Small Success: Season’s Over

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

We have officially reached the end of the two seasons that sucked the life out of our household routine: sports and theatre. The show closed Sunday, and yesterday was the final soccer practice (an anticlimactic one, since the last game was played Tuesday. But there was a pasta party scheduled, so they practiced. Anything for spaghetti, when you’re a high-school boy.)

Lessons were learned.

  1. Playing a sport at the high-school level and participating in community theatre is going to have an academic impact. Which, of course, we knew, but we didn’t know to what extent.
  2. With a lot of careful advance planning, a home-cooked dinner can be had by all on nearly every evening.
  3. There is no shame in grabbing a drive-thru dinner for your Renaissance Kid when you’re en route to the theatre on a performance night, directly following an away game that’s 45 minutes from home.
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I spent almost as much time admiring the fall foliage as I did watching soccer last Thursday! (That’s TheKid in maroon, in the center of the photo).

This week, my success is that we all survived the last week and its 2 soccer games, 4 performances, 1 music rehearsal (that was mine), Mass on Sunday and a set strike after the final show.

Now it’s time to settle in, to vacuum up the dirt left on the floor of my car by the soccer cleats, to make a new menu plan for November that leaves me some wiggle room to cook things that take longer than 25 minutes, to put away the Oxi-Clean and the bucket where I soaked the white home-game uniforms, and to hassle TheKid a little more about studying his algebra.

TheKid is sorry that his seasons are over. Don’t tell him, but I’m not. Sports and theatre are good for kids, but they do have a cost, and that’s measured in more than sports fees and show tickets.

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This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.

#SmallSuccess: On the Menu

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruellest month.” But T.S. Eliot was never a soccer mom whose Kid was also involved in community theatre–during soccer season.

I’m doing more driving now, just for one child, than I did when I had 3 kids without drivers’ licenses at home.

I saw October coming and it wasn’t going to be pretty. It was, however, going to be predictable. I had schedules for rehearsals, performances, soccer practices and games, a whole month in advance.

So I did something I haven’t done in quite a while–not since TheKid was involved in his first community theatre productions, way back in 4th grade. I made a meal plan for a whole month. Christine does this all the time, and it was her mention of it that made me realize that this was something I needed to do.

A previous year's meal plan calendar on my trusty clipboard.
A previous year’s meal plan calendar on my trusty clipboard.

I use pencil for a reason, because things DO happen. I filled in (in pen) the commitments on the calendar so I’d know when it wouldn’t be a good idea to make a new recipe that requires several hours of simmering. Then I got busy filling in the blanks with the dinner plan.

not so spicy peanut chicken

I hung up the menu on the inside of one of my kitchen-cabinet doors. I check it in the morning to find out what to defrost. I tried to put items that use similar ingredients together–so the stir-fry that contains red bell peppers was planned in the same week as the sausage-and-pepper sandwiches. This way, nothing would be wasted.

We’re only 2 weeks into the month, but that plan has saved my bacon. It’s been one less thing to stress over.

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The show closes in 10 days and soccer has only 2 or 3 more weeks to go. November should be easier. But I’m going to make the time to put together a meal plan anyway. These past 2 weeks have shown me just how worth it this effort is.

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This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.

Small Success: Perfect Joy!

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

On Monday, the Secular Franciscans celebrated the Transitus of St. Francis, marking his passage from earthly life to eternal life in heaven. It is a solemn moment with a prayer service that includes readings from a biography of the saint along with the Gospel, Psalms, prayer and music.

Transitus of St. Francis @franciscanmom
Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS. All rights reserved.

I spent the day Monday putting out all kinds of fires, some related to the Transitus and others completely separate from it, but all serving as a distraction from what was about to take place. From missing copies of the readings to sheet music that didn’t include all the verses to a soccer practice that ran late and a request by someone I respect that I do something that would compromise my integrity (I declined), by midafternoon I was DONE and tweeted:

Via @franciscanmom
Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS.

In the end it all turned out fine, at least as far as the Transitus was concerned. We were happy with the turnout and participation. The parts of the song I messed up because I was trying to track lyrics and guitar chords for a song with 7 verses went unnoticed by the assembly, who knew the song so well and sang so enthusiastically that I was basically drowned out.

As we enjoyed light refreshments and conversation after the Transitus, I observed to one of my fellow Franciscans that it had been a crazy day. She said the same (she was on the other end of the missing-readings problem, and had other things happening as well.) Later she emailed me and said that she remembers this happening every year. All The Things seem to go wrong on Transitus day.

Here we are, trying to remember one of the holiest people who ever lived, someone after whose example we wish to model our lives, and things are just a mess.

Maybe that’s what St. Francis meant when he talked about Perfect Joy.

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This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.

Small Success: A Dental Breakdown

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

In a nutshell, this week’s success is surviving yesterday’s Dental Visit from Hell.

I noticed at the beginning of June that the crown that was replaced in the summer of 2012 was beginning to come loose. I did not wait. I called for an appointment right away. They wouldn’t deal with my crown when I went in the day before graduation, saying I had to see the hygienist first and maybe it would fall out during cleaning, which would be better than having them force it out. I waited 2 more weeks for that appointment, only to be told to hang in there until it fell out on its own. They did make an appointment for me for August 24, however.

At that point in June I was 4 weeks away from a professional conference, where the last thing you want is to look like a hockey player for photo opportunities with your boss. The office staff at the dentist’s office was unswayed. Fortunately, the tooth stayed put. Wiggly, but still in my mouth.

Authors of the CatholicMom's Prayer Companion at the Catholic Writers Guild, July 2016. @franciscanmom
Authors of the CatholicMom’s Prayer Companion at the Catholic Writers Guild, July 2016

I have been babying that stupid tooth all summer long. No corn on the cob for me this year. I would worry that it would fall out during the night and I’d swallow it. Finally, last Wednesday night, I sneezed, and that was it for the tooth. (“No, it didn’t shoot across the room,” I had to tell my kids, who were gleefully imagining that dramatic scenario. It would have at least made for a better story.)

The dentist’s office couldn’t or wouldn’t find a way to move my appointment up.

So yesterday I went in there, having looked like a hockey player (it’s a canine tooth) all week, with my tooth in a sandwich bag.

Then the torture began.

My favorite "pocket Rosary." Durable. Washable. And with a Franciscan touch!

 

I had my rosary in my pocket. I didn’t take it out, but my hand was right there by my pocket and I just counted off the Hail Marys. 7 decades’ worth. After that, I lost track. I couldn’t even concentrate on the words of the prayers. They worked on me for quite a while before deciding that Novocaine might be a good idea.

I was just sitting there with my eyes closed to keep out the giant light that was right in my face. Enduring. Opening my mouth and biting down, on command.

And then, while my eyes were shut, I was asked to “open” and in went an impression tray thick with goo. There was no warning. (I’m practically having a post-traumatic panic attack just typing this.)

I was still shaking, hours later. It took 3 Advil after I got home to dull the pain. I felt like I had to keep my hand over my mouth for over an hour, because it hurt so much, and for some reason my brain told me I needed to do that. And for what? A temporary crown for the next 15 days–so still, no corn on the cob. Nothing that requires me to bite. If I eat pizza, it’ll be with a knife and fork.

Some offering-up happened, and I hope that helped the people for whom I was suffering.

I’m still kind of sore, so if you can use a little suffering on your behalf, say the word. I’ll share a prayer and maybe hope that this pain can mean something to someone.

And when this is all over, when the new crown is in and the 2 cavities are filled, when TheKid’s molars have been sealed and I’ve paid the bills that were not in the budget, I’ll be going on the hunt for a new dentist. I’ve broken up with dentists over less than this.

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Small Success: The View from My Office(s)

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

My Fitness Streak is still going. Even on the day when I dared not leave the house because just as my alarm went off, TheKid’s continuous glucose monitor also alarmed with a low blood sugar reading, I got in a short workout on my Gazelle machine in the laundry room. (Hubs gets the overnights. Once I’m up in the morning, I’m on duty.)

Yesterday’s morning sky, even though cloudy, was stunning as I headed off for my walk.

Incline My Heart

In other news, it’s summer and I need to roll with that. TheKid is at theatre camp, so I’ve been praying at other churches and working at Dunkin’ Donuts and the library on some days, because they both have free WiFi and it beats driving 20 minutes each way to go back home and work from there. Still, I feel a bit at odds with the schedule changes.

My Dunkin' office. Hot coffee and a big table where I can spread out.
My Dunkin’ office. Hot coffee and a big table where I can spread out.

 

The library has some comfortable chairs, but no coffee (though I saw a kid walk in with a milkshake the other day.)
The library has some comfortable chairs, but no coffee (though I saw a kid walk in with a milkshake the other day.)

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Small Success: Summer of Life Skills

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

As of this morning, I’m happy to announce that my weight has finally dropped below a certain number that I hope never to see on the scale again. (Now to keep it that way!)

And in the Department of So Far, So Good, my Evil Plan™ seems to be working.

I’ve been holding TheKid’s internet access hostage until he has completed his chores, including Duties As Assigned, and read for 30 minutes.

He’s not getting just any old chores, either. In addition to the things he does every week, like dragging the trash cans to the curb and vacuuming his room and the family room, I’m giving him the kind of chores that I could complete in no time at all, but which he needs to learn to do on his road to becoming a self-sufficient young man. He’s also being assigned cleanup chores when he’s the one responsible for the mess.

So yesterday he had to Drano the bathroom sink to unclog the drain (I suspect the hair putty he uses, and he’s the only one who does his hair in that bathroom). This included remembering to come back in 30 minutes and run water for a minute to finish clearing the drain. It’s a life skill–and a consequence.

He also learned, yesterday, what happens when you vacuum before making sure the floor is clear of wires for electronics. Fortunately I was nearby to remind him to unplug both the electronic item and the vacuum before trying to disentangle the partially-vacuumed wire.

“This is hard work,” he commented. Well, yes. Yes, it is. And maybe he’s learned, without my needing to tell him, that it’s a good idea to patrol the area a bit before running the vacuum.

Today my resident microwave-popcorn-eater will learn how to clean that appliance inside and out. He’ll discover just how much gunk spews out of those popcorn bags as they spin around for two minutes.

One of my summer goals is to begin teaching him to cook simple meals, but I’ve put that on hold until my extra editorial job is complete.

Slowly but surely, he’ll get a handle on how to do some small but necessary household chores.

If only he’d start noticing that the trash can is full and empty it without being asked. A mom can dream…

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Small Success: Back to the Kitchen

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

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I’ve been taking advantage of the lack of rehearsals, performances and other outside-the-house commitments over the last few days to get a long-neglected chore completed and doing a lot of baking (and recipe blogging! I’d had a 2-week unplanned hiatus from my cooking blog, but I more than made up for that this week.)

First, the chore. I’ll start my Walk of Shame by admitting that when I took all the ornaments off the Christmas tree, I put them straight into a box and a shopping bag and never wrapped them up to protect them in storage. Then that box and bag sat on top of the storage bins where the ornaments belong–right behind my front door–for two solid months. Yesterday I bit the bullet, turned on “Property Brothers” on HGTV (that channel is my guilty pleasure) and got every last ornament packed away properly in just 1 1/2 episodes.

That’s one of those chores that just gets put off and put off for no good reason and stares you in the face and makes you feel awful about your housekeeping abilities until you get it done.

And then, the baking (a little cooking, too!) I wanted to put my mom’s Irish soda bread recipe up for St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t bake one this year because only Hubs and I eat it and this recipe makes a huge soda bread.

granma-scones-and-teaInstead, this morning I made Irish biscuits for breakfast. YUM. In this photo they look more like scones, but Granma made them two ways: sliced like scones or as drop biscuits, which is what I did this morning because I was feeling lazy and they taste equally delicious either way.

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Yesterday I tried a new bread recipe that was a total hit! One of my cousins shared a link to a recipe for a certain type of bread that’s only made in the corner of Ireland where Granma grew up. I’ll be sharing that recipe on Saturday at Cook and Count.

irish tea brack

Want some more Irish baking ideas? Try Tea Brack (and use good strong tea, like Irish breakfast, to make it!)

And a decidedly NOT Irish cooking success came when I wound up with over 6 cups of mashed potatoes after my daughter decided to try to make pierogi over the weekend while I was at the theatre. The first pierogi didn’t work so she abandoned the effort but saved the potatoes. What was I going to do with all of those?

pierogi lasagna (13) C

That’s Pierogi Lasagna right there, and you’ll find the recipe tomorrow at Cook and Count. Perfect for your Meatless Friday and a frugal way to use up those mashed potatoes!

It’s felt good to be back in the kitchen cooking (and back at the desk, writing about cooking) after being so busy at the theatre. No more rehearsals until after Easter vacation, when TheKid starts gearing up for Pippin at the high school he’ll be attending next year. He can’t wait!

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Small Success: Prep Work

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

This week it’s pretty much been prep work and cleanup around here.

PREP: TheKid is in the community theatre’s musical for children, “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” The show opens tomorrow, and I’m going to be spending my weekends (9 performances over 3 days x 2 weekends) in the box office and 2 weekdays (3 performances each) as a stagehand.

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.

I’m trying to make sure we have good dinners even when I’m not around all day long (though on Saturday this weekend I think it’s going to be takeout). I’ve been working hard to get ahead at work so that I can miss two days in the middle of the week. All in all, my to-do list is my best friend as the show approaches!

CLEANUP: Yesterday we had electricians here to take care of some things that weren’t working anymore (2 ceiling fans, overhead lighting in TheKid’s room and one doomed high-hat in the kitchen). That meant 3 bedrooms where I had to strip beds before they got there, and 4 rooms needing cleanup after they left. I still need to vacuum my daughter’s room but it’ll be done before she returns from college tomorrow for her week of spring break.

And FUN: In the middle of all this crazy I am taking some time out for ME, to go meet one of the CatholicMom contributing writers, Lisa Hess, who is doing a presentation at the local library. I’ve read her work for years (her blog and her 2 novels) and I’m so looking forward to meeting her in person tomorrow!

For a little comic relief: I spent the dress rehearsal wondering how long it was going to be before this little boy had a mustache malfunction. How cute is he?!

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That mustache! It kills me!

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Small Success: Squeaky Clean and Shiny

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I braved some absolutely crazy weather, heading out 5 minutes late and between storms to go to the Penance Service last night. My soul is now squeaky clean.

And I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that Penance Services are never going to be opportunities for a really deeply-moving confession experience. They’re a sacramental express line, and maybe their purpose really is to convince us that the sacrament itself is not so scary, not so terrible–so that we’ll make a point of going to Confession more regularly. (Did I just say that a Penance Service is a sacramental gateway drug? Well, yes. I guess I did.)

I have only 3 board games left to put away after the Game Closet Cleanout last week. I’ve made arrangements for Purple Heart to pick up the games in good shape that we’re going to donate (as well as all the high-school uniform pants I’d been saving for TheKid–because the school changed to color of the uniform pants.) All the puzzles and a brand-new set of Legos (in an open box but with all pieces still in plastic bags) are going to the school tomorrow. These are great for indoor recess, which happens a lot at this time of year, and two teachers have already accepted my offer of these toys.

Besides the closet, I’ve cleaned out 2 drawers, one bench where we dump stuff as we come in, and my van–because I got shiny new wheels on Friday!

Still dithering about a name: Felix or Maxine? TheKid suggests Julio.
Still dithering about a name: Felix or Maxine? TheKid suggests Julio.

No more minivan! I’m a station-wagon mom now. I’ve admired these cars for quite a while and am now trying to figure out how I’ll manage to live up to its style. Yes, my car is more stylish than me.

I’m just happy to have unloaded the 10 1/2-year-old van with its myriad annoying electrical issues (which deserve a post of their own) and a transmission that feels like it’s going to fall out of the car when you’re driving around neighborhoods at 20 mph.

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Small Success: Still Winter

Has anybody else had enough of winter by now? Show of hands? Because, yeah, me? I’m done with it…as I sit here typing with fingerless gloves on. The heat’s on in the house but it’s 64 degrees here in my “corner office.” And my nose is cold.

The good news? Winter has less than 6 weeks to go in the round. We can do it!

Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I amazed my kid.

He tries to take over the radio, and sometimes I let him. But the other day it was playing something awful that was supposedly masquerading as music, and I told him to change the station.

“But Mom! This guy was born in Paterson, NJ! You have to like him!”

“I don’t like Fetty Wap. Turn it off.”

“How did you know that was Fetty Wap????????”

I know lots of stuff, including that I don’t like Fetty Wap, thankyouverymuch.

I was released from sneaker prison.

Yes, that’s right: I am allowed to wear Real Shoes now. I survived 6 weeks in a boot and 4 weeks wearing sneakers only (except for that one time when I sang at a funeral. I didn’t think sneakers, even black ones, were appropriate at funerals. But I wore the sneakers to church and changed there.)

My foot is mostly pain-free and I have invested in stepstools for the kitchen and my bedroom closet, because I’m not allowed, among other things, to reach. That’s a hard row to hoe when you’re vertically challenged. I am also not allowed to jump, climb ladders, walk on a treadmill, sprint or run.

Ever.

I made the mandatory appointments (well, half of them.)

This morning I have my mammogram scheduled. Next week, it’s the gynecologist (though why, as a hysterectomy patient, I have to be checked is beyond me.)

Still on the list of Dreaded Things to Schedule: that colonoscopy I’ve been putting off since my birthday (in July) and the dentist. There’s only so long I can milk the “I have to be continuously available for my diabetic teenager in case something goes wrong at school so I can’t sit in a dentist’s chair or do colonoscopy prep” excuse…

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