Small Success: Mercy, Courage and Soup


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


I could be substitute-teaching today, but I had to decline the gig. That’s because Middle Sister asked me to take her to the funeral for her high school track coach’s wife. After the funeral I need to get her back to college in time for her 3:30 class. Whether she realizes it or not, Middle Sister is all about the Corporal Works of Mercy, and I’m not going to get in the way of that if I can help it.


Scene from Tuesday night’s soccer practice:  It’s dark. So dark the coach can’t see the kids, and the kids can’t see the soccer ball or each other. Time to be done. The coach calls the team over for a conference while they fumble for their water bottles in the dark. “Guys! SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY! I scheduled a 10:00 scrimmage game against Burlington City GIRLS team! My son will tell you how good they are. We have to play our best.”

Dead silence.

Then Little Brother piped up. “I have church.”

Half the team chimed in with him at that point.

Coach decided to reschedule the game.


Chicken gnocchi soup (3)And because Small Success around here wouldn’t be complete without a recipe, here’s my re-creation of Olive Garden’s soup. Only my version comes with Neverending Gnocchi.

BONUS:  I made it to the gym 3 times this week and on the day I didn’t go I worked out at home on the Gazelle!

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

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?

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.




7QT: Summer of the Street Urchins


The 7 Quick Takes today are hosted at an alternate site while the usual hostess is on vacation, so THANK YOU to Kathryn at Team Whitaker for stepping in as a substitute!

Little Brother, age 12, has a pack of friends whom I have nicknamed The Street Urchins. Middle Sister thinks that’s mean, but I just call ’em like I see ’em. There are four Street Urchins on this block. Three of them live in divided households (one lives with his grandparents, so he splits things three ways). The fourth’s parents own a restaurant, so he seems to be left to his own devices as often as the others, who could be here for several hours, spanning two mealtimes, without any adult looking for them.

I don’t mind if the Street Urchins play at my house or swim in my pool, but I do insist on some house rules, and yesterday things got pretty rocky in that department, and I told them all to go outside or go home. I might have raised my voice. (Sorry, not sorry.)

I don’t put up with their nonsense because I don’t want these guys, in 4 years, to be the ones binge-drinking at someone’s house party and destroying property/mistreating others. Looking into those faces yesterday, I could see where this could happen. I’m not their parent, but if they’re at my house, they’re playing by my rules.

Without further ado, here are the 7 things I expect from visiting Street Urchins.


RESPECT THE ADULTS. Say hello when you arrive and goodbye when you leave. I deserve to know who is in my house/yard/pool. If I provided a snack or a meal, thank me for that. Don’t rant because the pizza isn’t from your preferred source.


RESPECT THE OTHER KIDS. You are too old to tattle-tale over nothing, and that’s not a nice way to treat your friends.


RESPECT MY HOME. Don’t throw things in the house. (That goes double for the pieces of the remote control that you tossed behind the couch.) Put away what you take out. My pantry is not your pantry.


RESPECT MY TIME. You live on this block. If you want to swim in my pool, bring your own towel. I am not your laundress.


RESPECT MY HOSPITALITY. If you want a snack, ask. If you have a snack, clean up your mess.


RESPECT YOUR OWN GROWNUPS. If they call here or show up here and tell you it’s time to leave, do not make them wait until you play one more round of a video game.


RESPECT MY POOL. Have fun but swim safely. Don’t climb on the sides. Check in with me before you swim and before you leave.

Sometimes it does take a village to raise a child, when that child’s own personal adults don’t take responsibility. These children are in my village, and when they play here, they’ll play by the same rules my own kids must follow.

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.

Small Success Thursday: Sick-Day Edition with a Side of Armpit Farts



wawa logoWhen the phone rang at 6 AM, I knew I wasn’t going to be an early-bird with this week’s Small Success. It was one of the second-grade teachers, asking if I could sub today. Sure! No problem! I even bribed Little Brother to wake up a few minutes early by offering to buy him a hoagie, since I had nothing in the house that I could take to school for my lunch (I was planning on a quesadilla, but I can’t fry one of those in the faculty room.) Hoagies in hand, we made it to school on time.


The second-graders and I were having a pretty good morning. We even weathered the lockdown drill where we had to go to another classroom because I had no keys to the one I was in. I’d gotten the two boys with “issues” settled down; one of them was finally following along with the reading, and the other one was calming down. That no-nonsense approach following an unfortunate armpit-fart episode did the trick. Clearly the child had no idea that, being the mom of two boys who have been second-graders in the past, I am no stranger to dealing with armpit farts.


At 9:55 the phone rang, as I’d expected it would, because that’s when Little Brother goes to the nurse to test his blood sugar. But the nurse was letting me know that his sugar AND his temperature were high. I had to take him home. The school was more than gracious about finding a substitute for the substitute, and we were out the door in under half an hour after the changing of the guard in second grade. I pulled a tub of chicken-noodle-soup starter from the freezer (homemade broth, carrots and celery. Just defrost and add pastina) and got some ice water ready for Little Brother. 3 cheers for being prepared with that!

I’m suspecting it’s strep, since Middle Sister had it last week, but we have to wait a little while before we can find out for sure. The sore throat hasn’t manifested itself yet, but he’s got a headache and stomachache. In the meantime, I’m sending Middle Sister to the store after school for sugar-free Jell-O and popsicles.


I am keeping my cool (mostly) while dealing with a grumpy kid. I’m kind of glad he’s grumpy, because I’ve seen him sick enough to stop being grumpy, and I really don’t want to have to go there again.

Here’s to good health all around by next week’s Small Success! Visit to share your successes, large and small, and see what the rest of the Small Success crew has been up to this week.

Better Not to Know?

It’s Catholic Schools Week, and Little Brother’s school celebrated today with an ice-cream party for the kids. They do this every year. It’s a fun tradition.

But when you mix diabetics and ice cream, chocolate syrup and sprinkles (not jimmies–sprinkles) it’s not an easy tradition.

We didn’t want Little Brother to have to say no to the ice cream. He can have a reasonable portion (and maybe even a little bit of the toppings), but in order to “cover” that with insulin, we need to know how much ice cream he’s going to have. And that involves measuring cups. wonder cup metric

I’m at the school, on average, a couple of hours a day. Today I couldn’t be there for the ice cream, so I had to do some of the homework ahead of time. I left our measuring cup, along with a list of the carb counts for the ice cream and toppings, with the nurse.

In the middle of all of that, I ran into one of the teachers, who is herself the parent of a diabetic (also diagnosed in grade school.) She gets it, and she has been very encouraging. Today she let me know that someone (and she didn’t mention names) was wondering why I was so worried about measuring the ice cream. She told me that she’d set them straight, telling them that because we’re new to this, we’re not ready to just “eyeball” portions yet–but we’ll get there.

I think I’d rather not have known this. I am in and out of the school, because my child is just not feeling confident enough to manage this without me. I am also a substitute teacher there. The whole faculty has seemed so supportive. And now, I guess, someone supports me to my face but judges me publicly behind my back.

Thanks for that.

I know I should be grateful that there is a teacher there who has my back. But all I can think about is how someone else in that school kicked me in the gut today.


Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

(And this time, it’s not me doing this.)

I got a message from the director of Little Brother’s current show (Little Mermaid, Junior–the children’s production at the local theater this year). The show is double-cast because so many kids tried out AND to allow the kids to rest. This way each child only has to appear in 8 performances instead of all 16. (This mama approves.) Anyway, Little Brother is a member of the Turf cast, but the director wanted to know if he could switch to the Surf cast (cool names!) because the other kid playing Grimsby has a schedule conflict.

LMJBecause the other kid is in another show. A show that opens the same week as this show. So there are conflicts with performances and rehearsals. The other kid had already been cast in this other show when he auditioned for LMJ.

According to Little Brother, there are several kids in the cast who are in the same situation. I got the same impression when I sat around the Green Room on audition night, and it’s only been reinforced by what other parents say as we sit around waiting for rehearsals to end.

These kids are in two shows, each of which rehearses at least twice a week. In addition, they are taking lessons in dance and/or gymnastics and/or voice and/or instruments; they are involved in at least one team sport; some of them are Scouts. WHEN THE HECK DO THEY EAT, SLEEP, STUDY AND PLAY?!

ANYway. These kids are in two shows at the same time. There were kids who didn’t get a part–because other kids (and their parents) thought it was a good idea for their kids to be in two shows at the same time, and there are only so many roles to go around, even with a double cast.

Maybe there are reasons here that I do not see, but I don’t get how this is a good idea.

And I’m willing to bet that these are the same kids who, when they’re seniors in high school, will apply to 25 universities and then wait until May 1 to decide, thus keeping other kids on the waiting list.

When you’re a member of a group, team, cast or ensemble and you double-book yourself, you’re not doing the rest of your group any favors. I wish the parents of these overextended kids would put their collective feet down instead of indulging their kids’ whims (or their own.)

End rant.

Dinner Calculus (and breakfast, and lunch, and snack…)

Little Brother came home from the hospital today with a giant bag full of syringes and test strips and meters and all manner of things–just in time for lunch. Nothing like jumping right into things with both feet!

When they told us yesterday that we could take him home today, I panicked. I liked it a lot better when the wonderful nurses at CHOP were holding our hands through the process. They had us figure it all out, but they could confirm our evaluations of how many carbs were in a meal and how many units of insulin to dose.

I knew that when we took him home, we were on our own for all this stuff. It’s like bringing home a newborn when you have never held a baby before, much less fed, bathed or diapered one.

counting carbsAnd the temptation to rely on packaged foods with easy-to-read carb counts on labels is high when I have to do higher math while I’m cooking dinner.

Here’s what we ate tonight:

Lemon & garlic chicken

Farfalle with garlic & onions

Vegetable blend:  carrots, broccoli, cauliflower

Caesar salad

I can’t believe I have to add carbs for garlic!

I’m not looking for a pity party. I saw enough very, very sick children (and their families) at CHOP in 3 days to realize how very, very blessed we are that Little Brother is doing so well. We can’t make this go away, but we can help him live with it.

Book Review: Yes, God!

Yes God by Susie LloydI’ve long been a fan of Susie Lloyd’s work (how can you resist a book titled Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water?) Anyone who’s a parent can relate to the tales she tells of her kids’ shenanigans.

In her latest book, Susie uses her famous sense of humor and encouraging style for a different purpose:  to inspire vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

I think she’s on to something here. The point she makes in Yes, God is that regular, everyday families can raise children who grow up to do extraordinary things for the Church and the world.

Each chapter in this short book contains a vocation story, a family story, a prayer, and Susie’s own commentary on the stories told by 5 young priests and 5 more young Sisters. These are not old stories about senior citizens; they focus on recent vocation stories.

Susie celebrates parents who say “Yes” to duty, affection, strength, spiritual poverty, tradition, the greatest commandment, generosity, humility and patience–in the regular, everyday circumstances and events of their lives. Even as the stories are told, you see Susie’s trademark sense of humor shining through in the telling–and you’ll find it in her encouraging reflections as well. Here’s an excerpt from the chapter on Generosity to illustrate:

How could I relate to Father’s parents, who worked so hard that I get tired just reading about it? Don’t they seem a bit like those saints written about long ago, who were born fasting? I don’t know about you, but I automatically separate those saints out in my mind as more angelic than human. I can’t relate. Therefore, I can’t imitate. Please, Lord, hold me excused.

For the record, I’m not above leaving this book around where one or another of my kids might take a peek inside. It couldn’t hurt, right?