Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stop Being a Jerk About Vaccinations

So, I’m going to write about vaccinating your kids . . . and not vaccinating your kids. I’m not going to try to convince you to do one or the other. I am, however, going to ask you to dial down the snark when you come across a parent who chooses not to vaccinate their kids.

My kids are 12, 10 and 4 years old. When the oldest two were babies, I never once questioned whether or not they should receive vaccinations. Everyone got them and I didn’t know anyone who hadn’t – I didn’t even know that there were people who chose to opt out of vaccinating their kids, or that there were laws to allow parents to do so. It was a non-issue for me.

During the years my two kids were very young, I gained a huge interest in a “natural living” lifestyle, a non-traditional lifestyle. I read about and became friends with people who farmed in the city, made their own clothes, homeschooled their kids, made all their food from scratch. I also began learning a lot more about pregnancy and childbirth, and all the politics and issues surrounding natural birthing methods vs. managed, medicated births. If I’d had my way, we’d have moved to a farm where I could live out my “back to the land” fantasies and my kids could roam the outdoors and become BFFs with the wildlife.

At the same time, I was learning more about Autism, including the belief of some that certain vaccines are likely to cause Autism. In addition to everything I was reading online and the people I saw in the media, I knew someone whose son is on the Autism spectrum, and she believes his Autism is linked to his vaccinations. She’s no hippie – in fact she was a successful mental health professional with a very traditional lifestyle.

When I became pregnant with our third kid, I became determined that I would not repeat some of the mistakes I’d made with my pregnancies and births and early parenting, with my older two kids. Now, I didn’t have any major mistakes I was grieving over, but I felt that maybe I’d dodged a bullet on certain things. Like vaccinations & Autism. So I began looking more into the Autism/vaccination connection and read some really compelling stuff. What impacted me even more than the possibility of vaccines leading to Autism was how vaccinations had increased so dramatically over the years. Kids today get A LOT of shots, y’all.

So Ashley + natural living + having another baby + current events = ASHLEY IS SCARED LIKE WHOA OF VACCINES.

When our son was born and due for his first round of shots, I expressed my concerns to his Dr., who talked to me like I was an idiot. I’m sure he gets tired of explaining his point of view to freaked out parents, but guess what? That’s his job! I was told that he would no longer keep my son as a patient if I didn’t let him get vaccines. At this point, I hadn’t even said to him that I refused to do it – I’d told him about what I’d been learning, and that I was scared. 

We compromised – our son would get his vaccinations, but he would receive a certain one (the one that is rumored to be the Autism culprit) later than the CDC schedule recommends and he would only receive vaccines that were free of mercury or Thimerosal (which contains mercy). The mercury/Thimerosal thing wasn’t an issue because most vaccine manufacturers had begun removing these preservatives anyway because of the possible links to bad reactions/side effects. This was required by the CDC.

At a later date, when I was at the Dr’s office for my baby son’s checkup and shots, the nurse was telling me about the vaccines he’d be getting that day and mentioned one I wasn’t familiar with. I asked what it was, and she again repeated the name. I asked again and she then explained that it was a “super booster” which combined five different vaccines into one shot. Combining vaccinations into one shot isn’t new to vaccines, but this specific combination was new to me, though I was familiar with the vaccines, in their individual form. I asked why they’d been combined, and was told that it was recommended by the CDC.

So reader, I have a question – if something is recommended by the CDC, the people who make the final call on what vaccines are important for our society – would you assume that the CDC recommended something that was medically necessary? I did.

I asked why it was recommended (and mind you, I wasn’t being a jerk about it – I was curious and wanted to be informed) and the nurse sighed and went to get the Dr. The Dr. told me that the CDC sets the vaccination schedule (i.e. your baby gets the MMR shot at XX months old, your baby gets the chicken pox shot a XX years old, etc) to coincide with well-child visits (when you’re supposed to take your kid to the Dr. whether they’re sick or not, to see how they’re doing developmentally) so that kids would actually get their shots. If parents have to make a different appointment just to bring their kid in for shots, the appointment often doesn’t get made or is skipped, and the kid gets behind on their shots. So the CDC schedule is more about making sure the kids GET the shots, than the medical necessity of having shots on a certain timeline.

I.E. there was NO medical necessity for my baby to have a shot that combined 5 different vaccines into one. I don’t know how long that particular combination had been manufactured, but it wasn’t around 6 years before when I’d had my last baby – so at most, there was 6 years of research tracking how this type of super booster impacted the health of children who received it.

I didn’t like that and I didn’t like that I had to ask and ask and be treated like I was an annoyance to get this information. So I asked if it was possible for my kid to get those shots individually the way my older kids had. Again with the sighing and tone of annoyance – but yes, they could do it, I’d just need to schedule extra appointments and they’d have to postpone the first shot because they now only carried the super booster and didn’t have the individual shots any more, they’d have to order them.

Since then, this has pretty much not been an issue. My kid gets his shots, he doesn’t have Autism, and I’ve followed along as the debate continues to rage between the Vaccines-Cause-Autism/No-It-Doesn’t camps. I thought of this all again because recently on Twitter, a friend tweeted about asking her kid’s pediatrician whether a vaccine contained mercury, and the Dr. said he had no idea and didn’t know how to tell. And then when they figured out, it turned out the vaccine did have mercury!

Now, consider the history of medicine and pharmaceuticals, in the U.S. alone. Have we not  - over and over – learned of things that the medical community thought were not only safe, but good for you, that turned out to be horribly unsafe and bad for you? To the tune of birth defects, genetic mutation, irreversible damage and death? This stuff is still happening today – a new drug comes out on the market and it either takes a while for it to be fine-tuned (even after approval from the FDA) or it is later recalled for dangerous side effects? Have we not seen examples of the healthcare industry making decisions that were bad for people but good for profits? Have we not seen people try to hide the damage they’ve done because it will cost them everything if they were discovered?

Medicine and our modern healthcare industry has done amazing things to better the lives of people around the world. They get SO much right. But who can argue that they never get it wrong? Within the last 100 years we thought the answer to mental illness was lobotomy. We put pregnant women into twilight sleep to give birth. We have seen the rise of pharmaceutical companies and the massive amount of wealth they generate. Doctors used to tell heart attack patients to use margerine, it was supposed to be healthier for them than butter. This was only 20 years ago, folks! So knowing all of that, why is it so outlandish that parents might be concerned with the increase in vaccines, and possible links between vaccines and other illnesses?

As I said in the beginning, I am not trying to make an argument that one should or should not vaccinate their kids. I do wish, though, that when people hear of someone who isn’t vaccinating their kids, they will have more compassion. I know a lot of people who don’t vaccinate their kids and they aren’t stupid, or uninformed. They aren’t careless (including with the health of others), they aren’t narrow-minded and unable to consider opinions outside of their worldview. I’ll tell you the truth – most parents I know do vaccinate their kids and most of them don’t give it a second thought and haven’t done a MINUTE of research into what’s being pumped into their kids. Those I know who don’t vaccinate – without exception -  researched the hell out of all of this stuff before they made the decision. Yet they’re treated – without having been asked about their personal circumstances – as the irresponsible ones. I don’t think that’s fair.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I did it!

I told you I'd let you see my hair once I got it cut, so here it is. I'll try to post pics of the back sometime soon.

This is a messy look - I've had it this short before & it's fun. I can straighten it for a sleek bob, sculpt it & push it off my face, wear it in tight curls or wear it mess & wavy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What I Did On My Winter Vacation, Pt. 2


I played Dominos and Uno with the family . . . and never won! What’s up with that?!


I did a LOT of knitting – mostly new cozies, but a few headbands and phone cozies as well. This is just a small sample.


I took photos of my daughter modeling my new knitted headbands . . . she’s so pretty. :)


I stood at our patio door or bedroom window and just stared at the pretty field behind our house. This is where the doggie playdates go down.


I hung out in my daughter’s room and watched movies with her, while knitting. And reading. And watching the 4 year old jump into my shots.


I also watched him dance around her room, always in front of her mirror.


I took photos of the fabric I’m hoping to destash and sell.


I enjoyed our colorful Christmas tree. I think trees with white lights are so beautiful and classy, but trees with colored lights make me think of my childhood, and I just love them the most.


I went to the library a couple times. Not pictured here are the 37,000 anime DVDs my daughter checked out.


I got inspired to do something crafty and cool with boxes . . . can’t wait to finish these and show them off!


I wondered why I found my camera in my bed, with no battery life left. Hmmm . . .


OH HAI, CULPRIT! I SEE YOUR LITTLE 4-YEAR-OLD FEET. And the 29 blurry photos of your WWE “action fingers”.

More to come!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What I Did On My Winter Vacation Pt. 1


I spied on the people who have doggie playdates in the big field behind our house. Usually there’s only 2 people and Vincent and I think they might be flirting with each other while their dogs play. It’s a little doggie playdate soap opera for us.


Oops, they saw me. Right after I snapped this shot, they all turned and waved.


I did a crap job wrapping presents. To quote my friend Black Girl In Maine, “Like the honey badger, I just don’t care”.


I said, “Why did someone dump all my old CDs out on the – OOH, CRANBERRIES!!”


I played outside in the only snowfall so far, with the 4 year old.


Here he’s looking at Vincent who is telling him to throw a snowball at me.


And now he runs from me.

DSCN6528 DSCN6529 DSCN6530 DSCN6531


Back at home, he shows us his best John Cena.


And then he looks cute some more.


I got some mail from Etsy! What?!


It’s an eco-friendly tote bag . . .


. . . and a little note thanking me for my work as a team captain (WHATUP CHICAGO STYLE CRAFTERS).


Dunno if Etsy knows I’m stepping down as team captain. Staying on the team, just letting others take the reins.


I organized and purged a lot of sewing/knitting/Etsy stuff. One day, I will learn how to sew from a pattern and will make one of those cute wrap tops.

I’ll be posting more of what I’ve been doing on my winter vacation . . . Did you get to take any time off? What have you been doing?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Upstairs, Downstairs

downton abbey Recently I began watching the BBC series Downton Abbey, which is about an aristocratic family and their servants, in the early 1900s English countryside. The series shows both the “upstairs” world – the aristrocrats, their family problems, who they brush shoulders with – and the “downstairs” world – the servants who work for the family. Many times, the two worlds connect and that’s when the most fun happens.

udoldThis isn’t a new theme in film and television. The 1970s gave us the BBC series Upstairs, Downstairs, which has a similar storyline, except that the family (the Bellamys) in this series is based in London. There are a couple movies that focus on this master/servant dynamic – Gosford Park

gosford park

and The Remains of the Day are a couple I love. Oh, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson WHY DON’T YOU JUST ADMIT YOU LOVE EACH OTHER I CAN’T TAKE IT!!!

remains of the day

udnewBBC created a sequel to the first Upstairs, Downstairs – I checked out the DVDs from my library and have been watching a new family settle into the old Bellamy house. If you’re familiar with the original series, you may like to know that Rose, the housekeeper, returns to the sequel (set 40 years later, amidst King Edward’s abdication of his throne).

manor housePBS also has a series called Manor House. I’ve written about it before – modern-day people choose to spend a few months actually LIVING an Upstairs, Downstairs life. Some participants are given roles as aristocrats, some as servants. You can’t break role, you have to behave as those people would have. I was finally able to put this sucker on hold through the library and I hope it’ll arrive at my local branch in time for me to watch it while I’m still on vacation.

What I need now? Books that dig into these worlds. I’ve got one book on hold, a non-fiction that looks at the lives of people these series and movies were based on . . . but I want some fiction, too! Not just stories that happen to have servants, but stories that focus on the details and relationships of the two worlds.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Handmade Ryan Team

Did you know I’m not the only person behind Handmade Ryan Gosling? It’s true! When I started it, a whole WEEK AGO (what? really? only 7 days ago?), I wrote to 3 handmade friends and asked if they would help me come up with ideas. They jumped right in and began pumping out some of the funniest shit ever. And then they told their friends. And y’all, they have a lot of friends.

The blog began taking off and I went to these ladies for advice on certain things, like “Three people have sent me the same thing, should I try to combine them?” and “I don’t really want to link to people’s shops, that’s cool, right?” and they were so helpful and full of wisdom.

And then the blog REALLY began taking off and I got a lot of solo recognition for it . . . well, because my name was the only one on it. I changed that, but still a lot of people were just giving me all the credit. Things have changed – the names listed on the blog have been updated, the work we’re doing on the blog has changed and now this is clearly not just a solo gig – we’re a team.

Now, as I’ve said before, we’re not curing cancer here. But you’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at how much time, organization and consideration must be given to doing something like this well. So we’ve got our ducks in a row and are ready to give you the best darn rootin’ tootin’ Handmade Ryan Gosling meme you’ve ever seen!

I think it’s time that you met the ladies!


lily2I met Lily when taking a knitting lesson from Allyson (more about her later). Lily knits LIKE WHOA and is also a dancer opening up her own company in the near future (I predict Handmade Ryan dance parties – why not?)! Also? She cracks me up and has a cute nose ring. You can read Lily’s blog and follow her on Twitter.

lily knit


katieI actually only met Katie in person this week, but became Twitter friends with her a while back after stalking her a bit. She’s buds with Lily and Allyson (I SAID, more about her later, dang). Katie is an actress and very soon will be moving to LA to make it big, y’all! If she meets Ryan first it’s understood that the rest of us get a crack at him too. Just sayin’. Anyway – Katie does a lot of different crafty things but what I love most is her embroidery. Katie has a blog, an Etsy shop and a Twitter, too!



150 (2)I told you we’d get to her! I can’t remember how I came across Allyson on Twitter, but I did. I think I was initially captivated by her name – The Sweatshop of Love – but then fell in love with her hilarity. I took a knitting lesson from her and the rest was history. Allyson sells her knitted creations and patterns and also teaches all kinds of knitting. She is a machine, I tell you. A sports-watching, state-hopping machine (she splits her time between Minneapolis and Chicago). You can read her blog (where she also sells stuff), check out her Etsy shop and follow her on Twitter.

allyson clutch 

Enjoy getting to know these fine ladies!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hold Me

Thoughts I’m having while all this Handmade Ryan fever is going around:

~ I wonder how long it will take for this to jump the shark and get annoying?

~ I wonder if I’ll ever get hate mail. That would probably make me cry. Don't do it, meanies!

~ I already need to cut down on my Twitter time, but now all these awesome people are following me. I want to follow some of them back, but that will make it even harder for me to keep up with the people I'm currently following. Damnit! Looks like a purge is in order.

~ I actually recognize certain quirks of his face now. I’ve seen it So. Many. Times.

~ It’s really freaking exciting when everyone is talking about how awesome you are & how awesome something you did is, and I want to express my excitement, but I feel kinda douchey about it. Heeeeey LOOK AT ME AND ALL THE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT ME!!! Yuck. Except . . . it's really freaking cool! LOOK AT ME AND ALL THE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT ME!!!

And y'all, this isn't even anything major. We didn't cure cancer. This is all going to go away in a day or two, everyone will have moved on to the next thing. Which is fine because I never expected it to be as popular as it has become. But if I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by a few days of internet meme popularity, can you imagine what it must be like for FOR REALS celebrities? No wonder they struggle so much with remaining normal.

Now, excuse me while I return the call from my publicist.

Almost There

Oh, bloggity blog. I promise I will return. I have 4 more work days before taking 2.5 weeks off so I have to hit it hard right now, but once the weekend hits, I'm all yours. I have a long list of stuff to write about so get ready for content!

In the meantime, read this and this and maybe in the background you can hear me screaming my head off.

Friday, December 9, 2011

All Kinds of Goodness

A few updates for you:

~ After enjoying Feminist Ryan Gosling, Biostatistical Ryan Gosling, Librarian Ryan Gosling, Literary Ryan Gosling . . . I decided to make Handmade Ryan Gosling. So far, it's a hit. Submit ideas for it to

~ Tonight's the office holiday party. There will be karaoke. Remember a month ago when I was all IT'S MAH BIRTHDAY I'M GONE SAAAAAANG and stuff? And I was playing the karaoke, guy-voice-only version of Need You Now over and over and over in my office so I could be prepared for my duet with Kelli? Well, now, my boss is being that way. I swear to God if he comes to my office one more time to ask me which verse of Sweet Caroline I'll be singing (when our dept sings as a group), I'll . . . well, I guess I'll tell him (again) that I'm singing the 2nd verse.

~ My phone's battery stopped charging last weekend and this week has been so busy that I still haven't had a chance to get to a store and see if they can fix it, or get a new battery, or whatever I have to do. This is major, y'all. I have a hard time without my phone, I do everything on it! Tomorrow is the day, the day I return to Tweeting in the bathroom so my family doesn't get mad at me for being on my phone all the time.

~ Annie at the Wattlebird blog is running a giveaway right now for $20 credit in my shop - head over there and get you some!

Ok, I don't have time to do a Dance Party Friday today, but I will leave you with this gem, from my friend Alicia, who has been able to see Leslie live. Jerk.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Facebook & Twitter Giveaway Winners!

I held a few $20 shop credit giveaways last week and used's number generator to pick the winners! They are:

Personal Facebook - Michele!
One In The Hand Facebook - Robyn!
Twitter - @KnittingNatural!

Congratulations, ladies! Take a look at my shop and let me know how you'd like to spend your $$!

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