Thursday, April 23, 2015

Around the Web in Six Clicks

A round-up of random things that struck my fancy - enjoy!

A spelling quiz for my fellow word nerds - can you beat my 8 out of 10 score?

These six ingenious tech gadgets are designed with special needs parents in mind.

A quick and simple shortcut for making bulletproof coffee.

What a fun party idea!

An inexpensive way to keep your special needs kid safe and cozy overnight.

Your newest total waste of time. You're welcome.

And a bonus link just because I love you so much:
Makes me smile every single time I watch.

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, April 17, 2015

In the News

A couple of months ago, I got an email from Katy Magazine, asking if they could do a story on Lily and I for their spring issue.

Now, for Lily, being a media figure is becoming quite common. When we lived in Austin, not only was her school featured in Austin Family magazine, Lily was the cover girl. Right after we moved to Katy, Texas Children's Hospital asked if they could photograph Lily and her neurologist for their website. And now, a story in Katy Magazine.

Just another day at the office for Bird.

And I'm just riding on her coattails.

I'm not going to try and act like I wasn't a little nervous about doing the interview.

But because God tends to take care of me in even the smallest ways, it turns out the writer assigned to our story is a member of Kingsland Baptist Church. Oh, you know. The same church we attend. The one where Ryan is the pastor.

And that's how I met Kelly Boldt.

Sweet Kelly, who asked a few questions and basically let me tell our story with all the words. And then she had to take all the words and condense them into less words. Much less words. I did not make her job easy.

The end result is a truly lovely article that is a beautiful reminder of the miracle that is Lily Bird.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Track Meet

This past weekend was another first in the Rush house.

Lily is participating in Special Olympics track and Saturday was our very first official track meet.

Opening Ceremonies Parade

Before I tell you how Lily did, I have to say how impressed I was with the whole event. It was eye-opening and awe-inspiring and lump-in-the-throat inducing. There is something incredibly stirring about seeing a young adult step out of a wheelchair, tightly grip a walker, and at the crack of the start gun, take off in a manner that looks almost physically impossible and cross a finish line 50 meters away. Forget pity and sadness. Try motivating and uplifting. These people are doing hard things every single day. And I won't forget it.

It was also fun! Clapping and cheering. High fives. And don't even get me started on the dancing. So. Much. Dancing. But really - who can help themselves when Michael Jackson's Greatest Hits are being played over the loudspeakers? No one. That's who.

Lily was in two events: the 50 meter run and the softball toss.


Lily likes to do things her own way. She always has and I suspect she always will. She is not motivated to do something just because everyone around her thinks she should. She tends to get around to doing things in her own time.

Running the 50 meter is no different. She has run it several times in practice. She has also walked it a few times. She has hopped it and skipped it and jumped it. She has stayed in her lane. She has run across all the lanes.

So, it's basically a free-for-all, who-knows-how-it's-going-to-go kind of event for Birdie.

Does it matter to her that it's a race? No.

Does it matter to her that there will be a first place winner? No.

Does it matter to her that it is a running competition? No.

So for Bird, there were no butterflies in her stomach before the big race. There was no standing at the starting line, visualizing the run. No rush of adrenaline when the gun sounded.

Instead, last Saturday, this is how Lily decided to do her 50 meters:

I know. I know.

The thrill of competition made it difficult to take your eyes off the screen, right? I mean, it was this close. I was kind of surprised no one asked to see a video replay to determine the winner.

I thought about demanding a re-race because that floppy bow was in her eyes and might have blocked her view of the lane.

But that smile on her face at the end?  Lily was perfectly happy with her "run".  I think it went just like she planned.

On to the softball toss, which Lily has only practiced one time. But today, in the spirit of competition, she threw that ball harder than she ever has. And then started jumping up and down:

Maybe she was starting to catch the Olympic spirit.

Or maybe she just knew she was done and it was time for a cheeseburger.

Sidenote - that woman saying "good job" at the end of the video? Surely that's not me. She sounds a tad bit redneck and I'm much more sophisticated than that. 

So the first ever Special Olympics track meet?

In the words of Frank Sinatra, Lily did it her way.

And that is a-ok with us.

Receiving her first medal

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Adventures in Easter

*This was originally published in April 2011 when I taught Lily how to hunt for Easter eggs. It has been edited somewhat for today's post*

In the back of my mind, I've been trying to decide how many Easter festivities the Rush family is going to attempt.  And by that, I mean all the Easter Bunny-type activities.

Dying eggs, Easter baskets, hunting for eggs.... all these things Lily could care less about.

So part of me is thinking why bother with all of it.  But then the other part of me is thinking that she may never get it if I don't at least try.

So try we will.

Like many things in our lives, this requires some outside the box thinking, along with some plain and simple common sense.

Lily is not going to hunt eggs for 15 minutes or compete with her cousin to see who can find the most.

In fact, she may not hunt for a single egg unless I can find some way to show her that while she may not care about the egg itself, she will love what's inside the egg.

Based on some tips from Lily's therapists who hosted an all-out Easter party at school yesterday, I have formulated a plan.

It goes a little something like this:

Dying real eggs?  Forget about it.  All the kids wanted to do at school was eat the eggs.  They saw absolutely no point in taking the time to color an egg when you could simply consume it.  So we will not take the time to dye eggs this year.

Hiding large plastic eggs?  This we will attempt.  But there are some guidelines that might make this a little more successful for us.  I'll fill the eggs with edible treats only - no stickers, little erasers, or cutesy toys for us.  Lily is motivated by Skittles and M&M's - candies she doesn't normally eat because of the dyes. So while we won't go totally nuts with the amount that we let her eat, (or else we'll have a child going nuts on our hands!) I'll put a couple of these candies in each egg.  Hopefully, this will encourage her to roam the backyard a little looking for eggs so she can have what's inside.  And if I can get her to look for 2 or 3 eggs, I'll consider the hunt a huge success.

We'll be having a practice egg hunting session this afternoon so that maybe by Sunday, Lily will know just what to do with all those eggs that the adults have scattered around.

Don't you just wonder sometimes what the kids are thinking, though?  I imagine Lily is wondering why we have to go to all this trouble when we could just as well snuggle on the couch together and eat a bag of Skittles.

Speaking of Easter treats, have you seen some of the recipes floating around the web?  Some of them look almost too pretty to eat... almost.

Whimsical Spring Bark - this looks too sweet, even for me.  But I love the colors!

Fun, whimsical and incredibly easy chocolate candy bark.  Inspired by the talented Katherine Sabbath!  Great on it's own, or on top of cupcakes and cakes. So pretty for spring and Easter.

Bunny Bait - such a cute name and looks even cuter!

Muddy Buddies - Easter Style - we call this Monkey Munch at the Rush house.

Easter Muddy Buddies -- a super simple recipe to celebrate Easter and spring!

These cute little pancakes are more my speed - quick, simple, and no recipe needed. 

Adorable for Easter! Bunny Pancakes from Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious magazine.

I would love to try some of them but I have decide it they're worth making yet another trip to HEB.

Kind of like trying to decide if hunting eggs is worth a few Skittles.

P.S. - Need a few new Easter egg filler ideas? Well, here's 37 of them.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lily Bird - Track Star

Trying new things makes me nervous.

You would think with all the new things our family has undertaken since The Bird came along eight years ago, I would be over it by now. 

But I'm just not.

I think part of the reason is that as a special needs parent, you work so dadgum hard to get your kid in some sort of routine that when you finally manage to get one in place, you're petrified that something is going to come along and mess things up and you'll have to start all over again. 

And if you've been a special needs parents for longer than, say, a minute, you know this is going to happen. And happen again. And again. And again....

I also think that with these kiddos, so many changes are out of our control that a desire to maintain the status quo is simply a survival mechanism.

But something new always comes along. 

There are therapies to try. Diet changes to make. School programs to tweak. Teachers and aides that come and go. Goals to fine-tune. Visual schedules to adjust. Discipline techniques to modify. Doctors to visit. Medications to consider. Educational approaches to research. Meetings to attend. Respite opportunities. Camps. Playgroups.

The list is endless. 

And exhausting.

Even when a great opportunity for Lily presents itself, I often find myself dragging my feet because I know it means changing our routine yet again. 

So when Lily turned 8 and we discovered that she could participate in Special Olympics, I didn't really give it a thought at all. 

One, because it would be yet another thing to add to our routine. 

But mostly and more honestly, because it felt like yet another step towards admitting that Lily belongs in the special needs community. That we are moving even further towards acceptance, a positive thing to be sure. But that same acceptance still comes at a high price for us - another little piece of our hopes and dreams being chipped away. 

First time on the track.

But with the sweet and patient encouragement of some friends, we decided to give Special Olympics Track a try.

Warming up.

Well. Sort of warming up.

So Birdie is officially a runner. A 50 meter runner, to be more specific. 

Well, a 50 meter runner/walker/hopper/skipper/giggler, to be even more specific. 

First 50 Meter.

And with an entourage, no less.

Typically, I run alongside Lily to keep her going and Ryan is waiting at the finish line to keep her focused on where she's headed. Of course, this is not including all the parents, coaches, and fellow athletes lining the track, cheering, clapping and shouting encouragement.

If Ryan is crouched down at the finish line, Lily often ends her race by turning backwards and plopping her booty onto his bent knee. 

Just like all the Olympic greats, amirite?

Trying the softball toss. Not interested. At. All.

So I wouldn't say that Lily loves running. 

And I wouldn't say that Ryan and I have fully adjusted to the fact that we are there, that we are in Special Olympics. 

And of course, it's still new which means I'm still nervous. 

But pretty soon, it'll just be another part of our routine. 

That ever-changing, fluctuating, shifting, fickle "routine".

The reward at the end of the race.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mamaw's Teacakes

When I was growing up, I had two kinds of Mamaws. 

One was my "school Mamaw". She was an English teacher for lots of years. So I could always talk to her about the day when I would be a teacher myself. How I would decorate my classroom. How I would eat the "for teachers only" baked potatoes at lunch. And how I would teach my students to fall in love with books. This Mamaw is still with me today. And even though neither of us teaches school anymore, we both still love a good baked potato. 

My other Mamaw was my "kitchen Mamaw". And while she went to be with Jesus way back in 2005, she still comes to my mind almost every time I'm cooking. She taught me how to roll out biscuits and make a mean Lemon Icebox Pie. That a pear half with a little dollop of mayonnaise and some grated cheese sitting on a lettuce leaf was considered "salad". That fried shrimp didn't have to come from a restaurant. And even though she told me all the time how much she loved me, her favorite way to show love was through food. 

Those three little fingerprints in the dough? Lily Bird.

While there was always a variety of homemade treats in Mamaw's kitchen, one cookie was a staple. A simple, unassuming, and humble cookie in the midst of more fancy, fussy sweets. 

The teacake.

Not too sweet. Not too crispy. A little bit pillowy and soft. But not at all gummy. 

This is the kind of cookie I imagine the British calling a "biscuit". Maybe these teacakes could be considered the Texas version of a British biscuit. But then, I guess the British call every cookie a biscuit. Like even Oreos. Weird. So maybe we just stick with cookie. 

Before you ask, there is not one teeny gluten free or paleo thing about these cookies. Because sometimes, you just need your Mamaw's cookies exactly the way you remember them. So yes, these could probably be tweaked to fit a special diet but you won't find me messing with my Mamaw's recipe. This is the cookie Mamaw made for her grandkids. And now her grandkids make them for her great-grandkids. And I'm not messing with tradition, even if it means some white flour and Crisco. 

Mamaw's Teacakes

2 cups sugar
1 cup Crisco
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 tbsp lemon extract

Mix well. Then add:

5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

Mix until no longer powdery. 

Roll out. Cut with biscuit cutter. Bake at 400 degrees for about 8-9 minutes or until lightly golden around bottom edges of cookies and no longer damp on top. 

Do you have a family recipe that brings back memories? A recipe that's been passed through the generations? I'd love to hear the story. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

For Your Listening Pleasure

Down here in Katy, Texas, it's Spring Break.

And for lots of us, Spring Break means doing a little traveling.

Back in my day, traveling meant loading up the green Oldsmobile, listening to whatever country music was on the radio, reading Nancy Drew nonstop and constantly reminding my little brother to stay on his side of the imaginary line in the backseat.

Today's kids have got it good - bucket seats, built-in DVD players, iPods, iPads, Spotify, Netflix....

But what about the parents riding along up there in the front seat, being forced to listen to "Let it Go" until they're ready to actually let it go - right over a bridge.

Have I got the solution for you:

NPR's This American Life podcasts.

This American Life is a weekly public radio show. Each episode has a theme and a few stories on that theme. Most of the stories are true and about ordinary, everyday people. Sound boring? Well, it's not.  If you love words and stories like I do, you're going to love it.

So put the headphones on those kiddos because here's a few of my favorites to get you started:

Switched at Birth

Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

The Seven Things You're Not Supposed to Talk About


House on Loon Lake

Notes on Camp

And I can't leave out The Alibi , the episode that launched This American Life's first spin-off show called Serial. According to the website, "Serial tells one story - a true story - over the course of an entire season. Each season, we'll follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. And we won't know what happens until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it's important to listen to the episodes in order, starting with Episode 1."

And I hate to sound bossy (except not really), but if we are friends at all, you will listen to Serial. All 12 episodes. And you will get sucked in. You will be able to think of almost nothing else. You will discuss it with your friends. You will take sides. And you will come back here and tell me what side you're on. And you will thank me. So, I'll just go ahead and say it....

You're welcome.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Help Me Decorate my Bathroom

The other day, I mentioned that we've just had our master bath remodeled

The glass was put in this week and it is officially finished. 

Well, it's officially finished except for one little spot.

And here's where you come in. 

Before I show you some really great before and after shots, I'd love to get your suggestions for what to do with that little spot. Then I can show you the whole beautifully completed bath, without having to say "pretend like there's a cool piece of furniture here" or "maybe I'll hang something here". 

Here's the area that I need some help with:

I mean, I know the weight scales add the perfect decorative touch but maybe it needs just a little bit more, yes?

To the left of the space is the new shower. To the right is Ryan's vanity. The space is a little more than 3 feet wide. From the top of the tile to the floor is about 7 1/2 feet. And it's a 10 foot ceiling.

I want to do something a little unusual - not just the expected hooks and decorative towels. 

But of course, what I want to do is so unexpected that even I can't figure it out. 

So this is your chance, all you home interior design gurus - give me some ideas. But there is one big, big rule:

It cannot be something crafty that you swear I can make because it's just so easy.

I am not crafty. I do not want to be crafty. I just want to wield my credit card. Not a paintbrush or a stencil or fake flowers that I must arrange. And I would really like to wield said credit card for less than $200. 

And, if you can, links help - I'm much better with actual visuals than trying to picture something in my mind. 

Can you help a girl out? I'd greatly appreciate it! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

What I'm Reading....

Gracious y'all.

Every time I talk about books, I feel like I do such an inadequate job of communicating just how much I love words.

Ryan always says that my motto is "why tell a story in 20 words when you can tell it in 2000?".

But I just can't help myself.

I love words.

And I love details.

Because so often in books, the details are what make the words sing. That turn simple words into poetry. Details turn the plain old words into pictures I can so clearly see in my mind.

I like to know what people eat. And what they wear. What the living room looks like and what's in the pantry. What books are on the shelves and what kind of flowers are in the garden. What music is playing and what smells are wafting from the kitchen.

I just adore words.

And what better place to get my fill of lovely words than some really wonderful books?

Here are some books I've already read, the three that I'm currently reading, and a few of the many on my TBR (to be read) list.

What's Done -

You're Going to be Okay - Holley Gerth
     Do you sometimes wonder exactly how you're going to make it through the hard days? Well then Holley is the gal for you. Not only does she offer encouraging words of hope, she gives you step-by-step instructions to keep on keeping on. I think the fact that she's a life coach sets her a little bit apart from all the other Christian self-help type books out there. And Chapter 3 is worth the price of the book all by itself.

Bread and Wine - Shauna Niequist
     What can I say? I am completely smitten with Shauna and every word she writes. If you haven't read any of her books yet, you just have to. I'm laying down the law and totally being the boss of you.   But you'll thank me later.

Delicious! - Ruth Reichl
     Ruth was the Editor of "Gourmet" and has written several memoirs but this is her first fiction novel. It's totally fun and light and charming with a hint of mystery.

Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer
     I'm not what most would call an adventurous person so I live vicariously through the stories of others. This is a first-hand account of the disastrous climb of Mt. Everest in May 1996. It left me breathless and content to be a little bit cautious.

What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty
     A sweet and captivating romantic comedy that was more thought-provoking than I expected. Alice wakes up after a fall in the gym unable to remember the last ten years of her life. As family and friends help fill in the gaps, she finds she doesn't really like what's she become. A good story of what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin
     First of all, this book mostly takes place in a bookstore and is filled with references to books. So right away, it's a win. Then the story pulls you in and shows you that sometimes, when life is not going as you expected, it just might be the best thing that ever happened. Delightful and endearing.

What's In the Works -

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage - Ann Patchett
     First of all, Ann Patchett. I'm such a fan. And this book gives this fan a peek into Ann's life. Her writing, her family, her friends, her husband, the opening of her bookstore. Seriously. The woman loves to read, loves to write, and owns a bookstore. Gosh. I'm such a fan. Or did I already say that?

Small Victories - Anne Lamott
     Anne is wise and irreverent. She's honest and completely unexpected. And she makes me think. How can you not love a woman who writes things like, "I have a lot of faith and a lot of fear a lot of the time." Amen sister.

To Dwell in Darkness - Deborah Crombie
     Murder. Mystery. Suspense. Dead bodies and detectives. My weakness. Because please, people. Not all reading is for learning. Some is for escaping. OK. Most is for escaping. Warning - this is the 16th book in this series so do not start with this book! You must read them in order or we simply cannot be friends anymore.

What's Next in Line - (or just a few of them, at least...)

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good - Jan Karon
Scary Close - Donald Miller
Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis - Lauren Winner
Don't Look Back - Gregg Hurwitz
Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage - Molly Wizenberg
Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free - Hector Tobar
An Everlasting Meal - Tamar Adler

So fellow lover of words and books, have you read anything I mentioned? Thoughts? Plus, any books I need to add to that "Next in Line' list up there?


Thursday, February 26, 2015

What I'm Into This Month - February 2015

This month has been a little unusual around here.

Thanks to my parents, our master bathroom is being remodeled. We had a huge jetted tub and a tiny shower and what we really needed was no tub and a larger shower. After about five weeks of work, the last bit is being finished right now and I'm really looking forward to having a much nicer and much more functional master bathroom.

A few other things I'm especially loving this month:

She Reads Truth app - I especially love their plan for reading the Bible through in a year, something I'm determined to do in 2015.

Criminal podcast - I had to find something to help with my Serial podcast withdrawals. I can listen to an entire episode in the time it takes me to drive to Lily's school which makes it very convenient but also means I'll be done with all of them before the end of the month. And then I'll be looking for something else to listen to....

Badger Headache Soother - I think I'm one of those people who has a headache more than I don't have a headache. I'm considering finally going to see a specialist about it but in the meantime, while it doesn't make them go away, this balm is quite comforting.

Love Bean Fudge Cream - A big plate of fruit and a bigger dollop of this right in the middle makes me very happy - and makes eating Paleo very easy.

Couch to 5k - While I wouldn't actually say I'm loving this, I'm trying really hard to be more active. I've never been a fan of running but since it's the cheapest form of exercise there is, requires no real equipment,  and I can pretty much do it anywhere, I'm doing the Couch to 5k program again. (yes, I said "again". I did the whole program once before but never ran a 5k and promptly quit running after the last workout. Because I like to repeat the hard work of getting back in shape as many times as I possibly can. Except not.) This time, I've told myself that I will run a 5k and then, I will buy a new pair of tennis shoes. I'm generally pretty motivated by footwear so this could actually happen.

And there you have it - the February highlight reel. Anything special going on with you this month? I'd love to hear about it!

Have a warm and cozy weekend, sweet friends. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Just a Date

Remember that time I wrote a blog post on the "faux-ship"?

And I talked about how dating has become a lost art? Like just a simple "let's grab a cup of coffee and get to know each other a little better" date. Where a guy isn't afraid to cross the "friend threshold" to see what could happen. Where a guy just asks a girl out with plain old words and not some elaborate Pinterest scheme that involves costumes and balloons and dancing ponies.

And remember when I was told that same post was so "ridiculously sexist"? 

Good times. Good times. 

Well, when a friend shared an article on dating with me, I just had to share it with you.

For one thing, it's written by a man, addressing some of the very same things I talked about in my original post. So maybe he says it better than I do. Or maybe it just sounds better coming from a man. 

But if you have older high school or college-age kids, I think it's worth a read. And a conversation with said kids. 

Because it's not a marriage proposal. Or even a serious commitment. 

It's just a date. 

And even if you think I'm still being ridiculously sexist, I'd still love to hear your thoughts. 

You had me at Chipotle. @chipotletweets

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thinking Before I Speak

Last week, Ryan challenged our church congregation to "go unplugged".

The idea was to do a three day media fast. There weren't really a lot of hard and fast guidelines because it wasn't meant to be this legalistic rule-fest. It was just a challenge to cut back on screen time to see if any differences in efficiency, attention span, stress levels, and the like could be detected in as little as three days.

In the Rush house, we decided to do a crazy thing and use our phones like... ahem... phones. What a concept, amirite? Instead of firing off dozens of texts, we decided we'd actually pick up the phone and speak.

And here's what I learned after three days - when I actually have to pick up my phone and utter phrases, I constantly weigh my words.

I ask myself if what I have to say is really important enough to warrant a phone call right this very moment. If it's pressing enough that I need to call someone in the middle of the day to share this thought with them. Or tell them this funny story or ask their opinion.

Which then led me to think about Facebook.

How funny do you think most of the Facebook status updates would be if they were spoken? How strange would it be if your phone rang and a friend just said something like, "It's a big, big day!" or "Chips and guacamole!" or "Taking a morning walk" and then hung up the phone?

Kinda crazy, right?

All of a sudden, those words that we felt were so important to type don't seem nearly as big a deal when we have to call and say them to someone.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a big fan of texting. I'm often able to respond to someone more quickly and efficiently via text rather than a phone call that requires more of my time and attention. But maybe the constant barrage of texts flowing out of my phone are just not quite as important as I thought they were when I consider speaking them instead.

And if texting doesn't really require me to be that tuned in, does that really count as having a "conversation" with someone? I don't think so because when I've had several days of just texting with my big girls, it feels like we've been speaking in bullet points. And then I request a phone call so I can hear their voices. Or even better, a Skype call so I can hear their voices and see their faces.

So I'm not sure where the balance is. Or if there will ever be an even balance between typing and talking. I'm confident my texting will still outweigh my phone calls.

But I am more aware of my words. I'm thinking a little more before I post a status update or send a text.

And after three days unplugged, I don't think that's such a bad thing to learn.

Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Around the Web in Six Clicks

A round-up of random things that struck my fancy - enjoy! 

We love some banana bread around here (paleo version, of course) so I'm excited to try these five ways to kick it up a notch.

You might think you're a book nerd but here's one way to know for sure.

Thinking about trying this the next time I have trouble falling asleep.

Reinier Gerritsen is working to capture the lost art of reading real paper books.

While the rest of the house is not really my taste, I want this over my mantel. But the million dollar question - what book cover?

How many of these most mispronounced Texas city names do you actually say correctly?

Plus bonus link because it still makes me laugh. Maybe you missed it?

See you Monday!

Monday, February 9, 2015

No More R-Word

I remember Kasey Studdard from his football playing days at the University of Texas.

I knew a little bit about him, mostly the kind of stuff you pick up from TV announcers in between game plays. But what I didn't know is that Kasey used to be a special education student.

I'm sharing an article he wrote for Medium because this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. As the parent of a child with special needs, I love it when people like Kasey use their platform to bring attention to an issue that needs to be talked about so that positive change can occur.

See if this doesn't get your attention:

Click here to read Kasey's article. 

I also wrote a little more of my thoughts on this subject back in 2011 in case you're interested. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Money Can't Buy Happiness But.....

I read an interesting article a few days ago and I can't seem to get it out of my mind.

It's called "How to Buy Happiness:  The Purchases Most Likely to Bring You Joy" and the premise is that while money cannot actually buy you happiness, there are some purchases that might make you happier than others so it's wise to really think about how you're spending your hard-earned cash.

It suggests things like spending money on others, investing in your financial security by paying off debt, or spending money on experiences rather than material goods.

But here's the part of the article I keep coming back to - to be happy, buy the right kind of material goods.

I'm pretty sure we can all agree that buying a cute pair of new shoes makes a person way more happy than buying, say.... four new tires.

So what's the right kind of material goods?

Well, it's different for everyone and is based on this thing called "the comfort principle", which means  that we should try to spend our money where we spend our time. And if we do, those purchases could actually have the highest impact on our happiness.

Here's a handy little chart taken from the article that can get you thinking about where you might spend most of your time:

  • 8 hours: (Work) Office chair, computer, office desk, monitor
  • 2 hours: (Commute) Car, car stuff
  • 1 hour: (Cooking) Kitchen utensils
  • 3 hours: (Living room recreation) TV, video games, music
  • 1 hour: (Reading) Kindle/iPad
  • 1 hour: (Exercise) Running, treadmill, elliptical
So here's what I'm thinking....

I spend a whole lot of time in my kitchen, not always because I love cooking so much but because special diets tend to take quite a bit of prep time.

Based on the comfort principle, you know what purchase would have the highest impact on my happiness?

A really, really good set of knives. 

I don't even know the best kind to buy. Just no more cheapie ones that come in a set of 6 in a plastic blister case. The ones I tell myself I'll just pitch when they're dull and get new cheap ones again. Because I never pitch them and never get new cheap ones. I just keep sawing away at veggies and meat, not worrying about sawing my fingers off because the knives aren't sharp enough to do damage to human flesh. Pretty soon, my teeth will be just as effective as my current knives and I'll be youtubing videos of beavers taking down trees to perfect my kitchen cutting skills. 

So yep. Some good knives would make me pretty happy. 

Another thing? A crockpot that can be also used on the stovetop for browning meat, like this one: 

No more dirtying and hand washing my ceramic dutch oven just for the 5-10 minute step of searing a roast for the crockpot. 

And since sleeping, snuggling Bird in the bed, and showering are things I do every single day of my life, if I apply the comfort principle here, my "high-impact happiness" purchases would be a set of really nice sheets, a better pillow, and some big ol' soft, fluffy towels. 

Ryan and I have been married for 23 years and I seriously think we're still using towels that were wedding gifts. Our towels are so worn out that if I pull too hard when trying to dry my back, they will actually tear.  I'm not even embellishing to make this a better story like a good preacher would do. It is just the gosh-honest truth. 

So yeah... some nice, new towels would be a good investment in our happiness - and the key to getting a drier back.

We don't go out that much because we have to arrange a sitter for Lily but mostly, it's because Ryan and I are basically homebodies by nature. Once we tuck Bird in for the night, we often watch a show or two on the DVR. So when we moved to Katy, we unknowingly applied the comfort principle to our living room and got a great television since we spend time there every evening having a "home date". So we spent money where we spend our time and that makes us happy when we sit down to catch up on our shows.  

Now what about you? What would you spend money on if you had a little extra cash and allowed the comfort principle to help make your decisions?

PS - Thanks to Brenda Hughes for reminding me that we spend a lot of time eating so it would probably be smart to spend our money on bacon, which would make us very, very happy. :) 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Five Favorites - Things I Like About Katy/Houston

I think it goes without saying that Austin is pretty much the coolest town in Texas. It just has its own quirky personality that you can feel the minute you arrive in the city limits.

I grew up outside of Houston so it's not like I'm a native Austinite. But Austin is where Ryan and I got married, where we lived for 15 years and pastored for 10 of those years, and where we raised our kiddos. so it just feels like home to me.

And living in Austin has spoiled me to other Texas cities.

But since our move last June, I'm discovering that Katy and Houston have a whole lot more to offer than I thought.

Here are five of my favorite things about this area, in no particular order.

1 - HOV lanes
      Two people counts for high occupancy so Birdie & I join the other commuters in the "fast lane" on the way to and from school. And even better? One of them practically runs straight from my doorstep to the driveway of Lily's school.

2 - Seafood
      It's everywhere and in all price ranges. And being just a teeny bit closer to Louisiana means we've got some great gumbo in these parts.

3 - Shopping
      Whatever I could possibly need or want, I swear there is a store (or multiple stores!) that sells it in this town. That's great.... but possibly dangerous, too.

4 - Rain and Thunderstorms
      I had forgotten just how much I love a good thunderstorm in the evening. And how enough rain makes for some great "goin' barefoot" grass. I even bought rain boots (see #3 up there) and have already gotten my money's worth!

5 - Major League Sports Teams
      I don't watch as much sports as the rest of my family but it's fun having local home teams like the Astros, Texans and Dynamo. Now if we could just get a hockey team down here, it would be the perfect sports city.
      And just in case you're wondering, we are die-hard Spurs fans in this house so you'll find no mention of the Rockets here.

I know that Houston has much more to offer, like amazing museums, live theater, the ballet, a great zoo, and the symphony just to name a few, so there's a whole lot more for us to discover.

I'm expecting to add more favorites to the list the longer we're here.

Your turn - what do you love about your city?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What I Didn't Want to Be

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That's a fairly common question for children of all ages.

For me, this was easy as pie to answer.

I wanted to be a teacher. From the moment I realized that people had jobs, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher.

To be fair, I come from a long line of educators. My Papaw was a teacher, a coach, a principal, and a superintendent for 35+ years. My Mamaw was a teacher for over 40 years. I had two uncles that were teachers/coaches, one of them for a little over 30 years. And my mother was a teacher for 9 years.

I have fond memories of spending the weeks before school started helping my mom set up her classroom, cleaning her erasers on the electric "chalkdust sucking machine", getting rides around the school on the janitor's dolly, and taking a peek at the forbidden boys bathroom just to see what it looked like. I remember seeing my mom grade papers at night and looking forward to the day I could use a red pencil to make check marks and smiley faces. And one summer day, I remember having the school library all to myself while my Papaw worked in his office.

I graduated from college with an Elementary Education degree and finally got to wield my own red pencil for a while.

But as Ryan and I were prepping for Lily's IG infusion last week, I got to thinking about a question that most people don't ask children -

What do you not want to be when you grow up?

Again, for me, had anyone thought to ask, this would've been easy as pie to answer.

A nurse.

I vividly remember thinking at various times during my growing up years that I did not want to ever be a nurse. I wasn't afraid of needles or blood or snot or vomit or anything like that. I just knew as much as I knew that I wanted to be a teacher that I did not want to be a nurse.

I also remember voicing this my junior year of high school when we were taking one of those standardized tests that was supposed to calculate your strengths, weaknesses, interests, personality traits, and the like and "match" you to good career choices.

Of course, when the results came in, the test revealed teaching to be my best career choice. Ironically enough, nursing was my third best match but whatever.

I did not want to be a nurse.

But since life is crazy and unpredictable and funny and doesn't really care about standardized test results, I have become what I did not want to be.

I am a nurse.

Oh, I don't have a nursing degree. Or any letters after my name. Or a paycheck. And I can't actually go apply for a nursing job.

But I am a nurse.

And let me tell you a few reasons why.

I have...

  • given insulin shots in the arms, thighs, tummy, and upper behind area
  • mixed insulin cocktails of fast-acting & long-acting insulin
  • used LMX (lidocaine numbing cream) like a boss
  • an unbelievable vocabulary of medical jargon & acronyms
  • treated both high and low blood sugars
  • checked blood sugars on a sleeping kid in the dead of night
  • learned how to work 4 kinds of insulin pumps
  • done site insertions
  • never had to administer glucagon but I know how to do it if I need to
  • counted carbs until I had every food in our pantry memorized
  • worked a breathing monitor and responded to alarms at any time, day or night
  • seen so many x-rays that I know what normal and abnormal looks like on various internal organs
  • learned the difference between hospital alarms that mean an emergency and those that don't
  • calculated input/output on whiteboards that could be considered works of art
  • monitoring chest drains after open heart surgery
  • been the only assistant to a real RN starting an IV and getting blood samples - I was wearing gloves, clamping tubing, opening & closing vials for samples, applying tape.... crazy, actually
  • kept EEG electrodes on a kid's head for 5 days straight
  • given sponge baths while keeping open heart surgery stitches dry
  • collected urine and stool samples like it's no big deal
  • at one time or another, cut out gluten, dairy, casein, grains, tropical fruits, white sugar, dyes, preservatives, additives, hormones, and any other nasty thing in food you can think of 
  • administered multiple drugs at various times of the day for years
  • cleaned up endless amount of bodily fluids


I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.

And I did that.

I did not want to be a nurse when I grew up.

But I did that, too.

And I've done it a whole lot longer than I ever taught school. 

And seeing that Lily is supposed to receive IG infusions every two weeks until she's 18, I'm not done being a nurse anytime soon. 

Which just goes to show, life is crazy and unpredictable and funny and doesn't really care about standardized test results.

What about you? What did you not want to be when you grew up?

Monday, January 26, 2015

To Borrow or To Buy? - That is the Question

When I discover a new book that I'd like to read, I am often faced with the dilemma of deciding whether I want to buy the book or borrow it from the library.

Here are a few ways I decide what to do:

I borrow from the library if....
  • I think the book is a one-time read
  • the book is fiction (see below for exceptions)
  • I'm not sure I'll like it
  • its not a favorite genre
  • its written by a brand new author
  • its a cookbook that I only want a few recipes from
Once I decide a book is worth buying, then I choose between the paper or digital version. Since I discovered that readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper (and I find this to be true for myself), it's usually easy to determine which format I want.

I buy the "real" book if....
  • I know I'm going to underline, write and highlight all over it
  • I'm going to want to read it again
  • I want Ryan to read it
  • I'm using it for a Bible or book study
  • I want to save it for my kids to read one day
  • its a favorite from my own childhood and I want to give them to my kids so they can give them to their kids (like Nancy Drew, Pippi Longstocking, or the Beverly Cleary books)
  • its a great series and I want to own the complete set (like The Mitford series by Jan Karon or the Fairacre series by Miss Read)
  • its a cookbook with lots of great recipes
  • I just want to own it for some reason (some books just speak to me that way)
I buy the e-book if it meets the following criteria...
  • If I know I like the author 
  • its the next book in a series 
  • its cheaper than the hardcover/paperback
  • the library hold list is way too long and I just can't wait
  • if its on sale for $5 or less  
What about you? Do you have a preference for borrowing or buying books and how do you choose? 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A "Lily's Favorites" Party

Did you see the recent sweet story about the boy with autism who loves vacuum cleaners? Click here if you missed it.

For his 14th birthday, his mom sent a note to the Kirby Company and asked if someone could come do a home demonstration for the party. Not only did the company send a wonderful salesman to the house, they also gifted him with his very own Kirby vacuum. 

This got me to thinking about Lily. 

If I was going to write a letter to Lily's current favorite business, it would be Subway. 

But I wouldn't be writing about their food or their customer service or any of those things that you might think. 

No, I would be writing about their logo. 

There is just something about that logo that appeals to the Bird. 

But I would especially be writing about their Open sign. Lily loves their Open sign. 

And it is this exact particular Open sign that she loves. Some Subways have a slightly different variation of the Open sign. Those are a no-go. 

Ryan and I mistakenly thought she might just like any Open sign and so for Christmas, we bought her one at Costco. It did not have the same appeal at all and we promptly returned it after the holidays. 

In fact, the best gift of Christmas was a sweet pillow handmade by Lily's caregiver, Miss Paulette. 

Are you ready for this?

The good side - 

The even better side - 

What can I say? The lady knows what the kid likes. That pillow sits right on my couch alongside my other throw pillows unless Lily is carrying it around the house. 

So if I planned a party for Lily like the mom from the vacuum cleaner story, the invitations would read a little something like this -

Lily Rush is turning 9!
To celebrate, we are having a "Lily's Favorites Party"
We'll meet at Kingsland Baptist Church in the sanctuary where we will lay on the stage and look at the stained glass, wander around the balcony, and sit in various chairs while listening to the iPad.
We will then move to the playroom where we will play with the real big wooden blocks. 
Next stop - the gym for general running around and sitting on the bleachers.
Last stop - Dad's office where we will chill out and drink little water bottles from the mini-fridge.
Back to the sanctuary where the Backyardigans will entertain us, along with musical selections from Jack Johnson, Don Henley, Eaton Corbin, Andy Grammer, and Jay Sean.
Then we will head to Subway. 
Once there, we'll sit where we have a view of the Open sign. By the light of the sign, we'll munch on ham, Sun Chips, and a cookie, washed down with a refreshing apple juice box.
We'll end the party with a swim.

I don't know about you, but that sounds like my kinda party. 

Especially if it ends with an Open sign hanging in Lily's playroom. 

Maybe I really should write a letter to Subway....

Monday, January 19, 2015

What's Going On?

When we were in Virginia over Thanksgiving, my extended family unanimously voted that the Rush Family had experienced the most changes since the last Thanksgiving. My little brother's family even moved into a new house that they remodeled themselves and we still spanked their behinds in the "Most Life Changes in a Year" category. We were off the stress scale charts. While that's not necessarily a goal we were trying to achieve, it's definitely true. 2014 was certainly one for the books.  

It's been almost seven months since we moved to Katy so I thought it was high time I did an update on how things are going around here. And since our sweet friends in the ATX watched them grow up, I thought I'd kick things off with the big girls. 

Ryley on the left, Reagan on the right

Ryley is a senior and will graduate from Liberty this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, specializing in Sports Journalism. (Her minor is Spanish in case anyone is curious.) While at Liberty, she's been able to do a lot of sports writing for the athletics department and the club sports program. and she also maintains her own blog. (and her latest piece on it is pretty doggone sweet so you should probably go read it. Like now. Really.) 

Ryley is the Varsity Club Assistant to the Director as well as their Marketing Manager. Varsity Club is a brand new alumni organization for former Liberty University athletes. 

Ryley is especially drawn towards writing human interest stories under the umbrella of sports. Her dream job would be writing long form for a website like Grantland. So if any of you happen to know Bill Simmons, or his aunt, or his neighbor, or his seventh cousin twice removed, she'd love an intro. 

Reagan is a freshman at Liberty and she's having a great first year! She just rocked her fall semester by getting all B's. Her roommate is from South Carolina and they get along wonderfully. She's met lots of fun people and we're just so proud of how she's adjusted to this big change. 

Reagan works for Varsity Club as their Membership Manager, which means she contacts Liberty's former athletes (going all the way back to 1971), provides them with information about the new program, and gets them signed up in the database. She's also in charge of the free t-shirts so she's everyone's favorite girl!

Reagan's major is Strategic Communications, which means she's taking classes that give her a little taste of all things that she could encounter by pursuing a job in the communications field. For example, in one of her classes, she's learning not only how to work film equipment, but also how to put together and tear down cameras, as well as create good shots for media. She'll also take classes in public speaking, media writing, advertising, and design. Right now, Reagan is interested in the documentary film industry and her dream job would be working for Red Bull Media House. Again, if anyone knows anyone, intros are always appreciated.

The girls also work for Liberty's hockey team, which I find amusing since we're from Austin and they didn't grow up around much hockey. Any weekend that LU is hosting a hockey series, both girls are at the rink for every game. Ryley does live tweeting, player interviews and post-game write-ups while Reagan keeps game stats. 

And now for the Bird. 

Lily is doing awesome. 

Actually, she's probably doing better right now than we've seen since we "lost her" at 19 months. She's very engaged with people and wants to connect with them. She's still selective about who she will engage with but hey, it's a start! She laughs a lot and just seems to be generally more content than she's been in a long time. 

One of her favorite things to do is go to Katy Mills, which is about 3 minutes from our house. She loves just walking the whole mall loop several times, taking in the sights, the sounds and the people. She walks right beside us like a champ, sometimes holding our hands and sometimes letting go but always checking back in with a quick squeeze. (There was no way she would've done this a year ago - I was still dragging the Bob jog stroller everywhere so I could contain her.) 

We usually make a stop at Books a Million and her new favorite restaurant, Subway. 

We were so lucky to find an incredible caregiver for Lily as soon as we moved here. Miss Paulette has been an absolute blessing to our whole family and we not-so-jokingly refer to her as Lily's BFF. She has a background in behavioral therapy so Lily is learning so much when they are together, but more importantly, Lily loves spending time with her. They go all over Katy together - Target, Whole Foods, the duck pond, the library, the park, Katy Mills, and on and on. We really credit Paulette and Lily's new school as a large part of her progress this year. 

Speaking of Lily's school, she loves it there. She has charmed her teachers and while she is not necessarily the most compliant kid in the classroom (a goal we are working on this year!), they are patient and loving with her and she is learning a lot. She is vocalizing more than we've heard in years so we're about to start speech therapy again.

Our health insurance company approved Lily's immunoglobulin infusions (Praise the Lord!) and Lily has had six of them so far. She gets the infusions every 2 weeks now. And on top of that great news? The infusions are given subcutaneously (right under the surface of the skin) using a very short, thin needle. The whole process is very similar to the way Ryley's insulin pump works so this was not a brand new concept for us. This means that Ryan and I are able to give the infusions ourselves at home - no more IV's, no more searching for good veins, and no more need for home healthcare nurses. We can also use a lidocaine cream that makes the infusion area numb so Lily doesn't feel a thing. The whole process is pretty painless and I expect it will get easier the more we do it. 

While we continue to pray fervently for God to heal Lily and allow her to speak, we know that He is doing a great work in all of us. And in the meantime, she continues to be our spunky, sassy girl who keeps all of us on our toes. 

The people of Kingsland have welcomed us with open arms and have blessed our family in many ways. Ryan is doing a great job and I'm not biased at all. We're getting to know people and starting to feel more at home in Katy. While Austin, Bannockburn and our precious friends there will always have a piece of our hearts, we're excited to see what God has in store for us here.

I'm planning to get back to posting on the blog twice a week now that we're settled and in a good routine. I hope you'll check in regularly on Mondays and Thursdays. And if something strikes your fancy, I hope you'll leave a comment. One of my favorite things is hearing from you!

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