Robyn Barberry is the doting wife of her high school sweetheart, the mother of three precocious boys, and the art teacher at St. Joan of Arc school in Aberdeen.


March 2015
February 2015

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There ARE consequences to not immunizing. The consequences are epidemics.


I am concerned about the choice not to vaccinate. Mrs. Tsottles refers to Countless families whose children have suffered as a result of vaccination. I would be interested in hearing the numbers who have had some problems as opposed to those who have benefitted. I am 72 years old and still remember polio. That was a common disease and I believe that most people of my generation knew someone who had polio. I remember how happy my parents were to get us immunized. I wonder if people will remain so opposed to vaccinations if we begin to see some of these horrible afflictions return. This is not a perfect world and sometimes we have to weigh the risks. Do we really want to return to the time when whooping cough was a common occurrence among young children?



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Empty Bowls, full hearts

Back in January (which seems like forever ago!), St. Joan of Arc School celebrated Catholic Schools week with a “buddy day,” during which older students paired with younger students to paint ceramic bowls for St. Vincent de Paul’s Empty Bowls fundraiser.

According to their website, “Empty Bowls is St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore’s signature event that raises funds, friends and awareness of our work to serve those who are hungry and homeless in our community.” At the event, guests are treated to a variety of (unlimited!) soups prepared by some of Baltimore’s finest restaurants, silent auctions, door prizes, and kids’ activities.

And the best part – you can choose one of over 3,500 (!) handmade bowls to take home.

And so, being the art teacher and a parent volunteer, I found myself surrounded by all of my students at once in the parish hall on that blustery January afternoon, coaching them as they decorated their “blank canvasses” with stars, spirals, swirls, stripes, and…Spiderman (!).

A wonderful lady named Kathy Fick of Kathy Fick Designs offered her artistic eye and ceramic expertise.

It was fun to work with Collin and his 6th grade buddy, whose name is also Colin. Both of them love art, so they had a great time collaborating on their bowl.

After an hour that felt more like five minutes, it was time for everyone to clean up and pack up their bowls to be fired in a kiln (it’s like a super-hot furnace where the glaze on pottery turns into a glassy finish.)

A few weeks later, Kathy sent our marketing director, Margie Forbes, a picture of our fired bowls. It reminded me of the upcoming event, so I called my beloved Aunt Anne, who attended last year, and she organized a table for us to attend. I was excited to be a part of such a wonderful cause and couldn’t wait to see my students’ bowls in person!

When the big day, March 28th, finally arrived, my parents and I piled into my mom’s car and headed to Timonium Fairgrounds to experience firsthand the Empty Bowls experience. We arrived 5 minutes early, and there were already hundreds of people in line, waiting to enjoy this special event. 

As soon as the doors opened, I rushed to the table where all the bowls were lined up on display, glancing at the picture of Collin and Colin holding up their bowl on my phone. I really wanted to find it and bring it back home with me. “We have more underneath,” a man told me. I looked and looked and looked some more, but I never found it.

I was slightly disappointed because I wanted a keepsake of that fun day we spent brightening up our winter with colorful glaze. I guess in a way, I wanted to hold on to a tangible piece of Collin, but his art has found a new home in someone’s sunny Baltimore kitchen. (I’ll face this again on a larger scale someday, when Collin grows up, but art and children are meant to be cultivated and shared with the world.) I imagine the new owner of the bowl said, “Collin and Colin…That’s funny!”

I did, however, discover several bowls that my students created. I even helped with one of them. So I chose two, and purchased a third for my principal.

Even though the ceramic bowls we selected were empty, the insulated paper mugs everyone was carrying around were full of hot delicious soups in a slew of flavors. My cousin Kathy was a big fan of the Maryland crab soup from Bill’s Seafood. My mom couldn’t stop raving about the coconut curry from KidzTable. And I was head over heels for Gertrude’s Portuguese kale soup. (I had 3 bowls!) Served with a side of H&S Baker’s sesame seed speckled Italian bread, it was the perfect complement to a somewhat snowy late March day.

The cold outside was a harsh reminder that while we were enjoying a modest gala inside of a massive exhibition hall, complete with enormous blue and yellow balloons and lanterns, there were people just a few miles away who were starving. Statistics about hunger were printed on little papers and stuffed into the ceramic bowls and posted on signs throughout the hall. The facts about the children hit me hardest.

I’ve witnessed childhood hunger firsthand as a teacher in low-income schools. I’ve seen the impact that starvation has on the body, on the mind, on the soul. It’s a condition that we must fight with whatever resources we can find. This event alone wasn’t going to solve world hunger, or even Baltimore hunger, but it does bring to light the grim picture of families without food.  But St. Vincent de Paul’s serves over 30,000 people, and the proceeds from Empty Bowls would feed many of them.

True to their mission, the St. Vincent de Paul volunteers were the most gracious hosts. I had a nice conversation with a college student about our vegan diets. I met two quiet, gentle ladies who run a summer camp for underprivileged kids and offered to ask some Harford County farmers to donate food and milk to their program.

A grandmother with the spirit of a teenager hugged the air out of me when I told her I was the art teacher at St. Joan of Arc and that my spectacular students had created 100 beautiful bowls. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” she said. Her smile and her energy were contagious.

“We’ll be back next year!” I told her.

“You better!” she said.

March 31, 2015 02:28
By Robyn Barberry

Fantastic gymnastics

At the recommendation of Frank’s teachers, I registered him for gymnastics at a local recreation center. I took one look at the room, covered in foam blocks and mats of primary colors, soft toys, a small set of parallel bars, and a 10 foot long trampoline, and knew it would be a great place for Frank to play and learn.

The first couple of weeks were rough. Frank was a ping-pong ball, bouncing from station to station in no particular order, refusing to dismount the trampoline, and nearly pile driving a classmate in the foam pit. A few times, we had to leave early, with me lugging Frank at my side, like a kicking/screaming suitcase. (Fortunately, I’ve learned to ignore the dirty looks.)

One day, it clicked. His regular teacher was absent. She’s always shown care for Frank’s safety, but she doesn’t expect much of him behavior or performance-wise. The substitute teacher began yelling his name. He didn’t respond. I pulled her aside to explain his situation.

“He has a receptive language delay,” I told her. “We don’t know what that means yet. He could be autistic. He could have an auditory processing disorder. Or he could just be stuck in a phase.”

She barely listened to me as I rattled out the same disclaimer I’ve been giving everyone when Frank does something off-putting.

But, she wasn’t worried about the labels floating in the air over Frank’s head, waiting to be pinned to his chest where a nametag might go. She was focused on Frank, the little boy in front of her and the gymnastics feats she wanted him to complete: a slide down the Little Tykes slide, a crawl over the rainbow, a jump from a spring board up and over a mat stack, parallel bars, a tumble down the wedge, a tip back and forth on the big roll, a steady walk across the balance beam, a climb up the tiny rock wall, three bounces across the trampoline, and a great big dive into the foam pit.

While the other three little gymnasts were led by their guardians through the routine, the teacher held Frank’s hand and guided him through each exercise, in order, twice, explaining the directions to him each time, slowing down and repeating as needed.
On the third go-round, Frank nailed the routine with very little outside help. His teacher and I (and even one of the other parents) applauded his accomplishment. (If only I had a little gold medal to give him!)

Over the past two months since he’s been in gymnastics, I’ve noticed a difference in Frank. The chaos in his mind is binding and reorganizing itself to the point where he is more mild than wild. Belligerence has given way to patience. Frank listens when I say his name. Frank is beginning to understand.

Here’s why:

1.                 Gymnastics offers structure and routine.
2.                 Gymnastics offers the chance to learn social skills, like taking turns and sharing.
3.                 Gymnastics offers young children the opportunity to learn new verbs (jump, climb, swing, slide) and prepositions (over, up, under, down).
4.                 Gymnastics is an excellent form of exercise. (God wants us to take care of the amazing bodies He gave us. Building muscles is one way to be healthy.)
5.                 Gymnastics is fun!

This morning, when Frank woke up, the first thing he said was, “gymnastics?”

“Not until tomorrow,” I told him.

Neither one of us can wait!

March 26, 2015 11:50
By Robyn Barberry

Emotional education

Collin came home from school one day with an interesting handout in his folder detailing strategies kids can use to work themselves through challenging emotional situations. I asked him where he got it, and he said Mrs. Stotler, the school guidance counselor stopped by to talk to his kindergarten class about emotions.

It was yet another reminder of why I chose St. Joan of Arc for Collin. A Catholic education isn’t just reading, math, social studies, and the arts; it’s about nurturing a child’s physical, mental, social, spiritual, and emotional needs, as well. I’m grateful for Collin’s teachers and Mrs. Stotler for taking the time to address a subject that is all too often ignored in schools.

As parents, we want to (more like need to) talk to our kids about handling strong feelings, but we don’t always know how. I asked Mrs. Stotler for her thoughts on the matter. Here’s what she had to say:

Talking about emotions can be difficult. What are they? Are there good emotions and bad emotions? Should we use our emotions as a guide to make decisions? These questions can be difficult to answer as an adult; however, children struggle to a greater degree due to the fact that they do not have the language to express themselves. It is the role of the parent, caregiver, teacher, mentor and/or family member to model emotional expression to the next generation. For the most part we, as adults, were not formally taught about our emotions but we certainly were taught in an informal way.

As a school guidance counselor and a clinical social worker, one of my roles is to provide students with an emotional vocabulary in an effort to equip them for social and academic success. In the younger grades, it is not uncommon for the children to respond to videos such as Sesame Street or Calliou. On one occasion, in a kindergarten classroom I showed a video of Grover and Dave Matthews singing about how they are feeling. The children reacted to this in a positive way and verbalized the emotions of jealousy, pride, anger, sadness etc. Once the children were taught the emotion, the hope is that when confronted with a situation that provoked a previously identified emotion, the student would be familiar with it and be able to accurately label how he/she is feeling.

In addition to videos, the children enjoy role playing difficult social interactions or demonstrating emotions on their faces in a mirror. It is helpful to educate them that all emotions are useful and that there aren’t “good” emotions and “bad” emotions. Most children believe that being happy is “good” and being sad is “bad”. It is necessary to let them know that emotions are merely trying to tell us something. For example: when a kindergartener is feeling angry about being left out of a game, the feeling of anger is secondary to feeling unwanted. Once students can recognize the primary emotion they are better able to address the problem. The use of storybooks is helpful as well in identifying emotion. The teacher can stop throughout a book and ask the children how the character is feeling in the story. Fictional characters assist in helping a young student talk about emotions in a non-threatening way.

Older students can also benefit from an emotional vocabulary lesson. Adolescents often feel many emotions all at once, creating internal tension. It is helpful to use an emotion chart where they can look at faces and labels to help to identify how they are feeling. Older children may enjoy writing in a journal, making a video diary or drawing to express their emotion. Using art as a tool is an effective strategy that clinicians use with students who have difficulty putting their feelings into words. As caregivers, ask your child/adolescent how their day was, using the feelings chart. You may even say “it sounds like you feel, ____________”. When children hear an adult mirroring their emotion back to them, it solidifies that emotion, helps them to feel understood and creates a bond between them.

While it is the role of the primary caregiver to teach about emotions in a healthy way, teachers, staff and guidance counselors can support that effort in the classroom.  There are helpful books such as "How Are You Peeling, Foods with Moods"," by Saxton Fraymann and Joost Jelferrs, as well as internet sites such as and which can assist in supporting caregivers with this task.

Laura Stotler is a licensed social worker and guidance counselor at St. Joan of Arc School in Aberdeen, Maryland.  She is trained in PBIS (Postive Behavior Intervention and Support) and has an extensive background working with families and children in various educational and clinical settings.





March 12, 2015 10:19
By Robyn Barberry

Make there be more

If you can get past the drug use, foul language and a few other issues in Art Linklater’s Boyhood, you will see a powerful depiction of the ever-changing phases of parenthood. In this story, Mason’s parents are divorced, so his mother is forced to return to college to pursue a better-paying occupation to increase the quality of her children’s lives. She’s all work, no play, herself and pushes the same attitude on Mason and his sister when it comes to their education. Dad fades in and out of the picture, but when he’s around, he spends quality time with his kids, taking them bowling, listening to them gripe about the problems young people face, and teaching them life lessons.

SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading now if you plan on seeing the movie and haven’t yet.

The relationships between Mason and his parents change over the years, with some times being more trying than others. But, on the eve of his departure for college, Mom, played by Patricia Arquette, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for this particular role, reflects upon how fast her career as a mother passed by her while she was too busy living her own life, working, re-marrying, divorcing, re-marrying, divorcing, and deciding to live independently – even from her own children.

“I just thought there would be more,” she says, bursting into tears.

I had chills. I began to perspire. I didn’t know where these tears were coming from.

I woke Patrick from his sleep and told him about the scene I’d just witnessed. “I never want to feel that way,” I told him.

“That day is a long way away,” he said, “and you are not that mother.”

But I am. Between working two jobs and writing with every other spare moment I can find, am I doing enough for my kids? Am I merely making sure they’re clean, clothed, fed, and educated or am I nurturing their minds and spirits the way the father in the movie does? What can I do to make there be “more” every day?

I barely slept that night, even after holding each of my boys and kissing their cheeks and ruffling their hair. A thousand questions tumbled through my head in the spaces where my dreams should have been. Am I a good mother? How can I keep myself from regretfully wasting my child-rearing years? Is there any way to make it hurt less when my boys detach themselves from me? Can my past, present, and future come together in my golden years and make me smile rather than cry? After praying for peace of mind, I finally drifted off to sleep.

There are two things I have that Mason’s mother does not: faith and time.

I believe that God will protect my boys as they grow into men and will rest His hand upon my shoulder when I transition from one stage of motherhood to the next until, ultimately, I’m forced to say, “My children are grown.” I also pray that my family continues to stay close, just as Patrick and I are with our parents.

Perfect strangers like to look at me with my boys and say, “Enjoy it! It goes quick!” I’m not sure how helpful that’s supposed to be , but like Patrick said, “That day is a long way away,” and it’s not too late for me to enjoy the presence of my children and fill the days from now until then with “more.”

March 10, 2015 12:43
By Robyn Barberry

SJA fights cabin fever with "Frozen" movie night

On Feb. 28, the St. Joan of Arc Pastoral Council hosted their first ever family movie night. We decided to show "Frozen," hoping that the popular Disney movie would draw a crowd. It did.

Over 30 children and their parents attended, many of who are also SJA students. Kerry Davidson, mother to Pyper, one of my preschool students, helped me plan the decorations, food, and activities.

My art students created six-sided snowflakes that we stuck all over the place. Kerry brought balloons, tulle and ribbon. We hung life-sized pictures of the princesses Elsa and Ana.

In addition to everyone’s favorite snacks (chips, pretzels, popcorn, and cheese balls), we served salad from the Olive Tree and New York-style pizza from Nonnie’s Brick Oven in Havre de Grace. And then there were cupcakes!

Kerry made two different varieties of snowman cupcakes (one flat, strawberry flavored and one marshmallow stacked vanilla) and crystal blue sprinkled chocolate cupcakes. She even brought strawberries. (They were gone in 30 minutes!)

I set up three art activities, including blow painting, salt water “ice” painting, and “stained glass windows” with overhead transparencies and permanent markers in every color you can imagine. Kerry taught the kids how to make snowflakes using shower curtain rings and ribbon.

There was even a “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” station where partygoers could assemble their own Olafs using marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, itty bitty gummy orange slices, pretzel sticks, and icing for glue.

Of course, the movie was playing, too. Many of the parents watched it, and some of the kids would briefly take a seat then scamper away to participate in the HUGE indoor snowball fight (with fluffy, white, stuffed snowballs) that lasted almost two hours. Even Frank got in on it!

I’m certain that all of the party guests slept well that night, because I saw some of them at church the next morning! That’s what this party was about – building a community for families with young children at our parish.

We’re planning another party for the end of the school year. Stay tuned for your invite!

March 05, 2015 09:23
By Robyn Barberry

Welcome to the Dojo!

In addition to being a STEM school, St. Joan of Arc also embraces the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) philosophy of classroom behavior management.

In the past, teachers spent so much of their time and energy disciplining students who were misbehaving, that the other 95% of the class was missing out on instructional time. PBIS flips the traditional model of classroom management by encouraging teachers to praise those students who are doing the right thing, and ignoring those who do not.

Students who follow directions, show respect, and go above and beyond in their classrooms are rewarded. Sometimes it’s a sticker (my second graders devour my colorful stars!). Sometimes it’s a trip to the treasure chest. But in some cases, an entire school shares a reward system.

At St. Joan of Arc, students receive paper “shields” for outstanding displays of respect, responsibility and leadership. The shields are submitted to the office, where they are entered into a drawing. The winning students’ names and their good deeds are announced on Fridays, and they can come to the office to claim their prizes. (Collin was the lucky winner of a “free shoe” day where he got to wear his sneakers, rather than his dress shoes.)

As I mentioned earlier, SJA is a STEM school, which means we try to integrate technology into everything we do. PBIS is no exception. Last week, we instituted a new program called Class Dojo, which allows us to use an app to give immediate points to students who are meeting and exceeding specific behavioral objectives.

I run the app on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4, but many teachers are using it on their iPads. Using my stylus, I click on the class, select the student from the roster (which is alphabetized by first name and demarcated by adorable little monster avatars), and award points where they are deserved for being ready to learn, teamwork, paying attention, being quiet in the halls, cleaning up, and any other behaviors that are essential to succeeding in my classroom. All it takes is a quick tap.

I can offer an award for achieving a certain number of points, such as a sticker or even a shield. But, even the intangible reward of a point is enough to keep many of my students motivated. When I walk around the room and announce who is receiving points and why, it gets quieter. Students sit up straighter and redirect their eyes to the work in front of them, waiting to hear their names.

The name of the PBIS game is recognizing kids who do the right thing. And isn’t that what God does for us? In providing children with a Catholic education, we are not only offering top-notch academics, but a high quality character education, too. Class Dojo enhances PBIS so that rewarding good behavior can be efficient, effective, and high-tech to meet the demands of the digital generation. 

March 02, 2015 04:04
By Robyn Barberry

Sensory story time

When Frank’s teacher first told me about sensory story time at the Harford County Public Library, I imagined a room with stations where kids could put their hands in buckets of beads, or put sugar cubes on their tongues, or peek through a kaleidoscope, all while a lady read quietly in the background.

I did some research and learned that sensory story time is designed for kids with “sensory issues,” which is frequently the case with autistic kids. We still don’t know for sure what’s at the core of Frank’s behavioral and social issues, but he doesn’t like the dark or loud sounds. He also refuses to sit still.

Sensory story time is a good option for Frank and other kids like him, because it doesn’t require a child to sit still for an extended period of time while the facilitator reads two to three books. Sensory story time includes one book followed by a variety of short, simple activities. Children are encouraged to be active, and in some cases, singing and fingerplays are kept to a minimum.

The more I read, the more I knew that this would be a great opportunity for Frank to get out of the house and into a positive public experience. It would coincide with the developmental goal Frank’s teacher and I set for him. So, on Valentine’s Day, we headed to the Abingdon Branch of the Harford County Public Library to meet Leo’s godmother, Brittany, for our first sensory story time experience.

Unfortunately, I wrote down the wrong time and we missed the actual story portion of the event! I was so embarrassed, but Mrs. Margaret and Mr. Jake, the librarians in charge of the event warmly welcomed us to a big, furniture free room where kids of all different levels of ability buzzed about, creating a “Love Monster” to match the book Love Monster by Rachel-Bright that the group had just finished reading. Mrs. Margaret and Mr. Jake handed us materials for all three boys and helped us find a spot on the floor.

Naturally, Frank was more interested in exploring than in working on his Love Monster, but Patrick had fun putting one together! After about five minutes, Mrs. Margaret and Mr. Jake brought out all kinds of simple puzzles and toys. Nothing was electronically powered and everything was safe enough for Leo to be around. Frank gravitated toward the two fruits, as he likes to carry a banana and an apple around the house.

When it was time to clean up, Mrs. Margaret and Mr. Jake very quietly sang a couple of simple songs. (I caught Frank singing them later). I felt so relieved. I’d spent half an hour in a public place with Frank without feeling exhausted and embarrassed. The librarians and other parents were so understanding. I never once felt as though someone was giving me a dirty look for being unable to behave. Frank was allowed to be the explorer he is. And what better place to explore than a library.

Sensory story time is held at the Abingdon Branch of the Harford County Library at 10:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of every month. Hope to see you there!


February 25, 2015 11:38
By Robyn Barberry

Voices in the vaccine debate - Part 3

In this three part series, I will share the perspectives of three different women (who also happen to be mothers) when it comes to the vaccine debate. I asked all of them the same exact questions and will run their responses in their own words.

This is Part 3 - The public health expert

Mrs. Bethney Davidson earned her undergraduate degree in Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine with a minor in Sociology from Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina. Mrs. Davidson was an active member of the US Army for five years as an Outpatient Mental Health Specialist working in the Community Mental Health Clinic, Social Work Services and the Alcohol Substance Abuse Program (ASAP).

Ms. Davidson has been working for the U. S. Army Public Health Command since 2005 and supports the Tri-Service and DOD needs in training and consultation work from her location in the Health Risk Communication Program under the Portfolio of Health Risk Management, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Q.  Describe your professional and/or personal experiences with vaccinations.
A. Personal:  According to my parents, I received all my childhood vaccines at the appropriate times to include the smallpox vaccine in 1968.   I continued routine immunization as an adult in college and then upon my entry to the US Army (Vaccinations are a way of life in the U.S. Military.  All new recruits (both officer and enlisted) are vaccinated against various diseases during enlisted basic training or during officer accession training) in 1992 (age 25) as a basic trainee I had the following:  MMR (again), Meningococcal, Polio (again), Tetanus-diphtheria, Influenza (required yearly as a service member). I was required to also have the Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B as a high risk occupational group.  I have not had the Varicella vaccine as I had chickenpox as a child in the 1st grade.

In addition as a rapid response team member I have received a second smallpox vaccine and I currently must maintain the following yearly: Influenza, Typhoid.  I have also received two Anthrax vaccinations and will eventually complete the 5 shot series as required.

Depending on the area that I may find myself traveling to for rapid response/crisis response I may in the future be required to have the yellow fever vaccine or the JE Vaccine (Japanese Encephalitis).

Q. What are vaccines?
A. I consider vaccines to be another protective measure you can take to minimize illness or the extreme severity of an illness.

Q. Do you have your children vaccinated?
A. Yes, my daughter of 19 years has always been vaccinated according to recommendation. In addition, she has received all three doses of the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Immunization (given at the recommended age of 11) and the Varicella vaccine as she did not contract chickenpox.

Q. Why do people choose to have their children vaccinated?
A. I can say that most of the people (family, friends, and co-workers) that have also vaccinated their children did so to provide a protective measure for their children and for themselves. 

Q. Why do people choose not to vaccinate their children?
A. I can imagine that fear of the unknown could be a factor in choosing not to vaccinate.  As much information that is accessible today can be overwhelming and confusing to a concerned parent wanting to do the right thing for their child/children.  I do believe that those who choose not to vaccinate make the decision they feel is right for them but not necessarily for the community.

Q. What are the potential consequences (positive or negative) when people choose NOT to have their children vaccinated?
A. Just as there are unknowns when the choice IS to vaccinate, there are unknowns when the choice to NOT vaccinate is made. Many wondered what would happen when the anti-vaccine choice began years ago. Many considered the potential future ripple effects there would be and as evidenced recently, we have a number of outbreaks (predicted) of preventable diseases (mumps, measles) that are now threatening young, old and immune compromised. Those that cannot be vaccinated (medical exemptions) are most at risk for life threatening outcomes. I feel medical exemptions are valid and believe most would agree...but exemptions just because threaten everyone....including those who have NO choice.

Q. What are the potential consequences (positive or negative) when people choose to have their children vaccinated?
A. Just like all medications, vaccines are not perfect and can have side effects. This goes for the cold remedies, prescriptions, and over the counter items that are available for illness ... we take a chance each time we take or administer one of these (none of them are 100% effective). So the realization that if you choose to vaccinate it may run the spectrum of results must be appreciated ... however vaccines ask us to do something very different; take a healthy person and introduce a combination of ingredients that might keep us healthy if we are ever exposed. Whereas if we are sick, taking something that shows we improve is much easier to tolerate as you see the results. Out of sight illness mean out of mind for most ... the problem is vaccines have worked so well we don’t see most of what we are preventing.

Q. Who benefits from vaccinations?
A. Everyone!  It is so important to know that vaccines for one will keep many safe.

Q. Do you believe parents should be legally obligated to vaccinate their children?
A. This is tough, it is the parent’s responsibility to care for the child and for many it is simply the right thing to do and has been mandated for certain places/activities like school in order to keep all children safe from getting or giving dangerous and deadly diseases.  I wonder if it were not mandatory what we would find ourselves experiencing?  If we went back to the days before ... what did that look like, what number of children became ill and unable to go to school?  I think the science backs up the obligation, just wish more understood or cared to learn the science.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to say about this issue?   
A. I wish to see more discussion without finger pointing and degrading ... so much of what is available is bias ... it is no wonder that we are finding a line drawn in the sand with two sides unwilling to budge.


February 19, 2015 04:14
By Robyn Barberry

Voices in the vaccine debate - Part 2

In this three part series, I will share the perspectives of three different women (who also happen to be mothers) when it comes to the vaccine debate. I asked all of them the same exact questions and will run their responses in their own words.

(If you missed it, here is Part 1 - The pediatrician)

My name is Leigh Tsottles. I am a mother of three girls, whom we are/will be homeschooling, and wife to an amazing husband. I run a horseback riding, training and boarding facility as well as a homestead where I raise sheep, cows, chickens and turkeys.

I worked at a local hospital for several years as a nurse assistant.

Q. Describe your professional and/or personal experiences with vaccinations.
A. I have no “medical experience” with vaccinations other than the hundreds of hours I have poured into my own research of them. I have broken down each individual disease and each individual vaccine to determine if I felt the disease was something I could support my own child through, with the help of my naturopathic doctor and the use of herbs, oils, homeopathics and other immunity supports.

My personal experiences with vaccines was during the times I spent soothing my daughter, who at the time we were fostering and pursuing adoption, as her body was dealing with the side effects of the vaccines. She was an exceptionally happy baby (even the social worker noted how pleasant she was and that we had to be “doing something right”) but the hours and days following her vaccines, which I even had spaced out so as not to be overloaded, she screamed and screamed high-pitched shrieks, had golf ball sized hard lumps at the vaccine site, and her entire leg was swollen. She refused to eat, ran low grade fevers and couldn’t even sleep well because she kept waking up screaming. This is still after I had given her supplements, orally and topically, to assist in her detoxing.

Q. What are vaccines?
A. Vaccines are a mixture of substances that are put into a body by means of injection or aerosol that generally causes antibodies to form.

Q. Do you have your children vaccinated?
A. My two biological daughters are not vaccinated at all. My adopted daughter was vaccinated her first 9 months of life. Because she was not legally adopted until just before her first birthday we were forced to have her vaccinated or she would be removed from our home.

Q. Why do people choose to have their children vaccinated?
A. People choose to vaccinate because they are led to believe, mostly by their pediatricians, that it will protect their children by giving them immunity to specific diseases.

Q. Why do people choose not to vaccinate their children?
A. People can choose NOT to vaccinate their children for several reasons. 1) Religion: they know that God has created living creatures, the human body in particular, to be flawless and to be perfectly able to support themselves by means of their immune system and other supplementary products, such as herbs, created by God. 2) Toxic overload: the list of ingredients in these vaccines is enough to make people question how in the world bodies (especially new born babies) can handle the poison and not suffer at least minor lifelong complications. 3) Liability: if there is an adverse reaction, vaccine manufacturers are not held accountable. In fact they are totally protected! 4) Effectiveness: there is no proof that these vaccines do work. Wait, there ARE tests ad research done to “prove safety” but they are all internal! You cannot have studies done on something when it is being paid for BY the company seeking positive results.

Q. What are the potential consequences (positive or negative) when people choose to have their children vaccinated?
A. Potential consequences are allergies, asthma, ear infections, ADD/ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, auto immune diseases and death, to name a few. The spread of diseases from the vaccine itself. Weakened and faltered immune systems. You have new strains of diseases that are evolving and are no longer affected by certain vaccines. Positive may be for people in third world countries where they are drinking water contaminated with feces, where they have no sanitation, no food etc. Their immune systems are not able to support the attack of diseases so therefore vaccines may be their only option. But to be perfectly honest I have still yet to find a study done by a third party stating that this is even true. Vaccines still may be hurting them more so than we actually know.

Q. What are the potential consequences (positive or negative) when people choose (NOT) to have their children vaccinated?
A. There are no consequences to not vaccinating. You have children with strong, thriving, healthy immune systems. Bodies and immune systems are able to develop properly, how they were created. The topic of “herd immunity” usually comes up at this point and non-vaccinating families are being blamed, however true herd immunity is ONLY ever established when everyone has lifelong immunity to the disease by actually contracting that disease..and vaccines do NOT provide that kind of immunity.

Q. Who benefits from vaccinations?
A. Obviously people who benefit from vaccinations are those people/parties involved on the financial end of this. People are making billions and billions off of these vaccines. Of course drug companies are going to hire research labs to prove their product, then pay doctors to push those products. It’s a vicious cycle that will not be broken until lots of brave people with lots of money to fight can stand against this.

Q. Do you believe parents should be legally obligated to vaccinate their children?
A. I absolutely do not believe parents should be legally obligated to vaccinate. Should we REALLY have our rights taken from us? In America we have the ability to have those freedoms. That is what America was founded on. When the government starts taking away our rights it is taking away our freedom. If they start taking away our parental rights at what point will it end? This is only opening up the door to more laws and restrictions.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to say about this issue?  
A. My personal conclusion was that I felt more comfortable if my child contracted the diseases, and potentially needed hospitalization, than injecting them with substances and ingredients that are known to be hazardous to living things. I have read testimonies of countless families who have either lost a child to, or had a child severely damaged by the reactions of being vaccinated. I could NEVER EVER live with myself if I had allowed my children to have that done to them. Bottom line is this: there is absolutely NO proof ( other than from the labs paid by these pharmaceutical companies) that vaccines work, and I will not allow my children to be guinea pigs. I am doing everything I can to support my children’s immune systems by feeding them well quality foods and providing them with healthy lifestyles. To those families who believe I am putting their children at risk by not vaccinating: well I’m sorry they feel that way but my first and foremost obligation is to MY children’s health, not theirs.


February 17, 2015 11:01
By Robyn Barberry

Voices in the vaccine debate

Part 1: The Pediatrician

In this three part series, I will share the perspectives of three different women (who also happen to be mothers) when it comes to the vaccine debate. I asked all of them the same exact questions and will run their responses in their own words.

Dr. Lainie Holman specializes in Pediatric Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (dual board-certified). She finished residency in 2007 and has two grown, not-autistic children. Here are her responses:

Q. Describe your professional and/or personal experiences with vaccinations.
A. I’m a pediatrician and have cared for a number of children affected by vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Q. What are vaccines?
A. They are compounds that resemble pathogens enough to engage the immune system. After the body “sees” the vaccine, it “remembers” it enough to fight it better or entirely when exposed to the wild pathogen.

Q. Do you have your children vaccinated?
A. Yes. Although my partner at the time was afraid of vaccines, so my oldest was not completely on time.

Q. Why do people choose to have their children vaccinated?
A. Because they don’t want them to die from something preventable. The same reason they use car safety seats. Also, because they feel a social obligation to protect others.

Q. Why do people choose not to vaccinate their children?
A.Because they are afraid. Because they don’t remember the diseases that are now mostly eliminated. Because a now-discredited physician wrote a false paper linking MMR to autism. Because we have the blinding privilege to think our children are more special than others’. Because they don’t understand epidemiology.

Q. What are the potential consequences (positive or negative) when people choose to have their children vaccinated?
A.Pain at the injection site, fever, rash, allergic reaction. Sometimes, a fever can trigger a seizure. This is rare and not dangerous. There is some association rarely with transverse myelitis. But that is unclear.

Q. What are the potential consequences (positive or negative) when people choose not to have their children vaccinated?
A. Death. Brain damage. Permanent disability. Hearing loss, blindness, sterility, pneumonia, epiglottitis. Did I mention death?

Q. Who benefits from vaccinations?
A. Individuals and society.

Q. Do you believe parents should be legally obligated to vaccinate their children?
A. Almost. I believe that parents should be educated. Most either don’t understand or have erroneous information.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to say about this issue? 
A. I have many patients with congenital rubella who are profoundly disabled. I also have patients with permanent encephalopathy and seizures from preventable meningitis or encephalitis. I have a patient who has an anoxic brain injury after cardiac arrest as a result of sepsis. I have seen a 14-day old die from pertussis. They don’t really cough much, they just stop breathing. I have cared for patients with complications from hepatitis and pneumonia. I personally have taken care of many children hospitalized with influenza. I also care for patients who are immunocompromised who cannot be vaccinated. I have had patients with post-polio syndrome. I hope these epidemics will be enough of a wake-up call that people will stop being so impervious to science and fact. If not, well, enjoy polio.

Also, if you don’t immunize your children, please, please, do not lie to health care providers about it. Vaccination removes many diagnoses from the thoughts of most of us. Not being vaccinated returns those possibilities. Please don’t lie.

Dr. Holman also shared this interesting article with me about the link between vaccines (and everything else) and autism.

February 13, 2015 02:23
By Robyn Barberry

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