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.  
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.
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... 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.
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 matter how young or how old they may be. 

xo, Cat