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.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Keeping Up With "The Blogs" (or using a blog reader) - Plus a Few Surprises

This week, I shared with you my five favorite blogs that have nothing to do with special needs.  Those five help me find something to wear, my next good book, a new snack for the Bird's lunch box, and other fun stuff.  I also tend to read quite a few Christian blogs, as well as special needs ones, of course.

Since life happens and things get crazy, weeks can go by before I have a chance to check in and see what I've missed on my favorite blogs and then it's almost too much to read.

One way I've tried to combat this is by adding a blog reader to my phone.

No, this is not someone who reads blogs aloud to me through my phone.

A blog reader is a free and simple way to keep track of when your favorite blogs have a new post up.  With a blog reader, you don't have to keep checking each individual blog to see if there's something new;  the link simply comes to you, in whichever inbox you choose, like email or phone alert.

Feedly and bloglovin' are probably the most popular blog readers.  I myself use bloglovin'.  I especially like using the bloglovin' mobile app because whenever I find myself with a few free minutes, I can open it up on my phone and see a list of all my favorite blogs and any posts I haven't read yet.  It's an easy way to stay caught up.

If I've convinced you to give a blog reader a try, I hope that you'll add Along Came the Bird to your list of blogs to follow.

In fact, see those cute little red buttons on the top right of this page?  If you click on the one of a lowercase "b"with a heart beside it, you'll be taken directly to the link to follow my blog on your bloglovin' account.  Easy as pie.

And speaking of those cute little red buttons up there, did you happen to notice there are a few more of them than usual?  By clicking any one of them, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and bloglovin'.  Or you can shoot me an email or subscribe via Feedburner.

Another surprise?  You can now subscribe to Along Came the Bird via email.  Just find "Get The Bird In Your Box" over there on the right side column, click on subscribe and enter your email address. Anytime I post something new on the blog, it will come right to your email inbox. Also easy as pie.

I will periodically send out newsletters that you will only receive if you are on my subscriber list.  The newsletter content will not show up on the blog so not only do you get an email anytime I put up a new blog post, you also get a happy little bonus every now and then, just for subscribing.  Just a small way to thank you for following The Bird.

So do any of you use blog readers? If so, which ones?

I'll see you Tuesday - and don't forget to subscribe!

image courtesy of

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Works For Me Wednesday - Keep Apples From Turning Brown in a Lunchbox

Sliced apples have got to be the most common fruit to show up in a kid's lunchbox.  They're easy, inexpensive, available year-round, and pretty much every kid likes them.

But it can be a challenge to keep them from turning brown.

Sure, you can send a whole apple but the Bird, like many kids, prefers her apples pre-sliced. 

I think those little bags of pre-sliced apples have a bit of a funny taste.  And they're over-priced when compared to whole apples.

So I was so excited to discover not one, but two ways, to keep apple slices from getting brown and yucky-looking by the time lunch rolls around.  Neither of these methods alters the taste.  And your fresh apple slices will stay crisp and white for a few days in the fridge so you can even pack lunches in advance.  It's a total win!

Option 1 - Fruit Fresh

Fruit Fresh is a natural powdered citric acid product most often used in home canning and preserving.  I put 2 apples I've sliced up in a container.  Then I mix up about 2 teaspoons of Fruit Fresh with about 2 tablespoons of water, pour it over the apple slices, put the lid on the container, give it a couple gentle shakes and stick it in the fridge and voila - sliced apples at the ready.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that the longer you keep the apples, the taste does seem to change slightly so I don't usually store them longer than two days.  But maybe that's just me.

Option 2 - Eat Cleaner

This is an all-natural, odorless, and tasteless produce spray that cleans your fruits and veggies, removing dirt and pesticides, that just also happens to keep your apple slices from browning.  But not only that - you know that waxy build-up that's all over grapes?  Well, Eat Cleaner will remove that, too. There are three versions of Eat Cleaner - a spray, a wash, and wipes for on-the-go food cleaning. I'm a huge fan of this product and I think you will be, too. 

So there you have it. Now go forth and eat crisp, delicious, and most importantly, white apple slices to your heart's content.

Linking up with We Are THAT Family and the Works For Me Wednesday feature.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Five Favorites: Blogs That Have Nothing To Do With Special Needs

I love finding a great blog.

One where I feel a "connection" with the writer because we have lots of things in common.  Where I get great information and news on things I love.

Basically, I love those blogs that make me feel like the writer and I could be friends "in real life".

Today, I thought I'd introduce you to some of my current favorite blogs.

Modern Mrs. Darcy - Anne is a compulsive reader who loves books.  And she's always recommending great ones.  When I'm looking for my next good read, I always head to MMD, knowing Anne won't let me down.

Of course, her blog is about more than books.  Anne puts a timely spin on timeless women's topics, with posts ranging anywhere from marriage tips, lessons on friendship, the wearing of make-up, what her homeschool schedule looks like, breastfeeding, better decision making, Myers-Briggs personality profiles, and more.

Cup of Jo - Joanna is former magazine writer who is now a full-time blogger living in New York City with her husband and two young sons.  Joanna writes about anything and everything, which means I often discover things I didn't even know I was interested in until I see it on her blog.  In my opinion, that's a sign of a great blog - stirring in me a desire to learn more about something I didn't know I wanted to learn more about.

For example, she's recently been doing a series titled "Surprising Things About Parenting in ____", featuring families raising children in places like in Abu Dhabi, India, Norway, Japan, and several other places.  It's been fascinating.  Joanna also always treats her readers to some great links every Friday, another favorite feature of mine.

* Keeley McGuire - Packing lunches for school is a challenge.  Add in packing lunch for a child who has allergies or is on a restricted diet and you have what can easily become pure drudgery.

Enter Keeley and her passion for making allergy-friendly food fun.  She has a refreshing and creative approach to packing lunches that are safe, healthy, fresh, and most of all, delicious.  I've gotten many a good idea for the Bird's school lunch from this blog.

* The Pleated Poppy - Lindsey sews, crafts, homeschools, and runs a home-based business.  In fact, I am the proud owner of two of her lovely infinity scarves.

While I like everything Lindsey writes, my favorite posts are her "What I Wore Wednesday" ones.  Each Wednesday, Lindsey posts pictures of outfits she wore the past week.  She started the series as a way to encourage herself (and her readers) to take a few minutes each day to ditch the yoga pants and just get dressed.

I like these posts because Lindsey shops most frequently at the three stores I myself shop at most frequently - Target, Forever 21, and Old Navy.  And because of this, it's not uncommon for me to own some of the same clothes as Lindsey.  I like to see how she puts them together because it often gives me another way of wearing what's already hanging in my closet.

* The Motherload - Growing from Amy Allen Clark's website MomAdvice, The Motherload is a blog full of tips on food, crafts, travel, saving money, organizing, and my personal favorite, reading.  Amy is a fellow book lover so this is another online resource I turn to when I've finished a book and can't decide what to read next.

What about you?  Got a favorite blog?  I mean, besides this one.  Obvi. 

For those of us who are Facebook friends, I know my status this morning promised you a couple of fun little surprises on the blog.  Well, they're not quite ready yet so we'll save it for another day. And the anticipation builds....

Friday, September 13, 2013

For the Love of Books

Today, let's talk about something that makes me happy.


 Since I know books make so many of you happy, too, I feel like today's post is just going to be one big happy love-fest.  I've got lots of fun links for you to explore, celebrating our love for the written word.

Marilyn Monroe reading

Let's kick things off with some good news - a recent study shows that being a bookworm boosts your brain power into old age.

Audrey Hepburn reading

I am thinking this is the perfect valentine for a book nerd:

Library Card Catalog Love Note

Want to buy some?  Then click this link:

Looking for some lovely Pinterest boards dedicated to the written word?  Then check out these 15 fabulous Pinterest book boards.

Jackie Kennedy reading

Decorating with books makes a house feel like a home.  And here are 16 unique bookshelves for every budget.

Jennifer Lawrence reading

 If seeing all this reading material isn't enough to make you want to write your own "great American novel", maybe these writing rooms of famous authors will.
Grace Kelly reading
Grace Kelly reading

Take a peek at all the sweet little bookish elements in this wedding between a college writing professor and a literary agent.

Five of the coolest "Little Free Libraries" and a map you can use to find out if there are any of these where you live.

In the words of Anne Fadiman, "If you truly love a book, you should sleep with it, write in it, read aloud from it, and fill its pages with muffin crumbs." 

Here's hoping you find a little time this weekend to truly love a great book.  Along with a muffin.
Gone reading

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mexican Hot Chocolate

When I wrote what I learned in July, I mentioned that I have fallen in love with Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Even though it is September and in Austin, we're still wearing shorts, sleeveless tops, flip-flops, and re-applying deodorant at mid-day, I am finding that a cup of this lovely deliciousness is just what I need at the end of the day.  Or to start my day with a bang.  Or for a sweet little afternoon pick-me-up.  In other words, anytime.  


My name is Lana Rush and I am addicted to Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you that there are lots of recipes online for making homemade Mexican Hot Chocolate.  

None of which I have tried.

Because let's face it - while I love the idea of standing over my stove, stirring a fragrant pot of creamy, chocolatey goodness, that's just not my reality right now.

In real life, it's milk, a mug, a microwave, and this:

Well, maybe not the six-pack.  

Just a two-pack, more likely.

So here's my regular cup:

And here's my cup on steroids:

Because some days just call for whipped cream and mini chocolate chips.

Now if you're too good for my fast food version or if you have lots of free time, here are a few recipes I came across that sound delicious and maybe someday, I'll get around to trying.

The Pioneer Woman has a great basic hot chocolate recipe with several variations to it.

This looks like a good homemade powder version to keep at the ready.

Not feeling like a hot drink?  Then give this Skinny Frozen Mexican Hot Chocolate a try.  

Or how about a little snack? 

Maybe some Mexican Hot Chocolate Pecans to shake things up a bit? Or a little Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding? Or some Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles?

My friend Kimberlee told me that simply adding a little ground cinnamon to boxed brownie mix can totally rock your world.  Maybe topped with a little Mexican vanilla ice cream??

With all these great suggestions, don't let me be alone in my addiction.  Come on over to the dark side with me.  The dark Mexican Hot Chocolate side, that is.

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