Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Best Mystery Series Ever. Period.

You know that I have a deep love for reading.

And over the years, I have read a lot of books.  Like, a lot.

So when I say I've discovered the best mystery series ever, you can be 100% sure it is the best mystery series ever.

No need to ask questions. No need to research.  Just take my word for it.

The best mystery series ever is the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny.  In the author's own words, here is how she describes her books:

"And finally, a small note about the themes in my books. They're inspired by two lines from a poem by WH Auden, in his elegy to Melville. Goodness existed, that was the new knowledge/his terror had to blow itself quite out to let him see it.

How powerful is that?

My books are about terror. That brooding terror curled deep down inside us. But more than that, more than murder, more than all the rancid emotions and actions, my books are about goodness. And kindness. About choices. About friendship and belonging. And love. Enduring love.

If you take only one thing away from any of my books I'd like it to be this:

Goodness exists."

In the words of yours truly, I describe the books as "a thinking man's mystery series". 

Click here to visit Louise Penny's website and get behind-the-scenes scoop on all the books and the author herself.

So here is your to-do list, straight from me to you.  

Tuck the kids in bed, maybe even a little bit early.  I won't tell on you.

Put on some of these comfy pajamas.

Make this Easy Hot Chocolate from Kathy's Kitchen Table.

Curl up with one of those awesome no-sew fleece tie blankets, like this one.

And read the best mystery series ever, starting with Still Life.  Yes, you must read the books in order. Trust me on this.

Are you still here??



After all, it's on your to-do list.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Five Favorites: Products That Make My Life Easier

As the mom of a special needs child, my time is precious.

So I'm always looking for products that make tasks easier so that I can spend my time doing things I really want to do.

Like take a nap.

So today, I'm going to share with you my five favorite products that make my life easier.

1.  A good eyelash curler, like this one from Shu Uemura.

For a long time, I kept switching mascaras, always dissatisfied with the results.  And the time it took to apply them.  Until someone reminded me that an eyelash curler makes even a mediocre mascara better.  Now it's a quick squeeze with the curler, a few swipes of mascara and boom.  D-O-N-E done.

2.  Windex Touch-Up

I discovered this at my mom's house over Thanksgiving break.  Just set this right beside your kitchen sink and anytime you need to do a quick wipe of the kitchen counters, just touch the top with a paper towel, swipe, and toss.  Easy as pie.

3.  Neutrogena Make-Up Remover Wipes

These wipes are a true time-saver.  I can take off my make-up in 30 seconds flat.  I don't even have to run hot water.

4.  Immaculate Baking Company's Gluten Free Fudge Brownie Cookie Dough

Gluten Free Fudge Brownie Cookie Dough

While I don't mind baking most of the time, special diets do generally require that most baking be done from scratch, especially if you want the best taste at the best price. But when I just don't have time or I just need a couple of cookies for Lily's lunch box, I reach for this cookie dough.  And bonus?  It's dairy free, too.  And so good that it will convert even the most hardened gluten lover.

5.  Aerolatte Handheld Milk Frother

Forget the fancy cappuccino/espresso machines that you need to a tutor to show you how to use.  A few seconds with this frother and I'm good to go.  It even works well just stirring things up - like half and half and chocolate syrup, topped with whipped cream.  Not that I would personally know that.  You know... a friend told me.

Now it's your turn.  What products do you love that make life a little bit easier for you?  Do share!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gift Guide for Special Needs Kids - Lily Bird Edition

Even though Lily Bird has been with us for seven Christmases now, shopping for her hasn't really gotten any easier.  There's just so few things she gets genuinely excited about that we have to think really creatively to come up with some items that might strike her fancy.

And this is the first year I think I've done just that.

I'm excited to share some of what Lily will find under the tree this year in hopes that it will help you with your own child, too.

Let's get started!

Little Lock Box by TAG

Little Lock Box

There are two reasons I think Lily will like this Little Lock Box.  One, she is fascinated with her Dad's tool box and likes flipping all the little compartments open.  And two, she likes latches and locks.  So this should make her one happy little girl.

If the Little Lock Box is a little too pricey for your budget, try this Deluxe Latches Board by Melissa And Doug.

Lily has some of the motorized gears that work on a flat magnetic board and she enjoys watching them spin.  So I'm thinking that lots of spinning gears on a vertical surface might be even more enjoyable.  

However, my fridge is not magnetic.  So don't tell Ryan but he'll be doing a little DIY this Christmas.  I'm finally going to incorporate this idea I saw on Pinterest, the oil drip pan magnet board.

photo courtesy of http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/oil-drip-pan-magnet-boardnic-a-155606

It'll give Bird a nice space to arrange and watch all her gears.  Plus, I can occasionally sneak in some fun learning games, too.

I've seen these before but when we were in Virginia for Thanksgiving, a bookstore we visited had one set up in a corner of the bathroom and Lily loved it!  The ocean sound and the underwater gentle wave motion projected on the walls makes for a soothing and relaxing environment.

Puffer Ball - 2 inch

and Hairy Tangle Jr

Both of these fidget type toys would be fun and relaxing for Lily to roll around in her hands and up and down her arms and legs.  Of course, her favorite way to enjoy them would be if I bought enough to fill up a tub and let her bury herself in them.  Like a ball pit, but better.

EKORRE Hanging seat with air element IKEA
We've actually had this swing for a while now but we're finally going to hang it.  Yet another DIY project for Ryan.  Fun times in the Rush house.

Well that's about it for the Bird but check out these helpful gift guides for even more great ideas:


What about you?  Have you found the perfect gift for your kiddo this Christmas?  I'd love to hear about it.  We can all use another good idea or two!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Twist on Traditional Pancakes

I've shared my mad love for the cookbook "Cooking for Isaiah" here more than a few times.

Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals

The author, Silvana Nardone, is the former editor-in-chief of the Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine.  When her son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with gluten and dairy allergies, she not only made it her goal to safely feed him tasty food, but to make him forget that the food he was eating was allergy friendly.

And I'm here to tell you she has not only met that goal, but blown the doors right off it.

I have yet to try a recipe in this book that isn't amazing.  Of course, I lean towards her baked items because... DUH.  I am a fool for a good brownie.

But today let's talk pancakes.

Or rather, a little outside-the-box pancake.

The corn cake.

A delicious cross between a pancake and cornbread.  Perfect for breakfast.   Or, even better, the ever popular breakfast for dinner, when you can serve them alongside runny fried eggs and crispy bacon.


Let's cut to the chase and get right to the recipe, shall we?

Griddled Corn Cakes with Strawberry Syrup

1 1/4 cups rice milk (I've been using almond milk & it works, too)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup Silvana's Pancake Mix (recipe below)
1 cup cornmeal, preferably medium grind
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temp, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil


1 cup strawberry jelly
1/4 cup water

To make the corn cakes, in a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pancake mix, cornmeal, and salt.  Add the milk mixture, eggs, and oil; stir until just combined.

Spray a large nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray, then heat. Pour about a 1/4 cup batter into the pan and cook until the pancakes are golden and set, about 2 minutes on each side. (I make mine silver dollar size)

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, in a small saucepan, warm the jelly and water over low heat, stirring occasionally, until syrupy.  Serve with corn cakes. (Or you can skip this step and just slather on strawberry or peach preserves like we do)

Silvana's Pancake Mix

Click here to get the recipe for Silvana's Flour Blend and make it first.  Then do the following and voila - you've got pancake mix.

9 cups Silvana's Flour Blend
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp baking powder
2 1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Transfer to an airtight storage container and store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.

Now that you've made all that good flour and pancake mix, connect with Silvana on her Easy Eats online magazine  and her blog, Silvana's Kitchen to get more yummy recipes.  And go buy the cookbook!

You can thank me profusely later. 

Have a warm weekend, my lovelies.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Works For Me Wednesday - Easiest Teacher Gift Ever

Teachers work hard every day for our kiddos.

So I like to treat them to a little something fun at Christmas.

But having a special needs child often means there's not just one teacher to treat, but multiple teachers, aides, and therapists.

And that can get real pricey real quick.

So I've found a delicious treat that can be made in large batches quickly, easily, and inexpensively.  And it can be customized for any holiday.

That treat is Confetti Popcorn.

This picture shows the Valentine version.  

But by simply changing to whatever seasonal M&M's are available, you can easily make Christmas, Easter, Fall, or 4th of July Confetti Popcorn.

Here's the recipe:

Confetti Popcorn

1 bag of M&M's (use whatever seasonal ones are appropriate)
Almost 2 bags of Orville Redenbacher's microwave Tender White popcorn (or any kind with no butter)
1 bag Wilton's Vanilla Candy Melts 

Pop popcorn.  Pick out any unpopped kernels and toss them out.  Put popcorn in large bowl.  Melt chocolate and pour over popcorn.  Add M&M's and stir gently.  Spread on baking sheets and sprinkle another handful of M&M's over the top.  Allow to dry completely.  Break up and package as you wish.

Sweet and simple - doesn't get much better than that!

Today's post is linked up with We Are That Family's Works for Me Wednesday blog feature.

works for me wednesdays

Catching Up With The Bird

Well hello again, my faithful readers.

Who haven't had much to read around here lately.

I'll spare you the details of why I've been remiss in my blogging but I will say that the oldest daughter coming home for a whirlwind wedding weekend of a friend + the husband taking a 10 day trip to Israel + another trip to New York City to see Dr. Najjar + a Thanksgiving visit to Virginia = no time to write. 

If you'd like to hear more about the latest doctor visit, click here to read Ryan's update.

Can I just take a minute to say how thrilled I am that you can now use electronic devices during an entire flight?  Flying with Bird just got one million times easier. Look how happy she is that we didn't have to yank away her iPod for take-off and landing:

Bird and Reagan just chilling out while Dad checks into the hotel:

Since the weather in New York was beautiful and brisk, we spent some time at Madison Square Park:

And no trip to New York is complete without a visit to at least one good bookstore.  This time, we visited Strand Books.

We left NYC and headed to Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with Ryley and my family.  Lily was pretty happy to see her big sister.

While in Virginia, we visited a fun combination bookstore, toy store, and teacher store.  Lily found a comfy umbrella chair and settled in with some books.  The funny thing was I kept bringing her age appropriate books to see if anything caught her interest and she kept stiff-arming them away in favor of the teen books.  

She must've sat in that chair and "read" books for 15 minutes.  Funny girl.  But she has been raised in a home of readers so it shouldn't come as any great surprise that the girl knows what to do with a book. 

Now that we're back home, it's time to start getting ready for Christmas.  I'm looking forward to trying some new recipes.  I'll be sure to share the good ones with you.

Have a lovely day, dear ones, and let the merry-making begin!

Friday, October 25, 2013

School Pictures


I can't tell you how much I dread school picture day.

Lily is just not interested in "smiling for the camera".

To get a decent family picture typically requires someone doing all sorts of gymnastic maneuvers while holding an iPad playing Backyardigans videos over the camera.  And that's just to get her to look in the general direction of the camera.  No guarantees for smiles.

So when I get the dreaded picture package from the school, I simply select the absolute cheapest option, enclose my check, and say a prayer for everyone involved.

I have never gotten a school picture worth displaying.

Until this year.

Check out the Bird:


Also.  She looks like a bit of a pistol here, wouldn't you say?

P.S. That cute picture calls for a much cuter frame but I scrounged around for one to get by with this morning because I couldn't wait to share it with you. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In Which I Pray with a New Expectation

Do you remember when you were a little kid and you wanted something so you asked your parents for it?

Remember when the answer was "yes"?  That feeling of sweet relief that came flooding over you because you knew that your wish was about to come true.  That baseball glove, that Barbie Townhouse, that treat from the ice cream man was yours.

Because you asked.  And the answer was, "yes".  It was decided.

But remember when the answer was "no"?  The crush of disappointment, the dropping of the head, the shoulders sagging with the weight of the world because that Silly Putty, that book, that candy bar at the grocery store checkout line was not to be yours.

Because you asked. And the answer was, "no".  It was decided.

But how about when the answer was "maybe" or "wait and see"?  The building anticipation.  The breathless wondering.  The cautious hopefulness. The constant checking-in to see if an answer had been decided upon yet.

Because you asked.  And the answer was, "we'll see".   My least favorite answer.  Because it wasn't decided.

I sometimes feel this same way when I pray.

But instead of requesting something of my parents, I'm asking the Lord for something.

And while my parents' answers might have delighted or disappointed me in the moment,  my response to God's answer has the capacity to affect the rest of my days here on this earth.

I've been praying one specific prayer for twenty years now.  And another prayer for seven years.  To these two distinct prayers, God's answer has been, "wait and see".

Honestly, I hate when God's answer is "wait and see".  I hate the swinging between hopeful and hopeless.  I don't like the breathless wondering.  I grow weary of the same old prayers.

But the crux of "wait and see" is this:  when I know deep down inside that God could so easily answer my chronic, constant pleas, so effortlessly heal, yet for some reason I cannot fathom, He chooses not to, what am I going to do?

I have to figure out a way to keep trusting my God, day in and day out, no matter what.

In trying to discern how I am to respond to God's "wait and see", to keep trusting that He loves me and wants only good for me, I'm looking at these two prayers, and other requests of mine, a little bit differently these days.

In Psalm 5:3, it says, "in the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly."

This verse is simply to encourage us, to remind us that when we pray, we can whole-heartedly expect that God hears us and He will answer.  The verse does not give us any clues as to what that answer might be.

I think that most of my life, I have expected the answer to be yes.  Because many times, it has been.

But herein lies the problem - when the answer is not yes, when my expectations are not met, my world is rocked.

On these two particular consistent prayers of mine, my faith has been shaken.  Because I expected the answer to be yes.

So I'm going to do a bit of an experiment.

I'm going to try a different approach because God knows better than anyone else that my response to His "wait and see" hasn't been all that effective.

I'm going to pray with a new expectation.  I'm going to quit assuming the the answer will be "yes".  I'm just going to expect an answer.

In fact, I'm going to anticipate that the answer could very well be "no".

Why "no"?

Frankly, because it hurts less if I don't get my hopes up.  Total defense mechanism, I know, but hey, I'm just keeping it real here.

And if you'll allow me to dig a little bit deeper for a moment, I'm going to consider the answer might be "no" because I'm not supposed to get everything I want from this life.  All my prayers aren't supposed to be answered with a "yes".  Earth is full of suffering and pain and heartache.  But this world is not my permanent home.  I don't belong here.

C.S. Lewis explains this so well - "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world."

Does that mean I don't believe God can answer these two prayers of mine with a big, fat "yes"?  Not at all.  In fact, I am 100% sure that God can.  However, I'm not 100% sure that He will.  He may have something different in mind.  

Does this mean that I quit praying, especially those two long-standing prayers of mine?  No, because there is more to prayer than just making requests.  Praying is a relationship.  And through prayer, my Lord and I communicate and my heart is drawn closer to His.  

Soren Kiekegaard said, 'Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays"  And that is why I keep praying.  Because it changes me in the best possible way.

Sometimes, here on earth, the answer will be "yes".  And that's a pleasant surprise, an unexpected gift from a loving God who does not want us to suffer, but to put our hope in bigger things than what we can get from this earth.  I'll be grateful and thankful for the unexpected "yes".

But Heaven is where all the answers are "yes".  Where we can forever expect the positive, the good, the awesome glory, the perfection that we are so longing for.  The life that will deliver beyond what I can ask or imagine.

Romans 8:18 says, "we have sufferings now, but these are nothing compared to the great glory that will be given to us."

I, for one, am really looking forward to that great glory.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What I Cook When I Don't Feel Like Cooking

Some kind of special diet oftentimes just comes with the special needs kid territory.  In Lily's seven years of life, she (and as a result, we) have been on four specific eating plans.

In other words, I spend an enormous amount of my time thinking about food.  Meal planning.  Menu creating.  Grocery shopping.  Food preparation.  School lunch packing.  Healthy snack searching.

It's almost like having a full-time job.  But with no pay or benefits and some pretty demanding co-workers.

And while I know all the terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad ingredients in most of our food today, I'll be honest and say there are many nights that I'd love to just whip up some hot dogs with a side of Kraft macaroni and cheese and call it supper.

So what's a mom to do when she doesn't feel like cooking?  When eating out isn't an option, nor is eating just any old thing?

Have a few tricks up her sleeve, that's what. 

Here's a few go-to meals for when Mama is pooped and the kids still insist on eating.  

These sloppy joes are the gold standard.  At one time in my life, I thought sloppy joes consisted of ground beef with canned Manwich sauce.  How wrong I was.  This recipe comes from my mother-in-law.  My non-paleo kid eats hers on a white bun (awful, I know) and the rest of us eat ours open-faced on this paleo bread.  Or my husband has been known to eat his with a spoon.  Even easier!

Vickie's Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion (or leave it out if you don't feel like chopping onion)
1/2 cup ketchup (will want to taste because odds are good you'll end up adding more)
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp celery seed (optional)

Brown beef and onion together.  Drain and put back in skillet.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Taste.  Adjust as needed. Serve.

Chili is another easy go-to meal.  Try this Simple, Perfect Chili recipe but skip the masa harina and the beans to stay more on the paleo track.  This cornbread is sweet and super delicious.  Or forget paleo for a night and use this recipe and serve Frito Pie style.  Use either recipe to make chili dogs (sans buns) on another night when you don't feel like cooking.   

I know what you're thinking right about now.  "Hey Lana - you said these were recipes for when I don't feel like cooking.  Hello.  Browning ground beef = cooking."


How about buying this gluten-free salmon (I get mine at Costco), baking some sweet potatoes, and opening a can of green beans?  Voila!  Supper is served.

If I'm really feeling lazy, I buy a caesar salad kit along with a rotisserie chicken.  I plate the salad and add chopped up chicken to the top.

If you don't mind doing a tiny bit of prep work in the morning in order to have nothing to do at supper time, break out the crock pot and make this soup.  (I skip the potatoes in this one)

Breakfast for dinner is usually a treat for both the kids (because it's tasty) and mom (because it's easy) and here's a fun twist on an egg sandwich, omitting the bread if you're paleo.

And there you have it.  A nice little round-up of some of my quick, easy go-to meals when Mama has her mind more on putting her feet up and watching a little TV as opposed to whipping up a gourmet meal.

What about you?  What do you cook when you don't feel like cooking?
I'm sure every mom feels like this at some point in their life... right? I'm not the only one?! lol

Friday, October 4, 2013

Kickin' Off the Weekend with a List of Links

Just sharing a few things with you.

Just for today.

Just for fun.

A great hot chocolate/coffee recipe passed along by a friend, along with her picture that I stole. (Thank you, Miss Linda!) Want to kick it up a notch?  Make it with 1/2 cup hot water and 1/2 cup half and half.  Gracious. 

Come on cool weather.  I'm ready for you.  Because I want to wear this.

And speaking of clothes, have you seen the raglan sweatshirts at Old Navy?  Comfy and cute. And I got one for $12 the other day.  Love me a bargain.

The best show on TV, Parenthood, started Season Five last week.  Woohoo, hallelujah, and amen!  Besides loving the show, I am loving Monica Potter's (aka Kristina Braverman's) new haircut.   So much so that it has me thinking about cutting my hair.  This one would still go in a ponytail, my one requirement for all my haircuts.  Hmmmm... can I pull this off?
Monica Potter Hair - if I cut my hair shorter, this is it!
I would love to find these adorable go rings in my Christmas stocking.  Yes, my daughters - I am talking to you. Hint, hint.

If you're the type who loans out books, these cute book stickers could be helpful.

Satisfy your sweet tooth while staying paleo with these yummy chocolate coconut macaroons.

Lily Bird got this swing and this papasan chair (but with a bright blue cushion) for her birthday.  And she loves both - a big win for a hard-to-shop-for kiddo.

Since I still use a paper calendar and Ryan really wishes I would move to all things electronic, I found this video to be quite funny.

This is a model the world needs to see more of.

Alright my dear ones, have a terrific weekend - hope you get in lots of good snuggle time.

Photo: Peekin'

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why You Should Be in a Support Group

What's the first thing that pops in your mind when I say "support group"?

Do you picture a sad group of people, circled up in uncomfortable chairs in some dark church basement, drinking awful coffee, sharing one sob story after another and leaving more depressed than ever?

Well have I got news for you.

Just like book clubs, supper clubs, mothers of preschoolers clubs, or drivers of Volkswagen Bugs clubs, special needs support groups can be places of encouragement, ideas, refreshment, comfort, and laughter.

I myself have been a part of three support groups at one time or another (including the one Ryan and I currently host monthly at our church) and I've found all of them to be beneficial.  At support group meetings, I've...

  • learned from parents farther down the path of special needs.
  • picked up some great tips for handling certain behaviors.  
  • discovered some of the best doctors in our town. 
  • listened to some incredible guest speakers share a wealth of information.
  • swapped lots of gluten-free, dairy-free recipes.
  • laughed at things our kids do with people who totally get it.
  • gotten some amazing book recommendations. 
  • learned what to ask for in an IEP and what to expect at an ARD meeting.
  • discovered some fabulous and fun community services for Lily, like dance and sports.
  • even learned how to teach Lily to unwrap presents on her own. (click here to find out how)
If I haven't quite convinced you to give support group meetings a try, here's a great article from Friendship Circle that just might give you that final push.

Yes, special needs may be the common bond that all of us share but that doesn't mean that our meetings have to be mopey, depressing, weepy gatherings.  

So let me encourage you to find a support group. You might even find yourself having a little bit of fun.  And we could all use a little more of that.
image courtesy of bodyloverevolution.wordpress.com

Friday, September 27, 2013

A New Favorite - And A Little Crazy Thinking

It's no secret that I love to read.

And most of you know that there's not much I like better than a good mystery.  Give me a killer on the loose, a dead body or two, and a single-minded detective determined to solve the case, and I am a happy woman.

But in the last year, I've discovered another favorite genre that is a close second to my mysteries.  And that category is the memoir.  Specifically, the travel memoir, especially those involving an American who moves overseas, often temporarily, and writes about his adventures trying to adjust to a new life.

Some of my favorites are Paris in Love by Eloisa James,  Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman, A Family in Paris by Jane Paech, and Le Road Trip: A Traveler's Journal of Love and France by Vivian Swift.

Are you seeing a theme here?

France.  Paris.  Americans exploring the French lifestyle, living as expats, raising their children. and learning about themselves along the way.  Then writing a book about it and making money from their adventures.

I haven't done any official research, unless you count endless hours browsing bookstore shelves, but I think there has to be more travel memoirs about Paris than anywhere else.

So I've been thinking.

Maybe the Rush family should temporarily relocate somewhere exotic, someplace besides France because that has been done so many times.  Then write a book about it.

I'm thinking Venice might work.

Ryan could preach his sermons and have them satellite fed to Austin, almost like we do right now with our multi-site campuses.

We wouldn't need a car because we would get around on gondolas...

or vaporettos, the Italian version of a city bus or subway...

Think of the money we would save not having to pay for gasoline or car maintenance.

We could downsize to an apartment, or to sound more like a local, an appartamento.  See? I'm already getting the hang of this Italian thing.  Just a cozy little place, like this:

Then we wouldn't have to worry about keeping up a yard or anything like that.

We could shop in bookstores like this one, the Libreria Acqua Alta:

The Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice:

Of course, since none of us speak Italian, we probably won't be able to read any of the books but that's a small price to pay.

We would definitely have to ditch the paleo diet because we would be almost obligated to eat pasta and pastries.  I'm sure it's some kind of law or something.

When we went to Italy while I was pregnant with Bird, we discovered that Italians love children.  And pregnant women.  Our big girls, 10 and 13 at the time, and my 5 month pregnant self got fawned over quite a bit.  So while I'm not going to be with child ever again, I can certainly provide a 7 year old kid for my new Italian friends to love.

And they even practice inclusion of special needs children in the scuola primaria, or primary school. (There I go, sounding like a local again.)  Though an ARD meeting in Italian might prove to be a bit tricky.

I'll write about our experience abroad and the book will become a best seller.  Possible titles include "Keeping a Kid out of the Canals:  Our Year in Venice" or "A Birdie Goes Abroad:  Adventures in Venice".

Even better, I could pitch this idea to a publisher who would actually pay us to live in Venice and write about it.  Yes, I think a nice, hefty advance is the best route to go.

So if any publishers looking for their next bestselling author happen to be reading this blog, well... let me just say... an all-expenses paid trip overseas is something I am willing to discuss with you.  And though Venice is a favorite, I am also open to other locations, as well.  Just laying all my cards on the table, my future publisher who is reading this post.

Until then, I'll have to be content living vicariously through those who choose to share their expatriate adventures in the form of a great book.

Now.  What about you?  Where would you temporarily relocate if someone offered you the chance?  And paid for it, of course.  And if you have a favorite travel memoir, please do share!

Have a weekend filled with adventure and fun, even if it's right in your own backyard. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Birthday Bird - The Big "7"

Lily Bird turned seven years old on Saturday, September 21.  The weather was absolutely beautiful so we headed to San Antonio to celebrate.  We spent the day at Morgan's Wonderland, an amazing amusement park that was designed specifically with special needs individuals in mind.    

Lily loved it!  She went running right through the gates, straight to the playground, and started climbing and sliding and swinging like a total boss.

I thought you might enjoy getting a little peek at her fun day.

I even got a couple shots of Reagan working the tire swings.  Proof that Morgan's Wonderland really is fun for everyone.

Now that the weather is finally getting a little cooler, we plan to visit several more times.  It's just too close to home and Bird just has too much fun to not go more often.

What have been some of your child's best birthday experiences?  I'd love to hear more great ideas!

See you Friday, sweet readers.
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