Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum

posted in: Parenting | 2
Today I’m welcoming Emma from Adventures of Adam! The snapshot below has special meaning to Emma because of what she had to go through to have her son. In a moment, she’ll be sharing her story with you.

After a very difficult pregnancy, during which she suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), Emma vowed to make every day an adventure. Her blog is the outcome of completing a 100 day play challenge with her toddler as part of that promise. On her blog, you’ll find HG-friendly play activities that require no preparation, do not involve smells or food, and are easy to clean up. These activities to allow moms suffering from HG during pregnancy to still enjoy playing with their children.

— Betsy

Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum

39 weeks and 4 days of pregnancy
35 weeks suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum
245 days of vomiting and suffering from nausea
Over 2,200 tablets taken
1 month in hospital
Countless medical tests
Pre-eclampsia

This is what it took to get this photo of my son, Adam.

Adventures of Adam - Surviving Hyperemesis Gravidarum - BPhotoArt.com

I had never heard of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) until I was 7 weeks pregnant and found myself unable to function. I was vomiting 20-40 times a day and unable to go about my day-to-day life. Nothing would stay down. I would eat an ice cube and seconds later bring it right back up again. Even the mention of food made me vomit.

HG completely took over my life and has changed my view on so many things. It is such a debilitating and all consuming condition; it robbed me of everything. I was unable to have any type of life, lost my independence due to needing full time care, and became dependent on my family and medication to keep me alive.

As if that wasn’t enough the isolation and misunderstanding of the condition made the vomiting harder to deal with.

My Breaking Point

Eleven weeks into the pregnancy, I was at my breaking point. It was weeks since I had eaten anything substantial and it was a constant battle to keep any fluid down.  After talking to a midwife, I was introduced to the world of “ketones” – a word that every HG sufferer dreads. Excessive ketones in the urine indicate that the body is not using carbohydrates from food as fuel and is subsequently trying to break down fat as fuel. Having ketones is a sign that the body is beginning to operate in starvation mode. I was severely dehydrated and admitted to hospital where I spent an entire week on an IV drip.

It took several lengthy hospitalizations to reduce my ketone levels and find a combination of medicines that reduced my vomiting. I was still sick frequently, but I was starting to retain some fluid.   Despite the improvement, Hyperemesis never leaves you; even when the sickness was controlled the condition still took over my life.

I felt dizzy all the time, was left confined to my couch with no energy and unable to prepare food myself. The nausea was unrelenting and felt worse than the sickness. My sense of smell was heightened so much that I could not stand the smell of my own husband and couldn’t go near him without vomiting. I couldn’t go into our kitchen due to the smell and I was unable to wash myself due to exhaustion. I couldn’t cope with noise, light, heat or movement. The only thing I could do was lay still and wait. This state continued on for me, week after week, month after month.

Adam’s Birth – And Relief from Hyperemesis Gravidarum

As soon as Adam was born the May 2nd, 2012, the vomiting stopped. I no longer felt nauseous and wasn’t reaching for the sick bowl. Still, recovery has been a long process. Because I was bed ridden for so long, my muscles didn’t  work well; oedema worsened the problem. The emotional impact of my condition resulted in my having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Support Networks

When Adam was 7 weeks old, I found out about the Pregnancy Sickness Support (a UK charity). It’s unfortunate I didn’t learn of it sooner.  The UK charity is the only one supporting women with nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) and Hyperemesis Gravidarum; it provides a telephone helpline, a national peer support network and educates healthcare professionals treating the conditions.

I have volunteered for the charity for two years.  I now administrate their online forum for sufferers and survivors, and have recently become a trustee.

For International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day I created this video (mobile version):

For those in the United States, the Hyperemesis Education and Research (HER) Foundation is a worldwide network of HG survivors, and a great resource for information on HG. The Hyperemisis Education and Research Foundation is dedicated to helping hyperemesis sufferers (and surivors!) and to finding a cure for HG. and its complications.

— Emma

Other Articles on Hyperemesis Gravidarum

What About You?

The last article listed above, by the Syndey Morning Herald, mentioned 70% of pregnant women are affected by nausea and vomiting — and up to 3% of pregnant women experience HG. It also discusses how Charlotte Bronte suffered from HG and did die from the condition according to The Life of Charlotte Bronte (#afflink) by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Have you had acute morning sickness?  Do you know someone who survived HG?  I’ve love to hear your stories in the comments below.

How to Stay Stylish for Senior Portraits

posted in: Photography | 4
Today I have a guest post from a Kalin of Modesty is My Policy. Kalin is a teen who lives on a small farm in Tennessee with her five older sisters and one younger brother. She is a homeschooler, loves to write, and enjoys spending time with her animals.

Kalin will be sharing some thoughts on how to dress modestly yet stylishly for senior portraits, as well as how important it is to stay true to yourself! She has some great suggestions on how to ensure your clothes will be flattering too, including some tips that I’d not thought of before this!

— Betsy

How to Stay Stylish for Senior Portraits

Senior year, what an exciting time, right? Senior portraits are so important to remember that special time in your life, and it’s important to make sure that you don’t regret your hairstyle, outfit choice and etc years later! When picking your clothes, you not only want to make sure everything goes well and accentuates your natural beauty, but you want it to reflect your style — whether you choose a frilly sundress or old cowboy boots! After all, these portraits are OF you and FOR you!

First off, you need to make sure your outfit isn’t too tight or too baggy. Tight clothes often reveal everything that we don’t want them to, but you also don’t want the clothes to be so baggy that you can’t see your shape. Portraits can make you look a bit different than you do in real life, sometimes making you look smaller or bigger, all depending on your clothing choice! Ill-fitting clothes can also be a HUGE annoyance during longer photoshoots – who wants to be tugging at pants all day long or pulling the neckline of a dress up? Here are a few standard tips to keep you looking your best!

Selecting Pants That Are Flattering

You should be able to grasp handful of fabric on thighs, knees and groin area. This will make different poses and etc much, much easier.

Your pants need to be loose enough so you can bend down, jump, etc without the pants/jeans riding too low.

You don’t want to have to constantly be tugging on your jeans or pulling them up during the shoot! These issues will be annoying, and are a sign of a bad fit.

Picking Out Flattering Shirts

You should be able to bend over without revealing too much chest. If it doing so does reveal too much, you can try adding a layering tank, or even a tube top, underneath for coverage.

Like the pants, having to worry about a neckline that is exposing too much would become quite an annoyance during a longer photo shoot, and may even limit how you can be photographed (you need to make sure you can do more than one kind of pose).

Shirts should not crease in-between chest. This is a tell-tale sign of a poorly fitted shirt!

Your shirt should loose enough for you to grasp fabric on your stomach area. Tight clothing can make the most petite person in the world look larger, and vice versa for baggier clothing.

Make sure your clothing doesn’t show all of your lines from undergarments, etc.

Choosing Flattering Dresses/Skirts

The same rules apply for dresses as for shirts. Additionally, knee Length and below is typically best so you don’t have to be quite as careful during the different poses and moving around during the shoot. If you decide to wear something shorter, try pairing it with a pair of shorts or leggings underneath! They won’t be visible for photos, but they make moving around much easier!

You should be able to bend down, squat, jump, etc without the waistline riding down or revealing too much upper-leg.

Make sure you can grasp a handful of fabric on the thigh area of the dress/skirt. Just like with tighter shirts, dresses/skirts can cause unflattering lines.

Stylish Makeup + Hair

As for makeup/hair, keep it simple! Senior photos are for showing who you are at that point of time. Don’t stray to far from your personality and what you normally wear! It’s always good to wear a bit more makeup than you would on a normal day because different lighting and such can make you look washed, but don’t go overboard!

Sparkles and glitter are typically not a good idea because it can look like dry skin or dandruff. Pack a little makeup bag with you for the shoot so you can remove or add more if needed and do touch-ups!

Your Style Should Stay True To Yourself

I know how hard it is to remain true to yourself, especially during high school years and later on! We get so much pressure from everyone, especially us girls, to mold ourselves into what the world wants us to be. I know that I’ve gone through so many phases, so many styles, so many changes, and it is extremely hard and confusing! Use this time to get to know YOU better! God created you to be the person that you are; don’t change yourself because of society’s standards and desires.

Make your own rules! Don’t worry about modeling yourself after someone else when taking these photos, use it as a time to show off your own personality, as fancy, quirky or casual it may be.

Think about bringing something special with you to make the senior photo shoot even better. If you play an instrument, ask if you can incorporate it! If you have a passion for a certain era of the past, add a vintage flair. If you have a passion for something, show it off and make it your own. Make these photos something to be proud of, something that shows your individuality and passions.

As someone who is so passionate about modesty and being different from the world, I know how difficult it is to hear people’s laughter and mocking. I’ve been teased a lot, and I would be lying if I said it got easier! The only thing that keeps me from caving in is the fact that I know God gave me these convictions and passions for a reason, He made me different for a reason!

No matter who you are, God made you into the person that you are today, tomorrow and 10 years from now. Those people only criticize because they are insecure about themselves. They have problems, just as we do. They have insecurities, just as we do. Remember to stay true to yourself no matter how hard it may be.

And I’m not just talking about for senior photos. 🙂

— Kalin

What Are Your Thoughts on How to Select Stylish Clothing?

I think Kalin’s perspective on clothing is refreshing and I love her encouraging words on staying true to yourself. High school (and beyond) can be such a challenging time, and the pressure to follow along with the current trends can sometimes be overwhelming (Modest is Hottest: How to be Stylishly Modest).

Ultimately, though, it is important to be comfortable in the clothes you wear — whether or not they are in line with the latest trends. Remember, there are timeless outfits that will never go out of style!

Do you have any stories or thoughts on how to select clothes that are flattering, true to you, and modest enough you won’t feel uncomfortable? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Living The Dream – Life In Spain

posted in: Notes | 8
Today I’d like to welcome Orlena of Snotty Noses.  Orlena is a British pediatrician who lives in Spain with her husband and four children.  Her website helps parents recognize when their child is ill …and know what to do about it (not meant to replace your doctor’s advice, of course!).  She also blogs about their hectic and crazy Spanish life.

If you’ve ever contemplated living abroad, then you’ll love Orlena’s insight on living the dream and how her family adapted to life in Spain!

— Betsy

The Reality of Living the Dream - Life in Spain - Snotty-Noses @ BPhotoArt.com

Living the Dream

When I look back, I can’t pin point exactly when I decided I wanted to live abroad. I’ve always enjoyed travelling, always had that itch, that yearning to travel abroad, to seek new experiences, new smells, new sights. To taste life from different cups.

When I met my husband-to-be, he felt the same way. We shared a dream of living and working a different life. It’s not that I don’t like England, I do. I think most people there don’t really comprehend what a great country it is. For all its faults, we’re lucky to have a free health care system, free schooling and a welfare state. The problem lies more in its latitude and rather unfortunate climate.  “Perpetual winter,” I have heard it called, not unreasonably to my mind.

Deciding Where To Live

It took us a while to decide where we’d like to live. Australia would have been, relatively speaking, an easy place for me to work. But it’s a long way from family and friends. I have family in the Caribbean, a paradise destination. But that’s nearly as far and very isolated. We settled on Europe. After all, we’re all “European,” right?  We share similar cultures and our history goes back, for better or worse, a long way back.

A rather cerebral thought process led us to the Costa Brava. We both wanted Spain. I wanted Mediterranean. Not too far south that it was ludicrously hot. Pretty much as close as we could get to my mother, who lives in the southern area of France.

The only problem remaining was one of language. A double edged sword. Our children would grow up bilingual, which would be great. We would both have to learn another language, which would be fun but difficult, not to mention a barrier to working.

My by-then husband finished his PhD and started up a software business. By started up, I mean from scratch, including learning how to program computers and write software. In theory at least, we could be mobile and still earn money.

Arriving In Spain

So that was how we arrived. We spent a week in Spain looking for somewhere to rent, packed up our stuff and moved. Pretty much like that. Except my husband drove our stuff across the continent and I flew with my 2 small children. But that’s a story for another day. We arrived in one piece.

And that was it. Our new life in the sun. Now what? How were we going to integrate? Learn two new languages? They speak Catalan and Spanish here, two different languages, but similar enough to make it confusing to learn them both. What about bureaucracy? Spain is hot on bureaucracy, not even the locals like it. It’s even worse when you don’t really understand what’s going on.

We arrived in one piece to Spain - Orlena
We arrived in one piece to Spain – Orlena

Settling Into Our New Life

That was three years ago. Now we’re relatively settled. The children go to school and nursery. The oldest two speak Catalan, pretty much like a native. Although, I expect their vocabulary isn’t as good as some of their school mates.

I still feel like an outsider, but I’ve learnt to live with. The culture here is very different from the UK. I’d love to join a mother’s group and drink coffee while we watch the children play and do activities. But they just don’t exist here, not in our little town. People are very friendly and I have some friends who are happy to work beyond the language barrier. Most of my friends I met because they wanted to learn English. I guess their interest in another language makes them more forgiving.

I still find it difficult at the school gate. I’m friendly with some of the mums. Some of our children are very close friends. But, I know I’m not “one of them.”  As much as I can do small talk chat, it can be difficult to express yourself quickly and with the subtleties of your native tongue. They chat away easily, I only understand half of what they say.  Especially since, as a mark of acceptance, they now talk in Catalan to me.  They know that I’ve started to learn it; I just understand Spanish better.

There are many groups at the school gate. In fact, there aren’t that many Catalan children at the school. Spain has always had a long history with Morroco and there are lots of Morrocans. Romanians and Latin Americans make up the majority of the remaining foreigners. We’re the only British people at our school. I suspect there are others who feel like an outsider too. Perhaps we should all get badges.

Our Dream For Raising Our Children

The children don’t remember our home in the UK anymore. They know they aren’t Catalan but I don’t think it bothers them. They’re the blond, blue-eyed English boys. I think it gives them a bit of a status symbol. I sometimes worry that it will affect them, “not really belonging” to this culture. But I hope that if I keep an eye out for it, we’ll work around it. I hope that they’ll grow up reaping the benefits of two cultures. When they’re older, I hope, they’ll be able to live where they want. In this ever growing global culture, as boundaries and barriers disappear.

My dream was to bring our children up in a beautify country - Orlena
My dream was to bring our children up in a beautify country – Orlena

It was our dream that we could bring our children up in a beautiful country where we can enjoy the outdoors and teach them to enjoy the fundamentals of life. Obviously we’re always learning and adapting as parents, but we’ve achieved the first goal. Sure, there have been sacrifices — namely my career, but that’s also another story.

If something is worth having, it’s worth fighting for. And that means sacrifices. A dream that involves a fairy godmother is unrealistic. A dream where you work hard?  That’s do-able.

— Orlena

What’s Your Dream? Are You Living It?

I love how Orlena described their dream, and how they made it a reality. They are truly living the dream, and loving it.

The truth is, everyone’s dreams are different. And every dream is worth considering, no matter how far out there or how mundane it might be. Some people dream big, while other people have more subtle dreams.

What is your dream? Are you working hard to achieve it? What sacrifices have you made?

I’d love to hear your stories, your dreams, your struggles… leave a comment below!

Freedom Ignites a Love of Learning

posted in: Parenting | 4
I love the title of today’s snapshot series – freedom really does ignite a love of learning! Join me in welcoming Andrea of Waldorf Salad and Cottage Fries. She is married with two kids, two dogs, and two cats. Andrea is also a certified Aromatherapist, Herbalist and has a B.S. in Natural Health Sciences; she homeschools, cooks and gardens in the foothills of Western North Carolina.

Thank you Andrea for sharing this wonderful memory that displays the love of learning you’ve cultured in your children!

— Betsy

Freedom Ignites a Love of Learning - Waldorf Salad and Cottage Fries @ BPhotoArt.com

Freedom Ignites a Love of Learning

Every time I look at this picture I smile; I think about how lucky we are that our children have the freedom to learn without countless constraints. Now, that does not mean there aren’t rules and expectations, but they are given the chance to “let go” and to see where the day may take them.

This happened more often than not when we lived high up in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  Since we homeschool, we thought our five acre tract of land that housed many animals (for instance bears, snakes, raccoon, bobcats and several species of birds) would be a special place to educate them.

Mud Alert

The day this photo was taken, we were in the midst of a study on weather. Each morning the children would take out their weather journals, document temperature, wind velocity, snow fall etc.

On this particular day the rain was falling especially hard.  We decided to collect water in several types of vessels to see how quickly each would fill up and to measure how much water we could capture. The containers filled rapidly and the yard began to look like a muddy pond. That’s when the decision was made to throw on winter garb and slide down the hill in our yard!

Granting Freedom to Learn

Now most mothers would be apprehensive about their children sliding downhill into the woods, let alone allowing them to put on ski wear to do so, but I was all for it. I helped them suit up and off they went — for hours.

Sliding down the hill turned into mud pie making, dredging the yard to construct streams, digging a hole that swiftly turned into a small pool, and of course the day would not have been complete without a good mud fight!

After several hours of fun it was time to come in, clean up and have a hot cup of tea. I sat there watching the two of them measure the water they collected and laughing continually as they discussed the day’s adventures. I beamed with satisfaction at the thought that this day would be one they would remember forever!

— Andrea

Have you cultivated a love of learning?

Are there times you’ve been intentional about letting your kids think outside the box in order to cultivate a love of learning?  Did you cringe inwardly or was your inner child thrilled at the prospect of engendering freedom?

I’d love to hear your stories, to know if you have a memory like Andrea’s that sticks out in your mind as one your kids will remember fondly in years to come.

Living Life To The Fullest: Silliness Is A Must

posted in: Parenting | 14
Today I’m welcoming Michelle from Divas With A Purpose. She’s here to share about living life to the fullest and how silliness is a must. You’ll also learn some simple ways for embracing your divatude (read on for more explanation).Michelle blogs regularly about inspiring and encouraging women in their personal and professional lives. You can connect with her on Facebook or sharing glimpses of her world on Instagram.

— Betsy

Living Life To The Fullest: Silliness Is A Must

This little bugger is my youngest son. I have this snapshot posted on my vision board as a reminder to smile and remember the fun, silly moments of life.

Living Life To The Fullest: Silliness A Must - Divas With a Purpose @ BPhotoArt.com

My pregnancy with him was rough – emotionally and physically. I was miserable and depressed the majority of my pregnancy. It hurts to say that now but there were many a nights that I cried myself to sleep. There was so much turmoil going on in my marriage, my career and my overall outlook of life. The moment I first laid eyes on him – I was overcome with emotion. I am sure I am not the only mother who wondered throughout their second pregnancy how her heart could possibly love a second child as much as their first. I quickly learned it was very much possible and came quite naturally.

While I was home on maternity leave with my son, my passion for writing returned. It had been years since I had truly been motivated and inspired to write anything. I had let life bog me down and extinguish the passion that I had for the written word.

“What is it that you stand for? When your name comes to mind, what do others think of? Is it something positive or negative? Is it what you’d want your legacy to be? Is it what you’d want your children to pass on to their children’s children? If not, what are you doing to change that?”

I believe in living life to the fullest. Life happens – the good, the bad, and the in between. Some of it we can control and some we just have to roll with the punches, regroup and continue to press forward. The silliness that you see in this photo – it brings a smile to my face many a day. It reminds me to not let life pass me by.

As a mother, I strive to embrace my divatude on a daily basis and encourage my children to do the same. Divatude? For many that may be a new concept. I believe that we all should strive to be driven, inspiring, victorious and called to action – our divatude! Sometimes when I share that it sounds quite grandiose and time-consuming, but it is really a simple concept to embrace:

Divatude - exactly what is it? - Divas With a Purpose @ BPhotoArt.com

Simple Ways To Embrace Your Divatude

  • Believe in yourself. Tell yourself regularly how awesome you are. It’s not cockiness – it’s self-confidence
  • Encourage others. Tell your children what they do well and support their endeavors.
  • Give back in your community – donate your time, talents and/or tangibles.
  • Support others with their endeavors, when possible. Your presence, alone, makes a difference.
  • Be positive and uplifting. It makes a difference.
  • Set goals for yourself personally and professionally. Strive to continue growing and learning.
  • Be the friend you want to have.
  • Share your story with someone that can be encouraged or motivated by it.
  • Practice gratitude regularly.

— Michelle

How Do You Live Life to the Fullest?

I love how Michelle challenges us to make sure we’re living life to the fullest.

So, what do you think? Are these ideas practical for you? What are you going to try first? Have you already found ways to remember the silly moments in life? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts.

A Mother’s Love: That Face

posted in: Parenting | 3
I’m honored to share another snapshot story with you today, one about motherhood, how quickly the time passes, and just how important it is to keep photos on display that remind us of how quickly our little ones grow into their own.Suzette Ladouceur is a former elementary school teacher turned stay at home mom. She blogs at The Joy of Homemaking about marriage, motherhood, homeschooling, and making the most of the life God has given her.

Thank you Suzette for reminding us of the importance of a mother’s love!

— Betsy

That Face... Love. Joy. Sentiment. - The Joy Of Homemaking @ BPhotoArt.com

That Face

When my son was just under a year old, we went to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for Memorial Day weekend to spend time with some family. While there, one of our activities was spending time in their community pool. After a hearty swim, as we sat around to dry off, I looked over at my son who he had fallen asleep on my cousin. I took a quick picture, not realizing how precious the finished photo would be.

Every time I see this photo, it conjures up a whole host of emotions from my heart, but here are the three dearest to me.

Love.

I cannot believe how much I love my children. I never knew that I could love someone so much that even on my most tired nights, I would willingly wake up to care for the needs of that small person.

My love for them has caused me to evaluate my purpose as a mother and my goals for each child, spiritually and emotionally. My love for them causes me to pray and think about each decision I make because I know that my children will be affected by my choices in some way.

Joy.

I am so thankful that this little boy (and my daughter) is mine. He was a gift from God to me. Instead of looking at the blocks scattered across the house, hearing the noise he makes, or finding the negative in his 2 year old behavior, I choose to see the sky scraper he tried to build, hear the laughter in his play, and appreciate the point in time we are living in right now. I choose to experience the joy my children bring.

Childhood itself brings joy. Sadly, as we leave our childhood and enter the world of adulthood, we forget the joy of catching bugs outside, how easy laughter can come, and that the sounds of happy play and noise are two completely different things.

Sentiment.

He is growing so fast. It has been two years since that picture was taken, yet the time seems to have gone by so quickly. In two more years, he will be a four and a half year old on his way to Kindergarten.

I continually remind myself that time stops for no “mom”, and my babies will not stop growing. As much as I wish I could keep them where they are, each day is another step towards the growth that they must make. Each day takes me closer to the time when I will have to let them go. Looking at this photo of my son reminds me to appreciate each moment I have with my children.

Do you have a photo of your child(ren) that can serve as a reminder that our time spent as “mommy” is short? Can I encourage you to pull it out and keep it front and center? It will help in those moments when you forget what a gift you have been given.

— Suzette

Are you intentional in cultivating a mother’s love?

Do you find the days, weeks, and even months flying by far too quickly? How have you been intentional about cultivating and displaying a mother’s love to your children?

Do you have photographs on display, as Suzette suggested, that remind you of the brevity of childhood, and the importance of a mother’s love?

I’ve love to hear your stories, thoughts, and comments below.

Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Food

posted in: Parenting | 2
Today I’d like to welcome Orlena of Snotty Noses.  Orlena is a British pediatrician who lives in Spain with her husband and four children.  Her website helps parents recognize when their child is ill …and know what to do about it (not meant to replace your doctor’s advice, of course!).

If you’ve ever struggled with getting your kids to eat healthy food, then you’ll definitely want to read on — Orlena gives some great advice for getting kids to make healthy food choices.

— Betsy

Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Food

How to Help Your Kids Eat HealthilyKids are, well, what can I say…strange, inexplicable creatures. You’d think that if they all grew up being offered the same food in the same environment, you’d get little replicas of each other who would all eat exactly the same thing. If only! But then,  life wouldn’t be so interesting. I have 4 kids and they’re all different in their eating habits. Some children like some foods, while others don’t.

Take bananas, love them or hate them? I have two who love them and two who won’t touch them. Same with fish, two who can’t get enough of it and two who won’t touch it. And potatoes, I have a baby who doesn’t like potatoes. How does that work? It’s strange. I can’t explain it.

“But, so what?” I hear you cry. “Why not just let them eat what they want to eat?” (If only they could agree what that would be.) We’d live off spaghetti bolagnese (NOT any other type of pasta) and risotto with one child; and pasta (but NOT spaghetti) and cheddar cheese sandwiches with another.

And vegetables? Hmm, they don’t seem to feature much do they?

Is Feeding Our Children Healthy Food Really That Important?

So, THE big question is…Is it possible to feed (and get them to eat) your child a diet of healthy food AND enjoy life at the same time? Or perhaps, “why bother, is it actually that important”?

Is feeding our children a healthy diet really that important? Well, yes and no. It’s not important in the sense that they will get nasty illnesses like high cholesterol and bowel cancer (both linked to diet) if they don’t eat their veggies (those typically come later in life).  They might end up with constipation, which is really common in children. And we’re seeing an increase in weight problems in children and type 2 diabetes (which is normally seen in adults.)

Most children are thin, poo a lot and don’t like vegetables.  They aren’t in any immediate danger.

The problem is, when children grow older, they’ll still be eating the same stuff …and then they will be at increased risk of all those nasty illnesses. As adults, we can hugely reduce our chances of getting nasty illness by eating healthy food and exercising regularly, and if our kids are already in those habits, they’ll reap the benefits.

Acclimating Kids to Eating Healthy Food

So how do we go about doing that as parents? Well, as there’s no immediate danger, you can relax on the whole “eat your vegetables thing.” Yes, you do want them to eat their greens, but don’t worry about it, don’t stress about it. Keep working at it and they’ll get there in the end.

My main advice is to eat a healthy home-cooked family meal together whenever possible. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Kids like fresh and simple. Vegetable pasta (or vegetable pasta sauce!) is a great way to start.  Teach your kids to enjoy food, to think of it as a time to spend with family and friends.

Orlena's kids enjoying healthy foods
Orlena’s kids enjoying healthy food (vegetable pasta – check out her recipe!)

Make food fun. There are loads of ways to make healthy food different and enjoyable for kids. You don’t have to be artistic or overly creative. Try eating in different places, or with different things, like chopsticks or toothpicks.

If you really want to go overboard, why not have a themed dinner “party,” all dressed up as pirates? Or cowboys. OK, so this isn’t going to directly make them eat their vegetables or other healthy foods, but it will help them enjoy mealtimes and think of it as a special time.

Conversely, if you’re constantly nagging them to eat their veggies, they’ll push their plate away, dig in their heels and ultimately stop enjoying eating and the fun family time that goes with it.

 

Phases of Fussiness Are Normal

Many parents despair when they see their previously good eater turn into the fussiest toddler on the block.

It’s normal.

Children go through phases (some longer than others) and hopefully they come out the other side unscathed. Try to work around their fussiness without pandering too much to their demands. Getting the balance right can be tricky, but once you’ve let go of the idea that they have to eat what’s on their plate, life should be much less stressful.

If you’d like more tips on how to help your kids eat their veggies, why not sign up for my great pdf: 30 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat and LOVE Vegetables?

– Orlena

Have Tips For Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Food?

Orlena makes some great points, doesn’t she?  I also find it interesting how, even with the same child, a particular food can be a favorite (or a no-go) given the day and the circumstances.

Our son typically is a great eater.  In fact, he loves veggies (most of them).  If he is dubious about trying a particular healthy food, he’s usually convinced to take a taste when you tell him where it came from.  Veggies come from a garden, steak comes from a cow, venison comes from a deer — that sort of thing.  Odd, maybe.  But it works for us.   We also have a two bite rule that has worked wonders for the “no, I don’t like it” response to trying a new food.

Do you have any tips for getting your kids to eat healthy food?  Or stories to share about the struggles of getting kids to be interested in healthy choices?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Daddy Daughter Duo – A Snapshot Story

posted in: Parenting | 5
I love how the simplest of snapshots can tell an amazing story.  More than “a thousand words,” pictures bring us back to the moment — they let us re-experience the sounds and smells that are so strongly linked to a particular memory.

Today I want to welcome Cassandra of Raising Up Stones! She’s the mom of three kids, and has graciously provided me with this lovely memory to share with you from her childhood.  This daddy daughter childhood snapshot brings many wonderful memories to mind for Cassandra — as you’ll read below.

— Betsy

Daddy Daughter Duo - Raising Up Stones @ BPhotoArt.com

Daddy Daughter Duo

Every time I see this picture, I smile from ear to ear. That is me, in the red shirt and black shorts…no, not the salt and pepper haired stud, the little cutie with the black bobbed hair! It’s as if I am saying “this is MY daddy”! In fact, I know I was thinking that.

If you couldn’t tell by our ridiculously fabulous matching outfits, I was pretty mesmerized by my daddy and I’m pretty sure he thought I was something awfully special.

My dad owned a body shop and I loved going to work with him. I remember all the mechanics and body men treating me like royalty. They would buy me candy from the candy machines, bring me fun trinkets and give me “jobs” so they could pay me money.  I was a princess in real form but my best memories were when my dad was home from work and he was all ours.

Being Outdoors in the Yard

We had a nice, large yard most of my life and my dad always took good care of it.  My family and I spent many spring and summer evenings in the yard, picking up sticks, mowing, pulling weeds and playing in the sprinklers!

I can’t be for sure but I figure this was one of those times. I can still smell the scent of freshly cut grass and hear the sounds of the lawn mower as I watched daddy ride past me.

This picture was before my brother came along to steal the show, so it was just me, my sister and mom and dad. I’m betting some time before or after this picture I sat on my dad’s lap as we made each turn through the grass cutting those perfect lines that make every home owner proud! He would let me steer but I had no idea he was really doing the steering.

I’m sure after this picture dad grilled some steaks and chicken, and of course we had corn freshly shucked by mom! My daddy loved steak, and I loved steak because he loved steak! Just like I loved my red shirt and black shorts …just like daddy’s! I was a girly girl to the max, but who needs a fancy dress when you can match your #1 hero?

Countless MemoriesWhat About You?

Do you have an all time favorite family snapshot? Maybe a similar daddy daughter photo even? One that brings many fond memories flooding back, like Cassandra’s daddy daughter duo does for her?

I know I have a few daddy daughter snapshots from my own childhood that bring back many fond memories. Every girl, every woman, has a special place in her heart for her daddy.

What is your favorite daddy daughter memory? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

What Makes An Exceptional Teacher?

posted in: Notes | 6
Today I’m welcoming Sue Lively of One Time Through as she shares a snapshot from her childhood, and the wonderful story about how her teacher, Mr. Smith, inspired her to learn, grow, and ultimately, become a teacher herself. What a wonderful tribute to an exceptional teacher!

Sue is an elementary school teacher on extended parental leave to stay at home full time with her son. She is passionate about all things related to arts and-crafts, language, and science! Thank you Sue, for sharing these musings on what makes an exceptional teacher. I can think of a few such teachers from my own childhood.

— Betsy

What Makes An Exceptional Teacher - One Time Through @ BPhotoArt.com

What Makes An Exceptional Teacher?

What do you think makes an exceptional teacher? Is it that unique ability to put oneself into a student’s shoes and see things through their point of view? Is it having a mastery of one’s subject or exceptional communication skills? Is it about seeing a student as more than just a sum of their parts?

Everyone has a favourite teacher that they can remember from early school years. Probably your favourite teacher had a few, if not all, of the qualities listed above. My favorite teacher certainly did.

Mr. Smith

He was a little unusual for an elementary school teacher, because he was a man. Also, it was widely known that teaching wasn’t his only gig. Mr. Smith not only taught full-time, but he wrote the drama critiques and reviews column for the large newspaper in the city close to where I grew up. He was highly involved in theatre himself and brought that love to his students.

I was lucky enough to have Mr. Smith for my teacher in grades 1 and 2 and later when I was in grades 4, 5, and 6; I was involved in school musicals that he directed.

What I remember most about Mr. Smith from the early grades was that he was FUN. Isn’t it always those teachers that stand out in your memory? Our classroom was full of laughter, poetry, art and drama.

I remember that he used to keep exceptional artwork up on his walls, long after those students had moved into higher grades. I was always proud to return to his class as a “big grade 5 or 6er” and see one of my art pieces still there! He just had a way of making kids feel good.

Teaching Through Discipline

He also treated his students exceptionally fair. There was one time when I was given the privilege of staying inside at recess on my own to finish an art piece. For some reason, only God knows why, I went around the room and tore a small corner off the page of everyone else’s work. I can remember clearly doing this, but to this day, have no idea why I did it!
When the kids came back in from recess, Mr. Smith easily figured out who the art culprit had been, as my piece was the only one without a missing corner!

I remember being quietly pulled into the hallway and firmly but gently confronted about my behavior. There was no scolding or shaming, just a very serious discussion about my actions and how they had affected others.

I think I remember that episode so much because I felt very deep remorse about my actions, and I was grateful my favorite teacher still liked and cared about me, even though I had been quite naughty!

Committed to Excellence

Later on, in grades 4-6, Mr. Smith directed me in the school musicals. He encouraged me to try out the first year, and really took me under his wing.

These musicals that he directed were not just “kid-stuff” either – they were big productions. We had amazing costumes rented from a theater company, professional lighting, and performed for large audiences. We rehearsed for months and really felt like we were a part of something important. They were a source of self-esteem and positive memories.

The time commitment from Mr. Smith, and the other teachers involved, must have been huge. It’s hard to see that as a kid, and although we all loved Mr. Smith, I don’t think any of us really appreciated how much work and time he must have put in to do these shows with us…and really, FOR us.

As a teacher and a parent now, I can see all the amazing things he did…and was. Mr. Smith was such a huge positive influence on me.

Encouragement Into Adulthood

He encouraged me to pursue singing and acting, which has been a source of incredible enjoyment in my life. Even into adulthood, he followed my “career” and supported me by interviewing me for his newspaper column, even giving me great reviews for my performances in several musicals.

He has become a positive mental teaching template for me. I often think about how Mr. Smith would deal with certain situations when I am challenged by a student.

He has also inspired me to direct musicals with my own students over the years and hopefully I can make a difference for some of them as he did for me. This has been one of my favorite, and the most rewarding, parts of being a teacher.

Lifelong Positive Influence

The photograph above shows Mr. Smith and me after I had received the grade 6 Drama Award. You can tell by my face that I was thrilled, and especially honored to receive this award from my favorite teacher.

When I look at it now, tears fill my eyes, and I send a hearty thank you to this special man who had such a positive influence on me as a child, and as an adult.

Thank you, Mr. Smith.

– Sue Lively

What About You?

Do you have an all time favorite snapshot from your childhood? Maybe a photo from your school years? I have memories of my favorite teachers, and seeing snapshots of their classrooms can bring so many memories to mind.

Do you have an exceptional teacher who inspired you like Mr. Smith inspired Sue? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!