Release Day: Christine Warner’s SECRET LOVE!

Happy Monday after the French Open final, folks!  Can you say it ten times fast? ;)  Hope all is well in all of your worlds!

Congrats to the record-setting NINE-time champion, Rafael Nadal! (Good thing the match didn’t go to a fifth and deciding set. The champ and his opponent, World  No. 2 and highly likable Novak Djokovic were morphing into the injured playing the ill, respectively.)

Tour-Banner-Secret-Love

I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled blogging to share about online friend and author Christine Warner’s latest romantic release, SECRET LOVE. Congratulations, Christine! All the best to you in your latest endeavor!

Christine-Warner-Author-Pic

Bio: Christine Warner is living her dream in Michigan along with her husband, three children, one laptop and a much loved assortment of furry friends. Besides laughing and a good round of humor, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, writing but no arithmetic.  A confessed people watcher, she finds inspiration for her stories in everyday activities. She loves to read and write about strong heroes and determined, sometimes sassy, heroines. A girl gone wild, at least where social media is concerned, she enjoys meeting other avid readers and writers on Facebook, Twitter and her website at christine-warner.com.

(Psst! Christine can be found at Goodreads, too!)

Secret-Love-Hi-Rez

* Genre: Sweet Nostalgic Novella

*   Length: 69 Pages

*   The Sweet Fifties Series {Book 1}

Please note: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Christine Warner’s Secret Love for review and promotional purposes.

Christine Warner’s sweet romantic novella immediately landed me in the mid-1940s and 50s. This highly nostalgic short story did not lack for character development. Perhaps the story moved along a tad quickly, but in all fairness to the author, Ms. Warner provided enough backstory to seamlessly cut into the novella’s present. The prose is concise and the text well-edited. Detail is appropriate to the period. Like the songs of old Ms. Warner mentions throughout the story, nostalgia flows effortlessly via lively descriptions and dialogue, readily giving present-day life to a time long past.

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Tarleton is a bit of a spit-fire. I happened to very much like her soap-eating ‘younger version.’ Not that I disliked her 23-year-old self, when the story proper picks up ten years after the reader meets her.) I was particularly fond of Lizzie’s willingness to jump out of her comfort zone to speak her mind, during a time period when girls were not raised to be forthcoming with their thoughts, let alone their feelings toward a boy.

Seventeen-year-old Wayne Whitmore is Lizzie’s brother’s best bud. His compassion toward Lizzie immediately endeared him to this reader, how he cared enough to spare her feelings in that first scene.

Ms. Warner does a nice job bringing her characters together ten years later. Lizzie is now a teacher at the high school where Wayne is the principal. (I did have a bit of a hard time trying to accept him in that role so young.) I didn’t find the story’s conflict to be terribly powerful, but I had no problem buying into it as real or universal. Ms. Warner took what could be a situation in any couple’s world, and built it into an engaging tale of how they overcame it to embark on their happily ever after.

The Story:

Lizzie Tarleton has always done things her own way—including the time at the tender age of thirteen when she confessed to her brother’s best friend she loved him. But now she’s a new teacher at the local high school, and independent enough to know that you can’t force love. She’ll find love when the time is right—even though her parents are adamant the time is now. The only downfall to her idyllic life is the fact that her childhood crush—who broke her heart—is now her boss. If only she could stop daydreaming about him.

Wayne Whitmore grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and worked hard to get where he’s at in life. Even though he enjoys being principal at the small town high school, he dreams of coaching baseball. When his best friend asks him to watch over his little sister at her new job at Wayne’s school, he agrees. What he doesn’t count on is how she’s grown from the pig tailed kid who told him she loved him, to the woman who breaks his concentration with her beauty and smile. Unable to get over his fascination, and afraid he’ll ruin his friend’s trust, Wayne applies for his dream job—one that will take him far away.

One night while decorating the school gymnasium for an upcoming sock hop, Lizzie and Wayne find themselves alone. They share a kiss and Lizzie realizes her childhood crush for Wayne has never died. Wayne decides he doesn’t want to let Lizzie get away.

Can they come to terms with their secret love and then overcome the other secrets they are hiding in order to get what they each want? Or is their timing for love still off?

An Excerpt:

She blinked away the heat of tears forming at the back of her eyes. Their conversation had grown too serious. She needed to lighten things up a bit. “Remember when we used to play ‘What if?’”

He laughed. “What if Lizzie wore a dress?”

“Either she was going to church, or her mom was having a ladies’ social.” Lizzie giggled. “Ricky hated that game.”

“He’d get so mad when you’d start it.” He made the final cut on a small snowflake and added it to the pile before him.

“What if Wayne couldn’t throw his famous curve ball?”

“The school trophy case would be one trophy short. What if Lizzie wasn’t teaching here?”

She pouted. “She’d be sad. I have no idea what I’d be doing if I hadn’t found a job here. What does Lizzie have to do to show Wayne she thanks him?” She winked, enjoying their fun.

He cleared his throat. “What if Wayne said Lizzie owed him a kiss?”

Her belly trembled. What if?

“What if he stole one?” His voice lowered and he leaned in.

“Why don’t you find out?” she whispered.

Buy SECRET LOVE here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Christine’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Happy Release Day, Christine! And thanks to all of you who took the time to read through this marathon of a post! If you like what you read, would you kindly share and help Christine pass on the word!

Here’s to a wonderful week to all,

Joanna

 

 

Rockin’ Jeans and The Great Fitness Experiment

Welcome to the second full week of May, folks. Hope all of you are well.

Poor hubby should be in recovery by now. The anniversary/wife’s birthday/Mother’s Day annual event is over again. Every year the poor guy gets slammed.

Back to business: I subscribe to more blogs than I can keep up with, but I do try to hit on each every now and again. This one absolutely made my day. It proved I’m not out of my mind—okay, maybe just a touch less than I thought.

I always enjoy posts by Charlotte Hilton Anderson, author of The Great Fitness Experiment (book and blog that go by the same name). I’m sure she is far fitter and way more fitness-savvy than I’ll ever be, but she also tends to be very real. A post she aired about two weeks ago caught my attention big time.

She talked about jeans, about how hard it is for those who work really hard at building and sculpting their thighs to buy jeans that fit them well and comfortably. Believe it or not, those with “musciliscious” thighs (which I’ll never have), experience problems with jeans very similar to those of us blessed with “ample” body parts and the so-called-healthy pear shape. Gapping waistline, “sausage legs” when fabric hugs thighs too tightly—those of us who love jeans know how elusive that perfect-fitting pair is to find.

She also mentioned a company named Barbell Apparel that is getting ready to launch a line of jeans that fit well-muscled folks. I figure, said company can only benefit the well-endowed crowd. (Here’s a Washington Post article that shares a tad more detailed, for those who are as excited about this as I am.)

Getting back to my questionable sanity, Charlotte helped me feel a lot better. I’ve recently gotten into some barre workouts. (Some related posts, including a link to my favorite video of same, are listed below.)

In the past month, since I added the barre workout(s), I’ve been feeling really good physically. As I commented on Charlotte’s post, however, I’ve also been noticing that my never-will-be-musciliscious-thighs seem to be growing despite the exercise efforts I’m putting in.

Perhaps they are, for once, maybe for the right reasons. Who knows for sure?

My weight has held now for about five years. Yes, it’s more than I want but still a good 25 pounds better than when I started making lifestyle changes.  The evening before I wrote this post, I nervously put on a pair of pants that had been sitting in a bag for two years—one of those pairs I had hoped to “get into” after losing 5-10 pounds.

I’ll be danged if I didn’t do just that–with my weight still where it was when I bought them, I’m pretty sure.

Joanna--04-26-2014 (Of course real estate between the waist and the knees is undercover–it’s all about illusion, right? ;) )

Anyway, this is a big thanks to Charlotte for helping me realize that I’m not totally crazy—and for inspiring me to try on those pants. BTW, a pair of black jeans that fit awesome were in that bag too. Those just got hemmed at the tailors! Yay for jeans that fit well!

Rather than drag this one out, next week I’ll talk about Italian mothers and how they influence one’s self-esteem so well, lol.

So, where do you stand on this topic? Do you like jeans? Does fitness make you feel good or frustrate you? Did you ever consider that fitness had drawbacks?

Here are the links I mentioned above:

Sometimes It’s About the Littlest Things

Can One Book Change Your Life?

Healthy Snacks? I’m Thinking Not–Part 1

Newsflash: Blog-Hopping Can Result In Inspiration!

Newsflash: Blog-Hopping Can Result in Inspiration! (Part 2)

My (current) favorite ballet barre workout :)

Have a great week folks! Please don’t hesitate to SHARE should you like the content or feel moved to do so in any way!

Until next time,

Joanna

 

 

Keeping It Quick While Circling the Seasons

Hi all. School is back in session, making this a shorter, much busier week. All our snow days threw off the report card schedule, so things have to be done a li’l bit faster. (Annoying when you have to use the district’s network to get some work done. I’m not a fan of bringing the day job home, but I could have paced some stuff out. Just sayin’.)

Anyway, I’m a huge fan of spring and have been wanting to rerun my second-ever blog post for a while now.  Back in that day  I was ridiculously green and afraid to hit PUBLISH. Now you lovely, loyal faithful, who are kind enough to show up post after post, are subject to anything that comes through the fingers. Bless you. Bless you.

Rather than subject you to the whole post from May 2009, I decided to include here only the part that connects to writing, as well as to many things in life in general. I think of this often:

Several years ago my husband and I purchased a cottage about three hours away from my home. Built on an old Christian campground situated in the woods, we have access to it year round, but really use it only six months because the pipes supplying water are too superficial to not freeze during the winter months. This translates into having running water from mid-April through mid-October, which means during our travels we get to watch nature as it moves through three seasons.

Summer is always gorgeous but pretty consistent in its green. Fall is positively glorious in its array of golds, oranges, browns, reds, maroons, yellows and even some shades of purple. Spring is traditionally known for its pinks, lilacs and paler greens. What caught my attention, however, on one of our spring trips out there, were the very, very early spring colors. I was surprised at how many paler versions of fall colors I saw.

That took my thoughts in a totally different direction, to a workshop given by Jane Porter. She opened her talk by stating that the beginning of a book should always point to the ending. Some books are absolutely blatant in that. Peruse the opening of Phillippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl as an excellent example of such. And everywhere in nature I happen to look, I see other ready illustrations, ranging from as relatively simple as the life cycle of a leaf to as complex as the stages of a human life.

Okay. ‘Nuf said on that. Thank you for indulging me.

Just for fun, here are links to two great photos I came across this week:

Love this one!  (Cat and/or animal lovers will too. Too cute!)

For the tennis fans. (It’s not Rafa. But it’s a great photo just the same, lol.)

A final aside: I’m excited to be presenting on point-of-view to a teacher-friend’s fifth graders this Friday. Wish me luck!

Have a great one, folks.

Joanna

Crappy Voice(?) and Angel(s)

Happy first Monday of March, people! Please tell me spring is a-comin’–I am D.O.N.E. with snow and the cold.

So how cool is this li’l cutie hubby found on Facebook? I certainly hope he’s for real! (Video is 1:34–pinky swear it will make your day!)

So last Wednesday was blog-post fodder, everyone. A little of everything: kid drama and humor; a could-be problematic incident for me with an angel (?) or heavy-duty coincidence stepping in.

Day started off okay. Managed to focus and work on a report despite much preferring to chat with coworkers.

Drama showed with one of my third graders who has next-to no impulse control when he’s with one particular classmate. Tried seeing what I’d do when he pushed my buttons. Forced me to  put on my “discipline” hat  (i.e., make an active choice to not make excuses for his behavior b/c of his special needs).  I followed through: “Third warning. Back to class and tell your teacher you lost a point.” (This is big for them in class, lol. I felt so mean too. When you’ve had kids on your roster since they were three, you start to love them much the way you love your own.)

So we were practicing “French”, as his classmate refers to cursive handwriting. (Beats the kids who want to write in “curses.” Yes, many of my guys have delays and/or difficulty with speech, especially articulation. You learn the lingo after a while.) This little cutie of Costa-Rican born parents somehow inherited a mild accent that his parents don’t have. He is not, however, lacking in command of English or connecting verbal dots.

One of the girls was having a hard time with forming the letters. I took a peek at her paper and started to comment on where she was having a problem. “Okay, Mrs. Joanna. Please don’t yell at me.”

Huh???

“Since when does Mrs. Joanna yell?” (I rarely raise my voice.)

Li’l Costa Rican accent pipes in: “Mrs. Joanna doesn’t yell. She’s just using her crappy voice.”

He. Did. Not. Say. That–Oh! Li’l Accent Boy was referring to my typical line when they’re making me nuts, “Why do I need to use my crabby voice?”

What can I say? My students get to know me too.

And the day progressed until I had to leave one school to go to another. Dragged three bags, my binder and a travel coffee mug to the car. Had to do a bit of shuffling to get to the keys, dump everything in and take off.

Got to second school with five minutes to spare before session time. Grabbed the bag I’d prepacked for the 5th graders and reached for the binder with ALL my goals, objectives and progress logs.

Binder is not there.

NOOOOO! I did not leave it on the trunk and drive off!

Yanked out cell.  Called first school. Begged secretary to leave her warm office space and go to cold parking lot to look for blue binder. (Of course, the stuff inside is legal documentation as of this month, not to mention kids’ first and last names on EVERY page. And so goes HIPPA.)

Secretary came up empty. I entered second school and immediately wailed to art teacher, who is kind enough to share his room every week. (Yep. I have no real home in ANY school I work in. ‘Nuff said ‘bout that. Among the reasons I had so much stuff getting from door to car of first school.)

“Oh man,” art teacher says. “Know what’s really funny? I was wondering how you can always be so positive.”

“I’m positive I left my binder on the trunk and drove off.”

Suffered through that session—I was a tad flustered and preoccupied—and noticed a missed call from an unfamiliar, but local, landline.

Hope kicked in and I dialed my voicemail. Yay! Secretary found my binder about three blocks away, corner down in the snow! Papers dirty and wet, but cover not blown open and NOTHING missing! (IDK how it survived a left, a right and another left before finally losing contact with the car.)

Relief set in. I am not anxious by nature but this rattled me a bit, mostly b/c of the confidentiality thing.

Took at least two hours before normal calm set in. Then I realized had the other secretary picked up my first call (when I noticed my binder missing), the one who found it would have driven by the blue book stuck in the snow and ice and never thought twice. Instead she said she drove past and then, “OMG, blue!” registered. (She lives nearby and goes home for lunch daily.)

Everyone can talk coincidence as much as they want. My angel(s) stepped it up this past Wednesday. I did not complain about having to break down almost the entire binder and cover three beds with papers for them to dry. Made sure to lay them out in alphabetical order, as they are organized usually, so that re-organizing them would take less time.

Once the book was back together, I got to write the blasted notes. I suppose I was grateful I had everything I needed to do so, and will be able to turn them in, as is expected, within the next few days.

And we’re square with HIPPA (for today, anyway).

Thanks for indulging me.

This one’s kind of open. Talk to the topic or just talk. Sorry I went a little long, but at least I got something to write about in the end. (There’s that annoying positive outlook again… ;))

Have a great week,

Joanna

Guests Bloggers at The Write Practice Inspire!

Happy Tuesday, everyone,

And a happy birthday shout-out to my daughter-from-another-mother. Older Son’s girlfriend turned the big 1-7 yesterday. (This post was supposed to go live on Monday, but I forgot to click the SCHEDULE button after I set the date.)  She’s been around four years already, something I still can’t believe sometimes. Luckily, she’s a very nice young lady and there is no real drama between them.

I’m always  a bit sad watching an Olympic flame go down. Being a lover of athletic ability in so many forms—especially since God did not put superstar status coordination into this writer girl—I  so enjoy living vicariously watching the grace and power of those who are. (I get to the tennis courts whenever I can. Luckily, I can hit a few good flat shots–I so can’t do any spin on the ball–and let’s not talk serve.)

I will NOT  miss listening to the rather biased coverage and talk involving American-Russian rivalry re: medal counts, hockey games, etc. That’s just not me, and the Olympics is a place where the world supposedly comes together, right? (Just sayin’…)

Sochiolympicflame

Image credit: Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (Pretty sure I did this properly. Feel free to let me know in the comments or privately if I didn’t. Thnx!)

Having my life back from the TV is always nice (barring Law & Order SVU re-runs—those suck me in almost every time; Modern Family is starting to get me too and I just walked away from auditions for The Voice). Indian Wells, the ‘fifth slam’ of tennis starts March 6th…Dancing with the Stars is about four weeks away… There goes Monday night…again.

Back on track: I haven’t written about writing for a while, nor do I plan to now. What???

I did, however, come across a couple of great posts from The Write Practice, to whose posts I subscribe. I recently moved from lurker to commenter/participant and am finding a very supportive community. (Writers can be like that, cheering each other on, helping each other out, paying it forward…you know.)

In lieu of musings by me, I figured I’d share an exercise prompted by this post, Let Me Be Your Muse. Writer/blogger Joy Collado of the Phillipines suggests I do nothing but write in response to what my character(s) have to say about their feelings relative to me and getting their stories into some kind of existence. Let me tell you, some of mine are pretty dang frustrated, lol. Here is a very short excerpt of the fruits of that effort:

These are one of my POV character’s thoughts. She’s a tad annoyed waiting for me to get it together, to find a direction for her story, and to get things right between her and her hubby.

“So you’re letting me be the muse, huh? It’s about time you stopped trying to figure out my story and started committing to putting down something concrete about it.”

From there my character pretty much outlined her story and gave me a great framework to draw upon. My next step is to do the same with the other POV characters. I’m hoping I don’t choke myself (again!) with all the ideas that come from this kind of brainstorming. That’s what happens: I get overwhelmed with all the info and can’t seem to find a start point to make functional use of it.

Becca Puglisi‘s guest postPurging Your Writing Fear spoke to me too. From that I was inspired to jot down two key affirmations. Those are on my nightstand. I’m seriously considering fancying them up a bit and framing them, so that they’re that much more visible to me on the day to day.

Here is one of them: I am can and will make _____ and _____’s story into a viable suspense/romantic novel. (It’s that suspense part messing with me. New territory.)

So, what are your thoughts on these topics? Have you tried Joy’s technique or written down affirmations/goals the way Becca suggests? Do you feel it’s been helpful? If so, how and/or why?

Thanks and have a great day!

Joanna

Aside

Books, Books, Books!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Yes, I am FINISHED with my parenting-related series. (I linked to the first one. Feel free to take it from there, if you’re new or just interested.) Since then, I got inspired to do something a little more fun (or so I hope!).

Recently read a blog post by author, NYTBSA and indie publisher Bob Mayer. (His background is far more extensive and impressive than the little I listed here, lol. He ties all his experience in when giving one of his lively and informative workshops, which I was fortunate enough to participate in just last weekend.) When my comment to his post started going over the two-paragraph mark, I realized I’d been inspired to write one of my own.

In his post, Bob asked a lot of questions regarding reading, but these two spoke to me the most:

(1) What turned me on to reading, and (2) which is the first book that excited me?

Can’t remember what turned me on to reading: maybe my interest in almost anything or inner restlessness? (That would include reading bottles of cleaner in the bathroom, etc.)

I probably read EVERYTHING that passed my hands after the skill was established thru the Dick and Jane readers. Not that I claim those as the first to make my heart go pitter-patter. That questionable honor goes to the book that got me in trouble, to which I refer below.) The Little House Books are my all time favorites.

Little House on the Prairie cover

Aside: My kids and husband are S.I.C.K. of Laura Ingalls references to life then v. now, lol.

We had a great main library a few miles from home. My dad was really proud of my reading and brought me almost any time I asked. I’d check out the max amount of books every time.

Another aside: I rarely  brought everything back on time. Once, my mom forked over $21 or so in fines on one trip. That’s a lot of $$ for that time—and I was sworn to secrecy. She was afraid my dad would flip. Being Daddy’s li’l girl and how much he supported my passion, I’m sure he would have gotten over it soon enough.

The Poseidon Adventure was the first novel I read AFTER seeing the movie. That taught me to watch first, read later—the written version ALWAYS beats a screenplay, with no disappointment either way. That tenet held true for John Jakes North and South. (Of course I read the second part before the second ABC miniseries and was seriously disappointed. Not even Patrick Swayze and/or James Read made up for the differences from novel to the small screen.)

Recommending the first explicit romance novel I picked up got me in trouble with my older cousin and confirmation sponsor about the “literature” I was reading. (Talk about a heart going pitter-patter, lol, especially since I wasn’t quite sure what I was reading in some of those scenes. What did I know? I thought it was great and recommended it. The librarian had no business checking that stuff out to a 13 y/o, lol.)

Loves Avenging Heart cover(Wow. This many years later I recognized this cover immediately, lol.)

As a young adult, I came across Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Ashes in the Wind. That probably sparked my love of romance, and got me started on ALL of that author’s books (and maybe a deeply buried desire to emulate her sweeping love stories). BTW, that’s where the Aislinn in my nome-de-plume originated, from The Wolf and the Dove. Never had a daughter—nor would that lovely name have paired with what would have been her Italian surname. BUT: my debut novel was my baby and my dream. Since Aislinn is Gaelic (?) for vision or dream it seemed fitting.

Ashes in the Wind   wolf and dove

If I HAD to pick ONE book as a favorite: maybe I’d have to go with a tie between Lynn Austin’s Hidden Places and Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. (I’ve only read the latter three times. Last round, I bawled. Not sure I could do it again.)

Hidden Places  Flowers for Algernon

So, let’s open this up. How would you answer Bob Mayer’s questions and how has (or does) your reading influence you in little (or big) ways?

Have a great day and week all,

Joanna

Could We Possibly Have Done Something Right? (Part 4–Doing What You Have to Do)

Happy Hump Day folks! Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. Not sure I can claim that, but at least I felt very productive. Think I haven’t slowed down yet, and definitely feeling the effects of that. So glad it’s not too much longer to the next weekend. :)

Promise to try and wrap this up series soon, people! Geez! I thought I would be sharing a simple incident based on a conversation with friends. As in my previous series related to parenting (Discipline Vs. Control), one post took on a life and direction of its own. (Wish some of my characters would do the same! :()

In case you missed them and are looking to catch up, here are links to the preceding posts, one, two and three.

Today’s thought: doing what I had to do as a parent without worrying about what someone else might think of my choices.

Some background points to help set the tone:

1. A kid has to know a parent means business.

2. A parent who means business doesn’t necessarily have to force the issue, nor does that parent have to be mean or angry to show s/he is serious about what s/he is expecting from a child.

3. Bullying takes on many forms. We who are trying to ‘teach our children to do the right thing’ by ‘making’ them do what we say might have to watch going over a fine line. (Trust me, I’ve gone over it TOO many times. Younger kids—and those older ones who just love pushing buttons will tip you over that line themselves.)

4. And unless what a parent is doing is abusive, emotionally and/or physically, a parent should just toss what others think out the nearest window. (Just sayin’.)

Case in point: When Older Son was five years old and in preschool, he tended to dawdle when it came time to get dressed. Being the model parent I was, I remember doing my fair share of yelling one morning. I needed to get Younger Son to nursery school, Older Son to school and me to work. (Luckily, I worked in the same building where Older Son attended preschool.)

The next day, I kept him home. He wasn’t feeling well.

Day after that, he was well enough to return to school. He so took his time not getting ready. I decided I would not shout or make a scene.

Time came to leave the house. Older Son was pretty much taken aback when I handed him his shoes. I very calmly told him we had to go. When he said something about not being dressed, I told him we had no time. He’d used his time playing rather than getting ready. (Not sure how he got his shoes over his footie PJs, but he did. And I’m lucky. He was never much of a tantrum-throwing child. Now that Younger Son kid…let’s not go there.)

So we dropped off Younger Son, which mean Older Son had to walk into the nursery school in his PJs. When he mentioned something about PJ’s and school, I reiterated that he hadn’t gotten dressed when he had the time.

Once we got to school, I took him to the nurse. Told my boy the nurse needed to see him since he’d been sick the day prior. (Yes, I fibbed. Judge me if you please, but there was a much greater cause at stake.)

In the nurse’s office, I handed Dawdle Boy a set of clothing I’d bagged on the sly. I told him any future episodes would not come with a back-up outfit. He’d be in PJs for the day.

I kid you not, friends. From that day forward, I have never, ever had a problem with that boy not being dressed for school. Chances are, I brought his clothes partly b/c I might have felt embarrassed having him show in pajamas, and I certainly didn’t want him to feel that way, so I came up with a compromise. Luckily, it worked.

I’m fairly friendly with a dad whose four-year old daughter was giving him a run for his money. On many occasions, this 6’4″ European-born man whose daughter reached just past his knee would have him complaining about how she wouldn’t get dressed; at school we’d see that manifested in how late he’d bring her in every day. (Mind you, there are other family circumstances that impact her behavior to this day, I’m sure. Our conversations, however, showed me he wasn’t willing to stand up to her behavior.)

One day last school year, I shared Older Son’s PJ story. The man’s jaw dropped. He seemed horror-struck.

That dad  was most likely worried about what someone else would think if his daughter showed in PJs.

Did I abuse my son in any way? He was warm and covered appropriately for the season. I didn’t yell or force him to do anything.

I did, however, show him I meant business.

And that’s where we’ll pick up next time. Getting past myself when I impose a limit, or consequence. Sometimes that’s way harder than dealing with what others think.

So how have you dealt with some of the stuff your cherubs–no matter the age–dish out? What was the result and how effective did you find how you handled a particular situation in the longer run?

Thanks so much, readers, followers and friends. Have a great week! No stressing re: upcoming holidays allowed–somehow, it all gets done!

Joanna

Could We Possibly Have Done Something Right? (Part 3)

Happy Week after Thanksgiving, friends! I am truly grateful for every one of you, among the multiple blessings in my life. We had a wonderful day (somehow, without turkey to go with the leftover stuffing). And Younger Son turned 15 on Saturday. I had a houseful of loony boys, made five pizzas and a brownie version of a cake. Cleaned on Sunday. I definitely missed out on any ‘relax’ gene that might have been handed out in my family.

Thanksgiving 2013 Before all the sides dishes made it to the table. Too lazy to pull out the fine china and crystal this year. We got through. ;)

Okay, so we took a week off and now we’re back to talking the parenting thing. In case you missed them, here are links to preceding posts one and twoBTW, this series is not meant to be a tutorial on how to get kids to do chores.  I wanted to share  my own amazement at positive–unsolicited–behaviors from my guys of late, and how blessed I feel because of it. The rest, as the saying goes, seems to have taken on a life of its own.  

Here is where we left off: EXPECTING my children to BE responsible is probably the crux of what I hope to have taught them to date.

My end as a parent includes teaching–but more importantly–modeling responsibility. And, if possible, with a minimum of grumping. (An area in which I hope to have improved as they’ve gotten older. Not sure I always modeled graciousness, folks, especially when they were younger.)

Far as I can tell I started when they were very young. (At least I think I did!)

Cant’ say it was all that complicated either. (It shouldn’t be, especially if you want to insure success.)

One of the first things I did was have the kids make their beds daily. (BTW, I do too, or Hubby does.) I always kept the job simple: all they had to do was straighten/fluff their pillows and pull up a comforter. (Note: Their beds only had a fitted sheet. I’ve never used a flat top sheet b/c it’s a bit much for kids to handle getting the bed done the way this mamma likes, so I skip it to this day.)

They also dressed themselves. Can’t remember who picked out their clothes—knowing my controlling self I’m sure I ‘guided’ them to outfits I liked, especially since I most likely picked out most of them at the store. ;).

My other biggie: I handed each kid his backpack to carry from Day One. Every now and again one or both would ask me to hold them while they ran a race with other kids walking home. No problem! I did, but gave them back immediately upon completing the race.

(That’s subtext again. What I didn’t say but showed through my actions. Speaks way louder than words, folks.)

One after-school episode stands clear in my mind pictures: that of a mom—I’m sure a very kind-hearted and compassionate one—leaving the playground after school ended for the day. THREE backpacks hung off her shoulders while she simultaneously balanced a very wide box of cupcakes with both hands. Her daughters walked in front of her twirling umbrellas. ‘Nough said.

And just the other day, my neighbor stopped to chat. She’d just picked up her kindergarten-aged twin boys. She was carrying two backpacks.

I bit my tongue and chatted about how big the boys are getting.

Next time: Not being afraid to do what you have to do.

Working on Consistency (and Inspired Some More :)

Hi everyone. Hope everyone is having a great week and not overdoing any leftover Halloween candy. I’m always scrounging out the Mounds and Almond Joys. They’re few and far between, but M & Ms work too—anyone try the candy corn ones? Those are definitely different, in an addictive, not-sure-I-like-them kind of way. ;)) What are your favorites?

Life keeps handing me these highly convenient “coinkidinks,” as my boys’ kindergarten teacher used to say. And y’all know, when I’m feeling inspired, I like to tell you about it! (If nothing else, it’s a reason for me to write up a blog post, lol.)

So…

Recently, I took my mom’s car for inspection. She failed emissions and we finally got it to a place to check it out. She wasn’t thrilled with the repair-price tune of near-$500, so we took it elsewhere. The second guy said the quote we got was fair. Hubby wasn’t all that thrilled with the second guy, so a couple of days later, I took mom’s car back to the first shop.

No one was at the desk in the office. I waited a few minutes, and the door opened behind me. The younger guy who normally mans the computer came in.

“Is anybody helping you?”

I shrugged. “Not yet. Aren’t you the important guy?”

“I’m off,” he said, but headed into the garage. He came back with the older guy, who has to be 80-something.

I reminded them they’d diagnosed my mom’s car, but I was clueless about what I’d done with the printout, which listed the work that needed to be done. “I figured you have it in your computer and can pull it up, right?”

Older guy’s mouth gapped a bit while he offered a slight, negative shake of his head. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

Younger guy stepped in, tapped a few keys and out came my printout. More customers came in. “You want the car tomorrow?”

I smiled, nodded and pulled open the door. “Get out now,” I said in a loud whisper, before I exited.

Now tell me younger guy just happened to come in on his day off exactly when I needed him to be there.

Life changing?

Nah.

Inspiring?

Always.

Hey, I’m always up to stories of the like. How about sharing yours? And maybe this post with some of your friends, via one of the share buttons below?

Many thanks!

Be inspired, and have a great day, friends!

Joanna

Easiest Cake. Period.

Hi all. Took three rounds of trying to get this post in place. Somehow the formatting wound up mixed up. I won’t fight with software, but I might have happened on some understanding about plain text vs. HTML. Honestly, almost everything I’ve ever learned about a computer has been incidental.

Let’s move on, folks. I’ll celebrate later.

Hope those of you who celebrate had a hoppin’ Halloween! With trunk-or-treat in my neighborhood, I didn’t see a somewhat steady stream of trick-or-treaters until almost 6:30 PM. And I never thought I’d miss taking kids out candy-seeking, but… :(

Kids on halloween 2013 My older guy–2nd in from the right–and his buds turned a friend’s garage and lawn into the neighborhood haunted house and ghouled it all themselves. Have a feeling a lot of little kids lost sleep that night. Some though, walked right up for candy, no apprehension at all! 

So one of my favorite teacher friends brought in a cake for our teachers’ Halloween breakfast–ever eat pudding by holding it in your hand?

I’d say that’s almost what this was. A texture like I’ve never had. My teacher friend kept asking about how to top it.

 It.

Needed.

Nothing. 

Cake mix. Canned pumpkin pie mix. A ‘little’ evaporated milk.

Of course I had to try it. Of course I made my tweaks to the recipe. (Drives hubby nuts but he doesn’t eat most of my stuff anyway, whether I stick to a recipe or not.)

Then Stacey asked about it, so…

Here’s my version:

One box white cake mix (yellow tastes too strong for my preferences)

One 15 oz can of pumpkin. (Pumpkin pie mix is already sweetened. Figure using the ‘mix’ will yield a much sweeter dessert.)

I added, IDK, 1/8th cup of buttermilk to make it easier to stir?

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir until fully combined/incorporated. Batter will be thick. You’ll probably need to scrape one scapula with another to get the batter into a pan. (I used an OVAL 9 x 13 pan; didn’t have the 11x7x2 one of the recipes I read called for. It worked fine.)

Bake at 350 about 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Sprinkled brown sugar on top when done and covered with waxed paper to retain moisture. Tastes even better the next day, but then again, most things pumpkin do.

pumpkin cake I gave almost half away. Had to.

I’m thinking this would be awesome with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I mean, is there an easier dessert for Thanksgiving?

Have a great day,

Joanna

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