Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sick

Lily Bird is sick.

We went to the After Hours Kids Clinic last night thinking that she just had a really good summer cold.  In fact, the only reason we didn't wait another day is due to the fact that she had a consistently high fever.

It's good we didn't wait another day or two.

Our sweet baby girl has a touch of pneumonia and is well on her way to a full-blown case of it.  One half of her chest is full of congestion and sounds really yucky.  She has a nasty sounding cough.  Oh, and an ear infection to top it all off.

She is now on an antibiotic and we should see improvement by Wednesday.  If not, we'll have to take her for a chest x-ray (of which she has had too many to count!) to determine the next course of action, which could possibly be a stay in the lovely Dell Children's Hospital.

If you think about it, would you please say a little prayer for The Bird?

Because I pity the poor nurses who will have to take care of this child should she need to be admitted.

And I pity myself who will have to crawl up in the "oxygen bubble" with her should she end up in the hospital.

And I pity Ryan who will will have to stand vigil outside the "oxygen bubble" blocking the exit to make sure neither Lily nor myself escapes.

And I pity all of you who will have to bring meals to my family because I can't possibly cook at a time like this.

OK, I don't really feel too bad about free meals.  Never mind about that one.

Let's just say a hospital stay will not be pretty.

And let's pray that all of us can be spared a really dreadful scene.

Thank you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

A couple weeks ago, I was reading my cousin's blog and saw a recipe for Sprinkle Cookies.  She had seen them on her friend's blog.  No matter where the recipe came from, it definitely looked like something my family would like.  

So Saturday afternoon found me in the kitchen making these yummy treats.  The girls thought they should be called Happy Cookies.  

Why don't you try the recipe for yourself and see if they make you happy, too?






We bagged some of the cookies up and took them to my in-laws to share.


Whether you have a chance to make cookies or not, I hope you'll take a few minutes today to remember the many, many servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  

Ryan found a video featuring Bob Hope and his work with the military that I think would be wonderful to watch with your family.  While the video refers to Christmas, it's a fitting tribute for Memorial Day as well.  Click here to see it.

So today, spend some time with your family, have a cookout, and play outside.  And thank a soldier for allowing us the freedom to do those very things.

Have a great Memorial Day. 


Friday, May 27, 2011

The Bird Bath

Ryan's parents have lived several places in the course of our marriage - Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Washington DC, Grapevine, and San Antonio.  

We really enjoyed having them in San Antonio because visits were so much easier.   We could make a quick day trip there or meet in San Marcos just to eat supper.

But last November, we got even luckier.  Ryan's dad was offered a job right here in Austin.  He accepted and they became official Austinites in March.  It's now a quick 12 minutes from our driveway to theirs.  

We couldn't be happier.  It's so nice to have family close by.

Now if I could just get my parents, my brother and his family, and Ryan's sister and her family here, things would be just perfect all around.

 Monday night, we headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for supper. 

 Grandma had been looking for just the right pool for The Bird and wanted her to come try it out. 


Pool water is always very tasty.


Check out those puckered up lips working hard to hold that water!


I think Lily approves of Grandma's pool selection.


After a few minutes, Reagan joined in on the fun.



This next one below is my absolute favorite of the evening's pictures.  Lily is having a blast and it looks like Reagan just might be enjoying herself, too.




Reagan didn't even mind posing in her soaking wet clothes.


And here is a very artistic shot of our elusive family photographer.  She never shows up in pictures because she's always behind the camera.  But we caught her!


When I was a little girl, all I wanted was to get married and be a teacher until I had kids.  Then I wanted to quit my job so I could stay home and be a mom.

Looking at pictures like this reminds me of how very blessed I am.

I'm getting to do exactly what I always wanted to do.

This weekend, take some time to look around and consider how very blessed you are.

See you Monday!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's National "Brag On Your Children" Day!

Actually, that's not true.

I don't even think such a day exists.

But I'm declaring that today is the day that every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or godparent gets a free pass to brag on the children in their lives as much as they want to.

Because that's exactly what I'm going to do today.

Yesterday was the last day of school for my big girls.  Which of course meant an awards assembly before they sent the kids off for the summer.

Ryley received the Excellence in Journalism II Award and the Excellence in AP English Award.

Reagan received an Excellence in Scripture Memory Award.

At this point, I would like to add that I fully believe these are academic skills they inherited from me.  But since it's not National "Brag On Yourself Day", I won't elaborate.

It was a nice way to end the school year for both girls.

Then it was off to Lily's school for a parent training time.  We try to schedule an appointment once a month just to observe what's going on there and to pick up some ideas for ways we can practice new skills at home.

First we watched a video of Lily doing some tasks, such as building block towers and touching her ears.

To reinforce the concept of "First... Then", Lily was asked to do a puzzle first, then she could choose a reward.

She quickly completed the puzzle and was handed her iPod Touch.  This is the device she uses solely for communication, not for playing.  She went from the home page, to the categories page, to the "I Want" page, and touched the picture of the iPad, the device she uses solely for playing, not for communicating.

I nearly fell out of my chair!

Last time I observed her using the Touch, she was not able to move through the "layers" like she did yesterday.   Now she can do it all by herself!

But that wasn't the biggest surprise.

Next, the therapist laid some flashcards on the table, like this:


Except that one flashcard on the bottom, she handed to Lily.

Lily looked at the flashcard in her hand, looked at the cards on the table, and then laid her card on top of the matching card!

Then the therapist grabbed the cards and placed three different words in a line, handed one card to Lily, and she did it again!   With a different word!

After she did it about four times, I'm not ashamed to tell you that I was cheering and crying at the same time.  Ryan was whooping and squeezing Lily in a bear hug.

The therapist explained that this was just a "happy accident" they discovered by chance one afternoon.  She went on to say that she thinks Lily will be a "reading and writing girl", something I can honestly say I wasn't sure I would ever hear about my baby girl.  

Those words were music to my ears.

Now that all of us know that Lily can recognize words by sight, we are going to begin working on functional and high frequency words.  For example, we'll be using flashcards with a word like "cup" on it that she matches with another card that says "cup" as well as matching it with an actual cup.

So what does that mean?

She may be able to actually type what she cannot say.  

Or use the Touch with digital word cards to create sentences in order to communicate.

And she may be able to actually read and enjoy books, just like her big sisters.

When she's thirsty, she won't have to use a picture of a cup.  She can just show me the word "cup".  Or maybe even the word "lemonade"!

This is huge news for the Rush Family.

Ryan and I were floating on cloud nine when we left the clinic.

We were given a huge dose of HOPE yesterday and words cannot adequately express what that feels like.  Our whole outlook is different because of what we saw yesterday.

Of course, our ultimate goal is for Lily to actually talk.  

But it's funny how after watching her yesterday, all of a sudden, that doesn't seem like an unrealistic goal at all.  

We are confident that the Lord is doing His work in the life of our Lily Bird.

And He's not done with her yet!

Or me.  

But that's a blog post for another day...

Have a hope-filled Thursday!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Doctors and Nurses and Therapists... Oh My!

I've got a nice big empty file box that looks like this:


But it won't stay empty for long.

No sir-ee, Bob.

I am in the process of compiling every single medical record from every single doctor or specialist Lily has seen in her almost five years of life.

It's quite an impressive list.

Lily has been seen by two pediatricians, a cardiologist, a heart surgeon, a gastroenterologist, a hematologist, a urologist, a dermatologist, an allergist, an opthamologist, an infectious disease doctor, a regular pediatric surgeon, two nutritionists, and an ear specialist.

I will be collecting every record from every hospital stay we endured, prior to heart surgery.  That's about 5 or 6 visits, some lasting as long as a week.

I will include her Texas Children's Hospital medical chart documenting our month long stay there for open heart surgery.

I will also add every therapist Lily has worked with, along with every evaluation that's ever been done on her.

This is a list about twenty people long.

In order to obtain all this information, I have to fill out a medical record request form for each and every doctor.

Thankfully, I already have copies of all evaluations that have been done along the way.

Once all this information is in my hands, I will then set about putting everything in chronological order, from Lily's very first day of life until the present.

I will then write my version of Lily's medical history, in my own words.  A sort of antecdotal medical diary from the perspective of a parent, if you will.

Once I have all of this information gathered and organized, I will take the entire enormous stack to Kinko's and have them make several copies of it.

Then I will fill my nice big empty file box with the copies.

From that point on, I will just continue to add any medical, biomedical, or therapeutic records to the box as we receive them.

Sure, it will be nice to be super organized and never have to undertake something like this again.

But that's not the real reason I'm doing this.

You see, one of those copies will go to a doctor in California.

A very special doctor that we are hoping will be able to help our sweet Lily Bird.

A doctor who is doing some amazing work on children with autism by focusing on the very heart of the matter - the brain.

We are excited about the prospect of trying something new.  Treatment that appears to focus on the issue and not simply the symptoms.

So if you see me out and about in the next few days, I'll easy to recognize.

Just look for the lady with bloodshot eyes, hunched over shoulders, and her right hand in a permanent curved "pen holding" position, leaving a trail of paper behind her.....

and booking a massage appointment for next week.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Praying and Praying and Praying

"We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us.  We are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."   C.S. Lewis

We are hurting this morning.

Our church family has lost a faithful man of service.

Our church staff has lost one of it's own.

And a sweet, sweet family has lost a precious member.

Bob Craven had a motorcycle accident yesterday afternoon and went home to be with the Lord and Savior he loved so very much.

Lydia Spencer Craven

Lydia Craven is our youth department administrative assistant.

Matt Craven, their son, is a senior at Hyde Park and will be graduating on June 2.

In the midst of all the happy graduation festivities, there will be a lingering sadness because someone is missing.

And while we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bob is in Heaven at this very moment, there is still a family here whose hearts are broken.

Heal them, Lord.  In Your way.  In Your time.  And love them as only You can.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail!; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.  I say to myself, the Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait on Him."      Lamentations 3:22-24

Monday, May 23, 2011

Getting an Earful

Lily has become fascinated with headphones.  

If she sees a pair, you can be sure she's going to give them a try.  She's fully convinced that if you put headphones on, you just magically hear good stuff, like Backyardigans tunes or a new favorite, the Toucan Song.  Click on the title if you'd like to hear it for yourself.








We haven't quite managed to convince her she doesn't need to actually hold them against her ears, but as you can tell, she's perfectly happy to do so anyway.

If you get a chance, sit down for a minute and enjoy some of your favorite tunes today.  Headphones optional.  

Enjoy your Monday!




Friday, May 20, 2011

Some Really Good Help

Through the wonder of the Twitter, I discovered a great website called SNApps4Kids, which stands for Special Needs Apps for Kids.

Here is the site's mission statement:

SNApps4Kids is a community of parents, therapists, doctors, and teachers who share information on how we are using the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch with children who have special needs.

And share information they do!

It's an incredibly helpful place to go to learn all about using technology with special needs kids.

Here are just a few of the things you'll find at SNApps4Kids:


  • Step by step instructions on taking your iPad out of the box and getting it ready to use.
  • How to set up an app for your child.
  • Getting yourself comfortable with using technology. 
  • Videos of children using apps.
  • Unbiased reviews of apps from real people with special needs children.
  • Forums you can join to speak with other parents using the same technology you are so you can compare notes, seek information, and get ideas.


And much, much more.

SNApps4Kids sent me a tweet offering some tips on how to better use Proloquo2Go, the communication app we use with Lily.  I didn't even have to ask for it - it just showed up!

If you know someone with a special needs child, steer them in the direction of SNApps4Kids.  They'll be glad you did!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

If It's Indestructible, It Must Be Broken


I have learned the hard way that there is no guarantee that something is truly indestructible.  In reality, it's a matter of opinion.

In the past, whenever I saw an "indestructible" toy, I would usually buy it for Lily.  I was under the naive impression that if the toy manufacturer said it couldn't be broken, than it simply couldn't be broken.

Well, after leaving a trail of broken "indestructible" items in our wake, I have become a little wiser and more discerning in my toy selection.

Take this book series for babies.   Babies, mind you.  Babies who have no teeth.

Anyway, my whole family loves to read.  Being a former teacher, it was also really important to me that my kids learn to read well.  So when Lily Bird came along, I wanted to surround her with books as I had done with her big sisters.  But I quickly discovered that Lily did not simply look at the book and sweetly turn the pages.  She liked to look a little, then tear a page.  Look a little, then chew a little.   Once she discovered that you could actually take a chunk out of a book, even without teeth, that became the thing to do when handed a book.

So when I discovered the Indestructibles line of baby books, I was extremely excited.  Lily could chew to her heart's content and attempt to tear pages all while "reading" a book.  And she still didn't have teeth at this point so it looked promising.

Here's what the Indestructibles website says about what the books are made of:


What are Indestructibles made of that is so durable yet paper-like and delightful for my baby?
Indestructibles are printed on a synthetic material made from flashspun high-density polyethylene fibers (getting technical here, we know). It feels like paper, but liquid water cannot pass through it and it is very difficult to tear. 



At first glance, it sounds great, right?  But look a little closer at the last phrase - "it is very difficult to tear".  And that right there is the telling statement, my friends.  Difficult.  But not impossible.

Especially for a child such as Lily who takes the word indestructible as a personal challenge and puts 110% effort into proving it wrong.

I discovered that if Lily simply sucked on an edge of the book long enough, she could actually tear off some pieces, thereby destroying an indestructible book.

Next up... the Kid Tough MP3 Player.

One of the main selling features of this item?  Here's the statement from Fisher-Price:

Built Kid-Tough to survive drop after drop after drop while also featuring simple controls.


I'll give Fisher Price this much.  It has survived many a drop and is still playing.

But see that cute little microphone attached so Lily can sing along with all her favorite tunes?

It's no longer on ours.  You can actually chew that thick curly coated cord until the mic gives way.

Good news, though.  It still works without the microphone.

So I would say that this is close but not indestructible.

Last, take the OtterBox Defender series of covers for iPods, iPhones, and iPads.  It's like Fort Knox for your electronics.  You would think they were making this to survive a nuclear bomb.

Check out this diagram:Defender Series Info Graphic

And here is a half-front/half-back shot of a case on an iPhone.

iPhone 4 Defender Series Case

I have one of these on my iPhone, Lily has one on her iPod Touch and one on her iPad.

Mine looks fine.

That's because I don't let her near it.

But her cases? 

Well, that nice impact absorbing silicone casing that surrounds the device?  Gone.

That nice little silicone port cover on the bottom of her device?  Hanging by a thread.  Destined to be gone.

It turns out that silicone is a really nice surface for chewing.

Ironically, Lily is not really that much of a chewer anymore.  But squishy cords and rubber-like silicone are just too big a temptation.

The bottom line is that "indestructible" is a relative term.  

Most manufacturers are thinking of things such as, how many times can the item be dropped, can it be submerged, and that type of thing.  

They're not really thinking of kids who are purposefully attempting to remove the very item that is supposed to be offering protection.  

Or children whose goal it is to prove that absolutely nothing in life is 100% indestructible.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And The Lucky Winner Is.....

Comment #9!

Otherwise known as Amy Greer!

And since I know where Amy goes to church, I will personally deliver The Family Dinner to her.

Congratulations Amy - now take that book off of your B&N wish list!

I wish I had a copy of the book for each and every one of you.  I encourage you to check it out the next time you're at a bookstore and see what you think.

I have about 1,001 errands to run this morning, including delivering some snacks to Lily's school.  We are quite snack deficient in the house today.  Actually, we're pretty food deficient, too.  I've waited as long as I can and must go the store today.  With summer right around the corner, I'm about to delegate the grocery shopping to my oldest.  Yet one more reason I'm glad there are only six more days of school!

When I get home, I'm going to make these yummy things:



Homemade Granola Bars - so much better than store bought.  And I can make them with not one artificial ingredient or preservative.  Perfect!  Click here to get the recipe for yourself.

OK - I've procrastinated long enough.  Time to head 'em up and move 'em out.

Have a great Wednesday and I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We Have a Winner.... And Another Give-Away!

Using the technology of random.org, the winner of a comfy pair of inescapable pj's is....

Lucky #6!  Otherwise known as snowskcone!

Congratulations!

If you will please click on the handy email button at the top of the right hand column on the home page and give me your shipping information, I will forward it along to Little Keeper Sleeper and you will soon have a lovely pair of pj's in your hot little hands!

I have to admit I was mightily tempted by Kristin's offer of an entire Italian Cream Cake but I rose above.

For those who didn't win the pj's, never fear.

There is one more chance to win yet another awesome prize.

Today's give-away is....

image description

The Family Dinner by Laurie David! (Click on the title to check it out for yourself!)

This is waaaaay more than a simple cookbook.

While it is full of wonderful recipes that I really think your kids will actually eat, the more important premise of the book is the time spent together as a family at the table.  In fact, the subtitle pretty much says it all:  Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time.

In this post, I talked about the book and why I was so excited about it.

Since that time, I've had an opportunity to try a few of the recipes.  Here are a couple of new favorites:

Eggs in Purgatory
Easy Cheesy Dinner Frittata
Caramelized Sweet Potatoes with Quinoa & Greens

I know what you're thinking about that last one:  it sounds way too healthy and your kids will never eat it.  You might be surprised.  But if you're not sure about the quinoa and greens part, just make the sweet potatoes.  They are beyond delicious.

One of the ideas in chapter 5 is "cooking" together at the table.  Here's how it works:

Take one "main ingredient" and place in the middle of the table.
Add as many "toppings" as you can possibly think of around the main ingredient on the table.
Everyone goes to work custom designing their own meal.

Think taco meat surrounded by shredded lettuce, cherry tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, jalapenos.....
Or tortilla soup with your choice of salsa, sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese....

Our family did the Pasta As You Like It suggestion, each of us creating our own individualized pasta salads right at the supper table.

And the dinner games suggested in the book?  The Rush family favorite is called "He Said, She Said" and we have had a blast playing this multiple times now.

OK... enough about me!  I'm already a big fan of The Family Dinner.

Let's give you a chance to become a fan.

Let's get going on this give-away!

Same rules as yesterday.  Here they are one more time:

To enter the contest, all you have to do is make a comment at the end of this post by 9 AM (Central Time) Wednesday morning, the 18th of May.

Just comment something.

And only comment once.

Then you are automatically entered in the contest.

Once I know how many comments there are, I will choose a number using a handy random number generator at Random.org that my husband found, and the comment corresponding to that number is the winner.

But refrain from commenting multiple times.  I will have my computer goons (otherwise known as Ryley and Reagan) checking to make sure there is only one comment per person.

I will announce the winner in Wednesday's post.


Finally, while yesterday's give-away may have been for a more "specialized" situation, that is absolutely not true for today's prize.  


This book is for anyone and everyone!


You will love it!  


Good Luck and let's get those comments going!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Critter Update.... and a GIVE-AWAY!

When I started a blog, no one told me that hacking would be an issue.  Especially being hacked by my own family members!

I've had many of you tell me that it's so difficult to make a comment that you've just given up and I simply can't have that!  I love hearing from you so hopefully, Reagan's tutorial will help and the comments will just start rolling in.... hint, hint.  See here if you missed the how-to lesson.

First order of business... critter update.  Let me just put it this way - it's a good thing that Ryan and I were not born in the olden days when people had to live off the land.  We would definitely have starved.  I can't grow a thing and evidently, Ryan's not that great at trapping.  We had not one, but two traps set up last night.  Both were empty this morning.  So Round Two begins tonight.  I know y'all are losing sleep over the anticipation of us catching something, so I promise to keep you updated.

I'm not sure just how much more excitement you people can take but here goes.....

It's time for the First Ever Along Came The Bird Give-Away!!!

This would be the perfect time for you to start singing the chorus of "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas.  Just a thought....

For those of you faithful blog followers, you might remember that last week, I told you about a back-zip pajama I just discovered called Little Keeper Sleepers.  Click here to read that post in case you missed it. I would like to add that we are now going on a little over two weeks and this sleeper is Lily-proof. That's even better than child-proof.

Well, I am happy to announce that the lovely company that makes the Little Keeper Sleeper is giving one away, along with free shipping, to one lucky Along Came The Bird reader!

Can I get a Woot-Woot???

Here's how this is going to work -

To enter the contest, all you have to do is make a comment at the end of this post by 8 AM (Central Time) Tuesday morning, the 17th of May.

Your comment does not have to be eloquent, lengthy, or include a bribe... though that might get you to the top of the list.  Oh, I jest.

Just comment something.

And only comment once.

Then you are automatically entered in the contest.

Once I know how many comments there are, I will choose a number using a handy random number generator at Random.org that my husband found, and the comment corresponding to that number is the winner.

I think it goes without saying that the more comments there are, the more fun this will be.  What a let-down it will be for me if I have to choose a number between 1 and 3.

But refrain from commenting multiple times.  I will have my computer goons (otherwise known as Ryley and Reagan) checking to make sure there is only one comment per person.

I will announce the winner in Tuesday's post... of which there could just be yet another super give-away.  If I were you, I would be checking this blog every day this week.  Just sayin.....

That's it!  This contest is easy-peasy.

So let's get started right now.

Make a comment.

Good luck!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How to Follow/Comment on the Blog

Mom is sick today, so she probably won't feel up to making a post.  But, she asked me to explain to her how people can comment or follow the blog so she could let everyone else know.  So I decided to make a blog post for her showing y'all how to do it.  And no, she doesn't know about this.  Mom...you've been hacked!!

So, if you have a Gmail account, then commenting or following is easy.  When you go to the Along Came the Bird homepage, look at the little toolbar on the very top of the page.  On the top right, it says "Sign In" - click it.  There, you can sign in with your Gmail account, just as if you were logging in to your email.  It will take you to a page that says "My Dashboard".  Then, if you  type in the Along Came the Bird URL again, and look at the top right again, now, it will have your email and a "Sign Out" button next to it.  Now you can comment or follow using your Gmail account.

The other option, if you don't want to make a Gmail account, is to make a Google account.  It's essentially the same process, but you use your normal email address, and replies to comments or comments made after yours are sent to your normal email instead of your Gmail.  You can make a Google account here.  After making that account, just follow the exact same steps given above to comment or follow the blog.

So that's all you have to do to comment!  If you still have questions, you can comment and ask her, and I'm sure she'll at least attempt to answer!  Just kidding...mostly.

Have a good week!

Reagan
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