Being Smart, Family, Uncategorized

Are You KIDDING Me? I HATE Third Grade Homework

What do you mean you need help rounding to thousands? We spent an hour rounding to hundreds yesterday. You forgot what? Try it for ten minutes. Eight minutes to go. Four minutes more. Ok… I’m cooking dinner. WHY ARE YOU CRYING OVER A WORKSHEET?! Remember what we did yesterday? Look at the number to the right… if it’s five or higher, you round up? Oh?! You got it now. Ok. Do it.

Five minutes later I glance over his shoulder confident that he’s completed the worksheet correctly. I mean he DID tell me he knew how to do it. He cut me off in the process of reminding him. Surely… But what do I find but various numbers rounded to whichever place value he so chose? Some folk would call this creativity. I call it annoying.

I understand a child’s need to be a free thinker. I get that little boys want to take the easy way out instead of doing things right the first time. My kid is sharp as a tack and perfectly capable, but this worksheet took us an hour. *inserts expletive*

Brandon knew he was wrong because any time I made a sudden movement he would jump. He knew he wasn’t doing his best. He knew those crocodile tears weren’t going to work on me, but felt the need to try his hand at manipulation anyway. So I sent him to find a Bible while I gathered paper and pencil. I picked a chapter, and he started copying.

Here’s why.

  • I needed to find the root of the problem. At lower grade levels kids aren’t doing anything so hard it’s impossible to understand, so work ethic is probably the issue. Does your child tend to his chores half-assedly? You’ll have to tackle this problem on all sides. Give them a task and make them finish it to completion. No side-steps, cheats, or help. Excellence is the goal!
  • He needed to be spiritually settled. After a long day, kids are tired and out of sorts. I had Brandon copy a few verses out of the Bible to settle him. IT WORKED! He came back to the task focused and ready to do his best. Their spirits need to be fed just like ours.
  • I needed to change my schedule. Up until this year homework time has been a breeze. Fortunately, I get off work at 2:30ish and I can pick up the kids, bring them home, and spend my time working with them. Before I’d let them go to after-care and play until they were content. We don’t have that luxury until a certain someone starts rounding and subtracting properly, so until he gets it right, mommy’s time is his time.
  • I needed to stick it out with him. Yes, it’s HIS education, but he is a child and doesn’t know what’s good for him all the time. I don’t sit beside him the entire time or make myself completely available, but I’m close by. I may be in another room folding clothes or stirring a pot, but every so often I happen to walk past him to make sure he’s on task with a good attitude. If he asks for help,he will wait a minute or two before he gets it. I’m teaching him to stick to the task, but not abandoning him in the process. (As a teacher, I straight up abandon older kids. By 16, you really don’t need me every minute.)
So we’ve implemented a new daily plan. I’ll let the kids play at after-care until 4:30ish and bring them home. They know to get their snack and to grab a Bible and pick up where they left off. The younger child is simply copying one verse 5 times. The older child is copying 5-6 verses a day from a chapter until the chapter is complete. They’re spirits are being fed, and can I just testify that last night, the rounding worksheet took him 15 minutes and only THAT long because he was a little messy. But he got everything right the first time around!!
Attitude change made all the difference.
So I kinda misspoke earlier… what really happened was that I told Brandon to copy Philippians 4:13 ten times, but in his usual way, he “misheard” me and just started at verse one. I let him continue. So yesterday when he finally got to verse 13, he looked up at me. I KNOW WHY YOU MADE ME DO THIS! Yes, Brandon. Now you know. Keep copying.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your kid’s educational future and your sanity,

Alana

Photo comment: For those concerned about B&B’s vision per the featured photo, they were trying on glasses for fun. No worries… yet.

 

 

Being Saved, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Climax

There is a point in intimacy that marks the the height of pleasure and the knitting of two souls. The satisfaction of pressing in is granted.

Sometimes in my car. Sometimes at the table. In my bed. In the kitchen. Who knows when the Bridegroom will come and request my expression of love? I’ve waited so long for love like this, I could never deny Him. And so I slip into something more comfortable– my garment of praise.

And I sing to Him. He loves when I sing. He tells me what He desires to hear, and I flow from one tune to another. I used to cry in these moments, but lately I’ve laughed more. He has an incredible sense of humor. The praise becomes worship, and the air around me changes. It smells of fine oil and carries a charge that makes my hair stand on end.

I feel His glory surround me. And fill me. I’m afraid to open my eyes because I cannot become distracted and lose Him. The invisible God is in my space, loving me, wooing me, leading me into a dance.

And I feel His pressure against my chest. And for what seems like too long, I can’t breathe. The hair follicles on my head do a dance. You can’t tell me He’s not playing in my hair (2 Solomon 2:6). And at the same time, He’s reaching the deepest part of my being, my spirit. No man can go that far.

And I tremble. I become rigid and weak in my attempt to catch my breath. I’ve climaxed, and Heaven has worshiped with me. And unlike what we know physically, this climax can last.

And last.

And last.

I can’t stand for the pleasure to end, but life has its demands. And so like a blushing bride, I gather myself so others won’t know I’ve just… you know… made love. And I go back to my daily tasks, still humming the tune that drew Him near, anticipating when I can be alone with Him again.

My beloved is mine and I am his! (Song of Solomon 2:16)

What I’ve recently learned is that every time I worship Him in this way, I leave carrying a seed inside of me. Sometimes it’s a new assignment or a burden of prayer or an endowment of joy or peace. He gives me what I need.

 Like the lily among thorns, so are you, my love, among the daughters. (Song of Solomon 2:2)

How could I not love Him?

Photo credit:  Tony Seneadza via Compfight

Being Single, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

The Right Way to Go Dutch

Last week some time I watched a video where the speaker proposed that women should insist to pay for their own food the first date to test a man’s character. Ultimately, the man’s ego should kick in and he should pay. The speaker then said that if a woman really wanted to make a man want her, she should pay for the first 2 to 3 dates to say “You have to earn the right to pay for my food.”

Interesting, no? While I get his point and subscribe to the general theme of inquiring into a fella’s character, I feel like the tactic suggested is a little too game-y for my personality. Some of you more liberated women might feel comfortable doing this, but I’ll need to find out about his character in other ways. Plus I’m not going back and forth with anybody… Ain’t my cup of tea.

Am I saying I’m unwilling to pay for a date? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But under MY terms. I’m a  little more old school than most women my age. I date for the purposes of finding a potential mate, not so much for fun, but it does have to be fun if I am to continue. And if a fella can’t afford to date me, then he can’t afford to provide for me in marriage. Somebody just called me a gold digger, but it’s the same woman who entertains free-loading men, so ma’am, your opinion doesn’t count here.

So back to going Dutch… let’s look at how this thing could actually work…. or not.

 

“I pay for my order. You pay for yours.”

Between platonic friends, going Dutch is appropriate. But if there’s romantic interest involved, the gentleman pays UNLESS the woman has asked him out (which is another blog in and of itself). If a man wants to spend time with a quality lady then forking over some cash is not too much to ask. He should plan a date within his means (use Groupon & LivingSocial to up the quality) should she agree to go out with him. Why do I think this should happen? Well for one, a man’s money is close to his heart. If he won’t spend money on the her, then he values himself more than the time she’s shared with him. For the fellas– if you plan a date within your means (with her desires in mind, of course) and she is disagreeable, then she’s not a match for you or she’s there for the wrong reason.

This day in age when women are so liberated and men are so— ummm— like women, it might be a good idea to clear the air before you go out. Throw in a little jokey joke… “Oh, I love their grilled Mahi dish? Do I need to bring my own $15.99, or nah?” Fellas, if you believe a woman should pay for herself, then be bad enough to tell her before you go out. Don’t wait until the check arrives.

Might I also add that it doesn’t hurt, ladies, to pick up a portion of the date. After he whips out his Black card for my Mahi dish, I may offer to pay for dessert. Some guys are perfectly content for you to leave the tip. It doesn’t hurt to offer something, but don’t let your offering be misleading. I’m not a liberated woman. You, sir, must pay for my meal.

Split the bill.

The only thing I can imagine more disrespectful than a man asking me to pay for my own meal at the table is his asking me to split the bill evenly. This was on a movie, but I can’t recall the name. The woman ordered a salad, and the man ordered a Porterhouse. He demanded they split the bill 50/50 because it was only “fair”. I would have to put my sweet demeanor away if that ever happened to me. Even if my meal cost more than his, I feel something about it turns me the wrong way though I can’t put my finger on it. A friend of mine once commented that whenever she goes out, she orders according to the amount in her purse. Ladies, until we know a guy’s willing and able to “cover” us, this may be the smart thing to do.

A positive way to split the bill, however,  might involve planning in advance. I’ll pay for dinner, and you pay for the movies. You buy the groceries, and I’ll cook. Or you pay for this movie, and I’ll pay for the next one. A beautiful partnership can develop between two people when this approach is taken. It’s kinda like saying “I’m interested in spending time with you, and I’m perfectly capable and willing to share the cost to build this relationship.” I like this method for splitting the bill, but ONLY after I know a little about his character, and I actually LIKE him.

One out of four.

Ladies, if you’re continuing to see a person and things are blooming, then it’s a good idea to pay for a date every so often. You can either surprise him at the end of a meal, or ask him out after 2 or 3 successful dates. Tell him it’s your treat. Stay within your means and plan something you’ll both enjoy. If you’re a woman inclined to giving too much, then limit yourself on purpose. Mr. Ford was right. Once a fella knows you’re wrapped around his finger, you lose! Might I add, if you’re a great cook, then it might be a good time to show that off a little.

 

If you find dating burdensome financially or otherwise, then you might join me in sitting at home on Friday nights watching Netflix and tweeting til exhaustion sets in. Dating should be an expression of your freedom and maturity as an adult, not an activity that demands others to pass a test to keep moving forward. We all have our preferences, but there’s no sense in gaming and inciting a response when everything you need to know God will reveal.

Our methods for finding a match have become far too convoluted and messy. If we could just look back a few generations when love and marriages stood the test of time and find out WHY they did things a certain way, then we may be better off for it. Be transparent. Be truthful. Be respectful. Be Christlike.

What kind of love story would you want to tell your kids?  Think about that.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for you future,

 

Alana

Featured photo by Creative Commons License Dan4th Nicholas via Compfight

Being Saved, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

I’m Not One to Brag, But…

I’ve just come out of what was a very trying and dark season in my life, not because of my own personal choices per se, but because sometimes we have to walk through the valley with the Lord. He takes us to the depths to experience the fullness of Him then brings us out with new giftings. That’s what this year has been for me. A super long sauntering stroll through the valley of shadow of death… Some things I can’t wait to forget!

Funny thing about God, not passing is not an option as long as you continue to move forward. Even what others perceive to be failure (Peter denying Christ) causes us to experience grace when we feel least deserving. The only way to fail is to give up. And how many times did I just wanna lay down and die in the valley? Sweet merciful Father…

But on August 31st the tides turned. I was FINALLY offered a job (though I’m not sure why feet were dragged). That night I went to bed spiritually tired and inquiring of the Lord about what needed to be done next.

That night I dreamed of a gift box. I knew in the box there were 100 different gifts for me inside. I reached in to pull out the first present– a silver apple. I had NO clue what this meant, but I knew that the next day I was to drive to Falls Church, open a bank account, and look for an apartment.

Sure enough the name of the credit union was none other than… What? No Guesses? APPLE!

Not only did I open an account, I was able to get the funds I needed to make the move with NO interest, but my car was also refinanced and monthly payment lowered by $155! I walked OUT of the bank with my debit card in hand and ready to make the move.

That’s just the beginning of the blessings!

As I searched for apartments I realized the places I found online were subpar. I whispered a prayer to the Lord and made two turns (without navigation you understand) and found the rental office to a reasonably priced, homey, apartment complex. My children’s school is within one third of a mile from our home, and they have OUTSTANDING TEACHERS!

Later that week as I searched for movers, I came to a screeching halt to the tune of $1200. I snotted, cried, and prayed. Found a fella who quoted me $800. He sent his two finest young gentleman movers who favored me so much, they didn’t even charge me for the full trip. I paid $600 to move my things from Richmond to Northern Virginia. The next day two of my close girlfriends showed up to help me move the last of my things. Everywhere I turned there was a blessing down to one of them driving the ten-foot truck because I couldn’t! Listen… I know I’m not anointed for driving big vehicles, so I thank God for them!

After I moved, the position that was originally offered to me changed to the position I really wanted. Do you not understand that I stood in the courtyard and shouted after I hung up the phone? B&B did a little shout with me before even asking why I was so thrilled. God is faithful!

Everyone talks about how expensive it is to live up here. The rent is high, BUT what I paid for child care monthly in Richmond, I’m paying for the entire school year in NOVA. A full tank of gas lasts me two weeks, and I can easily fill up where it’s cheap when I take the kids to their dad. Food here is better quality, and surprisingly, much cheaper.

I have NO classes to teach so my work day ends around 2pm, but I stay longer by choice. The kids beg me not to pick them up because they’re having fun with their friends, so I go home and relax… I mean exercise… before cooking dinner, checking homework, ironing clothes, making lunches, the list goes on…

He gave me my life back!!!

Yes, I know I’m bragging. But not on me! ON HIM!!! If I had one thing to shout from a mountain top it would not be that I love Him but that “HE LOVES ME!!” And if He loves me, in all my faults and nastiness, then surely He loves you in yours. Don’t get me wrong… I stand in need of many things, but I trust Him so much more this year than I did last year. Did I mention how good it feels to be free from the limitations and expectations of other people?

I’m not one to brag, but this time I just couldn’t keep it to myself. If you’re willing to walk through the dark places with the Lord, endure hardship, and carry His burdens, the blessings He gives will far outweigh any suffering you’ve endured. Don’t believe me? Then read my posts starting six months ago…

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for you future!

 

Alana

 

 

 

Being Smart, Family

How to Raise a Jerk

I know that sounds horrible, but I really don’t believe any parent sets out to raise a self-indulged, arrogant person who rubs folks the wrong way at work, church, and home . But somewhere between childhood and adulthood, things happen– or don’t happen– and children leave the nest with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and a nasty attitude.

This jerk epidemic, ladies & gentlemen, is universal. Jerks are not limited to one race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class. They are as common as flu virus we’ll all be avoiding in a month or two, and twice as infectious. And, I hate to admit it, but I see jerk tendencies in one of my children. While I realize that selfish behavior is common at age 8, I find that as he grows he becomes harder to handle. I won’t blame anyone for it, but I can say that this little nastiness won’t be tolerated in my home. Y’all pray for me. Pray for his rear end too.

And so this morning on my drive to work, I thought of men and women who are self-confessed jerks and connected the dots. Sometime back in the 80’s lived a child with a strong sense of self, wasn’t disciplined, didn’t learn to care for others, only sought his or her own purposes, and now walks around with 8-year old sensibilities though he or she may be 28 or 38. Ugh. If this is you, I’m sorry. But let’s grow together. Lol.

Just in case you ever DID want to raise a jerk, here’s how to do it:

  1. Tell the child “no”, but give in. I’m bad with this, and this might be why my kiddo pushes me to the limit some days.
  2. Teach them that their qualities and gifts make them better than others.  Bring balance to the conversation and help them find ways in which to grow as caring human beings.
  3. Teach them that everyone needs their help. As opposed to offering it kindly as a service, some feel they can fix others. God is not nearly as impressed with the act as He is with the manner in which we offer it.
  4. Allow them to think their rights and wants are more important than the needs of others. No parent directly teaches this (I hope), but if your child is a squeaky wheel he or she may get more oil than they really need. Teach them to hush up and submit to you and to their siblings. Then again, I have heard parents say things like “Get yours, boo boo. Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise.” Bad business…
  5. Allow them to think that they’re blessed because of their own goodness. Nawl. It’s because you work hard and love their little stinking butts. Grace is a gift! Kids are capable of understanding this. When mine need a spanking, they request grace and mercy, and too often they get it.
  6. Permit them to speak their mind without reservation. I believe in open forums with respectful tone for the most part, but I don’t want my children thinking that they can speak all of their mind to the world. My daddy made me study frowardness as a child, and it taught me early on that it’s best to just keep quiet about most things and until I’ve acquired wisdom in that area.
  7. Give your child everything he or she wants. Say no at least 2 out of 5 times or as often as you need.
  8. Allow them to display their emotions any way they choose. Even when they’re tired or there’s tension in the family, a child should still be expected to behave. Give them space to vent, then reel them back in. Being tired or sad is not an excuse for being rude and disrespectful. Deal with whichever issue is more pressing first. Sometimes sadness or anger supersedes the need for discipline, other times they’re just being manipulative.
  9. Tear them down with harsh words and unkindness. Kids who are constantly belittled seek ways to build themselves back up. You ever met a State Trooper who was bitingly sarcastic and almost cruel? I suspect this is why.
  10. Withhold love and affection. Some days they can be so needy and I can be so empty, but I take a few minutes to gather myself, then give them the hugs and kisses they need. Without it children will surely act out and become hardened to affection as they approach adulthood. Unless you want your child’s future spouse crying on your shoulder, give your kids what they need while you still can.

 

I think we’d all agree we want our kids to be confident in who they are, but still compassionate towards others. I know that I have work to do with my little ones, but I’m determined to press forward until my kiddo is the kingly young man that God has destined him to be. I know you’ll do the same for yours.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: By imagerymajestic freedigitalimages.net