All posts by Jo

Hi! My name is Joanne. Also known as Jo to many. I am 44 years old and a new Blogger & Social Media Specilist. I am married to an absolutely wonderful and supportive man named Andy. We will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in September 2017. I have 2 awesome kids: Molly -16, senior in High School, Film Maker & Photographer Connor -14, freshman in High School, cartoonist & logo designer. We also have 4 Canine family members & 4 Feline family members: Dogs: Boomer, Bandit, Dobby & Izzy Cats: Inky, Fluffy, Eddie & Timmy Our household is crazy, zany & chaotic but it is filled with so much love & laughter and I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Back to School Tips and Cute Cat Pics!

Back to School!

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Many of our kids (and possibly ourselves) are back to school now.  If they’re not, they’ll be starting soon enough.

Getting back into the swing of things after a Summer break can be a bit challenging.  I thought I would share some tips that we follow to make it a little easier.  I hope this can help some of you out there.

Homework / Study Tips

  1. Communicate with your child’s teacher: 

    My son has ADHD & ASD.  He has always seemed to have “good hours” during the day & traditionally through the years, he starts losing patience & focus about 5:00 pm, no matter how much sleep he has, what he eats, when he takes medicine… Nothing matters, he enters “the witching hour” in the evenings.  One year, when my son was in Elementary School, his school started later in the day.  He would get home about 4:30/4:45.  Trust me when I say, there was NO  homework getting done at that time.  It was just way too late for him.  So I spoke with his teacher about the problem & asked if we could have his homework the weekend before the week it was due.  She was completely on board with it!  This gave he & I the chance to go out to a library or bookstore early Saturday morning & knock his assignments out for the week.  When he can focus & hold it together he is a very smart kid & the homework was extremely easy for him.  This worked great for us & may be worth a try for you.

  2. Allow “Brain Breaks” during studying & homework time:  

    ADHD or not, I think everybody, even myself, as an adult that just returned to college in my 40’s, needs to take “Brain Breaks”.  For those of you that have never heard of them, basically a “brain break” is exactly what it says.  It is a 2-4 minute break from the homework to do something fun & energizing, a chance to shake the wiggles out & return to the homework with a fresh new focus.  Some activities to do are a quick dance party, yoga stretches, hopping on 1 foot or watching a brain break video.  There are so many options, just google Brain Break and you will be amazed at the great ideas out there!

  3.  Provide a clean, uncluttered area with no distractions:

    It is so much easier to focus on the homework/ reading when there is nothing around to look at or play with.  Nothing to start a conversation about, just the books/ notebooks/ worksheets that’s it!

    Eddie Spaghetti reading
  4.  Allow time to rest, if needed: 

    Being in school all day & then coming home to more work is really tiring!  Sometimes they will just need time to rest their bodies or even just their eyes for a bit.  That’s ok, let them.  Agree upon an acceptable rest time & set a timer, let them put their head down, eyes closed for that time.  Hopefully, when the time is up, they will feel a little more rested & ready to tackle the work again.

    Eddie Spaghetti taking a little break

     

  5. Provide a healthy, inviting snack that can be eaten during homework:

    A lot of people like snacking while reading or doing homework, but let’s face it, snacking on candy & junk is not healthy at all.  I try to have a bowl of grapes, apple slices or carrot sticks right there, ready to grab.  It helps keep the energy up & satisfies that munchy feeling in a healthier way.

    Healthy homework snack

Early morning tips

  1. Prepare clothes the night before:

    This has been said over & over again in every article I’ve read & every conversation I’ve had.  It is one of the oldest bits of advice out there…..but, it works! Get your child & yourself in the habit of preparing clothes the night before.  This includes shoes, backpack with all books & assignments, sports or work uniforms, instruments, PE uniforms…anything at all needed for the next day.  Trust me this prevents a lot of craziness in the mornings!   Where are my shoes?  You have to sign these papers! I forgot to wash my shirt for work!  Can you drop my soccer bag off to the school, I forgot it?  The list goes on & I’ve heard them all through the years.  I am definitely getting smarter as I am moving through the years with my kids! 🙂

  2.  Prepare lunch ahead of time:
    I don’t just mean the night before, I mean for the week.  When my kids were younger, I had a lunch bowl for the week, 1 in the refrigerator & one in the cabinet.  The refrigerator bowl would hold all the refrigerated items that they needed for lunch in 1 place – For example each day they would grab:  1 bottle of water, 1 bag or container of cheese cubes or a cheese stick and pepperoni (if that was lunch for that week), 1 bag or container of either carrot sticks, green peppers or cherry tomatoes, 1 yogurt  and 1 apple, clementine or bag/ container of grapes or melon.  From the cabinet bowl, they would grab 1 bag or container of crackers (to go with cheese & pepperoni) and 1 bag or container of cookies, chips, pretzels etc.  Boom! Lunch is done!  This worked so well for us.
  3. Set alarms on phone for things your child needs to do in the morning:

    Many kids nowadays have a smart phone.  For my son (remember: ADHD, ASD), we use the alarm function for everything.  Even now at 14 he uses it & sets himself reminders of all sorts of things.  The alarms he has set for the morning are the “get dressed” alarm, “eat breakfast” alarm,  “brush hair & teeth” alarm,  “take medicine” alarm and the “grab backpack & go to the bus stop” alarm.  This keeps him on track & focused on what he needs to do & when he needs to do it.

  4. Play music:

    We try to play happy, energizing music in the morning.  This helps to wake everybody up & set the tone of the day to a positive & fun vibe.

  5. Get up early: 

    Last but not least, get up earlier than you think you need to. No, I’m really not crazy. 🙂  This is especially hard if your kids have to start school early like mine do.  Connor has to leave at 6:00 am & Molly has to leave around 6:15 am.  We used to get up about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes before they had to leave, just enough time to get dressed, eat something, brush teeth & go.  It was always so rushed though & it was full-on chaos & stress if something didn’t go smoothly like they didn’t realize the clothes they picked out had a stain, they spill their drink on their clothes, they struggled a bit getting up & actually got up 10/15 minutes after I woke them, or even one of their pets got sick & they had to clean it up.   So, we have found that just getting up 15 minutes earlier than we used to helps eliminate some of the unnecessary panicked feelings if there is a wrench thrown in our morning somehow.  We get up at 5:00 am – it is early, but the mornings are going pretty well now & if there is extra time, it gives us that 10 minutes or so to pray together, talk about the expectations for the day,  give a pep talk for an upcoming test they have that day or just let them cuddle with one of our pets for a few minutes.

    Connor chillin’ with some of our furry family members
    Molly hangin’ with Boomer

     

    I hope these tips can help decrease or eliminate the back to school craziness that happens to so many of us this time of year!

    Please comment below if any of these work for you or add some of your own tips to help each other!

Remember: Each day is another opportunity to be the BEST YOU that you can be!!! Don’t waste that opportunity!!

Love ya all!

Jo

 

 

Need A Physical Therapist in Charlotte? Greg Ott Physical Therapy is the place to go!

The AWESOME staff at Greg Ott Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy at its best in Charlotte NC!

This is a sponsored post, but only because I was so impressed with Greg Ott and his staff that I asked him if I could write this up.I promise all observations and opinions written below are entirely my own.

 

Let me start off by saying that I have worked in the Healthcare Industry for about 25 years.  I am not saying this for any reason other than to assure you that I am very knowledgeable & experienced in this area.

My husband, Andy, is currently a patient at Greg Ott Physical Therapy. He had shoulder/bicep surgery at the end of April and started physical therapy the day after the surgery!

People need to see a physical therapist for a number of different reasons, ranging from sprains/strains to postoperative care.

Greg Ott Physical Therapy handles it all with the same level of expertise and compassion.

The Atrium:

From the moment you walk into this medical building,  you start to feel a bit better as the anxiety starts falling away. The atrium is full of beautiful trees, flowers, garden statues and picket fences! It is absolutely gorgeous!

 

Beautiful atrium inside the building

Once through the front door, you go over to the right to find Greg Ott Physical Therapy.

Suite B

The Front Office:

One of the first things that stood out for me, when I went to this practice with Andy for the first time was that everyone was so friendly.  We were greeted with huge, welcoming smiles as they asked Andy his name & verified his insurance and copay amount.  That was the last time they needed to ask his name.  From that point on, they remembered him!  They seemed to know every single person that walked through their door.

The second notable impression I had was that we didn’t have to wait long at all.  In fact, there has never been a wait during the entire time Andy has been going there. He pretty much walks in, they say hi & send him right back.

The Clinical Staff:

When Andy goes back, the first thing they do is apply heat and electrical stimulation to his shoulder & bicep.  Andy sits there for a while and chit chats with the staff and other patients.  It’s like he’s just hanging out with some friends.

Andy hanging out with heat & electrical stimulation on his shoulder

Once the time is up, Andy is released from the heat & electrodes.  The next step is for Andy to go through an individually designed circuit of activities that was created specifically for him.

After the circuit is completed, Andy heads to one of the tables to get worked on by one of the highly skilled physical therapists.

This is the time when the physical therapist needs to stretch, push, pull & rotate Andy’s shoulder & bicep.  For Andy, unfortunately, this part is painful but very necessary to get him back to where he needs to be.  Thankfully, all of the physical therapists at Greg Ott Physical Therapy are experienced experts in their field as well as very caring and compassionate.

In my opinion, speaking from personal experience with other local Physical Therapy Centers, they all pale in comparison to Greg Ott Physical Therapy.

The Office Environment:

The last thing that was so evident to me as I was just observing the center when I was there with Andy (I know, it’s weird that I was observing everybody and everything….it’s because I have so much experience with medical offices & how they should be running, I just can’t stop myself 🙂 ).

Anyway, the last thing I noticed was how efficient they work & how well all of the staff members communicate with each other.  They all just rely on each other & chip in where needed.  The practice runs like a well-oiled machine – flawless!

I know, without a doubt, anytime I or a loved one needs physical therapy again, we will be heading straight to Greg Ott Physical Therapy. No question about that!  I hope that all of you reading this will do the same!

The Location:

The Center is located in Park Place on Wendover Road.

Park Place on Wendover

Please check out their website by clicking anywhere above where their name is in green or by clicking on their logo or name on my recommendations page for healthcare practices in Charlotte: here.

Thank you so much for reading!

— Jo

Remember: Take time to take care of yourself each & every day! You deserve it!!!

Happy Left Hander’s Day!!!

Happy Left- Hander’s Day to my favorite left hander, my  daughter Molly!

This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if any items are purchased from the affiliate links.  If I do, thank you for your support! -Jo

Being left handed also known as being a southpaw, used to be a  little difficult for my baby in the early years.  Everything that was being taught to her was being taught by right-handers, so it was all opposite to what she needed to do.
As right handed parents to a lefty, we had some challenges as well.  We had to search high & low for a special left handed baseball gloves, left handed notebooks, left handed scissors, left handed can openers…..you get the point, it got a little crazy sometimes.
Also, it proved to be a little tricky being right handed parents, living in a right handed world trying to teach our lefty how to write, cut paper  or throw a Frisbee.  We had to do these things with our non dominant hand to show her how she should do these things.  Go ahead…take a right handed pair of scissors, put it upside down in your left hand & try to teach somebody how to cut a straight line….Not that easy is it? 🙂
As we started finding left handed stuff, things got a bit easier for Molly & for us!
Lucky for left handers now, Amazon has a lot of specific products for those wonderful left -handers that we all know & love!
Trust me when I tell you, if you buy special left-handed items for your favorite lefty, they will be so grateful!
Check out Amazon on the link below.  Just type left handed in the search, you’ll be surprised at how much they have!

#affiliate links

 

 

Some of my favorite left handed items are:

For your college bound left hander:

For your left handed Chef:

For your left handed little league star:

Let’s not forget your left-handed guitarist:

 

Right handed parents of left handers, Amazon has you covered:

The items pictured above are just a small sampling of what Amazon has to offer, so go ahead…go shopping & make your favorite left-hander happy!

Have a great night!

Always remember:

Dream Big, Believe in Yourself, Trust God & Achieve Success!!

—Jo

Smoothies – the best quick, easy & healthy lunch!

Quick….Easy…..Healthy….. Perfect!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details

If you are anything like me, you are probably so busy that you forget to eat lunch sometimes.
I just get pre-occupied with writing, running errands, school work, family events, running kids around….. the list goes on.  Before I know it, I start feeling a bit crabby, I look at the clock & see that it’s about 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
By that time of the day, I really just need something to take the edge off & to hold me over until dinner time. If I happen to be home at that time, my go-to “meal” is a smoothie.
I love smoothies! They are tasty, filling & healthy!  My favorite is a Blueberry Banana Smoothie with added Protein Powder, the ingredients I use are listed below:
  1.  1/2 cup of Greek non-fat plain yogurt
  2. 1/2  cup of frozen or fresh blueberries (I always have frozen berries in my freezer)
  3. 1/2 cup of ice
  4. 1 small banana
  5. 1 scoop of Body Fortress Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
The Protein powder just happens to be on sale on Amazon right now.  If you click the picture below it will take you directly to the powder on Amazon’s website:

#affiliate link:

The powder comes in other flavors as well, but I have only tasted the vanilla.

Why should I bother to add the protein powder?

Glad you asked!
There are many health benefits when you add protein powder into a smoothie…it isn’t just for body builders.

Trust me, I am not a body builder:

Some of the benefits received from adding protein powder are you feel full longer than if you just had the fruit & yogurt;  Your body uses protein to assist in the repair and rebuild of muscles, which is extremely important if you are exercising  (or body building 😉 ). Protein also helps to boost metabolism, which is always a good thing!  I also heard recently that some studies have shown that whey protein helps to lower cholesterol.
Anyway, the reasons above are why I add the Whey Protein powder; however,  it is completely optional.
Of course, there is one more very important thing needed to make a smoothie.  Yep, you guessed it….a blender.
I use the Hamilton Beech Multi Function Blender.  It is nothing fancy, but it does what I need it to do…..blend my ingredients!  It purees, crushes ice and dices as well.  Best of all….it was affordable.
You can check it out at Amazon:

#affiliate link

 

So there you have a quick, easy & healthy lunch!
ENJOY!

 

 

Happy Birthday to me! 45 things I’ve learned in my 45 years!

August 8, 1972 was a wonderful day in history for it was the day that yours truly was born :-).

I know, I know …I can’t really be 45 years old right? I look way too young for that :-).

Alas, I am indeed truly 45 years old today.  So, to celebrate my 45 years, I am going to make a list of 45 things I have learned through those years.

Here we go:

  1.  1972 – YAY….I learned how to breathe and eat! (Good things to know for the rest of my life ;-))
  2.  1973 –  I learned to walk & talk (trust me, people that know me will say that once I learned how to talk, I never stopped!)
  3.  1974 – I learned how to read and write (and I still love doing both)
  4.  1975 –  I learned how to dress myself (very important life skill!)   
  5.  1976 – I learned how totally awesome Saturday Morning Cartoons were (Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, Scooby Doo oh yeah!)
  6.  1977 – I learned that school was fun (1/2 day Kindergarten woohoo!)
  7.  1978 – I learned that I don’t like Catholic School uniforms
  8.  1979 – I learned that Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking condition and confusing (for a 7-year-old).
  9.  1980 –    I learned that I love singing…thanks to Sister Mary Joice at St Brendan’s in the Bronx!
  10.  1981 – I learned that sometimes families don’t stay together – that lesson hurt.
  11.  1982 – I learned that people, even the ones that love you, can disappoint you – another one that hurt a lot.
  12.  1983 – I learned about death.  During this year I lost my grandfather & an Uncle. It was the first time death struck somebody close to me.
  13.  1984 – I learned that some kids can be so cruel, unfortunately, I was teased & bullied a lot
  14.  1985 – I learned that many people will judge you by what you look like.
  15.  1986 – I learned how to forgive people that I love because we all make mistakes.
  16.  1987 –  I learned how to tease my hair with Aquanet!!  More importantly, though, I learned how truly important it is to have close friends.
  17.  1988 –  I learned that I really enjoyed when people confided in me & asked me for help.  This was the start of my desire to be a Psychologist.
  18.  1989 – I learned that life can be exciting and scary at the same time.
  19.  1990 – I learned that life does indeed go on, even if you fail at something that seems extremely important at the time.
  20.  1991 – I learned that if you want something in life, you need to work for it yourself! The more you want it the harder you will work for it.
  21.  1992 –  I learned that having a good boss is a blessing!
  22.  1993 – I learned to never leave a loved one without saying goodbye & that you love them.  Seeing them again is never promised, anything can happen at the drop of a hat.    (RIP Dad – I miss you)
  23.  1994 – I learned that listening to people & taking any knowledge available to me is a great way to move up in the corporate world.
  24.  1995 – I learned that people come in many different personalities and each type of personality needs to be interacted with in a different way.  This is probably one of the biggest & most important lessons I have ever learned in my life.
  25.  1996 –  I learned what it feels like to be truly loved by somebody. 
  26.  1997 – I learned that a low – cost casual wedding in the park is awesome. I never understood wasting so much money on fancy weddings.
  27.  1998 – I learned that struggling in life is so much easy when you go through it with somebody you love.
  28.  1999 – I learned that we all choose our attitudes towards life each & every day!
  29.  2000 – I learned that there is no way to explain the overwhelming love that filled me when I held my gorgeous little girl. 
  30.  2001 – I learned once again that life is fragile & we are never promised another day.  Let people know that you love them!
  31.  2002 – I learned how important it is to take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of your loved ones.
  32.  2003 – I learned once again the overwhelming love for a baby! 
  33.  2004 – I learned that living without friends and family nearby is really difficult, but I also learned that sometimes you meet great friends in unexpected places.
  34.  2005 – I learned that a parent should always trust their instincts.
  35.  2006 –  I learned a lot about ADHD, Autism & ODD – much more than I wanted to know.
  36.  2007 –  I learned that I had a voice & I needed to use it to speak up for my child.
  37.  2008 – I learned how truly important it is to educate myself on public schools & what they can do for a special needs child
  38. 2009 – I learned that prayer is one of the best ways to work through some really difficult times.
  39.  2010 –  I learned that not everybody is going to like me all the time & that is ok.
  40.  2011 –  I learned how important it is for people to take care of each other.  Donating time, services and/or money is a necessity.
  41.  2012 – I learned that everything happens for a reason even if you don’t have any idea what it is at the time.
  42.  2013 – I learned that mental health affects an entire family, not just the person diagnosed, but I also learned that love & acceptance can help keep the family strong.
  43.  2014 – I learned that my kids are growing up way too quickly! 
  44.  2015 – I learned that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t please some people and that’s their problem, not mine.
  45.  2016 – I learned to finally believe in myself & fully trust God.

What have you learned in life?

 

 

Are You My Friend?

Are You My Friend?

By Denae Kajca

 

There will be people in your life who choose to leave you when you’ve fallen apart.

“You’re too heavy” they’ll say, “I’ve got my own weight to carry”.

There will be people in your life that pick you up, but leave out the pieces they don’t like.

There will be people who put you back together completely only to leave you after…”I’ve helped you, now help yourself”.

Only the people who pick up all the pieces and sew you back together with their love and loyalty are the people worthy of being called your friends.

 

**************************************************************************

About the author:

The above was written & submitted by Denae Kajca.

 

Denae is pictured above with her friend and my daughter, Molly Nuzzolese.

Denae is a talented young lady, she enjoys singing, drawing, painting, and writing. You can check out her Instagram Page here.

Living Donor

The following was recently posted by an old friend of mine.  He is personally friends with the woman in need of the kidney transplant.

He asked me to share this on my blog in hopes of being able to reach as many people as possible.

I started this website with a strong desire to help people in any way I was able to.

In this situation, they ways I can help is by spreading the word about the situation & by praying.

My prayer is that this will be seen by many & that all that see it will, if nothing else, at least say a prayer, burn a candle, send positive energy, think healing thoughts… whatever it is that you do within your own belief system.

I also pray that this need does present itself to right person at the right moment and that through God’s

Please read below.  If you would like to contact my friend, his name is Jim Peterson & you can find him on Facebook or you can send messages to me from this website & I will make sure they messages get forwarded.

If you just want to drop a note of encouragement or let the family know you are thinking of them, feel free to post a comment, so she can see it.

Thanks!

Jo

***********************************************************************

Posted by Jim Peterson on Facebook

Has anyone ever considered becoming a living donor? I have a friend who is in need of a kidney. She is currently on the transplant list and undergoing dialysis 3 times a day. I’m keeping her name out of the post out of respect for her privacy. Anyone who finds it in their heart to want more information please contact me via pm and I will put you in touch .
Even if you are unable to be a donor, I ask that you please repost this on yoir own pages. And also, if you feel so inclined, please offer up a prayer or positive energy for her and her family. Thank you. I will post a link to where she is on the transplant list in the comments.

***********************************************************************

Posted by the woman in need of the kidney transplant:

Hi everyone! Just to fill in those of you who haven’t heard…..I have polycystic kidney disease and ended up in complete renal failure at the end of June and needed to start dialysis. It’s been a rough road but I’ve been hanging in there and staying positive for my family. The support of my family and friends has been overwhelming and truly appreciated.

Currently, I am getting dialysis treatments at a center three times a week, for about 3 hours each session. I am hoping to switch over to peritoneal dialysis which can be done at home and is less limiting, allowing me a more flexible lifestyle with my family and to be able to continue teaching my third graders.

I am on the kidney transplant list at Westchester medical center. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in seeing if you are a match to donate a kidney, please let Sharon know and she will give you more information of who to call. Thank you.

Please keep me and my family in your prayers at this challenging time. I know the prayers and positive thoughts have kept me going this far, so please keep them coming. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. 😊❤

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Thanks for reading! Please share this post & also feel free to leave comments.

–Jo