Small Success Thursday: Crazy Week Edition


At, we take a moment every Thursday to celebrate those accomplishments that make our week. My schedule has been packed this week, but there are a few things I’m proud to mention.


I put away the Christmas tree over the weekend.


We have a HUGE artificial tree–probably a good 6 feet in diameter–and it takes up a lot of room. We do not have the box for the tree, as it was given to us by friends who couldn’t fit both a gigantic artificial tree and a Rottweiler in their living room. What we DO have is an enormous chest freezer in our backyard shed. It came with the house, but when we tried to plug the freezer in, we found that it doesn’t work. So the Christmas tree, which divides into three parts, lives in the freezer when it’s not in the living room.

We couldn’t get two of the pieces of the tree apart when we first took it down, and with the snow on the ground for months on end, no one wanted to help drag it into the shed. So it sat on our enclosed back porch–it was too cold to use the porch anyway. Finally this weekend we got the pieces apart and I stowed them in the freezer, where spiders and crickets cannot take up residents in its plastic branches.

And I have my porch back–just in time for the nice weather.


I survived three days in a row of substitute-teaching for grades 5 through 8. Even though I’ve known most of these kids since they were in the primary grades, they need to test their limits every time, and they always seem surprised that I don’t put up with much.

On Monday it was raining so we couldn’t have recess at lunchtime. Back in the classroom, the kids all gathered around the computer and googled each others’ names, commenting on the pictures that came up. On Tuesday the playground was still wet so they had to stay inside. They asked to use the computer.

“So you can google each others’ names and then laugh about what you see? No. I think you did enough of that yesterday.”

They just looked at me with wide eyes–they didn’t even try to argue back. Then they found a deck of cards and started a game.



9 percent crazySpeaking of kids and using the internet for ridiculous things and online safety in general, I have a Tech Talk up at today about that very subject.

And along the same lines, read this article and go change your passwords. That’s at the top of my to-do list for today.

Do you have a Small Success (or three) to share? Visit the link-up at CatholicMom,com!


Let me begin by saying that I don’t know how third-grade teachers do their job all day. The kids are sweet, but all day long with the same bunch of 8-year-olds who complain that their neighbor is looking at them/breathing on them/calling them names/not sitting in their proper seat/insert harmless-yet-annoying thing here–well, that can be a little relentless.

PLUS, they did not go outside at recess today, which means I had no break time.

AND their “special” was cancelled, which means I had no break time.

And I spent a chunk of the day having conversations like this:

CHILD: “Can I do this in cursive?” cursive writing

ME: “What does your teacher usually want you to do?”

OTHER CHILD WHO CAN’T MIND HER OWN BUSINESS: “She says we can do cursive or print, whichever we want.”

ME: “Just make sure it’s neat so your teacher can read it tomorrow.”

MOST OF THE CLASS: “OK.” (gets busy doing work)

CHILD WHO ASKED ORIGINAL QUESTION:  “So can I do this in cursive?”

God bless the full-time teachers of self-contained classes. They have a special kind of patience.

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.

Small Success Thursday: New Blog Edition


Shortly after Little Brother was diagnosed with diabetes, I received a message from my friend Katharine Grubb (she’s also an author! You should read her books!)

She was urging me to begin a new project. As if I need more new projects. She wanted me to use the information I was gathering about cooking for my Type 1 Diabetic child and share it with others who could use it.

I knew she was right, but I had to let some things settle in first. Finally, yesterday, I took the plunge and pressed the “publish” button on my new cooking blog.

Cook and Count has the carb-per-serving count for each recipe I feature. I also plan to include Little Brother’s story as well as other things we learn about dealing with diabetes as a family.


I taught FIRST grade the other day when they needed a substitute at school! I used to teach first-grade Spanish, but I had a new batch of kiddos every 35 minutes. All day long is another story entirely, but we had a great day. Best line of the day, after I wrote my name on the blackboard:  “I can’t say your name! It has too many words!”


I’m taking advantage of the better weather (and lack of early-morning ice)–I got to Mass twice this week and the gym once. I’m hoping to do better on both counts, but it’s a start.

Stop over to and read about everyone’s Small Success! Share your own in the comments or link to your own blog!

Teacher, When Is Nap Time?

I have come to the conclusion that teaching is mentally exhausting work.

Actually, I knew that, but because my job involves long periods of “unemployment” I tend to forget about it.

I am a homebound instructor for a local school district. This means I work on an “as-needed” basis, and it can be months or even years between jobs. It looks like the job I have right now, which started yesterday, will keep me busy through the end of this school year.

Fortunately this particular job allows me to work during my own kids’ school day, so I don’t have to worry about child care of juggle schedules with TheDad. And I thoroughly enjoy the one-on-one (or in this case one-on-two, as I have two sisters to teach right now) at the kitchen table.

But I think I might have to go back to caffeinated coffee. Afternoon naps are just not an option! I teach in two-hour blocks–a whole week’s worth of lessons in one session. Because there are 4 other tutors to schedule, this is not negotiable. But 2 hours of a single subject all at once really wears me down. No wonder my students get silly after about 90 minutes!