Monday, May 15, 2017

Prayerfully Consider


Jacksonville, FL has a population of 853,382 (2014). When I was there a few weekends ago, I was hoping to find one of those 853,382 people - a man named Patrick Flynn.  

Patrick is the guy who's fighting a diocesan ruling that's denying unvaccinated children their education.  They've been barred from enrolling in Catholic schools for 2 years now.  Ever since I heard about Patrick's case, I'd been praying about contacting him.  

Should I?  His fight is a good one, but it's not my fight.

Why should I anyway?  Even though the Bishop's ruling directly affects family members living in Jax, I didn't know what to do beyond encourage family to fight back.  


So I prayed one more time...

God, if it's meant to be, please lead me to Patrick.  Well, holy cow, er...I mean, Holy Spirit!  My prayer was answered.  I ran smack dab into Patrick in the middle of the street outside the Church where the Bishop had just said Mass. 

Talk about chills.  


I wrote about the convo Patrick and I had.  His fight is a tough one, but it's worthy of all of our attention, especially for other Catholics even if they're not living in that diocese.  How can you help?  Prayerfully consider supporting his cause.   

Pray.  

Share the link.  

Donate.
*

And believe that justice will prevail. 

xo, Cat

--

* Link to the gofundme page

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I Will Always

My daughter pointed out to me that it's been way too long since I've added anything new to my page here.  I have tons of stuff to share but have had no time to sit, type, and post.  I'll hopefully get some time to do that soon.  Until I can, here's something short and sweet for today.  It's some thoughts from a discovery that took place a few years ago.  

--


Sometimes, I can't believe the music Ronan chooses.  Other times, I realize that the songs he picks are spot on.  I shared one of those amazing discoveries before.  The one I'm sharing today was, at the time, totally random.  Thinking it was so totally random, I'd shared with some friends:

"Ronan's choice of songs tonight  Little dude's music is amazing."  

He'd picked I Will Always by The Cranberries.  And it really was amazing.  

A friend offered some insight later that night.  She said that when kids like our non-verbal children open what we believe are just random youtube clips, they are actually trying to communicating with us.  The more Ronan's done that, including with that Cranberries song he'd opened and played for me, the more I wholeheartedly agree with her.  


Thinking back to when Ronan found that song, it made me pause.  When I listened to the song by myself, it made cry.  Ronan played it for me before a rash of sickness and seizures hit him. 

I will always
Go beside you
You will always
Understand.

Knowing that I'd never leave his side while he was beginning to not feeling well must have given him comfort.  Through the illness, through the sleepless nights, and through the worrisome seizures, I never did leave his side.  I'd promised him that I wouldn't.  It took quite a few days for Ronan to bounce back, but he thankfully got better.  

Ronan's played other songs for me since then that I know are not so random.  When I hear those songs now, like when I heard I Will Always last week, I'm reminded of a few things:  

First, Ronan really has great taste in music.  
Second, he is communicating loudly and very clearly via that music.  
Finally, and most importantly, he knows that, no matter what, I will always go beside him.  

How could I not?  He has been, and remains, my biggest inspiration. 

xo, Cat





Friday, March 17, 2017

...Is Love


So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13


I love taking photos in the kitchen as the brilliant morning sunlight streams through the window.  I thought I'd missed the opportunity today, but as I made Ronan's breakfast, the sunshine started to pour in.  It was SO bright!  I almost burned my retinas while snapping pictures today.   

You can't see the super, bright sunshine because of the way I edited the photo.  I still think it's a great photo.  I think it's perfect with the text I added, too.  That verse has been on my mind all week.  And that heart?  It was part of a Valentine's Day gift I got from my husband.  I've been staring at it all week. It sits on the windowsill where the sunshine greets me each morning.     

I'm grateful to have captured a photo where I could share the heart and the message.  Faith is important.  Hope is as well.  And love?  

Love motivates.  

It trusts.

It protects.  

It hopes.

It never fails.

Love is essential.  


Love is all sorts of things.  But out of everything, it really is the greatest.  May we all be blessed today with love.    

xo, Cat


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Start to Finish

I love watching Willem work on his art.  He is so focused and creative.  Where I can only draw stick figures, he adds artistic elements that I've never even heard of.  

Friday night, I asked Ronan's little brother to help me with an illustration.  I told him it would accompany a post I wrote that's going up today about super heroes.  He quickly agreed to help.  The finished product came out amazing!   

I took some pictures of Willem while he was work.  From start to finish, it took him about 2 hours to add all the detail.  Here's the progression.  



Ronan overheard us talking about the Iron Giant. Guess who started watching the movie a few minutes later??  Yep, Ronan!  That's him in the bottom right photo (above).  Willem thought it was neat - Ronan was 2 rooms over when he heard our convo.  He may not say much, but Ronan is so receptive! 



From a plain piece of paper to the final product, I think it's perfect.  Willem used pencil, pen, and colored pencils for this piece.  He drew freehand while getting inspiration from screenshots of certain scenes and by also watching the movie.  The final draft is in his "gallery".  You can find it and other recent creations of his by clicking this link.   

Enjoy!

xo, Cat


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Everything In Between

We grab learning moments every chance we can get, even while we're still in our jammies.  

My niece gave us this game at Christmas.  We don't play it 'by the rules' so much yet, but every morning, I take out the tiles and see what words I can make.  Ronan watches and listens as I pronounce them.  If he recognizes a word, he signs it to me.  

I love today's words!  
My favorite ones from today?  Darth Vadar.  We don't have a sign for that one though.  :)





As I snapped some pictures of Ronan making 2 of his favorite words with the tiles - dog and cat - my eye caught the letters A and Z on the kids' morning devotional.  Ronan loves his letters, and I love the sweet yet powerful message that uses just 2 simple letters. 




God is the Beginning.  

God is the Ending.  

Not only that, He's the everything in between, too! 

Because God is also the everything in between, I know that I don't ever have to go it alone.  God's here with me, and He promises to never leave me.  He is right there beside me no matter what I've done, said, or have failed to do.  I'm thankful for that.  I am so very thankful for that. 

xo, Cat


---

Updated 3/4/17- my kids informed me that I have a typo, and I guess, a Bananagram-o.  I can't believe I spelled Darth Vader's name wrong!  Oops!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

More Baby Steps

File this under:  More Baby Steps to Toilet Training

Some may see this as an annoyance - teenaged kid drops clothing on the floor and leaves it there.
I see it as a win.

Years ago when my typical kids were toilet training, they'd peel off all their clothes as they felt the urge to use the bathroom.  Ronan is almost there.  He's been taking off his clothes after a big pee (in his diaper) indicating that he needs a diaper change.  That, plus bringing a ton of diapering supplies to us, tells me we are inching closer and closer to more toileting success.  

What's next?  

Well, besides getting the kid dressed again, I'm hoping and praying he wants to do his bathroom business in the bathroom.

xo, Cat

--

Do you have a toilet training success story?  Feel free to share it below!  


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Choosing to Smile

February 4th, This Blows:   

...While I try to be upbeat and hopeful, there are days I just can't keep smiling. Ronan looks so normal at first glance.  Strangers don't understand why he behaves the way he does when they first meet him.  It's painful in those moments to either try to explain things to them or to choose to move faster and farther away from them.

I struggle to envision Ronan as typically-abled on my own bad days.  Some times I just want to blow off my responsibilities as a Mom but I know that I could never do that.  I have five kids and they all need me in some special way.  Ronan is my most needy most days as he has many medical issues that include mito disease, autism and cognitive delays.  My life includes weeks that are tornado-like and should have high alert statuses to warn others what to expect...


That old blog post crossed my path today.  I have a few other posts on the AO page, but I'd forgotten about that one.  It's written in typical me fashion - always try, always try to be hopeful, always celebrate the small victories, and never stop believing.  

From the beginning, I haven't stopped believing.  I may stumble every now and then and get down in the dumps, but that's not terribly unusual.  Lots of people stumble in life.  I push through, like others do, and try to put a smile back on my face like I did this week.  

This week was THE PITS.  My kids were sick.  My well-thought out plans were completely destroyed.  Then Ronan had dozens of seizures on Thursday.  The night those came on was the worst.  Walking around with more worry than with happiness, I asked myself how do I keep smiling when there's nothing to smile about?  

Then I saw that post.  Written during what looks like was a mirror-image awful week seven years ago, it was full of similar struggles, similar emotions, and also similar fall-down-but-don't-stay-down advice:  You'll pick yourself back up again, Cat.  Hang in there, you'll see.   

...while most of Ronan's days are full of struggle just to do the simple things - like getting in his chair without falling over, or scooping his food without it spilling out of the spoon - Ronan is victorious in some manner.  Each day he faces more challenges than I will ever know.  Each day he teaches me and gives me a chance to learn more and do better than yesterday.  He is helping me to overcome the pain of what if things had been different, why did this happen to you and why did it happen to me too.  I may just want to blow things off but that little hero wrapped up in a seven year old's body keeps pushing me along.  I can't wait to find out what we'll learn together tomorrow.

As usual, things settled down this week as they did the week I wrote that old blog post, too.  

Making sure all was well before tiptoeing back out in the world again, I left Ronan resting at home with his therapist on Friday morning.  Walking out of the house and away from the chaos the week had left behind - piles of laundry, empty cupboards, mail yet to be read and medical bills stacking up - I pulled out my To Do list.  Overwhelmed, I saw that I had much to do.  

My first task was to get groceries.  Needing to stock up on bulk items, I headed to Costco.  In my own little world, I went up and down the long aisles getting the things we needed.  My cart was full.  With still so much to get to on my To Do list but with little time to get everything done, I headed toward the exit.  I hadn't realized I was smiling as I got closer to the doorway, but my smile caught the eye of the older, happy fellow who'd be charged to check customer's receipts.  

Smiling himself, he said, "I can tell you're going to have a really good day.  Your smile tells me that you are."

Taken aback, because I was concentrating on which errand I could tackle next - deposit a check, pick up medical records, or get to another store, I blushed.  

Thanking him and said, "You have yourself a good day, too." 

Even though this week blew and even though it was one of the most tiring, awful, trying and annoying weeks ever, with his encouragement, I promised myself that I would keep on smiling for the rest of the day.  

I always have the choice to find hope, to find happiness, and to draw on the positives.  On any given day, I face negative attitudes, situations, and outcomes.  They swirl about, but it's the positive moments and experiences that inspire me to go forward.  Sometimes in the midst of a tough day or a tough week, like the one I just had, I have to search out those positive moments.  Other times, they come in the form of a simple smile from a Costco employee. 

That employee had no idea the week I'd had.  He had no idea how dejected I'd felt the night before while I watched my son have one seizure one right after the other.  But that fellow chose to see that there was a glimmer of happiness to be found.  When he pointed that out to me, I smiled with purpose.  
Making a conscious effort to smile, to hope, and to find the positive is much better than holding onto pain.  Pain is a tricky thing, especially when one hasn't yet learned how to completely let it go.  Pain can be temporary, though, and for me in that moment, it all but disappeared.  

I know that pain has no place in a happy heart, so I thank God that I crossed paths with that Costco exactly when I did.  I hope I get to see him again on my next shopping trip.  His smile was warm, inviting and genuine and exactly what this tired but hopeful mama needed.  

xo, Cat