Sunday, December 10, 2017

Blessed by His Love

One week, Ronan can sit through Mass.  The next week, he cannot.  Lately, there's been no consistency in his ability to be successful at Mass.  Instead of pushing him to do something he's unable yet to do, we went back to splitting up the family.  My husband goes to the early Mass while I go to the later.  It's not what we want to do, but it ensures that the rest of us can fulfill the Sunday obligation.  Occasionally, when my husband is traveling for work over a weekend like he was this weekend, I have to get creative in getting us to Church.  

I usually shuttle the older kids to the Vigil Mass so I can go to one of the Sunday Masses.  While I'm gone, the big kids watch Ronan.  It's only an hour and a half I'm away, but this weekend, I didn't want to do the splitting up.  So we didn't.  We took a chance of me taking all five of the kids, including Ronan.  I'm very happy that we did!  

Ronan recognized the church, which is not our home parish, and easily transitioned into the building.  I wouldn't normally do this, but I purposely left his backpack and snacks in the car.  I also left the iPad there, something he knew we'd brought with us when we left the house.  Upon entering the church, we found a quiet section and got settled in.  Within five minutes, Ronan was ready to leave.  I told him we'd do a countdown and prayed that he'd last longer than the 100 seconds I was slowly counting backwards. 


He signed all done and proceeded to put the kneeler in the up position.  


Not wanting a struggle, which has happened plenty of times at Church before, I held his hand and guided him out of the pew.  All done, all done, all done, he signed.  "I know, buddy.  Let's go back to the car.  The kids will stay here," I told him.  Ronan hesitated.  The kids?  He looked back at his siblings and froze.  A confused look came over him as he pointed to them.  

I repeated, "Yes, the kids are staying."  

Ronan didn't like that answer so he sat in the pew we were trying to go around.  Pointing a very straight index finger at his big sister, he indicated that he wanted her to come with us.  "Oh, she's staying," I reiterated.  Ronan started to tap his hand on his leg, something he does when we do a countdown.  He "taps down" letting me know he knows an end is in sight and to keep himself calm.  

I continued.  


Pointing again, this time at the other siblings, I reminded Ronan that they were staying for the entire Mass.  He was not pleased.  But he did not get frustrated when I offered that information.  He quietly waited.  Pointing to the siblings hoping they'd come with him, he began to tap his leg once more. 


Then, he picked up the Bible.  Then, he started thumbing through the Bible.  Then, he started to read the Bible! 

At this point, Fiona had walked over to where we were sitting and encouraged Ronan.  He was sitting quietly.  He was reading.  He was staying in the Church.  That meant we could stay, too.  She beamed.  I beamed!  I smiled even more when the other siblings, about 4 pews ahead of us, looked back and saw us.  Signing to them, Fiona let them know that Ronan was reading the Bible.  Wide-eyed and full of grins, they were as excited as we were.  

Ronan stayed content going from one book of the Bible after another.  He stayed in the New Testament section and gravitated toward St. Paul's letters.  For ten minutes, he scanned pages, read, pointed to words, and read some more.  Engrossed in what he was reading, Fiona and I noticed that he kept going back to two verses - one in Revelations about Jesus' second coming and this one from Hebrews: 

"Never will I leave you:
never will I forsake you."
So we say with confidence,
"The Lord is my helper, 
I will not be afraid.
                   What can man do to me?"   (Heb 13: 5-6)

How profound!  He was not going to leave those siblings behind.  

Back and forth, Ronan flipped through the books of Bible during the rest of the Mass.  He wanted to leave during Communion but did a great job waiting for all of us to have the chance to receive.  With five minutes left, Fiona flashed me another smile.  She was so proud of her brother.  He did great, and he was able to lean on her to help make it through something he usually is unable to tolerate.  

After today's wonderful hour in front of the Lord, I found myself repeating the verse that Ronan had read:  "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid..."  Thank you, Lord, for that little reminder, because I do fear things - like the seizures, like the other medical problems, like being able to afford everything a special needs child needs.  But a message I needed to remember was clear - He will help.  And I know that God does help me.  Every single day, I am blessed by His love.  Not only was that message clear, it was so perfectly timed.  Delivered by an always-inspiring Ronan, what a treat it was for us to be at Mass with him today!  

xo, Cat

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Up, Up, Down, Down

I'm calling this photo collage Up, Up, Down, Down. The pictures were taken during an unplanned park day that Ronan and I had yesterday.
We were there for about 30 minutes. Originally going because Ronan signed yes, he wanted to swing, he had more fun on the slide instead. Never a fan of going down slides, he attempted to go up this one several times. He never made it to the top. He gets too scared! The higher he goes, the more scared he gets. He doesn't usually ever reach the top, but he enjoys every single attempt he makes while trying to get there.
Ronan made it half-way up the slide several times yesterday. But every time he got mid-way there, he would stop and slide down. Back at the bottom, with feet firmly planted on the ground, Ronan would smile and try to go back up the slide again.
Half-way up.
Slide back down.
Half-way up.
Slide back down.
Doing that made him so happy. It made me happy, too.
Life can be like a slide. Up, up. Down, down. Some days can be really good - like yesterday afternoon's park day for us. Others can be tough and full of struggles. Whichever direction life is taking you today, hold on tightly. Pray fervently. Believe in yourself. And, if you need to, remember to try, try again.
xo, Cat

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Something Stinks

Life has been a little bit busy here.  It's always busy though.  Someday I may catch up.  But today, I present the latest funny ha ha that happened and being busy and ignoring what I said I should do.


The other day I made a huge mistake.  I copied a link to a video and sent it via messenger to my sister.  I had debated sending it to her by email and told myself, "Self, send this to her email," but I didn't listen to myself.  I opted to use instant messenger instead since that window was already open.  As soon as the link was sent, I realized OH, NO!  

I didn't send that video to my sister.  I sent it to two autism advocates instead!  

I adore these women but the video had nothing to do with autism.  It had nothing to do with vaccines nor anything at all to do with our kids' needs.  The video was not important nor relevant to any conversation we have had or probably ever will have.  Some people may think the video a tad inappropriate, too (swear words), and I had just blasted it to two very busy women who work hard for kids like mine.  


Thankfully, I figured out a way to delete the message.  As quickly as I did that, I sent an accompany apology.  I'm SO sorry.  So, so sorry!  

One of the sweet mamas immediately wrote me back.  "No worries."  

Whew.  No harm, no foul.  

So why this post?  Because I stink.  Well, I don't, but something was starting to stink.  And if I'd bothered to listen to myself...

We were not as busy as we usually are on Thursday evening.  As things were quieting down, I thought to myself, wow.  I might just have time to clean the car.  It had only been 2 weeks since I'd vacuumed it, but I had a nagging feeling that I needed to clean it again.  I got distracted, though, and said that I'd get to it tomorrow.  

Friday was one of the easiest days I've had in a very long time.  All of Ronan's therapy was cancelled which afforded us hours and hours of nothing to run out to.  We're always running out - to his therapy, to a siblings' appointment, to drop off the sibs, to pick up the sibs.  We are go, go, go 8 days a week!  Friday would be the first time I'd have a 5-hour stretch at home.  Five glorious hours.  It sounded heavenly.  

What to do?  What to do?

I made a huge list, turned on some music, and started tackling projects.  I got lots done rather quickly.  With an hour before having to get into the carpool line, I said to myself, "Self, go clean the car, especially the back.  Surely there is stuff in the back of the car for you to put away."  

There was that feeling again.  I hadn't put 'Clean the car' on my To Do list, but I probably should have.

Psst, this is where you ask yourself, "Did Cat go clean the car?" 

And discover that the answer is...

No.  No, she did not.  

What was in the back of the car, you wonder?  What was still there from Thursday morning's shopping trip?  What was it that never made it into the house?  What sat under a blanket in the back of the car for the last few days?  

Four dozen organic 
brown eggs.  Let me clarify.  


You may laugh at me and with me now.  

Since I am a waste not, want not kinda person, for the tiniest split second I thought maybe the eggs were salvageable.  But then I remembered that our temps rose slightly Thursday afternoon.  They rose again Friday afternoon.  It was now Saturday afternoon.  I was not going to take the chance that they were still fresh.  So, into the dumpster they went.  

We were supposed to have eggs and waffles tomorrow morning at breakfast.  I think we may be having cereal and toast instead.  

xo, Cat 

Thursday, November 30, 2017


These thoughts have been running through my head for awhile now.  With the latest headlines about alleged harassment and abuse, I thought this was a good day to share those thoughts.  If after reading, for those who wish to express that it isn't just a boy problem, you're right.  Girls can be bullies and predators, too.  


I've heard this before.  Sadly, I've actually said it, too.  An adult tells a little girl, "That means he likes you!" after the little girl has been made fun of, bullied, or given negative attention by a boy.  He pushed you in line.  He likes you!  He called you a bad name.  He likes you!  He took your pencil and broke it.  He likes you!  Why do adults say that?  

Why would I ever think that myself?

It has been only recently, and only after my own young daughters were on the receiving end of that sort of unacceptable behavior, did I realize what I was saying.  In telling my girls that a boy liked them when he was hurting them instead, taught them that boys are allowed to be mean.  Boys were allowed to call them names and rough them up.  The meaner the boy was, the more they were liked.  

How twisted is that! 

Not until I realized what was really happening, that my daughter was being hurt, and then later imagining the boy growing up exactly as he was now - as a very mean and sneaky bully - did I promise never to say that asinine statement ever again.

"He likes you!"  No.  A boy who breaks rules, who pushes limits and who puts a girl in a position of fear is not showing anything nice.  He's showing how manipulative and intimidating he can be.  But boys will be boys, right?


Imagine that young, sneaky child growing up - as a teenager, as a young adult, as someone's husband.  Now, imagine him continuing to make fun of and bully girls and give negative attention to the women he meets in life - a high school classmate, a girlfriend, a co-worker, his wife.  If the boy is allowed to behave a certain way with no consequences, a destructive pattern can been created.  The more he is allowed to misbehave or hurt others without consequence as a child - in his neighborhood, in the classroom, on the playground, the more he will think he can misbehave or hurt later in life - in the gym, in the office, in the bedroom.  

What happens next? 

The bully becomes a predator.  The predator, if not stopped, will seek out more victims.  Victims, if told that "boys will be boys", may continue to be hurt.  It's a chronic, vicious cycle that could, and likely has, for some, lead to domestic violence.  

One young boy we used to know was never given boundaries.  We've heard that he's grown up from being the little boy bully at the park to being the teenage bully looking for trouble in the neighborhood.  He was pushy, mean, degrading, and disrespectful to other kids and to authority then.  Apparently, he still is today.  Other parents clued into this and would not let their children play with him.  The boy still found a way to be with kids his own age though, and now, their "play time" is disturbing.  Mocking children.  Throwing things at people.  Cyber bullying.  His parents knew about his behavior but shrugged it off because "boys will be boys".  

It's disturbing for me to think about what else he may try to get away with the older he gets.  

The boys who have bothered my daughters don't anymore.  We've put a stop to it.  One reason is because my girls are wiser now.  So am I.  It's been quite awhile since there has been an incident, but when my girls were confronted, they were quicker to tell me.  When they have been uncomfortable around a boy, they were quicker to tell the boy to stop whatever it was he was doing.  They were quicker to tell an adult about the incident, too.  I like that they now know how to advocate for themselves.  I like that they know which adults they can trust to help them also.  As long as the adult they seek out takes the situation seriously, they trust that the potential abusive cycle will be stopped. 

Boys and girls have played together for centuries.  Some know how to play well together while others do not.  Teaching children a few simple rules about what is appropriate play is important:  keep your hands to yourself, treat each other's belongings well, speak with kindness, and always respect each other's personal space.  Those simple rules are a great start and can positively shape future interactions with others.  

But rules have to be enforced and followed for them to do any good.  

No one, no matter their age, should ever feel pressured by another person.  Young, old, boy, girl, man, or woman.  We are all worthy of respect.  Society tells us that little boys who hurt little girls, either emotionally or physically, means that the boy likes the girl.  That needs to stop.  Intolerable, unwanted behavior from anyone is not affection.  It's a form of abuse, and it's time to remind society of that. 

xo, Cat

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wrong Place, Right Time

Right place, right time.  

Wrong place, wrong time. 

I hear those two sayings used frequently.  A right place, right time moment usually leads to something positive.  A wrong place, wrong time moment has usually led to a negative outcome.  Earlier this week, I had a "wrong place, right time" moment.  I'm glad that I did. 

After getting Ronan buckled in the car, I said to one of our therapists who had come to the house to work with us that morning, "I have to run back in to get my coffee.  Oh, and the iPad, too.  He'll use it on our drive back."  As I remembered here we were headed, I realized that we were coming straight home, not going off on the errand that we sometimes do after this appointment.  We'd be back sooner than I thought.  Realizing that I wouldn't need to bring the iPad, I said, "Wait. I don't need the iPad; we're coming home right after his appointment." 

I went back in the house.  

I grabbed my coffee.  

Then I grabbed the iPad.  

As I unplugged the iPad from the charger, I remembered what I had just said.  "I don't need this," I said to myself and walked out of the house.  Saying goodbye to the therapist, I got in the car, put on my seat belt and drove off.  I was a minute later in leaving the house than I'd planned.  

Ronan and I got on our way.  About to turn out of our neighborhood, I saw traffic immediately slow down.  Then, it completely stopped.  I could see why.  Creeping very, very slowly past the scene, my heart skipped a beat.  A car had flipped and was facing on-coming traffic in the exact lane that I was traveling.  A sedan, with what looked like smoke coming from the undercarriage, was resting on its side half in the lane, half in the shoulder.   

Traffic was heavy that day, and it was raining.  Maybe those were factors that contributed to the accident.  Surely, other factors could've contributed to the crash, too.  Perhaps it was a distraction - like texting, or putting on make up, or reaching for something that had fallen, or reading a book.  As odd as that sounds, it's not too far fetched.  My kids have seen a few drivers holding and reading books while driving!  I didn't see how it happened, but whatever caused this car to flip and land in our lane, I believe that we missed being hit by mere seconds.  

People were starting to park along the side of the road.  Some drivers were coming out of their cars and were running to assist.  Others cars had also stopped, but they were still in the roadway.  Those drivers, likely involved in or witnesses of the accident, were beginning to get out of their vehicles.  They looked too stunned to do anything though.  One on-looker just stood and stared.  Another began to cry.  

Once we cleared the area, I focused on where we were headed.  Safely past and able to resume my speed, I got us underway again.  

Daily, we say the Guardian Angel prayer.  Angel of God, my guardian dear... I actually say it quite often.  I'm in and out of the car several times a day as I pick up kids from school, take them to or from after school activities, as I run errands, as I get Ronan to therapy.  I'm on the road a lot.  The kids and I are on the road a lot together.  I can be as safe as safe can be while we're out and about, but I make sure to be on the constant look out for potential trouble spots and for bad drivers wherever we go.  Before even getting on the road, I know that I ask for some spiritual assistance and oftentimes do.  

I don't know how the driver of that wreck fared.  I'm hoping well.  He or she has been in my prayers for a few days now.  I've had another prayer running on repeat, too.  That Angel prayer.  It's a simple one and offers me great comfort.  With how many miles I log, and with how many distractions there are out there on the road, I think I'll continue to keep it on repeat.  With how quickly something can go wrong like it did for that driver, it feels like the right thing to do.  

xo, Cat

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

and Sat and Sat and Sat

We've had more bathrooming woes than victories lately.  I've written about messy bowel movements and pee accidents before.  We talk about those here at home quite a lot.  Not because they're such a fascinating topics, but because we can't seem to catch a break on toilet training Ronan.  

If ever you're visiting us, more than once a day you might hear:  

"Mom, I think Ronan needs a diaper change!"  

"Mom, he leaked out on the couch.  Again."  

"Honey, get me another outfit for Ronan, please.  This one is soaking wet."

Earlier, I was bemoaning how dependent Ronan still was in the toileting department when he came up to me and signed that he wanted juice.  I thought to myself, You want juice?  You're going to get juice, buddy.  But, you're going to sit on the toilet first.  

I thought Ronan would protest - he usually does when it comes to going into the bathroom.  No matter how many times we encourage him, Ronan always seems to hesitate going into that one room in the house.  Working through sensory issues (it's small and the flushing sound can be quite loud) and the unknown (why would he need to sit on the toilet when the diaper catches what his body expels?), we've always hit more roadblocks than successes when attempting to get Ronan to use the facilities.  

Until today. 

Today, after Ronan confidently walked into the bathroom, I helped him sit on the toilet and quietly talked him through the process - first sit, that's it, careful now, you got it... and then handed him the cup of juice he requested. 
Three cups of juice later, out came the pee!  Since it was the first time he'd peed today, quite a lot came out.  Ronan wasn't phased by it, but I squealed and jumped for joy.  Then I ran to where the siblings were and told them.  Then I ran to where my husband was and told him, too.  We all jumped for joy. It's a huge accomplishment and one we hope continues.  

Ronan took just one very teeny tiny step closer to independence, but I'll take it.  I'll happily take it and excitedly hope for more.  


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.   


Share the link.  


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

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.   


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