Last Things

He’s missing all the lasts.

Last spring musical (and many associated events with that).

Last student council events and meetings.

Last lunchtime pick-up basketball games with friends.

Last day of class.

Last school picnic.

I’m normally not into the graduation sign thing, but given all the last things he’s missing, I ordered the sign this year.

This afternoon, for possibly the last time, I exceeded the speed limit on the school’s back driveway to pick up that sign for my front lawn.

Normally I’m not very sentimental, and I tend to shy away from social events associated with school, but I’m feeling sentimental today.

He’s my last kid to attend this school, and he’s made the most of his time there. He’s lived through a total reinvention of the school when it became an independent Catholic school in June 2018. He took on a leadership role in the student council and played the lead in the spring musical last year (and was supposed to do that again, before the coronavirus brought the students home from school and effectively closed down the stage).

I am hoping that the prom and graduation (now scheduled for midsummer) will get to take place, so these 52 kids who have been through a lot will have the chance to properly say goodbye to each other.

As for me, I may have said my goodbyes at 40 miles per hour in the back driveway this afternoon. Just in case I don’t get the chance to do so this summer.

Rainbow over the back of the school, April 2016. Copyright Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

#WorthRevisit and Word by Word

word by wordI’m celebrating the publication of Sarah Reinhard’s Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary–not only because I think Sarah is a terrific writer and I’d love to get to meet her “in real life”–but also because I have a small part in that book! I’m one of 40 bloggers who was asked to contribute a chapter. And believe me, I’m humbled by the company I’m keeping among the contributors!

Word by Word is all about taking the Hail Mary and really thinking about what you say, and what you pray.

While I was looking for something else in my blog archives this morning, I came across this post in which TheKid, then in kindergarten, was having a little trouble learning that particular prayer word by word.

Little Brother’s teacher sent a note home today that he had not yet mastered the “Hail Mary.” I had never heard him “solo” on that prayer before, so I didn’t know there was a problem.

Well, she’s right. He hasn’t mastered it. But I’m having trouble helping him relearn the line that he thinks is:

“…and blessed is the food in your room, Jesus.”

Mostly because I’m trying to keep from laughing every time he says that. And I’m sure he thinks Mary is one lucky girl, because he’s well aware of the “no food in your room” rule around here.

If you’re interested in purchasing Word by Word, consider stopping in at your local Catholic bookstore first. It’s also available online, and if you use my Amazon link, gets a small percentage of the sales.

Link up with #WorthRevisit at Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb!

worth revisit

Wake Up, You Sleepyhead

Any parent of a teenager knows how difficult it is to get that teenager out of bed on a school day.

zits 011512
ZITS comic, January 15, 2012


The ZITS comic has this topic as a recurring, and always hilarious, theme.

Normally I find myself increasingly annoyed by my role as the Human Snooze Alarm for TheKid. But today something different happened.

Me: “Come on, it’s time to wake up. You have to get up for school.”

Kid: “Mmmmm…who’s going to be the president after Abe Lincoln?”

Me: “Ulysses S. Grant.”

Kid: (smiles widely, nods hugely, rolls over and continues sleeping.)

The Blessing of Availability

My flexible schedule comes at a price. If I had a job with set hours, rather than a substitute-teaching job, I’d risk getting fired every time I had a day like today.

5 minutes after I walked in the door after Mass, my cell phone rang. It was the school nurse, calling to tell me that Little Brother had felt woozy during Mass and needed to be taken home.

I made it to school in 8 minutes. I’d have gotten there faster, but cars in front of me insisted on observing the speed limit.

If I’d remembered that the school kids were going to Mass today, I’d have gone there–and been there when the principal rushed him out of church and, in Little Brother’s words, “power-walked” him to the nurse’s office.

apple juice boxHis continuous glucose monitor showed a blood-glucose level in the mid-120s, which the nurse wisely confirmed with a blood test. But since he was “white as a sheet” and really feeling awful, she gave him 4 ounces of apple juice anyway. That’s a quick hit of about 15 carbs.

When I got there, 8 minutes after she called me, he’d dropped another 20 points. While he was lying down in the nurse’s office, I ran upstairs to his classroom to get his backpack and lunchbox.

Getting into the car, he told me, “When I get home, I’m putting on my pajamas and lying down.” But by the time we got home, his blood sugar had stopped plummeting, bottoming out at 102 and leveling off.

102 is a healthy blood sugar. He’d spiked after breakfast (something we’re trying to figure out how to prevent) and during Mass his sugar began a free-fall.

Thanks to the principal and nurse’s quick actions, he stayed within a safe range, though the rapid drop made him feel (and look) as though he wasn’t.

And he’s been fine all day. He did have one workbook home (because he didn’t pack it yesterday) and he did have homework tonight in that workbook, so I made him do that, but otherwise he’s just been hanging out.

He apologized a few minutes ago for making me come and get him. I’m just sorry I hadn’t been at church when it happened. And I’m sorry he has to go through this at all. But I’m glad I was available to get him when needed–that all that was interrupted was cleaning the bathroom.

I may daydream about having a day job, but right now it’s all about the flexibility.

Trust, Insecurity and Double-Checking

My child’s life depends on double-checking.

He has a continuous glucose monitor that constantly checks his blood sugar–but at least twice a day he has to do a finger stick to double-check that the monitor is correct.

dexcom g4When he leaves the house, we’re always asking him if he has his supplies (and the receiver to his monitor, which he removes from his pocket when he comes in the door. His routine:  take off shoes, take monitor out of pocket.)

I’m OK with that, because he’s a kid.

But when someone double-checks ME, it never fails. I get all bent out of shape, and I react in a manner that’s WAY out of proportion with the situation.

Just this morning:  I woke Little Brother up in time for him to get ready to go to theater camp. I asked what he wanted for breakfast and we figured out the carbs. As I scrambled eggs, he gave himself a shot. I wrote down his blood sugar, carbs and dose of insulin and went back to the stove to finish the eggs. Hubs walked in and asked Little Brother if he’d had a shot yet.

“I’m RIGHT HERE with him,” I yelled.

It’s not Hubs’ fault for double-checking. This is MY problem. Double-checking is important, but when someone double-checks me, I get all sorts of offended and upset. I feel like they don’t think I’m good enough to manage the task on my own. I feel like I’m not being trusted to do it.

There is no room for insecurity like that when it comes to dealing with diabetes. Hubs and I need to work as a team–and we need to be able to double-check each other and communicate well.

I could have just answered, “Done.” I could have said, “I wrote it down.” I could have just given a thumbs-up and turned back to the stove.

What am I so afraid of, anyway?

Small Success Thursday: Exhilarating!

Small-Success-Thursday-400pxThursdays at begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!


Little Brother spent last week at soccer camp, so he got a bit of sunburn on his nose. The other night, he was rubbing the spot that was starting to peel, and I offered to let him use one of the very few Actual Cosmetic Items I happen to own:  exfoliating facial wipes.

“Go upstairs and get the pack of exfoliating wipes off my dresser,” I told him. “It’s green. Take one out and rub it on your nose.”

He tried it, then came downstairs to tell me that the “exhilarating wipes” really worked!

(Those things really do work for peeling post-sunburn skin. They leave it nice and smooth! And that’s why it’s a success, because I figured that out all by myself. Repurposing FTW!)


dunkin iced coffeeI stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts yesterday to get an iced coffee. (My name is Barb, and I’m a Butter-Pecan-aholic.) While I was standing in line, I heard someone yelling my name across the store. It was a group of eighth-grade girls, who came over to give me a big hug and asked me if I’m having a good summer. Substitute teachers get hugs–who knew?!

That was sweeter than the butter pecan in my coffee.


Little Brother’s theater camp schedule is perfect:  I can sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiide into church for the 9 AM Mass at just about 9:02. But I can get there. And I am grateful for that. My day goes so much better when Mass is part of it.

Share your Small Successes at by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Fighting the Fear

What a difference a year makes.

union soccer schoolsLast summer, Little Brother spent a week at a soccer day camp affiliated with the Philadelphia Union pro soccer team.

This summer, he’s doing the same, starting Monday.

Last summer, all I had to worry about each morning was whether he had enough to drink to prevent dehydration.

If this summer were just like last summer, I’d be telling him that he’d be packing his own lunches this year.

But this summer everything is different. This summer there’s an insulin pen and a continuous glucose monitor to think about. This summer I have to pack enough food and Gatorade to keep his blood sugar stable during a very active day, and he has not had a day this active since his diagnosis in November.humalog kwikpen

For me, that’s scary.

I don’t want him to be scared. I’m trying to keep all of that emotion hidden from him. He’s 12. He should be excited and ready to have fun, meet other kids who love soccer as much as he does, and learn skills that will help him play his favorite sport better.

But he’s going to need to take care of himself this week, to check in with the nurses during breaks, to eat and drink enough to fuel the activity and the adrenalin. He’s going to have to be “different.” This camp has nurses, and I’ll meet them on Monday and hand them his care plan, and then I’ll walk away for 7 hours and spend the day wondering if his sugar is dropping.

I’m thankful that the camp is less than ten minutes away from home. But I’m terrified, and I don’t want to let that show.

dexcom g4Those easy camp dropoffs are a thing of the past, and I regret that I ever took them for granted. I feel like we have taken a huge step backward in terms of the independence Little Brother is developing and we are allowing him to have. I want him to be able to do things on his own, but at the same time I can’t help wanting to hover over my kid and the glucose monitor that helps us keep him on the right track–that helps us keep him alive.

I’m not writing this to ask for pity, but I’m not too proud to ask for prayers–for a safe week for Little Brother and for peace for this mother’s heart.




Overheard, the Fashion Plate Edition

Little Brother (inspecting his T-shirt):  thats all you got“Do you think I can still wear this shirt today, even though I spilled Leaky Egg* on it?”

Me: “How about you get a wet paper towel and wipe it up and see how it looks when it dries?”

LB: “Well, I already licked it off, so…”

(*Translation:  a Leaky Egg is an egg over easy. Yes, I know all about salmonella danger. We live on the edge over here.)

The only saving grace here is that the egg seems to have spilled on the bright yellow letters…


Diabetic Negotiation

Little Brother almost always eats the same breakfast:  an everything bagel with butter and two scrambled eggs.

This morning he was looking for something different.

eggo chocolate chip“I got some chocolate-chip Eggo waffles at the store,” I said.

We checked the label. Two waffles have 31 carbs. Four waffles have 62, which is almost exactly the same as his bagel-and-eggs combo.

“I’ll have four waffles,” he decided.

I asked him if he wanted any eggs, reminding him that without them, he might find himself hungry later this morning.

“There’s protein in the waffles,” he said. “It comes from the chocolate chips.”

This Couldn’t Wait for Thursday

I think I get to call it a “Small Success” that I didn’t completely lose my mind when:aXE

  • Little Brother stepped in dog poop while wearing his fairly-new soccer shoes
  • He brought the befouled shoes into the house to ask me what to do
  • I handed him an old toothbrush for the scrubbing job, instructing him to dispose of it outside when he was done
  • He brought the dripping-wet shoes back into the house…
  • …intending to spray them with Axe to make them smell better
  • I got him some paper towels so he could leave the shoes on the porch

And through all of that, I remained calm and did not yell, shout or go all Screaming Meemie on him.

I’ll have to think of something else for Small Success Thursday, because this one just couldn’t wait.