Friday, September 30, 2011

A Smile for Friday

Oh, we've had a week at the Rush house.

We finally have Lily's new schedule in place.  You know what I'm talking about - the schedule that started with just behavioral therapy five days a week, but now incorporates speech and occupational therapy two days a week each and music therapy one day a week.

And guess what?  We went to the podiatrist Thursday afternoon (a conversation for another day) and he's recommending some physical therapy.  How we're going to fit that in is anyone's guess.  Do you think PT's do after hours home visits??

I suppose that new schedule I finally put in place perfectly this week will change yet again....

Plus, it's been Homecoming Week at the big girls' school which translates to theme dress up days all week long, closing the week out with a big pep rally, football game, and dance.  So I've spent a considerable amount of time at the mall this week, too.  Finding dresses that are a decent length for my two tall girls is a tall order, let me tell you.

And Wednesday afternoon, I got an unexpected phone call from Lily's school telling me that she had bumped her head near her eye on the corner of a desk and they didn't think it needed stitches but I might want to come take a look just to be sure.  It was determined that stitches wouldn't be necessary but we do have this lovely war wound to serve as a reminder that desks and noggins don't mix:

(I have to insert a little note here and say that despite Lily Bird's injury, I think this is a lovely picture, if I do say so myself.  And I took it all by myself with my trusty iPhone camera along with a nice filter from Instagram. OK - enough with the self-promotion.)

So when I was given the following article at our parents of special needs kids support group Wednesday night, I found it especially funny as I needed a good laugh by that time.

I hope you'll find it funny, too.

And if you don't, try reading it again once you've been shopping for Homecoming dresses for about three hours with two teen girls who are both around 5'10" and each looking for dresses in particular colors and trying to stay within a reasonable budget so we don't have to eat beans and rice the entire month of October.

I can almost guarantee you'll think it's funny after that.

So, without further ado, I give you - The Top Ten Reasons to Give Thanks for Your Child with Special Needs.  (written by Terri Mauro, Guide to Parenting Special Needs at

  1. You never have to worry about worrying over nothing.  Let other parents obsess over the frivolous and shallow. Your child will make sure you always have something worthy to worry about.
  2. Developmental delays = more years of hugs, kisses, and little kid sweetness. My 13 year old still wants to sit in my lap, give me hugs, and tell me he loves me. What mom of a sullen teen doesn't secretly wish for the same?
  3. Maybe someday, Ty Pennington will come build you a house. Hey, Extreme Makever: Home Edition loves families of children with special needs. Your little one may be your ticket to a lavish living space.
  4. Any little milestone is a cause to throw a party. Your child works hard for every step, sit-up and syllable, giving you lots to be excited about.
  5. Every day is a learning experience. Some days it's a pop quiz, some days it's a crash course, but life with your child is always an education, for sure.
  6. You have the privilege of putting several doctors' children through college. After paying for all those appointments, you may feel like a one-family scholarship foundation. Put your child's name on some letterhead and take pride.
  7. You meet a better class of parent in waiting rooms and support groups. Your child frees you from having to hang out with those snotty parents on the playground, and gives you entry into an exclusive club of people who are sensitive, sarcastic, and sure of their priorities.
  8. You have an iron-clad escape excuse for any occasion. You'd love to stay at that boring party, crowded event, endless church service, but, you know, your child just can't tolerate it. (And if sometimes it's you who can't tolerate it - who's to know?)
  9. Coming up with new strategies every day keeps your brain sharp. They say doing crossword puzzles helps ward off Alzheimer's. Figuring out your child's schedules and treatments and lessons and rights and restrictions must easily provide twice the protection.
  10. Your blessings will always be fully counted. Other parents may take the gifts that their children bring for granted. Not you. Not ever.
Amen, Ms. Mauro.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Let's Be Safe Out There

One of the things I really like about attending Walk Now for Autism Speaks is getting a chance to visit all the vendor booths before the walk actually starts.

There's a big room with all kinds of booths full of good stuff for special needs kiddos and their families.  The idea is to just wander the room, meeting vendors and picking up brochures, pamphlets, business cards, anything that lets you know what all is out there for the special needs population.

I always manage to find a few things I haven't heard of.  In fact, last year's walk is where I discovered the special needs dental clinic we just took Lily to for her first ever check-up.  Click here in case you missed that post.

One particular booth had several things to do with keeping children with autism safe.  While no one really wants to think about these kinds of things, there was so much good information there that I wanted to share it with you.

A fairly common concern for many parents of autistic children is wandering.  A child with autism doesn't always understand the importance of staying with a parent or caregiver and will wander off on their own.  I think it goes without saying that the thought of a nonverbal child simply wandering off is the stuff of nightmares.

To help prevent the incidence of wandering, there's a great website, that is definitely worth a visit.  The information you'll find there is valuable for all parents, not just those with special needs.

Since Lily is nonverbal, I also picked up some handy decals to stick on all of our cars.  Should we ever be in an accident and are unconscious, the sticker alerts emergency first-responders to look in the glove box for an Autism Elopement Alert Form.  This form contains specific information regarding the Bird.

That same form is also important to have filled out and on hand in your home in the case a child is missing and wandering is suspected.

Another good idea is to have a plan in place in the event that a child does wander off.  If you already have a plan of action ready, those first few precious moments of time aren't wasted trying to decide what to do.  This form, A Family Wandering Emergency Plan, can help you put together exactly what needs to be done the moment a child wanders off.

How about some ideas for child identification?

While you may not put ID on your child on a daily basis, it could definitely come in handy when visiting crowded places, like amusement parks, airports, shopping malls, or on field trips.

Who's Shoes ID is a velcro fastener that attaches to one of your child's shoes like so:

Child ID

In the event that your child goes missing, it can be opened up to reveal the child's name, your name and contact information, as well as any relevant medical conditions.

Child ID band detail

Not a fan of the velcro or worried your child will remove it?  Consider a Safety Tattoo:

And in case you don't feel good about putting your name or phone number out there for the world to see, they even offer tattoos with a bar code type thing that you can scan with a smart phone to read the information, like the one below:

I hope and pray that none of us ever has a need to use a Family Wandering Emergency Plan or First Responder Form.  Choosing not to think about something unpleasant does not guarantee that it won't happen.

The reality is that all of us need to be prepared.  It's simply part of being a responsible parent.

So take a few minutes today to keep your child safe.

You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The End of Volleyball

All good things must come to an end, and that includes volleyball.  The season is officially over for Reagan.  It was her first time to play and while I don't know a thing much about volleyball, I think she did great. 

I thought I'd share some pictures of my girl on the court, striking fear in the hearts of her opponents.

Most of these pictures were taken at a tournament at Texas School for the Deaf.  I'm always impressed with the ability of these athletes to not only participate in sports, but to do incredibly well, competing right alongside their "typical" peers. 

I came across an article written by Rick Reilly for ESPN magazine that tells an amazing story of overcoming disability.  I think you'll love it!  I recommend reading the article first and then watching the video.  Click here to check it out.

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Walk Now for Autism Speaks




Saturday morning found us, along with all the grandparents, at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock for the 2011 Walk Now for Autism Speaks.  Lily's clinic always participates in the Walk and we made quite the impression in our bright orange team t-shirts.

Lily's taking a few minutes before the walk officially begins to get in a good snuggle in the shade with her Daddy.

This is one of the Bird's best friends and therapists, Amalee.  Lily loves hanging with Amalee because she's so much fun and in this picture, she's also sneaking Lily some pretzels.  She knows snacks are the way to Lily's heart!

And we're off!  

Lily walked quite a bit of the way, holding hands with various friends.  Here, she's holding hands with her Dad (the headless one!) and Amy, the office manager at Lily's school.

This is Lily walking along with her Dad and Carson, one of the older siblings of a boy that goes to Lily's school.  They also go to our church so Carson liked chatting it up with her pastor.

And here's Lily with her big sister, Ryley.  Grandpa got to push the empty stroller, a thankless job.

Lily wanted to hold Ryley and Reagan's hands so we told the girls to act natural while Ryan snapped their photo.  I would say this is a pretty accurate representation - Reagan's just walking along, acting natural and Ryley's being a ham. Doesn't Lily look cute in her oversize tie-dye shirt??

It was a good day spent walking for a good cause.

By the way, in case you're interested, I updated the About Me page on the blog and added some more photos.  I've also added some new favorite blogs.  Check it out when you have a chance.

Have a super Tuesday!

Monday, September 26, 2011


Since Lily turned 5 last week, we had a little party over the weekend.  Both sets of grandparents were there so that made it extra special.

Despite past posts making you doubt my ability to count (click here and here if you need reminders), I promise there are five candles.  One of them is just behind another.

I think you'll be able to tell right away from the photo quality that I didn't take these pictures with my trusty iPhone camera.  Nope.  My oldest daughter, Ryley took them with her real camera!  So the pictures are extra good.

Lily is never really quite sure what to make of cupcakes because she's not real big on getting goop all over her hands.

But it looks like the yummy deliciousness is helping her overcome her distaste for goop on her hands.

Cupcake eating is serious business but I would say she would enjoyed it, don't you think?

Ryley also managed to capture the Bird's happiness over a new toy from her Virginia peeps - Uncle Alan, Aunt Amy, Austin, Aiden, and Ashlyn.

It's good to be five.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Showing My Age

A couple weeks ago, Ryan surprised me and did something a little out of character.  He heard on the radio that Night Ranger, Foreigner, and Journey were coming to the Erwin Center in Austin and on a whim, he bought tickets.

Now, going to a concert together is not that unusual for us.  We've been to quite a few, in fact.  But our tastes run a little more towards Norah Jones, Michael Buble, Chris Tomlin, and Harry Connick, Jr.

So I was a little surprised that he actually purchased tickets to a concert featuring some of our favorite bands from the 80's.  I mean, this is not really the kind of music you just relax, sit, and take in.  Plus, the potential for seeing adults in their 40's and 50's trying to relive their youth was going to be quite high.

Anyway, last night was the big night.

But there were definitely a few differences in going to a concert at my current age versus when I was a teenager.

For example, we opted to miss seeing Night Ranger in order to have time to eat.  Now that I'm in my 40's, eating can sometimes be a highlight of my day.  And I get quite grumpy when I miss a meal so we weren't going to let that happen.  So Night Ranger was sacrificed for a piece of yummy salmon, something that would not have happened had I been 17.

Another difference?  I had been planning on purchasing a concert t-shirt.  But upon arrival, there were two strikes against the shirt.  One, the line was really long and two, the shirts were between $30-$40.  I quickly decided I didn't want a shirt bad enough to stand in line and for that price, I could get a cute pair of shoes or a "real" shirt at the mall.  To heck with the memory a concert tee might bring - another difference between my younger self and my older self.

One more difference that I'm almost embarrassed to admit - at one point, I found myself actually wishing for some earplugs.  My ears were buzzing and it was just so loud, especially during Journey.  I know, I know.  I've officially crossed over into the "old folks" territory.  Sorry, kids. 

To prove I was actually there and that parents can cut loose, here's two pictures I took with my phone.  

This is Foreigner:

And here's Journey:

All in all, it was a fun night.  And while it was fun to relive the music of my youth, I definitely don't want to be a teenager again.

42 is just fine with me.

Now.  Where'd I put those earplugs?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Neat Freak

I spent the bulk of Tuesday morning at Lily's new therapy clinic.

While she was in speech therapy, I had a meeting with her occupational therapist to go over the results of the evaluation she did on the Bird.  For those of you who may be unsure of what occupational therapy is, click here to read more about it.

During the meeting, I was reminded of how important it is to let kids get down and dirty and just play

So many times, I veto an activity simply because I don't want to have to clean up the mess afterward.  And in the Bird's case, odds are quite good it's going to be a really big mess.

How lame is that?

Sometimes, in an effort to avoid frustration, I don't even let Lily attempt certain tasks or activities.  

For example, Lily doesn't like to roll a ball back and forth not because she doesn't like to play ball but because she's not sure exactly what to do with a ball.  It's difficult for her so she avoids it.  And I'm just making excuses for her and not pushing her to try.

Kind of like the first time I picked up a baton and decided I wanted to take twirling lessons.  Then had a panic attack before the first actual class because I realized I couldn't twirl.  And decided that since it was hard for me, I just needed to drop out before I ever went to the first lesson.  

Avoiding hard things is something that will carry you far in life, right?

Well, of course not.

That's why you take lessons.  

Or keep trying even when something doesn't come easy.  

Even if the only reason you keep doing it is because the therapist is not going to leave you alone until you roll that silly ball.  Or your parents refuse to let you drop out of twirling because "Askews don't quit" but you know the real reason is because they already paid the first month's tuition and bought you a hot pink leotard and baton.


Playing is just flat out good for kids.  

And it's even more important for special needs kids.  They need the sensory input that play provides, even if it means encountering some frustration at first.

The good news is that so much of good old fashioned play is actually therapeutic.  Things like piggy back rides, swinging, riding on shoulders, jumping rope, riding a tricycle, and coloring are doing all kinds of great things for your kiddo's nervous system, muscular system, brain and more.

But I was also reminded of how much I need to allow Lily the freedom to get messy.

Exploring with finger paints, play-doh, mud, even food.... are super for the senses and just plain fun.  For kids like Lily who don't always like to have lots of messy stuff on their hands, it's important to just keep trying and gently pushing them through those sensory issues.

As for myself, I need to just push through my "neat freak" issues.

Lily has a nice large shower with plenty of room to play.  I could strip her down to a Pull-up and let her paint in the shower.  Clean-up would be a snap.  Newspapers under her chair at the table could catch bits of Play-doh that fall and then I could just roll it up and throw it away.  Once it finally cools off down here, we could also do some of the messier activities outside where a little paint on the ground isn't going to hurt anyone.

The point is that it's more important for Lily to play than it is for me to worry about the mess.  And thinking of messy play as therapy is enough for me to give it a go.

I have loads of books on fun things to do with kiddos but I also found a few things online that I'd thought I'd share with you ladies out there interested in giving your kids a chance to engage in some messy therapeutic play.

How about some lovely shaving cream mixed with food coloring for the bathtub?

Here's a great recipe for homemade finger paints that you know are safe for those kiddos like the Bird who are known to sample the craft supplies:

[July 22 2010 229[5].jpg]

And here's a great activity to do with those finger paints:

Doesn't this play-doh look awesome?  Click here for the recipe.

And here's another great recipe for making play-doh with jello, something I will not be making for the Bird since she is sure to eat it if it smells fruity and delicious!

I'd love to hear other suggestions on fun things you've done with your children.  Leave a comment and share!

Now I'm going to release my death grip on my Swiffer and get messy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Birdie is 5!

Happy 5th Birthday, Miss Lily!  We love you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Think Outside the Cereal Box

Every school morning finds me up and packing lunches.

I think I come into contact with more food from 6:30 AM - 8 AM than I do the entire rest of the day.

I also have to move fairly quickly putting everything together because if the Bird comes wandering into the kitchen before I have the food tucked into lunchboxes and back on the pantry shelves, she decides that whatever she sees out is what she wants for breakfast.

I was moving a little slow a couple mornings last week and Lily made some interesting breakfast choices based on what was on my kitchen island.

For example, Wednesday morning, I was popping some popcorn to go in Reagan's lunch just as Lily came into the kitchen.  So for breakfast, Lily had a couple bites of a biscuit (the "planned" breakfast) and a whole bunch of popcorn.

Friday morning, Lily opened the fridge to get the juice out and spied my big glass bowl of Broccoli and Bow Ties, the entree I had made for lunch that day.  And of course, there was some popcorn out again since I was sending it as Lily's snack that day.

So guess what the Bird had for both breakfast and lunch?

You got it.

Broccoli and Bow Ties.... with a side of popcorn.

All three of my girls are different kinds of breakfast eaters:

Ryley would love to start each day with a traditional breakfast of eggs, bacon and some kind of bread item.  Reagan, on the other hand, is not at all hungry first thing in the morning so I usually send something for her to snack on around 9 or 10 AM. And Lily eats pretty much whatever she sees first thing in the morning, unless it's a day she's decided she no longer likes breakfast food and won't allow it to pass her lips.

That's when I get creative.

When the big girls were younger, I don't think I would've sent them out the door after eating popcorn for breakfast.  I mean, what would that say about me as mother?

My priorities have definitely shifted.  The goal is to get the kids fed, right?  So maybe they didn't have a traditional breakfast food.  At least they ate.  And I can feel good about that.

So, it's 7:30 AM as I wrap this up.  Who's up for a burrito?

Friday, September 16, 2011

40 Years Ago Today

Forty years ago today, this little baby boy entered the world:

Oh, he looks sweet and innocent in that picture but I think this one shows a bit more of his personality:

Have you figured out who it is yet?


It's my super-great husband, Ryan.

That cute little baby grew up to be this good-lookin' guy:

Ryan Rush Photo

But I can still see a bit of that little boy in the chair in that face, can't you?

Happy birthday, Ryan!  You are an incredible blessing to me and I love you very much!

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