One More Moment – Local Charity Spotlight

posted in: Local | 2

This week my husband and I attended a happy hour event for One More Moment, a local Ann Arbor charity that helps create “one more moment” for late stage cancer warriors.

(We’ve gone to several events in the past, and all of them have been fabulous)

Maybe you’re wondering:

What is One More Moment?

It’s a nonprofit charity based in Ann Arbor that works with local donors and supporters to give late stage cancer warriors their “one more moment” together:

One More Moment …[was]… created to help give local late stage cancer warriors and their families … one more special moment together. … They needn’t be extreme or “typical”. The key is for something special and unique for every individual & family; simply “their” moment to enjoy.

You can like their Facebook page and visit their website, onemoremoment.org, for more info.

So, back to the Happy Hour event.  It was nice relaxing end to a busy day for us.  There were a lot of people there (One More Moment sold tickets in advance, and ended up announcing that tickets were sold out earlier in the week!).

Everyone left with a goody bag, but there were a number of winners that took home raffle items too!  Like my grandmother, I have a knack for winning things.  So, we left with a really cool Shock-Top logo-ed patio/beach umbrella, and a wooden crate full of other Shock-Top swag.  I think the wooden crate may make an appearance in future kid photo sessions, as it is just the right size for babies and toddlers to sit in!  Thank you!

If you were there, we hope you had as much fun as we did.  My kids “helped” me dig through the bags today, and I was reminded how MANY wonderful local Ann Arbor businesses have contributed goodies to help these One More Moment fundraisers fabulous. So, when you look through your swag, please consider supporting all the local businesses who made the even possible!

Here are some photos that I took of the event.  Feel free to share them with friends and family, upload to Facebook or whatever social media. I just ask that you leave the discrete watermark intact.

Remember to like One More Moment on Facebook and visit their website, onemoremoment.org, for more info!

Children’s Christmas Books About Giving, NOT Getting

posted in: Parenting | 0

While Thanksgiving is fast approaching, it’s not the only holiday on the horizon.  Beyond that, is Christmas. And while Thanksgiving is considered a time to give thanks, Christmas — for us — is a time to focus on the joy of giving.  Yes, for kids, it’s about getting.  Making lists for Santa.  Asking for presents.  But for our boys, we try to shift their focus to the underlying theme — the joy of giving (not getting).

So, with that in mind, I’ve created a list for you….

10 Children's Christmas Books about giving, not getting. A book list of picture books for kids.

Christmas Books About Giving, NOT Getting

Here are some Christmas books about giving, not getting.  I’ve included affiliate links to Amazon, in case you’d like to buy them for the little ones in your lives.  I’ll include a short synopsis of each story, in case you find that helpful… and a sentence or two about why this book intrigued me.

The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving

Story Synopsis: As the title states, Brother and Sister learn about the joy of giving!  At first, the bear cubs are like any other kids anticipating Christmas — they are excited about the getting aspect.  But as they go through the festivities, and have bought their presents (saving as much of their money for themselves as they can) — they end up having a change of heart.  After they hear the Christmas Even pageant story, Brother and Sister end up giving their “saved” money to the poor.

Betsy’s Thoughts: My kids love everything Berenstain Bears, so this one was a no brainer for me.  Brother and Sister are relatable characters for young kids, and my boys have enjoyed learning about other holidays with books in the series (like the Valentine’s Day Blessing activity we did).

The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving. By Jan + Mike Berenstain

The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving

Story Synopsis: A retelling of the story of St. Nicholas, set in modern times.  This story portraits Nicholas as a young bog who wants to help the poor.  He spends his life secretly helping poor people, giving gifts on Christmas Eve to remind others of the greatest gift of Christmas.

Betsy’s Thoughts: I loved the illustrations in this book, and how the story is set in modern times — it’s a fun retelling of the classic legend.  The last pages of the book share traditions in other countries about Father Christmas.

The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving By Dandi Daley Mackall

Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Power of Giving: A Christmas Story

Story Synopsis: A selfish little bunny ends up lost in the woods with just his toys.  while wandering, some birds mistake him for Santa — who they hope can find them a place to live.  Ultimately Howard learns that having things isn’t really that important, compared to being around loved ones.  Howard gives his toys away to the forest birds.

Betsy’s Thoughts: This story sounds great for little ones, because the emotions are ones they can relate to easily.  The bunny’s materialism (my toys” ) ultimately gives way to gratefulness and giving.  And, there’s a song too!

Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Power of Giving: A Christmas Story. By Howard Binkow

The Poky Little Puppy’s First Christmas

Story Synopsis: While the family goes out to get the Christmas tree, the poky little puppy wanders off and makes friends with a skunk.  On Christmas morning, he learns that his friend is homeless — and the poky little puppy gives up his first Christmas present to make sure his friend has a home.

Betsy’s Thoughts: My boys love this book. It helps reinforce the idea of looking out for others, and caring about the wellbeing of others more than about the stuff you have.

The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas (Little Golden Book)

The Smallest Gift of Christmas

Story Synopsis: Roland selfishly thinks that bigger is better.  So when he gets a very small Christmas present he wishes for something bigger, bigger, and bigger.  In the end, Roland learns that it isn’t really the size of a present that matters — a skyscraper-sized gift can’t compare to the greatest gift of all — family.

Betsy’s Thoughts: Kids tend to think that bigger is better (a penny has to be worth more because it’s bigger than a dime, right? Kid logic.).  I like how this book goes to extremes of searching for a suitably bigger present, with the ultimate discovery that finding that present isn’t as valuable as spending time with family.

The Smallest Gift of Christmas. By Peter H. Reynolds

Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving

Story Synopsis: After Junior wonders what Santa has to do with the meaning of Christmas (i.e. the birth of Jesus), Bob the Tomato tells the story of St. Nicholas to the veggies.

Betsy’s Thoughts: My kids love VeggieTales, so this Christmas story about giving seemed like a sure winner.  And, I like that it has a music CD. Because, if you’re going to do VeggieTales, it has be be set to music, right?

Saint Nicholas (VeggieTales): A Story of Joyful Giving. By VeggieTales

The Wish Tree

Story Synopsis: A boy journeys through a winter forest, looking for a wish tree.  He meets animals along the way, and helps them.  Ultimately, he finds his wishing tree and ties his wish to the branch.

Betsy’s Thoughts: I like the illustrations in this book, and also that it’s not specifically a Christmas story.  The boy, even though he wants to have his own wish come true, takes time away from his journey to help others along the way.  I love stories that reinforce the importance of giving!

The Wish Tree. By Kyo Maclear

Gifts of the Heart

Story Synopsis: While on the way to see their grandkids for Christmas, Grandma and Grandpa lose all their presents in a big storm.  The grandparents, along with their grandchildren, search all over Mother Goose Land to find them.  Ultimately, they discover the best gifts of all — gifts of the heart.

Betsy’s Thoughts: I really liked the title of this story.  Because what I want my kids to focus on during Christmas is on giving.  And there is nothing better than giving out of love and generosity.

Gifts of the Heart. By Karen Boes Oman

The Mouse in the Manger

Story Synopsis: Oscar the mouse runs away from home to look for a bed with more hay.  He finds himself in the stable where Mary and Joseph have stopped.  He tries to make friends with the animals, but only succeeds in getting them to give him some hay for his bed.  When he finally has enough hay for the perfect bed, Oscar is lonely.  Mary befriends him, and helps him see the true meaning of friendship.  And in the end, Oscar gives up his hay so that the newborn baby Jesus can have a bed.  He returns home that night, with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what it means to be a friend, and to give up that which matters most to you.

Betsy’s Thoughts: This is my all time favorite Christmas story.  I remember it from when I was little, and love the mouse’s viewpoint …and how he decides to selflessly give away that one thing which he wanted most.

The Mouse in the Manger. by Rev. Gennaro L. Gentile

Mr. Getaway and the Christmas Elves

Story Synopsis: Mr. Getaway takes his class on a field trip to see Santa’s workshop.  The kids learn that work is good, and get to see the elves happily working on toys they will be giving away.

Betsy’s Thoughts: Since my kindergartner is excited about anything “field trip” related, I figured this book would be a hit. I like that it focuses on how the elves selflessly work on gifts to send to children via Santa.

Mr. Getaway and the Christmas Elves. By Sally Huss.

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Story Synopsis: A

Betsy’s Thoughts: I l


Winter + Holiday Children's Story Books - a book list series hosted by the Jenny EvolutionThis post is part of the Winter and Holiday book series being hosted by The Jenny Evolution!

Please check out the other book lists being shared…

There are book lists about Christmas Eve, the Nutcracker, the Nativity, Christmas tree books, books about reindeer, books about snow, Christmas coloring books, Christmas classics, books that celebrate 0winter holidays around the world, animals in the snow, Christmas songs, Christmas miracles, rhyming Christmas books, and more.

Quick & Easy: DIY Creative Gift Wrapping for Kids

posted in: Parenting | 4

quick and easy DIY creative wrapping paper for kidsEven though we save gift bags and keep a (small) stash of wrapping paper, it seems like my go-to preference is for homemade gift wrapping.  It involves the kids in the gift giving process more, and depending on what paper I am able to reuse, is eco-friendly too.

When we put together gifts for the grandparents a while back, I tried something different than my normal artwork-repurposed-into-wrapping-paper method.

We took some paper bags, traced handprints, and made a variety of quick and easy (yet creatively wrapped) gift bags.  An “I Love You” hand (sign language) graced one bag, complete with explanation.  On another, an octopus was created when two hands were traced on top of one another (christened “Avocado the Octopus”).  It was fun to give Toby, my toddler, free reign on this project.

I helped, since we used a permanent marker.  After doing the lettering and tracing the hands, I handed Toby some pencils so that he could further decorate the bags.

If you have a child who isn’t big on coloring in the lines, or who is liable to scribble over the handprints and words you’ve just created, then I have a simple solution for you.

Use a permanent marker, or dark/thick ink for the handprints and lettering.  Then, provide a variety of lighter/thinner coloring pencils, markers, or crayons for your child to use.  It won’t matter if they color over the “important” words, and you won’t have to constantly nag your child to be careful about where they decorate.

After putting the gifts in the bags, we rolled the top down a few times and stapled or taped each shut.

Pretty easy.

Pretty quick.

The recipients of these gifts loved hearing from Toby about how he decorated the bags for them.

This project could be done in five minutes or less, so if you’re short on time but want to add a personal touch to a gift, definitely consider this quick and easy DIY gift wrapping option.

bphotoart-artwork-wrapping-paper-1483So, to recap.  You’ll need:

  • paper bags
  • permanent marker
  • pencils/crayons
  • staples/tape

Oh, and a gift to put inside, I suppose.

What ways have you discovered that are fun for your kids to wrap presents?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Making a Photo Thankfulness Tree

posted in: Notes | 3

Make a Photo Thankfulness Tree for Thanksgiving - BPhotoArt.comTo help us get in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I came up with the idea to make a Thanksgiving tree decoration with photos. We are calling it our Photo Thankfulness Tree.

Making a thankfulness tree can be as simple as elaborate as you like. We went the simpler route… I pulled out some craft supplies (orange paper, a brown paper bag, tape, scissors, and a glue stick). After cutting the brown paper bag into strips, we taped it onto the window, bending and folding the straight strips to create knotty branches. While we were doing this, my printer was putting family snapshots and photos onto paper for us to cut out. Once printed, we cut out the faces in free form circular shapee. I then traced a few leaves onto a piece of paper for Toby to practice his scissor skills while I cut out the rest of the leaves free handed.

Toby picked out the photo faces one at a time, gluing each to its own leaf. We talked about that family member while their leaf was being made. As we worked, I also asked Toby what he was thankful for. His responses were recorded on the leaves that were leftover. Have kids collage a Thanksgiving tree by cutting out faces of family and friends they are thankful for. Include pets, toys, and other “favorites” that are cause for thanks. Just a simple: “what are you thankful for?” prompted all sorts of interesting conversation for us while making this photo thankfulness tree.

When it came time to tape the leaves onto the tree, Toby intially was reluctant. In his words, “the leaves fall off the trees onto the ground.” So we compromised with several fallen leaves on the ground, and then he proceeded to post the rest on the branches as I requested.

We finished our tree just as my husband was walking in the door; Toby was really excited to show Daddy everyone and everything he said he was thankful for.

Next time we do this, I’ll incorporate it into our month of gratitude for November. How, exactly? I think I would make and set aside an additional set of 27 leaves (or however many days until Thanksgiving), and each day, I would have the kids add another thing they are thankful for. Note to self – remember to plan ahead for that next year.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

posted in: Parenting | 14

Still deciding what to give mom or grandma for Mother’s Day? I’ve got some ideas to share (and a link to a Mother’s Day poem I wrote too)! But first, let me share some art from quite some time ago that I created — and as I was preparing for Mother’s Day, I remembered these two pieces in particular. Both are digital/drawing/photo collages that I created over ten years ago.

This first one is my favorite of the two. I honestly can’t even remember what I titled it at the time, aside from Sunset Girl. My mother loved this image, and ultimately it graced the cover of her book, Riding Past Grief – A Daughter’s Journey #afflink.

So while this piece isn’t about mothers specifically, it is about being a daughter, finding your own way, and holding firm through the storms life may bring. I vaguely recall titling Riding Past Midnight (but that may be the title of a short story I wrote around the same time). The sunset and rough terrain are based on a photograph I took in the mountains of Montana, and the girl began as a sketch. I blended the two, using digital painting and other applications that are probably long obsolete by now.

Mother's Day Gift Ideas - Sunset Girl Fresco

This second image inspired a poem for my mother. The piece and the poem share the same name – Mother Daughter Walk. Well, her poem may have assimilated whatever I had originally titled it (but I’m ok with that). This image was created in a similar fashion, digital painting with the mother and daughter originating as a sketch and paired with a photograph of mine. The rocky mountain path is from Scottsdale, Arizona, on Camelback mountain if I recall correctly.

Mother Daughter Walk

Given my mother’s love of poetry and all things art, I’ve actually planned ahead and written her a poem.

I submitted it to a Mother’s Day writing contest, and amazingly, my poem was selected as one of ten “finalists” — head over to Positive Parenting to read “A Reflection of My Mother.”

Mom, if you’re reading this (don’t moms always read their daughter’s posts?), you don’t get to read it until Mother’s Day. Sorry. you can read it early but no complaining!

But then the next question, for me, at least, was how to help my son with the concept of Mother’s Day. I will *not* be helping him make a gift for me, as that seems tacky. Dad can be in charge of any gifts that might materialize (and frankly, I’m ok without… toddler hugs are sufficient for me!).

But, grandmothers are still important — so we will be creating something for both grandmas between now and Mother’s Day. Again, since one or both of them may read this before Mother’s Day, I am not going to share what we are creating. But, I do want to give you some ideas in case you’re in the same boat I was a couple days ago.

What to make/do/give… that’s the tough question!

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Here are some ideas and resources for thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts! I’ve included the link to the aforementioned grief poetry in case you know someone who has lost a mother and may find it helpful. Links will open in a new window for your convenience. You might also want to check out my Gift Ideas Pinterest board, as I may find some more cute ideas between the time of posting and Mother’s Day.

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Gift Ideas on Pinterest.

Do You Have Plans for Mother’s Day?

We typically go out for a nice Mother’s Day brunch, and this year we may spend time outdoors too if the weather is nice. Do you have any family traditions for Mother’s Day? I’d love to hear them. And, if you want to share any creative Mother’s Day gift ideas, I’m all ears 🙂

Life is What You Make of It

posted in: Notes | 0

Keith is one of my good photographer friends and mentors. After dealing with various medical issues, including a massive brain aneurysm, for almost a year, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He has been traveling multiple hours to receive inpatient chemo treatment for two weeks out of every four. And, he was there over Christmas. But, like most things, Keith hasn’t let his current situation phase him. Here is a video of their Christmas plans for while in the hospital. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.

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