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.
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Small Success: Harbor View Edition

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

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Just a random list for today:

Middle Sister was home from college for a short fall break. It was nice having her around. The other day I was super tired and couldn’t concentrate, and she had nothing to do for a couple of hours, so we found a place to go get brunch–someplace neither of us had been before. It’s right in a harbor in our hometown, and we didn’t even know it was here. Since it was a beautiful day, we elected to eat on the waterfront deck. While we enjoyed our meal, we got to look at the fall foliage (just beginning to turn here in southern NJ) and admire the various boats, debating which boat we’d like to have if we were ever going to have a boat.

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Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

I haven’t had any cola in a month. My house is free of Pepsi (my cola of choice) and Coke (which is a backup when Pepsi’s not available). Except for one ginger ale one day when my stomach was upset, I have had no soda since 9/21. I’d like to know when the weight will start coming off…I still crave it, but I’m not drinking it.

–TheKid’s show opens tonight (and closes Sunday) which means we’ve almost survived the Fall of Soccer and Theatre. Today is a big push: it’s an away game, almost an hour from here, that begins at 4. He’s supposed to be at the theatre by 6. THAT’S not going to happen, but they know he’ll be running in late, and it’s not like he has makeup to worry about. After today there are 2 more games on the schedule. I don’t know how postseason works. But I have been there for every minute of every game; the past couple of weeks we’ve teetered right on the edge of diabetes drama for several games. Fortunately he’s been OK, but it doesn’t do much for this mama’s blood pressure!

–Today’s fun: chasing down medical referrals for Hubs’ upcoming checkup at the cancer center as his 4-year cancer anniversary just passed. It’s always fun when you get different answers from different people. I have one more phone call to make before I can call the primary doctor and request all of these, but I can’t do that until after 9 AM.

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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: Less Jealousy, More Compassion

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

Several months ago, I got a Facebook friend request that surprised me, from a mom I’ve been acquainted with for several years through school. Our paths have crossed through various sports and school parties, but we don’t know each other at all and normally wouldn’t get past that “how’s your kid doing?” type of conversation.

This mom is a confident woman. She’s successful in the business world. She’s comfortable in leadership positions.

In other words, she’s the opposite of me.

My own bad experiences in high school (I was the middle-class kid in a very small school populated largely by the Ivy-league crowd) lead me to instinctively fear people like this mom. And by “fear” I mean “do anything I can to avoid having to be near” such people.

That’s not conducive to getting to know someone.

That doesn’t help you dispel the crazy illusions you have that someone else, someone you really don’t know, leads a charmed life where everything is perfectly perfect.

My fear of confident, successful leaders, it turns out, is born of a bad combination of social anxiety and jealousy.

There. I said it.

Anyway, I accepted the friend request and didn’t think anything of it.

Over the past few months, this mom has shared some things that have opened my eyes.

She does not live the charmed life I thought she did. This is not because she was ever lying about her life–it’s about the assumptions I made given the little I knew.

Her life is not perfect. She has problems too. She has trials and struggles and difficult situations.

She’s just like the rest of us, trying to make the best of things.

This mom has been gifted with confidence and leadership abilities. She uses them at work and she uses them as she volunteers to help her children’s schools. She’s a hard worker, not standing on some perfect pedestal.

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So for those people who say that spending time on social media is useless, I’m sharing this story. If I had not made this Facebook connection, I’d never have learned that someone I thought was so perfect, who had it all, has problems too.

I’d never have had the opportunity to feel less jealousy and more compassion.

I’m still working on the social anxiety part, but this is a big step in the right direction.

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Small Success: Resurrection Mile

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

Still plugging away at making a routine happen around here. I went to the gym (once) and did a Resurrection Mile (twice). What’s a “Resurrection Mile”? I go to Resurrection Parish, and on one of our two church campuses, there’s a parish center with a gymnasium. The building is open weekdays from 9 to 3 for people to come in and walk laps around the gym. Our parish has daily Mass at that location 3 days a week, so I’m trying to go over and walk my mile (20 times around the gym) after Mass. I listen to a podcast on my phone while I walk! I’m catching up on Among Women and Girlfriends this way.

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I have officially run out of Pepsi and decided that I’m going to use this opportunity to try to give up soda. More water, iced tea and iced coffee using my super-duper iced-coffee-without-ice-cubes cup*–that’s my plan.

I stuck to the meal plan and tried a new recipe.

Pork Scaloppine by Barb Szyszkiewicz for CookandCount.wordpress.com

One thing I did that I never do: stayed up to watch a TV show that started at 10 PM. Actually, the fact that I intentionally watched a TV show is astonishing enough. But “Designated Survivor” hooked me from the promos and did not disappoint. Did you watch? What did you think?

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Small Success: Unscheduled

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

So far this week, it’s been one unscheduled thing after another.

I don’t usually do schedule changes well. I like to know when things will happen. And yes, I do have a Google calendar so colorful that my older son compared it to a quilt:

Here's what this week looks like. Some colors are for work. Dark red and orange are TheKid, and light blue is mine.
Here’s what this week looks like. Yellow and green are for work (there’s also purple for work, but that’s for unfinished articles and I’m done with everything for the week). Dark red and orange are TheKid, and light blue is mine. Dark blue is the Notre Dame football game (GO IRISH!)

Things that happened that weren’t on my color-coded calendar: my daughter’s car wouldn’t start on Sunday and had to be towed to our mechanic. She had a doctor’s appointment Monday to finish an immunization series required for her nursing-school clinicals. So I got to drive back and forth to LaSalle twice on Monday, because the car wasn’t ready yet and she had to get back to school to study for a test.

Fortunately I knew on Sunday night that I’d need to do this, so I was up and working early Monday morning. I managed to get my work done for the day, get to Mass, do a load of laundry, clean both bathrooms and make a good dinner in addition to all the driving.

On Tuesday I spent an hour or more preparing for a meeting, but the others who were supposed to attend the meeting were no-shows. I spent another hour or more stressing about that. I also baked some cookies.

Double chocolate-peanut butter cookies by Barb Szyszkiewicz for cookandcount.wordpress.com

I was doing pretty well with all that unscheduled stuff until this morning when TheKid missed the bus. He’d made the bus for 6 school days in a row and I was hoping this was a trend; now we’ll need to figure out how to get him back on track for tomorrow. I tried not to yell and poison the morning. I didn’t raise my voice, but we didn’t part on happy terms today. (I know I’m breaking the Small Success “rules” by saying this here, but here I am, back to trying to figure out how to get TheKid to build good habits and respect other people’s time.)

This week I also created a new recipe for pork stir-fry/lo mein. It came out really good!

Pork lo mein by Barb Szyszkiewicz for Cookandcount.wordpress.com

And yesterday I had the chance to meet my parents for lunch; they were on their way back from vacation, so we found a place along their route that was only about 30 minutes from me.

I made a resolution this summer to learn something new every week. I managed to create sidebar widgets for the two books for which I’m a contributor! (Purchase your copies today!)

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Small Success: Summer’s End

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

At long last, summer is over and everyone is back in school. TheKid had his high-school orientation day yesterday. They toured the school, got their school-issued tablet PCs, learned about their options for extracurricular activities, had a picnic lunch, went to Mass and had pictures taken.

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“Mom, do you REALLY have to take my picture?”

He was out of bed before Barry Gibb got to the part in “Tragedy” where he sounds like he’s being tased (this song is the current musical torture device I’m using to wake him up.)

And he made the bus.

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He’s too old to acknowledge my presence at the bus stop.

This is only the second time in 9 years that the bus (provided by the local public-school district) has actually showed up on the first day of school. I didn’t have to call the transportation office and pester them about why there was no bus.

Tuesday he had a soccer game, and I drove 45 minutes to the hosting school only to discover when I got there that their athletic fields are 2 miles away from the school. That wasn’t fun. I have a plan in place now to double-check all soccer-game directions by visiting the host school’s website. And scrolling all the way to the bottom of the very long home page, because that’s where they hide this information.

I don’t know what most parents do about going to their kids’ games. I never made it to too many games or track meets for the older kids, because TheKid was in grade school that dismissed at 3 and he wasn’t home until at least 3:35. We went to the local games and home games, but that was it. They’ll probably complain that it’s not fair that I go to all his games now. Honestly, driving an hour each way to a game (like I’ll do today) and sitting outside for over an hour in 95-degree weather (like I’ll do today) isn’t super high on my list of fun things to do.

But I’m worried (maybe needlessly, but I worry) that TheKid will have a blood-sugar issue during a game, and the coach might not be ready to handle that. The parents’ meeting the other night didn’t help reassure me on this matter–the varsity coach told parents that if our child is injured at a game or practice, he should see the trainer before we take him to a doctor. Well, that’s fine if it’s a home game, but if the game is an hour away (like today’s game) and the trainer is gone by the time the team bus returns to school, I’m not going to wait until after school tomorrow to get the trainer’s opinion on whether my injured child needs medical attention–just because the trainer will “make sure the players get back on the field quickly and doctors make them wait weeks to return.” I feel like we were being told that the athletes’ health is less of a priority than a winning record. Maybe that’s not the case, but that’s how I interpreted it.

So I struggled about deciding to make it a priority to attend the games. Right now, for my own peace of mind, I’ll drive the hour and sit in the heat and be there, checking that glucose-monitor app and just keeping an eye on my kid. Once the game is over and I know that all is well, I’ll leave in my car, because he has to stay and watch the end of the varsity game and then ride the team bus home.

In other news, I have a couple of articles up at CatholicMom this week that you might like:

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Book Notes Goes to Middle School: 7 Riddles to Nowhere

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Intercessory Prayer Gets Behind the Wheel
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Small Success and Chocolate Therapy Cookies

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

Honestly, I kind of feel like I’m spinning my wheels right now. Or maybe “running around in a hamster wheel” is a better way to describe it. Either way, I’m just feeling scattered. I took my scattered self to Adoration today and left after an hour, no less scattered than when I’d walked in.

A couple of things I’ve gotten right:

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  • I invented some new cookies yesterday. Chocolate cookies with bittersweet chocolate chips, pecans and craisins. 6 inches across (I don’t mess around.)
  • I made the cookies to cheer up a friend who’s grieving the loss of one of her good friend’s husbands.
  • I baked a double batch of those cookies.
  • I was able to say “yes” when my cookie-receiving friend mentioned that her friend could use a dinner for tonight (guess what’s for dessert?)

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Small Success: Sleep-Deprived Edition

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

I’ll say one thing right up front: it’s going to be a BIG success today if I manage to stay awake during my Adoration hour at noon. I’ve been up since about 3:30 AM, on diabetes duty. (Thank you, soccer tryouts that run from 5 to 7:30 and mess with blood sugars hours later. Hubs had 2 sleepless nights in a row, so last night was my turn. TheKid was in the safe zone by 4:15, but by then I was good and awake.) Sitting in a quiet place for an hour is going to be dangerous. I hope my guardian angel can keep me from snoozing in the chapel!

There’s been a lot of post-vacation catching up going on at work and at home. All the suitcases except one (containing miscellaneous snorkel gear, rain jackets and souvenirs) have been unpacked. I’m slowly getting my pile of books to review in order, and the clean laundry (8 loads on Monday!) is working its way back toward the drawers and closets.

I didn’t lose any weight on vacation, despite the fact that I basically doubled my daily walking mileage. But I didn’t gain any weight on vacation either, so that’s a victory right there.

Yesterday I took TheKid for his uniforms for high school. Because I hoarded saved hand-me-downs from the Big Kids, he’s all set for dress shirts (those things will never die!), golf shirts and sweaters. All I had to buy was pants and shorts, which were still way too expensive. He’d better not outgrow these anytime soon. Gym uniforms have to be purchased at school, so that’ll be tomorrow’s fun.

Today's Catholic Teacher fall 2016 cover
Today’s Catholic Teacher fall 2016 cover

The Fall 2016 issue of Today’s Catholic Teacher is out, containing my first-ever magazine article! For future issues, I’m working on the Bulletin Board feature, and I have another full-length article coming in the summer 2017 issue. I’m excited about that!

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Small Success: It’s a Thursday

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

So usually I’m all perky and say, “celebrating the ways in which things have gone right!” But today, the little things haven’t. I’m really reaching for the Small Success today.

“It’s a Thursday,” I observed in the middle of this afternoon, as my daughter and I commiserated on all the little things that had gone wrong for both of us all day.

Thursdays were always my daughter’s tough day. Mondays had nothing on Thursdays for her. Thursdays were Murphy’s Law and Monday all rolled into one. My daughter’s trials and tribulations are not mine to share, but today I was having a Thursday too.

I didn’t get to Mass because my tire pressure light went on in the car after I dropped TheKid off at theatre camp. I drove around searching for a gas station with a working air pump. User error meant that I figured out which tire was low but couldn’t manage to fill it. Hubs was late for work because he had to deal with my panic and my tire (with the air compressor he has at home).

It snowballed from there. And then I picked up TheKid at 3, found out that he had to be back at camp at 5:30 for the show tonight, and then read through the new recipe I’d chosen for dinner.

Note to self: never choose a new recipe for dinner when it’s a show night.

This dish simmers for 2 hours after about 25 minutes of prep. It wasn’t looking good for the new recipe.

I jumped back into the car and zipped over to ShopRite for some chicken drumsticks so I could make Miss Jill’s Chicken, which is extra-appropriate since it’s a theatre recipe.

The chicken is in the oven and on track to be done at 4:45 so we can eat and get back to the theatre in time for him to put on his costume and me to help set up concessions for pre-show sales.

The meat for the Swiss steak will go into the freezer for another day, when I have 2 1/2 hours to be home to simmer it.

There are 2 real successes here. OK, 3.

  1. I didn’t completely lose my mind when the dinner plan fell apart.
  2. I hadn’t started cooking that Swiss steak before I noticed that it takes as long as it does to cook.
  3. I didn’t buy, let alone consume, a Milky Way at ShopRite when I ran over there for chicken legs. (All bets are off on this one if there’s good candy at the concession table tonight.)

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Small Success: Live and In Person

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

I’m pretty sure I know what book Sherry is reading, based on what she says in her post. I’m actually reading the same book: Little Sins Mean a Lot by Elizabeth Scalia. Really good stuff.

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Last weekend I was so fed up with all the politics on social media that when I saw the second or third reference to one of my Favorite Novels Ever in Scalia’s book, I bailed on all the rest and took refuge in that novel. It was practically a retreat. Highly recommended. And that was a huge success for me.

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Another huge success: getting to meet (live and in person) about 1/5 of the contributors to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion (coming in August! Preorder yours now!)

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Here we all are! I’m in the back, with the Tall People™ for once!

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Photo taken by CatholicMom.com contributor Rakhi McCormick on Lisa Hendey’s cell phone.Shared by Lisa Hendey on Facebook.

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