Vaccination scares in the media

You know, we try to be diligent about balancing a whole-foods/all-natual lifestyle with scientific progression, and sometimes those views crash into each other.  For example, while I do feel some vaccinations are very important (MMR, Polio, Hepatitis), I think others are complete crap, like the flu shot.  I like to think I read the medical journals when they come out (the ones that make the news/social media feeds at least) but the problem I have is…I do not have a medical degree.  The problem is…data can be skewed toward whichever way the writer is leaning.  The problem is…I don’t know how to filter the good from the bad, the real from the false.

Case in point, there is a lot of scare for the vaccinations causing Autism.  Then a few years ago, the lead doctor who found the correlation basically said he made the whole thing up.  Then today I read that there was another payout for a child who the courts determined became autistic due to the MMR vaccine.  So, with all this information, how the heck am I supposed to decide what is the correct course of action?

I mean, I’m not all conspiracy theorist that the gov’t is using us as unknowing research guinea pigs, but…but…on the other had, I really wouldn’t put it past them.  I mean, we have put fluoride in our water to ostensibly help strengthen teeth, but there is a slew of research that shows fluoride may increase certain kinds of cancer.  I totally think that a lot of ideas and regimens are pushed through with too little research.  I want to do the best thing for our family, but how do you separate the fact from the fiction?

A lot of the homesteading blog writers I read do not vaccinate their kids.  They point to graphs that show disease was on a decline before vaccinations ever came about, and if it was good enough for our pioneers, it’s good enough for them.  Of course, then you have the other side that completely debunks those graphs with more science.  I would like to think that science has progressed to the point where we would see some benefits that improved our health over and above what our pioneering forefathers had access to.

But honestly, at this point, who the hell knows?

Cold and cough

Poor Ezra has been fighting a cold for awhile now.  The past few nights he’s been waking himself up because he’s been coughing so hard.  I’m fighting a cold as well, but not to the extent that he is.  A few months ago I read about a fellow blogger’s garlic balm that she uses on colds and I had used it on Ezra at that time and then left it in the fridge.  I cleaned out the old stuff yesterday and made a new batch and lubed the babe down.  I also caved and we bought a cold/cough medicine for children because I wanted Ezra to be able to have a good night’s sleep.  All things considered, I really do think that garlic balm in amazing!  Stink, stinky, stuff, but amazing.  Ezra only had one coughing fit last night, and there is no runny nose today, and no coughing fits.  He sounds so much better!  I’ve been slathering him up chest, back, and feet every couple hours.  I actually did up my feet last night, too, and I feel better as well.  Garlic, who knew?!

To make it yourself, take 8 cloves of garlic, 1/3 C of coconut oil, and blend/whip together until it’s completely smooth.  Put in a glass container and place it in the fridge when you’re not using it.  To tell a secret, I have ours sitting on our counter right now, because our house is cold enough that it’s in a solid form.  But “technically” it should be kept in the fridge.

Mister kitty has been keeping Ezra company while he’s sick.  I think it has more to do with the fuzzy owl blanket Ezra keeps with him, but it’s a cute sight, nonetheless.

Mister loving on Ezra

Mister loving on Ezra

We’ve been canning tons of tomatoes lately, but I wanted to get some jars of paste.  The trouble is, I didn’t want to wait while the mix simmered on the oven for hours at a time while I waited for most of the water to evaporate.  I did a little web research about how other folks did tomato paste and saw a genius post about first dehydrating the tomatoes and then processing them.  It made so much sense!  We have a dehydrator that we got from a set of grandparents:

old dehydrator

old dehydrator

The thing is, this thing was probably quite old before we got it, and we’ve had it for probably 4-5 years and never used it.  I placed the rows of tomatoes on the racks and set it.  I checked on them the next morning before I went to work and only one rack, the one on the bottom, was ready to be removed.  This was after about eight hours.  I rotated the racks and had Jesse keep an eye on them for the rest of the day.  They were still drying when I got home that night.

still-drying tomatoes

still-drying tomatoes

After my experience with dehydrating the tomatoes, I came to the conclusion that we need a better system.  I’m looking at the Excalibur 2900 or maybe the 3900.  They have great reviews and aren’t extremely expensive.  They have a heating coil and fan at the back of the machine, instead of the bottom, for more even drying.  Anyway, I blended the dehydrated tomatoes tonight and put them into two cans.  During the cool down period I heard to separate bangs, so I wasn’t totally surprised when I later lifted the pressure canning lid to find this:

exploded tomato cans

exploded tomato cans

I hopped on to a Facebook canning forum, and there is no real consensus about why they exploded.  Some theorize that I needed more moisture in the cans, some say its because the tomato contents and jars weren’t hot enough before I put them into the canner, others because I had too little head space.  All I know is that was a waste of two drying days, and now I have a mess to clean up.

It has been a little rainy/misty, so Jesse gathered up the onions we had pulled.  I’m excited to try them!

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Garden clean up

A couple days ago, I woke up to find this:

dead garter snake

dead garter snake

And then the other day we found feathers in the bathroom, but no dead bird, so figured the cats must have eventually taken it back outside.  Yeah…that wasn’t the case.  A day later, Jesse picked up the toilet paper pack off the floor and the bird had somehow gotten underneath the plastic.  Good times.  Then two days ago there were more feathers, but again no bird.  So either the cats really did take out the bird this time, or we have a morbid surprise waiting for us somewhere in the house.

When we originally planted our garden, we had defined garden bed places, with walkways in between.  We didn’t do the best job keeping the beds tamed, and pretty soon there was no walk ways because the tomato plants took over the whole area.  I finally started pulling the cherry tomatoes out of the strawberry and chive patch, and then Jesse helped me when he got home.

cleaned out strawberry area

cleaned out strawberry area

There are still a bunch of tomatoes on the ground, but either the chickens will get them, or we’ll just have to be diligent about pulling the sprouts when they come up next year.

Yesterday I figured Ezra needed some vitamin D (he’s teething some back bottom molars and trying to fight off a cold) so we went outside for about an hour before his nap.  While we had cleared out a little path area, the rest of the yard was driving me nuts, so I started pulling more cherry tomato plants.  I am leaving the larger style tomatoes where they are because I feel they are more useful.  I really have no idea how we had so many cherry tomato plants.  Anyway, I was yanking vines out of the ground and I decided to harvest some of them because while the majority of the fruit were split or mushy, some of them were still sound.  Here is the next tomato area after I was done for the day:

cleared out tomato area

cleared out tomato area; there is now a fairly cleaned walkway to the right and also at the bottom of this section

Here is the cleared pathway:

cleared pathway

cleared pathway

Ezra was so excited that there way a whole new section of the backyard that was opened up, he just started running around the garden bed.  When he’d get to the newly cleared out section that still had a bunch of tomatoes on the ground, the tomatoes would pop under his feet and he’d say, “Uh oh!  Ouch!” and walk slowly through that area, and then he’d be off running again.

Another benefit of clearing out the tomatoes is I can get more light to the surrounding plants.  Here are some of Jesse’s peppers:

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And then there is this little pansy flower:

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pansy flower, with a beet next to it

Earlier in the season we planted a bunch of herbs and various veggies.  Some of them have gone to seed, so Jesse and I harvested the seeds yesterday.  This is a great way to plan ahead for next year, frugally.  Also, it’s good in the sense that we know what can grow in our soil.

cilantro, gone to coriander seed

cilantro, gone to coriander seed

green butter(?) lettuce seeds

green butter(?) lettuce seeds

dill seeds

dill seeds

chives

chives

sage

sage

basil

basil

Our marigolds have done awesome this year, and they are prolific seeders.  We probably have half a sandwich Ziploc bag full of the seeds, and that was only from a few dried up heads.  I think we are going to sprinkle/plant these is the front yard as well next spring.  I don’t typically like orange or yellow flowers, but these I quite enjoy.  I love how full they are.

marigolds

marigolds

We still have more cherry tomato plants to clear out, and pretty soon we’ll be harvesting the watermelons and squash gourds.  I pulled a bunch of onions yesterday, and they are currently drying, or curing, on the ground next to where I pulled them.  I think I need to let them cure for awhile before I take them inside.  I’ll have to read up on that again.

tomato jungle

tomato jungle

watermelons

watermelons

flowers are coming back after chickens dug them up a few months ago

flowers are coming back after chickens dug them up a few months ago

Ezra loves the chickens.  He always wants to see them, and tries to pet them when they’re out.  He hasn’t quite figured out they aren’t like the cats.  He loves to check for eggs in the nest box, but thank goodness he’s not quite tall enough to hold open the door and grab the eggs.

Ez checking on chickens

Ez checking on chickens

Mister-kitty surveying his domain

Mister-kitty surveying his domain

Digital life and hand smacking

I was reading this article on Slate about how these parents have made a conscious decision to not post any photos of their child online.  They remove tags from Facebook if a friend includes the kid in a photo, they purchased the web domain for her name, signed up for email addresses, the works.  They are trying to maintain online anonymity for their child and when she’s old enough they will give her the “keys” to the digital portfolio.  A clean slate, if you will.  Some of their reasoning seems sound, if somewhat paranoid, but I don’t see myself following the same trend.  Everything is so invasive right now that I don’t know that it would really make a difference in the end.  And I like posting photos of Ezra and the amazingly non-biased adorable things he does.

On a completely different note, do you folks spank your kids, smack hands or yell in frustration?  I’ll admit, I have smacked Ezra’s hands a couple times.  I’ll get frustrated that he’s picking up the rabbit poo again, or playing with nails under the deck.  I raised my voice quite a bit the other day when I came downstairs to find he had gone into my bedroom and opened white fingernail polish and dumped it on the sheets.  It’s so hard for me to remember sometimes that he’s not yet two even, and probably doesn’t have a strong handle on anything.  I’m thinking it’s probably more of an in-the-moment situation right now for him.

But after I yell, or smack hands, I feel terribly guilty.  I mean, I don’t yell frequently, or smack his hands often, but still, guilt.  And lately Ezra has been hitting himself or inanimate objects (like the chair or fridge) when he’s thwarted by something.  I think to myself, is he doing that because he has seen me do it?  Or is it perhaps that is an age-appropriate response because he cannot yet articulate what he’s feeling?

Honestly, I don’t know.  Maybe it’s a bit of both.  I was talking with Jesse in the backyard about this, and I have to acknowledge that I need to better and take ownership of those situations.  Yes, he should not have dumped nail polish on my bed, but I should have made sure he was coralled upstairs, or I should have closed the bedroom door so he didn’t have access to the polish.  Yes, he should not have opened the fridge and dumped the contents of the milk onto the chair, but I should have made sure the child lock was in place.  Parenting is rough, I tell you.  It’s all about learning moments, for me as well as Ezra.

I do want to be clear that I have nothing against spanking every now and then.  I think of generations past where corporal punishment was the standard, and we’re not a society of psychopaths.  But still, I can be better about redirection of attention and trying to spot things before they happen.  Something to strive for, anyway.

Mischief managed

There are some days when Jesse doesn’t shower.  Not because he likes being dirty, but because Ezra gets into mischief when left alone.  We have really child proofed the upstairs as much as we can, and we have a baby gate so he’s pretty much stuck to the kitchen and living room.  Lately, Ezra has been getting into the fridge and freezer and taking things out, which does get old fast.  We bought those child locks for the fridge, but we broke the top lock pretty quickly, and Ezra figured out the bottom lock.  Odd thing is, with the bottom freezer lock, he seems to just like unhooking it and clipping it back in.  The top lock is still functioning, just a bit broken, and if you don’t close the fridge door carefully but rather let the door swing shut on its own, the top lock flops in the way and prevents the door from shutting (which is how the top lock was broken).  We’ve taken to just clipping the top lock out of the way with one of those potato chip clips because Ezra’s been good about not trying to fridge door after we got the lock.

Look at this face:

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Yes, he looks adorable, but lurking under that handsome exterior is a mind just raring to go and explore.  I got out of the shower today and it was too quiet upstairs.  I went up to find Ezra on the couch with an empty milk jug in his lap.  The problem?  We didn’t have any empty milk jugs in the recycling can.  It took me awhile to find it, but he had dumped the rest of the milk contents on an Ikea chair which then spilled off onto the floor.  Now, we buy raw milk, which is quite a bit pricier than store-bought pasteurized milk ($7.50/gallon from our local farm).  And that awesome milk was then soaking in the chair cushion and carpet.  I was not a happy camper.  After telling off Ezra, I went downstairs to dress.  Probably was not more than 10 minutes.

I decided that Ezra needed to play outside so I brought his shoes up with me, thinking I was going to give me a treat (because he LOVES to go outside).  I found he had gotten the milk jug out of the recycler, took off the lid, put in some dry beans.  He had also reached the egg container on the counter and took out an egg and dropped it on the kitchen floor.  Good times it was not.  I (somewhat) calmly cleaned up the mess, put on his shoes, and dragged the chair cushion outside.  When I hefted up the cushion, it compressed and started dripping milk…which I then had to clean up.

I sprayed off the chair cushion and propped it up.  Luckily it hasn’t rained today.  Should be dry soon.

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Excited to be outside!

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Here are some sunflowers that have been growing in our carport.  Not quite sure how they got there.

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This squash plant was not planted by us.  We’re thinking the chickens somehow tracked in a seed on their feet or it made it through one of their digestive tracks.  So, more squash for us, though we have no idea yet what kind it will be.

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We bought two new rabbits.  This little one is about 9 weeks old, supposedly a female, but we all know how that can go.  I WILL be better about handling this one than I was with the first three I bought.  I will NOT have another female who is crazy and won’t let us pick her up.  To that end, I brought her inside today and held her for about half and hour while Ez and I watched Toy Story.  She did this thing one time where she yawned, and that yawn lasted forever.  It really kinda freaked me out.  I thought she was preparing to attack.  But then she settled down and licked her lips.  Disconcerting.  We might name her, not sure.

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This darker bunny is an adult male, has fathered many bunnies, so we know his sperm work.  His name was Ricochet, and I see no need to change it.  He is not too accessible in his cage, but at the breeder’s house the rabbit seemed nice enough, probably just needs to settle in.

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I cannot say enough nice things about the breeder we got those two from!  His whole operation seemed better that the first place we got our rabbits.  Shawn is his name, and he had a little book with all the DOBs and who was bred from whom.  He could tell us about the disposition of the rabbits, and what he thought would fit our needs best.  He let us borrow a cat carrier to take the second bunny home in since we only brought the one.  He also sold us a cage for dirt cheap.  He seemed to be a stellar gentleman all around, I was very pleased with the transaction.

The chickens have been giving us more and more eggs.  Yesterday there were seven, today there are three so far.  A couple hens like to lay later in the day it seems, so I didn’t take these eggs out yet.  Ezra loves to help check for eggs, but I am a bit leery about letting him carry them inside.

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These are the super-tall lettuce plants.  I think we can harvest the seeds from them now, or soon, and won’t have to pay for lettuce seeds next year.

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Our squash patch is still huge and going strong.

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We bought a trampoline from Amazon not too long ago.  The idea was that I would use it to exercise a couple minutes here and there.  I also knew Ez loves to bounce, and figured he could use it as well.  Yeah.  He pretty much uses it more than I do.  Aside from bouncing, he likes to hold onto the top bar and swing back and forth.

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He’s always interested in the camera, until I’m trying to get a self shot.  *sigh*

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