Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reflecting on Making Changes for the New Year

I had hours and hours of thinking time as we drove home from our Christmas vacation yesterday.  One thought that kept coming back to me was the fact that I need to make some changes.  Originally published on 3 January 2010, this post came to mind as I drove home.  

Making changes has been a consistent part of this journey.

So has been keeping hopeful.  

And faithful.  

And true.  

xo, Cat


Autism Resolutions: New Routine, Path & Hope
It’s the last day of our Christmas holiday. Ronan is sucking on his RevitaPop while playing with his new Leap Frog toy. The baby is entertaining herself with a stacking game while three heads are huddled around the first video game we’ve ever had in the house.  We’re about to start our new year with new routines and new paths of hope.  Am I ready?
Parts of 2009 were very difficult for me. Even though I needed much more emotional support, I found myself retreating from friends, family and my online and local support groups.  Internal pain distanced me from the chance to catch up with other’s successes.  Despair dragged me down a dark, dark alley of dangerous thoughts.  Expectations I had of Ronan being recovered and ready to be fully mainstreamed were not part of my reality.  What I needed was a cleansing and quickly before I dragged my family down the drain too.
I didn’t go away on a spa retreat to ‘find myself.’ That would take too long, cost too much and I probably wouldn’t want to come home knowing there was peace and quiet somewhere else.  I didn’t seek professional therapy but I have always wondered if I would benefit from talking things out with someone else.  I didn’t run away or kick and scream or cry in my closet hoping things would be magically fixed. Well, I did actually do that but it was only a temporary fix.  I knew I needed to do something big, something more and the time was now.  I discovered that I first needed to change my attitude. Here’s how I see things now:
New Year—it’s more than a new year; it’s a new decade!  Not only can I forget about the things I didn’t get to last year, I see an open canvas in front of me to make the next ten years better.  That sounds like a huge task but even writing these stories helps.  I get some sort of therapy while writing and those that stumble upon the posts will learn that they are not alone.   I realized mid-year last year that my writing style had changed. I was no longer writing stories full of optimism.  Instead, I had a new down-in-the-dumps story pile. It was growing and it scared me. I kept most of those to myself and in my writing folder instead of sharing them.  Living in anger and fear did no one any good.  I’ve always written the ‘hopefully ever after’ type of stories and that mindset was what I needed to go back to.  Those stories are the ones I myself need to read for my own health, sanity and peace.
New Routine—we’ve made some changes that includes more sharing, more learning and an increased level of stress. Stress like this isn’t of the negative kind; it’s stress of time management to learn as much as I can in a short period of time.  That is not a bad thing because in the long run, that knowledge will prove beneficial.  I homeschool some of our children and plan to incorporate Ronan’s behavioral therapy at some level for his siblings.  It works so well for him; it’s got to be just as effective for my neurotypical children too.  I plan on reading, learning and growing right along with my children since they one day will be more than just siblings to Ronan; they will be more active caregivers to their brother.
New Path—I truly believe people are placed in our lives for a reason.  I had the chance to meet a whole new group of people at the Autism One conference last May. They walked into my life at the right moment and I want to keep them in my back pocket forever.  Before I made the trip, I was just coming to terms with the fact that Ronan’s autism was more prevalent than I wanted to admit.  I had only two local friends who truly understood me, my thoughts, my fears, my dreams and the many road blocks to that hope I desperately clung to.  Getting to Chicago was a gift on many levels.  I did have a chance to ‘get away’ and in the process, I gained an army of parents and professionals I can tap into. I am now able to compare what is working in their community and think about how to bring it to my own. I hear about the road blocks they face and wonder why it’s so hard for so many.  It doesn’t stop any of us; it only makes us stronger and more determined to make things better for all our children.  Because that conference was so life-changing for me, I do hope to make it back to Autism One.  I encourage others to do so also.
New Hope —I want to be that smiling and ever-pleased parent. Who doesn’t?  I do have to constantly remind myself, especially on a bad day, to keep my chin up.  Some days I feel completely overwhelmed. I watch Ronan stumble through his tasks, barely following through with a skill he’s already mastered. I watch his younger brother grow physically taller and intellectually smarter. Ronan’s baby sister is catching up to Ronan’s new word base (he can say FOUR words now!).  Do these facts make me sad?  Yes…but, the fact that we can measure Ronan’s progress gives me new hope that he can and is learning.  I have taken his hope into my hands, and we are going to make more opportunities for learning and discovering. 
Ronan tries so hard and has a will power that encourages me to keep moving forward.  Thankfully, my husband has been a huge supporter of the countless therapies I’ve wanted to try. He reads what I ask him to check out, and he comes back to me with the level-headed responses and arguments to either move forward or not.  I appreciate my husband's honesty and input since I know I don’t have to go this alone like some other parents do.  I see that balance of us working together is paying off--the Daddy time Ronan gets is 100% pure belief in Ronan right now.  He lets me worry about the future which always includes a bit of fear, a couple of questions, a whole lot of research and always a sprinkle of hope.
I don’t make resolutions. I have enough reminders swirling around me all day long without having to commit to a change.  Am I ready to make some of those changes?  Ronan’s determination tells me that yes, I’m ready.  It’s always been time for more, so here’s to a new year and a new decade of believing!

To read the original post, please follow this link: Autism Resolutions: New Routine, Path & Hope





Sunday, December 28, 2014

Feast of the Holy Family

This is a magnet on my sister's refrigerator. 


While I believe these habits were suggested for individual spiritual growth, I'd like to add "as a family" to almost all of them.

Ask for God's blessing each morning...as a family.

Offer a prayer at mealtime...as a family.

Reach out to help a neighbor in need...as a family.

Call upon the saints...as a family.

Receive the Holy Eucharist for strength and nourishment...as a family.

Give thanks to God each night...as a family.

We've already incorporated several of those habits in our family's routine, but I'd like to reserve the seventh habit for myself:  savor a few minutes of silence.  

Being quiet is important.  It gives me the chance to reflect.  I reflect on hopes, on expectations and on disappointments.  I reflect on my actions - on what worked and what didn't. I reflect on things that happened during my busy day and then make plans to make the next day better.  Through quiet reflection, I can think about so many things.  

As I wrap this year up, I've got a good idea of how to help keep my faith alive in 2015 - by employing these seven faith habits in my daily schedule.

xo, Cat




Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him: Dr. Mayer Eisenstein

We learned yesterday that a dear friend in the community passed away.  Dr. Mayer Eisenstein was a hero, champion and one of the kindest human beings I have been privileged to know.  He touched the lives of thousands of families including my own.   

This was the Facebook entry I posted when I got an email from Mayer last year:

Know Your Rights HourPinch me. I'm on the phone with Dr. Mayer Eisenstein. He's asked me to be on his show tonight about the vaccine bullying article I wrote that went up on AofA yesterday. Wheeeee!

We spoke for almost an hour that morning.  I savored every word.  

Dr. Eisenstein was as passionate about parents' rights and children's health as I am.  I had the best time talking with him both on the phone call and later in the evening on the radio show.  I consider that opportunity to be one of the biggest highlights of my life.  

Mayer was one of the finest.  May his family find comfort and may we honor Mayer's memory for many years to come.  

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

xo, Cat

To listen to the Know Your Rights Hour radio show, please follow this link and search for the archive from Oct. 23, 2013

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Reality Is

As I was turning out the lights in the kitchen just after midnight last night, my husband said to me, "Guess what?"

I replied, "What?"

He smiled and gave me a kiss.  Then added, "It's Ronan's birthday."

I glanced at the clock.  12:08 a.m.  Yes, it was Ronan's birthday. 

Of course I knew it would be Ronan's birthday, but it felt like the wind was knocked out of me when I heard that sentence.  I smiled back at my husband and said, "I'll put the birthday banner up now before we go to bed," and walked toward the kitchen to get it out of the cabinet.  

Reaching for the birthday paraphernalia that I always put out on the table when we celebrate a birthday, I felt a twinge of sadness. I felt my throat tighten, and I felt tears begin to well in my eyes. 

Ronan's birthday.  

He'll be twelve.  

My baby!  How can he be twelve?  

The expectations I had as a young mother are nothing like how life turned out.  The reality is that life is harder.  It's frustrating.  And I do go through intense periods of sadness, heartache and grief.  I try not to let those emotions get in the way of life, but sometimes they do.  Even on a day when we're going to celebrate something exciting like a birthday.  

I reached into the cabinet and pulled out the happy birthday cup and the strand of letters that spells Happy Birthday.  I carefully set things up on the dining room table knowing that the sight of these items would bring huge smiles when the kids woke up.  

Just as the kids have been doing a countdown to Christmas, they've also been counting down to Ronan's birthday.  When they were tucked into bed earlier, they were very excited.  They knew that it was one more sleep until brother turns twelve.  

Smiles, squeals of glee and happiness.  Not frustration, worry or heartache.  Their emotions are not clouded by the same ones that envelop me.  The kids were expecting to celebrate Ronan.  To celebrate who he is, and to celebrate what he can do.  I knew that the decision to hold onto the twinge of sadness I felt just a few minutes earlier was mine to decide.  

Hold onto it, or let it go?  

I smiled.  

We have no time for sadness today.  Today, it's time to celebrate twelve years on the books.  Twelve years of living, breathing and learning.  Sure these last twelve years have had me facing one challenge after another, but in these twelve years I've had the most honorable role ever imaginable:  being mom to one of the most amazing children alive today. 

Happy birthday, Ronan.  We love you so much!  

xo, Cat



Friday, December 19, 2014

On My Bookshelf

I had envisioned writing book reviews here on my blog.  As real life takes over much of my free time, that idea is still just an idea.  Nevertheless, I have high hopes to finish one of the three books that I have started.  

I’m in the middle of reading not one but three books.  Before you think I’m some amazing reader, the reason why I’m reading three different books is because of a bad habit.  I tend to start a book, put it down, forget where I left it and then pick up another book until St. Anthony hooks me up by helping me find the first book that I temporarily “lost”.   

From L-R, the books I hope to finish reading:
Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane) suggested by my Sacred Sister
A Good and Perfect Gift suggested by actress Sarah Drew
Precious Treasure suggested by my Dad

With Christmas vacation coming up, I’m hoping to finish one of the three books that I’ve started.  I’m hoping to find time to write a review of the book when I finish it too. 

If you have a favorite book that you think others would like, let me know.  I can’t promise I’ll have time to read it soon, but I’m hoping to get into a routine of reading more books (without misplacing them!).  I’m hoping to eventually add reviews, or simply a reflection, of what I learn from the books I get to read as well. 

Here’s to some upcoming free time.  And here’s to some brain candy in the form of a fabulous read. 

xo, Cat



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Reprinted, With Permission: Milestones, Memories, Life and Death

I wrote this short piece in 2012 and wanted to share it (slightly revised) today.  As we prepare for Ronan's birthday this weekend, a day which always comes with mixed emotions, we also remember my niece.  Ella was only a baby when she passed away.  She died the day after Ronan's birthday in 2011.  

This weekend will mark another year of life for Ronan and and another year without Baby Ella.  God bless Ronan.  God bless Baby Ella's family.  And God bless each one of you.  

xo, Cat

Milestones, Memories, Life and Death

Holiday hope bannerBy Cathy Jameson
This weekend brought some milestones for our family.  We celebrated a big day for Ronan, who turned ten on the 21st, and we remembered my best friend’s baby who passed away a year ago on the 22nd.  My emotions were tossing and turning knowing that each day was approaching:  Ronan’s birthday where we would joyously celebrate another year of his life, and the anniversary commemorating the baby’s short life before an unexpected death.  I flipped from extremely excited and giddy to somber and reflective.  Trying to keep somewhat focused—as it was still a regular week for us chock full of appointments and school—was difficult.  

Added to my ever-changing emotions included getting a call from Ronan’s school when he had seizures midweek.  Stress crept in as another one of my kids got sick and missed school several days which in turn limited every one of my last-minute Christmas preparations.  We had holiday visitors arriving and a homecoming to prepare for as well as my husband was due to return from 4 months of extended travel.  You may wonder how I survived last week at all.  It was a week full of excitement, grief, struggle, celebration with some yearned-for peace.  Add in dealing with the repercussion of last week’s wandering scare while ordering items for our search-and-go bags (which will hang by the front door from now on), and I am surprised that I am still standing, too!  
While reflecting on how full last week was, and who was involved in each of those events that brought varying feelings, made me pause.  It’s a lot to handle in a short amount of time.  But, each event revolved around life, life that is precious and filled with reminders that are the many blessings that fill my life—including some pain and suffering because that, too, is part of living. 
I live for the people I am immediately surrounded by.   They are the ones who need my undivided attention and bring me great joy.  They require my help and desire my support.  I depend on these people just as much because make my world go round.  Where would I be without them?  More importantly, who would I be without them?  Their situation, our situations, can cause me to crumble in a moment’s notice.  But, it’s through these people, and how I was blessed to know them, that brings me life—life that I am grateful for and one that is full of so many reasons to live. 
Last week has come and gone.  The celebration of Ronan’s birthday is now a happy memory.  The anniversary of a life lost remains a sober remembrance.  Intense emotions have subsided with new ones are just moments away.  Homecoming plans and Christmas preparations have been fulfilled, and our family is complete again.  

As my children get ready to observe Baby Jesus’ birthday in just a few days, my request to you as we enter what I believe is one of the holiest weeks on the calendar is to look at those people nearest you who make you who you are—your children, your immediate family, your spouse, those who you wish were flesh and blood, and even those who impact you negatively—all of these people affect you, your abilities and your choices.  They have in some way shaped you.  They depend on you for every single want, need or skill they may never develop. 

This season of Christmas is filled with remembrances, past and present, and of the love that motivates what I do and why I live.  I pray that you, too, are filled with joy and hope, and that the blessings of your life bring you love, hope and peace. 

To read the original post on Age of Autism, please follow this link: Milestones, Memories, Life and Death  




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Finding a New Comfort Zone

Things can change when we least expect it.  Changes to a routine can be difficult for a child like Ronan, but he's the one who initiated a recent change. 

Ronan has made a change in his usual movie line up.  He's requesting to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  It's the movie version that I watched when I was a child.  I love this movie.  Ronan appears to love it as well.  He's asked to see the movie a few times in the last few weeks.  


I welcome the break from Ronan's usual movie requests.  Those turn into Baby Einstein, So Smart and See and Learn video-a-thons.  Those movies tend to make Ronan stim.  Yes, they bring him great comfort, but when those movies are on, it is difficult for Ronan to do anything else.  

Ronan would rather listen to the opening sequence of Baby Einstein over and over and over again than engage with us.  Ronan would rather watch-rewind-watch-rewind-watch-rewind a See and Learn scene than finish eating his breakfast.  Ronan would rather find the one scene in So Smart that makes him laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh than practice his vision therapy homework.  Why is the request for the Willy Wonka movie different, and why do I say of course he can watch it when he asks?  

Because Ronan actually watches the movie.  

Because he laughs appropriately at the silly parts.  

Because he points things out in the movie and tries to tell me what he sees.

Because Ronan will sometimes reach for my hand and bring me to the den to sit and watch the movie with him.
Ronan signs Cat in the Hat a lot during this movie.  Ronan LOVES the Cat in the Hat and must think that Gene Wilder is the Cat! 



When the Oompla Loompas sing, Ronan gets up and bounces up and down to the beat of the song.  He looks forward to us singing songs from the movie to him.    

Part of me can't can't help but wonder why Ronan's shied away from his 'must have' videos to a movie that's more age-appropriate.  Is he finally getting bored with the other movies?  Is he closer to reaching a new milestone?  Has he quietly hit a new developmental skill that will open the door for other skills and other opportunities?  

While part of me can't help but wonder why Ronan likes this movie better, I know I shouldn't put too much thought into asking why.  I should focus instead on the fact that this movie is enjoyable.  That it's bringing smiles to Ronan's face.  That it's putting a smile on my face.  And that the experience of watching this particular movie with Ronan is as fantastic as the story line is.  

Ronan's found a new comfort zone.  And he's invited me in it.  I don't need to over-think that.  
So instead, join us and "...come with me, and you'll be in a world of pure imagination..." 

xo, Cat


Photo credit:  Images are screenshots taken from the above-linked video of Pure Imagination.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Funny Things My Kids Say

Since the last few post topics have been somewhat heavy, I wanted to lighten things up a bit.  I gathered a few stories that my children have said over the years and put them all in one piece.  These kids crack me up!  

I'm hoping other people will benefit from the side-splitting laughter my kids provide me. File some of these stories under Never a Dull Moment and others under My Kids Say the Funniest Things.  

Enjoy!

xo, Cat

---
Fridge art.  
Thank you so much, Little Buddy.  Really.  Thank you. 

---

Littlest Pickle:  Mom, I can hear my heart beeping when I run.  It beep, beep, beeps!

---

Little Buddy:  Mom, can boys do ballet?

Me:  Yep, they can. 

Little Buddy:  I bet they are called ballerinuts. 

Me:  <stifling laughter>

Little Buddy:  They are nutjobs!  Ha ha ha ha ha hahaha!

---
There's always a party going on over here!
---

Little Buddy upon observing geese flying south in formation:

Mom!  They are flying in a v-formation!  V for vacation!

---

This one can be filed in Lost in Translation:

Eenie meanie miney moe.  Touch a finger to its toe.  If it hollers let it go.  Meanie meanie miney moe. 

---

This one can be filed in Lost in Translation also.  Or in Just Plain Confused:

Izzy:  Mom, did you know that honey comes from bears.  No, wait.  Bears come from honey.  

<thinking, thinking, thinking>  

Bears don't come from honey!!!  

Mom?


---
I. Am. A. Robot.  
---

Overheard one day at the breakfast table when Izzy was 5-years old:

Izzy to Big Sis:  You're almost a Mom.  You're getting big, like almost 14-years old! 

Me:  What?!

---

"When I pull my lee-bees, my arm comes out!"

The Littlest Pickle, back when she was 3-years old on how exciting it is to see what happens when she pulls her arm out of her sleeve. 

lee-bees....so cute!

---

When I asked the Littlest Pickle why she wasn't holding the boo boo ice on her owie, she said, "You need to do it.  I'm busy.  I'm sucking my thumb." 

Alrighty then.  

--- 

New words from the Littlest Pickle right before her third birthday:

hanglebar (hamburger, what else?!)
befront (as in the opposite of behind)
beback (as in the opposite of befront)
sprinkleoh (as in lightly raining...sprinkling)

---

Ronan got up late today and was sluggish at breakfast.  He signed waffle when he sat down at the table after I asked him what he wanted to eat.  I told him that we also have pancakes.  Would he like a pancake instead?  Ronan signed "yes" and reached for his voice output device to type something.  He typed NOW.  And then smiled right at me.  

Little stinker!

---

Izzy:  (back when she was 5; looking sad) I just want to be a Mommy.

Me:  What?

Izzy:  I just want to.

Me:  Well, you can one day.  Find your husband first.

Izzy:  <perking up> Will YOU help me find him?

Me:  <smiling> Yes! 

Izzy:  Well, not right now.  Okay?  I'm too little.



---

Littlest Pickle:  Mommy, why is there air in my nose?

Me:  So you can breathe.

Littlest Pickle:  Oh, I feel it.

Me:  Good!

---

Me: Izzy, why does Mary have a feather boa?

Izzy:  To keep her warm.  
---

Another Never a Dull Moment with these crazy kids.  This was part of a dinner convo one night:

Little Buddy to Big Sis:  I see your asparagus?

Big Sis:  You mean my green beans?

Little Buddy:  No, your...what's it called again?

Big Sis:  My epidermis.  Ha ha.


---

Every.  Single.  Time.

Every single time the kids ask me what time it is, I look at the clock and tell them the time.  Every single time I do that they say, "No...it's time to get ill!"  Then they laugh and laugh.  You'd think I'd learn, but nope.  It just happened again tonight.  

Little Buddy:  Mom, what time is it?

Me:  It's almost 10 o'clock...

Before I could add, "Now, GO TO SLEEP!" 

Little Buddy:  No, Mom.  It's time to get ill.

Ahhhhhhh!!!!

---

Izzy:  "Mom, because you're so old and I'm not....are you gonna die before me?" 

Um, thanks?

---

I almost made it through the day.  But after last night's amazingly painful events with Ronan (trying to keep the pulse ox machine from beeping every three minutes but couldn't, so it beeped on and off for eight hours straight) I absolutely had to take a nap.  Oops.  I slept through dinner prep.  I called my sister to chit chat while I got stuff ready to make fajitas, but she suggested this as a quick and easy dinner idea instead.  I LOVE it.  My sister wins the Awesome Sister Award again!


Zombies like brains.  RUN!!!

Postscript:  The best part of this night was that the kids actually went all over the house looking for a plate of food.  It took them ten minutes to realize that dinner wasn't close to being ready yet :)

---

We took the kids out to dinner to celebrate good report cards.  The kids could order anything off the menu, so Izzy decided to order breakfast.  When the waiter asked her some questions about her meal, we couldn't help but smile.

Waiter:  Your pancakes come with eggs.  How do you like them?

Izzy:  Eggs?  I like them a lot!

Waiter:  <tries again>  Do you parents cook you eggs at home?

Izzy:  Yes!

Waiter:  How do they cook the eggs for you?

Izzy:  Good.

Waiter:  ???

I interject:  Iz, you like scrambled, right?

Izzy:  Oh, yes, I want 'Daddy eggs'.

Waiter:  ???

Me:  That'll be scrambled eggs for the little girl, thanks.
  
---

Me, looking like a scrub in my jammies, with hair up to here (think Flock of Seagulls), hears this from my oldest:

Big Sis:  You look so young and so beautiful!

Me:  As opposed to when I look old and ugly?


Big Sis:  Mom!



I love my kids.

---

Guns 'N Roses was playing on the radio when the Littlest Pickle (aged 4 at the time) and I were running here, there and everywhere.

Littlest Pickle:  It's a girl sounding like a boy...but then he's a boy sounding like a girl.

Me:  He's a boy, honey.  Singing like that is part of his gig.

Littlest Pickle:  He thinks he's cool. <long pause>  But he's not.


Me: Yeah.  He thinks his poop don't stink.

Littlest Pickle:  But it does.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!  

Love that sweet child o' mine.

---

We were talking with my parents about some Church music when Izzy chimed in the conversation.  

Izzy:  Oh, I know that song.  My teacher taught it to us.  

Papa:  Do you know if it was a hymn?

Izzy:  No, it was a her.

Silence.  Silence.  Peals of laughter. 

Izzy:  Why are you laughing?

---

We had another "can't help but laugh" conversation last weekend.  That's where I try so very hard to be the serious mom but bust up laughing right along with the kids.  Here is how that conversation went:

Little Buddy:  There's a pickle in my pants.  I have a pickle in my pants.

Me:  Don't you EVER say that!  People will think you are talking about your...your..your...!


Little Buddy:  Mom, it IS a pickle...it was a pickle from my sandwich.  It fell into my pocket.


Ahhhhhhhhh!!!! 

He then began to sing P-I-M-P Pickle in My Pants to the same tune as the song Candace sings.  

Crazy kid!

And ha ha ha!!!