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.  

xo,
Cat  
  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Prayerfully Consider


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

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

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

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


So I prayed one more time...

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

Talk about chills.  


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

Pray.  

Share the link.  

Donate.
*

And believe that justice will prevail. 

xo, Cat

--

* Link to the gofundme page

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I Will Always

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

--


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

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

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

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


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

I will always
Go beside you
You will always
Understand.

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

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

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

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

xo, Cat





Friday, March 17, 2017

...Is Love


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


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

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

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

Love motivates.  

It trusts.

It protects.  

It hopes.

It never fails.

Love is essential.  


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

xo, Cat


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Start to Finish

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

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

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



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



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

Enjoy!

xo, Cat


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Everything In Between

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

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

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





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




God is the Beginning.  

God is the Ending.  

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

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

xo, Cat


---

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

More Baby Steps

File this under:  More Baby Steps to Toilet Training

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

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

What's next?  

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

xo, Cat

--

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


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Choosing to Smile

February 4th, This Blows:   

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xo, Cat







Thursday, February 2, 2017

From Home

Always with the kids in mind, no matter if they're in diapers or about to go out into the world as an adult...

I get invited to do some pretty amazing things.  Some stuff is miles and miles away.  Some is close by, but with how unpredictable life can be, getting to the close by events can be impossible.  
I have the chance to do some pretty neat things with some incredible people in just a few weeks, but I have so much to line up before I even think of going: making sure Ronan's people can come early and stay late, making sure no one is sick (oy, this week's plans were absolutely, utterly and completely destroyed with 3 kids home 3 days in a row), making sure my husband can be home in case my schedule runs late, making sure I have a back up plan to my back up plan, making sure everything falls into place. 
It can be so overwhelming.
I was telling my husband last night that as much as I want to be right there in the middle of all the awesome advocating that goes on, sometimes I can do more work right here at home.  Take last week, for instance.  It included several good examples of how easy speaking up can be.  
From right here at home, I was able to send out dozens of emails to representatives.  I was also able to make several phone calls to their offices while working out of my home office.  While sitting on my couch, I rallied with other concerned citizens who were also not afraid to speak their minds.  With all of us working behind the scenes and from the comfort of our own homes, together, we successfully shot down another bill that would've stripped parental rights.
And today?  While sitting here in my pajamas?  While sipping my coffee?  While I wanted to be out in the real world but found myself home again as my kids took another sick day?  
Well, today, I got a beautifully written email from a concerned parent asking me for advice.  I've gotten plenty of those messages and requests over the years, but it's been quite awhile since I've gotten one about an adult child.
The adult child is being forced to make a decision - get vaccinated with a vaccine they don't want and that's made with aborted fetal cells, or forgo an academic opportunity.  I don't have all the answers, far from it, but I do have a way of helping someone mom-to-mom.  So, that's what I did.  
Again.  
Right here from home.  
While still in my jammies.  
While sipping my coffee.
Finding me after reading my Where's the Outrage? Vaccines and Aborted Fetal Tissue piece, which recently made the rounds on FB again, I cannot tell you how humbling it is to get a message like the one I saw in my inbox this morning.  After carefully crafting my response, because my goal is not to tell a parent what to do but to share that they have options, here is some of my reply to the parent who also happens to be Catholic and who also shares the same opinions as I.
--
Hi,
Thanks so much for reaching out and telling me your story.  My kids are still young -- college and workplace medical requirements are years away for us.  I haven't done as much reading on the subject yet, but I know I need to start researching that myself soon.
Since I have limited knowledge on what you are facing, I hope the following ideas I brainstormed can give you some workable options...
...it can be so frustrating, so I'll be praying things work out.  If I come across any more information that I think could help protect your son's rights, I will send it to you.
Cathy
--
That other parent may have felt like her child was backed up against the wall, but there are other options to vaccines and school "requirements".  I let her know that by planting a seed.  A small one.  With a link or two.  With some suggestions that may work.  With hope and also with some happiness sprinkled in.
Moms don't have to go it alone, even those moms whose babies are entering adulthood.  We can do this.  Together.  Always for the kids...no matter how young or how old they may be. 

xo, Cat




Thursday, January 12, 2017

499.


499.

It's hard to sum up a lifetime of pain and suffering that's resulted from a supposedly safe, effective and life-saving product, but it is done.  Ronan's story was summed up in 499 words.  I pray I did it justice.  

Vaxxed is calling for our story, too.  An explanation can be found in this video.  The form to add your story, which is being sent to PEOTUS, can be found here.  


Start it simply:

Dear President-Elect Trump...


Then, add the facts.  

Add the before and the after.  

Add the pain and the suffering.  

Add the hopes and the dreams.  

Add the reality that happened instead.  

Tell the President Elect that this didn't have to be.  It really, really didn't.  

If you have a vaccine story, don't delay.  Write it.  Send it.  And believe that it will be heard.  


xo, Cat

  


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cheers to the Pee Pee

I had hoped it would be an easy morning.

It would not be an easy morning.

Ronan's been able to sleep in for 3 weeks thanks to the kids' long Christmas vacation and thanks to having house guests keep on eye on the kids when I've had to jet out early. Today would be the first day that I'd have to get Ronan up with us.

I had to wake up Ronan early.
He hates being woken up early.
I hate waking him up early.
For a kid who has as many medical complications as he has, sleep is the best medicine for Ronan. When he sleeps, he's free from sensory issues. He gets a break from the physical pain that comes with some of his other issues. He's looks absolutely peaceful when he sleeps. And gorgeous. Gosh, that kid is so handsome. Anyway, he hates being woken up early. Hates. It. But on mornings like today, when I must get his siblings to school on time, we've all got to be up and out the door before 8am.
I try to ease the wake up process, but there's no easy way to do it. Especially when Ronan's in a deep, deep sleep. Especially when he decides to sleep on the floor. Especially when he's peed out of his diaper and all over the floor. His soaking wet comforter covered the pee spot, but as I knelt down next to Ronan to gently wake him up, my knee found that wet pee spot. Not right away, but as I slowly woke Ronan up, my knee slowly started to feel the cold wetness. Hoping to just scoop Ronan up in my arms and carry him to the car like I'd been doing before Christmas vacation started, I now had to strip Ronan, clean him up, and find a fresh outfit for him. I hadn't factored in changing him completely, nor myself. Tick tock. We were now going to be late.
Normally, I'd be frustrated with the delay I faced, but I once again thank God for pee.
Remember a few weeks ago when I did a happy dance about pee? That was when Ronan showed us that he sensed needing to use the bathroom. Well, today I celebrate the pee one more time. Ronan's been holding urine in and not having what we call his first morning pee until well into the afternoon. The other day, he didn't need a diaper change until almost 5pm. And holy pee pee! When he finally went, buckets and buckets came out of him.
Holding it in was becoming the norm a few too many days in a row. With him being non-verbal and unable to communicate why he's doing that, we started to get a little worried. Does he just not need to go? Does he just not want to go? Does he have a UTI? I'll speak to our provider today just in case this is a sign of a new, worrisome issue, but today, I'm getting back down on my knees - both of them, to pray a thankful prayer full of glee that the pee pee came when it did.
We've a lot to worry about with Ronan - seizures, growth delays, regressive autism, and the inability to speak. But if I don't have to worry about pee and can celebrate it instead, I'm going to do just that. Cheers to the pee pee. Hip, hip, hooray!
xo, Cat