Thanks for the thorough reply Ernest.
The fixes you offered worked, and I understand the complexities of adjusting the other elements.
I think I have the function setup now to work.
I just am having a couple more issues.
1) The settings dropdown menu and the results dropdown are showing up behind my site header. I had to adjust the z-index on the search button to 999999 to get it to show up on top. Perhaps I also need to change the z-index for the dropdowns, but I don't see an option in the settings to do this.
2) The search starts automatically after text is typed, but if I press enter after typing the text the default wp search runs. Is there a way to disable this default search from running when enter is pressed?
Thanks again for your time.