Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why do you need a vaccine for chicken pox?

Hi everyone! I'm here today to do a quick post on a question I've been hearing a lot lately:

 "I understand why we need a polio and smallpox vaccine, but why are we bothering with a chicken pox vaccine? I got the chicken pox when I was a kid and I was just fine! It's so mild they used to have chicken pox parties!  It's just big pharma making up vaccines that we don't need to take our money"

There are a couple points in this question that I'd like to clear up. 

Chicken pox is not always mild

Prior to the chicken pox vaccine 4 million people were infected each year, resulting in over 10,000 hopsitalizations, and 100-150 deaths (cdc.gov).  That means that over 10,000 cases of the chicken pox were serious- complications from chicken pox range from infection of the blood, bone and skin to pneumonia to encephalitis.  In 1995 the chicken pox vaccine was introduced and the cases of chicken pox hospitalizations and deaths decreased 90% (cdc.gov).  Perfectly normal babies and children can go from 100% healthy one day to hospitalized with a life threatening infection the next day.  I reccomend reading this story of a perfectly healthy 13 month old child who spent 7 days in the hospital battling the chicken pox because she wasn't vaccinated yet.  There's no way to predict whether your child will have a mild or a serious case of chicken pox- so don't play with fire in the first place.

In addition, if your child gets the chicken pox they can pass it on to those who are unable to be vaccinated, like immune compromised or elderly people.  While you might think the chicken pox is mild to your child it is most certainly not mild to an immune compromised cancer patient or an elderly man with pneumonia or a newborn child.  Therefore preventing the disease in the first place is the most fail safe way to keep the other groups of people safe, after all, it's not their fault they can't get the vaccine themselves.

Big Pharma saves lives

I know it's super hip to hate big pharma at the moment so very few people are going to agree with me on this one, but I'll say it anyways.  Big pharma isn't out to get you.  The creator of the chicken pox vaccine was a virologist who was so moved by watching his daughter suffer from the chicken pox that he decided to create a vaccine against it.  As I mentioned above, chicken pox can be deadly and have serious consequences so it's really not quite so unreasonable for a pharmaceutical company to create a vaccine for it.

On to the money aspect.  If you have health insurance (and you probably do) you're not paying much out of pocket for this vaccine, I bet the max co-pay most people ever pay is $40.  I looked up the price to buy the vaccine outright and it's only $94, so it's quite reasonably priced.  Do you know how much a 3 day long hospital stay costs?  When Charlie was there for 3 days and 2 nights back in March the bill was $22,000.  Spending $94 to ensure you won't be spending tens of thousands of dollars later due to chicken pox complications makes a lot of sense to me.  So is big pharma really taking all your money? Because it seems to me that vaccines actually save you A LOT of money.  Try thinking about your vaccinations as an insurance policy.  Sure, insurance policies cost money for something that only MIGHT happen (like a car crash or a house fire) but you still need the protection having insurance offers you, even if you may never use it. 

Chicken pox parties are basically an unsafe and unreliable form of vaccination

The idea of the chicken pox party I suppose worked back when there wasn't vaccination because what you're doing is basically trying to control "vaccinating" your child against the chicken pox by exposing them.  You control the timing of the first exposure to the chicken pox virus and then they're effectively immunized against it- somewhat similar to a vaccine.  Of course now that there are vaccines, why would you do this?  The vaccine is predictable and safety is guaranteed.  Bringing your child around some random kid with chicken pox (and who knows how virulent of a strain it might be?) is a completely risky and unreliable way to prevent getting the chicken pox in the future.  The vaccine is considerably safer than purposely exposing your child to the live, virulent strain of varicella. 

Some people might tell you that naturally contracting the disease confers better immunity.  The current chicken pox vaccines available are 98% effective at preventing the disease, which is a pretty darn good statistic in my book.  The 2% left that still contract chicken pox have a milder form of the virus and easier recovery.  Seems like a no brainer to me.

Why risk your child's comfort and health?

This is the one that completely baffles me.  Most children with the chicken pox recover in one week (cdc.gov) but why let them be sick for 7 whole days at all if it's preventable?  Being sick is the worst, especially when you're a kid- why inflict unnecessary illness on your child? Being sick with the chicken pox is 98% preventable (and 2% of cases are less mild with the vaccine) so the fact that people are choosing illness over a safe and quick vaccine is mind boggling to me. Compare the side effects of the vaccine to the side effects of chicken pox and I'll choose the vaccine any day.

The second point here is that your child's health is a gift.  When you don't vaccinate for a preventable illness (like chicken pox or the flu, etc) you aren't protecting that gift.  Vaccination is a way to protect your child's good health and keep it that way.  If you're a parent of a child with a chronic health condition, like myself, you know how lucky those parents with healthy children are.  Therefore seeing parents refuse to vaccinate their healthy children looks an awful lot like throwing their precious good luck down the toilet.  So don't be like them, protect your good luck and your healthy child and vaccinate them!  Not only will it keep your child safe it will protect your community, too!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

4th of July 2014

I think it's safe to say that the 4th of July is definitely one of my favorite holidays! For as long as I can remember I've gone to the beach, participated in the annual bike "parade" and decorating contest, played in the sun all day, and returned to the beach at night to watch the fireworks.  It's always so fun and we've done it every year with Charlie, too.
Until this year! Charlie and I were planning on spending the night at my parents beach house in Old Saybrook July 3rd for a fun change of scenery and to help get his treatments done before the bike parade and then WHAM! Thunderstorms forecasted ALL DAY on 4th of July.  Wicked bummer.  Luckily the 4th was on a Friday this year so we just postponed the party until Saturday.
In the meantime I at least needed a cookout if we couldn't go forth with our other plans so I begged and whined and eventually got Robbie to grill during a thunderstorm.  A charcoal grill.  But he managed to do it!

Grilled chicken, kielbasa, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, bacon potato salad and caprese pasta salad.  Think we had enough food for 2 people and a 3 year old that won't eat? LOL.  It was totally overkill but delicious and we brought leftover salads to the party the next day.

Robb and Charlie getting ready to do s'mores, in the rain, under an umbrella. No excuse to not have s'mores on the 4th of July :)

The only marshmallows they had at the store were giant ones so we had the biggest smores EVER.  DEEEEEELICIOUS!

The next day was the 4th of July so we headed off to the beach house for a party! Here's a rare picture of my hubby and I together!  He lost his glasses in the ocean earlier that day, poor guy!
We spent the day at the beach with family and friends having fun and enjoying some of my dad's amazingly amazing home-smoked pork ribs.  I hate ribs usually but his are SO GOOD- no barbeque sauce needed :)
After all the fun we headed down to the beach at sunset to watch the fireworks.  Charlie's Aunt Peggy (top middle picture- not to be confused with my mom, who I also call Peggy haha) got him glow necklaces and bracelets, he looked so cute!  And no that's not my corvette, but I sure wish it was- Charlie and Robb do too, come to think of it ;)

It's kind of hard to explain just how close the fireworks are to where you sit on the beach.  Probably dangerously close, most people that haven't grown up with it leave pretty shortly after they start because they get nervous.  I mean people are lighting fireworks about 20 feet away from where we sit (if that).  These are fireworks put on by the neighboorhood but they are legit (people with beach property in CT tend to have a lot of spare money to spend on awesome fireworks, evidently haha).  They're the best fireworks EVER and I've never seen a professional show that looked any better than the ones at this beach.  But it's slightly terrifying how close they are. We were all covered in ash and bits of cardboard by the end of the show, if that gives you an idea.  There's quite possibly no better setting for fireworks than a beach at sunset. 

No zoom here, just pointing the camera straight up.  So beautiful!

So that was our awesome July 3rd, 4th!  I even took off my first full weekend in almost a year so I had that Sunday off too, then Monday and Tuesday was my normal weekend and I didn't go back to work until Wednesday!  It was a great vacation- I just love Old Saybrook! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Last Noel Mignon DT Layout

Hi everyone, I'm here to share my last NM DT layout with you all :(  I had to step away from the Noel Mignon Design Team which is such a HUGE bummer. I love her kits and having the accountability to get some layouts done every week, but I just couldn't squeeze it in with my schedule anymore- it became too hard (TWSS). I still will scrapbook so that won't change - it just might be less frequent.  I hope you like this layout I made using the Balboa kit in the mean time :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sometimes the design process stinks

I have one hell of a time with my design process sometimes.  I'll get so torn between what I'm doing and what I envision that I tend to stalemate.  A  LOT.  This layout was one that came together through a lot of trial and error, but finally I got through all the errors and was able to make a nice layout (IMHO).  Thanks to MME for the supplies; here's my slow and annoying process for your enjoyment :)

"OK I like how this is shaping up. but I hate the diagonal stripes on the end. The stripes MUST be in the middle. obviously."

"OK this looks better. I like the stripes in the middle, but now I'm starting to think the right hand side is way too empty.  Let's start piling shit on"

"OK. I piled way too much shit on"

"OK, after removing the gold circles it still looks too busy"

"OK, after removing the gold flourishes it still looks too busy.  And that black flower chipboard piece is too black for what is supposed to be a soft layout. I hate this layout. I'm going to bed."

 "Eureka! Remove the extra shit, schooch everything up so there's still negative space but NOT too much and anchor the journaling card with a doily.  Fuck yeah brother"

Boo-yah!  Took a couple a days but eventually my mind and my hands caught up with each other ;)  Does anyone else obsess like a crazy person about their layouts?? No, just me?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Strawberry Jam for Beginners

Hi everyone! Charlie and I had a great time making 3 batches of fresh strawberry jam a while back so I thought I'd share how to do it for anyone interested in giving it a go.  I love to can, and I used to can all the time back before Charlie was born.  However I haven't canned for quite a while because I've been nervous about the heat and how grabby Charlie was.  Now that he's almost 4 I thought he could definitely help me this year so we gave it a go!  We picked a LOT of fresh strawberries and then made jam the next day.  I'll try and share where Charlie helped too, that way anyone with little kids around can make it as well :)

Here's what you'll need to get started

Mason jars (I chose a larger size because my husband eats jam like a fiend), a strainer, and a big bowl

A jam canning kit, a potato masher, and a cup measure.  There are lots of canning kits out there nowadays, I bought mine 5 years ago and still love it.

A small saucepan, a big pot, and a pressure canner or a big sauce pan.  I love my pressure canner (I've had it for almost 7 years!) because I don't have to worry about something boiling over, it's really big and can fit a lot of jars, plus I'm able to can things besides jam, like salsa and chicken stock.

A buttload of strawberries (child labor helps here *cough cough*), and NOT PICTURED- one packet of dry powdered pectin, 7 cups of sugar, 1/2 tsp butter.

Now on to the jamming!

Step 1.

Rinse your strawberries and then cut them in to quarters.  Charlie used a butter knife to help here but loved doing it, and he did a pretty decent job too! They'll all be mashed later so it doesn't matter if they turn to mush ahead of time.  While you're doing this fill your pressure canner with water and heat on high.  Put your jars in the pressure canner ensuring they are below the water line.  Also fill your small saucepan with water and bring to a light simmer.  Add the lids for the jars and keep an eye on the water so it doesn't evaporate away.  Make sure this pan isn't boiling, or else the glue in the lids could dissolve away.

Step 2. 

Mash 'em up! Use a potato masher or the flat side of a spoon and mash those strawberries into a liquid-esque state. Charlie wasn't great at mashing but he loved pretending!  Measure out 5 cups of mashed strawberries for one batch of jam.

Step 3.

Add your strawberries plus a teeny tiny pat of butter (1/2 tbsp) into a large saucepan and heat on high. The butter supposedly helps with the foaming but my jam is usually foamy and I don't give a care.

Step 4.

Once the strawberries are boiling add 7 cups of sugar (yikes! I know it sounds nuts, but also keep in mind most people only use a little jam at one time) and one packet of DRY (NOT LIQUID or it won't set) pectin.

Step 5.

Bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Boil vigorously for 1 minute- use a timer to make sure you're getting the timing down correctly.  For this part I made Charlie wait far away since hot + sugar = pain.  Turn off the heat and skim off the foam (if you care, I don't) and then prepare your jars.

Grab a jar from the hot canner and empty the water back in to the pot.  Place on a dish towel

Use a funnel to ladle your jam in to the jar, leaving about 1/4 inch headspace at the top (don't fill too high or your jars could explode)

Wipe down the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel to ensure there's no jam that could prevent the lid from sealing.  Grab a lid from your small saucepan and place on top of the jar.

Use your jar clamps to hold the jar while you twist on a ring top.

Place jar back in the pressure canner and repeat until all jam is used up.  Place the lid on the pressure canner and bring water to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes and remove jars from the water to a clean dish towel (there will be some popping noises).
After your jars are cool press the lids on each one to ensure there is a good seal.  If the lid pops up after you press it than the jar didn't seal properly.  No worries though, just put the jar in the refrigerator and eat it like normal! All the other jars can be stored in the pantry.

And voila! Easy peasy strawberry jam! We love this stuff at our house- give it a shot :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Mind's Eye Guest Designer Post #2

Hi everyone! I'm sharing the second half of my projects for my Guest Design spot at My Mind's Eye- which was so fun! Aren't these Market Street lines totally amazing? I love the gold and the florals and the prints and the die cuts and the washi and the journaling cards and pretty much all of it ;)

Here's a layout I made using the Nob Hill Market Street line featuring Mr. Charlie giving me "head hugs" last year :)

This is a mini album I made from Robb and I's trip last May to Puerto Rico (can I go back pretty please??).  I used a 5x7 photo for the cover along with some of the Necessities- Wood line by MME.  I bound the album with ribbon and twine to give it a rustic feel.

The back cover is made with a sheet of MME wood veneer which I just love! It's sturdy plus it looks awesome as a cover. 
OK that's it for my MME projects, I hope you enjoyed them :) I love MME, their lines are always so cute and versatile.