Trio of Awards!
Anabelle of Written by the Finger of God has graciously nominated My Broken Fiat for a series of blog awards. I spent a few days mulling over how to go about accepting them. I felt a little silly posting them here. My blog is so small and I'm not entirely sure why I'd deserve any of them. However, I really appreciated that someone felt my sharing of life, struggle and prayer was worth sharing with others. It absolutely made my day.
So thank you, Anabelle.
Per award rules, you link to the person who awarded you and then dole out the awards to bloggers you feel meet the criteria for the selections. Instead of lumping everyone together, I want to break them up to pass along to individual bloggers who, in my mind, exemplify each award (and notify via combox).
I'll also list ten things about myself in the comments, and post the awards here:
The Awardees are:
For sharing stories that always leave me feeling refreshed and happy, and for never failing to see the silver lining of God's testing grounds, I'd like to pass along the Sunshine Award to CatholicIcing.com.
In all fairness, CatholicIcing.com is a very well-traveled blog because of Lacy's incredible creativity and willingness to share what's worked with her family, but I still want to pass this along in recognition of all her hard work that NEVER fails to put a smile on my face and some seeds in my head for future projects with my CCD class. I stalk her regularly. I suggest you guys do the same, especially all you wonderful homeschooling families.
This award is getting split between the two hosts of Real Catholic Love and Sex, a blog dedicated to giving a unique, honest and insightful forum to those who wish to live a fulfilled, Catholic marriage and enjoy sex in the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
They both share such incredible resources, and I am not shy about forwarding their "Honeymoon" series to folks. It contains a plethora of information that is beneficial even to those who haven't lived a super-chaste lifestyle and are seeking to "begin again."
Really - huge kudos to Kate and James. This blog is such a fantastic (and necessary) idea, and I routinely find myself enlightened and appreciative of what they have to offer.
I love this award. "May you never howl alone."
I just love that.
I'm passing this along to Deo Volente of Traditional Latin Mass in Maryland.
Why? Because he embodies what I think this award seeks to acknowledge - a desire to see joined a multitude of clear and moral voices.
That's exactly what his blog, TLM, does. He pulls together bloggers from all over the internet and posts them in one place with frequent daily updates. I can't even tell you how often I've come across some of my favorite entries / reflections because of the work he does in uniting strong Catholic voices.
Thank you for all the work you do, D.V. I appreciate it so much.
Myla's Big Reveal
I had given up hope of ever having "proof" of my pregnancy with Myla. Imagine my surprise, then, when I walked out of the doctor's office with it on Monday morning.
Yeah. Let that sink in.
Without getting into graphic detail, let's just say God gave me the proof I thought I'd been denied and allowed me to give John what he needed to accept the reality of Myla's existence. I spent the day in a state of semi-bliss.
I was able to share the news with John over coffee Monday night. I wasn't even sure how to bring it up, so I gave him the prescription and evaluation slip from my OB. I explained to him what they meant, and he took my hand in his and said, "Now I feel terrible."
I said, "I don't want you to feel terrible. It just gives you the proof you needed, and I'm really happy you know I'm not crazy."
In truth, he shouldn't have needed the diagnosis from my OB to rationalize that. But hey... God knew he'd need it, so God made arrangements.
We only spoke very briefly, and I designed the conversation that way. I knew he'd need some time to process things, and I didn't want him to feel overburdened with guilt for his lack of trust / support. So I brought out the note at the tail end of Vincent's hour-long therapy session. We tend to go to a coffee shop across the street as an impromptu 1-hour date. 10 minutes before we had to head back to pick Vince up, I pulled out the OB's note. It gave me just enough time to explain things, let the news sink in, and hear his initial reaction.
He said he wasn't sure how he felt, because she still wasn't "real" to him. He believes now that she existed, but much like many other men, she was too early to be "real" to him. I understand that. I'm just not sure how I can support him because I don't know if he even needs support (now or ever). I don't know if he'll ever want to bring her up. I don't know if he will want to and won't know how. I don't know if he's struggling with guilt because he's secretly glad she passed away. I dunno.
I'm just so incredibly thankful that God manifested His mercy in such an unexpected way. Prayers are never wasted, and every day brings a new miracle.
Mommy loves you so much, Myla. I wonder if you made some sort of deal with God to arrange this for your Daddy. I can't wait to see you in Heaven one day, baby girl. What a moment that will be when I see you and wrap my arms around you. Kiss after kiss I will rain upon your face. My little flower. Words cannot express my appreciation for you. <3
My Pro-Life Banner
To be pro-life is to deny fear, pride and selfishness; it is to share in the multiplication of life, laughter and love.
That is my choice. Life.
For him, and for all children.
Prayers for all those at the march, contemplating abortion, providing abortion, healing after abortion, or trying to support a victim of abortion.
We will not allow these innocents to be silenced.
In an effort to quell the wave of judgement I fear some folks might be inclined to reign down upon my husband after my last entry, he's a good guy. He just really, REALLY doesn't get Christianity, and that's not his fault. Remember, faith is a gift, and not everyone gets it right away.
So, to balance out the whining I just did (and help me remember why I love him), a list of why he's awesome.
He ALWAYS makes me laugh. Every day, there is some ridiculous thing he does or says or suggests that will solicit a giant, belly-quivering laugh out of me.
He's not afraid to make a fool of himself to get a laugh. In fact, he takes great pride in the lengths that he will go to get a giggle.
Laughter really is how our marriage thrives.
Really. Look at him. He's tall, dark and handsome, looks just as good in a suit as he does in his PJs, and he isn't super vain or worried about trying to keep himself looking good.
He just does it naturally.
I just love the dimples. Vincent's got them, too!
He's not afraid to try new things.
Even horseback riding at my request. Through a jungle and into the ocean. The poor boy's butt hurt, but he did it and he enjoyed it.
All because I thought it'd be fun.
He's a good dad!
It might've taken him some getting used to, but once he caught on to the whole "dad" thing, he went to town.
He gets up early with Vince, plays dress up, takes him to the park to play basketball, teaches him the ins and outs of various sports, disciplines and soothes like a pro.
He works hard to provide and always, always, always plans for Vincent's future.
He has great friends.
And yes, you really can learn a lot about a man by who he keeps company with.
That was one of the first traits I loved about John - his friends and his undying loyalty to them.
I'm so blessed to call these folks friends, too. Each one of them is amazing. <3
The list could seriously go on and on. John is a great man with amazing talents and drive. Sometimes we butt heads over the issue of religion and children, but he is my perfect match. I love him immensely and am appreciative of all the psychotic things he puts himself through for the good of our family.
Even if he sometimes thinks I'm out of my Christian-lovin' mind. :)
Last night, I sorta-kinda-totally flew off into a seething fit of rage against my husband and his incessant need to confine my personal thoughts and feelings into a tiny, misshapen box labelled "Force-Fed Ideologies of Christianity: Brainwash Edition."
I fully admit that I lost all semblance of sanity in the brief war of words (which wasn't a war so much as a massacre), but even whilst waging verbal warheads at his lackluster logic, I was able to cling to the truth of my Faith, and I think he'll reflect a little longer before attributing my personal opinions to the dusty religious textbooks of my childhood.
How did this all start?
Well, a quick refresher: John is an independent filmmaker who has sold two films and is working on two others. One of these latter projects we watched together for the purpose of draft-correction.
This is a period in post-production where you watch a film thirty billion times to check for any sort of lighting errors, sound issues, continuity problems, music arrangement, etc.
Seriously. It's like drafting and redrafting your novel to make the best possible product. However, since you can't use a red pen on DVDs, you sit in front of the TV with a notebook and take notes until your hands fall off. Then you use your feet.
John is in the early stages of that, and he asked for my opinions. We watched the draft together a few nights ago, and I offered various comments on the different characters, story lines and technical issues I saw. He seemed to take them all in stride, and by the end of the movie, we were both ready for bed. It's an exhausting process.
Last night he had a meeting with the director to go over his (and my) notes from the draft screening. The director is a good friend of my husband's and we both adore taking him and his wife out to dinner. They're good people whom I like and respect.
When I asked John how the meeting went, he said it was fine. He explained how he presented our notes to the director, and the conversation sorta blew up from there.
You see, I felt that there were too many "main characters" in the movie. I only ended up caring about two - three characters (instead of the 6 - 7 that were vying for attention). I said, "I wish the movie was only about Tom and Steve. I don't really care about anyone else."
John took that to mean, "Gina only likes the 'wholesome' characters and doesn't like the ones with immoral lifestyle choices because she's Catholic."
He accuses me of stuff like this all the time. I think last night was the last straw because he imparted this to the director and his wife which, in my mind, made me look like some sort of brainwashed space cadet who has no capacity to reason for herself.
That drives me up a wall.
I hate when my religion is blamed for things he doesn't agree with me on.
She doesn't believe in divorce? Oh... must be all that Catholic guilt. Couldn't possibly be due to the fact that my wife loves me and believes that love can endure even the most difficult of burdens.
She wants a big family. OBVIOUSLY that's because her Church tells her she can't use birth control and should shoot out all the babies she can possibly make. There's no WAY it could be an intense, natural longing that she's harbored and documented since she was a child.
She doesn't believe in homosexual marriage? Pfft - her archaic old Church is homophobic so she must step in line or face excommunication. If she could, just for a second, think for herself (poor girl) she'd realize that children don't have the natural right to a mother and father. All those studies that have proven children of homosexual couples face higher rates of suicide, depression, social integration issues and gender confusion couldn't have had anything to do with that, right? Right?!
She doesn't like characters in my movie. There's no way the characters are just poorly shaded out or make themselves sound pathetic or egotistical, especially in an early draft. No way! Can't possibly be anything wrong with how we've chosen to tell the story. Obviously her brainwashed Christian values are to blame, because Lord knows she can't formulate her own opinion.
I hate being made out to be some brainless moron. My husband of all people should know better than that. So I flipped out. Majorly. And to my surprise, he did an about-face within minutes. He gave me a sincere apology and admitted he deserved the verbal backlash I'd unleashed.
He doesn't understand why I accept Catholic teaching because it doesn't make sense to him. However, I don't understand how he thinks football is entertaining but I don't hold that as prime reason for him hating HGTV.
Anyway, when I reiterated my reasoning WHY I didn't like (or was bored by) certain characters, he admitted his mistake and apologized for instantly blaming my dislike for them on some pointless connection to Christianity.
It's just frustrating sometimes when he auto-jumps into thinking I consult with a Bible before I make every decision.
Thankfully things haven't gotten to that point yet, but sometimes it feels like he really does think I'm a mindless moron. He KNOWS I'm intelligent and he prides himself on marrying a woman with smarts, but when it comes to my conservative slant, he can't help himself when thinking it's based solely on my religion (because apparently conservatives can't be anything but Christian).
Ah well. I felt better after he'd sincerely apologized, because I know he realized his mistake. But it just drives me up a wall that he could've painted a picture of me to friends as some sort of bumbling idiot with no opinion outside of a Catholic coloring book.
Why is it that folks can't just accept that we are Catholic because we've looked at the world and wanted better? Expected better? Loved better?
I'm Terrible at Novenas
After Dom selflessly gifted the Christmas Creche to a mother who needed one for her family, I wanted to do something special for her in return. She simply asked for a novena to St. Monica for her children.
I was a bit anxious. I'd never successfully completed a novena before. Isn't that terrible? It's embarrassing to admit that. I've tried countless times, but on day 6 or 8 or even 9, my mind slips and I forget to say the prayers.
However, for Dom and her Christmas spirit, I would say a novena.
And I'm still trying.
I've "completed" the novena enough times that I've memorized the words and, altogether, have prayed the "full" novena 4 or 5 times.
(So I guess you're going extra prayers, Dom... lots of them - ha!)
However, I didn't do it over the specified time-frame.
So I'm trying again and starting tonight. I'm going to set an alarm on my phone that rings at my appointed time and stop what I'm doing to turn my thoughts to Dom, her children, and St. Monica.
Do any of you have this problem with novenas, or am I really the only one? Do you have any tips or tricks to better get me on board with these special prayers?
I feel like such a terrible Catholic, but novenas were never my thing. My consistency is impressively poor.
A coworker wanted to get a St. Michael medal for his friend who is becoming a police office this weekend. I told him I had one at home and promised to bring it in.
Given how much I use medals for Lenten projects, I typically have a bag of 20 or 30 on-hand, so I put them in my purse and brought them in today.
As we were sorting through them looking for St. Michael, I came across one for St. Philomena. I added it to the holy card on my office wall. I look at them constantly, and each time I do, I'm reminded to say a prayer or refocus my attention on God. Finding her medal was a nice bonus.
I actually found three, so I'll wear one and keep the other in the pile for my kids at Lent.
Anyway, I also found one for St. Genesius. I've never heard of St. Genesius! So I did some digging and came up with a pretty awesome conversation story.
St. Genesius of Rome was apparently the Shakespeare of his day. He led an acting troupe and performed plays that mocked Christianity.
During one play which sought to belittle the Sacrament of Baptism, Genesius saw two angels come towards him with a list of his sins. Immediately demanding baptism, his fellow actors thought he was simply acting out the play. However, Genesius insisted that he must be baptized and proclaimed the truth of Christianity.
Upon hearing this, Diocletian ordered St. Genesius to be tortured. This had no effect on Genesius. He continued to proclaim the truth of Christ to anyone who would listen. Confounded by his refusal to deny Christ, he was beheaded. From his martyrdom, a popular devotion to this saint sprang forth.
That's what I call Divine Intervention!
What a great conversion story - very Saint Paul!
Ah well. I'm glad to have been acquainted with a new saint today. I'm always fascinated by the stories of these ordinary people who, unbeknownst to them, are called to be beacons of truth. Just... incredible!
The Hardest Thing
When asked about the hardest thing I've dealt with regarding Vincent and the confusion of the last several months (years, really), my answer was fear.
At first, I actually said that there haven't been any difficult changes to deal with. Vince is still the same happy, affectionate child. He still loves sports and kitties and trampolines. He doesn't attend daycare or school, but honestly, that means he gets to spend more time with Mommy and Daddy who don't have to spend 45 minutes each way to pick him up or drop him off each day.
If anything, this has made things easier for us (no worries of him catching that stomach bug going around, being bullied, being put in the principal's office for over-stimulation).
However, upon further reflection, there has been a major uptick in fear. I can't deny that. It's been my driving force these last few months.
I was terrified that Vincent was going to be misdiagnosed and put into a program that would not seek to challenge and engage him. I was afraid he had fallen behind his peers with his social skills. I was ceaselessly worried we weren't doing enough as parents to get him to where he needed to be... that I was missing pieces of the puzzle or overlooking some obvious trait that others could so plainly see.
Above all, I was terrified that I was failing my son. I was failing as a mother, and that really did cause me some sleepless nights.
Each time someone asked about Vincent, I physically and mentally braced myself to defend him against the misunderstandings and suggestive conversations I knew were to come.
"Did you ask the doctor about Autism yet?"
"I read this article about Oppositional Defiance. I'd like to send it to you."
"My friend knows a lot about learning disabled students. She works with kids like Vincent all the time."
"I know you don't think he's got Autism, but did you look into Asperger's?"
"Wow, he sure is fidgety. He's probably just got ADD or something."
On and on and on this sort of conversation would take place. Well-meaning individuals (family and friends alike) who were doing their best to guide me through waters which they, themselves, had no lighthouse to follow.
For the most part, I did appreciate their intentions. I just had to tune them out after a while. Behind each good-intention was an unspoken judgement: There is something wrong with Vincent.
Did they mean it that way? Of course not. But I'm his mother. I see him as perfect. I want everyone else to see him that way, too. It was killing me that others were starting to see him as a problem needing to be solved than as a beautiful little boy wanting to play Ninja Turtles.
And I felt that I, myself, was being judged as inferior. I was being deemed a parent incapable of "fixing" my son... of allowing him to spoil in some way.
Isn't that terrible? Each keystroke of this entry feels like I'm pulling tears higher and higher out of the well of my soul.
THAT was the hardest part in all of this. Feeling like a failure. Feeling like others were judging my son... judging me. Feeling like they were judging correctly and feeling absolutely worthless for being unable to change that judgement because they were right.
That sort of paranoia... it is devilishly intense. I'd beg, barter and plead with God to just lead me down the right path because I had no idea what I was doing.
And in all those times of desperation, He answered.
He gave me the mental dexterity to show EI the door when they pushed for Autism testing before Vince was even three. He opened the doors to TLE when I had no idea where to place Vincent. He dropped the most perfect speech therapist into my lap who took flawless notes about his progress. He reminded me of those notes when I read Cam's entry on her own daughter, and He put the pieces of the puzzle together for me before I even knew I was holding puzzle pieces.
Each and every time I found myself doubting His sanity in placing Vincent into my care, He'd swoop in and reassure me that He wasn't, in fact, crazy. He just had a lot more faith in me than I had in Him.
And when I finally realized that, I was amazed and infinitely grateful to be counted worthy of raising my son. He is a gift, and with God in my cheering section, what is there to be afraid of?
As parents, we're always going to fear we're failing. We just need to remember that God would have never placed these blessings with us if He didn't think we could do it. Together, we can. :)
This is Vince and our friend, Chrissy. This photo was taken today, right after we got back from the pediatric office. Vincent had such a fun time there that he promptly dressed up in his doctor costume (a Christmas gift from my mother - thanks Mom) and went to work on her. It was adorable!
Anyway, the evaluation was pretty straight forward. The D-Ped did two types. The first was a history log of my pregnancy with Vince and his behaviors since birth.
Good thing I kept a meticulous baby-book for him, because I needed each month to remind myself of which milestones he hit and when he hit them. I highly recommend keeping up with those books for your children if at all possible. I always thought his would be a keepsake memento. It's actually been more of an archived medical history given what I've now learned about milestone achievement and their connection to autism and sensory disorders.
But I digress.
After the history, she did a current snapshot of Vincent's behavior through conversation. She asked me questions, I answered. She took notes the entire time and was sure to ask for clarification on anything she was unsure of.
The entire time we were having this discussion, there was another D-Ped in the room simply observing Vincent. They had a train table set up and the 2nd D-Ped was there strictly to observe Vincent and his behavior as I spoke to the first doctor, as I interacted with him, as the other doctor interacted with Vince, and as he was left to his own devices. I thought that was great. Two doctors for the price of one, and each could focus on a separate task instead of one trying to observe Vince while getting a family history down.
Anyway, once the D-Ped was done asking questions of me, she had me fill out a GARS-3. For those unfamiliar, GARS stands for "Gilliam Autism Rating Scale" with "3" being for the 3rd edition.
As I filled out the scale, the doctor turned her attention to Vincent. She did a brief physical exam, and then she spent some time "playing" with him. She wanted him to draw certain things, point to certain things, or do certain things as she tested various capabilities. At this point, the second D-Ped interjected because she was so excited by Vincent's drawing of me. When asked to draw a picture of a person, Vincent kept drawing various scribbles. It dawned on me that the word "person" was not part of his vocabulary, and when I suggested they use a different word, he was able to follow through with the request to "draw Mommy."
Vincent kept looking at me and then adding features to his stick figure (glasses, earrings, my ponytail, etc). The silent D-Ped couldn't resist commenting on how detailed his drawing ended up being. I was delighted she took such joy from his art. I was even more delighted that she acknowledged how intelligent he was - something I sometimes fear people neglect to realize when they're busy looking for labels.
The original D-Ped finished her assessment of Vince a few minutes after I'd finished the GARS. It only took her a few moments to add up the data and place him into percentile rankings. This standardized scoring method is useful in predicting Autism. It doesn't, however, diagnose it. Rather, it establishes a baseline of probability and possible severity level based on 6 areas: Restricted / Repetitive Behaviors, Social Interaction, Social Communication, Emotional Responses, Cognitive Style and Maladaptive Speech.
For Vincent, his percentile ranged him as "Autism is Likely" with "Level 2" severity (out of 3) which would require "Substantial Support."
However, as the D-Ped pointed out, he "failed" the DSM-V criteria for Autism completely.
How is this?
Well, the DSM-V (read: Psychologists' Bible) notes that for Autism to be diagnosed, three persistent deficits MUST be present: Socio-emotional reciprocity, non-verbal communicative behaviors for social interaction, and developing, maintaining and understanding relationships.
Now, in addition to those top three criteria, there are things like repetitive patterns of behavior, inflexibility and fixated interests that are also added to the list, but in all Autism diagnoses, the three I mentioned in the preceding paragraph MUST be present. Since they were not, she explained Autism could not be a diagnosis. I asked about Asperger's Syndrome. It's not technically an Autism disorder anymore, but given it is still spectrum, I wanted her feelings on that, too.
She explained that Vincent didn't measure up to that diagnosis, either. The closest she could come up with was Sensory Modulation Dysfunction which, again, is another way of saying Sensory Processing Disorder. It was exactly what I had anticipated based on my own research and findings.
She did mention he exhibited signs of being hyperactive, but this is not surprising. She explained that many children with SMD / SPD can either be hyper- or hypo- active depending on where they fall on the scale. Vince, being easily over-stimulated and constantly craving a stream of tactile sensation, was obviously going to be on the hyperactive side of things.
Point is, all of his "Autism symptoms" were strictly related to his sensory issues. Since the two do overlap at times, it's easy to understand his GARS ranking. However, since the D-Ped was able to add her own analysis and evaluation through the DSM-V, I was able to walk out of the office with a diagnosis that would finally take Autism off the table for Vincent's child study team.
I felt like I'd finally be able to tell the surgeon I needed kidney surgery vs. a stomach surgery. The CST will FINALLY have the D-Ped report they've been hounding me to get since Vince was in Early Intervention from 18 months of age. I can finally prove to them that he is not so easily labelled.
He won't be so easily placed into their bucket of special needs children to up their state funding.
Not my child. I will never let him be a statistic or a financial victory for those people. I know how the system works and I absolutely refuse to let it take advantage of him like that.
So two hours after walking through the doors, I walked out victorious. My son was confirmed as having Sensory Modulation Disorder (or SPD) and the current course of therapy that John and I currently have him on is exactly what was prescribed.
Vindication is glorious. I finally, finally feel like we are going to get somewhere with his education now. There is no excuse not to proceed now that they've got everything they demanded of us. I find it delicious that the diagnosis they were so SURE we'd get today not only falls short of their expectation... it falls completely in line with mine.
Parents know best.
And praise God for allowing things to line up so perfectly for this today.
Pediatric Lottery Win
This is Vincent dressed up in his rain gear this morning. I had to get him up at 6:45 AM so we could be out of the house by 7:30. It was a rainy, wet morning, but ya know what? I was feeling pretty amazing, and by the grin on Vincent's face, he was, too.
Well, we had won what I'm henceforth calling the Pediatric Lottery yesterday afternoon.
You see, on December 31st, I was told I'd need a "proper diagnosis" from a Developmental Pediatrician for Vincent's Sensory Processing / Autism symptoms in order to move forward with his district evaluation. So, I set to work getting him in to see one.
For any of you lucky enough to never be told your child needs to see a D-Ped, you might not be aware that wait time for these rare birds is about 12 months. 12 MONTHS.
I spent that afternoon calling 6 hospitals (which had between 2 and 3 locations each) trying to locate one for him. Every.single.one. was booked solid until December 2014.
I was somewhat disheartened by that (not just for Vince, but for all the other families being told they needed to wait so long for the tests needed to move forward with district evaluations). However, I wasn't going to let a little thing like ridiculously long wait lists slow me down.
I asked each hospital to pre-register us over the phone in case something popped up between now and December 2014. Only two hospitals agreed to take my info this early. I kept a running tab of hospitals, wait times and pre-registration requirements on a list on the back of Vincent's evaluation folder. Then, starting January 2nd, I went down the list of hospitals and called every other day, hoping for a cancellation.
Yesterday, January 13th, I struck gold and was given an 8AM appointment with a leading developmental pediatrician who specializes in autism and sensory issues.
Seriously - I was running around the office like this:
Euphoric, I must've thanked God about a thousand times before I'd even called John. Miracle of miracles, I just cannot believe we got in a full 12 months early! That's just INSANE!
So really, thank you, Lord, for being so amazing to Vincent!!! What an unexpected (and immensely awesome) blessing!!!
I gathered all of his materials together and called in a last minute referral to be faxed over by Vincent's regular pediatrician. They obliged, but couldn't believe I'd gotten an appointment that fast. They had to call me back just to make sure they'd gotten the date right.
Pfffft... this is why I don't stress about things. My God is an Awesome God.
I couldn't even sleep last night because I was so excited for today. Seriously - I didn't sleep at all. I just kept watching the clock as it ticked away the moments until I could finally get his diagnosis confirmed by someone with more authority than me.
Truthfully, the last few months have been incredibly taxing. I've had so many people tell me I was missing something. It seemed like everyone was trying to prepare me for the autism diagnosis they were sure I'd hear. His teachers, the school district, family members, friends... it was beginning to really wear on me.
I know folks meant well, but I hated constantly being second guessed about my own son simply because I don't have a PhD behind my name. I would NOT allow him to be labelled autistic if he was not, in fact, autistic. I wasn't going to just "settle" for the label because it is something easily identifiable to insurance companies. I wasn't going to allow the Child Study Team to throw together a one-size-fits-all IEP based on expectations for a child with Autism.
If I had even an inkling that Vince was autistic, I'd be singing a different tune. I'd label him, myself, and make sure everyone was aware of his strengths and difficulties. I'm not afraid of labels, and I'm not afraid of Autism.
I am, however, afraid of a system that routinely misdiagnoses children and haphazardly categorizes them into programs that are more detrimental than they are helpful. I would NOT allow my son to fall victim to that.
So I educated the heck out of myself. I've spent weeks pouring over everything I can about Sensory Processing Disorder. I poured over Autism research, Asperger's research and even dabbled in the ADHD, ADD, ODD suggestions that were thrown my way. I analyzed Vincent at home and had him try activities suggested by the Pinterest Boards I'd looked into. I even joined a parent-group and spoke to others struggling with the same issues.
I was not crazy. I was not blind. I was simply refusing to accept their "professional opinion" when they, themselves, didn't have the PhD they scoffed at me for lacking.
So to say I was anxious to hear the Developmental Pediatrician's evaluation is a total understatement.
I was going in with the expectation of war, and I knew I'd be coming out victorious. I had to. I was fighting for Vincent's future.
Hackers Make Me Miserable
This is Vincent's very first picture. I felt it apropo given he looks to have felt the same way I currently do - MISERABLE.
My coworker had an odd e-mail come in today from one of our vendors. I recognized it as odd, so instead of having her open it with her work address, I offered my "junk account" as a testing ground.
I opened the e-mail and sure enough, it was a virus. Some of you probably got proof of that (and I'm sorry again!).
I didn't think too much damage had occurred because I'd opened it in my junk mail account. Unfortunately, because that account is connected to my actual account, EVERYTHING was infected. I didn't realize they could cross accounts like that, but apparently hackers have grown increasingly good at annoying the heck out of folks.
So I spent the better part of the afternoon trying to clean up the mess that was made by that. SO frustrating, especially given the e-mail was sent to EVERY contact I've ever had in my address book. My address book was started while I was a freshman in college, so you can imagine how many contacts I've amassed over the last 14 years or so.
It's okay, though. I've been meaning to create a new e-mail account for a long time. My old one is my maiden name and first initial. Not very creative, but easily remembered.
Given I haven't been a "Cline" in almost 7 years, I had wanted to update it to reflect my married name. I just never got around to it. I feel like this is God's way of pushing me to check that off my To-Do List.
Mission complete, Lord.
It's also a great way to weed out contacts I haven't used in the 14+ years of my account's existence. So I guess it's not all terrible.
Now, though, I've gotta go through the trouble of recollecting data since all my e-mails have been deleted. I have to tell everyone to update their files, and go about changing my contact e-mail on all the sites that use my old one for correspondence.
I guess there are worse things in life to be annoyed by.
Clean Desk Day? Okay!
A little dark, but you get the gist. Apparently today is "Clean Desk Day" and I thought it was fun enough to participate. Truthfully, I am a bit anal when it comes to keeping my desk organized, so this wasn't anything more than an excuse to spritz the Windex and show off my dying cacti in the upper left corner.
You also get to meet my co-worker, Misia. Her desk isn't as tidy because, secretly, I just give her all my work to do.
Our manager, Mike, devilishly joked about how we'd be unable to live behind the same desk because our sense of management was so different. We showed him! :) We quite like the arrangement. <3
Anywho, there's my desk shot for the day. If you participate, link back here with a photo or upload it to my page on FB. Would love to see them!!!
Chosen by a Saint
The last few years, I've had my students do two patron saint projects - one for the first semester, one for the second semester.
In the beginning of the year, I'll explain the practice of choosing a patron saint. Really, it's the saint choosing you. :)
I have them all pray to their brothers and sisters up in Heaven. I ask them to pray to their Guardian Angels to guide their hands. Then, I have them choose a saint from a box that contains about a thousand Holy Cards (which I purchased a few years ago from a faithful Catholic family, the Bonds, whose ministry involves spreading beautiful holy cards far and wide).
I then have them work towards building a relationship with the saint who "chose" them. I have them pray and meditate on why this saint may have chosen them. What lessons did they learn from this saint's life? What characteristics was God trying to highlight by having this brother or sister guide us towards Christ?
This year, my class fulfilled the first batch of saints. However, they won't be choosing their 2nd semester saints in this manner. Instead, they're doing projects on their Confirmation saint. This left me out of the mix. I could've chosen my own saint, sure... but I didn't. I figured if God wanted me to have a patron saint, He'd send one my way.
Well don't you know...
I received this beauty in the mail on the 9th.
A wonderful prayer-friend of mine dropped this in the mail on the 3rd. Now these dates are pretty interesting, because I had a nagging voice in my head telling me to pick a saint for the year. All the bloggers were doing it, and I should have mine ready to go in time for the first week back to class after the Christmas break.
I pushed it off, though. Then, while in the ER on the 8th, I was walking through the halls when I heard the name "Philomena." I turned to the television, but whatever commercial said her name had already passed (I later found out they are releasing a movie with her name as title this year).
I thought it was odd, and even then I thought, "Oh, is that who you'd choose for me, Lord? A little girl who is way more chaste and faithful than I could ever hope to be?"
I shook my head at the cosmic joke and made my way back to my room.
The next day, I got her card in the mail.
So it wasn't a joke, after all! My sister in Heaven chased me down and insisted she walk with me for a little while as I made my way to Heaven.
I've known St. Philomena's story for a while. I've always liked it, but I never saw much of myself in her story.
I guess she begs to differ. Apparently God thinks we have enough in common that I should be looking to her for guidance this year.
So, this prayer card is the first for my 2014 office wall. I've got two sides to this wall... right and left. On the right are my regulars... holy cards, prayers and pictures that will always be close at hand.
The wall on the left is refreshed every year so new inspirations can take root. Apparently my little Saint Philomena wanted prime real estate by being first on board. :)
And yes, that's a Tigger mug. Don't judge me.
Thanks for the prayer card, Kathryn!
Wherein a Crazy Catholic Rants
The Pope baptized an infant (along with plenty of others) on the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, and folks have once again gone psychotic in one form or another because *gasp* the parents of this child were not married in the Church.
WHY IS THIS NEWS?
For the love of all that's holy, people, Pope Francis is not Christ come back to Earth (and he's not the anti-Christ, either, for you folks wagging your heads at his supposed lack of decency). He did what he did as a priest in Argentina... he did what priests and deacons all over the world do on a weekly basis; he exercised his vocation and gave himself over to God to be used as a conduit for Divine Grace. He welcomed a child into our Family. He brought God's blessing down on that child in the Name of the Blessed Trinity and encouraged family and friends alike to bear faithful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis was not, as I've seen some suggest, blessing civil marriages as if they were equal to sacramental unions. He was not acting blasphemous by recognizing the inheritance this baby was due as a child of God. Regardless of a person's background - ALL are welcome to the flood of grace God wishes to reign down upon us. We were all created SPECIFICALLY to be His children forever.
I mean, are you seriously going to look God in the eye and say, "Nope, God. This kid doesn't have two sacramentally married parents. You CAN'T want to baptize her, right?"
GAH! The audacity. That's exactly what you're saying when you complain about Pope Francis baptizing her! SHAMEFUL.
Also, Pope Francis was not, as others have suggested, being some sort of social prophet by his actions. It is very doubtful he baptized that child to condemn the Church's stance on the traditional family. It's also very doubtful he was trying to cause any waves or be the beacon for social justice folks are clamoring so hard for him to be.
He acted as any priest should have - he acted with love and a deep respect for his God-given vocation. May that child grow to love and honor God and His Church, and may the Pope's encouragement strengthen her parent's resolve to reconcile themselves with the same Church they professed their desire to graft their daughter into.
It's beginning to drive me insane - from both ends of the spectrum! Folks are hating on him for being "untraditional enough" and then others are lavishing praise on him as if every pontiff before him was a baffoon. It's ridiculous.
On the heels of that, there's this little button thingie (and others like it) going around that was commented at least a dozen times on various threads about the above story.
NO, NO, NO, NO and NO.
The Blessed Mother was NOT an unwed mother. Stop spreading this. Correct anyone you see posting it. It's NOT TRUE.
I've posted about this before, but it obviously bears repeating:
She wasn't unwed, though a lot of people misunderstand that.
In being "betrothed" to St. Joseph, she was married under Jewish Law. Jewish marriage was a two step process back then. Betrothal (important part) and then public witness (formality). Kinda like us with our Church ceremony and then shipping off our papers to the town hall with the signatures of our witnesses.
Betrothal was so binding that upon completion of the betrothal ceremony (which Mary and Joseph took part in), the woman was considered a wife (and hence if we follow the language used in the gospel of Matthew back to its roots, we see that he does, in fact, use the term "gyne" or "wife" for Mary after she and Joseph are betrothed in the Temple).
Besides, God specifically sets forth laws for us to follow. He wouldn't break the rules for Himself, especially since He came to serve as our example on how to fulfill the law faithfully in every respect.
It is simply through present-day misunderstand of ancient Jewish custom that we believe the Blessed Mother to have been an unwed mother.
So please - stop posting the memes about the Blessed Mother being unwed. If you see others posting the memes, enlighten them.
Finally, a plea from a parent who happens to still believe in the saying "It takes a village to raise a child."
While I was in the waiting room of the Emergency Room a few days ago, I witnessed an incident that STILL has me absolutely baffled.
A mother and father were sitting one row ahead of me. They had a gorgeous little girl of maybe 18 months of age. She was toddling all over the place, but walking was apparently new for her given how much she'd fall.
Her father got up and left (where he went is anyone's guess) and her mother was on her cell phone. The little girl was walking all over the waiting room, and given how much she was toppling over, I sorta kept an eye on her in case she hurt herself. Her mother wasn't paying any attention to where she was walking. She was on her phone the entire time I saw her.
The little girl toddled over to an elderly man in a wheelchair. As soon as he saw her, his face lit up and he said, "Hey baby! Hi there. Want to give me five?" and he held out his hand to her. She looked at him with the biggest smile and immediately went over to interact. Just as she was about to reach him, she fell over. The elderly man immediately reached down to scoop her up - and it obviously hurt him to do so. As he set her back on her feet, she let out a big squeal. It's that sound babies make when they're really excited and half giggling about something.
I guess that sound made it through her mother's cell phone conversation, because she finally got up to see where her daughter had wandered off to. When she came around the column (which was blocking her view of her daughter), she noticed the elderly man patting her on the head.
While STILL having the conversation on the cell phone, she angrily looked at the older man and shook her head "No" while dragging (physically DRAGGING) the little girl away. She didn't even look at her daughter. She just glared at the elderly man and yanked her back behind the column.
A few moments later, her boyfriend / husband / whatever walked in and sat next to the mother. Again, mom is STILL on the phone, but tells that person to "hold on" so she can relay what happened with the man in the wheelchair. She proceeds to tell him that the "creepy old guy" was "grabbing our daughter." He got angry and said, "Where? Who is he?" and she starts saying "He's behind the column."
I saw where this was leading, so I immediately got up, walked over to them and said, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to let you know that he was only helping your daughter up. She fell in front of his wheelchair, and he just helped her to her feet."
She shot me an angry look, but the man she was with said, "Oh, okay. Thanks."
Mother-of-the-Year went right back to talking on the phone as I made my way back to my seat.
A few minutes later, dad was telling his daughter she can't go near strange men because they would take her away and rape her.
This child was MAYBE 18 months old. I would hope she has no clue what rape is. And what in God's name is he attempting to scare her off men like that for??? He SHOULD have been reprimanding his partner for letting the little girl wander off in the first place. He SHOULD have been telling her to put the phone away and giving the little girl any semblance of attention. Instead, he scares his little girl into thinking every male in the universe is a bad guy seeking to kidnap / sexually abuse her.
And all the elderly guy - IN A WHEELCHAIR - was trying to do was be helpful. All he wanted to do was help a little girl up and make her smile.
I'm all for teaching kids that they need to be aware of their surroundings and who they're with, but c'mon. This is ridiculous. We need to recognize the good in people.
Kidney of Doom
I created this picture in Paint the day after Christmas. I had been feeling intense pain in my back and knew it was a kidney stone trying to pass. I'd been feeling it for a while, but pushed off a doctor's visit because, really, it's pointless to see a doctor. They can't do anything but prescribe pain meds, and I typically refuse to take pain medication for this sorta stuff. Long story, but a friend of mine passed away from taking pain meds that masked her symptoms of kidney failure, so I'm super wary of taking anything.
Anyway, I came to work this past Wednesday feeling super sore. A stabbing pain in my lower right abdomen was making me rethink my pain medicine position. I called my doctor to schedule a meeting, and I was booked for the next day. Twenty minutes later, they called back and told me to get to the ER because my symptoms were similar to those of appendicitis.
Given that my entire body was shaking at that point, I guessed they were right. So I got a quick priestly blessing in case I needed surgery (God, thank you for letting me work with priests all day), and I drove myself (stupidly) across the bridge to Cooper Hospital. The wait was crazy, but triage was doing a really good job cycling folks through.
When I was finally seen, I was told my appendix was inflamed, my kidney had ballooned to almost double its size, and I had two kidney stones blocking my ureter. Apparently one of those stones had been around since 2010. I didn't even know they should stay in there that long! Their scan revealed this when they compared them to my last scan (from Cooper) in 2010. They asked if I'd had stones since then, and I affirmed I had - I was treated at a hospital in Voorhees, though.
You'd think someone would've caught that, though, right?
They then pointed out I was severely dehydrated and started asking me questions about my eating habits. I knew what they were getting at. I don't have an eating disorder. I routinely show high levels of ketones in my urine tests because I don't drink very much. I never have. I can seriously go days without having anything to drink. I feel sick if I drink too much. I've always been like that. My husband thinks I'm a mutant, and my friend, Mary, swears I'm a camel with hidden water humps. I don't have an eating disorder (well, except maybe that I like to eat too much).
Once they were content that I wasn't bulemic, they hooked me up to IVs with pain meds and fluid. The medicine they gave me opened up my ureter enough to allow the one stone to pass, but the one from 2010 is still hanging out. They suggested I'll need surgery at some point this summer to remove it (oh goody!). My appendix was treated with antibiotics (which I'm still on) and will likely be just fine.
The whole time I was there by myself because my phone wasn't working and I couldn't tell anyone where I was. Luckily, John came to my rescue around 11:30 with some food. I hadn't been able to eat on account of both nausea and the threat of surgery, but by the time he arrived, I was thrilled because the stone had likely passed and the pain meds made me forget any sort of nausea. He had to run back home to relieve the babysitter, but not before he snapped this photo of me with my morphine drip and nurse call button.
Yup - that's me. Super happy because I was drugged up and satiated by a couple of McDonald cheeseburgers.
I didn't leave the ER for another few hours because they wanted to keep an eye on things, I guess. I was so happy when I was finally allowed to go.
I spent the next day recouping on the couch with Vincent. I feel much, MUCH better, but my kidney area is still really sore from everything. The appendix area isn't hurting as much, but I still get the slight stabby pain now and again. It catches me off-guard when I'm turning a certain way. Not fun.
Otherwise, I'm A-OK.
I'm not looking forward to the surgery to remove the stone this summer, though. The idea of being trapped in the hospital away from Vince for more than a week bothers me. Ah well. Guess God wants me to make a new friend or two while I'm there.
What Color Is This?
My pastor and our deacon kindly allowed me to take a photo of them in front of our sanctuary after Mass on January 1st.
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