Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Looking for Some Good Gift Ideas?

Let's face it.

Shopping can be hard.

Finding the perfect gift at the perfect price is challenging for everyone.

So shopping for a child with special needs can seem near impossible.

This time of year, family members are usually asking me for gift ideas for the Bird and sometimes, I honestly cannot think of a single thing that child would like.

So this is the time of year that I'm especially thankful for the internet and all those lovely parents out there who share wonderful lists of things their special kiddos enjoy.  There are several such lists circulating around Twitter right now.

If you are in the same boat as myself, never fear!  Check out these sites for some gifts that any child is sure to love.

Ellen, over at Love That Max, always puts together a great gift guide.  But this year, it's even better than usual.  She enlisted the help of actual special needs kiddos and their parents in testing out toys.  So not only do you get great gift ideas, you get helpful reviews from fellow special needs parents.  Good job, Ellen!

Click here to see Ellen's Best Toys for Kids with Special Needs: Holiday 2011 Guide.

Shannon Des Roches Rosa of Squidalicious wrote a great gift guide that's published over on BlogHer.  Click here to see the Very Necessary Holiday Gifts for Kids with Special Needs.

The Coffee Klatch has a helpful list of businesses that create products specially created with special needs children in mind.  Click TCK Special Needs Children's Wish List to check it out.

And don't forget that Toy's R Us puts out a toy guide for differently-abled kids every year.  Click here to see this year's guide.

Looking to gift a child with some fun apps for Christmas?  Read Finding Good Apps for Children with Autism for some great advice and suggestions.

Last but not least, click The Holiday Book Wish List put out by The Coffee Klatch, a list of books for the parents of kids with special needs.

Of course, if you buy one of these gifts and it turns out to be the "perfect present of Christmas", I expect to receive full credit...

After gushing about me and my gift-purchasing wisdom to your family and friends, a nice "Thank you, Lana" comment left on the blog will suffice.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You Might Be An Autism Parent If....

Are you a "twit"?

Or a "tweeter"?

I mean, do you "tweet"?

I'm not exactly sure what you call it but I'm wondering if you use Twitter.

And if you do, have you seen the #youmightbeanautismparentif conversation going on over there?

It was created by two autism moms - Jenny from Many Hats Mommy (who had the idea) and Elise from Raising Asperger's Kids (who created the hashtag, or subject for conversation).

See if you can relate to some of these tweets:

#youmightbeanautismparentif Your child can tell you something you said 3 yrs ago & the date you said it but can't tell you what he just read (@KatieMollo)

#youmightbeanautismparentif The only part of the play kitchen your child actually plays with are the buttons on the microwave (@donnamcmurray)

#youmightbeanautismparentif You are willing to sleep on your kids bedroom floor if that is what keeps him calm (@aspieside)

#youmightbeanautismparentif When you say "I don't know", you're accused of withholding information (@littlefluffycat)

#youmightbeanautismparentif The term IEP instantly conjures up the theme song to "ROCKY" in your head (@sunflowercyn)

Are you catching on now?

Do you have thoughts running through your head right now that you just know other autism parents can understand and appreciate?

Want to get in on the fun?

Then join me (@lanalrush) over on Twitter and have your say.

Come on - you know you want to....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thirty Minutes of Fun

We had a great Thanksgiving - I hope you did, too!

Since all the girls were out of school, we decided to spend Friday at Morgan's Wonderland in San Antonio.  In case you aren't familiar with Morgan's Wonderland, it's an all-access amusement park designed especially for members of the special needs population.  You can read more about it here.

We've taken Lily there twice and she's really enjoyed herself both times.

So we expected pretty much the same this time, too.  You'd think we would learn to not have expectations of how things should go by now.

While Lily did have some fun, the fun happened in about the first thirty minutes of our arrival time and then she was ready to head back home.  No amount of bribery, cajoling, or even unlimited water play could convince her otherwise.  

So we packed it up and headed back home, earlier than expected but before utter and complete meltdown mode. 

I do have some pictures to share with you, though.  And I think you'll see that we did have a good time overall. 

Lily typically has two favorite things at Morgan's Wonderland - the roller slides and the water play area.  We save the water play for the very end of our visit because it usually requires a change of clothes upon completion. 

Since the Bird had already decided she was ready to leave by the time we hit the water area, that part was a total bust.  

But check her out working the roller slides like a boss. 

And one rule of thumb for all girls to keep in mind:  Even when swinging, you can still sit like a lady.

Then it was on to the carousel.  This picture cracks me up because Lily Bird looks so thoughtful - but it looks like evil thoughts might be running through her head, don't you think?  "Hmmmm..... World domination today or tomorrow???"

And then she wipes those evil thoughts from her mind and starts passing out the kisses.

And here's a shot of our family photographer, with my mother-in-law behind her.  Morgan's Wonderland is a family affair.

Another rule of thumb for girls - Never be so much of a lady that you don't indulge in snack time.

And while I'm not a photographer, I did manage to capture my big girls in a sweet moment.

Even though the Bird surprised us and we cut out "day of play" short, we're hoping to visit at least once more before it gets too cold.  Maybe next time, she'll love it and we'll have to drag her out.  

Who knows? 

Her job is to keep us guessing and our job is to keep trying.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Gift of Thanks for You

I guess this isn't technically something I created myself just for each of you.

But as soon as I discovered it this morning, I wanted to share it with all of you who read my blog and share this journey with me.

I mentioned yesterday the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and what an impact it's having on my heart and life.

While there is much more to it, a large part of the book encourages the reader to actually list 1000 gifts - blessings for which you are thankful.  To move beyond the typical things we tend to think of right away - family, friends, home.... and get very specific.

You may not be able to run out and buy the actual book so I have an awesome surprise for you today:

The One Thousand Gifts App!

What is it, you may be asking?

The One Thousand Gifts app encourages you to make everyday Thanksgiving Day.  It's a visual reminder of all your many blessings that you carry with you all the time - in your phone.  Use text or photos to record your gifts, then share them with anyone you choose through email, Twitter, or Facebook.  There's even a #1000gifts Twitter Stream where you can see hundreds of others sharing their gifts, too.

And, just in time for Thanksgiving, the app is FREE!

Sound good??

Click here to find out more about the One Thousand Gifts App.

Click here to download it to your iPhone or click here for Android devices.

And remember, this holiday season:

Want this free printable for yourself?  Click here and enjoy.

I count every single one of you as a blessing.  Thank you for reading, following, commenting, praying, laughing and just being a source of encouragement to me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Little Change in Perspective

If you're a faithful follower of this blog, you will likely remember that last week, I was getting a little caught up in the whole "Is therapy really even working for Lily?" thing that drives so many of us parents crazy.

I also might have been having just a tiny bit of a pity party.

Click here in case you missed out on all that fun.

In the midst of this season tailor made for giving thanks and remembering our many blessings, I let myself get side-tracked and focus on one thing that we seem to be unable to financially make happen - an extended family vacation.

Granted, the point I was trying to make was not that we can't afford a long vacation, but that the high cost of therapy can cause me to question if it's all really worth it sometimes.

As so often happens, I was gently reminded that I might need a little work in the gratitude department.

First, I asked my husband a couple days after I wrote the original post if he thought I was airing our dirty laundry.  He reassured me that I made the point but I still kept thinking I sounded a bit ungrateful.

Maybe, just maybe, God was putting those thoughts in my head?

Then, I picked up and started reading an amazing book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts.  (It's so amazing that I can't really even find the words to share with you what all is going on in my heart while I read it... maybe one day.)

What's the message of the book?  Gratitude.

Ummm.... Hello, God?  Are you trying to tell me something?

Finally, just like every Sunday, my husband preached two sermons.

The subject matter?  Gratitude.

OK, OK, God.  I hear you.  I get it.

Gratitude has so much to do with our perspective.  With how we choose to look at or respond to certain events in our lives.

Here's what I mean:

My husband is good friends with several other pastors here in Austin, one of which is just a dear, dear man whom I just love.

Last summer, Ryan and this pastor friend, who I'll refer to as K, rode together to a retreat.  Since it was just the two of them in the car and Ryan trusts this sweet man implicitly, my husband let down his guard and shared with K something that had been bothering him.

Ryan said, "K, it seems like every time we get a little bit of extra money coming in to the house, it goes right back out for something we hadn't planned on.  I do a speaking engagement, we get some extra cash, and then Lana's Tahoe needs new tires and there goes the extra money.  I sell a few books, we get some extra cash, and then Lily has an unexpected health issue and there goes the extra money.  I emcee an event, we get some extra cash, and then the dishwasher quits working and there goes the extra money.  There is never any money to do anything fun - go spend the night in a hotel or let Lana go get a pedicure or whatever."

K looked at Ryan and very thoughtfully and tactfully said, "You know what I thought you were going to say, Ryan? I thought you were going to say - 'Man, we have had so many extra expenses lately.  So much stuff happening that we hadn't planned for.  Yet every time something comes up, it just so happens that I've got some extra money to cover it.  God's really been taking care of us because we've been able to just keep on trucking with that extra money coming in at just the right time.'  That's what I thought you were going to say."


If you want to put it that way....

But you know what?

K was exactly right.

We were totally focused on what we couldn't do.  And every time extra money came in and went right back out, that list just got longer and longer.

Thanks to K, we made a choice.

We quit looking at our long list of negatives and started thanking God that when we needed new tires or had a health crisis or needed a new dishwasher, there was money to take care of it all.  And still eat three meals a day!

A simple perspective shift.

And all of a sudden, we were acutely aware of blessings all around us.  Filled with a sense of expectation for the next one.  And heaped with gratitude.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Small Blessings

Blessing Number One: When I picked Lily up from school Monday, the therapists told me she had a great day.

And what was one of the things that made it such a great day?  

Only SIX head bops!  The Bird wore her helmet until about 12:30 PM, then no more for the rest of the day.  WooHoo!

Blessing Number Two: Lily now has these IgG injections, right? (OK, the shots aren't exactly the blessing so keep reading!)  

Well, they're an intramuscular shot, which means a pretty deep shot with a fairly long needle.  Granted, it's only one shot every three weeks but still, it's not really my cup of tea.  

So to save a doctor visit every three weeks (and a co-pay!), with some training, Dr. Goldberg told us we would be able to give the shots ourselves.  Again, I like saving the time and money, but giving shots is really not something I look forward to.  

Enter our sweet neighbor, Gretchen, (here's where the blessing part comes in!) who just happens to be a Physician's Assistant.  Who just happens to live two doors down from us.  Who just happens to know exactly how to give an intramuscular shot.  And who just happens to be sweet enough to come to my house to volunteer her services every three weeks.

Thank the Lord for good friends - especially those in the medical field.

Blessing Number Three - Sunday morning, my husband preached a sermon that I really needed to hear. Not that I don't really need to hear all of them, but the timing was especially good on this one. I'm hoping to tell you more about why it was so good in tomorrow's post.

Blessing Number Four - That really helpful "all-purpose" muffin recipe I told you about yesterday.  That I am now going to bless you with, thanks to the generosity of Morgan, my official personal recipe creator.

All-Purpose Create Your Own Muffin Mix (Goldberg Approved)

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar substitute
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put paper liners in muffin tin. Mix dry ingredients. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Combine two parts just until it comes together. Bake 15-20 minutes for regular size muffins. 

For apple muffins - replace water with applesauce and add 1/2 cup chopped apples
Optional - 1/2 cup any small chunk fruit, dried fruit, dark chocolate chips or whatever your heart desires
Could be tweaked into banana bread, too - haven't tried this yet so not exactly sure (mashed bananas instead of water, perhaps?)

Blessing Number Five - These crazy big girls of mine... and the fact that they are off school this whole week.

Do you have a little blessing of your own?  Don't be shy - tell me about it!

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Frozen Delights

Per Dr. Goldberg's plan, Lily Bird's diet consists mainly of meats and vegetables.

Well, mostly meats.

My daughter has never been accused of being a vegetarian.

She can have snacks, but the doc really wants no dairy or whole grains of any kind and very little sugars and starches. 

Those guidelines make for a pretty small list of snacks, especially most of the prepackaged kinds that I usually keep on hand.

So I continue the search to find snacks that fit the profile and that Lily will eat.

One of Ryley's friends, Morgan, who will be attending culinary school in the fall, came up with a lovely all-purpose "base" muffin recipe that I can pretty much tweak to fit whatever I think Lily will eat: apple muffins, banana muffins, dark chocolate chip muffins, and so on.

So that's been very helpful.

But last week, it hit me that I've been kind of focused on pantry-type snacks, those kind you just quickly grab off the shelf and throw in a lunch box.

I've been neglecting a whole variety of snacks that you might find in a freezer!

And thus began my quest to find some diet-friendly treats for the Bird, along with the help of my trusty Pinterest.

One treat was such a success, that I thought I'd share it with you.  This would be great for anyone unable to eat dairy, as well as anyone else out there who might be following Dr. Goldberg's diet.

The original recipe on The Reality of Skinny was for Healthy Strawberry-Banana Ice Cream.  Since Lily cannot have red berries of any kind, I subbed frozen sliced peaches for the strawberries.  I also used soy milk instead of almond since the Bird can't have nuts.

Goldberg-Approved Banana Peach Ice Cream

1 small banana
1 cup frozen or fresh sliced peaches
1/3 cup soy milk

Blend until smooth. Pour into containers and freeze.

That's it!  How easy is that!  And Lily loved it, which makes the recipe a keeper.  

Of course, she also loved bacon and now she hates it so we'll see how long this love of banana peach ice cream lasts.

As for the containers, I used these:

Baby Food Freezer Containers - 4 Ounce

They're four ounce freezer containers by Oxo meant for homemade baby food but they're the perfect size for a little ice cream snack.  They come in a set of four cups with lids and a storage tray.

The other frozen treat isn't an actual recipe.  I just took some of the Bird's plain soy yogurt that I sweetened with stevia and vanilla extract and froze some of it in those little freezer cups, too.

Considering that Lily likes yogurt, I wasn't at all surprised to see that this frozen version was also a hit.

Even though it's only two additions to the snack rotation, with our limited list, two makes a big difference.  

And one happy Bird!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Phase Two of "The Goldberg Protocol"

So it was brought to my attention that I never let you know about the follow-up phone call we had with Dr. Goldberg regarding Lily's progress to date.

We've actually had two phone calls with the good doctor and let me tell you, it's a lot to take in.

Here's a quick recap of what's going on:

Lily is continuing to take an anti-viral on a daily basis.

Dr. Goldberg added an anti-fungal to the mix so we're on day two with that.  This was not surprising to me as we've experimented with anti-fungals a few times already.  And of course, we'll know if the medicine is working if we see a lovely die-off period of increased irritability and general grumpiness in the Bird.  Which means fun times ahead around the Rush house.

The newest treatment is IgG injections.

Every time Lily has bloodwork done, there are several things that always seem to stand out - low white cell count and incredibly low IgG levels.  IgG's are one of basically four types of antibodies that are present in our bodies to help fight off various infections.  Of the four antibodies, two of Lily's are low, with IgG being very, very low.

While I've always considered the Bird a pretty healthy kiddo, Dr. Goldberg (since he looks at the whole child, with an emphasis on neuro-immune systems) considers her an ill child.

Not in the sense that she's running a fever, has a stomach bug, sore throat, or things like that.

But in the sense that the low white cell count indicates the presence of a virus and the low IgG means her body is unable to fight off the infection.  He truly believes this has been going on for years (which we've been able to confirm with past bloodwork results) and is the reason for many of her autism "symptoms" - the hand flapping, hyperactivity, loss of speech, etc....

There are other markers in her bloodwork that indicate something physical going on inside our girl.  The hope is that once we heal her body and get her physically "straightened out", we'll see some progress in other areas as well.

Now for the neuro-SPECT, that fancy brain scan we had done while in California that shows images of blood flow in the brain.  Proper blood flow means the brain is operating at its peak.

Most of the kids in Dr. Goldberg's practice have spots on their brains that kind of look like the holes in swiss cheese, indicating blood is not flowing properly to all areas of the brain, meaning portions of the brain are not working they way they should be.

Of course, Lily has never been one to do what everyone else does.

She ain't average, people.

Lily has spots on her brain that indicate too much blood flow, creating little "puddles" of blood on the brain.  Dr. Goldberg referred to them as "hot spots".  These hot spots can result in hyperactive behavior and could possibly even make her head hurt.  Maybe not necessarily headaches, but you know how sometimes you feel like your brain is throbbing and you can almost feel the blood flowing around in your noggin?  Like that.  Which could explain some of the self-inflicted head bopping that is all too common around my house.

Just looking at the neuro-SPECT, Dr. Goldberg's first reaction was to put the Bird on something to relax the blood vessels.

But seeing the neuro-SPECT combined with the bloodwork, he's instead opting to give Lily's body some time to try and heal itself by upping her IgG levels through injection.  If we can get her IgG's up, then maybe those antibodies can fight off the virus and her white cell count will become normal.

So while I don't have a remarkable story of how far Lily Bird has come in the month and a half that we've been doing this, I do feel like we're on the right track and finally getting somewhere.

Lily is five years old and this is really the first time a doctor is looking at her like a "whole person" and not just some specific part - like her heart, her kidneys, her ears....  And while we certainly wouldn't be where we are today without those specialists, it's nice to see someone putting all the little puzzle pieces together in the hopes of creating a whole, healthy child.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Can Bring Home The Bacon.... But Will Anyone Eat It?

Lily loves bacon.

She's been eating it for breakfast every morning for the last two weeks.  

Every now and then, I'll scramble some eggs or make some toast to go with it but since she leaves the other offerings lonely on the plate, I usually just serve up the meat.

But, as is typical for the Bird, it all comes to a sudden, screeching halt with absolutely no warning.

This morning, I seat her at the table and place the delicious food of her choice, the lovely bacon, in front of her.

And she proceeds to avert her eyes and turn up her nose.

Like she can't even look upon the offensive food.

Like she is pained that I would even think to serve her this dreadful pork product.

It does not matter that yesterday morning, she ate it like a starving woman.  And did the same thing the previous thirteen mornings in a row.


Today, she no longer likes bacon.

And she will not phase out of liking bacon.  She won't slowly pick at the bacon for a few days, giving me a hint that she is tiring of the same breakfast item.

Yesterday - she loves bacon.

Today - she despises bacon.

It's just one more way that little girl manages to keep me on my toes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Guess We'll Never Know For Sure....

Yesterday's post was just one of those "thinking out loud" moments.

And I loved reading all your comments because it made me feel so much better to know I'm not the only one out there who questions things sometimes.

I really don't believe there will ever be a for sure answer regarding therapy.  And of course, every kid is different so there won't ever be a solution that's the same for everyone.

So my solution is to simply try not to dwell on it too much.

But sometimes, those little questions rear their ugly heads:

How do I know for sure which therapy to pursue?
When do I know the time is right to add another kind?  Or remove one from the schedule?
Is this therapy even working? Are we really moving forward?
Would this time/money/effort be better used on something else?

Sometimes, an opportunity will come along and I'll just feel for certain that we need to pursue this for the Bird.  Other times, I allow myself to lean on the knowledge of someone else that a proposed course of action is what's best for Lily.

But day after day, year after year, it's such a bumpy ride with so many peaks and valleys.

And I worry and wonder if I'm doing the right thing right now.

And if it's all worth it.

I think it's especially difficult when you have other typical children.  

You see them missing out on some of that carefree childhood you wanted for them.  Having the house that all the teenagers want to hang out in because there's a pool and good snacks.  We moved to a house without a pool because we were afraid of the Bird drowning - she has no fear of water.  And I'm just not the mom who stands at the stove making quesadillas for all the kids who crash at our place after school is out.  I wanted to be, but....

We wanted to take an extended family vacation last summer.  Just the five of us.  In a cute little house in a cute little town where we could ride bikes and take walks and swim.... whatever.

You see, we have one daughter that we're launching from the family nest this coming fall.  And another who's not far behind.

We wanted to get some good family time in.

We postponed the vacation because of finances.  A budget will only stretch so far when it contains a line item labeled "medical" and it's the most expensive thing in it.

We're hoping to do the vacation this summer but it's not looking promising.

And honestly, after the California doctor trip, I'm not sure that the idyllic vacation we're hoping for even exists for all five of us.  The Bird is not one to be content with hanging out, reading, taking naps, and mindless activities like that.

Now, I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me because we can't take a silly vacation like we'd like.  That's not the point I'm trying to make.

It all comes back around to the whole therapy thing.  

If it wasn't for the expense of therapy, we would definitely be taking that extended vacation. 

And that's when those old questions start coming back.  Is Lily really benefitting from this?  Would she be in this same place if we had done less?

When Lily is making progress and good things are happening, it's easy to write those checks.  But in the valleys?  Not so much.  That's when I want to scrap it all and take a vacation... with a babysitter!

So we're paying for tons of therapy right now and I wonder if it's all worth it.
Then I read the comment that Christy left yesterday and I think it best answered all those nagging questions that continually pop up in my head.  

She says, "There's not a day that goes by when I don't wonder if he would be better with more help."

More help?  Less help?  

Either way, I would be questioning if I was doing the right thing.

And I'll probably never really know the answer.

So here's my great words of wisdom for all of us parents - All you can do is all you can do.  And all you can do is enough.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I'm thinking about something today.

Actually, I've been mulling it over since yesterday.... and off and on for the past five years.

I'm not even sure I can formulate my thoughts into complete sentences yet but I want to ask you something:

Do you ever wonder if your kids are truly benefitting from all the therapy you have them in?

I mean, do you ever stop and think if they would be any different from where they are today if you had just done nothing but kept them home and loved on them and allowed them to interact with your family in just the way that came naturally?

I'll elaborate more on Wednesday but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Catching On!

I've never really been one to give my children nicknames.

In fact, for the first five years of her life, I insisted on calling my oldest daughter by her full name, Ryley Anne, and I wanted everyone else to as well.  

That lasted until she started school.  First graders aren't really big on long names.

So when Lily was born, I never really thought about a nickname for her.  Her name was Lily and that's what we would call her.  End of story.

But we have some good friends who call their own children by various nicknames.  And since we spend quite a bit of time together, my daughters soon had a few nicknames of their own, courtesy of our friends.

And Lily was no exception.

For whatever reason that no one can now remember, Lily became Lily Bird, also courtesy of our friends.

And it stuck.

I found myself calling her Lily Bird, along with some minor variations on the theme:  Bird, the Bird, Birdie.

Then I started noticing other people calling her Lily Bird.

But yesterday, when I picked Lily up from church, I got the final confirmation that the nickname is now official.

When teachers are writing your nickname on your belongings, it's no longer just a nickname.

It's simply who you are.

Lily Bird.  I like it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

And Now.... The Big Reveal

So I mentioned yesterday that if you use Instagram for your photos, I found something really fun to do with them.

And that fun thing is...... Stickygram.

Stickygram turns your Instagram photos into lovely little magnets.  How cool is that??

The picture below is for a contest Stickygram is running right now but check out that fridge covered in Instagrams!

And look at this:

This person just had her first baby and she's charting her newborn's first year of life in Instagrams personalized by Stickygram.

Basically, all you do is take pictures using Instagram, select the images you'd like to have as magnets, and order them.  Easy as pie....

The magnets are about the same size as they appear on your iPhone.

They're sold in packs of nine for $14.99 with free shipping.

And your pack is nine unique pictures - not nine of the same picture like your kids' school photos are sold.

I think the magnets could be such a fun Christmas gift!

Teenagers could put Stickygrams on their lockers.  You could put Stickygrams on a magnetic white board in a mudroom.  Of course, the fridge is always a good place.  And with all the magnetic paint out there, the possibilities are almost endless for creating a totally personalized spot in your home to display all your favorite pictures.

If you're participating in the Zoom in on Gratitude: 20 Day Photo Challenge we talked about yesterday, then you're well on your way to having lots of lovely images to turn into magnets.

A whole display of things your family is thankful for.  What a fun way to celebrate the season and a lovely reminder of all our many blessings.

So give Stickygram a try - I think you'll love it!

And have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giving Some Thanks

Since it's November and since it's the time of year that many of us start thinking of all the ways we've been blessed, I came across something on Pinterest (of course!) and thought it might be fun to try.

Dani, the author of the blog, Positively Present, came up with a fun way to remember all the things we're thankful for.

Rather than writing the same old list, take pictures!

And she calls it "Zoom In On Gratitude:  30 Day Photo Challenge".

Cute name, right?

And she's even given us a nice list of "thankful things" to take pictures of.  Check it out:

Pinned Image
Of course, we're already 10 days into November so I guess if we started today, it would really only be a 20 Day Photo Challenge.

Here's what I'm thinking:  For the next 20 days, pick an idea from this list.  Then snap away.  That's one picture per day for the next 20 days.

Then the first week of December, I'll have one of those linky things on my blog.  You can add a link to your single very favorite picture from the photo challenge.

Now, if you're an Instagram fan like me, take your photos and put an Instagram filter on them.  Tomorrow, I'm going to show you something really cool and fun I discovered that you can do with your Instagram photos.  I think it could be a great Christmas gift.

Don't try to guess what it is because I want to surprise you.

So, what do you think?  Are you game to try and capture some of your gratitude on film?

Come on - it'll be fun!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Onward and Upward

Lily has now been under the care of Dr. Goldberg for almost a month.  If you're new around these parts and have no idea what I'm talking about, clicking here will get you all good and caught up.

We have a phone appointment with the doc himself Thursday evening and I'm expecting to hear bloodwork results as well as any findings on the fancy Neuro-SPECT he did on her brain.

I have to send in a weekly report to him via email and I've been very faithful to do that.  One section of the report is divided into Positives and Negatives.

Truthfully, we've been pretty heavy on the Negatives with not many Positives to report.

Until this weekend.

I have to tell you that we've been lucky in that our sweet Bird has always been a pretty affectionate kid. But this past weekend, she was incredibly lovey.

And it was lovely.

I would be in the kitchen, rinsing out dishes to load in the washer, and she would come up behind me, wrap her little arms all the way around and just squeeze me.  When I'd turn around and bend down to get a better hug, she'd lay her sweet head on my shoulder, squeeze me with her arms, and just smile the sweetest smile.

She's making better eye contact.

When I point at something, she actually looks to see what I'm pointing at rather than just looking at me in confusion.

Her use of the iPod Touch for communication seems to be much more intentional and purposeful.  Like when she is asked a question, her answers tend to make more sense.

And best of all, while she is still very active, there's been less of that frantic, frenetic running around like she's got ants in her pants and it's simply impossible for her to sit still.  She actually snuggled up next to me on the couch and, dare I say it?  She almost appeared... peaceful.

I would venture to say it was actually a pleasant weekend around the Rush house.  Unlike most of our weekends, which are spent trying to keep Lily occupied in ways that are not harmful, destructive or catastrophic.

Of course, there is still much, much more progress to be made.

But hey, we've learned to take what we can get with the Bird.

Yes, these are tiny baby steps.

But they are forward.

And that is a huge cause for celebration.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Allow Me to Introduce.... Pinterest

Oh my goodness!

After reading yesterday's comments, it became clear to me that several of you have not discovered the wonders of Pinterest yet.

And I just wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't take a little time to introduce you.  I promise you will thank me later....

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard, a place for you to collect things you love.  The website itself is full of images, quotes, youtube videos and the like.  Each of these is referred to as a "pin".

You can request an invitation to create a profile or a friend can invite you. (Let me know if you want me to send you an invitation.)  Then all you do is sign in and create your profile.

Within your profile are "boards", which are divided up by category.  Pinterest does some suggested board titles for you but you can come up with your own as well.

The boards are basically topics in which you categorize the images you like.

For example, maybe you're about to remodel your kitchen.  You could create boards with titles like "Cabinets I Love", "Great Paint Colors", "Lovely Kitchen Islands".....

Or maybe you're about to get married - or hope to one day.  You could create boards with categories for dresses, rings, table decor, photo ideas..... how about wedding cakes?

Are you catching on now?

But you don't need to have major projects going on to love Pinterest.  I have boards for recipes I want to try, desserts that look super yum, playtime activities for the Bird, home organization ideas, and outfits I like, among other things.

Here's two of my boards, just to give you a peek:

  • What I Would Wear

    Photo of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pin
  • For The Bird

    Photo of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pinPhoto of a pin

And if that's not enough, you can add a "Pin It" button to your toolbar and no matter where you're surfing on the web, if you see something you like, you can click the "Pin It" button and instantly pin the image to the board of your choice.

No more trying to remember where you saw that knitting pattern you love or that landscaping layout you want to do in your own yard or that yoga workout you want to try.

And no more random post-it notes scattered around the computer that make no sense to you a week after you write them.

You can follow boards that other people have created, like the special needs "pinners" I suggested to you yesterday.  If I'm looking for something to do with Lily, I don't have to scan the entire Pinterest site. I can go directly to the boards of people who tend to pin things I like.

Likewise, people can follow your boards.  It can be a good way to drive some traffic to your blog, if you have one.

But more than anything, it's just plain fun.  It's like looking through a magazine filled with all kinds of lovely things, delicious food, funny sayings, beautiful photography, travel suggestions, and creative ideas, just to name a few.

So, can it be a waste of time?  Sure.

Can you spend hours of time pinning things that you know good and well you'll never do?  Definitely.

Just like anything else in life (chocolate and Angry Birds comes to mind), you'll need to exercise some self-control.

But keep this in mind, too:  Time you enjoy wasting is not always wasted time.

I found that quote on Pinterest.  :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Share Some Good Stuff

Let's start the week off right - sharing some fun stuff for our kiddos.

I spent a little time this weekend on my newest online love, Pinterest.  If you haven't heard of Pinterest, you're missing out on a seriously fun, creative, inspiring, and educational waste of time.  Actually, it doesn't have to be a waste of time.  For me, it's a really relaxing way to spend a few minutes when I need an escape from it all.

Pinterest is basically a place where you can create and personalize online bulletin boards about anything of interest to you.  You can share your boards with others or keep them all to yourself.

If you're interested, you can follow me there at lanalrush.

Any-who, while scouring Pinterest, I discovered several wonderful ideas for kids with special needs.

Lily still needs a little help identifying body parts, especially her own.  She's more likely to point out someone else's nose or ears than the ones that belong to her!  So when I saw this Ziploc "My Body" Book, from I Can Teach My Child, I knew it would be perfect for the Bird.

I'll take pictures of her cute little ears, mouth, nose, toes, and the like and create a simple photo book.  Of course, Lily would totally scoff at those little baggies holding the photos.  She's way too advanced to let a little ziploc stand between her and whatever is inside.  The photos I take will be laminated for added protection.  I'm also going to create a "book" on her iPod Touch.

Lily is actively learning alphabet recognition so I really like this Letter Search game from Little Hands, Big Work.

But I am 100% certain that Lily will sample the uncooked rice.  I know it won't hurt her.  I'm just trying to decide what will end up being more fun for her - digging for the letters and putting them in the puzzle or eating the rice.  I'm leaning towards eating the rice which then begs the question, "what's the point???"

An activity that might be a little less likely to be sampled but still fun is a Sticky Table.

Pinned Image

Placing some contact paper upside down on the kitchen table and then using various things (pom poms, ribbon, foam shapes, pipe cleaners....) to stick on and pull off might be more successful.  And I could use alphabet letters for this.  I'm also going to stick on some of that bubble wrap with those really big fat bubbles for her to pop.

But the one almost guaranteed to catch her attention and hold it for a while?  A Kitchen Duty sensory bin.

While she may not care about washing the dishes, she'll play in the water and we can practice filling and pouring, sinking and floating.  Heck, we can even throw those alphabet letters in again and maybe fish them out with a slotted spoon.

So, if you're hunting up more activities than you'll ever have time to do with your kiddos, I suggest following a couple of Pinterest "pinners":

Tara Bennett (tmoney)
Sensory Basic

I'm sure there are tons more pinners who share boards filled with wonderful ideas for special needs kids, so if you know of others, be sure to leave a comment and pass them along.

Also, if there's a book that has really helped you along in your special needs journey, would you leave a comment with the title?

We can learn so much from each other so don't be shy - share your ideas and resources!

Friday, November 4, 2011

I'm Clocking Out Early

So here's the scoop for today, folks.

This is my oldest daughter, Ryley:

And today, this beautiful baby of mine is 18 years old.

So I could spend the next couple of hours locating pictures of her from birth until now, scanning them into the computer, penning a lovely ode about what a wonderful daughter she is, posting it on my blog for all to read, and then showing her and saying, "Look, Ryley!  I did all this just for you!"

Or I could take advantage of the time that Lily's in school and take my (gulp!) almost adult daughter out on the town to celebrate.  I mean, she can now legally purchase cigarettes and lottery tickets.  Isn't that the sign of a mature adult??

I'm going with the second option - minus the cigarettes and lottery tickets.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you Monday!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tearing of Clothes & Gnashing of Teeth

You know how they say when a child phases out of one negative behavior, they usually begin a new one to take its place?

Like when Lily finally quit pinching the fire out of me, she started pulling my hair instead.  Click here to read the story of the Bird's infamous "super pinch" in case you missed it the first time around.

So what's the new behavior around the Rush house? 

Chewing on the clothes.

But this isn't your ordinary chewing on clothes like you see some kids do.  

No, no.  

The Bird has always been an over-achiever when it comes to using her skills for evil.

She is literally eating her clothes away.  Or at least the neckline of said clothing.

Don't believe me?  The proof is in the pictures.  

Take a gander at these:

Do you see it?  And I'm not referring to my scary old lady hands.

Here's a couple more photos in case you're still a doubter:

In case you're worried about my child consuming large amounts of fabric, you can rest easy.

It's actually a little more like a baseball player thing.  Imagine this is Lily:

Except instead of a big wad of chew between the teeth and gums, it's actually multiple small wads of cotton.

Have you figured out where I'm going with this yet?? 

I apologize for the graphic nature of this next photo, but this is the next step in the process:

But instead of "loogies" or tobacco dribble, Lily spits out tiny, colorful, wet wads of fabric that I then find all over her bean bag chair or in her bed or on my couch....

It's not a very ladylike habit for a couple of reasons.  One, the tearing of the clothes is right where she would be displaying some major cleavage if she had some and two, spitting just isn't something you see many "proper" ladies doing.

But I guess the Bird's never really been accused of being too "proper".

And I suppose I should take some comfort in the fact that the only place this behavior hurts is the wallet.


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