Erika Marie


About Erika Marie

A simple Catholic wife & mama.


Quick Takes – New Job, Cool Dating Movie, Autism help, Bathroom Redo, and Where I want to Live One day

What’s the best way to share a life update after a waaaayy too long blogging hiatus?  With a Quick Takes post, of course!

(P.S. See blog title if you don’t want to read this whole thing.)

One: Last month I began working part-time with a non-profit organization – Pure and Simple Health Education, Inc! Pure and Simple seeks to build strong families by teaching youth and their families the importance of making healthy choices and abstaining from unhealthy ones – drugs, alcohol abuse, and sexual activity outside of marriage.

Two: So far, it’s going well! I can work at home or at the office, I’ve taken my kids with me – my five-year-old helped me sort papers last week. It’s been a really great blessing. And – I get to be a part of the “solution” for youth and families and our community. Win!

Three: On that subject, have you heard of this cool ONE-DAY movie event coming up Tuesday, April 17th?  It’s called The Dating Project Movie and it’s playing in theatres nationwide this Tuesday only! I really hope they make a DVD or streaming available for it later because it looks like a great movie to have on hand.

Here’s the premise: Half of America is single. The way people seek and find love has radically changed. The hook-up, texting and social media culture have profoundly altered the dating landscape. Traditional dating has become “outdated,” yet men and women still seek meaningful relationships. People are frustrated in love, but does anyone really know how to connect in today’s virtual world?

THE DATING PROJECT is a new non-fiction film from executive producer Steve McEveety (The Passion of the Christ, Braveheart), produced by Paulist Productions, Mpower Pictures and Family Theater Productions that follows five single people ages 18-40 as they navigate beyond the hookup culture to traditional dating. Professor Kerry Cronin from Boston College is featured throughout as she teaches ad encourages her students to return to traditional dating. There is no script. There are no actors. These are real people trying to find love and happiness in an age of swiping left or right.

For Tickets & More Info, visit: TheDatingProjectMovie.com or enter to win a ticket giveaway http://woobox.com/93aodz!

FOUR: I haven’t written about our autism journey for a while because well, see #1 above and family life is full and good. We began OT (occupational therapy – I feel smarter now that I finally know what OT is!) and I think that’s been very helpful. He and we have been learning about appropriate ways to respond instead of react in various situations.  There’s a lot more I could say about it but for now I’ll just say that if you have a child who struggles with finding healthy, appropriate, and respectful ways to respond to annoying situations (or annoying siblings), look into what OT may have to offer.

FIVE: OT has been great for our son because it’s for him. He is the one who goes to the sessions and he is the one learning what he can do to help himself.  But what about us – the parents? A friend suggested we look into Asperger Experts and, so far, it is the most helpful of all the resources we’ve found for parental support.  Danny Raede, the founder, himself was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was twelve so he has and does live with it every.single.day. So he knows.  I started out by watching his YouTube videos and knew this was exactly what my husband and I needed for us – to better understand the why so we could better understand the how to help.  They’ve all been super helpful, especially this one – Walking on Eggshells,Walking On Eggshells, Child Emotionally Abusing Parents & Getting Exhausted.

SIX:  Even with all the above going on, we’ve also been working on updating our master bathroom! We began ripping the carpet out of the bathroom – eww, carpet in bathroom right?! – back in November and then decided we should update the shower tile before laying the new floor down. Loooong story shorter, we finally got that started a couple weeks ago and the tile work should start this week. We’ve been without a shower for a couple weeks and so we have been sharing one shower for all six of us.  I know, “First World Problems” but I’ll be incredibly grateful to have our shower back soon! Follow me on Instagram for more exciting bathroom updates! (You’re super excited, I can tell.)

SEVEN: Lastly, I have to take a moment just say that I really love the Microsoft lock screen images. They’re all so beautiful and truly make me pause before I log in and get sucked into the computer.  Here’s this mornings – wherever it is, I’d like to live there!

 

 


It’s all in the Pause

Do you ever wonder what the great “secret” to finding more joy, peace, and time is?

The answer is all in the PAUSE. 

The season of Lent calls us to dive deeper – deeper into our relationship with Jesus by focusing on his great and merciful love for us.

But how?

This month, at CatholicMom.com, I shared how to

Pause for More Joy, Peace, and Time.

Read more about how a simple PAUSE in your day is the way to a deeper, more joyful, more peaceful, and more intimate relationship with Christ.

How do you like to “Pause” throughout your day for more joy, peace, and time?


Quick and Easy Nacho Cheese Casserole {Meatless}

So Lent starts in two days! That means meatless Fridays (and Ash Wednesday) starts this week.

I used to panic about trying to come up with meatless dinners for Lenten Fridays.  I was trying to make meatless dinners that were also fancy.  Which is kinda besides the point of fasting and abstinence. Duh.   Once I figured out I didn’t need to make anything super fancy and meatless, it wasn’t so hard. Actually, Lenten Fridays have become my favorite dinner days because it’s a great “excuse” to keep things super-duper simple.

Who says you can’t serve your family cereal or eggs and toast for dinner?

If, however, you’d like something a tad more exciting than breakfast for dinner, here’s a meatless recipe I shared last month at CatholicMom.com that’s super easy but looks a little fancy too. They’ll never know how hard you didn’t try. 

Quick and Easy Nacho Cheese Casserole

You only need Five Ingredients, an Oven, and about half-an-hour to put this together and on the table. Go here for the full recipe and, while you’re there, I suggest you check out all the delicious CatholicMom.com’s Meatless Friday Dishes.  

What are your favorite go-to meals for Lenten Fridays?

 


But He Looks “Normal”?

{Somehow I accidentally unpublished this so now I’m publishing it again. Weird, I know.}

In my last autism post about our son I shared that I’m slowly Learning to Drive Autism. It’s a simple analogy for an incredibly complex reality.

When I used to think of autism, the image that came to mind was of a child who couldn’t speak, avoided eye contact, walked around on tiptoes while flapping hands, and moaned and yelled to communicate.

When I thought of Asperger’s (when it was still categorized separately from autism), I thought of the awkward people that stand too close and shift around excitedly when talking about something they find so incredibly fascinating they can’t seem to think of anything else to talk about.

Those are the caricatures I saw on TV and movies or in magazines and online articles, this is what I thought autism was because that was the only related portrayal I’d seen. The only people with autism I had ever seen or met mimicked those stereotypical portrayals of autism.

Or so I thought.

Autism, vaguely defined, is:

a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by repetitive behavior patterns

Ok…

But autism, as it applies to our son and each individual “with autism”, has a definition of it’s own. In fact, it can’t really be “defined” in any one sentence.

From the beginning of our journey, my son never quite fit into the typical characteristics or “symptoms” of autism.

He looked people in the eye, spoke well – with a cute little lisp he eventually grew out of, he’s always had great physical strength and athletic ability like any other boy his age, playing with other kids and having friends has always been important to him, and, aside from a wonky pencil hold, his fine motor skills have never been an obvious concern.

In school, he was just “shy” and “reserved”. Sure, he tended to play with the same classroom toys, had minor “focusing” and “attention-to-directions” concerns but nothing the early-years teachers felt was anything “abnormal” compared to others in his class. Behaviorally, all his teachers have always loved him and described him as sweet, kind, helpful, never a trouble-maker. Everything a mother wants to hear about her child’s behavior at school, right?

However – and this is a huge HOWEVER – Home and family life – very, very very, different.

Away from the structure, routines, and enough social pressure to follow the rules, a flip of a switch turned that sweet and “reserved” little guy into a very different boy no one could recognize or contain.

In those moments, I looked at my son and thought about what I’d read about autism and saw clearly that he did fit into that category. But then, once he calmed down and acted “normal” again, I wavered and thought – “hmm, well maybe he just sensitive and has bad tantrums…” Or, as I shared in the Boys will be Boys post, I deduced this was all my fault since he only acted to this extreme with me and at home and never at school. It was all so confusing and frustrating!!

No wonder it took so long to get a diagnosis for my son, right? We – meaning me and the professionals we initially worked with – were trying to fit my son into that narrow definition of what autism is and he didn’t fit. Or did he?

What I’ve learned now that I didn’t know when our son was going through all that, is that Autism, as a medical diagnosis, has undergone significant developments and changes, especially in the past 5 – 10 years. The History of Autism, includes various labels and characteristics that have evolved and expanded with continued research. From “a form of schizophrenia” and “severe social impairment” to “Asperger’s syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), to “High-Functioning” or “Mid-Functioning” or “Low-Functioning” Autism to what it is now – Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Socially, people living in the autism world have coined their own terms like atypical vs typical (which, to me, just seems like a nicer way of saying normal vs. abnormal) and, most recently – Neurodiverse: A fancy way of saying there’s nothing “wrong” with people “with autism” – their brains simply function neurologically different.

Understanding this history of autism – as a medical diagnosis – has helped me better understand our son and how autism applies to him. More importantly, this understanding has helped me accept our son’s “High-Functioning Autism” diagnosis, which, 10 years earlier, may have been what we used to know as “Asperger’s”, which is now simply “ASD” or “Neurodiverse” or whatever new term we’ll come up with next.

Either way, I’ve become more comfortable saying to others – “My son has autism'”. And even then, I say our son “has autism”, though I prefer to think of autism as an adjective to describe the way his brain functions. Though even that word seems far, far, from adequate descriptor of the extremely unique and fascinating nature of our son’s mind.

In many ways, we’ve come very far in our understanding of “Autism” in our world, and personally, we’ve come a long way in our understanding of what this all means for our son. I know we – as a world – and we – our family – have much, much, much more to learn. I, for one, am excited to learn more about what this means for our son but also I’m excited to uncover all the amazing strengths, talents, and all the exciting things I know our son will achieve.


Renewed 3

Renewed.

In a word, that’s how I feel.

I’m not “back”, I now know now I’ll never be “back”.

And that’s ok.

I’m ok. I’m ok, I am ok!

I’ll still have those moments, those days, when the missing is too intense, the memories still pinch.

I’ll always remember:

The pain, the sorrow, the trauma.

The fear, the extreme anxiety, the desperation, the agony, the feeling of complete abandonment, stunned confusion.

The could haves, should haves, would haves.

The “whys?”

“Why didn’t I?”, “Why didn’t he?”, “Why didn’t they?”

Why him? Why now? Why? Why? Why?

The fog of denial, the sting of a reality I couldn’t swallow.

Keep moving, carry on as usual, keep it together, be strong.

Have faith. Pray more.

2016 may forever be a big fog in my memory. I functioned. I probably smiled and laughed. According to my calendar and pictures I went places, socialized. But I can’t remember.

Like the time a softball socked me in the nose and left a big black patch in my long-term memory.

2017, a year of thawing, healing, accepting, remembering, missing. Oh, the missing!

Snail steps forward while looking back. Stuck.

2018, a year of renewal and TRUST. Absolute TRUST.

Breath in, breath out.

I miss you.

I remember you.

I feel you with me.

I’m thankful – you were with me, and still are…in a different, silent, constant way. A deeper way.

Moving. With all the memories.

Forward.

Remembering where I’ve been, being where I am, trusting God knows where I will be.

Knowing He’s been with me, is with me, will be with me. Always. Forever.

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