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 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

Family, Uncategorized, Video Blogs & Podcasts

Out of the Mouths of Babes: Parenting Advice from B&B

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]I[/dropcap]’d be remissed to not give Brandon & Briana an opportunity to speak on parenthood. I will warn you. I was hoping for profound, thoughtful revelations, but I ended up capturing something that looks more like that popular TV show where kids tell all of what they think they know. Ah, well!

You get the point!

 

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for lots of giggles in your near and distant future,

 

Alana

Being Smart, Family, Uncategorized

All the Bad Things I’ve Done As a Mother

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]E[/dropcap]veryone has an opinion about how children should be raised. Outside of two resources that I can recall, a blog titled Raising Godly Tomatoes and a book about raising strong-willed children (scroll all the way down to my footer to see the book info), I can’t really think of a resource that’s given me such great advice that I’d swear by it. And there’s the Bible of course. Not all of us are nurturers by nature, but I want to share all the bad things I’ve done as a mother to my children just to prove to you that what’s bad for one may be great for another. And all the research may be chalked up to someone’s dissertation hours instead of actual parenting…

  • I nursed one longer than the other.
  • For the past eight years, they’ve slept in the bed with me more often than not. They’re just now starting to venture out on their own.
  • We skip school sometimes to stay home to rest or worship.
  • I let one go to school knowing he had not brushed his teeth or put on deodorant. He needed to learn his lesson.
  • I let the other wear pink nearly every day.
  • I believed Brandon when he told me it was dress-up day at school and let him wear his Batman costume. It was actually “Sunday’s Best” dress up day hence the featured photo.
  • I tell them about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.
  • I totally forgot the kids lost teeth. At one point they were falling like dominos.
  • I took the tooth and forgot to leave the money.
  • I left the money and forgot to take the teeth.
  • I got a divorce.
  • I spank them when they tell each other’s business.
  • I don’t always spank them when they lie.
  • I can’t say no to school fundraisers… not because I want to buy the crap… but because they want that stupid prize at the end.
  • I let them do the current dances provided they aren’t impure. I don’t know the dances myself, but I like to see exactly what they know.
  • I talk trash when we play games, especially any Wii game that involves dancing.
  • I’ve removed some family from their lives, but I let strangers show them affection. Sometimes all the little lady in the mall needs a hug.
  • I allow them to make observations about people and tell me what they see, and we privately address it.
  • I follow their lead.
  • I say “no” to things and “yes” to experiences.
  • I put them out of my room.
  • I let them question my dates.
  • When they’re being punished, I never ever ever send them to their room alone. I keep them closer to me and give them things to do.
  • I make them scrub the carpet with Resolve, wash the windows with Windex, and dust with Pledge. They just wash their hands afterwards.

I”m sure you can find something research-driven and maybe even experiential that says my list of 21 things makes me certifiably crazy and therefore a bad mother. But my children are bright, happy, healthy, well-balanced… outside of being messy and moody sometimes, I cannot complain. Everything doesn’t work for everyone.

By the way, I feel guilty for NONE of the above!

Which unconventional methods do you practice with your children that contribute to their well-being?
Tell me about them in the comments section. 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

Alana

 

 

Being Saved, Family, Uncategorized

Seven Songs Every Little Saint Must Know

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]S[/dropcap]o as I shared last week, THIS week we’re celebrating the art of PARENTING!!!

Being a mother has to be the most challenging, yet the most rewarding experience of my life. There is something about my little people that just makes them a thousand times better than everyone else’s… Teehee! You should feel the same about yours, but if you don’t, perhaps you might instill some qualities into them to help them become more enjoyable. We know that children can be terribly unpleasant if they are fearful, disrespectful, and disobedient. So the songs I’ve selected below will guard your children’s hearts against issues that have create problems in our homes. To be perfectly clear, B&B haven’t always been as delightful as they are now, and still aren’t always beams of sunshine, but over the years, along with the help of family and the Almighty, I’ve been able to train them… and what better way to teach a child something than through a song!!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Few songs are more powerful than this simple tune. Every child raised in a Christian home knows this song, and it’s so deeply embedded in us that as adults it pops into our spirits when we need it most. I remember a friend (I use the term loosely for blogging’s sake) telling me about a nightmare he had. And just when it seemed he was going to die, he began to sing this song and his attackers fled. Just a few weeks ago, I could not feel God’s presence as I usually do. So I sat down and began to search for Him and this song bubbled up from my spirit. Immediately I felt His presence wash over me to the point where I could barely sit up. All that to say, there is NO weapon more powerful against the enemy that knowing of Christ’s GREAT love for you. People who feel unloved soon begin to do anything to seek validation and inevitably hurt others. Arm your children with this song. Remind them daily that there’s nothing they can do to make Jesus stop loving them.

O, How I Love Jesus!

As a toddler Brandon used to croon this tune as he rocked side to side in his giant Pull-Up. He’d sing it for anybody that came around. His worship would stop an adult in their tracks and provoke them to jealousy. Children love deeeeeeply. And who better to love than God? And why love God? Well the song says it… BECAUUUUUSE HE FIRST LOVED MEEE!! And children get that. They totally understand that mommy and daddy love them and take care of them, so the appropriate response would be to love mommy and daddy in return. For children, loving is simply not an option. And loving falls right in line with obeying…

Children OBEY your parents in the Lord, for this is right!

Ok, so this isn’t a song, but who says you can’t make it into one? From the time B&B began speaking I had them repeating this little phrase as we marched and clapped our hands. Did I provide them with a Biblical definition of what obey means in the Greek and Hebrew contexts? Of course not! But they learned quickly, that if they obeyed, good things would happen, and if they didn’t, other consequences would be in store. Obey simply means “Do what mommy says right away.” Another scripture we learned involving this concept was “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” Two reasons your kids should know this— one, because it’s so darn cute to hear them try to say sacrifice, and two, because at some point children will start to weigh their options. I don’t want my kids to think about whether they’re going to obey or not. I want them to immediately choose obedience. All this crap about counting to three… nah. That’s called a power struggle. They don’t get to choose whether they’re hit by a car if they run into the street. So, yes, OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE! Little ones can learn this easily if parents are faithful to reinforce it.

I Command You Satan in the Name of The Lord….

To pick up your weapons and fleeee! For the Lord has given me authority to STOMP all overrrr THEEE! Who says our babies can’t fight for themselves? Children are exceptionally sharp when it comes to spiritual matters which is why so many have bad dreams. So how do we handle this? Well arm your little soliders for the Lord by teaching them to rebuke the enemy IN JESUS’ NAME! I remember my mother teaching my siblings at 2 and 3 when they became afraid of the dark or storm to say “Go in Jesus’ name!” And they did it. And their little butts learned not to be afraid. Children must be trained to fight against the enemy, and often because of their unadulterated faith, their prayers and commands accomplish more than our own. You wanna see some prayers answered? Tell your baby to pray about it!

The B-I-B-L-E!

I was absolutely mortified when four-year old Briana put her pink Bible on the floor, stood on top of it, and sang this song to the top of her lungs. Her father stopped me from tapping her legs and suggested that she might be learning this sort of thing at school. Duhhhh… I STAND ALONE ON THE WORD OF GOD! Lol. I gave myself a facepalm. Yes, we STAND on the Word, so we want our children learn to love the Word so that they are able to stand in the day of testing. This brings me to my next song…

Father Abraham

This song isn’t one of my personal favorites, alas kinesthetic learners in Sabbath/Sunday schools everywhere are enthralled with the corresponding movements. So what’s the point of the song outside of the flailing of arms and legs everywhere? BIBLICAL HISTORY!!! Kids loooove Bible stories, and I must admit this is my weakest point as a Christ-following mommy. I’d rather teach my children about prayer and hearing God’s voice, but knowing the Word is even more important particularly at an age when their minds are so open. So yeah, we’ll do a Father Abraham or two, but more importantly, we’ll talk about who Abraham was. And Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jonah… the list goes on. These stories serve as a point of reference for their lives later down the road.

Grace

So I know there’s a song floating out there that kids sing to bless their food. I don’t know the song though. I do know the sing-songy “God is great. God is good. And we thank Him for our food…” You know the rest. I’m not a fan of anything particularly sing-songy, but the message is clear. WE THANK HIM!!! Thankfulness is one of the most beautiful qualities a child can have. Should you teach your child what true thankfulness is, he or she will learn to eat up all the yummy food you’ve taken the time to prepare for them.

Ok… last story about my kids. When Brandon was two I put him in a daycare, and he wasn’t there for two weeks before he came home and confidently blessed our dinner with the following prayer:

Father, in the name of Jesus, we thank you for our food. We bless it and SANCTIFY it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

My baby boy said ALL of that. His father and I were stunned and I laugh and giggle uncontrollably through the entire dinner. Not long thereafter Briana began to pray this very prayer with him. They’d fight over who got to bless the food first. To this day, we still use that prayer, and they have noooo problem demonstrating their thankfulness by cleaning their plates.

What songs from your childhood experience have helped you through adulthood?
Share in the comments below!

With love, sincerity, and hope for your children’s bright and shining future,

Alana 

 

Family, Uncategorized

Parenting Whoa’s: I Did NOT See This Coming

[dropcap style=”font-size: 50px; color: #9b9b9b;”] S[/dropcap]chool let out eleven days ago, and life with my children has been fast-forwarded. We’ve spent some time in karate class, at the gym, in the pool, and at home in front of Netflix. But other things are taking place. These jokers are growing at an alarming rate, and I can’t seem to keep up.

Here are the top three WHOA’S of my first 11 days with B&B and some of what you might be encountering with your children too.

 

They eat EVERYTHING including my healthy, mommy foods.

In one night after a dinner of BBQ chicken wings, boiled potatoes, and green beans, they knocked off some popcorn, milk, chocolate and strawberry syrups, a bag of grapes, bananas, and Doritos. They also finished off my imitation crab meat (left Old Bay sprinklings on the table) and giardinera. What six-year old likes to eat pickled cauliflower, carrots, and banana peppers?

Where did all these doggone toys come from and WHY are they mixed with clothes?

I’m not a cusser, but I feel a big, fat juicy one coming on when I ask them to put their clothes away, and drawers are left open with clothes seemingly vomited across the room. Then I take a step into the room and step on a Beyblade or a missing Barbie doll heel. Dagnabbit!!! Tomorrow we’re tackling the boy’s room. If I don’t post again in 24 hours, somebody come rescue me.

And the biggest WHOA of all… The first stages of puberty have emerged in one of the children.

I blame it on the hormones in our food (and genetics). But nothing prepared me for the conversation I had to have with my son today… God bless his dad for following up because some things I just can’t say. I figured as long as my son is still wearing his Thor helmet, cape, and carrying his mjolnir, all is well. (Thanks, Duana!) In the meantime, I’ll just hide all the pairs of scissors around my place to keep the kid from following through with his crazy idea. He’s truly my child because I remember thinking about snipping things away back then…

Shortly after we made this discovery, Brandon earned himself a popping on the arm. For a split second I felt like I’d popped a grown man, but when he looked at me with his baby eyes I was assured and comforted that he’s still my eight-year old baby. Oh the games our minds will play!

Somebody pass me a pamphlet and a box of Kleenex!

What unexpected surprises have you encountered with your children so far this summer? 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Dating & Relationships, Family, Uncategorized

Love Your Kids: 10 Things You Do But May Not Know It

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] T [/dropcap]wo weeks ago I shared two posts, Love Your Husbands & Love Your Wives. Google Analytics tells me these are favorites among my readers. So thank you all for reading and sharing! If you haven’t read those posts, you DON’T want to miss them.

My original intent was to also write about loving your children, but with the hustle and bustle of work, I didn’t have time to think into the matter. But since summer break began last Friday and the children have been with me almost every waking moment, I’ve been able to come up with a few things.

  1. Be an example of what you want them to become. Children should see us reading our Bibles and hear us praying. If we’re married, they should see us caring for our spouse. If we’re single, they should see us having the utmost respect for ourselves by not allowing negative influences into our homes. Little people will mirror and imitate everything you do, so let us choose our actions carefully.
  2. Be accountable to them. My kids will poke my tummy ANY time they see it jiggle. If there’s an altar call at church to which they feel I should respond, they give me the eye. I don’t care too much for that part, but the point is that my kids take responsibility for who I am just as much as I do for them. When I was growing up, I could never question my parents as to why they were doing something I didn’t understand. I wasn’t trying to correct them even though they took it that way. How insecure must we be to feel challenged by our own children! Don’t miss teachable moments with your little ones because of your own pride.
  3. Cuddle with them. Studies show–*inserts reputable child-rearing source here*– that children who are shown affection make better choices as adults. Boys needs hugs and kisses just as much as girls do, so let us not neglect their emotional and physical needs trying to make them tough. Children need to be touched, held, and cuddled on a DAILY basis. I try to spend time with each kid to just give them the special attention they need. When I do, they’re much more respectful and easier to be around. I’d also add that the younger the child, the closer that child should be to you. When B & B were small, I kept them in the same room with me. Now that they’re older and we live in a small place, I’ll let them go into another room but my ears are always open. Be vigilant. Kids pick up things from others and you want to know what attitudes, words, and actions are creeping in that need to be uprooted.
  4. Smile when you see them coming. You love your little booger, don’t you? I know you’re shocked by the damage done to the hair and clothing at the end of a day at camp, but still… greet your child, and anyone else you love with a big ol’ grin and a warm “I’m so happy to see you!”
  5. Tell their little butts “NO!’ I’m bad at this… Well, I say no but then I have a tendency not to follow through. Children don’t need half of everything we give them. Our closets are busting at the seams with toys and clothes, and I am NOT a stuff person. Let them kick and scream… nah, don’t do that. Spank their bottoms if they kick and scream. Teach them to take “no” with dignity and self-control.
  6. Teach them to be responsible for their emotions. Some kids are born with it, and others are just… challenging. Depending on your child’s needs, you can teach this in a variety of ways. I have one kid who gets overly emotional when tired. So my goal is to teach that child to exercise self-control. Most adults can’t do this, but simply making a child aware and teaching them how is a step in the right direction. When you’re feeling bad inside, smile on the outside. When you’re mad because you didn’t get something you wanted, think about all the things you do have and yell them out!
  7. Give them chores. I’m appalled by the number of 15-year olds I teach that don’t know how to wipe down a table. If I can get my first grader to mop and my third grader to vacuum, certainly your teenager can handle some tasks. Not only is this good for the children, but it’s GREAT for you too! Starting tomorrow, my daughter will be washing out the pan I use to make her breakfast. My son will clean up EVERY mess he makes including the chocolate syrup spills, toast crumbs, dirty butter knife, etc.
  8. Guard their hearts. Not everything that is marketed for children is actually FOR them. It’s so easy to sit a child in front of Disney, Nickelodeon, Sprout, Poptropica… all that… and think they’re good to go. I ASSURE you… there is SOMETHING malevolently planted in some of these sites and television stations. When Brandon was in Kindergarten, he used to play games on Poptropica while I’d cook dinner, etc. Well a conversation bubble popped up and I heard his little stacatto reading voice chirp “Let us change our passwords so mom and dad don’t find out what we’re doing.” I went over to verify and sure enough!! When you see something or someone influencing your child the wrong way, cut it off! But you have to be around to see/hear it.
  9. Speak life to them. Old Black folk love to say kids are bad, grown, and mean. I know it’s part of our culture, but I hate it with a passion. My children are none of those things, nor do I want them to be. People become what you speak over them. Of course Man Man is cussing at two… all you do is cuss and call him bad. Whenever I find myself around small children, I be sure to say to them “You is smart. You is kind. You is impohtant.” You get the point. Really I just say “Jesus loves you” or “You’re a good boy/girl.”
  10. Validate them! Our kids have soooooo much to say, but we have to be tuned in so that we hear what matters. Though their feelings may be misguided, they are valid and easy to redirect if we first validate that the child is a person deserving of respect. Not to talk anyone down, but I was often told that my feelings didn’t matter and I went through life thinking that everyone else’s feelings mattered more than my own. What a cockeyed way to live life!!! Think of all the times you felt unloved and insecure. Don’t you DARE allow your child to navigate through those emotions alone. It is irresponsible and negligible for a parent to allow their child to suffer through rejection and shame without offering love and support regardless of what a child has done. When our kids become isolated, they are easy prey for the enemy. All types of evil things like hatred, sexual perversions, violence, self-hate, suicide creep in. Keep them close to you and remind them that they are loved unconditionally.

So many of you are great parents and could add so much more… so please please please share and comment!!!

In what ways do you and your children show love for each other?

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your family’s future,

 

Alana