Spring Art Exhibit features Fine Art Photograph by Betsy Finn

posted in: Local | 0

A fine art photograph by Dexter Michigan photographer Betsy Finn has been included in a local spring art exhibit.  The photograph, titled “Jerusalem of Gold,” was taken at sunrise on Easter Sunday.  Finn and her traveling companions arrived at the scenic viewpoint on the Mount of Olives before dawn on the day she created this photograph.  As the sun rose, Finn captured a series of images, and ultimately blended them together to create a breathtaking panoramic view of Jerusalem.  The fine art print is approximately 8″ tall by 40″ long.

Jerusalem of Gold, fine art photograph taken at sunrise on Easter Sunday in Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

The spring art exhibit in which Finn’s work is featured is one of three yearly juried shows put on by the Ann Arbor Women Artists, a local non-profit group with about 330+ members.  Finn was one of 35 members whose art was chosen to be included in the spring exhibit, which runs March 13 through April 29th at the Mallets Creek Library in Ann Arbor.

Below are two images from the opening reception, held the evening of Friday, March 18th at the Mallets Creek Branch of the Ann Arbor Public Library.

Betsy Finn's fine art photograph on display at the ann arbor spring art exhibit
Attendees of the opening reception discuss “Jerusalem of Gold” with one another.
Betsy Finn's fine art photograph on display at the ann arbor spring art exhibit
Finn’s fine art photograph was hung in main area where the opening reception was held, alongside many other gorgeous fine art pieces.

The spring art exhibit will be on display at the Mallets Creek Library in Ann Arbor through April 29th.  We hope you will consider stopping by to view the many wonderful artworks on display.  Many of the art pieces on display, including Finn’s panorama, “Jerusalem of Gold,” are for sale, so if you’re looking to add some art by local artists to your fine art collection, this might be the perfect opportunity to view a variety of pieces.

Travel “ID” Card For Toddlers (Free Printable)

posted in: Parenting | 4

When we went on our last several “big” vacations, I made sure to have some sort of “ID” on our toddler.  One trip, it was a keychain with mom and dad’s names and cell numbers, but more recently I made up these travel ID cards for my boys because I knew Toby would get a kick out of having his own ID card.  What kid doesn’t want to have their own “grown-up” ID?

A little further on, I’ll share a printable template with you so you can make your own travel ID card for your child.  Feel free to customize it.  I did (we swapped out the allergies section for flight information).

Some travel tips for you:

  1. Teach your kid what to do if they get separated from you.  While we stressed to Toby that we weren’t going to leave him, I did talk with him a number of times about what to do if he was not with us and needed an adult’s help to find us.  Knowing your parents’ names and their cell phone numbers is a big help, so we worked on that.  And since he doesn’t have our phone numbers memorized yet, I told Toby to show the adult the phone numbers I had written on his keychain, or the ID card in his pocket.
  2. Write your number on their arm with permanent marker. I picked this tip up on a blog somewhere — the blogger kept a permanent marker in her purse and whipped it out at amusement parks, airports, and other busy places.  That way, the kid can just point to their arm (or hopefully the helpful adult can discern that the numbers are a contact number to call if lost.
  3. Make hand-holding fun. Sometimes kids are just at the cusp of being independent …but aren’t ready yet.  We were able to bridge that gap by offering our hand and asking for “help” — either in knowing where to go (i.e. “look for the gate with the numbers 45”) or maybe as an extension, asking for help with the luggage.  Many rolling suitcases are very kid-friendly!
  4. Safety information is important to review, but doesn’t have to be scary. My toddler had a blast looking at the emergency instruction sheet in the airplane.  We talked about why those instructions were there and what to do in an emergency.  Find a way to stay upbeat and positive, it doesn’t have to be scary.

Okay, and now onto the travel “ID” card.  Here is what the printable travel ID card looks like:

bphotoart-travel-id-card-printable

Get Printable ID Card JPG | PDF

After inputting all the details, and adding a picture to the card, I “laminated” the whole thing.  And I say laminated in quotes because I didn’t use an official laminating product, but simply two pieces of packing tape.  Information that I added to the card for our airport excursion?  The airline we traveled on, flight numbers, and destination cities. I figured that way any airport personnel could get my toddler to the right destination if needed.

Of course, all this will do you no good if you leave it at home. So either make two and keep one in your purse until you get to the airport, or be prepared for an excited toddler to misplace it before your trip.  Toby was so excited about the surprise I’d made for him that he took his ID card out of the backpack pocket… and once we were enroute to the airport I discovered that the newly made travel ID card was somewhere in our home.  Oh well.

30 Tips for Going On a Road Trip with Kids (a parent’s survival guide)

posted in: Parenting | 5

30 Tips  for going on a road trip  with kids  a parent’s survival guideLast summer we took the boys on a multi-state road trip.  And we survived.  Surprisingly, we made good time too.  So, as we geared up to plan another road trip this summer, I thought I would share some tips with you, a road trip survival guide of sorts, for taking young kids on road trips.

This list is by no means all inclusive, but it should helpfully get you off to a good start.  And, I’ll mention, that this list is aimed more towards younger kids, but you could really adapt most of these items to older kids too.

1. Pack Lots of Snacks

We had a grocery bag full of various snacks, plus a soft-sided cooler. And don’t forget drinks too.  We intended to have most of our meals at restaurants along the way, but packed a variety of things “just in case” the kids were hungry and we needed to stop right away.

Some popular items? For protein, we brought hard boiled eggs, mixed nuts, cheese sticks, and beef jerky.  Crunchy treats included nori chips, kale chips, popcorn, and rice cakes.  We also brought along a variety of fruit – apples, bananas, raisins, and the like.  For emergency meals, we had a jar of peanut butter, canned tuna (with the pull top), avocados, and bread.  Snack bars were also a favorite.

2. Drive During Naptime

It’s like that rule for new moms, “when baby sleeps, you sleep” — but more productive.  When the kids are sleeping in their carseats, keep driving.  We drove through lunch one time, and on the way home, we pushed through and got within four hours of home so that our last day’s drive could be more leisurely.  It’s a lot easier to drive when they’re sleeping, even if you’re tired and need to get a caffeine fix in order to do so.

3. Pack a Little Potty (for emergencies)

If you have a kid who is potty training, you’ll probably already have this item on the list, but honestly, it’s a good idea to bring a little potty along for older kids too.  Depending on where you’re going, there may be long stretches between rest stops, or you might get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or the rest stop bathroom might be particularly gross.  Whatever the reason, a little potty may just be a lifesaver.

Plus, it’s better than what many of us grew up with — peeing roadside, or for boys, into an empty cup or water bottle.

4. Bring Wipes + Paper Towels

If a mess happens, you need to be able to clean it up.  Wipes can be used for potty stops, cleaning off sticky hands after a snack,… you name it.  Paper towels?  Well, if a drink gets spilled, you’ll be glad you brought a whole roll (or two) with you.  Plus, they’re more durable than napkins.

5. Let them Pack a Bag of Toys

Kids love to help pack (well, when they’re young enough, right?).  So why not put that excitement to good use and let them fill a (small) bag with some toys, books, or other items for the road trip?  It gives them a sense of ownership and a feeling of control.  They know they’ll have some familiar items with them even if the journey will be long and unknown.

6. Have a Bin of Surprise Activities

50+ Road Trip Games + Activities: Ideas to Keep Your Kids Entertained for the Long Haul - Betsy's Photography {BPhotoArt.com}Whether you call them busy bags or not, having some “mystery” activities packed in the car will be helpful.  I packed a bin with some random toys, busy bags, coloring books, and the like for the kids the night before we left.  This was in addition to the toys they’d packed on their own.  When those toys got “boring” — I was able to selectively pull out an item or two from the surprise bin, which resulted in another (hopefully) 15-20 minutes of being entertained.

Check out my post –>  50+ Road Trip Games + Activities to Keep Your Kids Entertained

7. Give Your Kid a Map

At the time of our cross-country trip, Toby was only three, and not old enough to really read a map, but he still LOVED this idea.  We gave him the map, which had our trip highlighted, and he spent countless minutes, even hours, “reading the map” and telling us where to go.  Older kids could become involved with navigating and providing directions, which also can be exciting.

8. Have them Help Pack Clothes

I have always found that kids like choices.  And getting to choose which clothes come on the trip is no exception.  I told my toddler what kind of clothes I needed from his drawers, and had him bring them to me.  We may have had a little more than we needed, but ultimately it was okay, because part of taking a trip is learning how to pack.  Did it take a little longer?  Sure.  But we had no fights about clothes while on the trip — any issues were curtailed with “well, you chose what to bring.”

9. Show Them (Often) Where You’re Going

As we counted down the days to our trip, Toby and I spend time talking about where we were headed, how long it would take to get there, and the kind of things we would see on the way (mountains).  We talked about this for days.  And on the trip, too.  Interestingly, he never asked “are we there yet?”  — but “are we to the mountains yet?”

10. Pick a Travel Buddy

Sometimes it is tough for kids to sleep in a strange place.  Having a travel buddy (i.e. stuffed animal) from home can help.  Before leaving, Toby got to pick one or two stuffed animals that would get to travel with us.  And he had fun “taking care of them” on our trip, telling them where we were going, during the drive.  When we stopped for the night, those stuffed animals gave a sense of familiarity to a strange hotel room.

11. Bring a Familiar Pillow and Blanket

As with the travel buddy, these two items proved invaluable for overnight hotel room comfort.  Toby snuggled up in his Superman fleece blanket, with the homemade toddler-sized pillow he uses regularly, and felt somewhat at ease with the new environment.  Beyond that, the pillow and blanket got used during naptime in the car, or when the air conditioning got a little too cool for comfort.

12. Pack Slippers

Whether they help keep cold feet warm, or clean feet from getting dirty, your kids may prefer to have a go-to set of slippers rather than having to keep something on their feet (like shoes or socks).  Also, having slippers can help kids make the mental transition – “we’re here for the night.”

13. Find a Hotel with a Pool

After being cooped up in a car all day, being able to splash and swim in the hotel pool will do wonders for tiring out antsy kids and use up that extra energy.  Even if there’s only time for a short swim before bed, it is worth it.  One night we changed our hotel accommodations to a neighboring hotel because the original place only had an outdoor pool (that was closed down).  Being able to swim that night made my boys so excited.

14. No Pool? Have Bath Time

No pool?  Don’t feel like venturing out to the pool?  Just let the kids play in the bathtub.  While we enjoyed swimming in the pool I just mentioned, another night we were not so fortunate.  My toddler was placated by having time to splash in the bathtub after dinner.  It wasn’t quite the same, and we didn’t have any bath toys with us, but that didn’t matter too much.

15. Plan a Picnic in the Hotel

Sometimes, when you’ve been traveling all day, it’s good to just get some food and eat in the hotel room.  You can call it a “picnic” to get the kids more excited.  We did this on one occasion when I was concerned about the wait time in the hotel restaurant (and impending toddler breaking point).  No need to be quiet or sit still in the hotel room…. grab and go is ok!

16. Keep Your Normal Bedtime Routine

Keeping some semblance of normalcy will be so helpful for your kids.  For us, it was bringing along a selection of books so that Toby could pick three books to have read to him before bed.  You might not be able to do your whole bedtime routine, but I’m sure you can probably incorporate portions of it.

17. Bring a Stepstool and Toilet Seat Insert

There’s nothing worse than losing your sense of independence, especially amidst the stress of travel.  We brought a folding stepstool for the bathroom so that my toddler could reach the sink and use the toilet without help.  He learned how to put unfold and use the folding toilet seat too — which made things much more toddler-friendly in the hotel bathroom.  Since the seat folded down compactly, we were also able to use it during any rest stops while enroute.

18. Give Kids Their Own Water Bottle

Whether you give your kids their own child-sized or adult-sized water bottle is your choice, but be aware that the smaller it is, the less it will hold before you have to stop and refill it.  We gave my toddler an adult water bottle so that he wouldn’t run of of water as quickly.  It usually lasted most of the day.

19. Leave a Light on at Night

Sure, you can bring your own night light when you travel, but then you have to remember to take it with you when you leave.  And if you’re staying just one night at each hotel, that means lots of opportunities to forget it!  What we did is leave the hotel bathroom light on and crack the door open — it usually works pretty well.  Or, if you’re one to sleep with the TV on, you can use that glow as your night light, I suppose.

20. Eat a Good Breakfast

Especially when you’re traveling, it’s important to get a good breakfast.  Whether that means eating on the road, from your assorted snacks, or stopping at the breakfast buffet, make sure to take time to get some protein in the morning.  We brought hard boiled eggs and instant oatmeal along for “just in case” …because sometimes the hotel continental breakfast is limited to bagels, bread, and other items that a gluten-free person can’t enjoy.

21. Leave What You Can in the Car

Don’t bring everything into your hotel room.  Just the essentials.  If you’re going to be on the road early the next morning, there’s no sense in bringing EVERYTHING in.  We packed some bags with items that wouldn’t be needed until our end destination, and those never came in from the car during our road trip stops.

21. Have Them Help Load/Unload the Car

In the very least, give your kids a sense of ownership and let them help by loading and unloading some of their own things.  This wasn’t a requirement — some days, the boys were so exhausted that they wanted nothing to do with the loading or unloading.  But other days, Toby was full of energy and excited to help push the luggage out to the car.  Play it by ear, and ask if they want to help… if not, no big deal.

22. Let them “Explore” The Hotel

When you first arrive to your hotel, it can be fun to let your kids help you scout out the important things: hotel pool, ice + vending machines, where breakfast will be served, etc.  This doesn’t have to be a really involved activity, but it will give you all a chance to stretch your legs after sitting in the car all day.

23. Play “I Spy” Out the Hotel Room Window

No, I’m not talking about being a peeping Tom.  Look for any city sights, mountains, or other natural monuments that you know will be nearby.  Even if it’s dark, you can still enjoy looking at the night skyline. Depending on how close to the city you are, you’ll also be able to scan the night sky for airplanes or even constellations.

24. Limit Screen Time

I know there are exceptions to this rule, and sometimes you just need to prevent a meltdown.  But, I grew up with the mindset that you go on vacation to enjoy the trip.  So, we do our best to minimize screen time, since the road trip is part of the vacation.  There are many driving games you can play that require little prep work.  If all else fails? There’s no shame in offering screen time if you know it will prevent an imminent meltdown.

25. Expect Delays + Detours

With kids, there are no guarantees.  You have to be prepared for delays, for unexpected changes to your schedule.  Part of being a parent is about learning to live with that chaos.  So don’t expect your trip to run on a military schedule… it might not go according to plan.

26 . Create a Special Music CD

We made a music CD for the car ride, with tracks that the kids enjoyed, so that we wouldn’t have to be scanning for new radio stations as we went in and out of range.  It really helped having songs that were familiar!  You may want to figure out how to fade your car’s stereo to the rear in case the songs get a little repetitive for the adults in the front seat.  I know I got tired of the songs before my boys did.

27. Be Prepared for Temperature Differences

It’s always important to bring along a variety of clothes for different weather conditions.  But, beyond that, you’ll want to be prepared for temperature differences in your sleeping areas too.  The hotel rooms we stay in tend to be much warmer than our home.  It was really helpful to have a light blanket for the kids to sleep under instead of the huge down comforter or bed spread.

28. Avoid Restroom Power Struggles

We avoided (most) potty power struggles by informing my toddler, whenever exiting the car for a break, “you will be using the bathroom before getting back in the car.” It gives them a greater sense of control, and lets them know what to expect.  It also prevented a number of “I have to go” incidents that would have occurred right after getting on the road again.

29. Be Patient

Kids will be kids. And when they get excited, they don’t listen as well.  So, if you expect their excitement to alter their ability to listen, obey, sleep, etc…. you can remind yourself to be patient with them, you know they’re not being difficult intentionally.

30. Give Your Kid a Camera

Kids love to take pictures.  While I’m not sure my toddler’s pictures were anything to write home about (many of them were of the back of the car seat), having a camera “of his own” really made Toby proud.  He would pull out his camera to take pictures of the mountains, of the cows, or other things we saw that he found interesting.  And then, when we got to the hotel, we could pull them up on the laptop and look through the pictures that were taken that day.


 

Well, what do you think? Did I miss something?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  Also, make sure to check out my related post, 50+ Road Trip Games + Activities to Keep Your Kids Entertained.

DIY Travel First Aid Kit

posted in: Notes | 2

bphotoart-diy-travel-first-aid-kitEvery parents needs a mini first aid kit in their purse, backpack, or diaper bag.  I can’t count the number of times we’ve needed “ouchy cream” (home-crafted healing salve) to soothe a boo boo, or a bandage for an accidentally scraped knee.  And sure, they sell first aid kits of all sizes.  I’ve bought a number of those travel first aid kits myself.  But, the thing is, most of them come with a sampling of items — more of a one time use — and it doesn’t usually have much space to hold the supplies we need.

Here are a couple nice ones, if you want to give them a shot before making your own. A sidenote: I’ll be sharing #afflinks to Amazon in this post, mostly for your convenience, in case you want to buy any of the goodies mentioned.

But if you want to create a custom first aid kit that will be the perfect fit for you, then keep reading.  To make this nifty kit, I pillaged some items from around the house.  Specifically, the items below:

Yes, I happened to have all that stockpiled among our various medicine cabinets.  Oh, and there’s one more thing you’ll need. An empty Altoids tin.  In case you’re wondering what tin has white and green, that was an Ice Chips (Immunity) tin.  But apparently you can buy empty survival tins on Amazon too.  Your choice.

So, once I had my tin ready, and my supplies, I crammed as many goodies as I could fit into that small tin.  Your mileage will vary, just make sure to include the things that you tend to use most frequently during first aid incidents.

If you want, you can use some clear packing tape to put a pretty “First Aid Kit” sign on the front of the tin.  I’ve even made a free printable for you so that this project can be really easy.  Here it is below!  Download the JPG or PDF, print, and cut out around the black line.

From Altoids Tin to Travel First Aid Kit (plus printable label!)
Download First Aid Kit Label: JPG / PDF

So, there you have it!  An easy first aid kit that is portable and totally customizable.  Make one, make a few, or churn out a bunch to give away.  Your call.

What are your “must haves” in a first aid kit?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Mürren, Switzerland – Neighborhoods Around the World

posted in: Fine Art | 2

Switzerland's Murren - Part of a virtual visit to neighborhoods around the world - BPhotoArt.comThere’s something about traveling, about seeing things beyond your backyard.  As technology continues to advance, the world continues to grow smaller and smaller.  My kids have the world at their fingertips, literally.  Through the web, you can learn about and experience things like never before.  Pictures, videos, live feeds… technology serves up the world on a platter.

I have fond memories of visiting Mürren, a village in Switzerland, when younger.  So that’s what I’m going to share with you today.  These images are not only a virtual visit across the Atlantic, but travel back in time.  When I visited Mürren, it was a car-free village, as were most of the mountainside towns and villages.  It took us 24 hours of travel to arrive in Mürren from the Zurich, the capital of Switzerland. You can’t drive to Mürren, but have to travel by funicular up the mountainside (or hike it on foot).  There are also cable cars that get you up and down the mountain.

The funicular is a mountainside train that travels up and down the mountainside.  There are actually two cars — they counterbalance each other, so one always travels up the track as the other travels down an adjacent track.  It’s fun for kids to watch for the other car and wave at the other passengers as they cross paths mid-way up the mountainside.

We would travel to Lauterbrunnen by train, then up in the funicular to Grutschalp.  From there we would take a smaller train past Winteregg to Mürren, the end of the line.  My grandparents always enjoyed staying at the Hotel Eiger, which overlooked the station.

We would spend our days exploring the countryside around Mürren… the Blumenthal valley was always a popular excursion — we would stop for lunch at the Suppen Alp, a restaurant in the middle of the valley. We also enjoyed visiting the top of the Schilthorn by cable car, where the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria, is located.  You might be familiar with it, as it was featured in the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Show me your neighbourhood around the worldThis post is part of the Neighborhoods Around the World tour, hosted by The Piri-Piri Lexicon. Make sure to check out other neighborhoods around the world!

50+ Road Trip Games + Activities to Keep Your Kids Entertained

posted in: Parenting | 9

50+ Road Trip Games + Activities: Ideas to Keep Your Kids Entertained for the Long Haul - Betsy's Photography {BPhotoArt.com}Car rides, even short ones, can be tough!  This fall I was gearing up for a cross-country road trip to visit family in the southern states.  Call me crazy, but I decided to pack up the boys and undertake a 12 hour road trip.  As I told my driving buddy (my mom) — the goal of this road trip wouldn’t be just to get from point A to point B.

No, our road trip would have to be leisurely and include opportunity for frequent stops.  After all, we would be traveling with a toddler and a baby — recipe for road trip disaster, no?

So, we started planning.  The 12 hour drive would be split into two days (ideally).  We could travel during nap times, stop for lunch or eat en route depending on everyone’s mood. Maps and such were scoured for possible side stops, should we need a break to stretch our legs.  The hotels we would stay at had to have a swimming pool.  And so on and so forth.

But what about keeping the kids entertained en route?  Well, that’s where this list comes in.  As I was planning our trip, I knew we would need a plethora of games and activities to keep my kids entertained for the long haul.  Ok, let me amend that. This list was really meant for my older son… we all know babies are content to eat, sleep, and be changed regularly.

50+ Road Trip Games + Activities

So, let me share the huge list of 50+ road trip games and activities to keep your kids entertained for the long haul…hopefully from point A to point B!  Make sure to scroll to the bottom for some more (shorter) lists of snack ideas and travel resources.

  1. Best Road Trip Songs
  2. Road Trip Bingo
  3. DIY Buckle Toy from an old car seat
  4. Road Trip Experiment Printable
  5. Restaurant “I Spy” Printable
  6. Road Trip Journal Pages – Printable
  7. Airplane Math Roadtrip Game
  8. Road Trip Drawing Prompts – Printables
  9. Road Trip Printable: ABC Order
  10. Alphabet “I Spy” Printable
  11. Portable Activity Kid for Little Travelers
  12. Are We There Yet Map Game
  13. Squares and Dots Board (Printable)
  14. Wacky Tracks Fidget Toy Busy Bag
  15. Car Trip Busy Box
  16. Record Audiobooks for Children
  17. Paint Sample Rainbow Fan
  18. DIY Counting Sticks Busy Bag
  19. Pumpkin Number Matching Busy Bag
  20. Shoe Tying Busy Bag Board
  21. Make Your Own Kid’s Travel Binder
  22. Fine Motor Weaving Busy Bag
  23. DIY Portable Art Board
  24. Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt (Do this en route)
  25. High Tech Coloring (Painting Lulu App)
  26. Train Track Counting Activity and Busy Bag
  27. Travel Sensory Activities for Baby
  28. Rainbow Lacing Busy Bag
  29. Map a Road Trip (Map Skills for Kids)
  30. Using Google Maps to Help Kids Follow Your Travel Journey
  31. DIY Clipping Toy
  32. Magnetic Tangram Puzzle in a Mint Tin
  33. Ladybug Math Game
  34. Road Trip Playlist
  35. Travel Storage Organizer for the Driver’s Seat
  36. DIY Travel Coloring Cases
  37. Animal Trackers Club
  38. Velcro Dot Craft Sticks
  39. What Will I Do If I Can’t Tie My Shoe” – Fastener Busy Bag
  40. Road Trip Busy Boxes
  41. Teaching Kids to Budget on a Road Trip
  42. Tic Tac Toe Busy Bag
  43. Kids’ Travel Pack
  44. Big Brother Kid (3 Busy Bag Activities)
  45. Mini Lego Playset
  46. Pocket Sized Magnetic Fishing Set in Altoids Tin
  47. Road Trip Activity Bin and Binder
  48. Printable Lacing Cards (Numbers 0-10)
  49. Busy Bags 101
  50. Portable Lego Kit For Little Travelers
  51. Peek-a-Boo Toy Sacks (sewing tutorial)
  52. Creepy Crawly Seek and Find
  53. “I Spy” Bottle
  54. 5 Travel Games to Help Ease Culture Shock
  55. Magnetic Pipe Cleaner Discovery Bottle
  56. Easy DIY Seek and Find Bag
  57. Make Your Car Road Trip Ready
  58. 5 Road Trip Apps
  59. Number Recognition Car Ride Game

10 Road Trip Snacks for Kids

What are some good snacks to take on a road trip?  Well, that depends on your idea of a “good snack.”  I wanted to make sure we had nutritious and healthy fare for our road trip, so keep that in mind.  Yes, we did bring a cooler, since some of the items wouldn’t last too long otherwise:

  1. Travel-friendly fruit (apples, bananas, clementines)
  2. Veggies (carrots, celery)
  3. Hummus (for veggies)
  4. Dried fruit (raisins, dates, prunes)
  5. Nuts + seeds (almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
  6. Larabars
  7. Homemade sourdough crackers
  8. Yogurt pouch snacks (in reusable snack pouches)
  9. Homemade popcorn bars
  10. protein (cheese, jerky, hardboiled eggs)

More Road Trip Resources

And finally, because I couldn’t help myself, here are some more resources you may find helpful for planning your next road trip.

  1. Road Trip Activity Pack (including printables, ages 2-8)
  2. Books About Road Trips
  3. Road Trip tips for kids that get carsick
  4. Ultimate Road Trip Guide for Families
  5. What to keep in a road trip essentials kit
  6. Eating on the road: meals and snacks
  7. How to entertain your baby in the car
  8. Airplane mode with a one year old (kind of related!)
  9. The Best Apps and Tools for Rocking Your Next Road Trip
  10. 11 Screen Free Activities for the Car

What tips do you have for taking kids on a road trip?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Memories of Montana – Camping With Family

posted in: Notes | 0

I have many fond memories of Montana.  Growing up, we would take trips almost every summer to visit my aunt and cousin.  My mom, brother, and I were the frequent travelers; my dad would often stay behind due to work obligations.  We would spend several days at my aunt’s house, enjoying the outdoor hot tub and getting the RV ready.

Then, we would load up. Pack everything into the RV: food, clothes, toys, games… you name it.  We were ready for our adventure.  Buckled into the bench seats at the table, we would play cards, color, or often people watch out the rear window.  We would stop when we needed, or if stopping wasn’t an option, there was always the choice to use the facilities enroute. Food was always a few steps away, in the kitchen; although opening the refrigerator door while rattling down the road was a little hairy.

Campgrounds were our destination, sometimes KOAs, sometimes pristine wilderness areas.  Once, we parked in a campground during the pitch black of night.  We’d been on the road all night, and didn’t even hook up when we pulled in for the night. That morning, when we woke, we found ourselves in the charred remains of a forest.  My mother has vivid memories of driving the RV around hairpin curves, steep drop-offs.

55 mph was our speed limit (if that).  But didn’t matter. We loved every minute of our travels.  We visited the “must-see” places, Yellowstone, Glacier, and the like.  We stopped at indiscriminate sites too.  Colored pencils let us document our trip in drawing pads, or stones from one of the rivers that we gathered to paint.

We rafted down rivers, once being dropped off by the adults, to meet at the pick-up point a mile or two down the river.  We had campfires, watched wildlife, and enjoyed late nights whispering under the covers in the “loft” bed above the cab.  Self-sufficiency was ours, we could go wherever, whenever.  As long as we monitored the gray and black water tanks.

We stayed in bear country. We saw bears. Black bear cubs climbing over fences, many yards away.  Grizzly bears, brown bears.  Bears that came up to our RV while we were on the road — my cousin’s bicycle handle had the teeth marks to prove it.

We always came back from Montana with many fond memories, eager to return again.  We would always bemoan the fact our families lived so far apart.

But even today, we still have the memories.

Family Trip to Montana

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!

The Legacy of A Truly Excellent Woman

posted in: Notes | 32

Today I am sharing a poem in memory of a truly excellent woman, my grandmother – Fayola Ash. I wrote this in memory of her passing, which was almost three years ago — on my son’s due date (3/15/2011). He arrived about two weeks later, in good health — and he was known by name to my grandmother before she died. If you want to read the backstory behind the poem, consider some thoughts on creating a photographic legacy, and view more candid photographs, make sure to read to the end.

Betsy and her Grandmother, Fayola, in Pozzouli, Italy
Betsy and her Grandmother, Fayola, in Pozzouli, Italy (2010)

A Truly Excellent Woman

My grandmother was always certain,
calm, assured.
She had a firm foundation.
Her faith was strong,
her compassion knew no bounds.
She knew what she believed, and did accordingly.
Her whole life was a testament to her Creator.
She recovered from polio,
she raised four children (including twins),
she managed her household.
She loved and respected her husband,
deferring to him in public;
but if you knew them, you would know
he let her have the final say.
She was wise and thoughtful,
kind and loving,
opinionated but usually justified.
Her life was spent inspiring others,
through the works of her hands,
the music she created
as her fingers danced across the keys.
Age slowed them down, but didn’t stop her.
She loved music, and kept her dearest hymns
on her lips, even as death approached.
She lived a life worth living.
But in the end, cancer struck.
A vicious, quick attack,
leaving only weeks to come to terms with
the finality of the battle.
In her dying hours, she was selfess.
Caring more about the impending celebration of life,
that my son’s birth would not be
overshadowed by her death.
She always wanted the best for others.
Even at the sacrifice of herself.
Small in stature, she left big shoes to fill.
I hope my legacy will be worthy,
that one day I will fill my grandmother’s shoes.
She was a truly excellent woman.

3.12.2014


Backstory of “A Truly Excellent Woman”

This section does talk about my faith and beliefs. If that might offend you, feel free to skip to the next section. It’s just an integral part of who my grandmother was, so I can’t overlook it.

The Voice Bible translation describes the Proverbs 31 woman as “a truly excellent woman” (Pr 31:10). This is where I began when writing this poem, as my grandmother was an inspiration to all who knew her. She was everything one would aspire to be as a woman of God. While we never get over the loss of a loved one, it has taken me several years to realize the impact her life has had on me, and how I want to live my life as a wife, mother, and person. I hope that I will one day be able to look back on my life and know that I too, with God’s grace, was able to be a truly excellent woman in all my words and deeds.

A Shared Journey to Italy + Israel

In 2010, I accompanied my grandmother on a trip to Israel and Italy (she did not want to go alone). At 86, she was not the youngest on the tour, but she was a trooper. She conquered all the stairs at Tel Megiddo, she walked the Via Dolorosa, and climbed aboard a camel. Why the camel ride? She’s always wanted to ride a camel since seeing them on her travels to Egypt with my grandfather (my photographic inspiration). On this trip, she carried his camera with her (yes, I helped her use it from time to time). It was an honor to have taken that trip with her, and I have memories I will always cherish. She was a world traveler, and I got to share in her last big trip abroad.

The images below feature candid photographs of my grandmother (and some with me as well) during our travels to Israel and Italy. I’ve plenty of fine art photographs from my travels to show you, but that’s for another day. Today it’s about my grandmother’s legacy. [click on any image to view in gallery mode]

Candid Photographs of Our Journey

What About Your Legacy?

What kind of legacy will you leave? What do you hope to accomplish in your life? What will the photographs say about you to future generations?

I know I tend to ask a lot of open-ended questions, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers either. I know what matters to me… yet I make new discoveries on that front every day. I hope you too will be inspired to take an active role in crafting your legacy.

The decisions we make today, the actions we take now, all affect the person we will be remembered as by future generations.

And if you haven’t checked it out already, make sure to read my post, Life is Too Short, which I wrote earlier this month as I grieved with my friend for their loss of a family member. Pregnancy does things to ramp up emotions, so maybe that’s part of the reason for these sentimental posts. But truthfully, sentimental is part of what I do for a living. I make memories for my clients, I create portraits that capture personalities, I help document family legacies. I love doing multi-generational portraits because, for me, family is really what it’s all about.

So, back to my question: what about your legacy? Do you have someone similar to my grandmother, a truly excellent woman, in your life? Will you be an inspiration to others, as my grandfather inspired me to become a photographer? Will you be known as a someone whose shoes others can only hope to fill?

Butterflies

posted in: Fine Art | 10

As a continuation of my reminiscing the other day… Here are some photographs of butterflies I unearthed during a recent reorganization of my hard drive.  I love nature.  As adults, we often get caught up in “adult” things and forget to see the excitement in the world around us!  Even something as ordinary as a butterfly is complex and awe-inspiring, should you take the time to watch one for a while.  We did just that last summer, during our visit to Mackinac Island.  While the Butterfly House wasn’t quite as peaceful with an excited toddler in tow, I still did enjoy watching all the butterflies.  The toughest part was watching little hands and keeping them from trying to “pick up” butterflies.  That “look but don’t touch” rule can be so tough to remember.  This butterfly photograph below is my favorite from our visit:

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Mackinac Island Photographs

posted in: Fine Art | 10

I love nature.  And last summer we were able to take a trip to Mackinac Island as a family.  By that, I don’t mean just the three of us, but also my parents, my brother, and his wife.  We had a lovely time, and Toby appreciated the break from being in a carseat for the week.  While we were there, I did create some landscape photographs…well, because, I just can’t help myself in regards to that.  Sometimes I see a good picture, and it just *needs* to be taken.  Here are a few of the favorites from Mackinac Island.  The first two are views from Arch Rock.  Here’s looking out over the shoreline:

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Portraits of Italy and Israel

posted in: Local | 0

As you may know, last year Betsy traveled across the Atlantic to both Israel and Italy.  Over a period of fourteen days, Betsy explored and visited many interesting cities — and gained an interesting first person perspective regarding places she’d previously only known via textbooks.  From getting to see the Sistine Chapel in person and experiencing Jerusalem during Holy Week, to swimming in the Dead Sea and exploring the mountaintop of Masada, experiences such as these were inspiration for the photographs Betsy captured.

Portraits of Rome, Italy Portraits of Jerusalem, Israel

Early next year, you too will be able to share in these experiences — Betsy will be sharing images created during her time in Israel and Italy at the Dexter library. The two series lecture and exhibit will be held on February 26th, 2012 and April 29th, 2012.

Lecture and Exhibit: Portraits of Rome.
On February 26th, 2012 at 2pm, join Betsy Finn and travel to  Rome – the eternal city – through a photographic exhibit and lecture.  Betsy will share images, historical background, and anecdotes from her visit to various parts of Italy, including Rome, Pompeii, and Tivoli.

Lecture and Exhibit: Portraits of Israel.
On April 29th, 2012 at 2pm, join Betsy Finn and travel to Israel – the land of milk and honey – through a photographic exhibit and lecture.  Betsy will share images and history of Jerusalem during Holy week, as well as the historically significant Masada, to the Sea of Galilee, and Nazareth and Jericho.

Both lecture/exhibits will be held at the Dexter District Library.

Jerusalem of Gold

posted in: Notes | 0

So there is no way I can really do this print justice on the web. But, it’s one of the images I created while in Israel earlier this year. It also was accepted into the 2010 International Print Exhibition, organized by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). This image of Jerusalem was taken during Holy Week from the Mount of Olives, around sunrise on Easter morning. Beautiful city. Lots of history. Many stories to be discovered.

Jerusalem of Gold, fine art photograph taken at sunrise on Easter Sunday in Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

I have some plans for unveiling the rest of the images I created while in Israel and Italy. But it might require some patience on your part :).

Visiting Israel!

posted in: Notes | 1

Greetings from Israel! I am in the middle of traveling right now, and figured I could give you an update or two while I am on my trip!

Unfortunately, I can’t make this a visual experience for you right now — traveling without. A laptop necessitates saving photo-sharing for later.

Yesterday was the first full day of sightseeing for the trip. We went to Masada, and learned about the history of the place. I would love to go back and actually hike up to the Masada — this time, though, we rode on a tramcar built in Bern, Switzerland. The view from the top of Masasa was impressive.

Next, we drove north along the Dead Sea to Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered. It was interesting to learn about the ritual baths, and that the sect actually didn’t even live in the buildings; they lived in the caves (presumably some of the ones where the scrolls were discovered). Again, I would like to go there sometime and have time to hike up closer to the caves.

Our last stop for the day was at the Dead Sea. I did go swimming there, but not for long. The beach was very crowded, with it being Passover week and all.

Our guide is definitely very knowledgable and has been imparting mini-history lessons since we got here. Being insure while learning about history definitely males it feel much more real.

Ok! That’s all for now! I’ll give you another update when we reach another free wifi hotspot! Traveling is so much different with the advent of wifi (not to mention Internet). Last time I was abroad, I had to pay for Internet at a local Internet cafe; per minute pricing makes you keep things shorter, that’s for sure!