Thursday, September 9, 2010

Yeah...I don't know about this...Yikers...

I have gone from completely certain I should not write about this topic to resigned to the fact that I would, but never completely certain that I should. However, since my last blog update where I stated I was considering writing about my journey with the vaccination issue, I have been asked again and again and again to write out my views on the topic. They really are not what most people would think they are. My blog has morphed into a bit of a ministry for me since its inception 5 years ago, and this is such a polarizing issue. I would hate for anyone to shut me down because of my vaccination views one way or the other. Over the years I too have morphed from a complete ignoramus to an anti-vaccination evangelist to where I stand today. Soooo if you MUST know, here goes nothing...or something... er, who knows...

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate. This is an issue many parents, including myself, have wrestled with since the birth of their first born. I will start by saying that I do not think there is a right or a wrong answer in this debate, and to say there is, in my opinion, is to miss the point completely. I do not vaccinate, nor do I, very often, medicate/give my children antibiotics. The reason why is not what you would think. It is not that I am certain vaccinations and antibiotics are evil poisons necessarily. It’s not that I believe the medical industry is conspiring against the ignorant to overtake the world.

My decision to refuse most conventional medical techniques comes from the kind of person I am and how that manifests itself in my faith. I am a “question everything” sort of a person. I don’t take much of anything for granted as being truth until I have tested the fire out of it. When my first newborn baby was taken from my hospital room to be given a Hepatitis-B vaccine, I was startled. “Wait”, I said to myself. “He isn’t doing drugs or having sex or in a high risk daycare, so what’s the deal? Does my baby really need this vaccine”? I started doing loads of research and realized, that for my family, in the current phase of life we are in, where my children are nearly always with me in relatively low risk environments, it didn’t make sense for us to risk the side effects of the vaccines.

That decision has caused me much angst. I had trouble finding a doctor who would see my children, and I get medical staff up in my face the few times we have had to bring our children in for emergency care. Refusing vaccinations is not for the faint of heart. It is for people who know their stuff and aren’t afraid of confrontation, and more than that, and here is my main point, it is for those whose faith is in the Lord to take care of their family rather than in the medical community. (I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me that drug companies aren’t exactly non-profit organizations and have questionable motives and conflicts of interest all over the place, but that is beside the point here).

Now, let me reign in the anger of those whose feathers I just ruffled in the “to vaccinate” camp. One of my best friends in the world has all of her children up-to-date on their vaccines, and she is a person of faith. I have the utmost respect for her decision to vaccinate her children. For years she has been listening to me explain to her and to others my reasons for not vaccinating. Yet, thanks largely to her very compliant, go with the flow sort of personality, she chooses to put her faith in God to take care of her children regardless of the risks to the vaccines.

I do want to say that I am firm believer of Romans 13. I will submit myself to the governing authorities that God has established. If vaccinations ever do become compulsory I will march my children into their pediatrician’s office without fear and get them up to date on all of their vaccinations. My hope and faith is in the Lord alone. I enjoy my freedom to chose, but my faith in the Word of God is far stronger than my compulsion to rebel or even to be right.

Scripture does not address the issue of modern medicine directly so I think to make this debate a polarizing spiritual one is just a distraction from the real heart of the issue. Everything in this life is ultimately a test of faith that will manifest itself in different ways for different people. Our job is to question our motives for the decisions we make. Are we motivated by faith or fear? Are we putting our faith in man and it’s institutions, or are we resting in the Lord’s faithfulness?

So, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? The answer is simple, but, to use an overused cliché, it’s easier said than done. Don’t fear, don’t worry, don’t feel guilty, don’t condescend, don’t feel inferior. Do put your faith and hope in the Lord. Rest and find peace in His faithfulness to your family and in the power of His word, and the rest falls under the umbrella of God’s divine sovereignty…So there, er, whatever…


The Tynes brigade had an awesome summer to-be-sure. Like I said in my last update, after years of negotiations, Grandma Tynes finally left the Mississippi homestead and moved into our madhouse here in Atlanta. She has been nothing short of a major blessing to us. You will see in the pictures below that she has become an integral part of our operation around here doing everything from helping the kids learn how to make good, ol’ fashion, southern, chickin’ ‘n dumplin’s, to playing with us at the pool, to babysitting for a 5 day getaway for Stephen and me to a music festival in KY. She helps me rotate the kids around during school hours by making sure they are getting their morning chores done while I teach classes to the other kids. She’s got our back in discipline and rule enforcement, throws in her own flare, and the kids get support from all around.

Before the last several decades, families lived in happy bundles that functioned to share the responsibilities of daily life and child rearing. I am beginning to see more and more the wisdom in that kind of a lifestyle. Of course, nothing is perfect. I have to get over myself and my “northern enlightened” ways many times while she has to adjust to having 4 kids constantly all up in her business after years of living alone. Stephen gets the pleasure of having two clucking hens pecking on him night and day, but mostly it’s gone better than I could ever have imagined. For that I am grateful.

  • I have an idea I need to work up the gumption to carry out. I am SOOOO sick and tired of watching certain children of mine pick their nose and eat their boogers, I have decided I need to start a "Booger Bowl". Since their boogers are so irresistibly delicious and even worth the punishment they have to take to eat them, I will just start collecting them (and heck, maybe a few of my own) in a "Booger Bowl" to eat as dessert after dinner. I am not sure why they find this idea so disgusting given their behavior, but I am almost desperate enough to do it anyway.

  • During an intense argument over what x-box game Harrison's should play next, Evan says, "No, Harrison, that's a really stupid game!" I was about to jump in when I heard Harrison say, "Well, I like really stupid games!" And since that's basically the best answer ever, I stayed out of it.

  • I love watching my children race in a circle and argue about who is in front.

  • They all say they can do everything "like a weasel". "Look, Mommy! I can swim like a weasel", or "I can clean my room like a weasel", or even negative things like, "Mom, he is dumping out the toys like a weasel". I have no idea where they got the idea.

  • Last Monday I nearly died of a heart attack. I heard Evan's blood curdling screams, "HARRISON! NO! DON'T DIE!!! DON'T DIE"!!! Harrison at the same time is screaming, "EVAN! HELP ME!!! SAVE ME! SAVE ME, PLEASE"!!!! You can imagine my panic as I race across the house to rescue my precious 4 year old only discover they were playing Super Mario Brothers on the computer. After I regained consciousness, I felt like an idiot.

  • one morning before VBS when Evan was picking out a beach towel for the water games scheduled for that day, Evan says, "I want the towel with dolphins because girls like dolphins". I went numb and almost blacked out when I hear, "Most of the kids in my group are girls". He was just trying to be liked by his group.

  • will turn 7 on the 24th of October, which puts him officially in the first grade. I am able to combine several classes with Julia and Harrison like science, Bible, history and so forth. For math, reading and language arts I have him doing second grade work. He reads at a 3rd or 4th grade level, but he isn't ready for the work load that comes with that yet. No sense in rushing him.

  • has begun his 3rd in AWANA and has decided he is in charge. He told the other kids last week that he is, "practically a teacher now".

  • officially learned to swim this summer and takes great pride in jumping in the deep end. He tries each time to reach the bottom of the 9 foot deep end.

  • learned to sing all 50 states in alphabetical order this summer.

  • is incredibly motivated by the prospect of earning a few bucks. Before we got our helpful chore system started, he would work on "helping" us around the house without our knowledge, and then demanding pay for whatever he accomplished. We have had to head that off a wee bit.

  • ended up with 11 stitches following an incident at a cemetery in June. We had driven to the middle of nowhere Alabama to meet my friend Melissa and her children who were visiting from MN (pictured below). There was a beautiful cemetery on the side of a hill with a great oak tree at the top where we could picnic. He tried to jump over one of the short brick retaining walls around a family plot and misjudged, tearing his shin open to the bone on the edge of the brick. I was able to rip his shirt off, tie it around his leg and stop the bleeding quickly. (For Evan's future reference, while we waited for Melissa to get her van, I was able to take a photo of his injury with the camera I had strapped around my neck.) He had to hold the shirt tight for the 30 mile drive to the nearest rural hospital. He really only cried for about half of it, but was SUPER brave for all of it. He kept repeating on the way to the hospital, "I don’t want to do this, but I know I have to". He had stitches once before on his lip and remembered the pain of the Novocain. I had called 911 to get exact directions to a hospital that looked like a converted 2 story motel, but when I got there the whole ER staff was waiting for us on the sidewalk ready to usher us into a great private room for the whole ordeal. Thankfully, Melissa was kind enough to stick with us and help me with the rest of the kids so I could focus on Evan. I was so proud of him. He was so mature about the whole thing. He should also remember that many people were super kind to him during his recovery. He was showered with gifts, prayers, visits, cards, facebook messages and support of all kinds from caring friends and family who took compassion on him. He was quite sore and nervous about putting pressure on it, so he limped for a week, but is completely back to normal now. . .void a super cool, 3 inch, battle scar on his right leg.(For the record, he had a tetnus shot following his injury)

  • started kindergarten last month at home.

  • began her long awaited dance (ballet & tap) classes a few weeks ago and really loves it.

  • after correcting one of the boys for calling someone stupid, Julia very innocently proclaims, "You can only call people stupid if they really are stupid, right, Mommy"?

  • nearly always colors the skin of the princesses and various other people in her coloring books shades of brown and has since she was very small. Her favorite princess is Jasmine from Aladdin.

  • learned to sing all 50 states in alphabetical order this summer.

  • has a very special relationship with her "Grammy" Tynes.

  • is really starting to learn to read and write. It's especially exciting for me since I taught her.

  • was very brave and helpful the day Evan ripped his leg open. She jumped right in and helped me without seeming freaked out at all. She even enjoyed looking at and analyzing the stitches with me.

  • learned to swim this summer and loves jumping into the deep end with Evan. She doesn't get a thrill out of trying to reach the bottom of the deep end, but she loves the freedom of having the whole pool at her disposal.

  • has been trying to ride a bike this summer. She is not gifted at steering to-say-the-least. This hasn't been as quick and easy as it was with Evan, but she'll get it.

  • I asked the kids to come pray with me for Eli who was running a 101 fever one afternoon. Harrison volunteered to be the first one to pray. His prayer touched me so much I had to record it. He said, "Dear, Jesus. I thank you for Eli and for the blessing that he is to us. Please take away his fever and help him to feel better. In Jesus name I pray, Amen".

  • wears his Silly Bandz 24/7 (pictured below).

  • even though he is only 4, I began him in kindergarten with Julia. He seemed to suddenly have the maturity to sit, listen and do the work. He is academically quite far ahead of most kindergartners, but he has not been mature enough to endure a school day until the last month or so. I thought teaching them together would make things easier on me. I am telling him he is in pre-school. I don't want to rush him.

  • is really starting to learn to read and write. It's especially exciting for me since I taught him.

  • I bribed the kids to come in out of the yard and to help me clean up the house with strawberry ice cream. Harrison, not my hardest working child, exclaims, "NOOOOOO! Strawberry ice cream has strawberry onions!!!"

  • is in enchanted by beautiful sunsets and is always pointing them out to us. "Isn't that a BEAUTIFUL sunset, Mommy"? I would totally miss them if it weren't for him.

  • is just as likely to write his name backwards (mirror image) as he is forwards.

  • asks me all of the time to find a crayon for him that's "skin color". I act confused and say, "Which color of skin"? I know he means a color that matches his own, but I want to subtly ingrain in him that there isn't a skin color any more than there is a hair color. There are lots of appropriate shades to chose from.

  • after a 7 1/2 year old boy came flying down our stairs at a play date I was hosting, crying about another child beating him up and calling him stupid, the last child I could ever have imagined came flying down the stairs behind him screeching, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry"! You know, I was there, and I still have a hard time believing that my sweet natured Harrison had it in him, but I guess they all do.

  • likes to make up words to rhyme with other words. For example, one day he yells, "Mom, do bit and tit rhyme"? Followed by, "OK then, how about paper and raper"?

  • learned to sing all 50 states in alphabetical order this summer.

  • The first two things out of his mouth every morning for the first couple months of summer were, "Let's go to the swimming pool", and "Mommy, take off my shirt off/take off my pants off".

  • calls a dinosaur a "Dina-horse".

  • easily gave up his pacifier in June just by telling him it was lost. He was my youngest to do so.

  • knows all of his colors and shapes.

  • gave up his nap about a month ago. If he takes a nap he is up until super late, but if he doesn't get a nap he falls asleep randomly whereever he is for a few minutes here and there. There are lots of pictures of this phenomenon below.

  • claims things gradually. For example, "Look at that helmet. That's Julia's helmet. That's a helmet. That's actually my helmet. I had it first. GIVE ME MY HELMET!"

  • ends words that end in "N" with the "T" sound. For example "againt" and "Evant" or "Sevent".

  • says, "hooge" for "huge". "Daddy, I'm getting HOOGE!"

  • counts to two-levent. . . one, two, three, four, five, six, sevent, eight, nine, tent, two-levent."

  • I was walking down the hallway upstairs when I heard Eli screaming, "NO! NO, BABY! NO! NO, BABY!" I ran around in a panic looking for him. I found him squatting in a back corner of a bedroom with a dryer sheet in hand, rebuking himself for wanting to eat it. As soon as he saw me, he stuffed it in.

  • spent the month of June calling any man who was balding, "Grandpa." There is no other similarity to his own grandfather needed. This became painfully obvious one day at a Publix grocery store when a black, maybe 40 year old man came innocently sauntering down the isle only to have to deal with Eli yelling, "Grandpa! Grandpa!" It was a very awkward situation for both of us.

  • is a cleaner like his sister. Without being taught to do so, he removes his shoes and socks and places one sock in each shoe. He gets his own towels or baby wipes to clean up his messes. He also loves to put things away in containers. Let's hope this isn't just a phase.

  • has been asking everyone "Why" about everything since he was 21 months.

  • calls pizza, "pizza pie", and shoes, "Shoe-bees."

  • can actually sing large portions of the 50 states song and have proof on video.

  • enjoys being contrary and faking grumpiness.

  • has an adorable opinion about everything. I'm glad he's my 4th.

I could never tire of adorable sleeping/cuddling pictures.

Evan and lifelong friend Courtney show off their missing front teeth. We have photos of their gummy smiles together as babies, their subsequent toothy grins, and now their return to the gummy. Hopefully they are friends through the next phase of toothy grins all the way back to gummy smiles.

Grandma Tynes living retirement large with us at the pool.

"Look, Mommy! I swimming! I swimming!"

Does anyone have a church secretary job for this miserable woman!

Where did Harrison want his date night out with Mommy? Wal-Mart.

Harrison is helping to make his 4th birthday cake with Cars cars, of course.

Harrison wanted to spend his 4th birthday party playing minigolf.

Here is the completed Cars cars birthday cake at his favorite restaurant, Stevi B's.

More 4th birthday goodness with Coldstone ice cream and Grandma and Grandpa Ringsmuth.

He is SO DARN adorable!!

We love our family hikes. This is at Fort Mountain in North GA.

Family photo on the overlook at Fort Mountain.

There is this cool tower with no known origin at the top of Fort Mountain.

Stephen is knocking over this dead tree to impress the kids. They are in awe of their hulking daddy.

We hiked a few miles and took a nice rest.

About 1/4 mile before the end of our hike at Fort Mountain the sky opened up in the most amazing downpour. We waited under our umbrella off the main road while Stephen ran to get the truck. I wish I could have gotten Eli and Harrison to look up.

Eli had a fun week at VBS with his friends while I volunteered.

Evan is in the WAY back of his VBS class next to his friend Jessica.

Julia had to be sold on the idea of VBS each morning for the whole week.

What was Harrison's favorite part of VBS? Snack time!! I was the snack lady. It's good to be appreciated.

Uncle James comes for a special visit. The kids adore Uncle James.

Here is Evan's Sunday school class. I filled in for his regular teacher that Sunday.

"Where's Pandy" is an idea my parents came up to involve the kids in their trip to China early this summer. They hid Pandy in the pictures they took of them doing and seeing all sorts of things and then made an educational power point presentation out of it. The kids read informative captions and got to look for Pandy in the pictures. Here the kids are playing "Where's Pandy" for Grandma and Grandpa in Alabama. If you are insterested in seeing the slide show, I posted it to an album on Facebook.

A day that will go down in infamy started out as a super fun day with the Rhodes family, visiting from MN, who met us in rural AL.

This cemetary where we ate our lunch was on a gorgious hill in the middle of a valley overlooking the foothils of the Appalachians.

The kids played like it was 1999 and had a blast. They also enjoyed reading the headstones and asking questions about the lives they respresent. Where's Pandy?

I skipped posting the photo of Evan's actual injury from the cemetary this day. He can dig that out of our archive at some point if he would like. This doctor was in love with the idea of taking photos of the event. He gave me lots of ideas for better shots including this one where we can see him stitching Evan up without seeing the gore.

It took him close to a week, but he did work up the courage to show Julia and Harrison his stitches.

Evan and Harrison's good friends, Joseph and David, have the injured Evan over to consol him with Nintendo WI, Evan's love language.

You have to click and enlarge this photo of the kids eating breakfast while that creepy squirrel on the ledge of the deck watches with his arms crossed. He is waiting for us to go away so he can eat in peace from Stephen's garden on the deck. We have THE WORLD'S CREEPIEST squirrels in our yard.

Dr. Kola, our pediatrican, removes the stitches from Evan's leg. It was not pain free, but Evan was very brave.

We enjoyed a "staycation" to-the-max over 4th of July weekend this year. Loads of fun!

We will definately be returning here. It's just over the AL state line in Little River Canyon. I got the idea because Man VS. Wild was filmed here last year. It was beautiful and had an awesome area for swimming (pictured below).

There was this great swimming hole at the bottom of these falls, but it was too deep for our kiddos.

We marched on to the top of the falls where the water was shallow and full of adventure.

They slid around a lot on their tummies over the shallow water that ran over these rocks.

They could slide down the natural water slide Swiss Family Robinson style!!

There were little minnows in the water the kids tried frantically to catch.

Eli had the best time in these shallow waters sliding around on the rocks.

This place is perfect for adventure seeking 6 year old boys.

So precious, this boy is!

They climbed and climbed and slid and slid.

Harrison loves to write his name, which he writes both forwards and backwards. I'll have to post a picture of that sometime. Here he also drew a picture of our family without Eli becuase he says he ran out of room.

Look at them making their way through the crowd at a Braves game!

I had never noticed these chairs at Turner statium until the kids discovered them.

We went to the Braves 4th of July game which had a great 70's rock cover band and fireworks at the end. The boys boogied hard to pass the time.

I was nervous this would be a fiasco, but the kids LOVED the fireworks. Julia is in my lap so she didn't make it into the picture.

We spent WAAAAYYY to much time trying to catch and bottle fire flies this night.

YESSSSSS! Why do I feel like I have succeeded as a mother because 3 of my 4 children will now eat salad? Certainly there is a more substantial gage than that!

Great-Grandma Hillman comes in from TN for a short visit. We were so blessed to have her!

I could never tire of pictures like these. I think they were playing in their room, and then just passed out together on this tiny mattress on the floor.

Here Julia is learning to ride her bike. It is not going super well, but she'll get it.

I DID the pink highlights for music festival (Bon Jovi!!) Stephen and I went to in KY in July, but I did NOT get a good picture.

Evan is helping Grandma Tynes move her stuff into the U-haul in Mississippi. He had the option of going to play with rest of the kids, and he picked to stay and help.

Here Evan and Harrison enjoy lunch in the middle of moving Grandma Tynes out of Mississippi with Uncle Joe and their new BFF Jose.

What is it with little boys and putting things in a perfectly straight line?

How many grandmas are willing to do something like this??

This is our chore charting system called Accountable Kids if you want to google it. It is the only thing I have found that we have been able to stick to. It works amazingly well. It comes with a book to teach you how to impliment an entire structure of teaching responsibility and consequences. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Here we are at a Gwennet Braves game and Evan is mastering the inflatable wall while Daddy and Eli cheer him on.

Evan and Harrison were trying to mirror each other's shape block thingies while buiding on each other's ideas.

I can't make him do this, but when he is in the mood we can find him reading to his younger brothers and sister.

Our curiculum (which I LOVE this year) came with a castle cut out inside the boxes the books came in so the kids have soemthing to do while the parents read through the material. How cool is that? Julia decided to paint her castle pink and purple, of course.

Stephen stole from the "Where's Pandy" idea with his own flare, "Where's Buford the Buffalo and Marvin the Moose" on his 9 day backpacking adventure in August to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National park. He is putting a book together for the kids with his "Where's Buford and Marvin" pictures in it.

This is just like Eli. No shirt, swim shorts, Julia's princess helmet, and play-dough. Randomness is his specialty.

I just love this picture Julia drew of her with a kitty.

Eli Presley

6 years of swimming together at Jacob and David's swimming pool. Each year this becomes a louder affair.

I think Julia looks MUCH like my cousin Katie. Julia's facial expressions remind me so much of Katie when she was little, but I think I am alone in saying it. Katie is the girl at the bottom of this collage, Julia is in the middle and I am at the top. You can click on the picture for a larger view.

I love ANY picture of Stephen with the kids. They are so blessed to have him for a daddy!

This is Eli's favorite activity in the world.

Julia and Evan jump in the deep end of our neighborhood pool with their neighbor friend, Chad.

Southern grandmas are for teachin' youngins how to make chickin' 'n dumplins'.

Cutting out the dumplin's.

We can know immediately that this is Harrison's arm. Those silly bandz never come off.

The Tellus Museum where we are members has this great fossel dig. The kids get to take one fossel of their choice home with them and return the rest.

This is the Tellus Museum too. They are panning for beautiful, multicolored gem fragments. They get to take any gem they find home with them.

This is Eli's. He does not share willingly and drives it constantly. There's actually no need to walk anymore.

He's got his own agenda.


Cuddle time with Uncle James.

Stephen and Eli are carnies now.

Uncle James/Jungle Gym.

Southern grandmas are also for teachin' the youngins how to make hamburger steaks.

He just fell asleep right in the middle of the living room for no known reason.

My tried and true homeschool schedule, though sometimes they ask to do Math first.

Now he just randomly falls asleep at dinner time. I wish he would take a more formal nap.

They all sleep together in the boys room now. Between the triple bunk beds and the pull out couch that the kids call the "magical bed" because they are mystified by the fact that it transforms, there is plenty of sleeping room for all.

I looked all over for him this morning before I finally found him asleep under the pull out bed. Maybe he was there all night?

Grandma Tynes is living up retirement to-the-max.

Our beautiful ballerina in her classroom before class.

This day he fell asleep on the table while I changed his diaper. . . NAP BOY! Nap!

I don't know how the pool picture got in between the dance pictures, but I am not motivated to change it. Here she is in her tap shoes in her dance classroom. A special thanks to Grandma Ringsmuth for the rediculously expensive pink and purple tutu that I would not buy.

Eli LOVES the pool and is a bit too fearless about it.


  1. Rochelle, you have outdone yourself again! What a GREAT tribute to your family. You had me truly laughing about Eli rebuking himself... he is such an entertaining boy! You whole family is so precious. Thank you for the update! And as for the vaccination bit, you shared your views on it very nicely with no pressure. I think everyone that has views on the matter have pretty strong ones. You shared yours well!

  2. Your such a blogging inspiration too! What an amazing gift you are making for your kids. The Pink hair highlights just pushed you into the coolest mom ever spot. lol

  3. Oh my goodness....I'm trying not to cry while looking at those dance pictures of Julia. What a BEAUTY! Thanks again for sharing sis:-)

  4. I love it!! Brava on your take on vaccination, what great pictures of your family over the summer, and more than a few laughs as I read. I think we need to hang out with you for a week and write down everything as we glean your wisdom on parenting.

  5. Rochelle, you know what I love most about reading your blogs? The way you live out your faith in an honest, God-honoring, family-centered way. :) It is truly inspiring!!

    Your presentation on the faith element in the vaccination debate was right on. I thought you handled the issue tactfully and kept the focus where it should be: this is what you and Stephen believe God wants your family to do/not do at this time in your lives based on the information you have gathered as you searched out the issue. You handled the issue with grace and seasoned it with salt (as instructed in Colossians 4:6).

    Your pictures were wonderful (as always). Family fun, horseback riding on Grandma (3 at a time), the mafia squirrel, Julia's ballet photos and princess castle (Sierra's favorite pictures, of course) and your pink highlights... It was almost as if we were experiencing your summer with you!

    Thank you for sharing your heart with all of us. It was a blessing!

    PS: Thanks for the tip on the chore system too!