Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

I cannot remember exactly how this book came across my radar but Damned Lies and Statistics is written by Joel Best to be a sort of intro level lesson on critical thinking regarding social statistics. Statistics, specifically those pertaining to social issues, are complex to create and integral to nearly every level of society. When these statistics are misunderstood or manipulated, things begin to unravel.

This was a quick read. The author, a university professor, is proficient in simplifying complex mathematical concepts and examples. He repeats throughout the book that the reader need not be a mathematician to understand his points. He goes through the various ways a study can lead to incorrect statistics and further how a correct statistic can be misunderstood or manipulated. His main purpose is to show the reader how to think critically when they hear any given statistic and what questions to ask to ensure what they are hearing is correct or at the very least plausable.

I think this was a beneficial read. As the author points out and as I’ve noticed with myself, mathematical concepts do not seem to sink in to most people. We hear a number–large, small, percent or ratio–and just take it at face value and hardly question it unless we hear an opposing number. Careful to avoid political bias, the author uses many real world examples, including the United States Census. During the census section of the book, I couldn’t help but smile because this was the first time reading through that I actually knew what he was talking about thanks to The West Wing. Being unfamiliar and uncomfortable with basic mathematical concepts is a principle now known as innumeracy (play of off the term “illiteracy”) which now makes me curious to read Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos

Our Pinterest House: Bedroom Reveal!

When we moved into our new house about 6 months ago so much energy needed to go into accommodating toys, diapers, cribs and such that I felt as though the rest of our house was being completely forgotten. We’ve made efforts to keep our house kid-friendly as there are plenty of kid years left ahead of us. At the same time, however, when our house is completely given over to kids, Ryan and I start to feel like we are nothing more than cattle toddler herders. So I decided I wanted our bedroom to be a sort of oasis for us lest we forget we are in fact fully grown, potty-trained adults who, on occasion, like to speak in complete sentences.

Around Christmas or so, we splurged and bought a new quilt for our bed. After some coupons, gift cards and a day trip to New Orleans we were able to get it significantly less than asking price from Bed Bath and Beyond. Even so, it was still a splurge. I decided I could make up the rest of the room much cheaper. I’ll post more on how I made everything later, but I wanted to show-off the whole room put together.

Master Bedroom Progress



Because the canopy is a solid wall, I used yellow sparingly on the bed. I am now thinking of maybe making a small cylinder yellow throw pillow or maybe add yellow buttons to the small pillows just to bring the yellow down to the bed. Thoughts?

Here’s what I did myself:

Embellished Bedskirt
Embellished Bedskirt
Embellished Pillow Shams
Embellished Pillow Shams
Throw Pillows
Throw Pillows
Revamped Lamps
Revamped Lamps
Embroidery Hoop Wall Art
Embroidery Hoop Wall Art

I am so so excited with how it all turned out! More than that, I’m way impressed with my own skill ha ha. I had all these grand plans in my head, but I was sure they would turn out looking silly. Even if they do, I still love it! It’s so bright, cool and calming. The canopy is so thick that at night it makes the room dark and cozy. There are still a few things left on my pinterest board I’d like to do. Such as:

Layering the Door Molding
Trumeau Mirror

and other smaller things like adding a rug, replacing the dated-but-fully-functioning-celing-fan and replacing the doors. The bathroom attached to our bedroom is a complete dated, neglected, funky mess. But those are all jobs for another tax return 😉 Right now I am delighted with my new grown up but still trendy bedroom!

A Heretic Everyone Can Agree On…Except Unitarians

**This book is about the life of a condemned 16th century heretic. With that information, I can’t imagine there are any spoilers left, but for what it’s worth, this review may contain spoilers**

My knowledge of Reformation history is woefully inadequate. I, of course, know the religious, historical and political importance. But as to what actually happened from Luther’s 95 theses to Jefferson’s Deceleration of Independence is a bit sketchy. I know Henry VIII was in there somewhere but I digress.  All of that to say, I enjoyed Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone’s leisurely walk through the 16th century in Out of the Flames.

Using the life, thoughts and written works of Michael Servetus, the authors paint a particularly irreligious picture of the 1500’s, citing a struggle for power and politics as the main motivation for the Reformation. I can see this book ruffling the feathers of a practicing Catholic or Calvinist; being neither, however, I took no offense. Rather, I saw it as both sides simultaneously being insulted. Beginning with (the surprisingly sad story of) Gutenberg and the rise of printing presses, the story follows the Spaniard Servetus as he studies theology, promotes similar ideas to Arius and spends the rest of his life assuming identities running from Catholics and Protestants alike all over Europe. Despite being hunted as a heretic, Severtus enrolls and studies medicine as a fugitive with an assumed name. His final published book Christianismi Restitutio directly opposed John Calvin and the Holy Trinity. Sandwiched in this heretical work, used as a simile for the Holy Spirit, is a most profound and groundbreaking medical discovery. Up until this point, the prevailing ideas regarding blood flow were, among other things, incorrect. With his image of the Holy Spirit flowing like blood through the capillaries of the heart, Michael Servetus showed the world a new understanding of anatomy. Alas, after his book’s publication, Servetus was once again on the run and finally crossed swords with John Calvin in Geneva. His  prolonged imprisonment ended when he was burned as a heretic along with his books.

After the death of Servetus and the supposed destruction of every copy of his last book, Out of the Flames continues, following the three very rare surviving copies of Christianismi Restitutio . Through the ages they pop up around eastern and western Europe in the most elite personal libraries, influencing the most influential. His book was appreciated in different times for it’s theological and medical significance. Servetus’s heretical brand of antitrinitarianism takes hold in varying degrees of popularity all throughout history. Eventually it became what we now know as Unitarianism and attracted the likes of Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson. History has even attempted to now credit him with the initial discovery of the true nature regarding the human cardiovascular system.

All in all I enjoyed Out of the Flames a great deal. It was a compelling and very readable account of history. While the authors do make a bit of a hero out of Servetus and villains out of every other Christian (except Ignatius Loyola interestingly enough), I did enjoy reading a historical account that wasn’t obviously biased toward one side or the other, Catholic or Protestant. Now that I’ve finished the over three hundred pages, I can say I benefited from the brevity of the text. The book didn’t just follow Michael Servetus, but rather painted the full picture of the 16th century– religion, economics, academics, medicine etc. Often that meant meandering through tangential biographies and minor historical achievements but I can say now that I have a much better and fuller picture of Reformation history.

Recommendations based on this book: The History of the Breast by Marilyn Yalom and The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

Bedroom Sneak Peak

Despite our best efforts, the Carruth children would not allow me to leisurely eat bon bons and sew to my hearts content. It looks like I’ll need through the weekend to finish putting our bedroom together. I’ve already finished one of the bigger projects and I’m so excited with how came out. I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat, not eating, not sleeping, just waiting to see what our bedroom is going to look like. Sorry. But just to feed your  habit, here’s some sneak peaks

Master Bedroom Sneak Peak

Best Thing I Did as a New Mom

If everyone’s nap times cooperate, I hope to have an update on all the finishing touches I’ve been working on for our bedroom. If we’re very lucky, I’ll have another sneak peak ready too. But until then, enjoy more parenting musings!

Moms young and old, new and seasoned are so efficient at condemning themselves for all the things they’ve done wrong as mothers– I should have spent more time with the kids, I should have spent more time cleaning the house, I should have just let them watch the tv show, I should have kept them from the tv more. I have yet to meet a mother who doesn’t have something they’re trying to do better or some transgression they are still trying to atone for.

Evangeline’s First Week Home

I’ve only been a mom for two and a half years ( really?? that’s it??) but last night as I was closing in on hour 4 of rocking a very cranky Reuben, I got to thinking of the early days with Evangeline all those years ago. Things like setting up a kingdom on our bed with all of her essentials around me in arm’s reach. Or boiling water twice a day to sterilize bottles, nipples and breast pump tubes over and over and over. I got to thinking about how I am not really a kid person and taking care of babies hasn’t come naturally to me. Rarely had I been around babies and never little bitty breakable newborns before I had my own. Needless to say I was a nervous handler.  I didn’t even want to change Evangeline’s diaper in front of the nurses at the hospital for fear they would tell me I was some how hurting her. And I got to thinking that the best favor I did for myself in those early days was baby massage.

There are many good reasons to do baby massage and it’s something I enjoyed with Evangeline. Sadly Felicity didn’t get much massage time, but I’m trying to do more with Reuben. It helped with Evangeline’s colic and her nighttime routine, but the best thing baby massage did for me was to help me be comfortable handling the baby. It took 20 minutes to get her dressed because I was afraid of lifting her arm too roughly or holding her ankle too tightly. Having to slowly and calmly rub her legs, hold out her arms or turn her on her belly for massage got me so comfortable touching her and moving her around. Now, baby massage and three newborns later, I can change clothes, bathe and swaddle like nobody’s business.

There was a huge learning curve to being a first time mom– there always is– but baby massage was something that helped me so much. So as I turned Reuben around to yet another position trying to get that last burp up, I could help but smile and think “that was something good I did.” And you know, I woke up this morning still feeling good about it, certainly better than I feel after beating myself up for mistakes I cannot change.

What good things have you done as a mother?

If You’re Happy and You Know it, Stay Out of Trouble

By and large Evangeline gets into the most trouble when she has too much energy. We’ve been trying to find creative ways to help her learn deal with her energy, thus keeping her out of trouble and developing her own self control. St. Benedict, Rev. Lawrence Lovasik, and this person would be proud of us. These are three ways we’ve come up with so far:

  1. Hold Your Hands: My mom pioneered this one on a whim and it’s been wonderful. Buckled in a shopping cart Evangeline ends up with all of this pent up nervous energy wanting everything and reaching nothing. Whining and frantic grasping ensues. We tell Evangeline to hold her hands to keep them out of trouble. Won’t lie, we were shocked this worked! She holds her hands in her lap or puts them in her pockets and for the most part keeps herself controlled.
  2. If You’re Happy and You Know It:  Evangeline learned the song “if you’re happy and you know it” at a library story time. Yesterday she was all worked up bouncing off the walls while I was trying to feed and rock Reuben. So we started singing. It wasn’t long before I realized “clap your hands” and “stomp your feet” weren’t going to be enough to wear off the kind of energy she had. So we added “jump up and down”, “spin around” and “flip off the couch”. I understand not everyone will want to go so far as “flip off the couch” but this little song turned into a serious aerobic exercise routine for her. After about 10 minutes she stopped and said she wanted to sit and play with her blocks. Success!
  3. Go Run Laps: This was another spur of the moment suggestion that surprisingly worked, now it’s our good ole stand by. Got too much energy? Run. And keep running. Luckily the two houses we’ve lived in make a loop through the kitchen, living room and dining room. So we send her running round and round until she wears herself out. This works well in the evenings when it’s too dark to play outside.

Lest we get discouraged that these lofty concepts of supernatural love and self control are escaping Evangeline, she shows us some small glimpses that this is working. I was doing the dishes and Evangeline was helping by putting away the silverware. Felicity was also “helping” by alternately opening the pantry or climbing into the dishwasher, depending on which way my back was turned. When Evangeline finished with the silverware, I asked her to take Felicity to the other room to play. She hops down and starts walking to the play room calling over her shoulder “come on Felicity, come play in here, stay out of trouble. Here, play with this toy, that will keep you out of trouble”

And wouldn’t you know it, Felicity followed and sat down happily playing with the toy, staying out of trouble. Made my little mama heart flutter!

We are trying to be pro-active and plan out our discipline approach. But sometimes the things that work best are the things we come up with on a whim. What ways do you have of keeping your kids out of trouble?

Juggling Needs

Having three small children at home makes every day a juggling act of meeting needs– Reuben’s sleepiness, Felicity’s safety, Evangeline’s dirty diaper and my hunger. More realistically it is deciding who’s immediate need gets neglected so that someone else’s might be met. But that’s just the way it is right now. Evangeline can’t have second breakfast until Reuben is asleep and Felicity can’t have her diaper changed until I finish making Evangeline’s lunch. And I never get to go to the bathroom 😉 We have a hiarachy of needs around here and it’s not as though we don’t want to spend time meeting the less pressing nurturing needs like snuggling or reading, it’s just that the imperative needs like diapers and meals are on such a quick rotation that there isn’t much time.

But then sometimes the clouds part and we have an afternoon like today. Reuben has been contentidly sleeping for a few hours, Evangeline went in her bed for a nap and Felicity and I fell asleep on the couch. When Evangeline woke up, Ryan scooped her up into the study and they both watched youtube videos of ballerinas which is Evangeline’s new favorite. Felicity and I woke up on the couch and snuggled an extra 10 minutes or so reading a book– something I don’t get to do much with Felicity.

As unfortunate as it is, encounters like these one on one special time are just growing farther and farther apart. But on the other hand when I wake up from an unexpected afternoon nap (even if it is from a camera’s flash) snuggled with the sweetest one year old I know, I know what a blessing it is. I know not to take it for granted.

snuggled with the sweetest one year old I know
snuggled with the sweetest one year old I know