The Art of Disagreeing

When my daughter was in grade school, she had a class that involved critical thinking. She was encouraged to think through problems. When controversies occur, we need this kind of skill.

As a parent I have tried set an example of working through the issues our family has faced. It is important to be educated, to do a little research and make decisions based on facts. And it is important to pray for wisdom.

There has been disagreement about the vaccine—among medical people, scientists, family and friends. It is experimental.

I like to be educated, finding as much information as possible. What are the risks/benefits of getting the covid vaccine? Is it different for particular age groups? What should a parent do?

Within our extended family the adults have made differing decisions. That is okay. We don’t have all the answers, we are still learning. It is time to respect each person’s decision regarding the way they choose to support their personal health.

Parents know their child’s health history best and should make the decision about their children.

It is human nature to think our opinion is the right one. In the Bible, the disciples had disagreements that they worked through. We can listen to people that disagree with us, respond with respect and gentleness. Ask questions. Pursue truth. Know when to let go. The Bible has good instruction for us.

[Remind them] to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Titus 3:2

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Proverbs 15:4

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-21

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: DISAGREE

A Little Return to Normalcy

My husband and I will attend a football game at the high school tonight. Each marching band member is permitted two guests at the game. Our grandson and granddaughter will be playing trumpet and flute. It is a bit of a return to normal.

The past year has been hard on children and teens. I am glad my daughter chose to home school the younger children, instead of trying remote learning. 

I had a brief introduction to remote learning during spring break. My daughter signed up the three youngest children for a zoom class on geology. She was unavailable to monitor it, so I agreed to help. The teacher had a great lesson plan and I had the worksheets for the children. There was a fairly wide span of ages participating. As the class proceeded children had questions and comments like “I have a pretty rock. Can I show it to you?” 

The teacher graciously said, “You can take a picture and send it to me after class.”

The child responded, “Oh no, I will go outside and get it for you now.”

A parent jumped in with, “The children need to know which rock you are talking about now.”

As we listened and watched the screen, I tried to steer my three children with the worksheets we were filling in, attempting to get the names of the rocks correctly. I sighed with relief when the 45-minute class was done. 

The teens had remote learning until the beginning of the new year—so many hours on computer screens. After a couple months of part-time in person, they are finally going to school full-time in person. 

In the fall, my hope is that all children will be permitted to go back to school full-time. Without a vaccine mandate to attend. The vaccine is experimental and we don’t know the long-term consequences. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? When will we have enough data? I read an article about the changes some women are seeing in their menstrual cycles following vaccination. 

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Springtime

The First Weeks with a Newborn Infant: 10 Recommendations

Childbirth can be exhausting. There are ways to prepare for this time period and ways to reduce stress during the first few weeks after giving birth.

In the final weeks of pregnancy stock up on basic household needs and staple items (like we have been doing through the pandemic). During the first few weeks after childbirth shopping may be difficult to squeeze in. You may want to have a supply of paper plates to simplify mealtime clean-up.

The first two days after giving birth should be spent resting and getting to know the baby. It is important to sleep and recuperate. Women who do not get adequate sleep these first two days may develop a sleep hunger that persists.

When you go home with your newborn, be aware that an infant has no concept of night and day. One of your first tasks as a parent is to teach your baby that daytime is for socializing and nighttime is for sleeping. You can get this message across by keeping lights dimmed and avoiding any interaction other than feeding or soothing at night. This practice will help your baby have his longest sleeping stretch at night

In order to feel good, it is important to eat balanced meals, but when you are home meal preparation time is limited with the new tasks of caring for an infant. In the final weeks of pregnancy plan ahead. Whenever possible cook double amounts and freeze extra for meals later. Mornings are usually the best time to organize the evening meal.

Recognize that time for household chores will be limited after the baby is born and begin to organize priorities. Which household tasks are most important to you? How long do they take and how often do they need to be done? By developing some priorities, you will avoid being overwhelmed. Low priority items can be left for the late afternoon when an infant may have a fussy period.

If you have a two-level home be sure to have a changing table and nursery supplies on the first level. Climbing should be minimized at first. Following a cesarean section, stairs should be avoided for two weeks. In that case, have all of your living needs on one level, temporarily. 

Observe your baby and get to know his/her personality. What is her favorite sleeping position? What techniques are most soothing: rocking, being snuggly wrapped, sucking, music? Every baby is an individual and has preferences. As you get to know your infant and begin to read his cues, parenting will become easier and increasingly satisfying.

As your baby grows include her in your morning activities. Place the infant seat in the room where you are working. An alert baby enjoys companionship.

Communicate with your partner specific ways to be helpful. Talk about expectations that you have of each other. How do you see each other’s roles?

Keep healthy snacks available. Fresh fruit, carrots, celery, yogurt, cheese and granola bars provide a quick nutritious boost.

Photo courtesy of Carlo Navarro on Unsplash.

This post is shared with #Alittlebitofeverything Link-up

Beginning in Detroit

There is benefit in having fresh perspectives. I want to be a life-long learner, seeking truth.

Many years ago, I started my nursing career at a Detroit hospital. I worked in the labor/delivery unit, learning the medical aspects of childbearing.

When I was expecting my first baby, I was introduced to Lamaze classes. Eventually I became a Lamaze instructor. I gained an understanding of relaxation skills and ways to guide a woman through the stages of labor.

Years later, while working for a home birth practice, I saw limited medical interventions during childbirth. And I saw the tension between home birth attendants and hospital staff. Home births and hospital births, both have benefits and risks. I believe hospital-based obstetricians and home birth midwives could learn from each other and find synergy, if they were open to greater communication.

During our years of parenting my husband and I had different views and ideas. We needed to communicate and learn from each other.

Life lessons continue. When controversial issues arise, are we willing to listen to different viewpoints? My hope is that we can listen well and observe carefully without prejudice. Let’s be open to fresh perspectives. 

This week I have been participating in a writing challenge with Hope Writers. Each day I have been posting a picture with some thoughts on instagram. This is my take on today’s prompt: FRESH

I am sharing this post with Five Minute Friday .

Breathing Patterns for Birth . . . and Soccer?

Last Saturday I spent a lovely afternoon watching my grandson play soccer. It brought back memories of the time my son played soccer and I was an accidental coach. Years ago I wrote a story about that experience.

When I first told my family that I was  a soccer coach they didn’t believe me.  You see, I had never played soccer.  I had never even watched a soccer game.  My position as a soccer coach began as a mistake.

When I signed my son up for soccer I checked one of the boxes indicating that I would volunteer my assistance.  Whenever my children were involved in an activity it seemed prudent to be involved.  I could bake cookies or make phone calls. At the first team meeting a tall man announced to the group.  “I’m looking for Carol Van Der Woude.”

I stepped forward with a smile, “that’s me.”

“I’m John.  I understand that you are my assistant coach.”

I gasped and then stuttered.  “I’m pleased to meet you.  I did sign up to assist . . . um . . . I can make phone calls, bring snacks.”

John smiled and responded.  “All the parents will bring snacks.  I’ll just need you to help with the practices and then cover a few games when I am out of town.  It’s not hard,  We have a training session this coming Saturday.”

The following Saturday I arrived at the sport center dressed in casual clothes and leather sandals.  I brought my notebook and pen, prepared to take notes on my new role.  With a sinking heart I noticed that I was one of a few females and that everyone was dressed in shorts and tennis shoes.  John greeted me, looked at my attire and  chuckled.  “It’s going to be a little hard to control the ball in those shoes.”

When the instructor for our session asked everyone to assemble on the indoor soccer field, I felt a little sick.  I stayed at the back of the group, trying to be invisible.

It was to no avail.  The instructor walked over and looked me up and down.  I was hoping that he would ask me to sit out.  Instead he shrugged as amusement crossed his features.  “It’ll have to do.”

We practiced countless drills, dribbling and passing the ball, running around cones.  I survived the running and kicking and returned to my seat to write furious notes.

As I wrote I thought, I’ve taught Lamaze skills for many years.  Surely I can teach soccer skills.  Certainly there are principles that apply to both.

During our practices I had each child introduce himself and encouraged the children to call each other by name.  I was sure that a good sense of team effort and a supportive environment would benefit the players.   It was a delight to see the shy child’s face light up when his team-mates called to him by name.

John was out of town for our second game.  I rotated the 5 and 6 year old boys on and off the field.  Whenever a child became distracted or was hesitant about kicking the ball I coached him.  “Focus on the ball, breathe in, breathe out and kick!”  From the sidelines I yelled “Breathe and kick!”

After my grandson’s game I took out the team picture from 23 years ago. I was standing proudly with the team. I never coached another soccer team, but I have happy memories of that year.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community .

Detroit, the Family and Reflections on Racism

My first job as a graduate nurse was in a hospital in downtown Detroit. I worked in a labor/delivery unit with a diverse group of patients. Some women had taken Lamaze classes and some were unwed teenagers. We had a pregnant woman, victim of a gunshot, who was partially paralyzed. The unit had on average 500 births per month at that time.

The head nurse on the dayshift was a black woman. The head nurse on the evening shift was a black woman. Many of the staff were black, and I had a big learning curve.

Most nurses on the unit were experienced, but I was in my first year of practice. I also found an ethnic difference between myself and the nurses that had grown up in a black community. Sometimes I misunderstood them, and sometimes they misunderstood me. But I don’t think this was racism.

I believe that we must listen to others and try to understand our differences. We need to have respect for all people. We can learn this in our families.

I am third generation Finnish. My family held onto Finnish traditions and language (I learned some basic phrases and listened to Finnish pastors as a translator spoke in English). We kept ties with the Finnish community in Upper Michigan where my grandfathers had worked in the copper mines.

 I grew up in a home where my parents instilled a love of learning, took us to libraries and encouraged us to read the Bible.

My family, like all families, has flaws. Yet the family is the design that God put in place for the flourishing of society. My family provided a foundation for me to withstand the challenges of life in a broken world.

The laws of our country need to support the nuclear family. A child’s best advocate is his mother and father. The family is the primary place for learning life skills. Welfare laws inadvertently discouraged the formation of nuclear families. Did this have a disproportionate effect on the black community? 

Planned Parenthood has placed its clinics in poor and black communities. By providing birth control and then subsequently abortions, did these clinics promote promiscuity in the black community? A negative effect on family formation?

It is important to look carefully at the policies that have disadvantaged the black community to understand institutional racism. In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (9/11/2020) Latasha Fields writes about her opposition to programs that increase dependency on the government. She states:

By subsidizing recklessness and the growing effects of immorality these programs have subverted, undermined and unraveled the tapestry of thriving and healthy families. Ultimately the successes and failures of the black community come from the choices we make. 

We are at a turbulent moment in our country. We need to understand the roots of the unrest and violence in order to find solutions. The police are dealing with complex issues: domestic violence, aggressive resistance to arrest when they are called to a scene, mental illness. Our society has a growing number of young men with autism. 

Please join me in praying for our country.

Nine Tips for a Young Woman

As a mom, grandmother and nurse What advice would I give to a young woman?

Learn about life practices that support your health: nutrition, exercise, rest.

Pay attention to the rhythm of your body, because your cycles give insight into your health.

Don’t share your body intimately with a young man outside of marriage. Sex is a sacred bond between a man and a woman.

Trust your body. During pregnancy and childbirth lean into your faith in God with prayer.

As a parent, trust your instincts and remember that you will always be the best advocate for your child.

Ask questions when you visit a doctor. Medical practice is moving towards one-size fits all policies. If we go to socialized medicine this will increase. It is important to remember that all medicines and vaccines have side effects and risks. Learn about the risks and benefits as you make decisions for your child.

Pray for wisdom and trust God to guide you.

No one is perfect. We all have human failings. Confess your faults, forgive yourself and others.

Respect moms that have made choices that are different from yours.

Linking this post to Heart Encouragement, Inspire Me Monday and the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Medical Freedom for Families

Over the past couple of years I have tracked legislation occurring across our country with regard to childhood vaccinations. Because one of my children developed fibromyalgia after a vaccine I am sensitive to this issue.

In 1986 the federal government passed a bill, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, that gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from lawsuits. The pharmaceuticals were threatening to stop making vaccines because they were being sued so often. 

Since that bill passed the number of vaccines has escalated. Despite wording in the bill that required the Health and Human Services department to identify children that could be harmed by a vaccine and a directive to improve safety testing, that has not happened!

Doctors are not trained to observe side effects or long term consequences involving the immune system caused by a vaccine. It is the parents that are seeing the effects of vaccination, but when they report the changes in their child they are often told that it is just coincidence. What can a parent do against the power of the pharmaceutical and medical establishment?

Parents have relied on medical and religious exemptions to protect their child. 

Other corrective measures could be taken. The government could rescind the 1986 law and hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for inadequate safety testing. Medical and nursing schools could train health care workers to observe and document side effects of vaccines.  It has been reported that medical students get a half day of teaching on vaccines that amounts to accepting the CDC schedule of vaccines.

Nurses and doctors could listen carefully with an open mind to parents.  

California has passed the most government intrusive legislation. All religious exemptions for vaccines have been taken away. A parent who protests the use of aborted fetal tissue to produce the MMR vaccine must comply with the state in order for their child to be allowed to attend school. 

When a doctor in California writes a medical exemption for a child who has been injured by a vaccine or a child with a medical condition, that exemption must be approved by a bureaucrat in the the state health department. If a doctor writes six or more exemptions in one year he/she will be placed under state surveillance. Why such a heavy hand to protect a vaccine schedule that has more than ten times the number of vaccines given in the 1960s?

My state is moving in a direction that takes decisions about health care away from parents. New vaccine bills are being presented in the Illinois House and Senate. The Illinois House is proposing HB 4870. This bill would require all children entering sixth grade to receive the HPV vaccine and have completed the the series of three vaccines before entering ninth grade.

HPV (human papilloma virus) is transmitted by sexual contact. This infection is not transmitted in a classroom. There is no reason to bar a child from school if he/she has not received this vaccine. For more information click here.

HPV may cause cervical cancer but the changes in cervical cells occurs slowly and can be picked up by pap smears and treated effectively. If a parent/young woman chooses this type of management, why force a vaccine that has been shown to have significant risk?

The Illinois Senate is proposing SB 3668. This bill would remove religious exemptions, restrict medical exemptions and lowers the age when a minor can consent to vaccines without parent approval. For more information click here.

As a nurse I have watched the movement to develop one-size-fits-all medical policies. It deeply concerns me that a long list of vaccines for all children despite their different health histories is being pushed.

As citizens of this country we need to be aware of the legislation that is being passed. We should get to know our local legislators and communicate with them. During local and national elections we should be voting to make our voices heard.

This post is shared with Tuesdays with a Twist and Anita’s link-up, Inspire Me Monday

What Do We Tell the Children?

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my grandchildren. I was happy to join the family for dinner. As we were eating dinner the second grader said, “We might be having world war three.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“A boy in my class said that.”

The granddaughter who is in middle school said, “My teacher spent two class hours talking about what is happening.”

We had a discussion of the current news. The grandchildren listened attentively–they were concerned.

I am very glad to be studying Paul’s letters to Timothy at this time. I explained that  Paul had sound advice and encouragement for Timothy during a very difficult time.

As I mentioned Paul’s letter to Timothy, the words came to me. “God is sovereign. He knows what is happening. We can pray for our leaders that they will do what is right.” 

As I thought about our conversation I am reminded of the importance of time studying the Bible. We can direct our children and grandchildren to be grounded in the Word, sharing scripture with them. We can encourage them to participate in prayer for our country, our President, his cabinet and congress.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2: 1-4 

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: DIRECTION

At the Mall: The VIE Event

What happened in Washington D.C. last week? The constant drumbeat for impeachment continues and headlines the news. There are many topics, news relevant to parents and families to report. Congress has many issues that should be addressed for the people.

On November 14th an event took place on the Washington D.C. Mall. It was cold, but hundreds of parents came. They came with concern for the injuries and disabilities caused by vaccines.

It is true that the child mortality rate in the U.S. is increasing. Chronic disease in children is increasing at an alarming rate: asthma, diabetes, allergies, neurologic diseases, autism.

Childhood cancer is also on the rise. Read this article.

A line-up of distinguished speakers was captured on video-tape by The High Wire. I meant to just check it out, but I couldn’t turn it off. It went on for four hours.

The speakers were riveting. Eventually my husband began watching also. A focus of discussion was on the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Law of 1986.

The law gave pharmaceuticals complete immunity from any lawsuit brought because of injury to a child by a vaccine. It also set up a government court (VAERS) that would pay out funds to families whose child was disabled or died as a result of the vaccine (if the parents were aware of this vaccine court, if they knew how to bring their case, if they had good documentation). To date the government has paid out more than four billion dollars. 

At the same time it had provisions that were suppose to insure that vaccines were held to higher safety standards. The bill tasked HHS with overseeing safety studies and developing a plan to identify children who are more susceptible to vaccine risk. Somehow the safety studies didn’t take place. We don’t know why some children are at greater risk of injury. Doctors are not trained to look for side effects or injury.

Between 12/1/2007 and 9/30/ 2009 Harvard Medical School did a study to see how well the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) works in identifying vaccine injury. A report of this study can be viewed here.

. . . fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported. Low reporting rates preclude or slow the identification of “problem” drugs and vaccines that endanger public health. New surveillance methods for drug and vaccine adverse effects are needed. Barriers to reporting include a lack of clinician awareness, uncertainty about when and what to report, as well as the burdens of reporting: reporting is not part of clinicians’ usual workflow, takes time, and is duplicative.

Instead the number of vaccines has multiplied.

Childhood Vaccine Schedule

All of the speakers were good but I found these to be the most succinct:

At one hour and 10 minutes into the video a lawyer, Mary Holland, spoke. Dr. Bob Sears at one hour and 22 minutes. Dr. Andrew Wakefield at three hours and 12 minutes. Robert Kennedy jr. at three hours and 21 minutes.  

You can access the video of this event here.

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