Sunday, January 30, 2011

The 100th Post!

We've reached a milestone here at Along Came the Bird - 100 posts!

Thanks to each and every one of you for reading, commenting, following, and just generally making it fun for me to write.  I'm looking forward to the next 100 posts and hope you'll stay with me for the ride.

To celebrate the occasion, I thought I would make a list.  

A simple list of random things that make me happy, that bless me, and make me smile, written in no particular order.

So without further ado, I give you...

Lana's List of 100 Blessings 
  1. My sweet husband.
  2. My three wonderful daughters.
  3. My homey home.
  4. My small front and back yard.
  5. Watching Lily on her swing.
  6. Watching all the girls on the trampoline.
  7. Hearing my big girls laughter float down the stairs.
  8. Watching Ryley play basketball.
  9. Watching Reagan dance or knit. 
  10. Reading. 
  11. Seeing my big girls enjoying reading.
  12. Spending a few hours in a bookstore.
  13. Dunkin Donuts coffee with Italian Sweet Creme creamer.
  14. Fage greek yogurt with fruit.
  15. Oatmeal - but not instant!
  16. Almost any kind of soup.
  17. Sonic Diet Dr. Pepper with Vanilla.
  18. My wonderful church family.
  19. My sweet, sweet, sweet friends.
  20. Seeing Lily do sign language.
  21. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
  22. New shoes.
  23. Cold weather.
  24. Thunderstorms.
  25. Eating supper at the table with my family.
  26. Wood burning fireplaces.
  27. Burt's Bees lip balm.
  28. Clean sheets on my bed.
  29. Black eyed peas and cornbread.
  30. The people of Guatemala.
  31. Working in Pueblo Modelo (Guatemala).
  32. Playing Farkel.
  33. Seeing Lily make positive progress.
  34. Reagan's sense of humor - she's pretty hilarious!
  35. Ryley's leadership skills.
  36. Just Dance 2 on the wii.
  37. 80's music.
  38. Finding a good, supportive doctor who really listens to me.
  39. Lily's amazing, incredible, fantastic therapists.
  40. The super duper teachers at my big girls' school.
  41. Fiction books that help me escape.
  42. Non-fiction books that teach me something.
  43. The air-conditioned and heated seats in my car.
  44. Target.
  45. The "buddies" who help the special needs kids at our church.
  46. Pedicures (especially when my mom pays!).
  47. Traveling. 
  48. Hugs and kisses.
  49. Trying new recipes.
  50. Watching Lily work the iPad like nobody's business.
  51. Making treats for Lily's therapists.
  52. A little time alone.
  53. The mothers of special needs kids support group I attend.
  54. The family support group I attend.
  55. Discovering a Bible verse that's just perfect for the moment.
  56. Listening to praise music.
  57. Chips and queso.
  58. Taking a nap.
  59. Helping someone out.
  60. Scratching things off a to-do list.
  61. Going to bed early.
  62. A weekend with nothing to do and everyone at home.
  63. Finding cash in a pants pocket or the washing machine.
  64. Soft, fuzzy socks.
  65. Warm chocolate chip cookies and really cold milk.
  66. Hearing something wonderful about my girls.
  67. Watching Reagan be a big sister.
  68. Hearing another parent yell "Good job Ryley!" at a basketball game.
  69. Sleeping while it rains all night long.
  70. Watching strangers do really nice things for other strangers.
  71. Laughing with Lily when her giggle box is turned over.
  72. Watching Ryan chase Lily around the house while she screams like a girl.
  73. Watching Lily eat oatmeal with a spoon all by herself.
  74. Putting Lily to bed early and then watching favorite TV shows with Ryan.
  75. Julie, our precious babysitter.
  76. Leaving the beauty shop with my hair freshly colored.
  77. De-cluttering.
  78. Trading a hideously ugly door-knocker back and forth with my brother & his wife.
  79. When my parents come to visit.
  80. Having my in-laws in Austin.
  81. A full refrigerator.
  82. People who have a soft spot for special needs individuals of any age.
  83. Writing this blog and hearing from you.
  84. My Crock-pot.
  85. Real Simple magazine.
  86. Making someone laugh.
  87. Inside jokes. 
  88. Getting together with friends.
  89. Knowing that at some point in the above evening, CB will sing at least once.
  90. Playing Balderdash with the Barton family.
  91. Lily's friend, Zoe.
  92. Learning something from my kids.
  93. Lily's "safety bed".
  94. Knowing that God is in total control so I don't need to be.
  95. Seeing God show up in some way every single day.
  96. Appreciating the little things that I used to take for granted.
  97. Photoshopping family pictures so all of us look good.
  98. Letting go of "normal" and just letting it be.
  99. Packing a really good lunch for my kids that they actually eat.
  100. Learning to enjoy the journey that God has planned for me.
I could keep going but I guess I'll wait until the 200th post!

Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ellie Update #4

For those of you who haven't been following the blog long enough to know about Ellie, here's what you've been missing:

Update on Ellie
The First Ellie Sponsorship Update
Ellie Update #3

For those of you who do know our sweet Ellie, read on!

I wanted to share some incredible news with you!

I believe that together, we have been part of yet another miracle in Ellie's life.

I just received word that our sweet Ellie will more than likely not require heart surgery at all!

Because of proper healthcare, medication, nutrition, and I believe, lots of prayer, the hole in Ellie's heart is actually closing on it's own. This occasionally happens when children are born with a ventricular septal defect but typically only when it is detected early and monitored very closely.  Ellie got such a late start with medical attention, not to mention being malnourished, so it just didn't seem possible that she would avoid surgery.

But with God, all things are possible.

The doctor was simply astounded at how far she has come.  She will go back for another visit in March but the doctor is fully expecting to see continued positive progress.

I truly believe this is a miracle and Ellie is going to have quite an amazing testimony to share one day.

Several Austin churches are continuing to take regular trips to Guatemala so we'll be able to keep track of sweet Ellie for a long time to come.  In fact, the Rush family will be spending a week there this summer.

While I feel certain you are rejoicing with me at this wonderful news, you may also be wondering what this means as far as your generous donation goes.

There are two options available to any of you who made monetary contributions.

I have spoken with World Help and they were very quick to reassure me that if anyone would like to have their donation returned, they would be more than happy to do so.  I completely understand if you choose this option as you fully believed that your money was going to be spent on a critical surgery that is no longer needed.  You can simply contact World Help directly ( or 800-541-6691) and they will see that you are reimbursed.

The second option is one that I hope you will prayerfully consider.

There are always children in and out of the Rescue Center that are in need of cleft palate surgery.  In fact, our missions director just returned from Guatemala last week and said there is a baby there right now who needs cleft palate surgery in a very bad way.  The cost for these reconstructive surgeries varies due to the severity of the cleft palate.

I believe that with the money we raised, we have the opportunity to pay for at least two and possibly three cleft palate surgeries.

If you choose to leave your money in the "Ellie Fund", it will now be used for as many cleft palate surgeries as we can cover.

There are groups going to Guatemala in March, June, and July so I will try my best to get some before and after pictures of these precious little ones to share with you.

I look forward to continuing to share with you all the amazing things that God is doing in Guatemala.

Thank you so much for being a blessing to so many!

Lana Rush

Here's a new picture of our sweet girl.... growing up and looking great!  (Sorry about the snotty nose.  The kids in the Rescue Center just seem to keep one - at least it's clear!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's Your Sign?

According to her therapists, Lily is becoming quite good at sign language.

There are several signs she does very well, like textbook American Sign Language.  Then there are some signs that she has kind of adapted to her liking.

I don't know sign language but I've always been intrigued by it.

In fact, while in college, I enrolled in a sign language course as an elective one semester.

I called to share the exciting news with my parents.

Not very subtly, my dad reminded me that electives were for students who were paying their own way through school.  And that I could stay in school for as long as I wanted, taking all the electives I desired.  But he was paying for four years of college and not a minute more.  Then you are on your own, missy.

I dropped the class.

So, instead of already being fluent in American Sign Language like I just know I would be had I taken that one semester class back in 1988, I am trying to cram yet more new information into my already overloaded 41 year old brain.

The same brain that never really grasped the elusive concept of making change until I had to teach it to Reagan in homeschool math.  That freezes up every time a salesperson asks for my zip code when I'm using my credit card.  That can't remember to buy all the items written down on the grocery list I'm holding in my hand.

You watch.

One day, I swear my brain is just going to quit.  As in, kaput.  Enough.  No more.

I'll be trying to do some seemingly simple task, like double the measurements in a recipe and my brain will reach capacity and just stop.

I really don't think my old brain was meant to hold as much stuff as it tries to.

Which is probably why in unsuspecting moments, it just kicks out vital information like my home phone number yet still remembers the lyrics to almost every song by Duran Duran.

And now I'm continuing to push my brain to it's very limits by attempting to learn some sign language.

At the moment, I just know a few single words:  open, eat, drink, sit....

and one phrase:  "want more cookie?".

If this is the way my child can most easily make her wants and needs known to me, then by golly, I'll break out the DVDs and learn sign language.

My brain may be so overstuffed that I don't remember to put my shoes on before I leave the house or where I parked my car at Target, but I'm going to talk to this little girl of mine.

One way or another.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

For those of you who have been following the blog faithfully, I believe I've already established that I either don't dream at night or simply don't remember them the next morning.

I am totally fine with that - especially if engaging in vivid dreams is going to interfere with how many hours of sleep I log.

But I understand that lots of people do dream on a regular basis.

And actually remember those dreams the next morning.

Why do I know this?

Because I have several people tell me about these dreams of theirs.

And why do they do this?

Because their dreams are often about my daughter.

I have quite a few people tell me they frequently dream about Lily talking.

Jasmine, one of Lily's wonderful therapists that we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE dreams all the time about Lily talking.  (did I mention that we LOVE Jasmine?)

Chris, another of Lily's therapists that we also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE told me when I dropped Lily off for school this morning that she dreamed she had a little conversation with Lily.  It went like this:

Chris:  "Lily, how do you feel today?"
Lily:  "Just fine."

I like this one for two reasons...

One, the most obvious, is that she's talking.


And two, it sounds like she might have a Southern accent.  Can't you just hear it in her answer?

Now, Chris also told me that I was in her dream as well.

Cleaning her bathroom.

I'd like to discard this portion of her dream as completely unlikely.

But Lily talking?

It could happen.

And if cleaning Chris's bathroom has anything at all to do with Lily talking, I'll show up with my toilet brush and bowl cleaner on a daily basis.  She'll have the most sparkling clean potty in Austin, Texas.

My mom and dad both frequently dream about Lily talking.

A sweet lady in our church not only dreams that Lily talks, but that she is talking in front of large groups of people.

Does it bother me that I don't have dreams in which Lily talks?

Not in the least.

It sounds like there are plenty of people who have this area covered for me.

But I am ready for these dreams to start coming true.

So God, if you're reading this blog, I just want to make totally sure that You know we are ready for our Bird to start talking.

Just in case you didn't already know that.

Thank you.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Love, Hate & My Personal Baker

As I'm typing this morning, I'm experiencing a strong love-hate moment.

I need to get these things off my chest so I can move on and tell you something good.

The Love -
The temperature outside is dropping rapidly.  Like, an hour ago it was 61 degrees and now it's 47.  If I had a thermometer outside, I could actually watch the mercury drop like the New Year ball in Times Square. I love cold weather.  Or I guess I should clarify and say, I love cold weather when I'm inside, snuggled under a blanket by the fireplace with a good book.  Or when I can wear cute sweaters and boots.  Moments like that are rare in these parts so we have to take full advantage of them when they do happen.

The Hate -
My allergies are getting the best of me.  I've been sparring with them for a couple weeks now and have been the victor.  Until yesterday.  They rallied their little germy troops and have me down for the count. I broke out the big guns though and just took a Benadryl.  In the daytime.  So if this post ends up looking something like this:

It's such a nice day here in Austttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

you'll know that I fell asleep with my face on the keyboard.  I'll try to type quickly so that doesn't happen.

Now that I've taken care of business, on to the good stuff!

I recently made a new friend.

The best kind of new friend.

A friend who bakes..... for a living.

And my new friend doesn't just bake any old treats.  She bakes gluten-free/casein-free treats.

And the best part?  They are good.

Actually, they're amazing.

In the name of research, I have personally consumed molasses cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, sweet potato-pecan scones, biscuits, crescent rolls, flour tortillas, cinnamon rolls, and homemade graham crackers.

These are just a few of the many, many treats my friend bakes so you can rest assured that my research will continue until I've tasted every last one of them.

I just want to make sure these goodies are truly delicious before I feed them to Lily.

I know, I know.  I'm a very selfless mother.  It's just the way I am.

There's not a dessert out there I won't try for my daughter.

But how much fun is it for you to just read about all these yummy treats?

For those of you who live in Austin, my new friend can be your new friend, too.  You can have these same treats yourself!

All you have to do is leave a comment or send me an email ( and I'll hook you up with Darcy, my new baker friend.

She'll send you a weekly email with her "treat offerings".  You'll be surprised at all the items she has to offer.  You can then place an order and she will deliver delicious, home-baked goodies right to you.

Or frozen cookie dough logs that you can slice and bake yourself.

Or individually frozen biscuits that you thaw and slide in the oven for a warm and yummy breakfast.

The list goes on and on...

Considering how much money and time I've wasted trying out gfcf recipes only to throw them straight into the trash can, I think you'll find these treats very reasonably priced.

And nothing will go in your garbage.

Now, for those of you who don't live in Austin.... I am sorry.  I got nothin' for you.

Except maybe one or two of my own delicious gfcf recipes.  You'll have to bake them yourself but if you want them, I'd be happy to share.

So tell me what you want... recipes?  or Darcy?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's Here!

Monday nights mean Julie, our wonderful babysitter comes over to hang out with the Bird.  So we either have a date night or take the big girls along with us to do something fun.

Last night, it was just Ryan and me.

A sweet person in our congregation gave Ryan a gift card to Family Christian Store so we headed there to do a little browsing.

Imagine our surprise when we saw these....

sitting on a store shelf!

Do you see it???

It's Ryan's book!  The one titled "Walls".

We were so excited!

Now technically, the book is not scheduled for release until February so I think someone stocking shelves at the store might have jumped the gun just a bit but it was still quite exciting to walk in a store and see a book you wrote just sitting there.

I don't know if you can see in the picture, but Ryan's surrounded by some pretty good company... John Piper above and Max Lucado to the left.

Of course, Ryan is now working in hyper-speed because the website that corresponds with the book is not exactly ready for it's debut just yet but I say, "Who cares??  Your book is in a store!  A real store! Where people shop!  How cool is that??"

Today, I'm going back to this exact same store. 

I want to see if there's a stampede of people wanting to be the first ones to actually get their hands on the few books that snuck out early.

I want to see people in a line out the door, demanding a copy of the book.

I want to be spotted, watching the crowd from the safety of my vehicle, and hear someone yell, "There's his wife!  Give us a book, lady!"

Then I'll speed away, fearing for my safety.

Follow the script, people.  

Don't let me down.

Monday, January 17, 2011

He's Got "The Look"

Now that Lily Bird is 4, she looks less like a toddler and more like a kid.

Which means that people logically expect her to be able to talk.

Sometimes when we're out at a restaurant or the mall and Lily is talking in her own special "Lily-Speak", I've noticed that we attract a little attention.

I think what happens is someone hears a child "talking" and they look to see who it is.  When they identify the source, their gaze lingers because Lily looks a little bit old to still be babbling.

You can almost see their wheels turning, wondering if something's wrong with her.

Most people look away and move on about their business.

But then there are some who just can't seem to help themselves from continually glancing in our direction.

That's the nice way to put it.

But the truth is - they're just plain staring.

Now little kids who stare don't bother me in the least.  They see Lily, she sounds different to them, and so they want to check her out a little.

I get that.

But adults?  That's another story.

I mentioned in the previous post that Ryan has an interesting method for dealing with folks who stare.

We call it "The Look".

It started out simply enough.

Someone is staring at Lily so Ryan just starts staring at them.

You know that feeling you get when someone's looking at you?  The little hairs on the back of your neck stand up and your palms get a little sweaty?

Eventually, the person staring at Lily realizes that someone is staring at them.

They look over at Ryan who is now making direct eye contact with them.

Now, it's not angry or unpleasant eye contact.  Just a straightforward stare.

Much like they were just directing at our daughter.

And of course, they look very uncomfortable and their gaze finally moves on.

But recently, "The Look" has been a little more perfected.

We're friends with a family who has a daughter with Down's Syndrome.  Unfortunately, their precious little daughter who is also 4 attracts her share of staring, too.

Her dad has a unique method of dealing with this that he shared with Ryan.

So Ryan has added another feature to "The Look", thanks to our friend.

Now when someone is staring at Lily, Ryan begins to stare at them.

But now he stares with this seemingly pleasant smile on his face.

Combined with a prolonged stare, the smile begins to look a little maniacal.

And when someone keeps staring at you with this smile on their face, it can become a little alarming.

Think Jack Nicholson in the movie "The Shining".


People can't really complain because someone's smiling at them, right?

But I can promise you one thing.

They're no longer wondering if something's wrong with Lily because they're certain something is very wrong with her dad.

They quit staring at Lily very quickly and they do not look back over at our table.

And Ryan is very proud of himself.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another Side of Reagan

There are lots of great things about having Lily in our family, but I think one of the best is watching Reagan be a big sister.  She's an amazing one and we never would've seen that side of her if Lily Bird hadn't come along.

This picture is two years old but it's one of my all-time favorites of Reagan and The Bird.

Let me give you an example of just what a great big sister Reagan is.

Last Tuesday night, Ryley had a basketball game.

Reagan sat with a group of friends while Ryan, Lily and myself sat a few rows behind her.

Since Lily is not at all impressed with her sister's mad basketball skills, we always bring the iPad to keep her occupied.  This way, Ryan and I get to actually watch the game.

The only occasional kink in this plan is sometimes it can get a little quiet in the gym during free throws. And we have discovered that it can be distracting to all players on the floor when they can hear the intro song to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse playing in the stands.

I personally think the girls need to be a little more focused on the game but that's just me.

So anyway, several times during the course of the game, Lily would start singing along with the iPad.  Her singing is more like a continuous humming, kind of like a repetitive "mmmmmmm" sound.  It can get louder or softer, depending on how much she's getting into the music.

Again, this is never a problem unless it happens to get quiet.

While no one on the gym floor heard her singing, the people closest to us did.

Still no big deal.

Most people just look to see who's making the sound, smile and look back at the game.

Sometime, I'll have to tell you about Ryan's remedy for the people who simply keep staring.  It's quite interesting.

I happened to notice that a couple of Reagan's friends looked over their shoulders when Lily first started singing.  No staring, laughing or finger pointing - just a quick glance to identify the sound.

When we got in the car to head home, it was just Reagan and me.

Knowing how kids can be, I asked her if any of her friends ever made fun of Lily's sounds or laughed at her.

Reagan got this look on her face that I can only describe as fierce.

She looked right at me and said, "No. No one has ever teased or made fun of her at all.  At least not in front of me.  And I'll tell you this:  if someone does, I'll give them a bloody nose so fast, they won't do it again.  They can give me detention or suspend me from school.  I don't care."


As a responsible adult, here's where I'm supposed to tell her something like, "we never solve problems with our fists."

But I don't always like being a responsible adult.

So I said, "Atta girl!"

It was a proud moment for me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mission Almost Impossible

Last week, Ryan and I had to do one of our most dreaded chores.

We had to take Lily to get a haircut.

Most of the time, taking a kid to get a haircut is really not that big of a deal. They may not love it but you can usually distract them with candy or a toy.

Now they have those cool kid salons where they can get a haircut while watching a movie or playing video games. And they can sit in a Barbie jeep or a fire truck.

Since the stylists are used to working with kids, it's generally a quick and painless process.

I might even dare to say that it's actually fun for some kids.

Not so for Lily.

Our plan for a simple haircut looks like something from Mission Impossible.

Please click below for theme music before you proceed.

Team Rush
Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it.

Phase I
Lana - Enter salon and sign in.
Ryan - Run Lily ragged on the sidewalk outside salon until her name is called.
Lana - Deliver the signal to Ryan that it is time to proceed with haircut.

Phase II
Lana - Describe desired haircut to stylist.
Ryan - Hold Lily in chair while preparing DVD player.

Phase III
Haircut Begins
Lana - Feed Lily endless snacks.
Ryan - Continue to hold Lily still.
Lana - Tell stylist Lily does not talk and won't answer her questions.

Phase IV
Lana - Tell stylist we are not here to chit-chat, just BE QUICK!
Ryan - Continue to hold Lily still and call it an upper body workout.

Phase V
Lana - Pay stylist.
Ryan - Carry Lily to vehicle and put in carseat.

Phase VI
Lana - Collapse in passenger seat.
Ryan - Proceed to nearest Sonic for Route 44 beverages to restore lost energy.

This message will self-destruct in 30 seconds.
Identical message will arrive in 6 weeks and mission begins again.

Since Peter Graves has passed away, I wonder if I can hire Tom Cruise to take Lily for her next haircut. I think I'll give him a call.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There's Someone Else in My Life

Do you think it's normal to have a crush on an appliance?

I hope so because I think I am seriously falling in love with my crock-pot.

I mean, I've always had a fond affection for it.

Who wouldn't?

Just dump in a few ingredients, plug it in, and let it go to work.

I don't think you can get much easier than that.

But lately, I find myself actually looking forward to the mornings.

After everyone heads out for school and work, that's when I can get out the crock-pot and we can start working our magic together.

I choose a recipe, gather my ingredients, deposit them in the crock, stir it all up, and turn it on low.

Cooking is done.

Can you get any better than that?

But let me tell you what I did last night.

Are you sitting down?

Because this is BIG.

I used my crock-pot during the night to make oatmeal for this morning.

Y'all.  Did you understand what I just said?

I  made breakfast while I was sleeping!

I call that the ultimate in multi-tasking.

When I came in my kitchen this morning and breakfast was already made, I was simply overcome with love for this wonderful tool whose only goal is to make my life easier.

And I'm using it right this moment for our supper tonight.

I can hardly see the keyboard for the tears of joy I'm shedding right now.

Lana + Crock-Pot = True Love Forever

Monday, January 10, 2011

Another Q & A

I shared in a previous post that one of the questions I'm most frequently asked is how I keep a positive attitude.

I thought I'd fill you in on the second most common question that I get asked.

Q:  "Lana, how on earth do you do it all?"

A:  "I don't."

If I get myself too over-committed, not only do I drive myself crazy, but I bring my family along with me for the ride.

I say ugly things to the people I love the most.

I resent the fact that they want to eat supper.  Or any food at all, for that matter.

Or that they need clean underwear.

And when I finally do have a free minute to myself, the last thing I want to do is talk to my kids.  I just want to be left alone.

They don't seem to understand that I'm running the school carnival for them.  Can't they get that?

Then one day, I realized that my kids could care less if I'm running their school carnival, serving as soccer team mom, and organizing their entire classes' dance recital costumes.

They just want me.  My attention.  My time.  

All the things I can't give them when I'm too busy being the "how does she do it all" super woman.

So I quit.

I quit trying to do it all.

I looked at everything I was doing and asked myself this question:

"Out of all the things I am currently taking part in, even those things that are wonderful service opportunities, what are the things that only I can do?"

I am the only person that can be a wife to my husband.  A mom to my children.

And if I can't take care of my family because of all my outside activities, then I need to give up some of those outside activities.

Or maybe I can do it all, but I'm a total shrew to my husband and kiddos.  I need to know my limits and make some changes.

I want my home to be a happy place.  A place my kids like to be.  A place that offers respite for my husband.

No, I don't do it all.

I only do what only I can do.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Is There a Deeper Meaning?

I'm not one of those people who wakes up in the morning, remembering what they dreamed.

I think it's probably because I'm so tired by the time I hit the pillow that I don't have the brain energy it would take to come up with a dream, let alone remember it in the morning.

But Wednesday night was a little different.

I went to bed like normal.

Normal means I read until my eyes start to blur or until the book falls on my nose.

That's usually about two sentences - five on a good night.

So anyway, I'm in some deep REM sleep and I start dreaming.

In my dream, I'm packing.

Like putting clothes in suitcases, books in boxes... that kind of thing.

It doesn't appear that we're actually moving.  And I can't really tell if we're about to go on a trip.  I just know I'm packing some things up.

And while I'm not stressed out necessarily, I do feel a little sense of urgency while I'm doing this packing.  Like I have to hurry and get it done.

I wake up in the middle of the night with this dream fresh in my mind and actually feeling a little sense of alarm.

Now comes the strange part.

I fall back asleep and have the same dream again.

Well, not exactly the same.

I'm in a different location but I'm still packing.  And still feeling this sense of needing to hurry and get the job done.

Ryan and all the girls are there with me and I tell one of them that we need to be sure and return some library books that are sitting on a desk.

Then I wake up for the second time that night, the packing dream at the front of my mind.

I'm getting a little frustrated at this point because I don't like to be awake in the middle of the night. Uninterrupted sleep is one of the highlights of my life.

So I roll over and fall back asleep.

Now comes the strangest part.

I dream the same thing for the third time!!!

More urgent packing.

This is really starting to tick me off because I don't know why I'm putting things in suitcases.  If I could catch a glimpse of airline tickets or passports on a desk, I might calm down and think we were going on vacation.

But no - just this silly endless packing.

My alarm goes off and I wake up thinking about the dream.

Or dreams, I should say.

And I realize I'm not in a super mood.

I'm feeling pretty agitated and tense.

Not because of uninterrupted sleep but because of this goofy dream that kept playing like a bad rerun.

Ever since then, I've been attempting to psychoanalyze myself to discover the hidden meaning of the dream.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

  • I was having flashbacks to all the times I've moved.
  • We have too many books and clothes in our house.
  • I was trying to remind myself to return some library books.
  • I should apply for a job with a moving company.
  • I need a vacation.
Personally, I like the last one best.  

I'm currently searching for a doctor who will write me a prescription for a vacation.

Any doctor who may be reading this and is willing to help me out, feel free to leave a comment.

Thank you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Now I Know My ABCs

I had a conversation with a friend the other day and she asked me something that is a fairly frequent question.

"How do you keep a positive attitude in the midst of everything that's going on with Lily?  I mean, all the unknowns, all the uncertainties.  How do you even get up in the morning knowing what all you have to face?"

My first response is always this - "I didn't know I had a choice.  Are you saying I can actually choose to just stay in the bed every morning and not get up?  Well, I know what I'm doing tomorrow morning!"

My second response is - "Because I'm the mom and this is what moms do.  We're martyrs, right?"

Of course, neither one of these responses is actually true, nor do they really answer the first part of the question about maintaining a positive attitude.

And my response to that is - "Brace yourself.  I don't always have a positive attitude.  Sometimes, I have a downright bad attitude.  I stomp my feet.  I shake my fist.  And I whine.  Oh, do I whine.  To the point where my big girls are offering me cheese to go with my whine."

And the absolute truth is, sometimes a bad attitude feels good.  I want to be mad.  I want to feel sorry for myself.  I want to really wallow in my misery.  And I don't want anyone to try and make me feel better.

Oh!  Ouch!  I think I just fell off my "Pastor's Wife Pedestal".

I apologize if I've disappointed anyone.

The good news is that I really don't want to live my life with a bad attitude.  It may feel good for 15 minutes, maybe even a whole day.

But it don't feel good forever. (purposeful bad grammar for the sake of emphasis)

I know that most of you are probably familiar with Charles Swindoll's statement on attitude but all of us can use a refresher so preach it, Chuck!

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.

Wow.  Are you letting that sink in?

All the lines are awesome but that last line, I LOVE.  "...we are in charge of our attitudes."

Why do I love that particular line so much?

Because it says I can be in charge.

I can't control much of what happens in my life but I can be in charge of my attitude.

And I like to be in charge.

Just ask my family.

On second thought, please don't.

Let's just move on.

I have come up with a little something called The Autism Alphabet.  But really, it can be applied to just about any circumstance you find yourself in.

So how do I keep a positive attitude in the midst of everything going on with Lily?

Well, I can....

be Angry or look at my life as an Adventure.
be Bitter or I can recognize Lily for the Blessing she is.
Cry all the time or I can seek Comfort from the Lord.
feel Defeated or I can be Delighted in the Lord.
be Envious of other moms or I can be Encouraged by a strong support network.
feel like a Failure or I can Focus on Lily's progress.
Gripe or I can look at Lily as a Gift straight from Heaven.
Hate the unknowns or I can have Hope in the future.
be Impatient or I can be Inspired by all Lily has taught me.
be Jealous or I can be Joyful.
Kick and scream or I can be Kind.
Loathe each day or I can strive for Laughter.
be Mad at God or I can see the Masterpiece Lily is.
have a Negative attitude or I can look at each day with New eyes.
feel Overwhelmed or I can Observe God's daily presence in my life.
be totally Pitiful or I can accept Lily as a Precious gift just the way she is.
be Questioning of the Lord or I can just be Quiet and let Him work.
Resent the Lord or I can seek Refuge in Him.
feel Sorry for myself or I can offer Support to others.
look at Lily as a Tragedy or I can be Thankful for her.
be just plain Ugly or I can celebrate Lily's Uniqueness.
be a Victim or I can be Victorious.
Weep tears of sorrow or I can Whoop with joy.
look for the nearest eXit or I can face each day with eXcitement.
can Yell or I can say Yippe!  Yahoo!  Yay!
live like a Zombie or I can be Zippy!

Ok - I know several of those (especially towards the end there) are really reaching but I think you get the idea.

I get to choose my attitude.

"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."  Winston Churchill

It's all up to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Let's Eat!

I found a really fun cookbook that I'm loving.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you if the actual recipes are good because I haven't made any of them yet!

But what I can tell you is that it is so much more than just a cookbook.

It's called The Family Dinner - Great Ways to Connect With Your Kids One Meal at a Time.

Here's what it looks like:

image description

And while it contains plenty of recipes, it's really more of a book on the importance of eating dinner together as a family - why it's important and how we can go about actually making it happen.

What I really like about The Family Dinner is that it doesn't just keep bonking us on the head about how we're such awful parents if we're not sitting down to eat family dinner.

Rather, it inspires the reader to give family dinners a try, to tweak it to make it work for you, and most importantly, how to make it doable for everyone.

But my favorite part of the book is the ideas for making family dinner fun for all ages - from reading around the table to conversation starters to silly games.

Lingering around the table and enjoying each others company is the goal.  Not simply checking dinner off your to-do list and moving on to the next item on the agenda.

Check out and see what you think!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where's the Love???

Have you ever been out in public and seen a child misbehaving?

Who hasn't, right?

I distinctly remember eating at Chuy's one time and I kept hearing a child just shrieking at the top of his lungs.

I ignored it for a while because I've been there myself and staring at someone when their child is losing his mind isn't really all that helpful.

But it went on for quite a while and I finally took a look around, trying to determine which child was making the racket.

I identified the table where the sound seemed to be coming from but was confused because I didn't see a kid there.  Then I realized he was actually under the table just giving his parents (and the other diners) an earful while they were calmly eating their supper.

I bet there was some indigestion at that table.

Now let's get really honest here and think about how many times we're been out in public, seen a child misbehaving, and thought to ourselves, "that child just needs......." or "if that were my kid.....".

I've done it countless times myself.

But I must say that I've had a little perspective shift since Lily came along.

Now when I see a child wailing away, I cut the parents some slack and assume that there just might be more going on than what I observed in my 30 second encounter.

Unless Paul Harvey shows up with "the rest of the story", I no longer think that I know what might be best for this child who is a total stranger to me.

Let me tell you a little story that demonstrates what I've learned through Lily.

I'm in my neighborhood HEB a couple weeks ago, just shopping along and minding my own business.

I don't have any of my children with me.

Which means I can really take time to choose the best bananas but it also means I have no one to blame when I forget the bread.

Then the sound of a child crying reaches my ears.

But this is no ordinary crying because Mom isn't buying Lucky Charms today.

This is a frantic, almost out of control wailing with some nonsensical phrases thrown in.

And it doesn't go away.

In fact, it only gets louder.

I'm not exaggerating (like a good preacher's wife would) when I say you could literally hear this child throughout the store.

I throw my last item in the cart and head for the checkout, where the sound is now coming from.

And I see this poor woman with two children - one baby who's doing just fine and this little boy who is completely wigging out.

Bingo!  The source of the crying.

Everyone in the store is pretty much avoiding this little family like the plague.  And of course, most of them are doing that ever helpful stare I mentioned above.

So, while trying to make angry eye contact with strangers, I march my buggy right up behind this woman and her kiddos.

I lay my hand on her shoulder and ask if there's anything at all I can do to help.

This exhausted and embarrassed mother turns around to me with big tears in her eyes and kind of shakes her head.  She says, "I just needed a few things.  I couldn't put off coming to the store any longer."

My heart just broke for her.

Had I been thinking straight, I would've just told her to take her kids and go to her car.  That I would buy her groceries and bring them out to her.

That would've solved the immediate problem.

But I wanted to her to know something.

I wanted her to know that I've been there before.  I understood.  She wasn't alone.  And that while everyone else was simply watching, I wasn't afraid to approach her.  To talk to her.  To show some compassion and understanding.

It really didn't matter if her child was losing his mind over Lucky Charms or if he had an uncontrollable crying disorder.

We've all been in her shoes.

At the end of the day, a moms gotta do what a moms gotta do.   And sometimes, a moms just gotta go to HEB.

As it turns out, this mom told me something I already suspected.

Her son has autism.  He was frantically trying to be understood but there was a definite communication breakdown.

I told her that I had a child with autism as well.

I noticed an older lady standing on the fringes of our conversation and once the "A" word was spoken, she stepped forward, identified herself as a special education teacher and asked if she could talk to the boy.

She successfully distracted him with talk of what color balloon he might like to have and if he would like to play the free "buddy bucks" game by the door.

She worked some serious magic on that boy.

I told the mom that if I was her, I would hire that lady to come home with me on the spot!

She finally smiled just a little bit, paid for her groceries, and headed home with two happy children.

I like to think that while the grocery store was still a stressful experience, maybe - just maybe, it was a little easier that day.

So why am I telling you this?

So that you can pat me on the back and say what an amazingly incredible person I am, of course!


I want you to be an incredibly amazing person.

Anyone can just stare.

Don't be like everyone else!  Be bold!  Share some love!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hello Routine! I've Missed You.

Today is Lily's first day back at school.


Oh - sorry about that.

I had a little trouble containing my excitement there for a minute.

I'm not usually the kind of mom who looks forward to sending her kids back to school.

I like hanging out with my girls, staying up late and sleeping in with no particular schedule.

While Lily doesn't mind the staying up late part, she hasn't quite grasped the sleeping in part.  That presents a problem for a mom who doesn't function well on little sleep.

And at some point, the lack of a schedule starts to become a problem.

Like when no one has anything clean to wear.  And there's nothing to eat in the whole house.  Or you can't walk through the living room without risk of injury from Polly Pockets or Legos.  Or you roll over and hear your daughters playing the Wii at 3 AM.

Then you realize that you cannot continue to live this way.

I think that all of us do better on a schedule.

Especially Lily.

When communication is difficult and there's no routine of any kind, every activity of the day is a surprise.  And surprises are no longer fun when you live your life that way.

But when you have a schedule, the days have a rhythm to them.  There's comfort and security in knowing what to expect.

Life simply runs a little bit smoother.

And I'm a big fan of smooth.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dance the Night Away

I thought it would just be a nice, quiet night at home.

I thought we would welcome 2011 in a very relaxed and peaceful manner - exactly the way we're hoping the coming year will be.

I thought wrong.

Reagan has been to a couple of sleepovers since all the kids are out of school for the holidays.  And she's been going on and on about this great game for the Wii called Just Dance 2.

Now, some of you may not know this about me but I have quite an extensive dance background.  I spent 4 years on my high school drill team.  And 4 years on TCU's dance team.

Count 'em - 8 years, people.

Even now in my advanced age, I have to fight the urge to storm the football field during halftime and do some high kicks.

OK - not really.

After 8 years, I gladly laid down the pom-poms to begin my "grown-up" life.

And now all I have the urge to do during halftime is beat the crowd to the concession stand.

Anyway.... Reagan is all excited about this Wii game and I'm thinking it would be a fun way to ring in the new year.

Plus, my kids can finally see that while I might be tone deaf, I have rhythm to spare.

Oh yeah.....

We eat supper and then put Lily to bed.

I whip out the game and it's Go Time.

Let me just say that after a total of two dances, I had to go change into shorts and a t-shirt, pull my hair up and turn on the ceiling fan.

Ryan was so taken with my moves, that he fell asleep.

Every party has a pooper.  That's why we invited him.

I was worn out but I didn't want to stop until I had beat my children in at least one stinkin' dance.

And then I saw it.

That famous song, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!

This was it.

My moment to shine.

And shine I did.

Of course, it was the slick sheen of sweat on my entire head that gave me such a shiny appearance but I am proud to say that my score was the highest at the end of the song.

I celebrated my victory by collapsing on the floor, surrendering my Wii remote, and eating a large piece of pie.

And now I'm off to slather my body in Ben-Gay.

Happy New Year Everyone!
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