Sunday, November 27, 2016

Souls Aflame

A little Catholic humor for you on a Sunday...



We drive by a house on our way into town that has a chiminea thingie sitting in the driveway.  It's lit every single day.  Sometimes all day long.  Even though nobody is out there enjoying the fire.  On our way to Mass today, the kids noticed it was lit as usual.

Ronan's little brother saw it and said, "That thing always has a fire.  I wonder what that guy is burning."

I replied, "Leaves.  Documents.  The souls of his enemies..."

Willem pondered that for a moment and then quickly asked, "Mom, can you take me to confession this week?"

I stifled a laugh and said, "Sure, Little Buddy.  I can do that."

I hope that 'souls of his enemies' line didn't scare the kid into confession.  If anyone needs to go, it's me - not Willem!  He's one of the holiest (and kindest and happiest and goofiest) kids I know.

But confession it is.  We'll go later this week.  I do love that that sacrament is available to us.  It can be nerve wracking to go, but what a feeling afterward.  It's like a shower for your soul!

God bless and xo, Cat

--

Taking kids to confession?  
We've used this guide before.  It's got a great examination of 
conscience for kids as well as how to say The Act of Contrition.  



Thursday, November 24, 2016

We Give You Thanks

My five-year old is my mini-me.  She mirrors what I looked like as a child - wispy brown hair, big brown eyes, spitfire attitude (a.k.a. What About Me?!), creative, clever and downright cute.  She watches things from a distance, craves to be the center of attention but struggles with self-control.  That can lead to tripping over nothing or knocking things down while bounding from one room to the next.  Even with how accident prone she is, I love the spunk that oozes out of this displaced middle child of mine.  

--

That's how I began a post that went up on Thanksgiving day 2011.  I love how I introduced Izzy in that story.  To catch you up where she is today, she still oozes a massive amount of spunk.  She still struggles with self-control.  But her unwavering passion to help Ronan, and also to seek justice for him, is as strong as ever was.  

When I wrote that post five years ago, we as a family had a few setbacks to work through.  Not all of the setbacks were Ronan's.  Some were, which were not unusual for where he was developmentally, but others, like a surgery I had to schedule, destroyed daily life as we knew it.  Knowing we couldn't do it alone, we called extended family to help us get through that time.  They dropped everything they were doing and accepted our request.  

I remember writing that Thanksgiving post while family was still helping.  I couldn't get through the painful recovery time without them.  I needed them.  My husband needed them.  Izzy needed them too. She's just like me. 

Like her Mommy, she would rather help others.  

Like her Mommy, she doesn't like to ask for help even though she knows she should. 

Like her Mommy, she likes to hear that she's doing a good job. 

Like her Mommy, she longs for justice for Ronan and for other kids like him. 


With how hard of a fight it's been, justice may be a long time coming.  But that won't stop my mini-me from doing the right thing.  She's a helper, she's a fighter, she's a spunky little things who loves and prays for her family daily with such fierce devotion.  

 I love how I wrapped up that first paragraph of that post I wrote a few years ago now:

Happily Ronan looks up to this younger sister of his when she offers him assistance.  Izzy guides him in ways that I cannot.  He follows many of her encouraging cues after a simple prompt, which is always followed by a doting sister's glee-filled smile. 

I also love the little prayer she shared with me five years ago this week:

Izzy came home from school asking if she could say a new prayer she'd learned.  I said that would be so nice because she was trying so hard to be helpful, "We give you thanks, Almighty God, for the gifts we...<giggle giggle giggle>...and this we ask forever and ever. AMEN!"

And giggle we did.  

Her smile.  Just like Ronan's, it lights up a room.  Today, I am grateful for that.  For their smiles, for their silliness, for how their joy fills our house with love, life and with laughter, I am so very grateful.  

xo, Cat


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Type it Out

File this story under Another Best Memory Ever.  I love that I am whisked back in time when I reread these memories and am so grateful to have thought to write them down!  

This one happened just a few years ago and after a rough couple of days.  Ronan was still in school full-time, but we were rounding the corner to some major changes.  With an increase in seizures, lethargy, mito crashes, and because of a wave of aggression, changes had to be made.  As much as none of us wanted to - because we remained hopeful that Ronan would bounce back - both Ronan's team and I had to make big decisions about modifying his school schedule. 

Changes would come, but as we were in the midst of working things out, we had the...


(Nov. 2013) Best day for Ronan all week (thank you, Lord, he so needed a good day)!  They are doing a reading assessment with him at school and want to ramp up teaching more spelling since we all know the kid can do it.  We don't know what he's taught himself unless we ask him, so to get some more help and up his game is awesome.  At one point during the testing, his teacher asked Ronan to type in words he knew.  

He types the usual:  Baby Einstein, snack, Wii.  

So, she says, "Can you type in my words (shows him the list)?"  

Ronan types:  no


Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!  What a stinker!

We just typed out some words together.  I said them, he wrote them.  This is only a partial list because he was more interested in where his iPad was than in Mommy quizzing him:

dad
me
musc (music)
sad
bed
see and learn
colors
letters
numbers
shapes
10 - I asked him to spell ten 
Red
Mom
Ronan
Hah (happy)
mk (milk)
bowning (bowling)
wii
j (jump)

I could tell Ronan was getting tired. He was pretty much done with me at this point so I said,  "Are you finished?" 

He typed: fishd (finished)

We'll catch up, Buddy.  Don't you worry.  Mommy won't quit on you.
--
As easy as it would be to give up, we haven't.  We try, try, try, and try once more before we go back to brainstorming how to help Ronan.  Communication was the biggest struggle he and we faced, well, besides the medical issues, and it remains the biggest struggle today.  We're constantly working through the struggles hoping to give Ronan more language.  He can spell quite well, but in the past, he's only typed or signed one or two words at a time.  I knew he knew how to write and sign a complete sentence, so last year, with lots of encouragement and tons of practice, Ronan went from what I call his "telegraphic" communication (I want food) to full-on sentences (Mom, I would like cereal, please.)  

His world opened up!  That meant ours did, too.  

Ronan continues to wow us.  He types more and more using his speech device to "sound" out words.  It's encouraging to see and fills me with hope.  Ronan will still struggle, especially on the very rough days.  But that's when you'll find us all pitching in to help Ronan try, try, try, and try once more.  Nothing will stop us from helping him.  Nothing.  
xo, Cat

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Oh, Bless the Children

Today's funny ha ha is thanks to a memory I read this morning.  It's from 2009 and happened as we were leaving Church one Sunday morning:

Me to Izzy after Mass:  Iz!  Don't drink the holy water!

Izzy:  (quietly sucking on her finger and smiling) "Mmmm."

Me:  Well, go ahead, you need it...  

Izzy:  (continues to smile)

She, like my other amazingly wonderful yet very strong willed children, can get really feisty.  Maybe the holy water will help calm her attitude a smidge.  :) 

--

I love my kids!  They put a smile on my face when I need it the most.  Rereading that memory made me laugh and laugh.  It also reminded me of something else.  

I've been meaning to hang this holy water font in the house for months now.  One of the kids received it awhile ago as a present, but dang if I have never taken the time to hang it up.  Today will be the day that it finally goes up.  

Parenting isn't always easy, especially parenting a child with special needs, but each of my children are such wonderful gifts.  They've taught me so many things about myself, about life, about what's important and about what's not important.  They've brought so much life (and laughter) to our family, and I couldn't be more grateful.  Once that holy water font is up, after I bless myself I will say prayers of thanksgiving for my children.  




Praying that you, too, are blessed with love, with happiness, and with a little bit of laughter as well.  

xo, Cat


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

To Help and To Live

So, this was new and nice to see.  

Ronan found a holy card in one of the toy buckets we have.   He took it out and for quite some time stared at the back of the card.  Every now and then he'd point to something.  The more he stared at the card and the more he pointed, the more intrigued I became.  I'd seen the card before but couldn't remember what was written on the back.  

On the back is a prayer to end abortion.  
I sat with him and several times Ronan pointed to the words 'To help' and 'to live' in one of the paragraphs.  For a non-verbal kiddo who's never shown interest in a topic like this and who's never expressed anything like this before, it was pretty darn cool to see.  

So many people want to see Ronan live a happy and healthy life.  So many people are helping us reach that goal.  I'm glad to see their hard work paying off in how much more communicative Ronan's been lately.  I am beyond blessed.  I pray that other kids, including the one Ronan and I prayed for while we read that holy card together, get the chance to live a happy and healthy life as well.  

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us, 
and please pray for my sweet Ronan, too. 

xo, Cat


Friday, November 11, 2016

A Heartfelt Thanks

I remember writing this post for Veteran's Day a few years ago.  It's been a few years since I've read it, but I think today's a great day to share an excerpt from it.  It's also a great day to offer another heartfelt thank you to those who've served.  So, to those who serve our country, thank you.  Thank you for your selfless acts of valor.  Thank you for your courage.  Thank you for protecting freedoms that I hold very near and dear in my heart.  

xo, Cat  

As a “veteran” parent of a severely affected little boy, today I wish to thank our nation’s unsung military heroes for what they’ve done for me.  Their mission to protect and preserve my freedom so that I can live freely in this country is one of the greatest gifts I have and one that I will never take for granted.  While I never imagined how different the parenting that I must do for my own children is compared to that of the typical parent I thought I’d be, I am forever thankful to be their mother, to love them to bits and pieces and to have the liberty to do everything I can for them. 



Monday, November 7, 2016

Backbreaking



I carry Ronan on my back.  Sometimes, it's because he's too tired to walk.  Sometimes it's because he isn't too tired yet, but he would be by the time we walked to our destination.  Other times it's because where we're going is such a short distance, it doesn't make sense to take out the bulky, adaptive stroller.  He'd be in it and then out of it so quickly.  

I don't mind giving Ronan a piggy back ride.  It isn't all the time, but the times it happens, other people think I shouldn't do it.  They have great reasons for me not to.  It's stressful for my back.  It's sometimes painful for me, too.  And there are other ways, like using the stroller, to get from point A to point B.  But sometimes piggy back rides are the fastest and easiest mode of transportation.  

One of the first times I wrote about needing to get Ronan on my back to get him home - after what turned into a disaster of an afternoon, happened a few years ago.  We've had our fair share of those afternoons since then.  Days when Ronan refuses to budge, getting him to communicate why he's refusing to take one step more with me isn't always successful.  Neither is doing a countdown, or redirecting him, or promising him that we will get to do what he wants to but only after he finishes whatever it is he's been asked to do.  
Those days are tough, but thankfully we've also had our fair share of pleasant, happy afternoons.  Like last week, when Ronan could've walked into the gymnasium but signed for me to help him.  

Even though he could walk

Even though he wasn't too tired yet

Even though he knew the routine and the expectations well

He reached up, looked at me, and signed for me to lift him up.  So I did.  I scooped him up and but him on my back.  Instantly, Ronan relaxed and rested his head on my shoulder.  He kept it there for a few minutes than rearranged himself so that he could rest his head on my other shoulder.  

Ronan struggles with so much, so on days that he needs me, I do as much as I can to reassure him that Mommy is right there ready to help.  If it's to get him a snack, to switch out a movie, to turn on a DVD, or to get him from point A to point B via piggyback, I am ready to help.  He clings to me for help and I to him knowing that he'll show me the way.    

xo, Cat 







Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sensation

Despite two meltdowns before 9am (Ronan's not mine), I'm smiling today.  Why?  Read on...

I'm happy that Ronan is finally showings signs that he knows he is about to pee.  I am not so happy that today's massive morning pee that could've filled a gallon jug landed on the kitchen floor.  Holy pee pee!  Thanking God that there is sensation that the pee is coming (and not another nerve issue to worry about) and also thanking God for tile floors!

I really was worried that the neuropathy that started in his feet and have traveled up to his lower leg area would eventually travel up higher.  I supposed it still could, but for now, we celebrate that Ronan has a new sensation - that he's about to pee.  We also celebrate that he's being consistent with telling us he's gotta go.  


A diaper and the wipes = Mom, I gotta go!
His simple sign of bringing me a new diaper (and sometimes the wipes) - even though the diaper he's wearing isn't wet - means that he's about to pee.  While getting his breakfast ready this morning, Ronan knew something was coming so he brought me a new diaper. That was seconds before the pee out this morning.  And pee he did!  

I'm hoping we can time things better, not just to avoid a huge clean up, but to get Ronan on the toilet.  He's tried. Oh, has he tried.  But there's a new aversion to sitting on and standing in front of the toilet that we need to work though.  We'll keep working.  We'll try, try, and try as many times as we need to.  But today, we celebrate.  We celebrate having new sensations, signs of awareness, and of course, tile floors.   

xo, Cat




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Moment of Peace

While sitting next to my husband at Mass today, I felt a moment of peace.  With all that we have going on, I welcome all the peaceful moments I can get!   

I was actually kind of giddy as I drove to the chapel.  It would be just the two of us going to church today.  We never get to go to Mass at the same time, but it worked out so that we could go to the Solemnity of All Saints' Day together.   

The last time we tried to go as a family, Ronan only made it to the Gospel.  And if I recall correctly, he left the pew after a small struggle.  Well, today's Gospel, which is all about the Beatitudes, is not one that I usually care for.  In the past, it's reminded me of some thoughts I've wrestled with.  I shared those thoughts not too long ago when things were not so peaceful in my heart and in our home.  

Despite a rough start with Ronan after he woke up, which thankfully quickly diffused, there's no reason to mourn today.  Sure, things can be just as frustrating now as they were a few months ago.  Yes, life is still full of setbacks and some unknowns for us as well.  But when I heard the Beatitudes today, I was lifted up.  Being lift up is a lot better than feeling down in the dumps. 

I'm beyond grateful for the good days.  They bring such peace.  Here's hoping and praying that there are more good days and more peaceful moments ahead - for me, for Ronan, and for you.  

xo, Cat