all those toxins in it!).  DO NOT SPIT DOWN THE DRAIN (or your drains will quickly clog.)
  5. Brush your teeth and go about your day.
  6. Repeat each morning.

Opposition and Disclaimers

Because I do my research carefully, I checked out both sides of the story before trying it, or bringing this blog to my readers.  And just as there are millions who claim it heals everything from acne to cancer, there are an equal number of folks who say it’s total malarkey.  I checked out what Snopes.com had to say  (they think it’s neither helpful nor harmful) and also found this blog of a girl who had a crazy-bad reaction after “pulling” for 2 days with coconut oil (she had done 2 treatments a day, so 4 treatments).  Other folks have said that while they had a reaction to or couldn’t handle the texture of coconut oil pulling but have had positive results with safflower, sunflower or olive oil (the blog author referenced above switched oils and did fine!).  However, a note of caution, the Paleo guidelines recommend you avoid safflower and sunflower oils at all costs, so there’s that to consider too.

My Experience

Granted I’m only a few days in and I don’t have any particular horrible maladies.  I’m not sure that it will really affect the dry scalp that I battle in the winter (although I certainly hope so) and while I do think that my teeth look a tiny bit whiter, that could really honestly be the power of suggestion.  But here’s what I DO know.  My mouth feels cleaner than it’s ever felt.  Like straight-from-the-dentist clean.  And it lasts most of the day even after I’ve eaten.  And it’s amazingly relaxing.  I’ve been using the time spent oil-pulling to read my Lenten devotional and pray and that combined with the swishing is such an amazing way to start my morning.  So if I have a super clean mouth and a relaxed mindset going into my day, that’s enough reason for me to keep doing it.

I guess the bottom line is that oil-pulling, like ANY out-of-the-ordinary health practice, probably isn’t for everybody. Listen to YOUR body! If you have a particular health condition you might want to check with your doctor (or dentist as well in this case) to make sure they don’t know of anything that might conflict or react with your medicines or illness.  And know that results can vary….something that cures one person might not cure another, etc.  But so far…my experiences have been positive.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Have you tried it? Liked it? Heard of it? Hated it?

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