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

 

Remember the Titans?

We’re talking the classic feature film here, one of my all-time favorites.

Hi all–hope you’ve had a nice weekend and that all is well–or as well as it can be!

Happened across this article on Yahoo! and found myself tremendously inspired. Superstorm Sandy left her mark. (If you like, you can read my 2-part thoughts post on her here and here.) She devastated too many to count in more ways than I’m sure any of us can truly realize. Here though, is some very young proof of the human spirit and how indomitable it truly is, especially when it functions as a collective.

As per Remember the Titans, this story sounds like it has all the makings of another classic one I’d love to see interpreted on the big screen. (What can I say? I’ve got a thing for against-all-odds stories, especially those that involve sports!)

Later this week, a super-easy, incredibly tasteful side-dish recipe for lazy but-love-to-eat cooks like me!

Enjoy and have a great day,

Joanna

Just in time for Super Bowl Weekend!

I’m celebrating my 200th post! To everyone who visits regularly, I so thank you for doing so. And to you first-timers, my humble thanks and a special welcome too!

So, friends, here we are on the Friday preceding the biggest Sunday of every football season.

  (Yes, I’m just a little excited about Sunday’s big game :D)

Photos courtesy of my older son and his I-phone–thanx! Love the Giants’ colors, too. Oh, and before I go further I’m adding a disclaimer: I don’t pretend to fully understand that whole (somewhat complex) wildcard and Rounds 1 and 2 progression parts of the Road to the Super Bowl. Please forgive any errors as I’m still learning a lot of how it all comes together on that first Sunday in February. 

Anyone out there been following NFL post-season play? Excuse me, but did somebody bother telling the NY Giants that they weren’t going to make it to Super Bowl XLVI?

Maybe it’s just me, but seems like Eli Manning and the boys missed a few memos, and those may have gone something like this:

You may not beat the Dallas Cowboys to win a wildcard spot.

Let’s see you get past the Atlanta Falcons to win the wildcard game.

Forget winning against the Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV winners and super-season record holders of 15-1.

You’ve got your work cut out to get past the San Francisco 49ers, those mega-aggressive guys who literally snatched the win from the Saints the week prior—now there was a nail-biter of a game—to become the NFC champions AGAIN.

Oh, and you could get past the New England Patriots, seeing as you upset the H-E-goal-posts-minus-the- crossbar last time y’all met? (I mean, has anyone been watching footage of the last 90 seconds of that match-up? Eli was Houdini getting out of the pocket—he had NO business not being sacked. Then David Tyree had even less business making that too-amazing-for-words catch to set off that final, victory-claiming, drive.)

  It’s a mother-son thing! We both turned down SuperBowl parties to watch the game together at home.

I mean, all I’ve been asking myself since the Sunday night they manufactured the 2011 season’s miracle is: How did they get here? Pull off what may be their most memorable run yet? And how do they continue to do it?

I wrote this as I watched Rafael Nadal walk off the quarterfinal court victorious at the Australian Open Tennis Championships. At end of the second set, Rafa was one set-point down.

As is true of most tennis champions, set and match points are simply something to get past. It’s a mindset. Rafa is frequently described as relentless, as he bats away ball after ball until he forces an error or hits a winner. (His forehand has this lasso-like action that’s so cool to watch, and I’m noticing current Number One Novak Djokovic using a very similar motion with his forehand. Hmm!)  Oh, and Rafa is also known for this quote: “Every point is match point.” (BTW, Rafa wound up rallying from 2-5 in the fourth set to tie things up in the final match against Djokovic, and take it to their first five-setter–wound up being one of those matches one wishes both players could win.)

Years ago, when I first got into tennis, my first all-time favorite player was Stefan Edberg. Like Rafa, he was a pretty humble champion and one who never gave up. During the 1992 US Open he was down three match points to hard-hitter Ivan Lendl.

Want to guess how that one turned out? I’m sure the little bit of rain that suspended play until the next day didn’t hurt, but Stefan fought off those match points and went on to win not just that match, but the whole darned thing as well. (Was I happy then. I had tickets to the final and got to watch my first mega-favorite win his last grand slam title.)

Brings to mind the Giants and their past five games. As I said, they don’t seem to have gotten the memo—or, like any great champion(s), they blew it off.

As a writer—and an occupational therapist, I’m a watcher. Observation skills were usually my forte on most of my evaluators’ write-ups. So, I watch Eli Manning’s game.

Now mind you, I’ve gotten highly annoyed with him at times. Not that I could coach or head up a team but I’ve learned a whole lot about the mental part of football this season. (Think I need one more season under my belt before I totally get the ‘running game.’) I am, however, starting to get Eli’s game—and his brilliance. And having watched the Giants these last five weeks—and even some old footage from Super Bowl XVII—the word relentless comes up over and over.

So do the notions of “progress not perfection” and “easy does it.”

Watch how, little by little, Eli inches his team down the field toward the red zone. He obviously keeps his eye on the prize (i.e., touchdown or field goal) but tends to use smaller efforts to get them there, as in one first down at a time, and of late, a third-down conversion (kind of that “never say never” attitude over and over until payoff).

Not only did the Giants not get the memo, but I don’t think they realized they weren’t going to be Super Bowl contenders this year, especially going in to play the Packers. (I hated seeing Aaron Rodgers roughed up, but his team kind of fell through a little on that one too. Almost a smaller-scale version of what the Patriots did to Tim Tebow and the Broncos—and there’s more fodder for that never-say-die attitude: what rookie Tebow accomplished with his flailing team this year.)

OMG, make sure you check out these photos: the best shot ever and another that show it all!

Yes, I’m done now. For now. Who are you rooting for and/or which teams would have made up your dream Super Bowl?

TTYS and go Giants!

Joanna

Steph Burkhart Steps into the Bloglight!

Hello everyone, 

Hope today finds you all well and revving up to deal with the day-to-day! We’ve got a visit from paranormal romance author Steph Burkhart!

STEPH: First, I’d like to thank Joanna for having me here today. I’ve been in my writing cave all summer, slaving over my projects and I’ve just now found some time to peep out. Feels good to have a little autumn chill on my cheeks. I love blogging and hanging out on the web. You can find me at: http://www.stephanieburkhart.com

JOANNA: What do you love best about writing?

STEPH: Writing stimulates my creativity and imagination. I enjoy researching different settings and topics. Writing is like taking an adventure without ever having to leave your seat.

JOANNA: What got you started writing?

STEPH: I remember growing up as a young girl in the 1970’s and watching a show called The Electric Company. I loved the Spiderman skit. After watching the show, I went to the kitchen table and would draw comic books of the skits. My passion for writing evolved from that.

JOANNA: Where do you get story and character ideas?

STEPH: Believe it or not, NOT from dreams. I’m a very heavy sleeper since I don’t get much, and rarely do I remember my dreams. Most of my characters and stories start with a broad concept. For “Victorian Scoundrel,” my steampunk romance, my broad concept was: heroine travels through time to stop her mischief making cousin from changing the time line. From there I built on that, creating Alice and Edmund Windsor, my royals from the future. Then I did research on Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, the Great Exhibition, Sir John Russell, and dirigibles. Since this was a steampunk I crafted several “fun” gadgets such as transmogrifiers, datamancers, and whuzzies. Alice needed a hero so enter Earl Swinton, Grayson Kentfield, the Prime Minister’s friend. The research was fun and allowed me to tap into my imagination. Then it was time to character build. Using bios, I fleshed out my characters, even casting them like the book was a movie.

This process usually takes 1-2 to weeks for me to flesh out before I can start writing.

JOANNA: Wow. I think I need a glossary to make sense of all the terms. I’m also impressed with your process at crafting the characters. Now, please tell our readers how you juggle, work, and being a mom.

STEPH: This is a balancing act, trust me. I am a 911 dispatcher for LAPD and I work from2 pmto10 pm. When I’m writing, the bulk of my writing is done at work during my down time, putting pen to paper. This way when I get home, all I do is type. After I get the boys off to school, I’ve got the morning to myself. I usually do my promo during that time, visiting Twitter, Facebook, and my Yahoo Groups. After that, I type. Then its off to work to write some more. The evenings are usually dedicated to the kids on my off days.

JOANNA: Talk about current, past, and future projects and upcoming releases.

STEPH: I love the romance genre because romance speaks to hope and love which are very uplifting topics. That said, I enjoy writing paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk. I also have a children’s book out called “The Giving Meadow.” I’m attracted to vintage romance as well, but while I love reading historicals, I find them quite daunting to write.

  In FEB 2011, my paranormal romance, The Count’s Lair, was released. (The novel is Book2 inmy Budapest Moon series.) Set in Budapest, Hungary, Count Anton Varga has a secret – he’s a werewolf. He’s also attracted to the beautiful and talented pianist, Lady Amelia Andrassy. Can Amelia accept him for what he is? There’s plenty of werewolves and witches in the story andBudapestserves as an exotic and believable setting for the story.

Releasing in NOV 2011, is Book 3 of the Budapest Moon Series, “Danubein Candlelight.” It’s set inBudapest, 1922 just after the end of World War I. Morgan Duma is returning home after a stay inEnglandand is reunited with her childhood friend, Adam Varga. When friendship turns to love, the couple’s resolve is tested when Morgan is transformed into a werewolf.

Releasing in DEC 2011 is my contemporary romantic suspense, “The Faberge Secret.” Elise Goodwin runs a heritage museum inBrattleboro,Vermont. When she finds a rare Faberge Egg, its up to Russian businessman Dimitri Romanov to keep her safe from his rival.

Let me share an excerpt with you from my latest release, Victorian Scoundrel.

BLURB: When Alice travels back in time to keep her cousin, Edmund, out of trouble, she has no idea the mischief she’s in for!

Check out my BOOK TEASER ON YOU TUBE 🙂

Buy on AMAZON KINDLEALL ROMANCE EBOOKSBARNES & NOBLE (NOOK BOOK)

REVIEWS: 5 Stars, Readers Favorites, Molly E:

I have never read a Steam Punk novel before, but because of (Steph Burkhart’s) fantastic writing, her engaging plot line, and fun loving characters, it will NOT be the last. I highly recommend this with highest of 5 stars, and I can’t wait until the second Windsor Diaries installment releases!

5 Stars, Tami Dee, Author of the Mists of Time Series: Stephanie Burkhart has a fresh, quick, quirky, inventive imagination and she gives the readers of Victorian Scoundrel a delightful mixture of all of the above!

Pen & The Muse, Barbara: A wonderful historical, paranormal steampunk read this was. This new series is going to be a big hit.  She has me hooked.  This is a must read.

  EXCERPT: Grayson escorted her to a door on the right, threw it open, and put his hand on her waist, guiding her inside. A gas lamp burned on a nearby table, throwing stark, deep shadows into the room.

Her determined man shut the door and pinned her against it. He plucked her glasses from her face and threw them onto the table with the gas lamp. Then he pinned her against the door, placing his hands on the door next to her arms. His breathing was erratic. The light from the lamp cast dark shadows over his chiseled features.

“Gray–”

He stepped closer and lowered his hands, placing one on her waist. Heat spiked within her and settled low in her abdomen. His hazel eyes burned with desire. He drew in a deep breath and raised his forefinger, tracing her lips.Alice closed her eyes, but only briefly, savoring the gentle touch of his finger.

“You do wild things to my heart, sweet Alice,” he finally whispered. His finger traced her cheeks, then her jaw.

She grew hot, yearning for more. Her senses spun from his sensual touch. She could hardly breathe. “Me?”

“Yes, you.”

“What do I do to your heart?”

“You make it beat hard — fast.” He ran his finger down the side of her neck and traced the ‘v’ in her throat.

Alice met the raging inferno in his eyes and nipped at her lower lip with her teeth. “Is that all I do?”

He issued a low, deep groan from his throat and leaned forward. Their lips searched for each other, teasing, until finally they meshed into a heat-searing kiss.

Alice completely lost her head. His lips were hard, firm, staking his claim. His hands went to her waist as his long, lean body pressed against her. She placed her hands on his shoulders and glided her fingertips around the nape of his neck. She wanted this man. Etiquette and propriety be damned. Victorian values wafted to the floor. She wanted to feel every inch of him that she could. His lips trailed over her jaw, kissing the side of her neck.

“Oh, Gray…” she moaned, her flesh now highly sensitized to his touch.

She had never been kissed like this.

He lifted his head; his mouth overtook hers once again. Her stomach fluttered. If it wasn’t for him leaning into her, giving her support, her knees would have buckled. Need. Want. Desire. They pulsed through her.

His tongue teased her lips, coaxing her to receive him. She gave in.

Their tongues mingled, exploring, tempting, teasing. Raging flames consumed her body. There was only Grayson and her. Here. Now.

Grayson broke free, gasping for breath, as did Alice. His hands cupped her face. “I have to stop.”

“All… all right.”

His thumbs stroked her jaw. “You fascinate me, Alice.”

A deep smile graced her lips. “Completely?”

“Totally.”

“You kiss like a demon possessed, Grayson.”

Find me on the web at: my WEBSITE; BLOG; TWITTER; FACEBOOK FAN PAGE and GOODREADS!

Awesome excerpt, Steph! Have to clear my head long enough to take this moment and thank you up front for your invitation to your ‘football season’ blogs. I’ll be visiting with Steph and talking pigskin-related stuff on October 9th! Looking forward to it!

As always I thank all of you who took the time to stop in!

Until next time,

Joanna