How Far Will You Go To Impose Order–On Others?

It’s been a busy past two weeks, folks. Between being down with a nasty cold and (good) family stuff going on, last week got away from me. Hope all is well with all of you!

I love when my blogger-pals’ posts spur me toward a post of my own. (I’ve been having a run of that lately. Thanks, friends!) Last week, Stacey Wilk zapped me into action with one of her most delightful write-ups yet. Those who crave order, check it out. You might find a kindred spirit at Stacey’s stop!

Sounds like order makes Stacey’s heart sing. I commented that in my day-gig, we call that one form of self-regulation. That’s a term from ‘sensory integration’, defined as a “calm-alert state that is optimal for learning.” Order makes my heart sing; it helps me self-regulate. Did I mention orderly spaces tend to look good in a calming and soothing sort of way? A friend who is into organizing gave me a term that makes complete sense to me: visual peace.

I totally get that lining things up a certain way in a cabinet creates order and ease of finding things, as well as making it easier to put things away. In my kitchen, most things have a place, but very few items have to be exactly in one spot for the big picture to work. A few things work best lined up a particular way. (My bowls and my pots have to be nested or they won’t fit). My kitchen was remodeled about 5 years ago. Almost everything is still in pretty much the same place I assigned it b/c it works. And unless someone else (Ahem!) doesn’t put things in the designated spot, I never have a problem finding things.

Nabby n Kitty under the counter 10-2014 My girls, just hanging under the kitchen counter. 

So, the question was, how far will you go to impose your need for order on others—outside your house?

Y’all know I work in a school setting. At the school where I work most days, I’m lucky enough to have two large metal closets in the back of auditorium to keep games, papers, etc. (In other schools I have to drag the Barney bag and be grateful to use the lunchroom, a table in the library or a small office space.)

Anyhow, every year these closets wind up a tad messy by the end of the school year. B/c of issues the year before, I never got to put them back in order when the summer program ended (in 2013). That meant the closets started out pretty messy for 2013-14 and only got worse. By the end of the 2014 summer program, those closets were a disaster, especially after SIX people spent three weeks pulling stuff out and stuffing it back. (Two of those folks don’t put foot in my school during the school year, so they had no sense of how things fit together in there.)

One work friend and I spent over FIVE hours cleaning those war zones at the end of this year’s summer program. I decided (threatened, promised—whatever–at the possible cost of my job-buds still liking me) that I’d take pictures of the finished product, blow them up, laminate and hang them in the closets, shelf by shelf. (For once I followed through.)

school closet top shelf (See the chaos under the top shelf? That’s just a hint of what the other NINE shelves had become. Just sayin’.)

One of my co-workers teased me for being so uptight about my desire for order. It was all in good fun, and she’s been very respectful with putting stuff away as per the photos. And there IS a practical reason for order: Putting stuff away at the end of the day goes a whole lot faster when there is “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

school closet (2) Say what you want, but at least there is some kind of reference for insuring all this stuff fits at the end of the day. I have to load up a cart at least twice weekly b/c I don’t have a real ‘home’ at school.  

BTW, we’re six weeks into the school year, and the closets are still looking good.

So…I now pose this question to you:

What will YOU do to insure order either in or outside your home?

Enjoy your day, folks,

Joanna

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When You Take That Step Back…

A solution often shows.

Hi all and welcome to the next-to-last Monday of June. We are six months into 2014. How does time keep going faster?

Wimbledon is underway today. All the best to Andy Murray, defending champion, and all the players competing, especially the qualifiers. This is the professional tennis world’s biggie tournament, especially when it comes to prestige.

Ma n Kev  Mamma and YS (18 months)

Younger Son is a great kid, but definitely a work-in-progress. Although not diagnosed, my inner occupational therapist notes a touch of each of the following: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); anxiety; cognitive inflexibility and decreased frustration tolerance. (Translation for the latter two terms: being able to conjure a Plan A, B, C, etc and staying cool when the going gets tough. Neither skill is among this 15.5-year-old’s strong points. He’s also true to his ADD in that if something isn’t of high interest or motivation, he probably won’t be bothered with it.)

Did I mention when he gets an idea in his head—as in, my-Xbox-isn’t-working-at-9PM-Friday-night-so-we-have-to-go-buy-one-now—redirecting him is next to impossible?

A little background: The kid loves football. He played in a recreational league at age 10 (?) and maybe picked up an allergy to commitment sometime after that. He quit after a second season. During middle school, he came home with papers for wrestling and decided last minute he wasn’t joining. Talked about football too, but never took active steps to join his school’s team or any league, for that matter.

Aside: He finally agreed to join me on the tennis court this past weekend. If he practices and gets a feel for the court, his serve and winners have potential to take my head off. (Must be all that weight-lifting turning him into a power hitter.)

Back to the post: This past November, he asked me, “If I join a Saturday basketball league, do you think I’ll commit to football?”

Awesome question! (Showed insight into his issue.) “My suggestion: try and see where that takes you.”

That small commitment has so far resulted in having joined—and stuck to—training for football for the upcoming school year.

Hubby and I constantly express praise for how committed he has been to his decision.

He’s come up short in one place: commitment to his grades in school.

I’ll tell you true, folks, the boy is no stellar student. Not that I expect him to be, but a little effort here and there would be nice, especially when it comes time to studying for quizzes and tests, and especially since he gets a decent return when he takes a whole 15 or 20 minutes to look over his study guide nightly a few days before a test. (Homework isn’t an issue. He gets that done, usually w/o a hitch and w/o help, reminders, etc.)

Kevin kindergarten school pic Kindergarten

Long story short, I had to bite the bullet and step back when it came to freshman algebra. He was in danger of failing—and not having the necessary credits to play football come fall. I gave frequent reminders to pull out the material, do five measly practice problems a night, employ his older brother/math whiz for help as needed, go to teacher for extra help, etc.

The result? Viva la resistance. The only time he studied is when I hid the X-box controller. (Remember the high interest and motivation I talked about before? The grand irony: only the controller he liked went missing. He couldn’t be bothered playing with either of the other two sitting near his unit. “But I didn’t do anything!” he usually wails when he notices its absence. “Exactly,” Mom says. Then he’ll pull out his notes and come back, pleased as punch to claim an 82 on his Social Studies test. See what I mean?)

Anyway, I finally decided to stop “necking,” as he tends to say. In other words, if he failed algebra, he failed algebra. He wasn’t taking direction from me or his dad, and life lessons tend to stick better anyway, or so says MHO. (Besides, as a freshman, he has three years to make it up–he needs it to graduate. I figured if he loved the class so much the first time, why not sit through it another year? Or, better yet: rather than sleep late during vacation, he can get up every morning for summer school then go to football practice. 0:-).

photo (49)  One of my favorite pics, when YS played with the rec league. 

I also checked with his guidance counselor to find out if he has the credits to play next year. Somehow, I wound up getting a call from the supervisor of the phys-ed and athletics department.

I gave her some background on my guy and his lack of commitment to studying.

God (Universe, Higher Power, etc) provided the EXACT answer and direction I needed. The supervisor advised me to direct Younger Son to her office the following week. “In cases like this, I have the kids bring me their work on a weekly basis. If grades aren’t up to par, they’re not allowed to play.”

Woot! Younger Son will have to be accountable to someone other than his ma, his pa and himself. He enjoys pleasing teachers, coaches, etc, he likes (as long as the effort he has to put in isn’t overwhelming).

Being able to play and not be benched or not allowed on the team might be just the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of him to get him to commit to his schoolwork a tad more.

And mamma doesn’t have to be the studying enforcer.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and be open to different ways a situation can work itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how life jumps in and gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get out of the way, let life take over and see where it takes you? Have you ever gotten what you need exactly when you need it?

Have a great day everyone!

Joanna

 

Letting Go: They’re Growing Up (Part 1)

Letting ‘Em Go: They’re Growing Up—Part 1

Since I’m still developing the posts I had hoped to get to this week—based on two written by Kristen Lamb at her awesome blog—I’ll allow myself to get sidetracked a bit. Hope you get something out of the next two weeks.

Really loving and relating to fellow blogger and fiction author Stacey Wilkes’ Life Lessons of a Mom posts. One of her most recent touched on her self-imposed role as overprotective mother (a.k.a. chaperone) on her 8th grade daughter’s upcoming trip to Washington, DC.

Stacey and I are both Italian mammas. My mom is off-the-boat, and her family of origin is one of the most loving crowds one could get to know. Unfortunately, anxiety—and hence the need to control their world—runs rampant. (I’m blessed enough to take after my dad’s side. Counseling in my younger days helped too—a lot.)

Not sure how much of this stuff is in-bred, lol. I consider myself a pretty laid-back parent—not to be confused with permissive. I work very hard at giving my kids their space while hovering near enough in the vicinity to be ‘hands-on’ if/when needed (or wanted).

Letting go when it comes to ‘big things’ is another story. Not saying I don’t, but that deep-seated Italian (?) anxiety, upbringing—whatever you want to call it—shows up. Every time Older Son (in particular) wants to do that next thing my mom would have NEVER allowed, I turn into a sobbing fool.

One quick example: In 7th grade, Older Son won a raffled snowboard. Of course I didn’t allow him to attend the ski club’s day trip that year! The thought of a 14-year-old on the slopes with who-knew-what-kind-of-supervision (if any) freaked me out. The next year, the moderator of the club begged me to let him go. She called, left me her cell number, etc. I finally acquiesced. (Hubby might have taken him to a local ski resort in the meantime, so we had a sense of what the kid was like up there in the fine, cold powdery stuff.)

Trip day arrived (a Saturday). Dropped the kid off at the bus in the winter-dark at 6:30 AM and waited a while. Since I was the only parent fool enough to hang out in the parking lot, I decided to go home and save Older Son the embarrassment.

Sat outside my house and sobbed like a fool. Every generation of Italian ladies that came before me channeled themselves through me that morning. Settled for texting Older Son at intervals throughout the day. Thank goodness the boy is kind enough to return his ma’s messages.

We’ll discuss the day said kid got the dreaded DL another time.

So: How do you let go? Are you naturally good at it, or is it a practiced skill? Are you an “Italian” mamma?

Have a great week, folks!

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

 

 

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

Don’t Spend Your Birthday Like I Did Mine!

Hi all. Hope you enjoyed the previous weekend and, like me, are already looking forward to the next one!

Mothers day flowers 2013 My Mother’s Day Flowers–h’ain’t they purty?

Joanna bday 2013  Standard Birthday activities–on Mother’s Day 🙂

I wrote this on Saturday afternoon, while taking a break from an evaluation that shouldn’t have been as tedious to write as it turned out to be. My brain felt about to explode.

That’s how I felt Friday night too, after tentative birthday plans to get me an awesome PB and chocolate icy-cream dessert at Friendly’s wound up sidelined by unexpected trips to my local satellite emergency room.

Yep. I had spent most of my b-day afternoon doing some of the easier parts of the report that took up about seven hours this weekend. A coworker had dropped in. While we chatted I heard a thump that sounded like it came from upstairs. Long story short: hubby was soon calling me from the other room. He’d “blacked out” briefly after choking on coffee and hit the hardwood.

Luckily, he didn’t hit his head, but his elbow certainly didn’t look happy and he had a nice little cut just above his hip that was turning some nasty shades of purple real fast. My darling also has a cardiac history, so we trotted off to the ER. That was about 4:00 PM.

Two hours later we were told he’d be transported to the mother hospital for overnight observation. I went home to pick up a few items for the guy.

Younger son came home and headed out to garage, as per mom’s request, to check if lawnmower was inside. (Hubby had forgotten he’d already asked older son to put it away, so it seemed odd that it wasn’t in the yard when I got home.)

Yucky story short: Mom tunes in to younger son crying and shouting for help from outside the garage. (That horrid sound may never leave my ears.) He was sort of plastered to door, with the tips of the middle fingers of both his hands stuck in the hinged space between the garage panels. Thank God I’m not the panicky type and quickly lifted the door until the gap widened and he could slide his hands out. The boy hit the ground. He panicked, and as the pain set in he got a little hysterical. When his eyes started rolling back I was sure he was going to pass out. (Getting that big kid off the ground would have been a feat. ‘Nuff said.)

Calmed the kid down and headed back to same ER with him in tow. Since I’m the primary insurance holder, the registrar girls had already scanned my insurance card when hubby showed earlier. They looked at me and said, “Oh my gosh, it’s your birthday today?”

“Uh…yeah.”

Got the younger one home by nine. Older guy needed a ride to a practice for an upcoming affair he’s part of. Dropped him off and headed back to hospital to wait for hubby to be transported. Made it home a little after ten.

Here’s hoping next year’s commemoration of the day I was born is a little less dramatic. Boring works after that.

Never boring, however, is Nadal at a final on clay. We’ll take Rafa’s win in Madrid!

Have a great day and a great week,

Joanna

Murphy’s Law in Full Swing

Hi all! Hope you enjoyed your weekend and are in full swing with whatever this week brings, ESPECIALLY if it’s good stuff.

This one should have been quicker but backstory and set-up slowed me down. I’m shooting for relatable instead.

Last year my supervisor at work offered me a 4-session-speaking gig: I was asked to familiarize a small group of regular and special education teachers with software my school district makes available to our students. Since one of my aspirations is to get paid to talk in front of folks, I jumped on the opportunity. (Oh, if I were paid by the word… I could be semi-retired… ;))

Gave my first workshop. Wasn’t as prepared as I might have liked, but I had a kick-butt handout loaded with links and how-to’s. The session went fairly well, considering the computer provided with the projector functioned okay on our school’s not-so-wonderful wireless network; and since the point of a workshop is to create a springboard for going deeper into the info on one’s own. And as the presenter, I’d learn what to improve upon for the next session.

Feeling okay about the overall outcome of session one, I ramped up the handout and practiced the presentation at home. Put enough time into it that I felt highly confident going in, about 3 weeks after the first session. I even decided to bring my laptop since I have Windows 7 and the school’s laptops are still running XP. (Let’s not go there…)

Holy, moly. Biggest. Mistake. Ever. The first application wouldn’t even open. (That was only the lead-in and foundation for the other three.) The school’s network was ridiculously uncooperative, even with the school’s computers employed by the teachers present. It was so bad, if two people left-clicked the same link, one got directed to one page and the other person to another. That led to people frequently raising hands to ask for help and totally disorganized my presentation of the material, even with my detailed handout—fully marked and highlighted with relevant points.

My bookmarked page, to an excerpt from one of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, was blocked.

Sigh.

It was a horribly embarrassing experience, in front of the teachers who are not only my colleagues but taught (or will teach) my sons.

One bright spot: two years prior I’d helped a tech who’d been contracted to present a similar workshop. One of the teachers who’d attended remembered having similar problems, network-generated.

There are just some things one cannot control. Knowing that helped me get over how bad my presentation seemed and what my coworkers must have been thinking (and might still think). Also wondering how major a gaff it was to bring in my laptop–but I wasn’t all that thrilled with the district’s either. What say you about the next time I present?

Care to share one of your most mortifying disasters, professional or not? What happened? How did you deal? Open forum begins now!

Have a great day!
Joanna