“Are You There?” Hope Street: My Journey

“This will be good news,” I hope, answering the long-awaited call. It’s the nurse from the clouds-and-blue-sky-1387467-sneurologist’s office. “The doctor has reviewed all your records. He’s referring you to Stanford Neurology,” she reports.

Stanford 2012.  My mind flashes back automatically to grand mal seizures that started at, of all places, McDonalds in East Palo Alto. Aren’t they supposed to serve Happy Meals there? Next, the terrifying ambulance ride to Stanford Hospital’s Emergency Room. Between seizures I weakly plead, “Can you make them stop?”
Nurse. The nurse interrupts my thoughts. “Ma’am,… Ma’am, are you there?”
“Yes…, I’m here,” I hesitantly reply while silently questioning, “God, are You there?”
I’m physically on the phone, but  my mind’s recalling my body seizing over and over again for three more hours on a narrow hospital bed shoved somewhere along the ER’s neglected hallway. I softly implore, “Why can’t they make them stop?” My husband shakes his head while gently holding my hand. Then my body forcefully thrashes again.
Questions? The nurse rattles off more information jolting me to the present. “Do you have any questions?” she finally concludes. “No, …No questions,” I whisper.
I hit end on my cell phone. Did I really just say, “No questions?” Yeah, I’ve got questions, but not for the nurse. “God, are you serious? Stanford? I can’t go back there. Do You remember how traumatic it was?”
Prayer. Recently I prayed, “Should I continue pursuing medical options or accept the reality of my brain impairment?”
You answer, “Stanford Epilepsy AND their Sleep Center?”
Returning to Stanford is the last place I’d choose for medical treatment. Maybe I should’ve made more specific requests, like, “Should I continue homeopathy treatments? What about acupuncture? Continue supplements? But Stanford?” Last time I was dismissed like a crazy woman voluntarily producing seizures.
Make Seizures Stop. I can’t force that horrendous day from my thoughts. Then the radiology tech inquires, “Can you make the seizures stop long enough for a CT scan?”
Can I make them stop? For hours my voice begged anyone who vaguely looked associated with a hospital, “Please, please stop my seizures.”  Shaking my head No, “I can’t make them stop,” I mutter.
Relief. Finally, a kind soul pushes medicine through my I.V. The seizures stop within seconds. My body is quiet and still, almost lifeless. As my body begins relaxing, calmness returns. Someone directs, “Your C.T. scan is normal. Sign these papers and you can go home.”
Another Nurse. A second nurse’s voice draws me back during another phone call. “We’ve scheduled you to arrive at the Stanford Neurology & Epilepsy Center on October 15. You’ll be staying with us for up to a week,” she explains. “We’ll be monitoring your brain 24/7 and videotaping you. Do you have any questions?”
Questions? How many can I list? The questions I asked God over seven years ago are still unanswered. Sometimes I wonder, “Are you there, God?” But the question I asked Him a few months ago is now answered. Not in a way I expected nor desired. Today He answers in a clear, calm, reassuring voice. “I’m here. I’m sending you to Stanford.”
 

Book Review: Slouching Towards Adulthood

I just returned from a cruise where I heard parents talking about how many of today’s high school graduates are not emotionally prepared ready for college.  A discussion ensued about Stanford’s freshman counselor who found students unprepared and wrote the book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Over-parenting Trap and Prepare Your Kids for Success. A similar book I recommend is Slouching Toward Adulthood. Below are some of my thoughts on this book.

“Adultescents” 

The former title, Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest written by Sally Koslow documents why a generation of carefully nurtured young adults is delaying adulthood. Though she offers no solutions except during a brief last chapter, she simply reports what she discovered from research and interviewing parents and what she calls “adultescents” during 2010 and 2011.

The Book

This thirteen chapter book provides a picture of college graduates returning home and living with their parents another decade or so. In the first chapter, A Public Display of Reflection, she explains how she learned that “twenty-eight is the new nineteen,” and included a new decade, the “odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood,” (p. 11) and she panicked. This information triggered the impetus for her book.

Great Book

I found this book so engaging. It’s flagged with countless post it notes and comments written throughout the book. She examines young adults’ relationships to work or not to work, money, and their social lives. In chapter three: Choose Your Own Adventure, she addresses the challenges with decision making. “Forget Plan B. There isn’t a Plan A,” (p. 24).

No Place Like Home

This entitled generation comes home after college because “…there’s nowhere else they could live better,” (p. 68). Two of my favorite chapters include chapter five: The U-Haul as Umbilical Cord and chapter six: Adultesents Without Borders. If your children have returned home or you hope they don’t return home, read this book. It gives a solid picture of what’s going on with the current generation of “adultescents.”

Book Information

Slouching Toward Adulthood: How to Let Go So Your Kids Can Grow Up by Sally Koslow, Plume Reprint Edition, 2013. Hardcover $14.95; paperback $16.00; Kindle $4.99.

What’s Restorative Justice Anyways?

As I train restorative practices to educators in a local school district, many of you may wonder, what is she talking about? 
 
Definition & Goals
Howard Zehr describes the concept as, “Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” 1,p. 37 The three main goals of Restorative Justice include holding the offender accountable for his/her actions, increasing community safety for everyone, and building competency skills for those involved. 2, p. 6
                 
My interest?
How did I get interested in restorative justice? My dissertation topic was how district attorneys decide to try a juvenile offender as an adult or as a juvenile. Throughout my research, I consistently read about how restorative justice holds offenders accountable for their actions and make things as right as possible. 
                 
Results
When restorative justice is used with first time offenders, they often don’t become repeat offenders. They realize that what they did caused harm to others and/or harm to property. Say for example, a young person is found doing graffiti. This adolescent would be responsible for paying for the paint and spending many hours painting over graffiti in the community where he or she lives. Painting graffiti often loses its appeal when there are natural consequences. That’s what I love about restorative justice. It teaches consequences and how others have been hurt by the offender’s actions. The goal is to “make things right.”
                 
Cheating Students
As a college professor, I used restorative justice with my students who chose cheating. Because my students were future teachers, and California has a Code of Ethics for Educators, students write a Code of Ethics for themselves. When I discover they have cheated, we examine their code of ethics. Does cheating fit the Code of Ethics? The students receive a zero on the assignment or exam, but it goes beyond that. I want them to quit cheating.
                 
Holding Students Accountable
So I ask students if they’d be willing to notify all their teachers the following semester that they were involved in a cheating incident. They want to change their behavior and become ethical educators. Guess what happens when a student confesses to cheating? The professor watches them like a hawk. By the end of the semester, “cheating students” usually change their ways. This is way better than just getting a zero. Natural consequences and restoring correct behavior. A win-win for all involved. What do you think about restorative practices?

Sources:

1. The Little Book of Restorative Justice, Howard Zehr, Good Books, 2002.

2. Implementing Restorative Justice, Jessica Ashley, & Kimberly Burke, State of Illinois [no date].


Let’s Play Ball

“It’s recess. Let’s play ball,” says a fourth-grade student at a low socio-economic elementary school.

“Oh, no. We can’t,” her friend Mia responds. “There’s only one soccer ball and a few four-square bouncy balls, but they’re already being used by other kids.”

Margarita suggests, “Maybe we could jump rope.”

“Not today,” a third grader replies. The fourth graders are already using the jump ropes we have.”

Not deterred Margarita says, “We could hula hoop,”

Mia says, “There’s not enough of those either.” Disappointed once again, the girls roam the playground aimlessly until the bell rings.

While these girls didn’t find trouble, elementary children will often create trouble when there’s nothing to do.

Can you help these students? Would you consider donating a four-square rubber ball? Perhaps you have a jump rope, hula hoops, soccer balls or frisbees laying around that your kids don’t use anymore.

I’m the Restorative Practices Trainer & Consultant who’s worked with this elementary school for five years. I’m praying that you are willing to donate new and /or used play equipment that these students can use them before school, during the morning recess, after lunch and during the afternoon recess. The school’s yard duty staff are requesting the following items:

  • Rubber playground balls (approximately 8 ½ inches)
  • Jump ropes (7 feet long, 8 feet long and 14-foot Double Dutch ropes (usually sold in pairs)
  • Hula hoops (30” or 36”)
  • Soccer balls (size 1 – skills ball, size 3 – junior for 8 & under, and size 4 youth for 8-12 years)
  • Frisbees

If you have items to donate, please drop them by the Youth for Christ office in Modesto at 1101 M Street, Suite 1, Monday through Thursday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Thanks in advance for your help. For questions email me at drfritzemeier@gmail.com.

Image: soccerball [en.wikipedia.org]

Christmas Magic

Snuggled in a fuzzy blanket, your hand around a cup of hot chocolate, lying on the couch to watch Christmas movies is a popular holiday tradition. Have you seen any good Christmas movies lately?

‘Tis the season for Christmas movies. I’ve watched movies on Lifetime and Hallmark for weeks.

After viewing countless movies, I unscientifically identified six Christmas movie categories. Do you recognize these?

Hometown Love. A young person returns to her hometown and falls in love with a childhood sweetheart or a local she didn’t notice when she was young.

Workaholic Changes. The workaholic who misses Christmas. Either circumstances or a unique person changes his or her view. Reminder: there’s more to life than work.

Caring Communities. A community comes together to help others in need or save a beloved town or business.

Pain of Christmas Past. Ignoring Christmas is easier than facing the sadness of Christmas past. That is until an individual reminds them of wonderful Christmas memories and encourages them to celebrate Christmas once again.

Rescue Christmas. Helping Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves, and/or angels save Christmas or teach others about the magic of Christmas.

Eclectic. A hodge-podge of miscellaneous movies: blended family’s first Christmas together; winning a contest becomes a love story; or falling for a Good Samaritan.

No matter what category the movies fit into, there’s one theme. The magic of Christmas. The “magic” may be angels, Santa Claus, a miracle, a love story, healing relationships, or restoring the meaning of Christmas. During the movie, a character usually says something like, “Christmas is magical. Anything can happen at Christmas.”

Chris Lite captures Christmas Hallmark movies in his article for The Week. “Hallmark gives us a parallel world, in which fate and goodness are looking out for you, and your best life is just around the corner, if you only just believe.” 1

And believe we do. We believe in romance. We believe in love. We believe in family. We believe in hope. We believe in goodwill towards humanity. We believe in magical Christmases. These beliefs are reflected in countless movies. It’s the reason millions of people, just like me, spend hours watching them with smiles on our faces and warmth in our hearts.

Huntington Post’s guest blogger Cathy Sikorski shares why she’s drawn to Hallmark’s holiday staples. 2 Some of her reasons may be similar to yours. Romance, a connection to humanity, living an uncomplicated life, a chance to drink wine and shed a tear, see a special kiss, encourage others, not watch anything “bad,” and feel Christmas all over again.

Sikorski adds, “I wanted to believe…even just for a minute…believe. You never leave a Hallmark movie without believing in Santa, Christmas miracles, love, mended and blended families, decisions with no regrets and that all is and can be right with the world. What could ever be wrong with that in just 90 minutes?” 1

What could be wrong with this Christmas magic? While millions of viewers cherish the “magic” of Christmas, the real magic of Christmas seems left out. Although some movies include families attending church, singing traditional Christmas carols, observing a nativity, or mention God or prayer, something’s missing. The true meaning of Christmas is forgotten.

Over two thousand years ago, God sent his son, Jesus, as a gift to each of us. The real magic, actually the real miracle of Christmas is this greatest of gifts and with it the potential for new life. We just have to decide if we will accept God’s gift or not.

As I watch these delightful and sometimes predictable movies and the magic they offer, it certainly touches my heart. But I must never forget to keep my focus on God’s real gift, the real Christmas “magic” of a Holy baby, being born in a manger.

Here’s the biblical account of the true magic of Christmas – Jesus’ birth from the book of Luke, chapter 2. 3

 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Sources:

  1. Chris Lites. The sheer brilliance of Hallmark’s corny Christmas movies by. December 17, 2015. http://theweek.com/articles/591033/sheer-brilliance-hallmarks-corny-christmas-movies. Accessed 12/22/2015.
  2. Cathy Sikorski, Humorist, Author, Lawyer. “11 Reasons to Watch Hallmark Christmas Movies.” The Huffington Post, December 21, 2015. 3.   https://www.biblegateway.com/ Luke 2:4-20.
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cathy-sikorski/11-reasons-to-watch-hallmark-christmas-movies_b_8851380.html. Accessed 12/22/20015.
  4. Image. Christmasmagic [Google Images] Hallmark Original Movie, 2011.

 

 

Christmas Books for Children

Are you looking for Christmas books for your children or grandchildren that tell the real meaning of Christmas? I enjoy creating a Christmas Book List for my readers.Last year I only found a few new books I liked.

I’ve loved cats since I was four-years-old so its no surprise I was drawn to The Stable Cat’s Christmas. This Christmas story is written from the stable cat’s perspective. A number of books feature animals sharing the birth of Jesus from their view but I particularly like this one because it’s a kitty. You can’t go wrong with that.

You can access the list of Christmas books that features the book’s cover, information about the book as well as a brief description of the book. I know you’ll enjoy the list with over 35 Christmas books for children.

You can access the list here. http://fromdiaperstodiamonds.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Childrens-Christmas-Books-Updated-Nov-30-2017.pdf

Christmas Toys for Endless Fun

ted-the-bear-3-1367103 [freeimages.com]Are you still shopping for Christmas toys? Are you overwhelmed with so many toys to choose from? Do you want something kids won’t toss aside after a few weeks? Here are some tips on buying toys for endless fun.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a toy, such as safety, the child’s interests, durability, and your budget. Because toys are already subject to safety tests, my best advice is to purchase developmentally age-appropriate, open-ended toys. What do all these words mean?

Developmentally Appropriate

Age-appropriate means the toy matches the child’s developmental level. Children generally develop within a predictable sequence, but some develop earlier while others develop later. For example, some children walk before one year while others walk after one year.

Age Suggestions & Safety

All toy manufacturers must indicate age suggestions on the packaging, such as six to twelve months, three to five-years, etc. Parents and grandparents are often tempted to purchase toys that are intended for older children because the child is “so smart.” The child may be bright, but the manufacturer suggestions provide the best safety for children. For example, preschool toys may have smaller pieces that would be unsafe for toddlers.

Variety, Creativity & Budget-friendly

Alongside choosing age-appropriate toys, choose toys that are open-ended. This means toys that provide different ways children can play with them. A jack-in-the-box is a closed-ended toy. There is only one way to play with a jack-in-the-box, over, and over, and over again. Open-ended toys offer more variety and creativity. A jack-in-the-box will be interesting for awhile, but open-ended toys can provide fun for several years. This makes open-ended toys more cost effective and budget friendly.

Endless Possibilities

Open-ended toys offer children endless play possibilities. Items children can build with or create anything they want are ideal for their imaginations. Possibilities include dress-up clothes, wooden blocks, Duplos, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Mega blocks, and magnetic blocks. One day children create a zoo and dress up as a zoo keeper while another time they construct a ferry. Open-ended toys facilitate endless possibilities for fun.

 

Image: ted-the-bear-3-1367103 [freeimages.com]

 

A Glimmer of Hope at Thanksgiving

I recently flew home after spending a special week in Missouri with my daughter, son-in-law, and two oldest grands, Parker and Khloe. I will see them again for Christmas so that made leaving a little easier.

In my Facebook posts, I’ve been asking for prayer for my brain function for several months. On my trip home I experienced a glimmer of hope. Here are a few snippets.

In the TSA line I talk with a fellow traveler about waiting in lines. He says, “I threw everything in my luggage. I hope nothing falls out.”

“Are you traveling unexpectedly?” I ask.

“No. I was running late with errands and lost track of time. I barely got packed in time to leave.”

As I walk to the United gate at the Tulsa Oklahoma airport, I chat with a family traveling to Washington. The dad says, “Our three-year-old daughter is going to meet her sister today.”

“That’s really special. How old is she?” I ask.

“She’s 18 months. We’ve been waiting for years.”

“What a wonderful Thanksgiving gift. Blessings and have a Happy Thanksgiving,” I say.

On the plane I chitchat with a young lady in the window seat. “Where’s Oral Roberts University? I can’t remember.”

“In Tulsa. I’m flying to Colorado Springs for Thanksgiving. I transferred from a community college and now I’m a junior majoring in English. I plan to become a high school teacher.”

“That’s great. We need excellent Christian teachers.” Just as we land I ask, “Is your fiancé picking you up?”

“No, he has to work. My parents are picking me up.”

Bummer, I think. Waiting until January 2020 to get married must be hard. When I leave the plane I say, “Blessings on your wedding and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.”

These may seem like meaningless conversations, but to me they represent a glimmer of hope. When my brain functions poorly I move into introvert mode to automatically conserve brain energy. That means no unnecessary conversations. Whether I’m in public waiting in a grocery store line, in an airport, or at home, I don’t voluntarily speak. It’s the most challenging aspect of my disability. When my brain function is the worst, I can go weeks without carrying on conversations. I don’t even talk to my Cali kitty.

After living for eight years with my brain disabiity I still I don’t recognize myself. My God-given personality is an extrovert. I talk and talk and then talk some more. There are no strangers in my extrovert world. I’ve been talking since I was a toddler. My mom told me, “The other pre-school moms loved to talk to you. Your language was fascinating to them.”

On my trip home I’m thankful. God gave me a glimpse of my former self.

The flight attendant hands me a Diet Coke and cup with ice. “Have you been super busy?” I ask.

He sighs. His face says it all. “I get to be home for Thanksgiving.”

“Where’s home?”

“In Denver. I fly right back here from SFO and then I’m off.”

“Enjoy your family. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve initiated conversations with strangers. I don’t know if I’ll have another good day tomorrow, but I’m thankful for the blessings of today. They offer me a glimmer of hope.

 

Create Bonds: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure

Create Bonds

Another tip to help reduce peer pressure is to create strong bonds with your children long before the adolescent years. With adolescence right around the corner, the school age years are a perfect time for strengthening the bonds you established in early childhood.

“The strength of a child’s relationship with his or her family will directly impact on whether peer pressure will be a productive or destructive influence in the child’s life.” 1

Family Night

Having a regular family night is one way to spend special time with your children. Let them take turns choosing a fast-food restaurant for dinner or take-out and then play games at home or watch a special movie. If you can’t afford to eat dinner out, make a special treat, like caramel popcorn or hot chocolate.

Meals

Eating meals together is one of the best strategies for building relationships. The older children get, the more challenging this becomes. Make it a priority to eat a certain number of meals together each week. It doesn’t have to be dinner. It could be a combination of breakfast, lunch and/or dinner times. You may need to juggle schedules and meal times, but the benefits outweigh the challenges. Implementing this tip gets parents on track for helping their school age children reduce negative peer pressure.

Sources:

  1. Adolescent Rebellion Can be Quelled, www.kidsgrowth.com/resources/articledetail
  2. Image: Together_(4739023417) [commons.wikimedia.org]

Teach Your Children: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure

When parents consider school-age peer pressure, perhaps they imagine the ways the child himself must resist the pressure. Although we’ll look at the child’s role in a later blog, there are parental roles that help reduce negative peer pressure for their school age children.

Teach Your Children

A great principal for reducing negative peer pressure for school age children is to teach your children. When do you teach them? I think of it as “way of life” teaching. As you go through each day, as you walk through life, you are using every day opportunities and examples to teach your children about life and what is important.

Principle

In the book in the Bible called Deuteronomy, there’s a verse I use to support this concept. Deuteronomy 11:19 instructs, “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” 1

When Do You Teach?

Basically, you are teaching your children when you’re at home, while you’re out and about, when they go to bed, and after they get up. If you take advantage of these various times, you’ll discover many opportunities for teaching your children. You can teach them as you drive them to and from activities or attending church, school, and community events together as a family while you’re participating in community service projects.

Helping Others

As you share your time, talents, and resources with non-profit organizations that address social issues, you’re teaching your children about helping others, the value of community service, and giving.

Role Modeling

You are also teaching them by your example. Do your words encourage and build others up or for gossiping and criticism? Can your children repeat your language or do you use swear words and tell them only adults can use these words? How do you treat your friends, the pregnant teenager, the elderly, those who have less than you do, and the homeless woman on the street corner? Do you instruct them not to use drugs while you drink and smoke? Be mindful that little ones are watching your examples.

 

Sources:

  • New American Standard Bible
  • Image: Children_marbles [en.wikipedia.org]