The Value of a Gem

We bundled up against the 32 degree weather and armed ourselves with rakes and lawn bags. Even in boots, scarves, hats and mittens, we could feel the biting cold as we trudged the 2 blocks up the hill to our neighbors' house. It was just after 9 am when Buster knocked on their door. She was still in her robe when she opened the door. "What do you want?", she asked gruffly. Her demeanor startled me and caught me off guard, but Buster didn't miss a beat. "We'd like to rake your yard." From the puzzled expression on her face, I could tell it was her turn to be caught off guard. She softened, slightly, as she asked, "what?". "We were wondering if we could help you out and rake your leaves.", I repeated. It took a moment for our request to sink in, but then her face softened and her words were humbled as she opened the door wider. "That would be wonderful", she said, "My husband had to leave town unexpectedly for his brother's funeral. The leaves keep piling up and I just can't rake them."

It took us an hour, in the biting cold, but the kids worked hard and hardly complained. We left their yard better than we'd found it, but most importantly, my kids had chosen to spend an hour of their Saturday, serving someone they hardly knew.

I had noticed for days those leaves piling up in the yard at the kids' bus stop and I knew something must be awry. The yard is usually so manicured. We brought up the piling leaves to the kids that morning at breakfast and asked what we could do about it. I was so proud when my boys exclaimed, "We could rake them Mom!" We'd spent hours the Saturday before raking our own yard, so they knew what this would entail, and yet they were excited to do it again for someone else.

This Saturday, we cleaned the house. It's not a small house, so alone, it would have taken me a good 4 hours, but with all of us, working together, it took 1. Even though we pulled the kids away from their toys on their precious Saturday and said, "time to clean", we hardly got any push back. They just turned and started their normal assignments. Even Rascal pitched in.

We aren't some crazy, perfect family. The kids still fight and bicker, but we've worked hard this year to teach our children the value of work. I feel it is a vital lesson for them. A year ago, these work experiences would have never happened, and quite often we still have setbacks, but we have made great strides. I looked for quite some time to find a way to teach our children the value of work and came up with a great, but simple plan. I'm not a fan of allowances, because I don't feel that my children should be paid to do chores. They do chores because they are part of the family. But, I also thought it was important that they learned to be fiscally responsible. They needed to learn the value of money and the art of saving for things they want.

So, after talking to a friend, we adopted the Gem System. For $5 from Target, I bought a bucket of gems (the marbles that people put in the bottom of vases). My kids earn 1 gem for each chore they accomplish without complaint. For example, if they get up in the morning, get dressed, brush their teeth, pick up their jammies and clean up their mess in the bathroom, they get a gem. If I have to keep reminding them, prodding them along or find clothes on the floor, they still have to get ready, but no gem. If they do the dishes, without complaining, they get a gem. If they fuss or complain, they still have to do the dishes, but they don't get a gem. Gems can either be redeemed for extra privileges (screen time, play dates, movie nights, etc) or are worth 25 cents each. If they redeem them for money, they get to pay tithing. They are now saving 1 out of every 4 gems, to help pay for the family to go to Disneyland in the spring. They've saved up gems for months so they could buy their own Christmas presents and if they want a new wii game, they can save and buy it themselves. (If you'd like more info about the gem system, you can email me and I'll attach the spreadsheet). This may not work for every family, but so far, it's working for mine. My children are learning the value of a gem. They are learning the value of work.

I read recently that children who work together as a family, do chores and help around the house, and especially children who serve outside the home, have a much less chance of developing childhood depression, which is running rampant through our self absorbed society. So, to save my children, I do not hire a house keeper or lawn company (even if I could afford them). My Sidekick and I work side by side with our children to help teach them that there is a whole big wide world outside of their perfect little bubble of a life and it takes all of us, working together to make it function well. And that is a lesson, that is priceless and worth the work.

But, when the children have grown and moved on, a house cleaner and a lawn company are at the top of my list!

Whaddya think?


That Should Have Never Happened!

A couple of months ago, a Salt Lake City man was caught molesting a 4 year old girl in a store restroom. The mother lost sight of the child and while searching for her, heard her calling from the men's restroom. She caught the suspect in the men's restroom with her child. I'm sure this mother was further horrified when she found out this was not this suspect's first offence. In 1999, the suspect, Richard Randall, had pleaded guilty to the attempted sexual abuse of a 9 year old girl.

On June 9, 2010, three days before their high school graduation, 2 WA teens were killed (and a 3rd was seriously injured) in a DUI. The drunk driver was Alexander Peder, a 50 year old who had been previously arrested, twice, for drunk driving. Both times, his case was thrown out due to the dismissal of his breathalyzer evidence. If convicted of the two counts of vehicular homicide that he is charged with, he could serve a sentence of 5 to 7 years. He killed 2 kids. Good kids. Who were not drinking. And altered the lives of countless people.

So why were these families victimized? The writing was on the wall. The warnings had been made.

Randall King, the father of one of the teens killed, is trying to get a new law on the books in his son's name. The measure would require a person convicted of DUI on just the second offense to get a special driver's license that would prevent that person from buying alcohol at bars, restaurants and liquor stores for seven years. If I get the chance, I plan on voting in favor of this law.

Many great laws and practices have been born out of the resolve and drive of grieving parents. Megan's Law is a package of seven bills that requires convicted sex offenders to register with the state or county and then for the state/county to make that registry public. It was named for Megan Kanka who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by her neighbor who previously been convicted of sex crimes and was living with 2 other sex offenders.

There are also Amber Alerts, the national child abduction alert bulletins, named for Amber Hagerman who was abducted and killed in Arkansas. And let's not forget the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act that has organized sex offenders into 3 tiers to help us better understand the severity of the charges of sex offenders and also determines how monitered they will be for the remainder of their lives. It was named for Adam Walsh who was kidnapped from a shopping mall and later murdered. His father John Walsh also went on to host the show America's Most Wanted. To date, America's Most Wanted has been running for 22 years and has helped find 50 missing children and helped catch 1131 fugitives. Now that's a father who is determined to save other parents from the grief he suffered.

I've actually been studying and researching this post for a while. But, I've held off writing it because usually I have an ending to my posts; a resolve. I don't want to be the parent who gets involved due to a tragedy in my life, I would rather be proactive. It really angers me when I hear about crimes that should have been prevented. However, I am at a loss of exactly WHAT to do to help keep our kids safe from previous offenders. So, I'm asking you. What do you do? Besides voting, what can we do?

Whaddya think?


The Lesson I Took 3 Kids to Learn

Let me spare you some grief. (I hope I'm not too late.) After you have a baby, your sex life will change. It will. It's a fact! But, don't despair Daddy, It will get better! In the meantime, it can wreak havoc on an otherwise loving and well adjusted relationship. It did mine. But, we recovered, and so can you.

Unfortunately, no one tells you this. Your mother doesn't, your friend doesn't, your OBGYN doesn't, (But, if you are my cousin/sister/friend, I will!) so the two of you are left... stuck. He thinks you don't love him anymore and you feel he is insensitive.

In order to fully understand why the new mom is so despondent, let's start with history. For thousands of years, there was no tiny pill to take every day or clear patch to put on your arm, tiny plastic "Y"s that were inserted right into the vagina, or even latex sleeves. There was just Mother Nature. And since Mother Nature herself had given birth to (and recovered from) millions and billions of babies, she knew that the mother. needed. a. break. And yes, crazy as it sounds, sex is just one of the things she needed a break from. After her body and hormones spiraled out of control for 9 months and then she was forced to push an 8 pound, big headed baby, through a hole the size of a cherry, and then forced to endure sleepless nights, leaky breasts and a little 8 pound bundle of chunk (cuteness) that was more demanding than even her husband was, she needed a break. Her body needed time to heal, and regulate and she needed time to focus on her new child and her own recovery. And in order to do this effectively, she needed to NOT GET PREGNANT AGAIN. So, Mother Nature decided, the best way to accomplish this, was a non existent libido.

Mother Nature decided that once baby was born, she'd make some of the post baby hormones dual active. Prolactin, which helps in milk production, also lowers sex drive. Progesterone, which also aids in milk production, lowers sex drive. Oxytocin, which aids in milk let down, lowers sex drive. So when you add that to no sleep (which makes irritable, depressed and eratic mommies), leaky breasts (which only get worst with orgasms- thanks again to oxytocin), low sex drive (really low when you factor in the fact that it takes longer and more work to achieve orgasm and remember- she's already exhausted), post baby body (now her body image has taken a dive), and to top it off, Dude, she's been filling needs and had something hanging all over her all day! Its no wonder she's faked a headache. again.

To compound Daddy's frustration, he's usually coming off of the high of a heightened pregnancy sex drive. So, post baby when the doctor ordered break is over, the Daddy is like "Hoo Ray! Let's go baby!" and the Mommy is like, "Oh crud.". Which is why, when his advances are shunned, Daddy is left feeling rejected and unwanted. For him, he's afraid that life (sex life) as he's known it up to this point is OVER! But, that's not so, once mommy has healed, recovered and finished nursing, the vast majority of sex drives go back to normal. I'm sorry to say you probably won't get the pregnancy high, but normal is good. Until then, here's what I suggest:

1. Daddy, don't take it personally. Its not you, its exhaustion, over touching, and hormones. BE PATIENT, understanding and kind.

2. Keep the cuddle alive. Even if you don't feel like sex, Mommy, you still need to keep your relationship alive. Go on a date and spend some time on the couch cuddling.

3. Mommy, you need to remember, Daddy does still have needs. You can't fake a headache EVERY TIME. And once in while, if he's been a particularly good Daddy, you can start it. Chances are, once you get started, you will want to finish.

4. And finally, Daddy, if you really want sex, try this: Make dinner, do the dishes, put the baby to bed and let Mommy have a bubble bath. Its very possible that after a good rest, some R&R and a great massage from her hubby, she may be slightly in the mood.

The most important thing to remember is Do Not Despair. Be patient with each other. You love him and he loves you and the more understanding and patient you are with each other the faster it will get back to normal. The last thing you need is for this to taint your sex life once things do get back to normal. So, never forget, that you are in love.

Whaddya think?


To the Soldiers in My Life

Thursday, is Veterans Day. To some, that may mean a day off of work or school. To some, it means that they don't get their mail, or they won't be able to go to the library. For others, it means good sales at their favorite stores. And to others, it is just any ordinary day.

For me, it isn't an ordinary day. Or an ordinary week. When my kindergartener's teacher sent home a little paper star that we could use to write the name of a veteran on for their Veteran's Wall, I spent hours with Dodger making a poster with pictures and stories of the veterans we love that could go on the Veteran Wall. Dodger loves them and loved honoring them that way. And today, I will spend hours with my 3rd grader preparing our presentation for his class on my grandfather who fought on Iwo Jima. By the end of this week, my Buster will know what exactly that means.

For me, this week is my grandfather. It's my brother in law. My Cousin, my Uncle, my friend. Veteran's Day is the boy who was too young to enlist, so at 17 he convinced his parents to sign the consent. It is the "lineman", who at 18, snuck behind enemy lines and by the light of cigarette lighter would repair the communication lines so his fellow marines could effectively communicate. It is the young boy who watched his friends and comrades falling around him but kept on fighting. It is the newly wed, who leaves his new wife in the care of her parents, wishing and praying and for her sake, promising, that he will return home safely to her. It is the young husband, who kisses his wife and rubs her bulging belly, knowing that he will miss the birth of his first born child. It is the young boy, who has grown to be a man and still has nightmares about the men he has seen on the battlefield, carrying their own arms or holding in their intestines to keep them from spilling out. It is about the men and women, all of them, who have fought for the life I live today.

I am grateful for the Veterans in my life. I am grateful for their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families. And I will honor them by passing on their legacy. I will tell my children, and anyone else who will listen, about my family's part in Sasebo, the battle of Normandy, Iwo Jima, Iraq and Afghanistan. My grandpa is not buried in the cemetary of the Fifth Marine Corp at the base of Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jimo, he still lives at home, with my Grandmother. But, many, many marines are buried there. My brother in law did keep his promise, he came home safely to my sister, but his friend and comrade didn't. So for the ones who did return and more importantly the ones who didn't, Thank you. Happy Veteran's Day.

Whaddya think?


Defining "Friends" to Kids

Here is my friend, Dr. Kristine Berrett, a child psychologist, talking about the effect of social media on our kids. Great job Kristy!

Whaddya think?


And the winner is...

Thank you to everyone who participated in our give away! We didn't have as many entries as I expected we'd get, so I'm really grateful to those of you who did participate! So, here are the winners! Drumroll....

Darden gift card: Mary Abbott

Coldstone gift card: Miranda Christiansen

YAY!! If you guys could email your address to me at anothertolove@gmail.com that would be great!!!

Because of the Elephant in the Room

My husband was offended by something one of my Uncles said to him. He wants to have a "man to man" talk with him to tell him how he feels. I'm afraid it is going to turn into a hot head scream fest and will become a bigger issue than it already is. We see this Uncle all the time at family events so I think we need to talk about it, but I'd like to be there to try and keep it under control. What should we do?
-Stuck in the Middle

Although I can absolutely see why your Hubby needs to beat his chest and mark his territory, we have now entered the world of adults so we should try and handle this maturely. Recently I had some negative interactions with some of my kids' preschool teachers. I was left feeling like my parenting was being judged, belittled and wondering if they even wanted my kids in their class. But, I really liked the school and especially the director. I knew that if I wanted the situation to work, how I responded could fix or permanently damage the relationship. I decided I wanted to make it work, so I called the director, briefly explained my concerns and asked what I needed to do to help the situation. It worked. The director could sense my frustration but appreciated my aproach and since then, our preschool experience has been great.

I can see how a "man to man" could be effective and maybe even necessary for your husband. So, I support him in his endeavor with three conditions. 1. He needs to have an objective before he goes in. What does he hope to accomplish? Does he just want to voice his hurt, knowing he may not get the apology he deserves? Or is he hoping to rememdy the situation? Whatever it is, he needs to know his positive objective before he gets started. 2. He needs to have a basic plan of how he is going to accomplish this goal. Not necessarily a list of things he is going to say, but a general idea of how he wants to steer the conversation. 3. He needs to take a deep breath and make sure he's calm before he goes in.

Doing these three things will do two things for you guys. 1. It will give you a better chance of actually accomplishing something positive. 2. It will give you support if it does blow out of control. "All he was hoping to do was (let Uncle Jim know he hurt his feelings/ fix the situation with Uncle Jim). So, all he said was(You hurt my feelings when you said XXXX/When you said XXXX, I felt upset, so I am going to XXXX. Is there anything you could do to help the situation?"

If he has an objective and plan, he'll have a better chance of a positive outcome (or atleast more family members on your side if it does blow up. HAHA)

Whaddya think?