“Do you work?”


When I think of May, I think of Mother’s Day.

Have you ever been at a social gathering and someone inquires, “Do you work?”

My gut reaction is, of course I work. Doesn’t every mom work? But I also know the inquirer really wants to know if I hold an important job that requires a college education and offers social status. Another variation is, “Where do you work?” In other words, do you work for a prestigious company and make six figures?

Medical forms also request work information. When I was a young mother I’d respond, “I don’t work.” But I didn’t like how it sounded. It felt like I was less than someone else, less important than a mother who holds a paying job outside the home. My husband and I made the choice for me to be the primary caretaker of our children. So why was I feeling so down when I was doing the most important job?

When our girls entered school, I finally arrived at a creative answer that I felt proud to share. “I’m the Vice-President of the Fritzemeier Foundation.” When someone requests my work phone, I simply repeat my home number.

One day at medical appointment, the doctor inquired, “What’s the Fritzemeier Foundation? It sounds important.”

“You’re right. I’m impacting the entire next generation by training young people to live independently, develop job proficiency, demonstrate leadership skills, participate in civic responsibilities, and become life-long learners.”

“Sound interesting,” he nods.

“It’s pretty remarkable. No two days are ever the same. It keeps me on my toes.”

Back to work.

Our Heart Attitude


Perhaps you’ve grumbled about a co-worker, “She always has such a bad attitude. I can’t stand being around her.” Maybe you’ve been told, “You have a bad attitude,” or said to your teen, “When you change your attitude, I’ll talk to you.”

Last week I spoke to a group of moms. One segment of the talk was checking our heart attitude. I adapted these questions from a book, Checklist for Life for Moms.1

  • Do you recognize that your attitudes can have far-reaching effects on your family?
  • Do you acknowledge that a negative attitude can easily develop into a critical way of life?
  • Do you accept that you can choose your attitude toward a particular person or situation?
  • Do you consider that your thoughts & attitudes should reflect those of Christ?
  • Do you trust God to show you the positive qualities in those who usually engender negative feelings?
  • Do you appreciate the common ground that can be found in negative or difficult family members?

So how do you check your own attitude? How is your attitude critical to your daily life?


1. Checklist for Life for Moms, Thomas Nelson, 2005.

10 Math Skills Children Can Learn from Laundry Detergent Lids, Part 1 of 4

3 edited by rjf

A clear plastic container filled with colorful lids

How do you describe your experiences with math? Many of us think of descriptions that wouldn’t be appropriate for a blog. Math is often an obstacle for students graduating from high school and community college.

Math Easier. But if we start teaching math concepts to young children using objects they can manipulate and explore, math becomes easier. Let’s look at making math fun teaching with lids.

One reader reports, “I didn’t throw away the laundry detergent lids as suggested in your previous blog. I’ve saved over 50 colorful lids in different colors, sizes, and a few shapes. What’s next? How do I use my lid collection to help children learn math concepts?”

Here are the first three of 10 math skills that toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners & primary grade children can learn from manipulating laundry detergent and other lids.

Cartoon Speech Bubble Clip Art [ux.stackexchange.com]

Cartoon Speech Bubble Clip Art [ux.stackexchange.com]

Math Skill 1: Talking Math. So math doesn’t become an obstacle for your kids or grandchildren learn how to talk to them about math. Most math concepts are abstract so use real objects when talking about math. (1) Hold three lids and say, “I have three lids. How many lids do you have?” Examples of what to say or ask children are shared for each skill.

DSC_0041 edited by rjf

It is easier to count lids that are all the same color

Math Skill 2: Counting and One-to-One Correspondence. Parents and grandparents are so thrilled when their toddlers or preschoolers can count 1 to 10 or to 20. The children have simply memorized the numbers just like they memorize a song. They don’t yet understand the concepts of numbers. This is called rational counting.

To truly count, children need to understand that the number they are saying corresponds with an actual item. This is called One-to-One Correspondence. The number two represents two items, and so on. Start with five lids and then add more. As you point to each lid with the child’s finger say, “Let’s count the lids. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. That’s right, there are five lids.”

20150614_125020 edited by rjf

Cylinder shapes

Math Skill 3: Geometric Shapes. Preschoolers can learn to identify simple shapes, such as circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles. What shapes did you discover for your lid collection? Did you save any lids that flip open or square lids from make-up? The majority of lids in my collection are circle shapes.

Recognize. Once children can identify the circle shape itself, they can begin to recognize the shape in pictures or common items around the house. “Let’s see if we can find any circle shapes around us.” Then look around the room. “That’s right, the ______ is a circle shape.”

Cylinder. In California, first graders learn the cylinder shape. Cylinder shapes in my lid collection are from deodorant and assorted hair product lids.

Keep Collecting. Try talking math while you do the first two math skills with toddlers and preschoolers. And since you’ve captured a glimpse of the great skills you can teach with lids, collect more lids until you have about 150. The next blog will feature more math skills children can learn from laundry detergent lids.



  1. Preschool Math, Amanda Morgan posted August 9, 2008. www.notjustcute.com/2008/08/09/math. Accessed 5/27/2015.


Don’t Throw Away That Laundry Detergent Lid

You want your kids to have every educational advantage. 1 edited by rjfYou buy the best educational toys and games available. If these toys cost more than your budget allows, sometimes doting grandparents or other family members purchase them as gifts. But what if some educational toys your kids will enjoy don’t cost any money?

When my girls were young, I had to be frugal. As a grandparent, I don’t have to be frugal. But I choose to be. Why? There are endless things to spend money on. Every time I save money on one thing, I have money left to spend on something else, especially something fun.

Hence the instructions in our home, “Don’t throw away that laundry detergent lid. Or the cat litter lid. Or the shaving crème lid. Or the hair product lid. Or any lid that can be removed and is not small enough to be a risk for toddlers to choke on. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can collect large numbers of lids.

Yes, I’ll admit my family often thinks my ideas are crazy. Maybe you’ve been accused of a few crazy moments too. But this idea is pure genius. Just ask my grandchildren. Children like objects that are different colors and shapes to look at and play with. My next blog will show you how to use your lid collection to teach kids math concepts, like sorting and classifying objects.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, or know children, here are your new instructions. Say, “We have another item to recycle. The lids go in the dishwasher instead of the trash,” (put them in the silverware holder). For many kids helping our environment is a worthy cause, even if this seems a little crazy. My grandchildren started taking off lids before the containers were empty. Note to self: Be very specific when giving children directions.

I admit my grandchildren’s lid container is full. So I’m saving lids for a speaking engagement give-away. But since there will be only one winner, you don’t want to miss out. Start your lid collection today.

After the lids are washed, put them in a plastic or paper bag until you have 50 or more lids. I actually added a cost to my “free lids” but a shoe box will work just as well. If you purchase a new pair of shoes to get a “free” empty shoe box, let me know how you explain that!

So stop. “Don’t throw away that laundry detergent lid! Put it in the dishwasher.” If anyone questions your sanity simply reply, “I’m recycling, creating educational activities for children, and saving money.” Who can argue with that?

“Looking for a Zebra” Hope Street: My Journey

[www.StockPholio.com] 1080532317 Zebra x 2 Christina Robinson

“We’re looking for a zebra,” explains the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) neurologist in December 2007. After roaming from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist, and more expensive and extensive medical tests than I want to remember, I’m referred to UCSF.

Something uncommon. “I’ve had five or six patients just like you,” my neurologist explains. “Our neurology team can’t actually give you a diagnosis, but we can treat the symptoms. You have something uncommon. In the medical community we refer to this as looking for a zebra. Zebras are unique; no two are alike,” he adds.

“`Failure to diagnose’ is the terminology used by doctors (and lawyers) to indicate a patient has a set of symptoms that have gone undiagnosed.” (1) I leave yet another team of medical experts without a diagnosis.

Still a zebra. For four more years I trek to San Francisco for follow-up and hope for a diagnosis so my illness will no longer be classified as a zebra. Sadly, I’m still a zebra.

A to Z. Most children are familiar with zebras as they learn the alphabet. “Z is for Zebra,” they recite. I don’t know much more than children know, so I start learning about zebras. No one knows if a zebra’s stripes are black with white stripes or white with black stripes.

Zebras are distinctive. God created each zebra with distinctive stripes, just like He created each human being uniquely. I photograph zebras at zoos and watch them diligently. I purchase zebra magnets, zebra post cards, and zebra paraphernalia. (But I can’t locate one of my photos for this blog!)

I contemplate the doctor’s words often. “No two are alike.” I’ve always been different. I befriend social outcasts. I think and act outside the box. I color outside the lines. I march to my own drum beat.

If I was common. But for a few years I’ve longed to be just like everyone else. My logic: If my symptoms aren’t so unusual, the doctors can determine the cause of my symptoms. I won’t be looking for a zebra anymore. I know. It’s not the kind of logic I used in my doctoral program, but for this situation, it works.

Until the day I discover I’m not a zebra anymore, but an orphan.


1. When You Can’t Get a Diagnosis: Failure to Diagnose. Trisha Torrey. Updated November 25, 2014. patients.about.com/od/yourdiagnosis/a/failurediagnose.htm. Accessed December 1, 2014.



“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.


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. 
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?


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.”


  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.