Ordinary

It was an ordinary day. On an ordinary street. In an ordinary house. In that house sat three ordinary girls. They were laughing and playing and giggling like the 13 year old girls they were. They talked about boys, dreams and their parents.

They discussed how they hated some of their teachers and school was so boring. They dreamed of summer vacations and new clothes. It was almost over. Summer was almost here and they vowed to make this an extraordinary summer.

Savannah logged into her laptop. She quickly logged into a website and started chatting up her new friend. He was an older boy. He was 18. She liked him. They had been chatting on-line for a few weeks now.

She sent him pictures of herself and he always told her that she was beautiful. She liked that. She never thought of herself as beautiful. Cute and ordinary. However, Paul (that was his name) always made her believe that she was beautiful.

He told her she could be a model. Paul asked her to face time him with her friends around. She did. They giggled and smiled and posed as Paul said that they were beautiful and could all be models.

Paul asked them to meet them in the parking lot at the local mall. They agreed. They told their parents that they were going to the mall and would be back in a couple of hours. They were careful. Nothing would happen to the three of them.

They were taught that you always travel together. So, they did. It was nothing special. A bus took them to the mall and they waited in the parking lot by the local Macy’s. They laughed with the fact that one of them had a boyfriend. They giggled.

They weren’t able to date yet.

Across the parking lot, Paul approached them. He was so sexy. He had on nice clothes and shoes and the biggest smile. His teeth were straight. Wow! He was gorgeous.

They were so busy pointing and smiling at Paul that they didn’t see the van pull up behind them and the men grab them and stuff them in the truck. An ordinary black van filled with men holding them down as they struggled and screamed and then went limp.

Ordinary girls are sold into sex-trafficking every day. We need to do something about this. No more silence please.

 

 

This post is part of the Daily post. The word of the day was ordinary.

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/

Parenting Rights

One of the things that I refuse to apologize for is how I choose to raise my son. I don’t think anyone starts off trying to be a bad parent (okay, most people don’t). However, for the sake of this argument we will say that many of you are good working people that love your children and you’re trying to do the best that you can in order to raise them to become independent and productive citizens. Do we make mistakes? Absolutely.

No one is perfect. We try things with our children. Some things work. Others need to be modified and some just don’t work. That’s why it requires us to keep working at it. To keep parenting. However, your fundamental right as a parent is that you can choose how to raise your children however you want.

Here are some things that people may question you on:

  • TV/Computer time – Researchers say you should limit the amount of screen time. I think it’s something like 30 minutes a day. Umm, I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. Munch gets about 30 minutes in the morning while he’s eating breakfast to watch his Ipad. He gets additional time after we finish homework and dinner. It is probably an 1.5 hours. So, he gets about 1.5 to 2 hours a day during the week. He watches cartoons only so I’m not concerned about the screen time. We read during homework time each day so he’s not behind. In fact they told us that Munch reads above grade level. Not surprised. His dad and I did so it’s not a big deal. He likes the Ipad, but if he acts up, it is taken away along with television and he truly misses it. No time out or no spanking. We take away what he loves most. Note: Find what works for you.
  • Multiple activities – When he was younger, I put him in activities that I thought he would enjoy. He was a toddler. He didn’t know what he would like. As he grew older, he decided that he hated Tae Kwan Do and didn’t want to do it anymore. So, we stopped. Munch made the decision that the only activities that he would like to do are: swim lessons, guitar lessons and soccer in the Spring. No fall soccer. We let him decide and we tend to stick to the schedule he wants. So, nope I’m not over-scheduling my son. Note:  Let your children lead you with this one.
  • Sleep time – The recommended amount of sleep time for Munch is 10-11 hours. Can I tell you that he never slept that long unless he’s sick and on sleep medication or truly exhausted? That has been a total of 4 times in his 8 years on this Earth. Because I get him home from school around 6:15 pm, he’s eating dinner between 6:45 and 7:00 pm. We then do homework from 7:30 pm to 8:30 – 8:45 pm. We do bath and play time before shutting it down. Munch will get one hour where he’ll watch his TV and sit and draw characters from his Ipad. Lights out at 10pm. He sleeps until 6:45 am. He sleeps between 8 and 9 hours. It depends on him. Note:  As long as he’s not falling asleep in class, he’ll be fine.

My point is this…you do the best that you can. You find what works for your children and you adjust as necessary. Don’t stress yourself that you’re not following the expert’s recommendations. As long as your children are happy, healthy and thriving and you’re doing your best focus on that. Allow your children to lead you into their interests. We’ve got this parenting thing!

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Parenting: Third Grade Blues

Munch is in the third grade and sometimes I feel like I’m struggling to make sure that my son is successful. Not just now but in the future. I’m trying to build a strong foundation with everything, especially math. Munch is a boy. Munch is lazy. Munch decides that he will answer what he feels like when he feels like it. Especially during assessments, quizzes or tests. If he’s not interested, he could care less.

Yep, this year has proven to be a difficult one. Multiple meetings with the teachers, emails and phone calls have all made me have to manage not just my employees but my son’s education and my son’s learning. Some days I think that I can’t do this. That I’m not cut out for this. That something has to give.

I experience the entire gamut of emotions from frustration to depression to joy at him doing something. It’s heartbreaking and hilarious. I just keep telling myself that I can’t give up. That I can’t stop pushing him, encouraging him and creating opportunities for growth. It’s exhausting.

Add to that Spring soccer, his birthday party and swim classes and you will see that I’m trying to keep him well rounded. The only saving grace is that I allow Munch to lead his scheduled activities. We do what he wants to do. He only wants to do soccer in the spring, guitar lessons and swim class. No more he says.

Okay.

However, third grade is tough. Although he’s made honor roll for the last two quarters and is on track to make honor roll this third quarter, it’s a continuous battle to make sure that he stays focused. Focus on school work. Focus on math. I’m constantly reminding him that every concept will build on the next. Reminding him that he knows it. His math grades have been adjusted because our district doesn’t allow children in grades 2-5 to fail math so he gets at least a 60.

Umm, I’m not sure how I feel about that. So, I spend extra time on math homework. Going over the multiplication table, giving extra work to build on what he’s learning in school. “Everything has a purpose Munch” is what I tell him. Sometimes he gets it. Other times he looks at me like I’m wasting his time.

Boys are hard is what I’m told. It doesn’t reassure me. I feel like I’m failing him. I asked him “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He said “A scientist.” I smiled. “Science and math go hand in hand Munch. You need to understand math and its concepts to fully understand and grasp math.”

It’s the third quarter – third grade blues I’m sure, but I can’t give up on him. I’m invested in his future. I’m investing in him. I signed him up for a STEM camp with NSBE this summer. It’s a 3 week camp. Not sure how we’ll get him to and from during the 8:30 am to 3:30 pm hours, but he likes STEM. It’s FREE so it needs to happen.

Sometimes it feels like we’ll never get through it. That my life until he graduates from high school and maybe when he goes to college is all about making sure he’s focused and doing what he’s supposed to do. When will he take the bulls by the horn and want to do it on his own?

He’s been asking to go to a regular school (non French Immersion school). He doesn’t want to continue in French. His grades are great. He just doesn’t want to learn French anymore. He wants to learn in English. Should I listen to him?

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Review: Being A Wife Just Got Real: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Said “I Do”

I’m beginning to slow down and get back to reading. I have so many purchased and unfinished books on my list that I feel like I’m drowning. However, I’m determined to be finished by May from all the published books that I purchased last year. First up, was Being A Wife Just Got Real: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Said “I Do” by Tanya Barnett. For sake of full disclosure, I’ve known Tanya for years. 

We all grew up in the same church. She’s older so I’m closer with her brother Rodney. When I found out that she wrote a book, I was hesitant to read it. Not, that I didn’t think that it would be good, but more so that I wasn’t a wife no more and I didn’t think it applied to me.

However, she started sharing posts that it does apply whether you are single, engaged, married and divorced and wanting to remarry. So, I figured that I would give it a go because I wanted to remarry. Can I just tell you that I loved it? It was a quick read and I couldn’t put it down. I saw so many similarities in her behavior and in mine when I was married to my ex-husband.

What I loved most about the book was also the prayers and self-reflections that she has at the end of each chapter. A very cool tool to help you evaluate what you see occurring in your relationship and writing what you want in your relationship. I had to write these down because I read the book on my Kindle app. But, I wanted to do the work.

She shares her stories of her struggles with being a wife and the problems she had in her marriage. Her husband seemed a little scary, but I realized that he was more like many of the men that I dated and even the one I married. Not scary, but scared. That’s the key. She loved the heck out of the man that God told her to marry. She accepted His will and realized she needed to change too.

She was like me and like many women I’m sure. Independent to a tee. Mouthy (yep we like to pop off at the mouth) and demanding. She recognized her part in the destruction of her marriage but she speaks about how she constantly prayed. She tells you how God was speaking to her before and during her marriage.

Now, this is important to me being a woman of faith. I believe in prayer and more importantly I believe in listening to God when He speaks to me. I spent so much of my life ignoring God’s voice that I vowed when I turned 40 to never do that again. I’m happy to report that in the last two years I’ve not done that.

God was all in and throughout her marriage and it helped her get her mind right. To be a better wife to her husband and to truly work on her marriage. That’s what I love about this book. It’s not all her husband’s fault, but she equally discusses her failures in her marriage. You will see yourself in this book in many ways. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy at destroying what we love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend this book to any woman. Whether you are seriously dating, engaged or married you will realize that you are not alone. There are many women who self-destruct a relationship and don’t fully examine the history of our partners prior to marriage. However, there is hope. All is not lost. See the beauty of what you created, do the work and allow God to work in your marriage.

It’s a great read and you can check Tanya out on social media at the following hashtags: FaceBook: Real Wife Coach ; Twitter: Real Wife Coach and her Website: Real Wife Movement

The best part? Her husband is writing his own book about this time during their marriage. I’m truly excited to read that as well because I love a his and hers point of view. Tanya’s book can be purchased on Amazon here:  Being A Wife Just Got Real

 

 

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Parenting: Boundaries

If you read my post yesterday-  Motivational Monday Moment – 3/6/2017, you’ll know that I mentioned how my dad had allowed his girlfriend to tell me what I can and can not do. This got me to thinking about boundaries. I was a child, maybe 14 at the time and having someone tell me what to do when I had never met this person or interacted with them totally put me in a bad head space. I resented her for many reasons: she wasn’t my mom, she wasn’t my mom, she wasn’t my mom and she didn’t know me. She had only met me once.

Now, I understand in hindsight that a lot of it may be pure adolescence, but I think the point I want to make is that parents have to respect boundaries with their children. Just like you have boundaries with adults, you definitely have them with your children. Let them feel out the new person. Don’t allow people to decide things with them that don’t know them.

I’m a big proponent of boundaries as an adult because they weren’t recognized when I was a child. For example: My dad’s mother (my paternal grandmother) wasn’t very nice to me. She didn’t engage in any grandmotherly things and she never made me feel loved. Heck, I don’t think she liked me at all. However, my mom’s mom (my maternal grandmother) would always tell me that I had to go and visit her whenever I was in town even though she was mean to me.

I hated that. My grandmother’s wisdom led her to believe that I always had to do right by others even if they were treating me wrong. “They have to answer to God for how they treat you” she would always tell me. As a child I had to subscribe to this logic. But, as an adult and a mother to my own son, I now realize that this is not healthy.

I explained this to her when I was home last month. I told her that I would never allow my son to spend time with someone who didn’t like him and made him feel like he’s unlovable, regardless of whether or not it’s a relative. I explained that as his mother, it is my right and responsibility to protect him from people that aren’t good for him or to him. I told her that it did more damage for me to be around my grandma feeling like she didn’t like me.

No boundary was created to protect me. I had to endure it because she was my blood relative. Was it fair? Nope.

Thankfully, I can choose to create boundaries. These boundaries don’t just apply to relatives, but they apply to everyone who comes in contact with my son. Even in my relationship. I love Mr. C. He’s great and I’m so happy, but I don’t allow Mr. C to discipline Munch. Why?

Two reasons. First, we’re not married. Second, he doesn’t spend alone time with him where he would have to discipline him.

Marriage Brings Benefits:

If Mr. C and I were married of course he would be allowed to discipline Munch. That is a benefit of marriage. We will never live together without being married, so there would be no need to discipline him. Does that give Munch a pass to disrespect him? Not at all. But, I need my man to understand that his boundary is that of boyfriend and not a contributory parent and therefore his role is limited. Important, but limited. If we get married that boundary will be expanded to include bonus dad and disciplinarian.

Alone Time Would Be Minimal:

Mr. C hasn’t spent alone time with Munch yet. I told ya’ll we’re taking it slow. But, probably this summer they will begin to hangout and do things together so he can get to know him outside of me. My expectation is that Munch will be on his best behavior. Should he not be on that best behavior, I would expect Mr. C to handle it. However, I will have the conversation that my mom had when we were away from her: you better be on your best behavior and not embarrass me. You do and you’re never going to see sunlight again. 

Yeah, it was extreme, but it worked. The point is this…create boundaries for your children when it comes to their relationships with adults. Whether they be your relative, your significant other or a friend, allow your children to know what is expected in any situation. Talk to them. If they don’t feel comfortable…don’t force it. Don’t force them to take part in things that make them feel uncomfortable because you want your significant other to feel empowered.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Motivational Monday Moment – 3/6/2017

I want to talk about grace today. Grace as a noun means favor or good will. I never really thought much about that word until recently. So, my Motivational Monday Moment is about grace and how it is not the same as forgiveness.

Let me tell you how I discovered that they are not the same…

I went home last month to Tennessee to see my father. It was uneventful, which was good. He’s recovering. He’s not doing what he’s supposed to do. His family is helping him out.

I flew in late Saturday night and drove almost two hours to my grandma’s house. I got lost. The outlets in the rental car didn’t work. I had 10% of cell phone battery left. It was trying. I got in and went to sleep.

Sunday morning I went to church with a friend of mine to hear him preach and later that evening I went to check on my dad. We sat and talked for a couple of hours. It was good. He asked me to take him to McDonald’s and get him something to eat.

So, off we went and he started to talk about how his family mixes things up. How they get information confused. His mom (who is deceased) and/or his siblings. It was random, but he mentioned how the first time he brought his girlfriend Arlene to town from Chicago, people had assumed she was white.

I listened to him talk. I said “I remember Arlene.” He replied “You never met Arlene.” I said, “Yep, I did. It was one year that we happened to be in town and my grandma made us come over to visit your mother. Your family. Funny thing is that she didn’t even tell us you were in town. We found out by visiting. I wanted to walk down the street to the local park with some of my friends. I asked you could I go. You told me to ask Arlene. Why? She wasn’t my mother. She was the first woman that I met and you thought that your girlfriend should give me permission? She wasn’t entitled. You were the parent. I felt disrespected. You didn’t provide support for us. Neither did Arlene. Non-financial people shouldn’t have opinions. Especially not girlfriends.”

He just listened. He changed the subject. He doesn’t remember that I met his first girlfriend outside of my mother. Only that he brought her to Tennessee. I, on the other hand remember everything. I have a long memory.

My memory won’t let me forget the pain inflicted by my father. I’ve tried. Other things happened which I will tell you about later. I didn’t understand. I hadn’t felt bad in a LONG time. What was happening to me? I shouldn’t be feeling the pain of longing for a father who wasn’t there.

I came home the following Tuesday and met with my therapist that week. I told her what happened. She asked me “Why do you go and visit him?” I told her that God told me to forgive him. She inquired whether or not God told me to build a bridge with him? I told her that he only told me to forgive him. She told me “You haven’t forgiven him.” I told her “Yes”. She said “No, you’ve given him grace. You’ve not forgiven him. You have too much residual pain left.” She went on to explain that the pain is both normal and understandable considering the years of abandonment, but she needed me to think about what forgiveness looks like.

I sighed.

For the last four years of my life, I thought I gave forgiveness. I gave grace. They are not the same. The weird thing is that I never knew anyone who gave grace. I thought God was the only one to give grace.

I was wrong. We can give grace. I allowed him to occupy a space in my world after almost 30 years of no relationship by thinking I was doing as God instructed…forgiving. But, now I see I was only giving grace.

I was being graceful by allowing him to be a part of my life. I was thinking that I was forgiving him by letting him spend time with me and dealing with the parts of my life that were painful. The parts that were caused by him and others. But, I wasn’t forgiving him. I haven’t forgiven him.

I’m struggling with this uncovered feeling. I’m trying to process what I need to forgive him. It’s hard. It’s a process and ultimately, I need to both obey God and forgive my father. God forgives. God gives grace.

I am not God.

So, my Motivational Monday Moment is spent somewhere in reflection, thought and understanding of grace and forgiveness. I ask the question, “Have you forgiven or have you given grace?” Let’s focus on both this week.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

February Was Good

Today is the last day of the month. It is the shortest month. It was a good month in many ways. I met my goal of posting or sharing at least 30 times this month. I went home to Tennessee to see my dad. I had an awesome Valentine’s Day with my son and Mr. C and I had a wonderful belated Valentine’s Day. My son made honor roll again.

You know what else? I had more views to my little ole’ blog than ever before. I am truly humbled and thankful that people are viewing, commenting and following me. It really means a lot to me. I also learned some hard lessons that I will share with you in the coming weeks. Please bear with me.

However, despite disappointments, adversities and setbacks I’ve realized that February was good. It was a good month and I’m looking forward to March being just as good. I have a couple of projects that I need to finish including a couple of book reviews that I will be getting out in the next couple of weeks. I thank you for your encouragement, your patience and your wonderful posts that let me know that I am not alone.

You all are wonderful. February was good, but let’s make March better. Let’s get ready to step into Spring and clean up our houses: mentally, physically, financially and emotionally.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.