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!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Coffee Question

I don't know if I've said it much around here but I like coffee.

While I was in Virginia for Thanksgiving, I kept trying to figure out what it was about my mom's coffee that made it so much better than mine. I finally realized that she was making coffee in a good ol' coffeemaker. And grinding just enough beans for a day's worth of coffee.

Now I'm not too much of a coffee snob but it did convince me that while my Keurig is fun and convenient when I just want a single cup, it's really not as good as making a fresh pot of coffee. So even though Ryan bought me a Keurig two years ago for Christmas, he bought me a Cuisinart coffeemaker this Christmas.

What can I say? The man is good to me. And very patient with my ever changing mind and tastebuds.

So I've been enjoying some really good coffee lately, along with my latest favorite coffee find:



Yes. You read that right. 

Abuelita Mexican Chocolate Creamer. 

Cue the singing angels. 

If you're not sure why this creamer makes me so happy, then obviously you're not aware of my mad love for Mexican hot chocolate.

Any-hoo, I've got kind of an odd question for you today.

I've never really been affected by the "caffeinated coffee at night = no sleep" thing. 

But I am 45 years old now and lots of things that never really bothered me before seem to be causing me a little trouble. 

I'm looking at you, "progressive lenses", the apparently new fancy term for bifocals. 

And I guess "looking at you" and "bifocals" in the same sentence is kind of ironic, is it not?

But here's the question -

If I drink coffee with caffeine during the day, I do not notice that it affects me in any way. I am not one of those people who gets up in the morning and must have coffee to feel awake. In fact, most mornings, I wait until after I've taken the Bird to school so I can drink my coffee in peace. I don't feel any more awake during the day and if I drink coffee at 2 PM to avoid my usual early afternoon slump when I feel like I could just go on to bed and sleep til the next morning, it doesn't work. I don't feel more energized. 

But, if I drink coffee after supper, I have an incredibly hard time falling asleep. I have the most restless sleep, tossing and turning for what feels like the whole night. I get incredibly frustrated and I wake up tired and cranky.

So if I really want a cup of coffee at night, I've resorted to decaffeinated, which I don't mind at all. 

But this is my question -

Why does caffeinated coffee keep me awake at night but doesn't do the same during the day? If I feel energized when I drink it before bed, why doesn't it energize me at 2 PM? Or when I have my first cup in the morning?

These are the things that make me go hmmmmm.....

Can anyone help me out here?
La taza llena de café, por favor!   http://www.philipssenseo.com.ar/  https://www.facebook.com/PhilipsSenseoArgentina


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Around the Web in Six Clicks


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





A great website for finding more books than you could read in a lifetime.

Special needs parents share some amazing things they learned in 2014.

This looks super comfy and I would wear it every single day. (***Update - I just bought it and am about to wear it for date night tonight. And church tomorrow. And grocery shopping on Monday. And....) 

For my fellow Serial podcast lovers.

I watched the entire first season while Ryan was in Israel last month. The acting is "meh" (Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad is the best actor by far) but it's still worth a watch.

Librarians really do know it all. Plus a fun Instagram account to follow.


This isn't a new idea at all but "Around the Web in Six Clicks" will be a new monthly feature on the blog. Let me know what you think - and feel free to share your own links. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

On Resolutions

The beginning of a new year often brings out the best in people. We make goals and plans for the new year, vowing that this will be the year we finally make those changes we know we need to make. We tend to exercise more, make healthier food choices, attend church regularly, go to bed earlier, cut back on screen time, read more books.... you get the idea.

We keep this up until March, if we're lucky, and then real life gets in the way and we start slowly falling back into those old habits and familiar routines that are so comfortable.

Our bodies and minds just want us to maintain that good ol' status quo.

So what if we really and truly do want to bring about some positive and lasting changes in ourselves this year? Exactly how can we go about doing that successfully?

Well, I'm no expert at making and keeping resolutions so I don't really have a foolproof plan to share with you.

But I did come across an article in Fortune magazine called "Think Big or Start Small" that got me to thinking about this whole idea of goal setting for a new year. The article is short and simple and worth a read if you have five minutes to spare.

Basically, the piece explores six books that offer ways to set goals and actually meet them. But the experts disagree on the best approach to making this happen. So three books are about setting big goals, aiming higher, thinking outside the box, and going further than you thought you could. The other three books are about taking baby steps and making smaller changes that ultimately end up  transforming your life.

And this led me to thinking about one of the ways in which Ryan and I are different.

Ryan is a visionary, full of big ideas and dreams. I am more of a realist, with practical notions and a thoroughly detailed plan of action.

In my house, that plays out a little something like this:

I set goals that I believe I can actually achieve. If that means setting the bar just a tad bit lower, I'm ok with that. I meet the goal, I feel good about myself, I'm motivated to set another goal and keep moving forward. I'm rarely disappointed this way, which makes me very happy.

Ryan however, sets these incredible goals that take huge feats of almost inhuman strength to achieve, rallies the troops, and then starts plowing forward, figuring out things along the way. If he doesn't meet the goal, he simply charges at it from a new angle. Disappointment is just a minor bump in the road. Conquering the seemingly unconquerable goal makes him very happy.

So in this particular article, Ryan is drawn to the three "big thinking" books while the three "small change" books appeal more to me.

Sidenote here: He helps me think a little bigger. I help bring him back down to earth. This is just one of the many ways that we balance each other out. 

Applying what I learned from this article to my 2015 resolutions means I'm taking my natural tendency to underpromise and overdeliver further. I'm trying to see if I can break my goals down into even narrower, more measurable steps.

Instead of my previous goal of "get back to eating predominately Paleo in 2015", I'm breaking that down into baby steps that should make that goal easier to actually achieve. Here's what it looks like now:



  • Make a weekly menu of 4 Paleo breakfasts, 4 Paleo lunches, & 4 Paleo suppers
  • Use this menu for the first 6 weeks of 2015
  • After 6 weeks, tweak the menu to 5 of each Paleo meals
  • Use this menu for the next 6 weeks of 2015
  • After 6 weeks, tweak the menu to 6 of each Paleo meals
  • Use this menu for the next 6 weeks of 2015
  • Introduce one new Paleo recipe per week only if you want to!
  • Take a cue from Tim Ferriss' book The 4 Hour Body and have a cheat day once a week
Sure, the new goal looks a bit more thorough than the original one but it sure looks a whole lot more doable now. I've got a plan that we're easing into and there's room for error which makes us more likely to stick with it, even when we blow it occasionally and just eat the dadgum Oreo. 

What about you? Did you make New Year's Resolutions? What kind of goal setter are you - big thinker or baby stepper?





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