Small Success: Pray First

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

ONE: I figured out part of what went wrong on Tuesday, when things were falling apart and I was falling apart along with them.

I hadn’t prayed first.

I’ve gotten into a bad habit of peeking at email before settling down to morning prayers.

Don’t try this at home.

On Tuesday, I let that email time get away from me, and then I had to shepherd TheKid through 2 insulin-pump-site changes and make his lunch and cook the bacon and and and…

“No worries,” I thought. “I’ll just bring my iPad to church, and leave a little early, and I can pray the Liturgy of the Hours there.”

Well, I did that, but the day had already gotten off to a bad start, and my response to everything that happened tells me, looking back at it, that I hadn’t started my day in the right place.

TWO: Tuesday’s fun continued that evening when I went to take TheKid to rehearsal–and found I had a flat tire. Hubs wasn’t home yet, but my friend who lives right behind us was, and she graciously drove to the theatre. Yes, I had to ask for help, which I hate to do.

Yesterday morning Hubs went to change my flat tire and spent half an hour getting the spare tire from its mount underneath the back end of the car. We’ve had that van 10 years and never knew the spare was on the outside. Then he was all set to change the tire and the jack that came with the van just collapsed. We are grateful for the free Roadside Assistance that our auto insurance provides. That guy brought a jack and had the tire changed in 3 minutes or less.

(It would have been nice if Roadside Assistance Guy had put the damaged tire into the back of the van. I didn’t notice that he’d just left it sitting in the driveway until he had gone. For the record, van tires are HEAVY.)

I steeled myself for a runaround at the tire shop, because they are notorious for that sort of thing, and then settled in with my laptop to do some editing work with “The Price is Right” blaring on the big TV in front of me.

The view from my office at the tire center, while I waited for my flat tire to be repaired.
The view from my office at the tire center, while I waited for my flat tire to be repaired.

Fortunately they were able to repair the tire; we’re planning on replacing that van soon and we didn’t want to have to invest a lot of money in fixing anything. $22 and I was on my way.

THREE: I stuck to my guns and got a refund from an Amazon third-party seller who sent me a knockoff product that was unbelievably bad. If I’d read the reviews, I’d have known not to buy this item. The seller wanted to refund only $1, but Amazon has an A-to-Z guarantee and as the item description clearly mentioned the name brand (and even said “check that the product is not fake”) I figured I had two legs to stand on, and it’s easier for me to be assertive via email and online forms than in person. Within an hour I was credited with the full purchase price.

FOUR: I gave this site a new look!

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Small Success: Little Things

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

A little tweak of the morning routine this week has made things much more peaceful for both me and TheKid. When I take steps to help things run smoothly, everyone is much calmer and the day gets off to a better start.

Just now, I dropped off TheKid’s scholarship application at the Catholic high school he plans to attend. It contains a DVD with a duet he performed in his most recent play: Into the Woods, Jr., where he played the role of Rapunzel’s Prince. There is also the required scholarship essay, his entire theatre resume (14 shows since spring 2011) and the program from a diabetes event last spring where he and I served as panelists to help families decide if a continuous glucose monitor would be a good way to help them manage diabetes.

Hopefully we’ll hear by this time next week whether he has won a scholarship award.

I don’t know why I keep buying laundry pretreaters. I finally got the French-onion-soup stains on Hubs’ NEW (from Christmas) golf shirt, which went through the dryer before I noticed the spots, out. My  cheap and effective secret weapon? A generous dose of original Dawn dishwashing soap, scrubbed in with an old toothbrush. Hang to dry until you’re sure it’s stain-free.

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Small Success: Not on Thursday

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

This week has been a little extra busy, so it’s a good thing that the Small Success linkup isn’t limited to a single day.

I’m sort of managing to be sedentary. And by this I mean, the Christmas tree is down but all the other decorations in the house are still hanging around, and those are coming down little by little. There’s very little pain in my foot and I want to keep it that way.

The past couple of days, I’ve been drinking my coffee without sugar. Just cream. I’m not missing the sugar, either. Maybe it’s because I’m drinking good coffee and I’ve finally gotten the hang of the Aeropress I got for Christmas…

cuisinart cookwareAlso for Christmas, I got some shiny new cookware. That was a want, not a need, because most of the cookware I already had was serviceable (though there were a few nonstick pieces that had been badly scratched by utensils that are not nonstick-friendly). I took out all the old cookware, boxed up the pieces that were still good for Middle Sister to use next year when she has an on-campus apartment, and did not save the damaged cookware “just in case I might need it someday.” That’s a BIG step for me. My kitchen-equipment hoarding tendencies go way back.

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Small Success: Healing in Progress

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

I used to count it a success if I made the time in the week to get to the gym for a walk on the treadmill, or to get outside for a good brisk walk (it’s 9/10 of a mile around my block, so with a little extra pass by the neighbor’s house, I can make it an easy mile).

And then I injured a tendon in my foot and was assigned, just before Thanksgiving, to wear a very stylish walking boot for six weeks—from morning ‘til night. No exceptions.

das bootI told TheKid that if he caught me walking around without that boot, I’d pay him a dollar.

I wore the boot to Thankgiving dinner, Mass on Sundays and Christmas Day, a concert I was playing in (hey, it’s black, so it blended in with concert dress), and New Year’s Eve. I wore it all the time.

I couldn’t climb up and down stepladders and stools wearing this boot, so I had to let go of my own personal Christmastime point of pride: stringing 1500+ lights on the Christmas tree. My daughter did the lights. There are under 1000 lights on the tree this year but it still looks beautiful, and I’m happy that my daughter was willing and able to do the job I couldn’t do.

I couldn’t go to the mall and do the Christmas shopping, but that’s why I have Amazon Prime, and my husband and the kids picked up the slack and went to the store for me.

The other day, the doctor said I can transition out of the boot. I only need to wear it after lunch until bedtime, through Sunday, and then I can leave it off completely. However, I must wear good supportive sneakers at all times for 5 weeks.

Even to Mass on Sundays. That’ll look lovely.

Also, I’m supposed to be sedentary when I’m out of the boot, which is why I waited until after lunch to go grocery shopping yesterday.

This doctor is not a mom. He has no idea about what moms consider “sedentary.” For me, it means I sit when I’m not cooking, doing laundry, running errands, or cleaning—though I’ve farmed out a good deal of cleaning and lowered my standards there. I’m pretty sure my doctor does not intend for me to spend an hour or more on my feet each evening, cooking and then cleaning up afterward. I should probably plan some slow-cooker meals for next week.

I stuck with the boot for 6 weeks; I’m hoping to stick to sedentary-and-sneakers for 5. I’m avoiding foot surgery, and that’s a success. I’m accepting help from Hubs and the kids, which is hard for me to do, so that’s a success.

God did not send me a foot injury, but he did put me in a place where I can survive off my feet (sort of) for several weeks. My kids are older now; one teenager and two young adults (only one of whom lives here). And I’m not teaching, so I’m not standing all day as part of my job. (No, there will not be a standing desk in my future anytime soon.)

I’m healing. I’m delegating. And I’m letting things go. Success!

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Small Success: Slow Christmas

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

My house doesn’t look like Christmas yet, and I’m OK with that. I am not going to be climbing on things and hanging things up this year–my foot (and the boot that’s on it) won’t allow that. But I have a daughter who’s just home from college and looking for things to do, so I’ll show her where I keep the decoration boxes and leave her to it.

1525 lights 2011 Christmas smallerI’m even OK with the fact that I won’t be doing my traditional chore of putting lights on the Christmas tree (that job involves 4 hours, at least 3 folding chairs plus a stepstool, and much up-and-down. I’m vertically challenged.) The year this photo was taken, I hit my Personal Best of 1500+ lights and, I believe, at least 2 blown-out extension cords. I’m the Clark Griswold of Christmas-tree lights, and I’m not ashamed of that in the least. There were so many lights on that tree, who even needed ornaments?

But someone else will light up the tree this year, and I’m sure they won’t use as many lights as I do, but that’s OK because the doctor says my foot is healing well. I have to continue wearing this boot full-time until January 5, when I get to bring a shoe to the doctor’s office and wear the boot only half-days for another week.

At least this keeps me out of the mall, which is perfectly fine with me. I’ve been doing a lot of online shopping thanks to various free-shipping offers and my good friend Amazon Prime, and I’m here to tell you that Target’s “order online, pick up in store” is way, way, WAY better than Best Buy’s. (Place order. Wait for text message. Go to Customer Service and tell them you’re picking up. Hand them your driver’s license for verification, take your stuff and go. By the time you get home, your receipt will be in your email inbox. It’s THAT easy.) Using that service saved me a trek through the whole store. The less walking, the better.

I’ll have a couple of weeks off from work to celebrate Christmas, and I’ve got plans:

  • set up a gift-wrapping center in TheKid’s old room
  • start wrapping gifts and use my Super-Secret Gift-Numbering Method™ to keep snoopy people from snooping
  • 2 beta reads and 1 (short) freelance editing job
  • spend some time with my Everything Notebook, doing some goal-setting, planning and dreaming

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wish I still had this sign to hang on the door to the room where I’ll be doing the gift wrapping. I should have kept it!

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Small Success: New Strings for Christmas

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

For the Christmas-music version of Teenage Musical Torture, I’ve been waking TheKid with such gems as “Dominic the Donkey,” Bob Dylan’s version of “Must Be Santa” (complete with accordion–it’s a real treat) and the barking-dog cover of “Jingle Bells.” Because laughing in the morning is way better than shouting.

On Sunday at rehearsal for the Festival of Lessons and Carols, I noticed that my guitar strings were in terrible shape. I’m really bad about changing my guitar strings. It takes FOR-EV-ER, and I suppose that if I did it more often, I’d be quicker at the job. But I have a 12-string guitar, so that means the job takes twice as long.

IMG_0039But since the strings were actually starting to unravel, I had to do something about them before one of them decided to break in the middle of Mass or that concert.

Amazingly, I managed to get all the strings changed out in 1 hour and 15 minutes, shaving 45 minutes off my Best Time Ever–and the new strings nearly held perfect tune during folk-group practice last night (I was still restringing the guitar when people arrived at practice.) Maybe next time I won’t wait so long to do this job.

During yesterday’s Epic Burst of Productivity (really. It was insane.) I dug through the freezer and inventoried the meat. I also sorted it out, as things tend to get shoved in there without regard to putting like items together. And unless there is a Sale of Epic Proportions at the grocery store, I won’t be buying any more meat until mid-January.

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Small Success: Shrines and Sick Days

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

I’m supposed to be substitute-teaching right now, but TheKid and I both have some kind of stomach ickiness, where you just feel terrible but nothing terrible actually happens. I haven’t had (or wanted) coffee since Tuesday, so something is definitely amiss.

I know he’s not malingering today, because I reminded him that no school today means no rehearsal tonight, and he didn’t protest.

When I picked up TheKid at school yesterday after the nurse called me, I stopped at the office to let them know that teaching today wasn’t happening. They graciously reminded me that TheKid comes first. Then the secretary called a few hours later to ask how he was and to let me know that they’d found someone to sub today–because she knew I’d be feeling bad about that.

I’d worked hard on Tuesday to get ahead on things, which was good, because I just wasn’t feeling it yesterday. Instead, I did a little bit of work and then bailed to the couch with my ginger ale and crackers and a novel I’ll be reviewing soon.

SKD with Pat and Lisa 2 photo by Lisa Hendey
Photo credit: Lisa Hendey

BUT I did have one nice big success on Monday. I got to visit with Lisa Hendey and Pat Gohn on the last stop of their Papal Pilgrimage to Philly: the Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel in Bensalem, PA. It’s less than 25 minutes away, and I’d never been there. It was a beautiful place to pray, walk and chat. I took many photos but they deserve a post of their own.

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Small Success: Better Late than Never

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

I am very, very late for Small Success today.

I stuck my nose in a novel early this morning and that seems to have thrown the whole rest of the day off. (It’s really good, though!)

In spite of that, I managed to get a good bit accomplished. Except for the laundry that I tossed into the machine at 8:30 AM and haven’t moved since. But here’s my day:

9:00. Mass, which turned out to be a Communion service, because Father was very ill today. (Memorare UP!)

9:30. Home to check TheKid, who was still asleep. Add a few donated books to the Excel spreadsheet for the Secular Franciscans’ library, which we are getting ready to divide and share with the parish.

10:15. Pick up a roll for my lunch and a latte at Wawa, then over to the parish center to pull all the Franciscan-specific library books for the Secular Franciscan library. All others will become part of the parish library.

11:15. Back home. Wake up TheKid, make sure he has breakfast, and send him out the door for a haircut.

Noon to 1. Adoration, followed by a quick stop in parish office to tell business manager that I’m done with the library.

1:15. Return home, admire haircut, force TheKid to make bed before agreeing to drive him to visit theater friends in different zip code.

2:10. Return home, eat quick lunch (meatball sandwich using last night’s leftovers) and head to supermarket. MAJOR success here involves eating before shopping. I saved mucho dinero that way.

3:30. Back from supermarket. Put away groceries and return phone call from my mom.

4:40. Back out to pick up TheKid.

5:30. Home again. Prepare to make dinner, begin preheating oven and get text from Hubs that he’s just leaving work now. Turn off oven and wait until 6:30 to finish cooking.

You’ll notice that nowhere in there did I mention work, which fortunately I got done ahead of time yesterday (though I did not expect, even a little bit, that this day would turn out this crazy).

And I’m kind of wishing I’d remembered to wear my Fitbit because I think I’d have clocked up quite a few steps along the way today.

Amazingly, I’m not too tired and I’m even in a good mood after all that. (Perhaps the biggest success of all!)

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Small Success: Vacation Edition

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800 Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

We went on vacation last week, so I missed out on the Small Success fun. It’s good to be back!

My successes from the past week–

  1. I took the week off. I’d worked very hard to get everything done ahead of time at CatholicMom so that I could take the time off and not leave stuff for Lisa Hendey to have to handle. That success is not all on me, though–it’s due to all the writers who stepped up and got their articles in early so I could do that. I’m really grateful to all of them; I stayed off the “work” end of the website but did visit the site so I could leave comments. And Monday morning, I was refreshed and ready to jump back into my job.

    NMB storm cloud 1c
    It was kind of hard to leave this view behind…
  2. I planned ahead. Getting that work done meant a lot of advance planning–but so did the family logistics that go with a week’s vacation. We stayed in a condo so that we could make most of our meals there. Not only is this a money-saver, but it’s also a comfort when you have any special dietary needs in your family. Since TheKid is diabetic, I planned our meals ahead and did most of the grocery shopping before we left. I packed a large cooler with milk, butter, vegetables and meats. Here’s the pile of non-perishable food (and a few other necessities) we brought for our 7-day stay:Vacation food packing 2015 1c
  3. I didn’t get “how I get” on vacation. Usually I last about 3 days before I start getting anxious, and believe me when I say that’s no fun for everyone. Maybe it’s because the kids are older and more independent; maybe I’m just getting better at reining that in (or letting it go); maybe it was our agreement that, for the most part, we didn’t ALL have to do All The Things. While Hubs and TheKid played mini-golf one night, Daughter and I went to the shopping center to hunt for souvenirs; we all met for ice cream at the end of the evening’s activities. And some days, I didn’t stray further than the edge of the beach where I could pick up scallop shells.

 

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Small Success: Oven Meltdown Edition

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

Yesterday I had one of THOSE mornings. You know the kind.

  • I dropped off my van to get brake fluid and transmission fluid changed out, only to have the mechanic call to tell me that they’d had to jump-start “Brucie” to get him into the shop, and I needed a new battery.
  • TheKid lost the charm from his medic-alert necklace.
  • My oven decided to overachieve, burning a frozen pizza that should take 15 minutes to cook in 5 minutes flat, then flashing an error message on the screen.
  • There was a mouse sighting on the back porch.
  • And I had NO Milky Ways in the house to help me deal with any of this.

There may or may not have been a bit of a meltdown for a little while around here…and then…

  • I (reluctantly) bit the bullet on the van repair.
  • I ordered TheKid a set of medic-alert rubber bracelets that say “Type 1 Diabetes” on them. 4 for $12. They’ll be here Friday. Thank you, Amazon Prime.
  • One of the Secular Franciscans saw my Facebook vent and messaged me that her husband repairs appliances! He called to help diagnose the problem. We’re not sure if a part’s available or if the stove is worth the price of the repair, but progress is being made.

    For the record, it was decaf. And very much needed.
    For the record, it was decaf. And very much needed.
  • I told TheKid that if the Street Urchins helped him to safely capture and relocate the porch mouse, I’d buy them all donuts. They caught the mouse and took it down the street where there are some woods and a creek. I bought the donuts. And a caramel iced coffee, to compensate for the lack of Milky Ways.
  • I got a postcard from the jury duty people who had scheduled me for the end of August. I’d asked for a postponement until sometime during the school year. They excused me from duty altogether.

I don’t know what helped get things turned around after that one hour when one thing after another went wrong. There was a lot of “God, help me” going on, that’s for sure! These were not all big things but all of that at once was more than I wanted to handle.

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© 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz