I'm Proud to Be An American- and I know what that means

Having 2 grandfathers that served in World War II, I've studied it in depth. I'm determined to not let the history that my grandfathers contributed to be forgotten. I want to know where they served, what they did and how life was back then. Through my studies, one thing that has always intrigued me, is the rationing that took place during that time. In order to get out of debt and still have the necessary supplies for our soldiers, Americans were asked to participate in a rationing program. Everything from food to clothing to gas was rationed. Families sacrificed and adjusted to help others. They found new recipes and swapped cloth remnants. They pooled together their resources and worked together. There was a sense of community, patriotism and self-lessness. Although I am not wishing that we could start a rationing program, I envy the lessons that were learned throughout this period of time and I wish we could grasp even a portion of it today. These Americans, our parents and grandparents made this sacrifice with few complaints, because they knew the real sacrifices were made by the men fighting for their freedom.

Contrast that to today, when Things are the way of life. There is no sacrifice asked of us for war or otherwise, and usually none given by us unless forced upon us. Our brothers, sisters, parents, and children are fighting a war today, maybe a slightly different war- done with more technology and fewer casualties- but there is just as much sacrifice asked of the soldiers fighting for us now. How many letters have you written? How many care packages have you sent? How many soldiers have you thanked?

In a day when the war has become political (its about oil! No freedom! No oppression!) don't forget the days of 9/11. You know where you were. You know what you were doing. You remember the feelings you had that day. You would have done anything to prevent the anguish that was happening all around you. THAT is why these guys/gals are there, whether you agree with the politics or not.

I've heard it said lately that the biggest threat to America today is that we have not passed on what it means to be American to this generation. They take for granted the life that they live. They do not fully comprehend the price that others have paid for them. This Sunday will be the anniversary of our nation's freedom. Freedom that didn't come freely. So, as you are planning your fireworks show and your barbeque, make sure you take time to sit your children, your grandchildren or your neighbor kids down and tell them why those fireworks are going off. Why you have the day off of work. And why that is such a big deal. Make sure you take time to thank a soldier, from this war or one past. Because it wasn't politicians who liberated Auschwitz, it was our troops.

I am proud to be an American.

Whaddya think?


It's Not My FAULT!!

I watched this show when I was a kid. It was about a little boy who was hit and killed by a teenager that was fleeing the police after stealing a car. The father of the deceased child was understandably distraught. He HATED this teenager for robbing him of his precious child. Then one day, he had an epiphany, that he too had made mistakes. Perhaps his mistakes didn't have the devastating consequences of the mistakes of this teen, but then again, perhaps at times they could have, and he was just lucky. Ultimately he decided, the hate he felt was hurting his family and if he could turn the judgements over to someone else, he could begin to heal. The movie ended with the family taking a cake to the teenager while he was in prison. I had to be pretty young when I watched this show, but it left such a profound impression on me, I still remember it. Even as a child, I recognized the difficulty and maturity it took for the father to come to that conclusion.
All too often in life we look for someone to blame for the tragedies of life. Someone MUST be at fault. As I've watched the news lately I've seen this happen over and over. The Seattle Police Officer who is being arraigned for punching a girl in the face over a jaywalking incident.* The firemen who's truck malfunctioned potentially causing the death of 5 people.# And today, Tony Hayward is replace by BP as head of its oil clean up, one day after he was reamed by congressmen is a congressional hearing.+

There always seems to be blame to go around. But, the more important issue is not who is at fault, but better yet, what have we learned?
The lessons we can learn from life are vital and the list is long. The lesson of love beyond the grave from the family who has lost their baby boy to cancer. I have learned amazing things from their strength and from their faith.
The lesson of looking ahead instead of behind from the community that lost 5 little girls who suffocated in the trunk while playing hide and seek. At their funeral, their families were cautioned to not place blame, to not live with "If only" because "It is counterproductive and is not conducive to the spirit of healing and of peace."
I could go on and on.

Now, surely in life there are times that blame must be placed. There are people that must take responsibilty for their reckless and blatantly irresponsible actions and suffer the concequences of these actions. But, I think as a whole, if we all tried our best and were more tolerant of other people's honest mistakes, we would be a happier and healthier society. I know that I am very thankful to my neighbors when they forgave my 5 year old son for accidently hitting their son in the head with a baseball bat and causing 8 stitches. It was an accident, but we all learned a valuable lesson from it. (never give a 5 year old a metal bat.)

*What is not always told in this story is that the local college asked the police to provide extra patrols to help with its ongoing jaywalking problem. As the officer tried to arrest the suspects a crowd began to form and the girls began to resist arrest. Last year was an unprecedented year in Seattle for officers killed in the line of duty with 5 police being targeted and murdered while on duty. This officer was completely in line to protect himself and should not have walked away because it was "just jaywalking". When officers fail to withhold the law, it could lead to a reckless and lawless society. If fault must be placed, it should be placed with the teen. However, she apologized today to the officer for her actions, as well. It is a great story in lessons learned.

#This was the firemen's back up truck. The original truck was in the shop receiving its regular maintenance, as it should. This back up truck had been tested and was working prior to the incident. A second truck was called and showed up 2 and a half minutes after the first truck showed up. This 2 and a half minute gap was not what lead to the death of these 5 people. The fact that a window was opened and fueled the fire is probably the cause. But, even then, that is no one's fault, it was a tragic accident. Obviously, if the mother knew it would fuel the fire, she would have NEVER opened the window. My heart goes out to this mother who lost all of her children, her sister and her niece. Lesson learned, keep your mattresses away from your lamps and when you smell smoke, get out, don't stop to open the window.

+My jury is still out on this one. The congressional hearing was much longer than my children's patience and so I didn't get to watch as much as I would have liked. But I was struck by the image of this one lone man who was answering the angry questions of 100+ people. There were binders of info against the company and yet he sat there all alone. Yes, he is the CEO and he is ultimately responsible, but it was some other shmuck who signed the waiver for the modifications that lessened the integrity of the fail safe device. The CEO of any company can't make EVERY major decision for the company. It seems to me that he is the scapegoat for a pool of idiotic people who made idiotic decisions. But, the question that remains, is was this normal business practice? Yes, the other oil company CEOs say they would never drill the oil well without drilling the relief well first, but have they? Is that just the easy, obvious answer or is it the truth? What I have seen is a company who has regular people as employees who have made horrific mistakes. However, this company is doing everything it can to remedy these mistakes. There seems to be red tape to jump through, but that isn't the oil companies fault, its the environmentalist and Uncle Sam. So, once again, who's fault is this? Can't we stop placing blame, learn from our mistakes and just clean up the mess?

Whaddya think?


How Safe Are Your Kids?

I remember, while in high school hearing about the disappearance of Dail Dinwiddie. She was a 23 year old college student who disappeared one night in downtown Columbia, SC after getting separated from her friends at a bar. She was last seen walking home around 2 am. I remember the searches done on her behalf, seeing her parents pleading for anyone with any info to come forward, and seeing her face plastered on flyers, even where I lived an hour away. That was over 16 years ago and she has never been found. She just vanished, into thin air, without a trace.
Are you a little on edge now? If your 6 year old came up and asked if he could go outside and play alone, would you let him? We’ve all heard of Elizabeth Smart, Natalee Holloway, Destiny Norton, Lindsey Baum, Adam Walsh, Polly Klaas, and this week Kyron Horman disappeared from the school science fair.
You’ve seen the statistics, 85% to 90% of the US’s 876,213 missing person reports are children. That’s over 2000 A DAY. (yep- that’s 2000 kids yesterday, 2000 kids today and 2000 kids tomorrow). And that number is an increase by 500% from the number of reported missing in the 1980s. (OMGosh!!!) Now, I am NOT down playing the trauma suffered by the family of a truly missing person. My heart aches for the parents of Lindsey Baum and Kyron Horman and I pray, earnestly, for their safe return (and I pray just as earnestly that I will NEVER be in their shoes). But, what this statistic doesn’t tell you, is that the VAST MAJORITY of these children missing persons reports are family member abductions, runaways, thrown away kids (seriously- thay's what it said- shocking, I know)and miscommunications. Actually according to a study done by NISMART (the government agency who studies missing person reports) in 2002, around 85% of children missing person reports are family abductions, throw aways, runaways and miscommunications. That leaves about 80,000ish missing person reports a year that are kids who have really gone missing, been injured or are what you typically imagine when you hear the word “kidnap”. Upon further study, NISMART also determined that among the 80,000 missing kids, the number of stereotypical kidnappings was 115 (wow, did we really just go from 800,000 to 115? Ok- I’m feeling a little better.) Here’s some facts:
Of the 115 stereotypical kidnappings in the study
71% of those were taken from an outdoor area
16% the victim’s home or yard
7% a mall or store
49% were taken for sexual purposes
74% of them were girls

I know these numbers are scary, but look at the reality. Your child is 20 times more likely to die in a car crash. Yet, childhood abductions continue to be one of our biggest fears as parents and it causes us to go to extreme measures and do crazy things. Why is this? Is it because all of the tragedies of the world are so vividly expressed in the media? You can’t check your email anymore without seeing the latest headlines. How fast did you find out about the balloon boy? Probably when it was still up in the air. The fact that you know who the Balloon Boy is, and the name most likely causes some kind of emotion; anger, disgust, etc) proves that the media has a major play in our psyche. Not bashing the media here, they serve a great purpose, but the real question here is, are our children really more at risk than we were as kids? I used to run all over my neighborhood as a child and return in time for dinner. Once I ran away. For hours. No one noticed. I came home when my snacks ran out and unpacked my backpack. Once I got lost *gasp* while I was all alone *gasp* and I asked the mailman to help me find my way home. (I know, kinda smart huh? I told him my address and I walked behind his truck while he showed me the way home). He didn’t kidnap me, rape me or lead me astray. Actually, we became friends. My parents never knew. That was back in the 80’s, when the stereotypical kidnapping rate hovered around 200 a year. Yep- you heard me, the rate of kidnappings has decreased by half in the last 20-30 years, yet we remain terrified. As a parent, are you more likely to let your kids walk home alone from the bus stop or sleepover at a school friend’s house? How well do you know Sally’s parents? Did you know that 3 MILLION children are molested each year? Maybe we are overly cautious about the wrong things...
How well do you know your neighbors, children’s teachers or soccer coaches. Maybe we should spend a little more time making sure our schools and little leagues have strict rules for job and volunteer applicants and less time worrying about our children playing in the backyard (because yes- the broken arm will heal, believe me, much easier than I imagine the molested child will recover). Maybe a better approach is to work on a sense of community. MEET your neighbors, volunteer at the school and get to KNOW their teachers. Build a community so that your village really can help raise your child. Then you will know Sally’s parents.
We’ve spent so much time keeping them safe that sometimes we fail to see what they are capable of, which leaves us with children who lack self confidence. A trait that CAN keep them safe. Our children CAN be responsible for getting their homework done, they CAN work a toaster/microwave/vacuum cleaner, the CAN make their own lunches and they CAN scramble eggs. We’ve (and I include myself here) been so afraid of our children getting hurt or kidnapped that we have failed to let them know of all the amazing things they are capable of. When your child was born, did you think of all the things that they could contribute to your family/society or did you think of all the things you could provide for them?
I hope this article doesn’t jinx me (thanks a lot Mr. Whaddya Shay- he said it might) and please don’t start doing stupid things, but maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what is really a danger in our kids lives and protect them against that. But, most of all, maybe we should just chill a little.

Whaddya think?

6/14 update:
I rarely have time to watch the Oprah show. I like her, but I usually have too many things to do. But, today, I turned it on as I paid the bills. In her show, Oprah interviewed four child molesters and talked to them about why they chose the kids they did and how they got away with it. I knew that 90% of kids who are molested are done so by someone they trust, but one thing I learned today, is that those kids don't tell because it feels good to them. That confuses them and makes them feel like they are to blame. The kids want it to stop, but then again, they don't. The child molesters know this and they use this in their devious tactics. So, don't freak out, but protect your kids. Be open about the subject. Teach them to not be a victim. Watch Oprah. See what you can learn.


Once You've Withstood the Test of Time

Today is my Grandmother's Birthday. She is, well, old. She may not know how to set up her own facebook account, text, or add names to her phone contacts, but she witnessed Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy Assasination and fall of the Berlin Wall. It is for this reason that I believe that those among us who qualify for the Senior Citizen discount, deserve our utmost respect and love. It doesn't matter if they are grumpy or happy natured, they have withstood the test of time and learned valuable lessons along the way. There is so much we can learn from them, and at this time in their lives, while their friends and lovers are coming to the end of their lives, they are lonely. So, today, on behalf of my grandmother, hug your grandparent, or senior citizen neighbor, tell them you love them and appreciate them and see what you can learn from them.

Whaddya think?


Use Another Check Out Line, Honey, I GOT COUPONS!!

I have a guest post on another blog, check it out!

To Snip or Not To Snip?

“I know you have 3 boys so I'd love to hear your opinion on circumcision -- there is so much information out there that's it's hard to know which way to go.”

According to Wikipedia, “Male circumcision is the removal of some or all of the foreskin (prepuce) from the penis.” According to the World Health Organization, “Global estimates suggest that 30% of males are circumcised, of whom 68% are Muslim.” When I began my research to answer this question, I wasn’t exactly sure if the decision I made when my first child was born 8 yrs ago would be the same decision I’d make today. There is so much more information available to us now and I can’t remember the reasons that we made the decision that we did back then. I do remember that at the time, it was something that we researched as much as we could and talked about a lot, but I can’t remember what brought us to our decision. Once we had the first boy circumcised it only made sense to follow suit with his brothers. When we made the decision to circumcise our first child, the rate of infant males being circumcised in America was around 65%, which probably influenced our decision at the time; to be a part of the norm. Circumcision, in America, reached its all time high in the 1970s with 91% of males being circumcised, but it had dropped to 56% by 2005.

But, following the norm isn’t always the best way to go. There is quite a bit of controversy around circumcision for non religious purposes. Some say that it is mutilating their infant without cause and without their permission. Others say there are great health benefits to being circumcised and the procedure is MUCH easier as an infant/child. Yet others argue that sex is quite a bit more enjoyable for an uncircumcised man due to penile sensitivity. Innumerable studies have been done on health benefits and penile sensitivity with varying results.

Some studies showed that men who are circumcised are 50% less likely to contract HIV and a few other sexually transmitted diseases, but offered no protective benefit to some other STDs like syphilis or gonorrhea. Studies have shown that circumcised males have a lower rate of Urinary Tract Infections and Penile Cancer, but there wasn’t a significant enough difference to recommend circumcision as a method of prevention of them. Some people think that circumcised men have reduced sexual sensitivity, and LOTS of studies have been performed on this subject, all with differing results, so their overall finding is inconclusive.

Of the 8 trusted friends and family that I polled, 2 said, definitely would not/did not snip, 4 said definitely would/did snip and 2 didn’t answer (how rude!) The top reasons cited by the “not snip”s were 1. It’s painful, 2. There’s no need, why alter the baby, 3. Sex is supposed to be better. The top reasons among the “snip”ers were 1. It was recommended by their doctor, 2. It was the common thing to do, 3. They were afraid of locker room teasing (which isn’t as much of a concern in urban settings or on the west coast because there is a high population of both circumcised and uncircumcised). One of my friend’s OBGYN highly recommended it. He said that he had a hard enough time getting his teenage boys to wash their hands let alone their foreskin. My OBGYN (who I LOVE and really trust) has very strong opinions in favor of snipping. He has performed quite a few circumcisions on adult men due to infections. As an adult is an extremely uncomfortable and painful procedure; it is so much easier on an infant.

I think that in light of everything I have read/heard, I would still opt to circumcise again, but it’s a close enough call for me, that if my husband didn’t want them to be circumcised, I could be easily swayed. I think that it’s a personal decision that could go either way, and you have to go with your gut. What do you think is best for your little guy? As his mother/father, you’ll do the right thing.

As a final note, I must say, that as a Christian woman, I am intrigued that it was a commandment to be circumcised in the Old Testament, yet is not a commandment today in most Christian religions. I’m sure God had a reason to lift this commandment (they had already proven faithful, we practice better hygiene today, who knows?), but it gives me reason to pause and ponder.

Whaddya think?


Today's Tiny Tip

I've had a couple of friends complaining lately about their toddler climbing out of the crib before they were ready to transition to the "big kid bed". Save yourself from the bedtime battle and more importantly a broken neck, by biting the bullet and getting one of these.