Friday, October 16, 2015


Happy one year anniversary to my blog!  Today's post is dedicated to my parents. 
I got to talk to my parents a few days ago.  I love it when we can chat.  It is rare to get a full conversation in when all my kids are home, but twice this week, I've been able to talk to my Mom and Dad.  

While on the phone we talked about all sorts of things - the kids, school, the upcoming holidays, and Ronan's health. Those are "the usual" topics we try to catch up on in phone calls, but we talked about something else this week: the fact that what happened to Ronan helped save his little sister's life.  

Izzy brings that up every now and then.  She remembers that fact usually after Ronan's had a major struggle.  When the struggle is over and Ronan is okay again, Izzy looks at her big brother longingly.  Some days when I see her staring at him, I know not to interrupt.  I know that she's worried.  I can see that she's sad.  I understand that she wishes that things could be different for him.  But I don't cloud her thoughts with my input, and I wait for her to come to me.  She comes to me for comfort and for a big hug. 

Ronan saved his little sisters.  He didn't volunteer to do it. He didn't get any reward for his heroism. And he went through hell to do it, and Izzy realized that a few years ago: 

“Seizures?  Mommy, why?  Why does he have to have seizures?” 

I gave her the G-rated version of what happened to Ronan because I didn’t want to fill her head with too much doom and gloom.  She’s heard so much medical talk about Ronan in the past, but I didn’t know how much she truly understood about the science behind Ronan’s problems.  Since she’s the kid sister and arrived into the family after Ronan’s vaccine injury she has only known his signs, symptoms and the talk of seizures, mito disease, blood work and more.  To her this part of his life is his “normal.”  She missed seeing first-hand what happened, [and how typical  he was before he got sick] but I didn’t give her enough credit.  Izzy understood the explanation I gave about Ronan, his brain, the seizures and examples of what his body can’t do.  She looked at me and said, “So, Ronan got his shots, then he got seizures and now he can’t talk and play like me.”  


Because of what we learned about Ronan's health and how vaccines caused him more harm than good, and because they also negatively affected Ronan's younger brother, we knew to be carefully when it was time to consider medical interventions we would be offered when Izzy was born.  Her health depended on it!  

When she arrived, we were armed with much more information and were confident about accepting (or declining) what others deemed standard medical care and safe and effective than we had been with her older siblings. 

Izzy knows this now as do our other children.  None of them likes that we had to learn the hard way, me included.  My parents don't like what we've gone through either.  They understand that this hasn't been easy for any of us and are supportive of what I've had to do to protect my children.  I hear their support in the conversations that we have over the phone and see the love they have for all of my kids when they visit us.  

It's no surprise with all that's happened that my children are mini-activist and advocates in the making, Izzy being one of the best in the bunch.  She is one of the biggest blessings in Ronan's life (and mine, too!).  Just last night as we were getting settled for bed, I was helping Ronan finish up on some exercises.  Izzy saw me setting some things up and was curious what I was doing.  She asked if she could watch Ronan.  I told her better than that, she could be my assistant.  She quickly jumped right in.  

I showed her the material we'd be using and then walked her through what we were doing and why.  It wasn't easy for her, but the commitment Izzy has for her brother helped her stay focused.  Ronan liked the extra attention and tried to get some belly zerberts from little sister before he was done.  With a giggle and gentle redirection, as we do with other tasks, Izzy and I finished helping Ronan with his exercises as a team.

If you'd asked me to predict what my children would be exposed to before I had kids, I would never expect that my children would have seen or heard or experienced a fraction of what they have seen, heard and experienced.  No child should be subjected to the struggles, the stress, nor the sadness that they have.  But it's through those struggles, stresses, and sadness that has shaped them into who they are right now.  

They are hard working.  

They are passionate.  

They are kind, considerate, amazing little humans. 

And they have been saved from further harm because of what happened to their brother.  
xo, Cat

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Every few months I get an overwhelming urge to rearrange the furniture.  Usually, it's my kids' rooms that get a quick makeover, but sometimes it's one of the common rooms in the house that I tackle.  The last time I decided to rearrange a room it was the office, a.k.a. my hidey hole.  

I love our home office.  I get lots of writing and thinking done in that room.  It's the size of a small bedroom and rather cozy.  But lately, it's been referred to as the ROD (Room Of Death--thanks to my Sacred Sister for that name!) as it is the dumping ground for any and all receipts, important paperwork, medical notes, insurance Explanation of Benefits, pesky bills waiting to be paid, and anything that whatever else that I'm trying to ignore.  

I had ignored some paperwork that was sitting in front of the file cabinet in the office for way too many weeks.  I knew I had to sort through it, but I was starting to dread it.  There are reminders in that pile - of medication mishaps, of costly mistakes, and of frustration.  I dreaded having to go through the pile, and soon, I had started to dread walking into the room that was quietly housing that pile.  Instead of facing the frustrations, I let them stack up around me and take over a room that our entire family needs to use.  

The day I finally decided to attack that pile, I looked around and saw that it wasn't just the pile making me feel overwhelmed.  The flow of the room was off, too.  The cozy feel that this room usually offers was no where to be found.  I glanced at the piano bench and the small end table and saw why.  The coziness had been replaced with clutter--and not just mine this time!  

The kids had been pig piling into the office a lot more and have been leaving traces of themselves behind--a headband, a food wrapper, a pair of mix-matched socks, flip flops, and some dirt that had been tracked in.  Ugh.  I couldn't blame them for the mess though.  I haven't been the perfect role model cleaning up after myself!  It was time to motivate myself, to clean up, and to get reorganized.

Sometimes motivation is hard to come by.  With distractions all around, it's easier to get (and to stay) sidetracked with those distractions than to focus.  I know that when I remember to clean up, though, the flow of a room, our house, and even my thoughts, become positive again and lots more can get done.   

I don't know if I'll ever catch up on everything around here, but I've finally gotten (most of) that unruly pile sorted.  With that challenge behind me, the office was getting its cozy feel back.  After reducing the stress and the clutter that I'd allowed in, I did some minor rearranging of the furniture and like what I saw.  

The room looks nice again.  

It feels cozy again.  

It's inviting.  

It's welcoming.  

And it now has a spot where, when I have time, I can snuggle up and read.  

I read a lot--magazines, newspapers, articles on the web--but never books.  My attention span is ridiculously short, partly because of the demands being demanded of me but also partly because my attention span is just ridiculously short!  When I found one of my favorite books of all time late this summer, I thought I'd work through that short attention span and read the book in one sitting.  


It's taken me forever to get through the book - not just because of daily demands and that I'm a slow reader, but also because of how rearranged life gets.  Just when I think I have enough time to relax, my family needs me.  Just as soon as I get one thing done, something else immediately requires my attention.  Just when I think everything is finally in order, our schedule changes.  Just when we get used to a routine, I get tugged in one direction and then in another.  The book has gone with me to doctor's appointments, to volleyball games, and accompanied me in the car ride line as I wait for the kids' dismissal bell.  I bring it with me in the hopes that I can finish it.  But I have yet to finish it.  

I know I will soon.  And I know just where I will sit down to do that - in a quiet corner in our cozy home office.  That'll happen on a day when I feel like I am caught up with life.  

Some days I feel like I can't catch up.  But I do my best.  I do my best to be positive, to stay organized, to focus on what's important, to appreciate the little things, and to always inch forward.

xo, Cat  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I love writing.  I love this magazine.  I love writing for this magazine!  Oh, I love my family, too.  They helped inspire my latest.  Here it is featured in The Autism File Magazine's recent edition, Issue 64:  

I am thankful that I can share my thoughts, ideas, and experiences with other families.  I am even more grateful that people encourage me to write about my experiences.  Thank you, The Autism File Magazine!

xo, Cat


To read other articles I've written for this magazine, click the link under the cover photo:

Issue 61 

Issue 51 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Parade of Babies

To those young parents juggling cranky babies, tired toddlers, and chatty preschoolers at Church– tough moments may be overwhelming, but those moments end.   New moments follow.  Those will bring smiles, warmth, and encouragement, and not just for you but for others.  

“We need to see more babies,” my daughter whispered Saturday night.

I smiled and nodded.  We had just seen the tail end of what we call the Parade of Babies.   My daughter only saw three babies night.  We usually see many more, but at the Vigil Mass this weekend, The Parade of Babies was rather short. On Sundays, we see so many children.  Young moms wear their babies.  Young dads hold their preschoolers.  Toddlers are juggled in mom’s arms and then in dad’s while older brothers and sisters pitch in to help keep younger siblings quiet.  

I love seeing young families at Mass.  Still having to split up, my husband goes to the early while I go to the later Mass, I find it encouraging to see so many families sitting together at Church.  Not every family makes it through Mass in one spot though.  Some find themselves having to retreat from the pew and the congregation to seek shelter in a quieter spot.  

The quieter spot in our Church is a small vestibule.  Situated between the sanctuary and the entrance of the Church, before the end of Mass, one by one, several young parents have left their pew and headed toward the back of the Church.  Looking for refuge with their child, they sit, stand, and sometimes, depending on how many have gathered, crowd the vestibule together.

With the children’s cries and the parents’ exhaustion muffled, Mass continues.  

As the end of Mass nears and as the faithful line the aisle to receive Communion, with one, two, and sometimes three or more children in tow, a young and tired mom, or a buff but exhausted dad, bring up the tail end of the Communion line.  They are among the last of the congregation to receive.

Scurrying toward the back of the Church again, many bypass their pew once more and return to the vestibule.  With their wiggly toddler, chatty preschooler, or finally snoozing infant, they've participated, they’ve joined in, they’ve reflected.  Offering a weary smile and a quick handshake during the Sign of Peace, they’ve stayed as focused as their child’s short attention span would allow.  As easy as it would be for them to walk right out of Church, they stay.  They pray.  And they receive.  

I forget about this small group of fellow parishioners until after I have received Communion.  As I returned to my pew, I spy them.  I see their children.  Mostly typical children, I cannot help but stare.  The Parade of Babies begins. 

My gaze falls on the parents and then on their children.  From the newest member of our Church wrapped in receiving blankets, to the oldest—usually a child of 4 or 5 years of age, children of all sizes and shapes are being lovingly held, firmly lead, or quietly reminded to closely follow.  

It’s during this time that I am trying to concentrate on praying, but I am distracted by the most vulnerable and the most innocent lives in our parish.  The Parade of Babies whisks past me and the children I’ve brought to Mass that day.  It isn't all of my children; one of mine has again had to stay home with Daddy.

Stealing a peek themselves, my children, who are eagerly watching, smile.  I feel a nudge on my right arm and hear a small whisper, “A newborn!  Mom, did you see how tiny she was?”  I feel another nudge on my left arm, “Twins!  Did you see the twins?!”  We try to keep our heads low and our voices lower.  Not wanting to distract those sitting near us, my children and I cannot help but smile.  We feel and see God’s grace in the young, sweet faces that have marched past us. 

Having been that young mom who needed to find that quieter spot, I have great admiration for the young families in my Church who find that they need to remove themselves temporarily from Mass each weekend.  While the minutes on the clock may tick by painfully slow, they make it through the entire hour.  They make it through moments that feel endless.  They make it through the embarrassment, the frustration, and the sadness that may come, too.  But they also make it through to Communion, the Final Blessing, and to the end of Mass when they will soon be reunited with the rest of their family.

The Parade of Babies happens each week.  It isn’t a very long parade, but it is one that brings great joy – maybe not to the young parent who's had to hold a squirmy, gassy child or for the parent trying to hush hush a cranky, loud toddler.  But seeing that Parade of Babies toward the end of Mass brings joy to me and to my children.  We are witnessing sacrifice.  We are witnessing love.  We are witnessing life.  We respect that life and are so grateful to see it parade past us.  

xo, Cat