#WorthRevisit: I Hope You Never Need Algebra

There’s a fine line between oversensitivity (and the inability to take a joke) and advocacy. I was reminded of that this morning when a friend of mine posted the same Facebook joke that inspired my post from July 2015 about algebra.

Some days I can roll with diabetes jokes, like the song lyric from Shrek:

“. . . like donuts and . . . (what goes with donuts?) . . . donuts and . . . DIABETES!”

Other days, my hackles are raised by a joke that has absolutely nothing to do with diabetes, but I’m making that connection based on my experience. That’s the case with the Facebook joke in question. Four years ago, I’d have shared the same joke.

Seen on Facebook: a T-shirt that says

Well, another day has passed and I didn’t use algebra once.

The person who posted it observed, “Still holds true!”

My fingers have been hovering over that comment button…that’s because there’s algebra right on my kitchen whiteboard, algebra that I use almost every day.

Diabetic algebra

Algebra for diabetics and the people who love them. Because sometimes a person just doesn’t want a whole serving of something, and then you have to do some math.

I can’t afford to indulge the thought that algebra is useless and that I haven’t thought about it once since I took the GREs in 1986.

It’s more useful than you think.

I’m not bitter about having to use algebra. I’m grateful that my husband has a better grasp on it than I do, because he took several semesters of calculus, so he helped work out the formula that comes in handy when The Kid wants something other than the labeled serving size of a particular food. I’m grateful that I can remember a little bit of algebra, thanks to my long-suffering Algebra 2 teacher who never gave up on me.

And I wish, very sincerely, that the people who posted that photo of a T-shirt implying that algebra is useless never have a child with diabetes. I hope they never have to use algebra like I have to use algebra.

As the mom of a teenager with Type 1 Diabetes I often encounter well-meaning misunderstanding about his disease. I try to understand that in most cases, it’s just because people care. Just as I’d ask a person with a known food allergy if the food I am planning to serve is safe for them, so I do appreciate that people think to check in with me about my son’s needs.

It’s all a question of how I deal with the misconceptions. He didn’t get diabetes from eating too many donuts. He can have a donut. He should not have six donuts (then again, neither should anyone else).

I find myself, sometimes, growing impatient when people ask questions, rather than appreciating that they care enough to ask instead of just making assumptions based on bad information.

And sometimes, like today, I just can’t take a joke.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Tickets, Please

A theatre box office is an interesting place. The hour before a performance is a frenzy of activity that includes handling the voice mail that has come in since the last time the office was open, selling walk-up tickets, printing will-call tickets, printing tickets for people whose printers ran out of ink or who forgot them at home or who didn’t realize that they had to print the tickets immediately even though there are instructions that say just that.

Those are the easy jobs. It’s pretty simple to make a theatregoer happy when you can reprint that ticket she left on the table near the front door.

But sometimes you have to do difficult jobs when you work in the box office. Sometimes you have to return phone calls and let someone down, because the show is sold out. Sometimes you have to turn people away who show up in person, hoping seats will open up. When the box office is part of a small theatre with no space for extra seating, you don’t get to be flexible there. But I can assure you that the box-office staff and the house manager do their best to find seats to accommodate people whenever possible.

I staffed the box office for 10 out of 12 weekend performances of a community-theatre production these past two weeks. And I did all those things I listed above, and then some. Most of the time it was enjoyable work. But it was Saturday’s final show that did me in.

The show was sold out, and we were able to scrape up a couple of tickets here and there (like when someone realized they really wanted two tickets to Sunday’s show instead of Saturday’s.) So on Friday night when I got a voicemail from someone’s dad with a sob story about how Grandma changed her hair appointment so she could see a show on Saturday that she didn’t even have a ticket for, I got to be the hero of the day. I didn’t have such great news for the mom who called wanting six tickets and telling me a long story about how her child was in the show and she hadn’t seen it yet and she’d promised her daughter that she could bring a bunch of friends but by the time they all got back to her, the show was sold out.

I had two tickets available at that point. The best I could do was to sell her those two tickets and put her on the waiting list for the other four.

At 8:30 Saturday morning that mom called to let me know she only needed three more tickets, and to ask if I had found any yet. I apologized, but promised that I’d put the word out among the moms helping in the green room and the moms selling candygrams and the mom scanning tickets at the door. If anyone heard that someone had a ticket they wouldn’t be using, they promised to send them to the box office.

Box office sq

I never did get those extra tickets. The dad, with Hair-Appointment Grandma in tow, picked up his ticket with a charming smile. Then No-Ticket Mom asked, and was disappointed, about those extra tickets. Suddenly that dad was back at the ticket window.

“Do you see that lady with the three little girls?” he demanded. “She’s going to have to leave here and take them home because there aren’t any tickets for them.”

I apologized (again) that no more tickets were available. I politely refused his request to have extra chairs brought in, and his subsequent demand that the three little girls stand in the aisle during the show. There’s no room for either of those things. But this guy was clearly used to having his own way and did not like hearing me tell him that what he wanted wasn’t going to happen.

It’s not fun to have to say no to someone who wants to watch their child/grandchild/friend perform. But in a small theatre, shows do sell out quickly, and everyone was reminded of this several times before the show opened. And we tried (as we do anytime a show sells out) to scare up extra tickets–we just couldn’t get enough.

Dad, Grandma, Mom and the little girls disappeared into the crowd. I was busy distributing tickets to other theatre patrons and feeling more than a little upset about the way I had been treated over the whole issue, when one of the staff members realized that the whole bunch of them had probably gone into the theatre, somehow making an end run around the person scanning tickets. The grin Dad flashed our way on his way out of the theatre confirmed our suspicions.

I was angry. I don’t like confrontation, and I’d had my fill of it already. I skipped out on the cast party, because I didn’t feel like I could stand there and schmooze with other kids’ parents with a smile on my face. What disturbs me even more is that those little girls were just taught that if someone says you can’t have what you want, you can just go ahead and take it.

STOP the drive-time grumpies

It’s no secret that I don’t enjoy driving TheKid to school in the morning when he’s missed the bus.

TheKid misses the bus daily. He doesn’t even try anymore. Hubs doesn’t mind driving him, so it works out for both of them, and Hubs enjoys the time in the car with TheKid.

But then come the days when, for one reason or another, Hubs can’t drive TheKid to school–and I have to. With 10 minutes’ notice.

Today was one of those days.

Mornings are a busy time for me. By 8 AM today I showered, made coffee, prayed, woke TheKid, cooked the bacon, woke TheKid, packed a lunch, woke TheKid, measured bags of popcorn and pretzels for TheKid’s lunches for the rest of the week, tossed in a load of laundry and made a batch of chocolate-chip cookies. I wanted to get that laundry out on the clothesline and make my grocery list before 9:00 Mass. But at 7:45 I found out that I was driving.

That’s at least 20 minutes out of my schedule right there, 10 of which are spent arguing fighting tooth and nail negotiating over the choice of radio station (another point on which Hubs is more flexible than me).

So I was grumpy. Until I reached the corner with the second-last stop light before school.

There’s a crossing guard at that light, and TheKid’s school arrival time is not in sync with the public school’s, so the crossing guard is just waiting around for the next bunch of kids when I reach that intersection.

Photo via Flickr. All rights reserved.
Photo via Flickr. All rights reserved.

He fills the time pointing at drivers, then giving them a thumbs-up as he stands there with his cool mirrored sunglasses, his reflective yellow jacket, and his STOP sign.

In other words, he’s The Fonz, Crossing Guard.

And it’s pretty much impossible to stay grumpy when The Fonz greets you on your way to school.

#WorthRevisit: Do You Hear what I Hear?

It’s spring (finally!) though it’s been feeling more like late March than early May. But I’m starting to see neighbors out in their yards, planting gardens, playing with dogs, and hanging up laundry. That means it’s time to think about our tone of voice–and our volume. Let’s revisit this entry from May 2007. For the record, I can still use a lot of work in this department.

Photo via Pixabay (2013) CCO Public Domain.
Photo via Pixabay (2013) CCO Public Domain. Unfortunately, my windows are nowhere near as picturesque as this one.

It’s that “open the windows wide” time of year in my part of the country. And when the windows are open you hear everything that you’ve been insulated from all winter long: the traffic on the main road a couple of blocks away, the freight train 2 miles to the west, music from the passing cars with their windows open, plenty of birdsong, and the neighbors’ loud party after midnight on a Friday night.

Another neighbor and I were commiserating over that party, since we were both woken up by it, and she observed that the people having the party probably didn’t realize just how loud they were, and that sound carries so well in the middle of the night with no competing noise, so that we all could hear exactly what was being said by everyone at the party.

She mentioned that it was a reminder to her that she needs to watch how she speaks when she’s outside, or even in her own home with the windows open, in case someone hears. And I know the feeling. I am much more likely to speak to a family member through clenched teeth in my own home than I am in a public place like a supermarket.

That’s certainly not something I should be proud of, however. An answer through clenched teeth is never going to be remembered for its gentleness.

But I don’t want the motivation for changing my ways to just be a need for company manners: “someone might hear.” What really struck me as I was thinking about this is that Someone will hear. God hears. In 1 Samuel, we read: “for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7) And in Matthew 6:4 Jesus mentions that the Father sees what we do in secret.

The Morning Offering is a good way to start the day. If you have little children they can learn this simple one:

Good morning, dear Jesus, this day is for you.
I offer you all that I think, say, and do. Amen.

“All that I think, say, and do…” If I’m offering all that to God, I’d better do things with a kinder spirit.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

#WorthRevisit: Redirection

For Worth Revisit Wednesday today, I’ve dipped into the 2007 archives for a little attitude adjustment.

Little Brother and his friend Adventure Boy are busily playing with Legos and having a snack of popcorn.

Of course, two five-year-olds generally spill at least as much popcorn as they eat. Between the popcorn and the Legos, I could barely tell what color carpet they were sitting on.

Neither of them was too keen on the idea of picking up that spilled popcorn, until I suggested that they put it into a bowl and then take it outside and dump it out under the bird feeder so the squirrels could have a snack too.

Suddenly the two boys were quiet as could be, picking up every tiny speck of popcorn off the floor so they could feed the squirrels. They proudly went outside to dump the bowl.

popcorn-316774_960_720 pixabay
Photo via Pixabay (2014), CC0 Public Domain.

What an instant change in attitude! Cleaning up for the sake of cleaning up is not fun at all, and I often resist doing it just as the two boys did. But if cleaning up means that someone else benefits, it becomes less of a chore. Sometimes it even becomes a pleasure.

I’ve noticed this myself as I do a morning sweep through the house. “I love you,” I think to myself as I pick up someone’s dirty socks that are hiding under a chair. Remembering that I sweep the floors, wash the socks, and scrub the sink because I love my family can help me get past the “I don’t want to” attitude that can easily overtake me.

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31: 10-31)

This is a tall order, for sure. (And I’m certainly guilty of “eating the bread of idleness” more than I should!) But I think that part of the secret of this “excellent wife” is that she is doing her work out of love for her husband and family. The hard work of running a household goes a little easier when you focus on blessing the people you love.

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!



It’s been a long 10 days.

17 shows in 7 days, Living Stations, Confirmation, a birthday, and I don’t even know what else anymore.

I’ve done early-morning Wawa runs for theatre-lunch hoagies.

I’ve baked and cooked for the cast party–and organized the donations. I worked the box office for 15 performances (2 more today).

Hubs has driven to (and bankrolled) at least 3 post-performance “Happy Hours” featuring mozzarella sticks, ice-cream sundaes and root beer–plus one ticket to watch a fellow actor in another show.

Middle Sister has been home from college this week for spring break and we’ve barely had any time to spend with her.

This morning I went around the house and updated all the clocks that don’t automatically update themselves.

At the same time, I woke up TheKid, whose insulin pump needed replacing, and faced The Wrath of Teen.

He had to get up anyway, because we have 10:00 Mass this morning–and we can’t go to a later one and make it to the theatre by 11:30.

But he’s gone from this:

Cogsworth (the clock) is mine. The mustache is fake. The pendulum is not. We have geniuses creating costumes at this theatre. I am not one of them.
Cogsworth (the clock) is mine. The mustache is fake. The pendulum is not. We have geniuses creating costumes at this theatre. I am not one of them.

to this:

By Image taken from About.com, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20132344
By Image taken from About.com, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20132344

We’re both tired. We’re both in the throes of seasonal allergies. His blood sugar’s still off, thanks to that bad pump site. It’ll take a little while to undo that.

I’m sticking by my response to his uber-grumpy protests about going to 10:00 Mass. Being tired and diabetic is no excuse for rudeness. He was told that he’s going to church and that if there’s much more rudeness, he’ll be dropped off at home afterward instead of taken to the theatre to hang out with his friends and help where necessary (it’s not a performance day for him). I’ll leave him here, with no internet access until I return from the box office for his show.

I guess age 14 is kind of young to expect a little gratitude for the sacrifices we have made as a family for his participation in this show.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cancel out my healthy breakfast of oatmeal with almonds and dried cranberries with a handful (or three) of M&Ms.

For medicinal purposes.

Small Success: Musical Wake-up Call

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

First things first. You need to go over and read Sherry Antonetti’s post that explains why Small Success is such an important thing. There’s not always a lot of participation, but it’s good to do the writing, to reflect on what goes right, to be grateful.

I’ve made my mornings a little easier by coming up with a way to get TheKid out of bed that involves a lot less yelling. His alarm goes off; he ignores it. I call for him 5 minutes later; he ignores me. 5 minutes after that, I head in with my Secret Weapon: my tablet with a Spotify playlist I’ve titled “Teenage Musical Torture.” Here it is, for your listening…um…pleasure.

My friends on Facebook helped me craft the playlist. My criteria specified that I had to be able to put up with the song, so some suggestions were denied because of that.

It’s good, though. He’s laughing, not grumpy, when he gets out of bed.

I find that anything by the Brady Bunch works particularly well. “Disco Duck” is also quite effective.

In other news, both the Big Kids have come home for dinner this week. Not on the same night, but they both came home for dinner. That’s a family success.

And I remembered to buy a set of Advent candles. Let this serve as your reminder, moms: Advent begins in 10 days! Go get some candles!

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


A Grumpy Kind of Morning: #WorthRevisit

This is shaping up to be one of those days where things just don’t fall into place, where you have to push and shove and jam every puzzle piece and hope it will lock into the right spot–because if not, it’s locked into the wrong spot and God help you when you try to get it back out.

I’m going to need a little extra help today–not because anything big has gone wrong, but those little things are going to be the death of me. For example:

  • The Kid missed the bus. Again. I didn’t want to have to leave to drive him, because…
  • We have a contractor coming to do some repair work around here. He spoke to Hubs yesterday while I was not home. Hubs told me the contractor would be here today, but hadn’t asked the guy what time he’d be here. I don’t do uncertainty well in circumstances like this.
  • Middle Sister woke up and told me that the contractor had said he would not be here today but would start on Thursday.
  • I found this out just 10 minutes too late to be able to get to daily Mass (which, I’m sure we can all agree, I could have used).
  • I have to untangle some stupid prescription red tap regarding pen needles for The Kid’s insulin. I placed an order yesterday with our long-term prescription plan, who apparently contacted the endocrinologist for confirmation, who sent the renewed script to CVS, who cannot fill it because we have to use the long-term prescription source for stuff like this. I’m already 2 phone calls into the process. What’s the over/under on how many more I’ll need to make before it’s worked out?

All stupid little things, so why am I sitting here ready to break out in tears over them?

For this Worth Revisiting Wednesday, I’m looking back at another day 3 years ago

And the walls came tumbling down.

Not the walls of my home (thank God!) but the emotional walls that I use to hold everything in and keep it all together.  Sometimes there is just way too much for those walls to hold.  And usually it’s some stupid little thing that causes them to cave in.

Erasmus Quellinus II [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Erasmus Quellinus II [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Who’s the patron saint of people who sweat the small stuff? Maybe it’s Martha:

Martha, you are anxious about many things. –Luke 10:41

That’s me, in a nutshell.

Art: Erasmus Quellinus II [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons