Remembering {and Reviving} the True Story of Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann, a Symbol of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

As a child, I remember feeling a certain affinity for Raggedy Ann simply because she (sorta) bore my name. I didn’t really have a passionate interest in the doll (frankly, I didn’t love dolls much at all), but I did feel a kinship with my namesake doll.

Fast forward to 2015… I’m all grown up now and I still have an affinity for Raggedy Ann, but for entirely different reasons. As the vaccine storm whips up into a frenzy, I’m reminded that Raggedy Ann was a potent symbol of one of the earliest anti-vaccine movements that holds eery similarities to today.

Raggedy Ann, a Symbol of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

The Sad Story of Raggedy Ann

Johnny Gruelle was the creator and inventor of Raggedy Ann, a creation intended for the enjoyment of his daughter Marcella. Around the same time he was developing the story and character of Raggedy Ann to prepare for publishing, Marcella was given the smallpox vaccination at school without the consent of her parents. Shockingly, although she developed an infection from the vaccination, they inoculated her several more times. Marcella died a slow and painful death, eventually becoming so weak she could not move her muscles, and so was much like a rag doll in appearance. After her death, Johnny became a staunch supporter of the anti-vaccine movement and Raggedy Ann became a symbol of that movement. You can read more about the Raggedy Ann story here.

At a time when scared and angry parents are calling for compulsory and mandatory vaccinations across the board – no exemptions – it behooves us to remember the hard-won freedoms of earlier generations who had valid concerns about that very practice. 

Raggedy Ann, Symbol of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

I know many of us who have questions about vaccines have been feeling rather attacked lately in social media and mommy wars. The insults, the threats, the anger, and the hate are bullets that, while they may not change our course, certainly leave wounds behind. Many of my fellow vaccine-questioners have expressed to me that they are tired of dealing with the onslaught, tired of debating, tired of the hatred directed at them. Most of them have come to the conclusion that they’d rather not get into these heated debates – not with people they love, and not with strangers online – and so have resigned themselves to silence.

I’m torn myself because I am also heartily tired of the debate, and I’m tired of the vitriol. It’s exhausting to be constantly defending myself and trying to educate folks on the very real dangers of vaccination. But I feel like the heat of the battle means that it’s almost over, and if we don’t keep pressing on, we’ll lose. We’ll lose the right to make medical decisions for ourselves and our children, and that’s a slippery slope I don’t want to take a ride on.

So. I have an idea. Let’s all take up the symbol of previous generations who fought the very same battle and faced the same foes. Johnny Gruelle fought with ink and paper, let’s fight on social media. But you don’t have to say a thing! All you need to do is replace your profile pic on all your social media accounts with a picture of Raggedy Ann. It’s a seemingly innocuous image that won’t get in people’s faces and it won’t anger anyone. But it will represent what you stand for and it will remind you of your historic right to fight for that stand.

And if enough of us do it, then we’ll have a sea of Raggedy Ann profile pictures all across Facebook, across Twitter, across Instagram. Folks will see all those Raggedy Anns and will start wondering. And when they do, you can point them to the history of Raggedy Ann by posting a simple link. You don’t have to say a word. Let Raggedy Ann speak for you.

Are you in? Let’s do this thing!

Raggedy Ann Social Media Storm

  1. Download a free graphic of Raggedy Ann.
  2. Upload it as your profile picture to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… wherever you are on social media.
  3. If anybody asks you why, direct them to this link that explains the story of Raggedy Ann.

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Palm of His Hand Valentines

You are written on the palm of His  hand.  #valentines While browsing through Pinterest for Valentine’s-Day-Card inspiration, I spied a brilliant card/gift idea that incorporated the verse from Isaiah that says “I have engraved you on the palm of My  hand”. Beautiful verse, beautiful thought, perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Plus also, perfect for gifting with a pencil instead of junky VDay candy. Can I get an Amen?! You are written on the palm of His  hand.  #valentines

The particular card that inspired me was not exactly what I was looking for, though, and as it turns out, what I’m looking for really wasn’t out there. However, I’m very grateful I spied it because it started my wheels turning… and they kept turning… and turning… until they came up with this cute little Valentine idea!You are written on the palm of His  hand.  #valentines

I re-worded the verse just a bit (call it the Simpson Limited Edition Version) to make it more personal and easily understood by its future recipients… and also to make it fit even better with the pencil idea. As I was making the cards with my boys, I explained to them that sometimes people write something very important on their hand that they want to remember, and that’s exactly what we are to God: very important and unforgettable!

You are written on the palm of His  hand.  #valentinesI intentionally made these cards with the bold turquoise/red theme because I love that color combo and because – hello – I have boys. Pink and purple – not their thing. ‘Nuff said. You can use any color scheme you want, depending on the paint you have and the color of doilies you find. I kept you in mind when creating the printable circles with the verse on the back and made a set with pink and purple just in case. You are written on the palm of His  hand.  #valentines

Palm of His Hand Valentine’s Day Cards

Supplies

  • 1 package of medium sized doilies
  • paint
  • white card stock
  • printable verse circles
  • glue stick
  • black pen (or whatever dark color works best with your color scheme)
  • sharp scissors or X-acto knife
  • Valentines’ themed pencils

Instructions

  1. Have your child make one handprint for each card using whatever color of paint you’d like (we used a bold turquoise).
  2. While the handprints are drying, cut out the printable verse circles and glue them onto the back of each doily right in the center.
  3. Once the handprints are dry, cut them out and glue on the front of each doily in the center.
  4. Write the name of the recipient across the palm of the handprint.
  5. Use sharp scissors or an X-acto knife to cut a slit a little bit above and a little bit below the name. Thread the pencil from above into the bottom slit, and then from below into the top slit so that it is held securely on the heart.
  6. Spread Valentine’s Day cheer by giving to friends and loved ones.

You are written on the palm of His hand. #valentines

 

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Simple and Elegant Wedding Card Storage

Wedding Card Keepsake

In my ever ongoing efforts to de-clutter, I’ve come across my stash of wedding cards several times. As unsentimental as my husband accuses me of being at times (well, he’s right… I’m a pretty practical old girl at heart), there are some things that I am loathe to part with even though their one and only value is sentiment. Wedding cards are one of those things. Up until recently, I really didn’t know what to do with them; I just had them stashed in a wedding gift bag waiting until I had a brilliant idea.

Wedding Card Keepsake

And it’s true that good things come to those who wait… since I gave it about 9 years, give or take a day, I finally hit upon a brilliantly simple idea. Let’s not talk about how it should have come to me quite literally YEARS ago, ‘k? Let’s just call it brilliant, simple, elegant, and leave it at that.

So here’s how you create you very own simple, elegant, and truly quite brilliant wedding card keepsake and you probably won’t even have to spend a dime.Wedding Card Keepsake

Wedding Card Keepsake

Required Items

 a length of ribbon, preferably left over from your wedding or at least in the same color scheme

a hole punch

your wedding/bridal shower cards

Process

  1. The hard part is the de-cluttering process where you might need to part with some of your cards if you haven’t already. If you don’t have a stack that rivals a mini-mountain, you can skip this step; but if your stack looks anything like mine, you’ll want to weed it out a bit. I went through my stack and threw away (yes, it hurt a little) all the cards that were multiples from the same person (Bless their heart, those people who bothered to gift and/or write a card twice! They are much nicer than me.) and all the cards from people whose name and face I could not put together and/or am no longer in touch with. (When you wait 9 years, this happens. Sad but true.)
  2. Once you have a manageable stack, grab your hole punch and punch a hole in the top left corner of each card, making sure to leave enough of a margin around the hole that it won’t wear through easily. In other words, put the hole a good half inch or so down into the card.
  3. Thread your ribbon through each card one at a time until they are all strung. Tie as beautiful of a bow as you can manage, making sure to leave just a bit of a gap to allow for moving the cards back and forth.
  4. Voila! Done!
Wedding Card Storage

See my little wedding card keepsake snugly tucked into the photo album shelf?

Told ya that was brilliantly simple. And really rather elegant, yes? And it makes it easy for me to read the card from my grandma and grandpa, both who have passed on to their eternal home within the past nine years. Their legacy of a lifetime of love is one I will treasure always. A Lifetime of Love

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5 Indisputable Facts About Vaccines

5 Indisputable Facts About VaccinesI don’t normally get controversial here on the blog but some things weigh heavily on my heart and this is one of them. I’m concerned by the growing number of people who are angrily shouting “You dumb anti-vaxers with your pseudo-science! You’re killing everybody else with your stupid refusal to vaccinate!”; they are so blinded by their anger (fueled by media reports funded by pharmaceutical companies) that they don’t stop, take a breath and listen to actual facts. Well at any rate, that’s the impression I get from their ranting internet comments.

First of all, I’m not technically an “anti-vaxer”. My children have been partially vaccinated  on a delayed schedule and I myself have had at least one vaccine as an adult. I do believe strongly, however, that vaccines carry an inherent risk and that every parent should have the freedom to decide if they want their children to take that risk or not. There are valid, logical, science-based reasons why some parents choose not to vaccinate, and I think everybody needs to take a step back and acknowledge that truth.

So here we go. Five indisputable facts about vaccines:

1. Vaccines Contain Toxic Ingredients

A vaccine does not contain merely the active vaccinating ingredient (i.e., a virus in some form or other) and the culture media required for its development, it also contains additional ingredients that are intended to either increase the effectiveness of the vaccine, or to stabilize and preserve it. The CDC has published a little booklet called The Guide to Vaccine Contraindications and Precautions, for your perusal. Among other things, this booklet informs you of all the known ingredients in the vaccines currently available today. Here are a few selections detailing some of the ingredients in commonly administered vaccines, copied and pasted directly from the bookDTaP (Daptacel) - Aluminum Phosphate, Ammonium Sulfate, Casamino Acid, Dimethyl-beta-cyclodextrin, Formaldehyde or Formalin, Glutaraldehyde, 2-Phenoxyethanol, Aluminum Hydroxid MMR (MMR-II) - Amino Acid, Bovine Albumin or Serum, Chick Embryo Fibroblasts, Human Serum Albumin,  Gelatin, Glutamate, Neomycin, Phosphate Buffers, Sorbitol, Sucrose, Vitamins Pneumococcal (Prevnar) - Aluminum Phosphate, Amino Acid, Soy Peptone,  Yeast Extract Rotavirus (RotaTeq) - Cell Culture Media, Fetal Bovine Serum, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Phosphate Monobasic Monohydrate, Sodium Hydroxide Sucrose, Polysorbate 80 Other vaccines have very similar lists. To sum up, vaccines contain a cocktail of the following ingredients:

  • Antibiotics
  • Aluminum
  • Animal and Human Cells, including from monkeys, chickens, cows, and aborted human fetuses
  • Formaldehyde
  • MSG
  • and of course, the infamous Thimerasol

Additional facts for your consideration:

  • It’s important to know that in order to protect the trade secrets of vaccine manufacturers, they are only required to disclose inactive ingredients “when a safety factor”. One would assume that vaccine manufacturers abide by this stipulation, and therefore those undisclosed ingredients should fall under the category of “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the FDA. Unfortunately, potential allergens and other ingredients many people choose to avoid are considered GRAS by the FDA, and thereby could be included in vaccines without anyone’s knowledge. One can only speculate about potential additional ingredients, but let’s stick to the facts, which are: there are additional unlisted ingredients in vaccines.
  • Another fact to consider is that by utilizing animal and human tissue for the development of vaccines, a whole assortment of various contaminants can potentially find their way into vaccines. The FDA has discussed the difficulty of ensuring that “adventitious agents” do not make their way into the final vaccine product. This is a valid concern because it has actually happened on several different occasions, the contamination of the polio vaccine with SV40 being the most infamous. Of course, vaccine manufacturers do their very best to ensure that such things don’t happen; but consider how difficult it would be to effectively test every batch of a vaccine, in each step of the process, for any number of known and unknown pathogens and other undesirable materials. The fact is: developing vaccines with animal and human tissue increases the risk of “adventitious agents” finding their way into vaccines.
  • The CDC and FDA and all vaccine manufacturers insist that the majority of these ingredients are present only in trace amounts, but keep in mind that a child following the CDC schedule will have received 16-18 shots by the time they are 6 months old. Those trace amounts (of multiple toxins and other potentially dangerous ingredients) add up quickly at that rate. Those who say a child could encounter that much or more of the same toxins environmentally fail to take into consideration that these toxins are injected into the bloodstream, bypassing the body’s natural defenses.

My Conclusion: I go to great lengths to ensure that my children eat a healthy diet that is as free as possible of GMO’s, pesticides, artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, refined sugars, and refined flours. I purchase only grass-fed pastured meats and dairy products to avoid overexposure to antibiotics and hormones. I avoid antibiotics as medication whenever possible. In fact, I avoid pretty much all medication, finding instead that natural remedies are at least as effective as the pharmaceutical options. I also breastfed both of my babies, avoiding introducing food until they were at least 6 months of age, and continued to breastfeed as long as I could. In short, I do everything I can to reduce my family’s exposure to chemicals and toxins to the extent it is possible. Based on this working philosophy, why would I intentionally repeatedly inject the very ingredients I otherwise work diligently to avoid, into my infants’ developing body? To do so would contradict all my efforts to ensure their maximum health. 

2. Vaccines Can Have Serious Side Effects

Most doctors will say when pressed that vaccines typically only trigger mild side effects or reactions, such as slight swelling at the injection site, a mild rash or a low fever. Those are indeed the most common reactions/side effects, but that does not mean they are the only ones. On the contrary, a brief skimming of a vaccine insert will reveal that at least two pages are required to list and explain all the possible side effects of each vaccine.  If your doctor didn’t offer you a chance to read through the vaccine insert before injecting your child, you can access the information readily online from each manufacturer’s website. Here’s a partial listing from some of the more common vaccines: MMR - Atypical measles; fever; headache; dizziness; malaise; irritability; pancreatitis; diarrhea; vomiting; nausea; diabetes mellitus; anaphylaxis and anaphylactoid reactions; arthritis; encephalitis; Guillain-Barré Syndrome; febrile convulsions; pneumonia; otitis media; conjunctivitis DTaP - Cyanosis; injection site pain; injection site rash; injection site nodule; injection site mass; cellulitis; febrile convulsion; grand mal convulsion; partial seizures; screaming Polio - lymphadenopathy; convulsion; febrile convulsion; headache; paresthesia; and somnolence Additional facts for your consideration:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services maintains a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System that catalogs all submitted vaccine reaction reports. All reactions deemed “serious” are reviewed by medical experts; and from October 2011 to August 2013, on average, 870 serious adverse event reports were filed per month. The CDC is the first to admit that one of the main limitations of VAERS is underreporting, meaning that the actual numbers of serious adverse events are significantly higher. How much higher? It’s impossible to know for sure, given the variables, but the FDA surmises that in some cases, as little as 1% of adverse reactions to medications are reported to MedWatch, the pharmaceutical product counterpart to VAERS. In the same publication, they mention that the British passive reporting system estimates underreporting to be anywhere from 2-10%. So let’s go with the highest estimate of 10%, and that means that if an average of 870 serious adverse events are reported to VAERS each month, then in all likelihood, there are at least 8700 serious reactions each month. 
  • Another limitation of VAERS is that anyone can report an adverse event, including parents of affected children. You might assume, therefore, that the database would be rife with inflated reports from militant “anti-vaxers”. However, the DHHS confirms that the majority of reports (83%) are actually filed by vaccine manufacturers, health professionals, and state immunization programs. Only 7% are reported by parents, and the remaining 10% are “other sources”.
  • The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (more on that establishment in a minute) has awarded more than two and a half BILLION dollars for vaccine-related injuries and deaths since 1989.
  • Autism and developmental disabilitiesfood allergies and asthmaType 1 diabetes, and other autoimmune diseases have all dramatically risen in number in the past couple decades. Coincidentally, the number of vaccinations has also risen dramatically. When confronted with this fact, many people say, “Correlation does not equal causation”. In other words, just because those two numbers rose concurrently does not mean the one caused the other. Interestingly, the same people will say that vaccination eradicated smallpox worldwide and polio nationwide because the decline of those diseases coincided with the increase in vaccination against them. If that is not a correlation/causation argument, then what is? Furthermore, such an argument fails to take into consideration other factors involved in the eradication of disease, namely, clean water, healthy nutrition, good hygiene, and excellent medical care. It also fails to take into consideration that cholera and typhoid disappeared in this country without the help of vaccination programs. It also fails to take into consideration that all infectious diseases -including those we currently vaccinate against – were on the decline from 1900 on, and were already well on their way out the door prior to the vaccinations that began in the forties. A fascinating study on infectious diseases (and other causes of death) during the twentieth century was conducted at the end of the last century and can be found in its entirety here. Of particular interest is Figure 4, which shows that measles, polio, and pertussis all declined rapidly during the first half of the century, and that trajectory merely continued. To say that vaccination alone caused the decline of those diseases is patently false. Now, back to our correlation/causation argument: I think it is safe to say in both instances that vaccines played a part, both in the eradication of infectious disease, and the rise of autoimmune and other diseases. One final thought on this matter: correlation does not equal causation… but does it disprove it? Hardly. Rather, it indicates a potential connection that must be explored

My Conclusion: The risk of vaccination is incredibly high. The potential side effects and possible reactions are enough to give me pause, especially considering that is the main reason I avoid most pharmaceutical medication in the first place. I prefer remedies with few to no side effects for the treatment (and prevention) of disease. 

3.Vaccine Manufacturers are Not Held Accountable For Vaccine Injuries

Due to increased concerns from parents whose children suffered serious side effects from vaccinations, and resulting lawsuits and liability costs, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was passed into law in 1986. Several measures took effect with the law, including the aforementioned VAERS, but the key element was this:

(1) No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.

This is astonishing, considering that any other type of pharmaceutical manufacturer can be sued by anyone who is injured by their medication. Medical malpractice laws protect patients from negligent and inept practitioners. If you or your child is injured by a vaccine (and as we have discussed, this happens with alarming regularity), your only recourse is to file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. From there, your claim is passed around to a few legal and medical experts, who add their reports to your file, which ends up in the hands of a “special master”. The special master is a lawyer who decides if the claim is worthy of compensation or not, and if so, how much. No trial, no judge, no jury. Just one lawyer who decides whether or not your case is solid. If your claim is determined to be eligible for compensation, guess where the money comes from? Not the manufactures! Oh, no, they don’t give a dime to those injured by the vaccines. The money comes from a tax excised on all vaccinations, so the injury compensation is actually paid for by the people (or their insurance companies) receiving the vaccinations.  If your claim is denied by the VICP, then you may file a civil lawsuit under certain conditions.

My Conclusion: I believe strongly that all manufacturers should be held responsible for their products and the claims they make regarding their product. This means that anyone affected by a vaccine should have the freedom to sue the manufacturer in a court of law. If vaccine makers are not held liable for the safety and efficacy of their product, then how can anyone ensure they are indeed safe and effective? 

4. Immunization From Vaccines Doesn’t Last Forever

Many people assume that once vaccinated, they are protected indefinitely, but that’s simply not the case. In truth, it’s very difficult to come up with accurate numbers regarding the duration of vaccine-induced immunity, and you’ll find that different studies come up with different numbers. There are a couple obstacles to determining exactly how effective a vaccine is, one being that scientists must first figure out what level of antibodies indicates immunity(another topic that raises important questions which we will not delve into here). Here are a few estimates for the duration of immunity from various shots:

Additionally, one should consider that it is common knowledge no vaccine is 100% effective even immediately after the shot. In other words, with some people, it just doesn’t “take” no matter how many boosters they get, perhaps due to genetic factors.

My Conclusion: This fact in and of itself may not persuade me to forego vaccines, but combined with the vaccine’s toxic ingredient list and potential side effects… to me, the risk/benefit analysis provides clear direction. 

5. Vaccines are Not the Only Way to Prevent Disease

If I should insert my opinion here, it would be to say that neither are they the best way to prevent disease. But let’s stick to established fact: Vaccines are NOT the only way to prevent disease. In fact, there are lots and lots of things you can do to boost your immunity very effectively. Some of them are simple, some of them take more time and effort. But they’re all effective.

Just to scratch the surface, here’s a little list:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Definitely before cooking, after using the restroom or changing a diaper, before and after visiting a sick person or a newborn, and any other time that it makes good sense.
  • Practice good personal hygiene. It seems obvious, but seriously. This is why in developed countries we don’t struggle so much with infectious diseases, not to the extent of developing countries at any rate.
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods. And by nutrient-rich, I do not mean “diet” foods. I mean foods that are naturally rich in nutrients like bone broth, cultured and fermented foods, fruits and vegetables of all kinds, grass-fed and pastured meat and dairy, etc.
  • Take supplements. Given the toxic environment of modern life, and the depleted nutrients in our food sources, it helps tremendously to supplement. I’d start with a good probiotic, vitamin C, vitamin D, and a few other immune supporters like elderberry syrup and Thieves oil. Up your dosage whenever you’re exposed to sickness of any kind.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid sick people. If everyone were as careful about spreading disease as they were about vaccines, we would have a lot less illness going around! If you’re sick… stay home! If your child is sick… stay home! If someone you live with or work with is sick, then limit your exposure to them and up your supplementation.

These are just a few of the simple, every day things we can do that in the end are extremely effective in fighting disease and helping our immune system out.

My Conclusion: There are easy methods of fighting disease readily at my disposal that are not only safe but actively beneficial to my overall health. They not only prevent disease, they enhance wellness. Weighing these options in the balance against injecting myself with dangerous toxins that may or may not prevent disease… for me the right choice is painfully obvious. 

So there you have it! I don’t expect everyone to agree with my conclusions (hey – we’re all individuals, free to make up our own minds!), but you cannot deny the basic facts. Each of the 5 points in this post is a confirmed, actual fact that cannot be argued against. Anyone who chooses to vaccinate needs to understand and appreciate that there are true logic-based, scientific facts that give a person pause when considering the issue. Even if you feel strongly that the benefits outweigh the risks, you have to acknowledge that there are indeed risks that some people are not comfortable taking or forcing their infants to take. Each one of us should have the freedom to weigh the risks and benefits for ourselves and choose what is best for ourselves and our children without fear of angering or alienating our friends, family… and the CDC and FDA.

PS. Because pro-vaxers are some of the most hateful and malicious commenters I have experienced in my life, I am closing comments on this post. Thanks for understanding.

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Grow a Garden Indoors

We’ve already established that I’m no green thumb. Far from it. However, every year, I give it the good old college try and set out an assortment of potted plants and try my best not to kill ‘em.

I think I need to get me one of these here gizmos: 

MiracleGro AeroGarden It’s called a “Miracle-Gro AeroGarden” and it’s a hydroponic garden, using water, nutrients and air to grow the plants. The plants are purported to grow five times faster than plants in regular soil, and they’re easy to care for indoors… perfect for not-so-green thumbs like me. Plus this particular model fits nicely on a windowsill or in another tight spot, which is great for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of space.

I admit I was a little concerned about the specially formulated plant food you have to use, but the manufacturers have this to say about that:

At AeroGrow, we believe our products should be as “green” as they can be. Many of our seeds are heirloom varieties, sourced organically when possible, and we never use GMO seeds. We work with suppliers who share our values and are dedicated to providing the highest quality products.

Our specially formulated Liquid Nutrients contain no pesticides or herbicides. Our vitamin-packed nutrients contain minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium and are derived from sources that ensure high levels of consistency and purity.

Seems worth a shot! You can get this Miracle Gro AeroGarden only at Walmart!

How about you? Would you like to tryhydroponic gardening? 

 

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75+ Questions You Need to Ask About Vaccines

75 questions about vaccines #questioneverythingIn the pro- vs. anti- vaccine debate, the “pro” side often accuses the “anti” side of being anti-science. In my observations from the sidelines, nothing could be further from the truth.

What is science but asking questions? Isn’t that the very foundation of the scientific method? The vast majority of non-vaxers that I have had the privilege of interacting with have spent countless hours asking questions and searching for the answers. Of course, they can’t pursue the scientific method themselves in the sense of performing experiments and observing responses when it comes to vaccines, so they are left with sorting through the piles of evidence left behind by other scientists of the past and present.

Science doesn’t mean accepting someone’s word for it. Science means asking questions and not resting until you get reliable answers. Following are some of the questions many moms and dads (and medical experts and yes, even scientists) have had about vaccines. Some of them don’t even have answers yet. Some of them (OK, most of them) have multiple answers that conflict – you have to think analytically and critically to figure out which answer is the right one and who is lying and/or misrepresenting information. (No easy task!) Some of the questions overlap; some of them look at the same issue from a slightly different angle.

And…. each of these questions must be asked about each vaccine. (You can see why the majority of non-vaxers have spent a great deal of time and even money getting to the bottom of these questions in the process of making their decisions.)

If you haven’t personally taken the time to ask these questions, I would encourage you to do so. And don’t assume the obvious answer for any of them; take the time to Question Everything. I guarantee more questions will pop up as you begin your pursuit of science and truth, because that’s exactly what happened to me.

Safety

  1. Are they safe?
  2. What are they made of?
  3. How are they made?
  4. What are the FDA recommended doses/limits of each ingredient contained in the vaccine?
  5. How does the body respond to the injection of these ingredients into the bloodstream?
  6. Is it more or less dangerous for toxic ingredients to be injected into the blood vs. natural exposure to the same ingredients?
  7. What sort of safety testing do vaccines undergo?
  8. Are any double-blind placebo tests conducted on the vaccines?
  9. Has the entire vaccine schedule been tested for safety (double-blind placebo) as it is given?
  10. Have the vaccines been tested on children the age and size to which they are administered?
  11. What are the potential side effects of each vaccine according to the manufacturer?
  12. How often do the side effects occur?
  13. What is the result of injecting foreign DNA into the body?
  14. What is the risk of other contaminants (foreign matter, unintended bacteria or viruses, etc.) entering the vaccines?
  15. Are some people more at risk for developing side effects or adverse reactions than others? If so, how do you determine who is?
  16. Are infants and small children more at risk than adults?
  17. How many people have died from vaccines?
  18. Given that all medical procedures and treatments carry a risk, however slight, what recourse do you have if you or your child is injured by a vaccine?
  19. Can vaccine manufacturers be sued in a court of law if their product injures, maims, or kills an individual?

Efficacy

  1. What causes infectious illness?
  2. How does it spread?
  3. How can the spread of illness be prevented?
  4. Is there any way to boost your immune system to help it fight off disease?
  5. Is a  vaccine the most reliable and effective method of preventing the spread of illness?
  6. When did we first begin to see a decline of infectious diseases in this country?
  7. How did the introduction of vaccines affect the rate of decline, if at all?
  8. Are under-developed countries at a greater risk of developing infectious disease and experiencing epidemics? If so, why?
  9. How exactly does a vaccine work in your body to prevent disease?
  10. Does the vaccine assist the immune system’s natural method of preventing disease?
  11. How exactly does the immune system work anyway?
  12. How is the immune system of an infant designed to work and how does it differ from that of an older child or adult?
  13. Is an infant’s immune system capable of responding to a vaccine in the way it was intended?
  14. Does a vaccine confer immunity in every case and with every one?
  15. How can you be sure your vaccine was effective for you?
  16. What do antibodies mean?
  17. Does the presence of antibodies always indicate immunity?
  18. Which immunity is more effective: natural (from the wild virus or bacteria) or vaccine-induced?
  19. How long does immunity from a vaccine last?
  20. How long does natural immunity last?
  21. Is there any way to guarantee you will not contract and/or spread a disease?
  22. According to CDC and WHO, vaccines are responsible for eradicating smallpox. Were other factors involved? Why haven’t other diseases been eradicated by vaccines? Will they ever be?
  23. How did the diagnostic criteria of polio change after the vaccine was introduced?
  24. How were typhoid fever and tuberculosis virtually eliminated in the United States?

Herd Immunity (or The Benefits of Vaccinating for Others)

  1. What is herd immunity?
  2. What is the basis for the theory of herd immunity?
  3. Who coined the term herd immunity and what was meant by it?
  4. Does the concept of herd immunity apply to natural immunity or vaccine-induced immunity?
  5. What is the threshold where herd immunity is said to have been achieved and how has that number changed?
  6. Have we achieved that threshold?
  7. Can vaccine-induced immunity ever create herd immunity if the immunity is known to wane following the shot?
  8. In what percentage of people does the vaccine not “take”?
  9. Given that some people will not receive immunity from their shot no matter how often they receive it, that a few people can not receive shots for medical reasons, and that immunity wanes at various rates in various people and with various vaccines (and therefore many older children and adults are effectively unvaccinated) is vaccine-driven herd immunity even achievable?
  10. Can vaccinated people carry the disease for which they are vaccinated?
  11. Do unvaccinated people automatically carry the diseases for which most are vaccinated?

Disease & Mortality

  1. What is the rate of mortality in the diseases for which we vaccinate?
  2. Of the diseases for which we vaccinate, which ones have high rates of mortality and complications?
  3. How likely are you to recover from the disease without permanent complications?
  4. How does the rate of mortality differ between developed and under-developed countries?
  5. What is the rate of complications of the various diseases?
  6. How serious are the complications?
  7. What is the likelihood of contracting the disease in the first place, vaccination aside?
  8. Is there effective treatment for the disease (either medication or natural remedies)?
  9. How does the rate of complications and mortality of the diseases compare with the rate of complications and mortality of the vaccine itself?

Information and Conflicts of Interest

  1. Who is a reliable source of information regarding vaccinations?
  2. Do government organizations like CDC, FDA and the international WHO profit in any way from vaccinations? If so, is their information trustworthy and accurate?
  3. Is it true that the CDC has covered up information regarding vaccines, and/or has misrepresented facts and figures?
  4. Who funds the studies regarding safety and efficacy of vaccines? Is there a conflict of interest there?
  5. Are there any doctors, immunologists, epidemiologists,or other scientists who disagree with the current vaccination schedule?
  6. If so, what are their qualifications and what led them to question vaccination as it is practiced today?
  7. Are their concerns valid? Is their research sound?
  8. Where can I find unbiased research on vaccinations?
  9. Has anyone studied the health of the vaccinated vs.the unvaccinated?  Why or why not? And if so, what were the results?
  10. How much education do doctors receive on the topic of immunology and vaccination?
  11. Do doctors learn about the ingredients in vaccines, how they interact with the immune system, the process of vaccination and how it works? If so, do they share this information with their parents when recommending vaccines?
  12. Do doctors receive financial kickbacks for vaccinations? If so, does this present a conflict of interest?
  13. Will the doctor know what to do in the event of an adverse reaction to a vaccine?
  14. Who has the best interests of my child at heart?

PS. You’ll notice I didn’t link to any information sources or resources in this post. That’s intentional. You can get accurate information from ANY source as long as you’re reading critically and asking questions as you go. Don’t believe everything you read, whether on a government website, a scientist’s journal, or an anti-vaccine site. Dig to the sources, analyze the information you uncover and be a real scientist.  

Question Everything.

 

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Eliminate Toy Clutter and Boredom in One Fell Swoop

Reduce Clutter and Bust Boredom with the Activity JarSounds too good to be true? Well, I guess maybe it is a *little* bit overstated. If you have kids, I don’t think there’s anybody on earth crazy enough to guarantee you the permanent absence of either toy clutter OR boredom… so I’m not going to go that far. However, I will say that my little system I’ve taken for a test drive recently has really proven to significantly reduce the toy clutter AND the cries of “I’m boooorrreeeddd” around our house.

A little back story first: this past September, my husband and I both began full-time jobs for the first time since having kids. Whoa! That was a total adjustment we’re still working through. Suddenly, we found ourselves with a lot on our plate and not enough time to do it all. All our routines required some tweaking, but the one that has given the most trouble is the house-cleaning.

Gah! Those of you who always have immaculate houses can just skip this entire post, but for the rest of you… can I get a witness?! The Boyz (ages 6 and 4 currently) can wreak havoc in the place in mere seconds, but the clean-up process takes hooouuuurrrssss. They wake up between 6:00-6:30 most mornings and promptly get out their toys. What I really mean by that innocent statement is that before I’m even up in the morning, there’s an avalanche of toy cars, Legos big and large, and who-knows-what-other-random toys filling their bedroom and spilling out into the dining room and living room. And then, when we come home from school in a mad flurry of homework and dinner-making, more toys somehow magically appear. A few more toys (a metric ton) join the happy chorus after dinner, so by the time Mommy and Daddy announce, “OK it’s time to clean up!” there’s a veritable disaster area. Just what we want to face at the end of a tiring, busy day.

And, of course, our delightful children are more than happy to quickly and cheerfully pick up all the toys they played with during the day and return them promptly to their rightful place.

Ha! Excuse me while I snort coffee out of my nose.

Ahem. As I was saying, clean up doesn’t go as smoothly or as quickly as one might like in these circumstances. And repeating these circumstances every day was starting to get a little old.

So one day I sat down next to my husband and said, “It’s time to get drastic“. Disregarding my theatrical drama (he’s good at that), he listened carefully to my plan – and to my surprise – readily agreed that we should implement it ASAP.  Probably he was tired of hearing my lengthy monologue (repeated at least weekly) about how I was tired of cleaning and how I hated that the house never felt neat despite the fact that I was constantly cleaning it. Anything to put an end to those diatribes!

My Toy Clutter Reduction Plan

My plan was this:

  • Institute a new rule for The Boyz: No Toys During the Week. See what I mean by drastic? I hear a collective horrified gasp from my audience, but hear me out: we come home from school/work at 4:30 at the earliest. Right away, I start making dinner while The Boyz do their homework and/or Daddy checks their homework. Piano practice theoretically occurs at this time as well. On a good night dinner is ready between 5:30 and 6, after which we commence dinner clean-up. We try to spend time with the boys playing a game or reading books, and then before you know it, it’s after 7 and the 8:00 bedtime is quickly approaching. My point being: the whole evening passes very quickly with little time for toy-playing anyway. In fact, most of the time, the time it took them to clean up the toys was much longer than the amount of time they actually played with them. On weekends, they are free to play with whatever toys they want.
  • Create a “Morning Toy Box”, so called because they could get it out in the morning. In this box, I put all their favorite toys (which can be switched out in future) and they have permission to play with them whenever they have free time. So see? Not as heartless as it sounded initially.
  • Finally, create an “Activity Jar”, filled with slips of paper suggesting a variety of activities. They each get to pick one activity a day in their free time either before or after dinner. The activity suggestions cover a wide variety of options: art projects, games, Lego building suggestions, ideas for playing with specific toys or toy sets (like their Angry Bird set-up games). The catch with this one is they MUST clean up from their activity, promptly and with a good attitude or they forfeit Activity Time the next day.

Reduce Clutter and Bust Boredom with the Activity Jar The Activity Jar

While the No-Toys-During-The-Week rule eliminates the toy clutter that frustrated me Monday through Friday, the Activity Jar eliminates the potential boredom that would ensue. I first got this idea when I was de-cluttering their toys and art supplies after Christmas (an annual project for me!) and realized how many activities they had but didn’t ever use. Although I got rid of a few of the unused things, I saved the best and came up with the Activity Jar as a fun way to make sure all those toys and supplies were actually put to use instead of languishing in drawers, boxes, and closets.

The Activity Jar has other side benefits, not the least of which is the creativity it inspires in them. While most kids are naturally creative and imaginative to one extent or another, a little focused activity and a nudge in the right direction helps them to explore their creative imaginations in ways they wouldn’t otherwise. For example, my children don’t often pick up a paintbrush or box of coloring pencils of their own accord, but when they’re directed to draw a picture of their favorite season, suddenly their mind starts churning and the creativity is sparked, and skills are learned in the process.

Here are a few of the activities from the Activity Jar:

  • Build a ship out of Legos.
  • Paint a picture of your family.
  • Make a card and write a note to someone.
  • Make an Angry Birds setup using Jenga blocks.
  • Make a picture using stickers.
  • Put a sticker in the middle of a page and draw a picture around it.
  • Draw a picture of the pet you wish you had.
  • Choose a coloring or activity book and finish at least one page in it.

The beauty of this Activity Jar is that it can be highly personalized to each family. You can create your own activities based on the toys and art supplies you have readily available in your home. You can also take into consideration your children’s abilities and interests and adjust accordingly. Older children can do more complicated things, of course, like draw an illustration for a scene from a book, or design an imaginary machine that does their least favorite chore for them.

Toy Clutter Eliminated

I admit that even though I came up with this drastic plan myself, I was honestly a little skeptical that it would actually work. Having completed our test drive, though, I have to say it was a lot more successful than I thought! Old habits die hard, and we’re still training The Boyz not to get out toys that aren’t in the Morning Toy Box, but for the most part, they don’t anyway. It’s usually just an absent-minded thing and hasn’t involved more than a toy here and a toy there. They didn’t really balk at the whole idea either, which kind of surprised me. I think the promise of fun activities was enough to ease their mind on that score, plus the promise of playing freely with their toys on weekends. Besides, they aren’t so keen on toy clean-up, so I think they also appreciated any effort that reduced that particular chore!!

And the Activity Jar has been a hit! They love choosing the activities and have really enjoyed getting creative with the art projects especially. I’m sure I’ll have to keep it fresh by periodically creating new activities, but the ones currently in our jar will keep them happy for a while! Next time, I might even have them help me dream up the activities.

I have to say our new toy/activity system has really reduced the clutter, stress, and tension in our house, especially in the evenings. We have more time to simply enjoy each other’s company instead of constantly fighting the clean-up battle.

What do you think? Would such a system work in your family? Would you want to give it a try? What do you do to reduce toy clutter and the resulting stress? 

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FREE Guide to De-Cluttering Your Home in 10 Minutes a Day

De-Clutter Your Home in 28 Days, 10 Minutes a Day

Is your house overwhelmed with *stuff*? Do you find organization difficult? Do you have trouble straightening up because you just don’t know where to put things? Does the clutter in your home leave you feeling stressed out and overwhelmed?

You’re not alone, friend! I find myself in that exact same position fairly frequently. I’ve discovered that the solution is a periodic cleansing and purging of all that *stuff*, to give you room for what’s important and give you space to breathe.

But where to start? Sometimes the sheer magnitude of clutter c 728x90_28days ombined with a serious lack of time (and, let’s face it, motivation) induces a kind of paralysis that keeps us from accomplishing anything, allowing the cycle to continue and the problem to intensify.

Take heart! A guiding hand and a gentle little push in the right direction are all you need to get you started on your de-cluttering journey. With one hand guiding and the other giving that little shove, I’ve written a little eBook that will help you de-clutter every single room in your house (and your vehicle!) in just 28 days. (And hey! February is coming up and guess what?! 28 days! Serendipitous, yes?)

And what’s more, you’ll only need 10 minutes of each of those days to accomplish big things. (Although I might as well warn you that once you get started, it’s kind of like eating chips… hard to stop. So get ready for some super cleansing and invigorating lengthy de-clutter sessions coming your way soon!) You can handle ten minutes a day, right? 

Normally, this fantastic little de-cluttering guide is $3.99, which is a great price in my opinion (of course, because I priced it. Ha!); but from January 19-23, it’s completely 100% absolutely FREE. Yep! FREE! 

28 days. 10 minutes a day. You can do this.

I love free stuff. But only if it’s helpful, practical, useful, and what I actually want. So yep, I love THIS free stuff. 

Grab your free copy of 28 Days to De-Clutter here. 

But Wait! There’s More! 

I say that tongue in cheek, but really, there IS more: subscribe to my newsletter and receive completely FREE a printable pack that coordinates nicely with the eBook. Not only does it have matching graphics (oh so important), but it has printable charts and checklists to go along with the de-cluttering assignments in the book. Neato, right?

So to recap: De-Clutter your life in 28 days, ten minutes a day, by grabbing the FREE eBook here, and the FREE printable pack here.

Happy printing!

Happy reading!
Happy De-Cluttering!

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Want What You Have

want what you have

This evening, My Certain Little Someone, Tiger Cub, and I ate a late dinner at La Madeleine (love that place – don’t eat there very often!) while Daddy was at work. As we were situating ourselves at our table, I happened to notice a lady in the corner enjoying (at a very leisurely pace I might add) a book along with her soup and salad. I have to admit, I was struck momentarily with a pang of envy. 

“Wouldn’t it be lovely?” I thought to myself, “to have an hour or two to myself to sit down at a restaurant and immerse myself in a book with some coffee and a pastry on the side?” (Notice the lack of soup and salad in my scenario.) I even started pondering how I could go about arranging such a beautiful morning (or afternoon or evening… I’m not picky), and I was pretty sure my sweet DH would be happy to indulge me.

Then I started to consider that it really wasn’t fair for me to have time all to myself and not to give the afore-mentioned DH his own time off. But when pressed, that dear man always insists that he’d rather spend his free time with his family than on his own, so he almost never indulges in solitary pleasures.

And then I looked back at my own table, at the rambunctiously adorable and so-very-earnest faces that looked animatedly at me and at each other as they exchanged an excited conversation (and a few noises and loud bursts of song). And my conscience pricked me. (Actually, I’m pretty sure it was the Holy Spirit with a little dose of conviction.) Really? I was envious of a woman eating by herself with her nose in a book when I had all this wonderfulness right in front of me? Two little companions who were actually behaving quite well, all things considered (a shocking turn of events, to be sure), and were just as delightful as any old book could ever be? Actually, much more so!?

As Tiger Cub once again burst into a loud rendition of “Everything is Awesome!” – literally at the top of his lungs – and I uttered yet another “Shhh! We’re in a restaurant! You have to be quiet!”, I mentally overhauled my attitude and gave thanks for the beautiful blessing that was right there with me. Reading a book with coffee and a pastry on the side (hey, I’d even take the salad and soup) is a lovely pastime to be sure, but so is enjoying sandwiches and fruit with my two little all-boy-boys. And the one reaps benefits long into the future and even eternity while the other is just a fleeting moment that passes when it is gone.

I’m choosing to thrive in the moments God has given me, and this was one of them. If I wallowed in what I could have instead of what I actually had, I would totally have missed out on the joy of it.

Here’s to wanting what you have… and finding you have everything you want!

 

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Disinfect Your Home with Thieves Oil

Thieves disinfect #yleo #essentialoilsRecently, my family has gone through a bout of various illnesses, and I have declared myself DONE with it! I have no idea what brought on this sudden onslaught to our immune systems, but we’ve run the whole gamut of diarrhea, vomit, coughs, runny noses, fevers, and sinus infections. DONE, I say! We are done with all the germs. 

Henceforth and therefore, I went on a rampage through the house with my bottle of Thieves and an assortment of other tools, determined to ban the sickness from our house for good. Or at least for a good long while.

Disinfect Safely

Most people grab a bottle of a bleach-based product, or perhaps an antibacterial spray, when they embark on a disinfecting mission, but not me. I’ve found a much better alternative recent years: not only does it smell better, it WORKS better.

Why is Thieves Oil so much better than bleach? It contains two antibacterial powerhouses: cinnamon and clove oil. A study confirmed that they were among the list of the top ten bacteria-inhibiting essential oils, eliminating 23 out of 25 types of bacteria. There’s no need to resort to a chemical such as bleach, when you can use a perfectly natural – and perfectly safe* – alternative. 

Disinfect With the Right Tools

The only tools you need to completely disinfect your home are a spray bottle, vinegar, water, rags, and some Thieves oil. It’s especially effective if you have a diffuser as well, and a small cobalt or stainless steel spray bottle is useful as well.

  • Thieves Cleaning Spray: Grab a 24oz spray bottle designed for cleaning solutions, and fill it with half water and half vinegar. Add 5-10 drops of Thieves essential oil; shake well.
  • Thieves Sanitizing Spray: Fill a 2oz or 4oz glass spray bottle  about 25% with rubbing alcohol (or vodka). Add 5-10 drops of Thieves essential oil, and then fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. Shake well before using. The advantage of this sanitizing spray is that it evaporates fairly quickly into the air due to the finer mist of this type of spray bottle and the inclusion of alcohol. Thus, you can let it air dry without wiping it off, and you might even be able to use it on some upholstery and other fabrics (test a small spot first).
  • Diffuser: Use an ultrasonic diffuser such as this one to really get the bacteria-nabbing oil into the air. This type of diffuser works by filling the small chamber to the fill line with water, then adding a few drops of oil. Replace the lid and turn it on.

Disinfect Your Home

There’s a lot of surface area in your home that qualifies for a good disinfecting spray and rubdown, but don’t get overwhelmed. Follow this process and you’ll have the whole thing done in a couple hours. I’ve started with the areas that have the highest concentration of germy traffic, and went from there.

Before you start: If you have a diffuser, set it going with Thieves oil in one room of the house. Every ten or fifteen minutes, move the diffuser to another room to help eradicate the germs there.

1. Start with the Bathroom. Germs are flying thick in there! Spray the toilet and sink liberally with the Thieves Cleaning Spray and let it set for a few minutes before wiping dry with a clean rag. I like to use a fresh rag for each new area so I don’t carry germs from one spot to another. Sweep the floor, then spray it with the cleaning spray and wipe with a rag. Spray light switches, door knobs, and any places that are frequently touched by either big or little hands, then wipe dry. Finish off the job by spraying with the Thieves Sanitizing Spray on all the “hot spots”: toothbrushes, faucets, toilet flush handle, light switches, door knobs, cubpoard knobs, etc.

2. Next, the Kitchen. Once the basics are taken care of (dishes and food cleaned and put away), spray all the countertops, cupboard doors, and appliance surfaces with the cleaning spray. Allow it to set, then wipe dry. Pay special attention to anything hands touch frequently: faucets, buttons, keypads, soap dispensers, cupboard door knobs, light switches, handles, etc. Don’t forget to give the trash can a thorough wipe down! Sweep the floor and clean it with the cleaning spray.

3. Since the dining room is likely right near the kitchen, let’s attack that next. Spray the table and chairs with the cleaning spray and wipe down immediately, so as not to harm the finish on the wood. If you’re really concerned about the wood finish, you can also spray the rag itself and wipe it on the table. Vacuum up all the food and other assorted crummy stuff off the floor.

4. Doors & Lightswitches, of course. Beginning with the door you most frequently use to enter the house, begin spraying them with the cleaning spray, letting it sit, then wiping dry. Follow up with a spritz of sanitizing spray, which you can leave to air dry.

5. Finish up with the Living Room. I like to spritz my couch pillows with the sanitizing spray occasionally; you might want to test a small patch first before you try, just to make sure it doens’t harm your fabric. Spray a little cleaning spray on a rag and gently wipe the remote controls. If you have small children, you might want to spray their toys with sanitizing spray as well.

6. Don’t forget your Vehicle! As I was driving my sick son home from school, it occurred to me that we spent a lot of time in our van, and as such, it was bound to be rife with germs. Accordingly, once I was done disinfecting the house, I grabbed my tools and headed outside to tackle the van. It’s the same process as disinfecting your house: once you’ve cleaned out the clutter (what, no clutter in your van? I don’t believe it.), spray all the hard surfaces with the cleaning spray, let it set, then wipe it dry. Focus particularly on the places your hands touch most frequently: the steering wheel, console, door pulls, gear shift, control knobs and buttons, etc.

7. Finally, the Laundry. If you’re anything like me, by the time you’ve finished with this process, you’ll have used up your entire supply of rags! On top of which, you can’t forget that used sheets and towels harbor all sorts of germs. Strip all the beds, get all the dirty towels and wash cloths out of the bathroom, get the dirty wash rags and towels from the kitchen, and don’t forget about that pile of rags. Wash them all in hot water, adding a few drops of Thieves oil to each load.

Ahhhh…. Breathe in the fresh, uncontaminated air! Now, go relax and enjoy!

*Note that essential oils, especially strong ones like those contained in Thieves oil, should only be used a few drops at a time and well diluted.

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