Unschool Epiphany!

This is our second year of homeschooling, and I couldn’t  be happier with the way things are going. This year we have shifted from a more traditional curriculum-based homeschooling style, to unschooling/child-led learning. The more I have learned about the child-led learning process, the more excited I became to go for it and give it a shot. The hardest part of unschooling is worrying that your kids aren’t self-motivated enough to learn what they need to learn to be successful adults. This has been especially challenging for my husband, who was traditionally homeschooled. I have found myself whispering “unschooling!” to him whenever one of our kids is engaging in something educational according to their own free will. Slowly, he has started to see it for himself.

One of our biggest successes so far happened just a few days ago with my five year old, Ava. Ava has been showing a lot of interest in number lately. One of her favorite games is to count and sort her treats. She got a full size bag of M&Ms for Halloween, and I told her she could only eat half the bag. So I gave her a paper plate and had her sort her candies by color, then divide each color into two even piles, then put one pile back into the bag for later. She had more fun doing that, than she did eating the candy. This is what child-led learning is all about! She enjoyed the game so much, that she didn’t even realize she was learning, and has wanted to repeat it over and over again. I believe it was the game with the M&Ms, that led to her epiphany a few days ago.

All day, Ava kept asking me “What’s seven and four plussed together?” “What’s eight and free plussed together?”. The tricky part of unschooling, is knowing when to just give the answer, so as not to interrupt their train of thought and derail their creativity, and when to use the moment as an opportunity to teach them something new. Since Ava seemed persistent in her math quest, I chose to use that time to show her how to do addition on her own using our dry-erase board.  Similarly to the M&M game, I wrote out an addition problem horizontally on the white board, and then showed her how to draw small circles under each number (very M&M-like), and then count the circles all together. And whataya know, it just clicked! Seeing her so proud of herself was so fulfilling for me.

I think back to doing math homework with my oldest daughter, Kylie, when she was in public school, and how we would spend 45 minutes on one worksheet. We would go around and around until both our brains were melting from frustration; all because she wasn’t ready to learn it yet. Then, on the flip side, it took all of ten minutes to teach Ava how to add and she had it down pat. Having the option of waiting until my kids are ready to learn something, rather than trying to cram the information into their brains so they score well on their tests is worth its weight in gold. Knowing that my kids will learn what they’re meant to learn, when they’re meant to learn it, is even more valuable.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to homeschool your kids, I say do it! Life is too short to be constantly battling your kids to complete homework deemed necessary by someone else’s standards. For more info on unschooling/child-led learning, please click the links below.

The Benefits of Unschooling: Report I from a Large Survey

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201202/the-benefits-unschooling-report-i-large-survey

“Unschooled” Kids Do Just Fine in College

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/unschooled-kids-have-few-problems-once-they-hit-college-180952613/?no-ist

This link has a whole slew of links to studies and info on homeschooling and unschooling.

http://www.johnholtgws.com/unschooling-research-and-support/

 

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How Childhood Trauma Impacts My Parenting Today

The subject of this blog post may cause a bit of controversy among some of my family members, but I feel very strongly about sharing my story. I find sharing the story of my childhood to be very therapeutic. I feel as though every time someone listens, they take a little bit of weight off my shoulders; so the more I share, the less weight I have to carry around. Not everyone in my family feels the same way. I will try to respect that as much as possible by only sharing my own personal experiences. My experiences are my own, and no one can silence me from sharing what I have been through. Sometimes it’s more important to do what feels best for you. And what feel best for me is to share my story and hopefully help others along the way. I can only hope that my family will understand.

Many people who know me personally have heard me mention that I grew up in an abusive home. Very few people know the details of that abuse. I pride myself on being an open book, so I willingly share the details of my childhood with anyone who is curious, but still, it’s not like it comes up often. My husband of 12 years, Ben, knows more than anyone else. In fact, he was the first person I ever told. Not only that, but he is single-handedly responsible for getting me out of that situation and has since provided me with a sense of peace that I had never experienced before. He truly is my knight in shining armor. I was raised by a single mother with severe metal health problems. She was very volatile and was often angry for no apparent reason. Even in my short stint in what I call “pseudo-foster care”, she still tried very hard to control me. I had to be careful about what I said to people, because if I were to ever speak ill of my mother, it was viewed as an act of treason, which would result in an excessive punishment.

There was a time in my life that I believed that things would never get better. That I wasn’t meant to have a happy, successful life. I would lay awake at night, sick with worry about the situation I was stuck in. I slept on a bare mattress with exposed springs, with a pillow that had dog poop on it. I had long since lost track of which side of the pillow it was on. It didn’t really matter, everything in our house was filthy. My mom has always had problems with hoarding, but it wasn’t until the summer before 8th grade, that it got really, really bad. My mom had started taking in animals, but had no ability to care for them. Slowly but surely, our house was taken over by filth and clutter. Our living room was no longer habitable. There were cockroaches in everything. One of the reasons I had so much trouble sleeping, was that when I turned the lights out at night, it was only a matter of time before the roaches would climb up the wall next to my bed. I would have to stay alert, so I could swipe them back down under the bed. I would listen for the “plop” of it hitting the trash that was shoved under there. If there was no “plop”, it had most likely had fallen into bed with me, which meant I had to get up, turn the light on and shake out my blanket. This was my nightly routine. It was one of these nights, that I lay awake with a knot in my gut, thinking about life, and what the future held for me. I was 14 and supposed to be in the 8th grade. I had no choice but to drop out of school because of the nightmare of a home life I had. My grades were horrendous and my attendance was equally as bad. There was just no way for me to keep up the charade that everything was okay at home anymore. I laid there in my bed, thinking about how I would never get a job or ever even have a boyfriend. I was probably going to die without ever being kissed. Who would want to kiss me? I was the stinky kid. Who would want to hire me? I had no education. I felt like I was the only person with enough foresight to see that I had no future. That’s when I heard a loud “Pop!” come from my closet and noticed a warm, flickering light. I got up to find the water heater on fire. I managed to quickly put it out. You know how sometimes you think things couldn’t possibly get worse, but then they do? From that day forward, we had no hot water. Which meant no more showers. Not that I was taking very many showers at that time, because the tub was filled with garbage and cat poop. So, horrible story horribler, I ended up going several months without bathing or changing my clothes. This was by far the worst time in my life. I only got to leave the house in the middle of the night, so as to avoid being around people. Strangers would make comments about the way I smelled. It was humiliating. It still is. The first time I told my husband about this time in my life, I actually thought I was going to vomit. Keeping secrets like that, eat away at your core and fill your body with a dark, black poison. When you finally unleash those secrets, your body physically hurts.

You might be thinking that this is the most depressing thing you have ever read, but I assure you, it has a happy ending…. Eventually. One morning my mom woke me up early to tell me that she was going to check herself into the psychiatric ward, and I was going to go stay with my aunt. This was the beginning of a new chapter in my life that was also filled with pain and anxiety, but at least I was no longer living in a prison of garbage and feces. The thought of having to go to my aunts house in the disgusting state that I was in was terrifying. I went into my closet and dug around in the bottom of a box of dirty laundry that my cat had given birth in, and found a pair of underwear to change into. I knew that even if the cat had given birth on them, they would be cleaner than the ones I had been wearing for the last several months. I ended up missing around a year of school, but I did eventually re-enroll. Thanks to various extended family members and pseudo-foster families, I had clean clothes and access to a shower. And for the first time in a very long time, I had friends again.

The point of telling this story isn’t to make you feel sorry for me, but to illustrate why I take parenting so seriously. My number one goal in life to be the adult that I needed growing up. It is hard to explain the level of loneliness that you feel when the one person that is supposed to be your soft spot to fall, is the main source of your pain and fear. If you can’t trust your own mother to not hurt you, who can you trust? I am devoted to parenting my kids peacefully, so they will never have to know what that loneliness feels like. I hope my kids will never have to feel that knot of anxiety that I used to feel right before I would open to front door when I got home from school; not knowing what I was walking into. I want my kids to come home filled with joy and excitement. I want this to be their safe haven where they are free to say what’s on their minds, and express themselves. Where they can come to me if they are having problems without having to worry that I will be angry with them or hit them. I want them to feel at peace when they are around me. I’m certainly not a perfect parent. We all have bad days where we are out of patience. I lose my temper and yell at my kids. I hide from them in my room when I’m feeling overwhelmed. When I find myself doing those thing more often than I would like, I take the time to think back to when I was 14 and convinced I would die without ever being kissed. It puts everything back into perspective and helps me to appreciate having a life that I never thought was possible for a person like me. I will forever be grateful to my husband for swooping in and delivering me from that shit-hole of a situation. I will never understand why someone who comes from such a normal family would want to get involved with someone like me, who brings a whole lot of baggage with her. I mean, I have outstanding boobs, but they’re not “I’d love to marry you in spite of your emotional damage” outstanding. Whatevs… He’s stuck with me now. And boy, am I glad that he is, because he’s an amazing father and husband. Above all though, he is my best friend and I owe him a debt that I can never repay.

Barring Unvaxxed Kids From School is Pointless

One of the major fallacies with herd immunity is that people are under the impression that if you are vaccinated, you now live in a magical germ-repelling bubble. Just because you are vaccinated and cannot get sick from certain infectious diseases, does not protect those around you. People who are immune to the measles, for example, can still come into contact with the disease and carry it on their person, and spread it to other susceptible people. The measles can live for several hours on surfaces, hands and door knobs. Barring unvaccinated children from school, will not keep infectious diseases off the premises. Vaccines were designed to confer individual protection only. It’s like wearing a hazmat suit everywhere you go. It may protect you, but the outside of your suit is still going to be covered in germs. For this reason alone, it would appear that unvaccinated kids pose no bigger threat than everyone else, but that’s incorrect. Unvaccinated kids cannot spread what they do not have. Vaccinated kids on the other hand, will shed live viruses for several weeks after receiving a live virus vaccine. They can spread what they don’t have. If you have a classroom full of children and one of them is medically fragile, a few of them are unvaccinated and another handful just got caught up on their vaccines and are now actively shedding live viruses, who is putting whom at the greatest risk here? If the point of barring children with personal belief exemptions from school is to protect these hypothetical immunosupressed kids from infectious diseases, why would they allow recently vaccinated kids in school? Unvaccinated kids are not harbingers of disease. They are not born with these viruses inside of them. They would first have to come into contact with the disease, catch the disease and then expose others. Where is the most common place to come into contact with these diseases? Immigrants? Tourists? Or perhaps it’s the classroom full of recently vaccinated children?

My point is, germs are everywhere. They are not limited to a host. They are not limited to a school building. If we were to disallow unvaccinated kids from school, what about other public places? Unvaccinated kids go to the grocery store, church, playgrounds, Chuck E Cheese’s. Does the responsibility of protecting medically fragile children fall on the community? Or is that the responsibility of that child’s parents? If my child was medically fragile to the point that they could not be vaccinated (which very few are), then I would not want them in school, period. There are a lot more things out there that could kill an immunocompromised child than what we vaccinate for.

Not all immunocompromised children cannot be vaccinated. Most immunocompromised kids have either already been vaccinated, or have to temporarily delay certain live virus vaccines. These children are also under strict guidelines to avoid anyone who has recently been vaccinated with a live virus.

Another major fallacy with eliminating personal belief exemptions, is that a significant part of the school population is being overlooked. Teacher and staff make up around 10-20% of the school population, but they are not required to disclose their vaccine status. You know, because that would be a violation of privacy. If these teachers are my age or older, they have had about a third or less of the shots our children are required to get. It makes no goddamn sense. I would be forced to homeschool my healthy child if she misses one DTaP booster, so that we don’t put the unhealthy unvaccinated medically fragile kid at risk, but Mrs. Katherine-Hepburn’s-Mother, the music teacher who has only had the oral polio vaccine half a century ago is cleared to enter the premises? I feel like I’m living in a strange, backwards world, where up is down, we wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people. Did anyone actually take the time to think this through at all? Demanding that other people risk their child’s health to potentially protect the health of another is both pointless and selfish. We are each responsible for our own child’s health. We do not have to poison our own bodies for the greater good. Discriminating against children who’s parent’s care enough about them to research what goes into their bodies, by barring those children from school is un-American. This is supposed to be a free country where we are granted the right to a free public education, as well as medical freedom. If we give up those things, what will we give up later on down the road? If your state is one of the many looking to eliminate personal belief exemptions, or is trying to gain more control over your rights as a parent, you need to stand up and let your voice be heard. Everyone should be opposed to government coercion regarding potentially dangerous medical procedures. These are our children and the government can fuck right off when it comes to how we raise them.

For more information on this subject, please read this amazing article from Immunologist Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD. http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/an-open-letter-to-legislators-currently-considering-vaccine-legislation-from-tetyana-obukhanych-phd-in-immunology/

California is Seeing Red

California is seeing red. Red shirts, that is. People showed up in droves to oppose California’s SB 277, which would remove the personal belief exemption for children attending public and private school, as well as daycare. They waited for hours, filling the halls, seven overflow rooms, an employee cafeteria and a basement room. All for a moment to stand at a microphone, say their name and that they oppose SB 277. Many of them families of the vaccine injured, or vaccine injured, themselves. It was a sea of red shirts. The largest turnout in 15 years. Unfortunately those parent’s pleas fell on deaf ears, as SB 277 was passed 6-2 and will go on to the next committee. The good news? You still have a chance to stand up and fight for parental rights!

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To be clear, all parents should oppose SB277. The issue is not about whether or not you support vaccines, it’s about who own your child’s body. We teach our children that their body is their own, and no one is allowed to touch their bodies without their permission, or put anything in or on them that makes them uncomfortable. This would include medical procedures and pharmaceutical drugs. It is a basic human right to decline taking something into yours or your child’s body, especially if it carries the risk of injury and death. Where there is risk, there must be choice. And there is undoubtedly risks associated with vaccines. Because the vaccine manufacturers and doctors are exempt from legal recourse if a vaccine injures or kills your child, the money paid out to these families comes from our tax dollars. Yeah, that’s right. WE pay for these children’s injuries and deaths. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical companies rake in billions of dollars each year. These companies have zero incentive to make safer, more effective products. They have it made. The government mandates their products, and then picks up the tab when it kills your baby. So far that tab exceeds $3 billion. Not surprisingly, since the drug companies were granted immunity from law suits, the vaccine schedule has more than tripled. When I was a kid, I got around 12 vaccines. Kids these days get up to 36 by age six.

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Have I mentioned that there are over 200 new vaccines in development? Are you comfortable signing your kids up for the vaccine schedule of the future, sight unseen? Would you be okay with the current vaccine schedule (the most aggressive schedule in the world) if it tripled again? What if they mandated a vaccine for balding or athletes foot? This may sound crazy, but the fact is, we are already vaccinating babies on their first day of life against a sexually transmitted disease; Hep B. This shot won’t even provide them protection long enough for them to be sexually active. To me, that sounds crazy. Should you decide for any reason that even one of the required vaccines isn’t a good fit for your child, they will be considered exempt and would then have to be homeschooled. Even if you only miss one booster shot. Exempt DOES NOT equal unvaccinated. Very few kids are completely unvaccinated.

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But what about the immunocompromised kids? I’m glad you asked! Most immunocompromised children have either already been vaccinated, or can still be vaccinated. There are only rare circumstances when a child temporarily cannot receive certain live virus vaccines. They also cannot be around anyone who has recently been vaccinated with a live virus vaccine. So tell me, who is putting that immunocompromised child at greater risk; the healthy unvaccinated child, or the recently vaccinated child who is shedding live virus for several weeks? Let us not forget about the teachers. Teachers and school staff make up around 10-25% of the school population. What good is the “herd immunity” hypothesis (and it is a hypothesis) if the vaccine status of 10-25% of the school’s population is not held to the same standard? Furthermore, having vaccine induced immunity does not surround you in a protective, germ-proof bubble. Kids who are immune to infectious disease can still pick up and spread those same diseases. Just because it doesn’t make that child sick, doesn’t mean it won’t infect a susceptible child. The measles can live for several hours on surfaces, hands, door handles etc. Doesn’t it seem a little odd to bar healthy unvaccinated children from school, when infectious diseases can still be spread in spite of their attendance?

This is an extremely important time in California for parental rights and medical freedom. This is not a pro-anti vaccine thing. This is a time for all parents, regardless of your views on vaccination, to stand up and fight against medical coercion. Every child deserves a public education. There currently is no state of emergency that warrants taking away a parent’s right to refuse a medical procedure. In fact, California’s personal belief exemption rates have dropped 19% in the last year. Vaccination rates are currently at an all-time high.

I can tell you right now, as someone who lives with a vaccine injured person, parents who have already damaged or lost a child to a vaccine will not risk maiming their other children. It will not happen. We take this very seriously, because we have personally witnessed the damage that can come from vaccines. If you vaccinated your kids and they came out unscathed, consider yourself lucky. Not all of us can say the same. You cannot ask us to set our children on fire to keep yours warm.

If you are in support of parental rights and medical freedom, please let your voice be heard! Now is the time to speak up. Please contact your senators and attend the next committee hearing on Wednesday, April 15th at 9am. Be strong. Be heard. And make them see red!!

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“The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.

“This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved, as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.” -The Nuremberg Code

http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/archive/nurcode.html

(Part 3) A Beginner’s Guide to Vaccine Research.

In this, the third installment of our research guide, we will cover vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs), their symptoms and complications; as well as the potential complications from the vaccines and who is most at risk for developing them. To refresh our memory, here is the CDC chart containing the vaccine schedule, and below it is the list of VPDs with their symptoms and complications listed beside them.

Here is a link to the vaccines, with their ingredients and adverse events listed side-by side:

http://www.generationrescue.org/resources/vaccination/vaccine-ingredients-and-side-effects/

Hepatitis B- The Hep B shot is given to newborn babies on the first day of life. It is becoming more and more common for well educated parents to forego this particular shot. A lot of the kindergartners in the US who have non-medical vaccine exemptions are not exempt because they are completely unvaccinated, but because their parents decided to skip or delay certain vaccines. Hep B commonly being one of those. The reason for this, is the immune system of a newborn baby has not been established. No one knows if this baby has an underlying medical condition that might cause an adverse reaction. This shot is given prior to the results of the baby’s “foot poke” test results coming back. A lot of parents would rather err on the side of caution and not vaccinate their baby on day one. Another reason that parents often forego this shot, is that hepatitis B is extremely rare in newborn babies in the US. According to the CDC “Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person who is not infected. People can become infected with the virus during activities such as:

  • Birth (spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth)
  • Sex with an infected partner
  • Sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
  • Sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
  • Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
  • Exposure to blood from needlesticks or other sharp instruments”

The CDC also states “Although anyone can get Hepatitis B, some people are at greater risk, such as those who:

  • Have sex with an infected person
  • Have multiple sex partners
  • Have a sexually transmitted disease
  • Are men who have sexual contact with other men
  • Inject drugs or share needles, syringes, or other drug equipment
  • Live with a person who has chronic Hepatitis B
  • Are infants born to infected mothers
  • Are exposed to blood on the job
  • Are hemodialysis patients
  • Travel to countries with moderate to high rates of Hepatitis B”

Hepatitis B virus is not spread by sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing. Here is what Dr. Sears has to say:

Potential complications of Hepatitis B include: Chronic liver infection, liver failure and liver cancer.

Potential adverse events from the Hep B vaccine include: Fever, insomnia, hypotension, abdominal pain, stiffness, drowsiness, loss of appetite, irritability.

   Rotavirus- According to the CDC “Rotavirus disease is most common in infants and young children. However, older children and adults and can also become infected with rotavirus. Once a person has been exposed to rotavirus, it takes about 2 days for the symptoms to appear. “Children who get infected may have severe watery diarrhea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Vomiting and watery diarrhea can last from 3 to 8 days. Additional symptoms include loss of appetite and dehydration (loss of body fluids), which can be especially harmful for infants and young children.” “Children, even those that are vaccinated, may develop rotavirus disease more than once. That is because neither natural infection with rotavirus nor rotavirus vaccination provides full immunity (protection) from future infections. Usually a person’s first infection with rotavirus causes the most severe symptoms.”

Potential complications from Rotavirus include: Severe diarrhea, dehydration.

Potential adverse events from Rotavirus vaccine include: Diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, otitis media, nasopharyngitis, bronchospasm, bronchiolitis, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, fever, urinary tract infection, allergic reactions, and a serious problem called intussusception, which may be indicated by: vomiting, bad diarrhea, severe stomach pain, and blood in the stool.

A note on Intussusception: Intussusception is a condition that causes part of the intestine to fold into itself like a telescope. According to Mayo Clinic “Intussusception (in-tuh-suh-SEP-shun) is a serious disorder in which part of the intestine slides into an adjacent part of the intestine. This “telescoping” often blocks food or fluid from passing through. Intussusception also cuts off the blood supply to the part of the intestine that’s affected. Intussusception can lead to a tear in the bowel (perforation), infection and death of bowel tissue.”

   DTaP- DTap is a three-in-one combo shot for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough).

   Diphtheria:  A serious bacterial infection usually affecting the mucous membranes of your nose and throat. Diphtheria typically causes a sore throat, fever, swollen glands and weakness. But the hallmark sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of your throat, which can block your airway, causing you to struggle for breath.

Potential complications of diphtheria include: Swelling of the heart muscle, heart failure, coma, paralysis, death.  

   Tetanus- Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that affects your nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of your jaw and neck muscles. Tetanus can interfere with your ability to breathe and, ultimately, threaten your life. Tetanus is commonly known as “lockjaw.” Tetanus is caused by a bacterium that is mostly present in soil, manure, and in the digestive tracts of animals and humans. Tetanus is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from person to person. The bacteria often enter the body through a puncture wound, which can be a small as a pin prick, or wounds made by rusty nails or dirty knives. Tetanus bacteria do not survive in the presence of oxygen, which is why puncture wounds, which do not bleed very much and are protected by tissue and skin from direct exposure to the air, are a perfect environment for tetanus bacteria to multiply and cause infection.  Image Source: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/images/chapt16-figure01-view.gif

Potential complications from tetanus include: Broken bones, breathing difficulty, death.

   Pertussis- “Pertussis, a respiratory illness commonly known as whooping cough, is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. These bacteria attach to the cilia (tiny, hair-like extensions) that line part of the upper respiratory system. The bacteria release toxins, which damage the cilia and cause inflammation (swelling).”-CDC.

 Image Source: http://www.whale.to/a/bystrianyk3.html

Recently there has been an increase in the number of pertussis cases in the US. It appears that the acellular pertussis vaccine protection not only wanes at a very quick rate, but that it can also cause people to become asymptomatic carriers. Meaning, it will give you temporary protection for yourself, but you can still pass the bacteria on to others. According to one study: “We reviewed 400 bacteriologically confirmed cases of pertussis in infants and children during the past 18 years. Several changes in the epidemiology have occurred in the most recent six-year period. The incidence of whooping cough in children has decreased by at least 50%, but the proportion of cases occurring in infants younger than 12 weeks of age has doubled to 30% of all cases. Formerly most young infants acquired their illness from siblings or other children, but in the recent period adults in the household were the most common source of infection to neonates and young infants. This observation plus the increasingly high level of immunization in preschool and school-aged children suggest that young adults with waning immunity and mild illness are a major reservoir for transmission of pertussis to infants too young to be immunized.”

http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=507916

“Our data suggests that the current schedule of acellular pertussis vaccine doses is insufficient to prevent outbreaks of pertussis. We noted a markedly increased rate of disease from age 8 through 12, proportionate to the interval since the last scheduled vaccine. Stable rates of testing ruled out selection bias. The possibility of earlier or more numerous booster doses of acellular pertussis vaccine either as part of routine immunization or for outbreak control should be entertained.”

http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/03/13/cid.cis287.abstract

“Pertussis has reemerged as an important public health concern since current acellular pertussis vaccines (aP) replaced older whole-cell vaccines (wP). In this study, we show nonhuman primates vaccinated with aP were protected from severe symptoms but not infection and readily transmitted Bordetella pertussis to contacts. Vaccination with wP and previous infection induced a more rapid clearance compared with naïve and aP-vaccinated animals. While all groups possessed robust antibody responses, key differences in T-cell memory suggest that aP vaccination induces a suboptimal immune response that is unable to prevent infection. These data provide a plausible explanation for pertussis resurgence and suggest that attaining herd immunity will require the development of improved vaccination strategies that prevent B. pertussis colonization and transmission.”

http://www.pnas.org/content/111/2/787.abstract

Let’s reflect on what’s being said here. We already give 5 doses of DTaP to children before entering kindergarten. The vaccine is not providing sufficient immunity and can cause some people to become asymptomatic carriers. Yet their solution is to add more shots? You have to ask yourself if that is worth it.

Potential complications of pertussis include: Pneumonia (infection in the lungs), death.

A note about pertussis death: Although pertussis can lead to complications in adolescents and adults, it’s usually only fatal for babies under 6 months old. Pertussis is treated with antibiotics.

Complications of pertussis in infants include: Pneumonia (infection in the lungs), death. Complications in adolescents and adults include: loss of bladder control, fainting, and rib fractures.

 Potential adverse events from DTaP vaccine include: Vomiting, redness or swelling, fever, tiredness or poor appetite, seizures, serious allergic reaction, brain damage (very rare).

   Hib- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease is a serious disease caused by bacteria. It usually strikes children under 5 years old. Your child can get Hib disease by being around other children or adults who may have the bacteria and not know it. The germs spread from person to person. If the germs stay in the child’s nose and throat, the child probably will not get sick. But sometimes the germs spread into the lungs or the bloodstream, and then Hib can cause serious problems.” -CDC

Hib is mostly a disease of young children under the age of 5 years old. Before the vaccine was introduced in the U.S., children who became sick from Hib were usually under 2 years old, and mostly between 6 and 7 months old. In general, Hib disease is not considered very contagious. Before the vaccine most children acquired natural immunity by the time they were 5 or 6 years old. While the CDC reports that the risk of Hib vaccine causing serious harm or death is extremely small, as of May 2012 there have been a total of 12,140 adverse events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Most of these reports were in children under age 3.

   Potential complications of Hib include: Meningitis (infection of the covering around the brain and spinal cord), intellectual disability, epiglottitis (life threatening infection that can block the windpipe and lead to serious breathing problems), pneumonia (infection in the lungs), death.

Potential adverse events from Hib Vaccine include:  Fever, diarrhea, erythema, tenderness, swelling, irritability, loss of appetite, sleepiness, seizures, vomiting.  

 Pneumococcal- “Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). There are different types of pneumococcal disease, such as pneumococcal pneumonia, blood infections (bacteremia), brain infections (pneumoccocal meningitis), and middle ear infections (otitis media). There are more than 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) protects against 13 of them. These bacteria types are responsible for most common severe pneumococcal infections among children.” -vaccines.gov. Pneumococcus bacteria is in many people’s noses and throats and is spread by coughing, sneezing, or contact with respiratory secretions. Why it suddenly invades the body and causes disease is unknown.

Potential complications from pneumococcal include: Bacteremia (blood infection), meningitis (infection of the covering around the brain and spinal cord), death.

Potential adverse events from the pneumococcal vaccine include: Irritability, tenderness, decreased appetite, decreased sleep, increased sleep, fever, redness, pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, swelling, limitation of arm movement, chills, rash, bronchiolitis, gastroenteritis, pneumonia.

   Inactivated Polio Virus (IPV)- Polio is a contagious viral illness that in its most severe form causes paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death. In the U.S., the last case of naturally occurring polio happened in 1979.  Polio is transmitted when the virus enters the mouth or nose and infects the throat and gastrointestinal tract. In 90-95% of cases, polio infection is subclinical and does not cause symptoms. In some cases there may be minor symptoms, such as sore throat, low grade fever, headache, fatigue and nausea followed by stiff neck, meningitis (brain inflammation) and temporary paralysis of an arm or leg but there is full recovery within a few weeks. In about 1-2% of cases, the polio virus infects the central nervous system and paralyzes the muscles of the arms and legs or muscles needed for breathing and swallowing, which can lead to permanent paralysis or death. Some adults, who appear to have fully recovered from polio as children, have developed post-polio syndrome (PPS) and experience weakness and pain in muscles and joints. Although it is believed that polio was eradicated in the US through mass vaccination, there is evidence to the contrary. Diagnostic criteria was changed shortly after the introduction of the vaccine, giving a less-than-honest perception of the effects that the vaccine had on paralytic polio. “In order to qualify for classification as paralytic poliomyelitis, the patient had to exhibit paralytic symptoms for at least 60 days after the onset of the disease. Prior to 1954, the patient had to exhibit paralytic symptoms for only 24 hours. Laboratory confirmation and the presence of residual paralysis were not required. After 1954, residual paralysis was determined 10 to 20 days and again 50 to 70 days after the onset of the disease. This change in definition meant that in 1955 we started reporting a new disease, namely, paralytic poliomyelitis with a longer lasting paralysis.” -Dr. Bernard Greenberg “Cocksackie virus and aseptic meningitis have been distinguished from paralytic poliomyelitis, whereas prior to 1954 large numbers of these cases undoubtedly were mislabeled as paralytic polio,” -Dr. Bernard Greenberg During this time, they also began using heavy amounts of DDT, a toxic pesticide. “Acute effects likely in humans due to low to moderate exposure may include nausea, diarrhea, increased liver enzyme activity, irritation (of the eyes, nose or throat), disturbed gait, malaise and excitability; at higher doses, tremors and convulsions are possible. While adults appear to tolerate moderate to high ingested doses of up to 280 mg/kg, a case of fatal poisoning was seen in a child who ingested one ounce of a 5% DDT:kerosene solution.”

http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/carbaryl-dicrotophos/ddt-ext.html

Here’s what Suzanne Humphries, MD has to say:

More information on polio here: http://healthimpactnews.com/2015/nicholas-gonzalez-m-d-scientifically-no-polio-vaccine-was-needed/

http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2011/11/17/smoke-mirrors-and-the-disappearance-of-polio/

http://www.whale.to/vaccine/polio1.html

   Potential complications from polio include: Paralysis, death.

Potential adverse reactions from IPV vaccine include: Erythema, induration, pain, fever, irritability, sleepiness, fussiness, persistent crying, swelling, loss of appetite, vomiting, tenderness.

   Influenza- According to the Nation Vaccine Information Center “Influenza, often referred to as ‘flu,’ is an infectious respiratory disease caused by type A or type B influenza viruses, which are present in the mucus membranes and secretions of the nose, throat and lungs. There are other viruses and bacteria associated with ‘flu-like’ symptoms and it is estimated that about 80 percent of all flu-like illness that occurs every year during the ‘flu season’ is not type A or type B influenza. Only lab confirmation can detect whether flu-like symptoms, including serious complications like pneumonia, are caused by influenza viruses or other types of viral or bacterial organisms.” Symptoms of influenza include fever, chills, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

http://www.nvic.org/Vaccines-and-Diseases/Influenza.aspx

Flu shots are suggested for everyone 6 months old and up. Nasal flu vaccine is available for people 2-49 years old. A new flu shot has to be administered each year due to the rapid mutation of the influenza virus. Each year, the seasonal flu shot protects against 3-4 strains of influenza. These strains are selected based on which strains of flu virus The World Health Origination believes will be prevalent in the upcoming flu season. In a year when the vaccine is considered a “good match”, the CDC estimates that it is, at best, 50-60% effective in adults and older children, and even less so in the elderly. This previous flu season (2014-15), the vaccine was said to be only 18% effective.

“‘The vaccine-effectiveness percentage is just an average. The real effectiveness probably sits in a range between 6% and 29%’, says Brendan Flannery, PhD, of the Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.

“When the vaccine is a good match to the strains of flu making people sick, vaccine effectiveness has been as high as 60%.”  -Brenda Goodman, MA

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20150226/flu-vaccine-effectiveness

Not only was the flu shot a total flop this year, but the nasal flu mist given to children two and up was also a complete failure.

“Early numbers show that for the second flu season in a row, the FluMist nasal spray, aimed mainly at children, didn’t work at all for kids ages 2 through 8.” -Brenda Goodman, MA

Since the flu can only truly be diagnosed through a blood test, it is impossible to know just how many people each year die from it. The CDC essentially makes an educated guess based on the number of people who die from flu-like symptoms. According to their website, between 3,000 and 49,000 people die each year from influenza. According to an article in the BMJ titled Are US flu death figures more PR than science?

“US data on influenza deaths are a mess. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges a difference between flu death and flu associated death yet uses the terms interchangeably. Additionally, there are significant statistical incompatibilities between official estimates and national vital statistics data. Compounding these problems is a marketing of fear—a CDC communications strategy in which medical experts “predict dire outcomes” during flu seasons.”

“According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), “influenza and pneumonia” took 62 034 lives in 2001—61 777 of which were attributed to pneumonia and 257 to flu, and in only 18 cases was flu virus positively identified. Between 1979 and 2002, NCHS data show an average 1348 flu deaths per year (range 257 to 3006).”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1309667/

It makes you wonder, who is the CDC working for; us or the drug manufacturers? The deeper you dig on that subject, the more disappointed you will become. It doesn’t take a tin-foil-hat wearing conspiracy theorist to see how the government is putting the drug company’s profits above our health. Can you believe there are doctors and nurses who are being fired for refusing their flu shot?

Aside from being quite ineffective at preventing the flu, the vaccine itself has one of the highest number of adverse events reported to VAERS.

“As of November 2013, there have been more than 93,000 reports of reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following influenza vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 1,080 related deaths, 8,888 hospitalizations, 1,801 related disabilities and over 1,700 cases of GBS. In 2013 the Federal Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV) voted to add GBS to the Vaccine Injury Table within the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).” -NVIC

According to this study, the highest number of vaccine induced Guillian Barre Syndrome were from the flu shot. Guillain Barre Syndrome is a condition similar to paralytic polio. From the NIH website:

“Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances the symmetrical weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralyzed. In these cases the disorder is life threatening – potentially interfering with breathing and, at times, with blood pressure or heart rate – and is considered a medical emergency. Such an individual is often put on a ventilator to assist with breathing and is watched closely for problems such as an abnormal heart beat, infections, blood clots, and high or low blood pressure. Most individuals, however, have good recovery from even the most severe cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, although some continue to have a certain degree of weakness.

“Guillain-Barré syndrome can affect anybody. It can strike at any age and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. The syndrome is rare, however, afflicting only about one person in 100,000. Usually Guillain-Barré occurs a few days or weeks after the patient has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally surgery will trigger the syndrome. In rare instances vaccinations may increase the risk of GBS.”

Potential complications of the flu include: Pneumonia (infection in the lungs).

Potential adverse events from the flu shot include: Tenderness, erythema, swelling, induration, ecchymosis, fever, vomiting, abnormal crying, drowsiness, loss of appetite, irritability, pain, pruritus, headache, malaise, myalgia.

Potential adverse events from nasal Flumist include: Runny nose or nasal congestion, fever, sore throat, wheezing, decreased appetite, irritability, lethargy, headache, muscle aches, chills, cough.

A note about the flu shot: While many of today’s vaccines are claimed to have had the mercury removed from them, the seasonal flu shot still contains 25mcgs of this toxic metal. more info in the following video clip.

   MMR- The MMR shot is a three in one combo shot for measles, mumps and rubella.

Measles- The measles is a highly contagious virus that causes a rash all over your entire body. It is also known as rubeola or red measles. “The first symptoms of measles are like a bad cold—a high fever, a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat, and a hacking cough. The lymph nodes in your neck may swell. You also may feel very tired and have diarrhea and red, sore eyes. As these symptoms start to go away, you will get red spots inside your mouth, followed by a rash all over your body.” -WebMD

People who acquire the measles naturally as a child have lifelong immunity, whereas a person who is vaccinated against the measles will only be immune for ten years at most. The term “herd immunity” was coined by a doctor named A W hedrich back in the the early 1900’s while observing wild measles outbreaks in Baltimore, MD. He observed that measles outbreaks only occurred when less than 65% of the community was immune to the measles. This theory was falsely applied to the measles vaccine. It was hypothesized that if 65% of the population was vaccinated against the measles, it would keep others from catching it as well. The problem with this theory, is that the measles vaccine does not provide protection for a certain percentage of recipients, and what protection it offers to the others, tends to be very short-lived. Since herd immunity wasn’t achieved after 65% of people had received the vaccine, the recommendation was raised to 85% of the population and then again to 95%. Still, we continue to see outbreaks of measles in highly vaccinated communities. China for example, has a vaccination coverage of 99% for the measles, and still does not have herd immunity.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930734/

“This outbreak demonstrates that transmission of measles can occur within a school population with a documented immunization level of 100%.” -CDC document.

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00000359.htm

More info on herd immunity here:

http://www.naturalimmunityfundamentals.com/herdimmunity

Another example of measles is a 99% vaccinated community:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1884314

Like all infectious diseases, the measles was far from the deadly plague that we have been lead to believe it is by the media. In fact, death from measles was nearly unheard of in the years leading up to the introduction of the vaccine.

G11.4-UK-Measles-1838-1978

It has been hypothesized that even with no vaccine, the measles would have been entirely eradicated on it’s own around the year 2000 because not only were measles deaths declining at a steady pace, but so were overall measles cases.

G14.9-US-Measles-Incidence-1934-1962

In the last ten years there have been zero deaths from the measles in the us, and prior to that, there was an average of one or two deaths per year. During the last ten years, there have been over a hundred reported cases of death from the measles vaccine. Often times the media uses the worldwide death rates of the measles to scare people into vaccinating. The reason people still die from the measles in developing countries is because they are often malnourished (namely, deficient in vitamin A) and do not have access to clean drinking water. In the US, prior to the vaccine, it was common practice for parents to have “measles parties” so that their kids would be sure to have it before adulthood, when there is a higher chance of complications. Once their kids contracted the measles, they were treated with plenty of fluids and cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is high in Vitamin A. To this day, children who contract the measles are treated with fluids and vitamin A because it has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of complications associated with the measles.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11869601

 Potential complications of the measles include: Encephalitis (brain swelling), pneumonia (infection in
the lungs), death.

Mumps- Mumps is a contagious virus that starts with a fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands. Most people who get the mumps will fully recover and gain lifelong immunity, but there is an increased chance of complications for people who contract mumps after puberty. In very rare circumstances, it can lead to sterility in males.

Merck, the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine, is currently in hot water over allegedly falsifying data on the efficacy of the mumps portion of the MMR. According to this Huffington Post article  “Merck’s misconduct was far-ranging: It ‘failed to disclose that its mumps vaccine was not as effective as Merck represented, (ii) used improper testing techniques, (iii) manipulated testing methodology, (iv) abandoned undesirable test results, (v) falsified test data, (vi) failed to adequately investigate and report the diminished efficacy of its mumps vaccine, (vii) falsely verified that each manufacturing lot of mumps vaccine would be as effective as identified in the labeling, (viii) falsely certified the accuracy of applications filed with the FDA, (ix) falsely certified compliance with the terms of the CDC purchase contract, (x) engaged in the fraud and concealment describe herein for the purpose of illegally monopolizing the U.S. market for mumps vaccine, (xi) mislabeled, misbranded, and falsely certified its mumps vaccine, and (xii) engaged in the other acts described herein to conceal the diminished efficacy of the vaccine the government was purchasing.'”

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lawrence-solomon/merck-whistleblowers_b_5881914.html

Potential complications of the mumps include: Meningitis (infection of the covering around the brain
and spinal cord) , encephalitis (brain swelling), inflammation
of testicles or ovaries, deafness.

Rubella- Rubella, also called German measles or three-day measles, is a contagious viral infection. Rubella is similar to the measles, but less contagious and severe. In 2004, the CDC declared that rubella had been eliminated in the US, but still encourages people to be vaccinated. According to Mayo Clinic “The signs and symptoms of rubella are often so mild they’re difficult to notice, especially in children. If signs and symptoms do occur, they generally appear between two and three weeks after exposure to the virus.” Symptoms include mild fever, runny/stuffy nose, swollen lymph nodes, red eyes and a rash. You may be wondering why we are encouraged to vaccinate for something seemingly so mild. The danger isn’t to the general public, but to pregnant women who are not immune. Catching rubella in childhood offers lifelong immunity. Pregnant women who have never had rubella, nor the vaccine are at risk of contracting the disease, which can lead to fetal death or serious birth defects, especially in the first trimester.

Potential complications from rubella include: Miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, birth defects.

Potential adverse reactions from the MMR vaccine include: Fever, headache, dizziness, malaise, irritability, diarrhea, vomiting, parotitis, nausea, arthralgia, myalgia, edema, thrombocytopenia, arthritis, panniculitis, encephalopathy, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, seizures, ataxia, polyneuritis, paresthesia.

  A note on the MMR vaccine: Along with whistleblowers coming forward regarding the alleged falsified data for the mumps portion of the MMR, another whistleblower has recently spoken out. William Thompson, Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a statement from his lawyer regarding information from a 2004 article that he and his co-authors submitted. In the statement, he alleges that a significant increase in the rate of autism in African American boys vaccinated with the MMR prior to 36 months of age.

“My name is William Thompson. I am a Senior Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where I have worked since 1998.

“I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism. Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not followed.”

Read the entire statement here:

http://www.morganverkamp.com/august-27-2014-press-release-statement-of-william-w-thompson-ph-d-regarding-the-2004-article-examining-the-possibility-of-a-relationship-between-mmr-vaccine-and-autism/

Varicella- Varicella, also known as chickenpox, is a contagious disease that causes an itchy blister-like rash over the entire body. Chickenpox isn’t usually serious, but it does require your child to be out of school for several weeks. After recovering from chickenpox, the virus lays dormant in your body and can reappear later in life in the form of shingles. Shingles is a very painful rash that affects only one side of the body usually in a long stripe of blisters and can lead to a condition known as Postherpetic Neuralgia. Postherpetic Neuralgia is a lingering nerve pain condition that can be very debilitating. Prior to the introduction of the varicella vaccine, shingles was commonly a disease in the elderly. This was due to waning immunity to chickenpox from a lack of exposure to the wild virus. Since the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine, there has been a rise in cases of shingles among young adults. It is because of the potential rise in shingles, that Great Britain does not vaccinate against chickenpox.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2563790/

Children who get the varicella vaccine can still contract shingles. Prior to the vaccine, around 100 people a year died from the chickenpox.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19536039

Potential complications of varicella include: Infected blisters, bleeding disorders, encephalitis (brain
swelling), pneumonia (infection in the lungs).

Potential adverse reactions to the varicella vaccine include: Headache, Varicella-like rash, fatigue, cough, myalgia, disturbed sleep, nausea, diarrhea, chills, eye complaints, loss of appetite, itching, vomiting, constipation, rashes, respiratory illness, cold/canker sore, seizures, secondary bacterial infections.

Hepatitis A- Hep A is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause inflammation that may interfere with liver function.

“You’re most likely to contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who’s infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don’t require treatment, and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage.

Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A.” -Mayo Clinic.

Not everyone who develops Hepatitis A will have signs or symptoms. Some people may experience fatigue, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, low grade fever and yellowing of the skin.

Potential complications from hepatitis A include: Liver failure, arthralgia (joint pain), kidney, pancreatic, and blood disorders.

Potential adverse events from the hepatitis A vaccine include: Fever, erythema, drowsiness, loss of appetite, irritability, allergic reaction (very rare).

Meningoccocal- Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but serious infection. It causes the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. Each year, approximately 1,000 people in the U.S. get meningococcal disease, which includes meningitis and septicemia (blood infection). About 10% of people have Neisseria meningitidis bacteria in the back of their nose and throat with no signs or symptoms of disease.

“Neisseria meningitidis bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing). Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or the flu. The bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningococcal disease has been.

“Sometimes Neisseria meningitidis bacteria spread to people who have had close or lengthy contact with a patient with meningococcal disease. People in the same household, roommates, or anyone with direct contact with a patient’s oral secretions, meaning saliva or spit, (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend) would be considered at increased risk of getting the infection.” -CDC

Potential complications of Meningococcal include: Brain damagehearing loss, hydrocephalus, myocarditis, seizures, subdural effusion (buildup of fluid between the skull and brain).

This concludes part three of my Research Guide. I hope you enjoyed it and found it informative. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I wish you good luck and good health. Remember, there is no one more qualified to make decisions regarding your baby’s health than their parents. I urge you to do whatever you feel most comfortable with; all vaccines on time, some vaccines on a delayed schedule or no vaccines at all. Ultimately it is up to you.

My First Kiss

   This will be a short story, because it was with my husband, Ben, of course….. Just kidding.

In middle school I was horrifically unpopular. Middle school-aged kids are the fucking worst. They are so mean. I tried to fit in, but the harder I tried, the more I was picked on. Which I now see was because I tried WAY too hard. Nowadays, I get along great with pretty much all people. But when you’re in middle school, no one cares if you’re witty or if you’re a virtual encyclopedia of useless pop culture knowledge. All they care about is if you have new Adidas, Jnco’s and a huge, white binder. The kind with the clear plastic that you can slip pictures of Usher that you ripped out of Tiger Beat into. My mom didn’t see why I needed one of those like EVERY-FUCKING-ONE ELSE, and bought me a 99 cent blue floppy binder-ish thingy that was the bane of my existence. I carried that awful thing all year with papers overflowing and spewing out the sides. Thankfully I talked her into getting me a fancy, white binder like everyone else for eighth grade, but instead of pictures of Usher, I had pictures of the oldest kid from Home Improvement. You know, the one no one thought was cool because he was totally overshadowed by JTT? Yeah, that guy. Thankfully this whore-bitch on the school bus did me a huge favor and pulled the picture out of my binder and threw it out the window when I wasn’t looking. I was pretty devastated, and to this day I am still so pissed about that.

Factoring in that, for fear of hurting peoples feelings, I would accept hand-me-downs from anyone (even my grandma [no, I’m not joking]) and the fact that with puberty came not only boobies, but also my strange velociraptor posture (boobs out, butt out, arms curled up safely at my sides), I was doomed. And as if I wasn’t doing a good enough job of being freaking awkward on my own, I am convinced that my mom was deliberately sabotaging my efforts at being cool, as well. She wouldn’t let me wear dark red lipstick like Gwen Stefani because, in her opinion, I was too pale. And when I asked if I could wear my hair in a loopy bun with the two strips of hair hanging on either side of my face like everyone else my age, she said “Is it supposed to be so messy? I don’t think so. But I’ll do your hair like mine, if you want?” If I am incapable of telling my grandma that I don’t want her hand-me-down shoes because the teacher has the same ones in red, you can be sure as shit that I couldn’t say no to my mom, for fear that she would be offended. It was only one day of mom hair. That’s not so bad, right? So I reluctantly agreed to let my mom put my hair in an Elaine from Seinfeld style pouf with a big, ugly barrette to complete the look. Imagine my horror when I showed up at school the next day looking like a home-school reject, only to discover it was picture day! I got to relive that amazingly humiliating day every time I looked at my student body card that year. Ahhh, memories.

Because of the constant bullying that only got worse as time went on, and a series of problems at home that even I can’t put a positive enough spin on to make it funny, I ended up dropping out of school in the eighth grade. Fast forwarding past all the sad and painful stuff, I re-enrolled in school about halfway into the second quarter of my freshman year of high school. At lunch on my first day I walked with my tray of food into the cafeteria, looked around and decided to make it easy on myself and I sat with the Special-Ed kids. To this day, I have a special place in my heart for the kids in Special-Ed. They make awesome friends. They don’t give a shit about your hair or shoes, they just want to tell you about their Cocker Spaniels and give you odd compliments like telling you your shirt looks jazzy.

About three seconds after I sat down, a table full of popular kids waved me over. At first I was nervous because I didn’t know what their intentions were. Did they want me to sit with them, or did they want to steal my metaphoric picture of the oldest kid from Home Improvement out of my metaphoric binder and throw it out of the metaphoric window? To my surprise, it was the former, not the latter. The next day a popular boy saved me a seat on the bus. This was completely confusing to me, but I took to being popular like a duck to water. By my sophomore year, I was very well accepted by my peers (especially the boys) and, with the exception of a few catty bitches with big foreheads who grew up to look like a freaky, tranny Skeletor, I got along with pretty much everyone.

One downside to my new-found popularity, was that apparently during my year of being a dropout, everyone my age turned into total hoe-bags. Ok, not all of them, but I was shocked when my friends would talk about having sex. Like, with boys. I now realize that some of them were lying to get attention, but here I was, 15 years old and I hadn’t even come close to kissing a boy. The thought of kissing one of the popular boys who were giving me so much attention totally freaked me out. What If I messed it up? I felt like I was way behind everyone else, experience-wise. But fear not! For I devised a brilliant plan to remedy this. The solution? Youth group, of course!

I went to a youth group that met up in the middle of nowhere in the country. I’m talkin’ dirt roads and nothing around for miles. At this youth group there were all kinds of fun things to do. There were always activities planned. There was a trampoline. There was a tree house. And there were boys. I met this one shy kid who was my age, pudgy, pubescent, and good enough! When everyone was distracted by my friend’s band playing a new song that they wrote, I grabbed that kid by his not-nearly-masculine-enough hand, and we snuck off to the tree house. That’s where the magic happened. Turns out kissing isn’t all that hard. We managed to sneak back into the crowd without anyone realizing we had left. This guy turned out to be a real asset to me. A few months later we snuck off to try other things that were also my idea, but our absence was noticed this time and it resulted in a really embarrassing lecture from one of the youth leaders about abstinence. She assumed that we had snuck off to do it, but that wasn’t the case at all. I had decided to sneak off with him because I had recently gone on a walk in the woods with a boy from school that I liked and he kept trying to get me to touch his penis through his pants, but I couldn’t stop giggling so he asked me to stop because I was weirding him out. I just wanted to sneak away from youth group for a few minutes because I was curious to know what his pee-pee looked like, which he was more than happy to demonstrate. I’m hoping because he was still in the chubby, awkward phase of puberty, that he just hadn’t quite finished developing because even though it was the first penis I had ever seen, I knew it was really small. Though fascinating, nonetheless.

In conclusion and in summary,

  • You can only achieve popularity when you stop trying so damn hard to fit in (also, boobs and eyeliner help).
  • High school sucks, but not nearly as much as middle school.
  • And finally, send your kids to youth group so they can learn about God and what a penis looks like.

Me, in 6th grade at outdoor school.

My 15th birthday.

Freshman year.

Last day of school, freshman year.