Saturday, February 7, 2015

2014 Recap

* I originally wrote this in January, but apparently never hit "publish", so here goes*

So a quick recap of 2014:

- Jason's business kicked off it's 2nd season

- my employer announced that it will be closing the Kentucky location within the next 3 years and all jobs will be relocated. Mine specifically is going to Michigan.

- Miss Jillian was born
- Miss Jena graduated from Kindergarten
- my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary

- we made a decision regarding both my job and Jena's education

- after more than 10 years with my employer, I resigned my position

- we began homeschooling Jena

- our family's first trip to Disney World
- a trip to Chicago

- Jason expands his business to include Christmas light installation (residential & commercial)

- holidays (need I say more)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Our Stance on Vaccines

Because why not post on a hot topic and piss some people off, right?

I research each and every vaccine myself. Here's the background:

I was pregnant with Jena and was given the CDC info sheets for the vaccines they want her to get right away. One of them (I think Hepatitis B), had stats that didn't sit right with me for some reason. Took me a while to figure out. Then I realized. They presented some numbers as percentages, some as fractions, and some as raw numbers. Having spent years at my job making various numbers-based presentations to executives, I know this trick well: you present it in whichever format spins your story the best. Any time you see a report, news article, etc. with numbers presented in multiple fashions, it should be a red flag that they are trying to sell you something. And so I began digging. I just wanted to see for myself.

Think back to math class. Probably late elementary school timing. One of the basic rules of comparing numbers is that to do an accurate comparison you have to get them in the same format. This is when you learn to convert fractions to percentages and vice versa. It is literally elementary school level math. And both sides are using it to their advantage on a regular basis.

It was hard for me to find legitimate info at first. The problem being that the vast majority of sites out there are either very pro-get-every-vaccine-exactly-on-schedule or very-don't-trust-any-vaccine-and/or-the-schedule. Which means they're all spinning the numbers one way or another. So I went to the source.

I now pull all of my stats from the CDC, FDA, and WHO sites. I read manufacturers inserts. When I can I read the policies for those vaccines for other 1st world countries. If there is a difference in recommendation, I try to find out why.

I will tell you that some of this information is VERY hard to find. Which is VERY frustrating to me. I get even more flustered when I can find a stat on one vaccine then can't find it on another. It happens. I'm irritated that the wording is different from one to another. For example, sometimes "death" is lumped in with all serious complications. Other times it is its own entry. These inconsistencies and lack of transparency are perhaps the largest red flags to me.

The end result: we do get the majority of vaccines, and on schedule. We skip a few when the data to support it just isn't there.

I am not an "anti-vaxxer". I am not a "pro-vaxxer". I am a question everything kind of person. I am the kind of person who wants to see for herself. I encourage everyone, no matter what side of the issue you are on, is (if you haven't already) to do your own research. Don't be a sheeple (I love that term).

I'm not going to put our decision regarding specific vaccines on this post (although I think for Jena it's been mentioned before). For a long time I've wanted to publish the numbers and information as I pull them for each individual vaccine, so I'm going to make a concerted effort to do so in the future, lay the numbers out for you, and hopefully help my readers make a more informed decision regarding the care of their families, no matter what they decide.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Socialization? Really?

** disclaimer: while we decided that we felt homeschooling was the right decision for our family at this time, I truly believe that there is no one "right" answer for educating your children, and each family must decide for themselves which route is best for their children, be it public school, private school, or homeschooling. They are all equally valid options **

I was recently approached by someone close to me regarding the fact that we are homeschooling Jena. They were asking how she was doing, what was she learning, did she like it. They seemed genuinely impressed at what she was learning, and shocked that she liked "school".


Because all four children in their family, ranging from Kindergarten thru 4th grade, all attending public school, ALL of them hate going to school. Dread it. Can't stand it. Hate school.

They find it odd, they said. Usually you hear of one kid hating school. Or one kid loving school. And most kids somewhere in between. But all four of them HATE it, and they're looking for answers, so they decided to question me about homeschooling.

So, by his own admission, all four of the children in his family absolutely HATE school. I think we can all agree that if you dislike something that much, you probably aren't doing your best work or reaching your full potential either.

In his frustration with their current school situation, he chooses to approach me to ask questions about homeschool. Seems impressed with what she is learning and how she is doing, and especially with the fact that she LIKES school and learning.

So of course let's argue that my daughter's not getting properly socialized {{ head desk }}

He brought it up gently, as if he were genuinely concerned for Jena. I pointed out all the different activities Jena was currently participating in with her peers:

- Sunday School (coed, all 1st graders, includes children of several different racial / ethnic backgrounds)
- Girl Scouts (all girls, K thru 3rd grade, includes girls of several different racial / ethnic backgrounds)
- play group (coed, age 5 thru 10 [with younger siblings in tow], includes children of several different racial / ethnic backgrounds)
- gym class (coed, age 5 thru 10, includes children with autism, sensory issues, etc)
- science class (coed, age 5 thru 10)

While there is some crossover, each group is a different set of kids with which Jena is building relationships.

He told me that was all well & good, but it's no the same as spending all day every day with the same friends who are all these same age as you.

{{blink, blink, blink}}

He's right. Attending five different activities with five different sets of kids, building friendships with kids in a wider age range is not the same as spending six hours a day, five days a week with the exact same kids, who are all in the same grade, approximately the same age.

I attended public school. While we didn't choose it for Jena at this time, we do still believe it is a viable option. But do not preach to me about how it is a great way to socialize your kids.

Besides, I personally am not making education decisions for my children based on their social life. There are plenty of other opportunities for them to make friends and socialize. I don't have to compromise their education to do so.

Your kids hate school. They aren't doing as well as they could because of it. You're impressed with what my homeschooled child is doing academically. And the ONLY argument you can come up with against it is socialization? Really? Sit down.
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