Interview with nutritonist Lily Nichols, author of Real Food for Gestational Diabetes

lilybook3

Several months ago, I had the great pleasure and thrill to meet an exceptional woman, Lily Nichols, during an interview over the phone (I was being interviewed to have my story in her book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes). Lily is a Cetified Diabetes Instructor, a Registered Dietician, and a Certified Pilates Instructor. While listening to her speak, I could tell she has a serious passion for helping others and truly cares about those she helps. She is truly beautiful on the inside and out.

lilybook2

Months after our interview, I received a package in the mail with her book in it (I was excited to see she had included my story in the book as well!). The book is bigger than I expected it to be, and a WONDERFUL resource that I wish I had had with all of my pregnancies.

It wasn’t until my 4th pregnancy that I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I had to seriously modify my diet to stabilize my blood sugar levels and avoid taking insulin. This book would have saved me so much time and energy in the hundreds of hours of research I did during that time!

Real Food for Gestational Diabetes is a very thorough book, which goes into detail to answer so many questions that I remember having myself.  It helps you create your very own meal plan for your particular needs during pregnancy, goes into postpartum care, explains how ketosis works during pregnancy, explains why we have blood sugar spikes, and much more.

Take a look at the first page of the table of contents to get an idea of what kind of topics the book goes into:

lilybook

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Lily if I could interview her for a blog post here, and she kindly obliged. You can read our conversation below.

Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got started as a nutritionist?

I knew I wanted to have a career involving food from very young age – mostly because I loved cooking and gardening! I was also fascinated by the idea that food could be used to treat or prevent certain diseases.

But because I didn’t want to work long hours in a restaurant kitchen, I chose the nutrition path. That led me to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition, become a registered dietitian/nutritionist, and later, after working in prenatal care and gestational diabetes, train to be a certified diabetes educator. My interest lies heavily in integrative and functional nutrition, the quality of our food (how it’s grown/raised and how that affects nutrient levels & health), prenatal nutrition (how a mom’s diet shapes a health of her child), and mindful eating (listening to our bodies more than a calculator).

What is gestational diabetes, and what percentage of women experience it?

Gestational diabetes is usually defined as diabetes that develops or is first diagnosed during pregnancy. However, it can also be defined as “insulin resistance” or “carbohydrate intolerance” during pregnancy.

I prefer to rely on the latter description because, at the end of the day, gestational diabetes is the result of insulin resistance, which means a woman is unable to tolerate large amounts of carbohydrates without experiencing high blood sugar.

Up to 18% of pregnant women will get diagnosed with gestational diabetes, making it the most common complication of pregnancy.

What made you decide to write a book specifically for women with gestational diabetes?

I’ve specialized in gestational diabetes for most of my career and I helped develop the nutrition guidelines used by the California Diabetes and Pregnancy Program (which many other states have also adopted).

However, once I put those guidelines into practice clinically, they frequently failed to adequately control blood sugar levels. Instead of believing these women had “failed diet therapy”, I realized that diet therapy could have been failing them. Medicine and insulin are useful tools for controlling blood sugar, but I believed we could do more nutritionally before resorting to them.

If gestational diabetes is “carbohydrate intolerance”, why was the gestational diabetes diet so high in carbs? And where did the elusive recommendation for 175g minimum for carbohydrates for pregnant women come from?

No one could tell me, so I spent months researching this in depth and realized this supposed “standard of care” had very little evidence to support it.

But I kept coming across the same argument against reducing carbohydrates in a prenatal diet. The primary reason clinicians are afraid to endorse a lower carbohydrate diet for pregnancy is that they’ve been given outdated information regarding ketosis. This topic is so complex that I devote an entire chapter to in my book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes. But the short answer is that low-level nutritional ketosis is common during pregnancy, does not carry the same risks as starvation ketosis or diabetic ketoacidosis, and does not negatively impact the brain development of a baby (More on that in this post.)

What makes your diet plan different than the conventional diets offered today?

Well, first off, the carbohydrate recommendations are different. I don’t believe there’s a one-size-fits-all diet for pregnancy, and that includes the whole notion that there’s an “ideal” level of carbohydrates for all women to consume. It should be personalized to the woman and to her blood sugar & activity levels. Often, that will mean a lower carbohydrate diet compared to conventional guidelines, but not always.

Second, I emphasize the importance of quality fats in a prenatal diet, rather than a low-fat diet. There are numerous nutrients found in fatty foods that are key for fetal development. This whole notion that “fat is bad” is extremely outdated. It inadvertently leaves women deficient in a variety of nutrients, including choline, glycine, and fat-soluble vitamins. I cover why these nutrients, and others, are key to a developing baby in Chapter 5 of my book.

Third, I emphasize a real food approach that embraces nutrient-dense foods, including animal foods (from properly-raised animals). It’s not just about eating fewer processed carbohydrates, it’s about replacing those foods with the right things. Inadequate micronutrients can lead to blood sugar issues as well, so we have to focus on food quality.

Have you seen much success with people who have followed your nutritional advice during pregnancy?

YES! If I didn’t see this work clinically, I would not have written a book about it. Not only does a real food diet tend to normalize blood sugar levels, but it often leads to improvements in other issues like swelling, high blood pressure, and excessive weight gain. All of these combined result in less complicated pregnancies, births, and healthier babies.

What are some of your favorite cooking blogs or websites?

I love seeing innovative recipes, so I like to watch what the chefs are up to. Epicurious.com is one of my favorites to hunt for recipes. I actually cook without a recipe 95% of the time and believe cooking is much more about technique anything. I have to force myself to write down a recipe if I plan to share it on my blog!

Who are some people who have inspired you?

There are many, but I’ll choose just one for now. Fellow “real food” dietitian and diabetes educator, Franziska Spritzler, inspired me to not be afraid to speak my mind. She’s an expert in carbohydrate-restricted diets and helped me stay committed to writing my book.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

Oh, this one’s tough. I LOVE food, so I can’t choose just one meal, so I’ll give you a few examples. For breakfast, I love eggs over-easy with bacon, sautéed kale, and avocado (this explains my book cover for Real Food for Gestational Diabetes, right?).

Osso Bucco is one of my favorite dishes, which sounds really fancy, but it’s basically beef shank with the bone, tomatoes, and vegetables slow-cooked. All the really inexpensive and tough cuts of grass-fed beef are my favorite. They make the most delicious (and nutritious) sauces. I prefer it over steak any day.

This will sound trite, but I really love roasted vegetables – bell peppers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, onions, fennel. Veggies have so much flavor that gets concentrated when roasted. I roast a few half-sheet pans of vegetables every week. They make a great side dish with whatever else I’m having at a meal.

rbs

Do you have anything else you might like to add?

We need to re-frame how we look at gestational diabetes. It’s a unique opportunity for moms to focus on self care, but too often it becomes a source of unnecessary stress. A real food approach is ideal for gestational diabetes, because it emphasizes nutrient-dense foods that provide a baby with all the critical nutrients for growth, while also minimizing blood sugar spikes. This makes it much easier to manage.


You can purchase Lily’s book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes, in Kindle format or in book form. In my opinion, it is money well spent!

Readers, let me know your thoughts! Have you had gestational diabetes and had success with a low carb diet? I would love to hear you share your experiences.

Our frequent terrible Sundays

I don’t believe in bad luck or curses. However, our recent string of bad Sundays would almost make me reconsider that.

Almost.

Actually being able to get to church on Sunday, with everyone fully dressed and the car functioning, has been basically a miraculous experience for us most Sundays. I’m not exaggerating at all. If we ever show up at church together, I hope people can understand what all we had to go through to get there.

Several Sundays ago, we woke up, spent 2 hours getting everyone bathed, dressed, teeth brushed, Bibles found, diaper bag packed…only to go out to the car and find that someone had left the door on our Excursion open, and the battery was dead. 20 minutes later, when we managed to get the battery charged, we were already late for the worship service, but decided to try for the Sunday School service instead. On the way there, the car ran out of gas. We had to stay on the side of the road, waiting for my brother in law come and bring us a few gallons of gas. That took long enough to make us miss both services.

All week long after that, we had zero problems with the car. I managed to get all the kids dressed and ready to go to town several times that week, and never had any issues. I never have problems during the week, it seems!

However, the next Sunday, we were struggling to get everyone ready- it seemed no one wanted to cooperate. We couldn’t find any clothes for the little ones that matched, or that looked nice enough for church (this usually is a problem for us because they are so rough on their clothes…the boys, anyway). I finally managed to find the little ones clothes and have them ready- but then realized the older kids weren’t wearing their shoes. Then we found out, one of them was missing a pair of shoes. We searched everywhere and could not find the shoes. Thirty minutes later, we found about six shoes which had no match, but still couldn’t find the other shoe. I offered rewards to the child who could find the shoe before it was time to leave. No one could find it. It turned out we were late for the first service again, but we continued our desperate search for the shoe. We finally found another pair of shoes that was slightly too big for him to wear, and just told him to use them instead. We walked out to the car, relieved to finally have it all together, and tried to start the car. When I heard the clickity sound that means the battery is out, I thought, NO WAY. NOT AGAIN. Sure enough, someone had left the light on in the back of the car and it ran every bit of the battery out, again. Why couldn’t that have happened on a Friday, I wondered?
After getting it charged again, we finally made it to the second service, but just barely.

Another Sunday, we made sure to check and see whether the car doors were closed the night before. I was actually a bit paranoid about it, so I asked the kids to go out there a few times just to be sure no lights were on, and the doors were all shut, even the trunk door. I got everyones clothes ready the night before, and the next morning, it was much smoother getting everyone ready for church. I felt so proud of myself that we actually got ready and had time to spare! I actually got to enjoy eating some breakfast and checked my emails before leaving. When it was time to go, we all got in the car and buckled up. I dug in my purse for the keys, but they weren’t in it. I asked one of the older kids to check on the table for it. They came back and said it wasn’t there. I ran in myself, and started looking around. It was no where to be found! So I had to get all of the kids back out of the car, and we all started hunting for the keys. We looked so long, we ended up being late for both services. Later that evening, it was found. Obviously, it was too late by that time.

Two Sundays ago, I woke up early to try to get everyone ready on time. I got all of their baths in and had them all looking nice. We somehow managed to lose the keys again. (I promise you, I never lose the keys any other day. It just doesn’t happen! That’s what makes it so perplexing!) So we go through the whole search again, and James and I finally decided that we would go, and leave the kids with their grandparents next door (because we were to meet with the pastor that day)… and we decided to drive in our big truck with a metal bed on the back. It turned out that I somehow had parked my Excursion in just the right place to make it extremely difficult to get the large truck out, so James spent about 1 very long and intense hour maneuvering it until it was able to just barely squeeze it through the tight spot in between my vehicle and the fence in our yard. It was such an event getting through that spot…and amazing it actually happened at all! About halfway to church, he noticed the battery light come on the truck, and he thought maybe the alternator wasn’t charging the battery. So rather than end stranded on the side of the road, he decided to go back to his parents house, and use their vehicle instead. We ended up at church, but a bit late!

Last Sunday, we went through the entire, dreadful process again…it was basically a repeat of the Sunday before, except the problem was that the battery was dead in the car this time. You can’t make this stuff up. The kids had again left a light on!! Again, please let me stress- this doesn’t happen on other days of the week. It is ridiculous. It felt like I was being pranked! I ended up going to church alone in the big truck, and James stayed home and watched the kids.

Now…yesterday morning, I went through all of the precautions. I checked all the doors on the Excursion. I checked the lights. I checked where the keys were, and put them in a very safe spot (our pot rack on the ceiling is the only place we can usually keep things safe, so we hung them there). I woke up a little later than I wanted to, so started rushing around trying to get everyone ready. Getting 6 kids ready in less than 45 minutes is a big challenge. After trying to bark orders at the older kids to get themselves ready, and trying to scramble to put clothes on the little ones, find matching socks, etc… we couldn’t find Bobby’s shoes, and he wasn’t dressed yet either. Everyone in the house was on the hunt for the shoes. We had one, but couldn’t find the other. Ian finally found Bobby’s other shoe, and I was so excited that finally we were almost ready to go…and we knew where the keys were, etc…Maybe we could actually make it this time. I laid the shoes onthe floor, and started dressing Bobby. I looked beside me – literally ONE minute after having laid them down, one shoe was gone! GONE. I looked around, thinking…how is this possible?? HOW? All the kids and James and I ran around the house looking for the missing shoe. It was as if it had wings and flew away. I was so stressed at this point, I ran into the bathroom to cry. I just wondered how could this happen so many times? After having a good cry, I got out of the bathroom, and fortunately, Noah found another pair of Bobby’s shoes. So got ready to get packed up and leave, and then Bonnie asked me about the keys. I told her, “They’re safe on the pot rack this time, thank goodness!” Well, turned out…they were NOT there. Not ANYWHERE! I thought to myself, “I give up! I just give up!” We didn’t find the keys, and didn’t get to church. We looked so many places. James and I discussed whether it was possible we were being sabotaged…We thought, what if the kids were hiding the keys or delibrately leaving lights on or something? But we ruled it out because the kids are always so excited to go to church. It couldn’t be that. But it sure felt like something had to be up, for this to happen so many times!

Today, I offered a 10 dollar reward to the person who found the keys. My mom actually decided to match it, making it a 20 dollar reward. Bonnie ended up finding the keys in James’ pants!

Two days ago, I decided it was time to find some way to keep track of the keys. I bought this on Amazon.com- Click and Dig Key Finder-, and will be putting it on my keychain as soon as it gets here.

I’m just hoping that next Sunday we can actually make it to church!

My thoughts on the article, “We Ditched the Time Out Chair for the Mercy Seat”

The other day, I read the article, “We Ditched the Time Out Chair for the Mercy Seat“, and I felt terribly sad and convicted as a mother.

grace

The writer made such a beautiful argument regarding our need to show mercy for our children, instead of correcting their behavior with any kind of punishment. Her argument seemed to hinge on the idea that God showed mercy to us while we were yet in our sinful state; that God always is loving and never feels disappointment toward us, but always gives us grace instead:

Quoting the author: I close my eyes and I can see the faces of so many children I have seen at the park, the swimming pool, the school drop off line, and the grocery store who never say a word but whose eyes tell it all. “I’m a disappointment”. And I have seen the head-hanging sadness in the posture of my own.

Try to find an example of God’s disappointment in the Bible. You won’t find it. Not once is there a time when He is disappointed in us. Never.

Bible-Verses-About-Mercy

And another quote:

So we ditched the “Time Out Chair” and replaced it with a “Mercy Seat”.

Because honestly, aren’t we naturally good at being hard on ourselves and understanding our faults? But, oh to have an early understanding of the abounding grace of God!

Our boys sit down in the “Mercy Seat” and we talk it out. We gently remind them of what God calls us to do, and more importantly, why. We want them to always know that when we sin, God’s mercy and grace abound. It’s a reminder to me as a mother-when I tell them to have a minute in “The Mercy Seat” it immediately cools me down. My sons are a gift, immature, learning, sinners just like me, recipients of mercy unending. It’s not enough for me to have their outward behavior conformed to what looks good on the outside.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. Romans 3:23-25

cross

This really made me think that maybe something was very wrong in the way I was parenting. I am certainly not an example of “unending mercy”. I remembered that “the goodness of God is what leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4)”. So I wondered if this meant that I also should expect only to reach my children by being continually merciful and never punishing their sins?

Was I wrong to be disciplining my children… taking away privileges? Making them feel sorry for their sin? Correcting them in whatever manner seemed best at the time? Making them feel the sting of my disappointment with them? Were my words inadvertently stealing the knowledge of God’s goodness and grace from their hearts?

I have always wanted to be able to reach my children’s hearts, and not just their actions…so this method appealed to me because I thought maybe there was a chance that I was blowing everything as a parent by failing to show my children what God’s grace and mercy really looks like. Was I really representing God with my actions toward them by correcting their behavior instead of simply showing them unending mercy and grace?

Another quote from the article:

I’m not afraid that my gentleness equates to letting someone off the hook. I know the effectiveness of mercy. I see it in the fruit of the lives of my kids.

Just two nights ago, one of my boys lay on his bed for some “Mercy Seat” time. He was there for just a moment before I came in to minister to him.

He wept from deep inside his heart. I’ll never forget the tears and the look on his face.

As soon as I got close enough, he threw himself on me. Buried his face in my neck. Little arms clinging tightly, fingers intertwining in my hair. I didn’t even have a chance to speak. “Mommy, I’m SO sorry that I have been naughty and sinned!” he wailed. And oh, the contriteness of spirit he gushed! There was nothing I could do verbally to train him in that moment because the lesson had already been learned. His tears were not out of anger and frustration or from feeling like he was getting punished. They were tears from a heart that knew he had sinned and he desperately wanted to make it right. He knew in his heart that he has a God and a Mom who love him and treat him as his sins do not deserve. And it elicited a deep and heartfelt response. Repentance-the very thing I care most about as a mom.

It took only a few moments of hugs and consolation, and words of forgiveness, and he fell right to sleep. Peaceful as can be. Restored.

When I read this part, I was touched. “I want that!”, I thought. “I want to see genuine repentance, and I want to feel that I have touched their hearts and shown them what God’s mercy is truly like.”

prodigal-son-39574-print

I talked to my husband, James, about the article. I read it to him, asked him his thoughts on it. I asked him what did he think the balance was between teaching the children grace and law? I know that the law is necessary to bring us to even understand grace. So how do I simultaneously show them the importance of both law and grace? Should I give them unending mercy in order to truly show God’s character to them?

I thought about this a very long time and finally realized that, even though I know the mother who wrote it was very sincere and certainly wants to do what is best for her family, I believe this article was teaching a wrong message.

child

The first thing I realized was that the comment from the author about God never feeling disappointment was wrong. I can think of multiple instances where God feels grieved by human sins. For example:

“The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Genesis 6:6)

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Luke 13:34)

“After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’” (Mark 3:5)

sin_724_482_80

The second thing was that without the law, how can my children truly even realize their need for grace at all? It is the law that is a mirror that brings us to Christ. The law reveals our sinfulness. The law can never bring salvation to us, however is the very instrument that can be used to bring us to realize our helplessness to be justified by our own merit, and then recognize that the only one who can really provide that justification is Christ.

“What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’” (Rom. 7:7)

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law.” (Rom. 3:20)

“The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24)

Young child sitting in corner as punishment

The third thing was God does indeed chasten His children. And the Bible even says that if he doesn’t chasten them, they are not even His sons!

“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?” (Hebrews 12:5-11)

“For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:12)

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)

So the Bible actually says that if you LOVE and DELIGHT in your child, you will correct them when they are wrong. I was very comforted to realize this and to see that I can still be showing my child mercy and grace of the Lord, while correcting them too.

The key, though, is to make sure that I don’t correct them in anger or by yelling (which is definitely something I have to work on many times!). I want them to know that when I’m correcting them, it’s because I love them and not for any other reason. I want them to be restored, and to always know that they are loved.  I don’t think showing them mercy without correction will accomplish that.

What are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments below.

Getting to meet Rick Burgess and Larry Taunton last Thursday

I was very excited to get to hear Rick Burgess, from Rick and Bubba (local radio program) speak last week at our church, where they spoke about “passing the torch of faith onto the next generation”.  (I didn’t know who Larry Taunton was at the time, but had I known, I would have been looking forward to hearing him just as much. Larry has debated with famous atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchkins on multiple occasions- I find that really inspiring!).

ptt_cullman_site

The message they brought was powerful and very convicting. It brought me to remember so many things that I had forgotten, and reminded me of how important it is to be making sure that our children see by our lives that God is #1 in our lives!   It was a wonderful event that really stirred my heart.

Years ago, I was heartbroken when I learned that Rick Burgess and his wife Sheri had lost their two year old son, William Bronner Burgess, when he drowned in their swimming pool.  I had wanted to draw a portrait in his honor at the time, but never could find very good pictures of him online. If you have time, you MUST hear Rick Burgess speaking his son’s eulogy. It’s WORTH THE WATCH!!!!! (this is part 1, but please take time to watch parts 2 and 3 as well).

When I heard that Rick would be at the event at our church, I decided to do a thorough search and see if I could find another picture to draw of him. Sure enough, on his wife’s blog, there was a picture that was perfect…so I was able to finish the drawing and bring that to the event that day. Made me so happy to give something back, because I know his radio program has had a very positive impact on our family over the years (James listens to it every day).

rickbubba1

I would very much recommend buying the DVD of Rick and Larry’s presentation. Find it here.

Larry Taunton explained that one reason for the message they shared was that he had interviewed many young atheists, and found startling facts about their growing up years. Most of them had grown up in “religious” homes, with parents who went to church. But what many of them realized was that for their parents, their faith was more of a hobby than a true conviction. They watched their parents lives and their lives didn’t add up with their professed beliefs. So the point of their message was to encourage parents to step up and LIVE their faith around their children!

I think what convicted me the most was point #9. “You must identify who or what wields the most influence in your child’s life”. They expounded on this in depth.

Unfortunately, one of my faults is that I often tend to let the kids use the computers way too much. It is very easy for me to do, because sometimes I don’t even notice what they’re doing when I’m so busy throughout each day. It is so easy to just let it happen. Their schoolwork is all on DVD, so when they are done with their schoolwork, a lot of times they will goof off on the computer and I let it go on too long just because it is easier than taking the time to tell them to do something else. They are obsessed with Minecraft! I’m going to try to stop that from being the case and be more involved in making sure they do more productive things more often! The message I heard reminded me that I am in control and can tell them no more without feeling guilty.

You can find the DVD here.

Have you seen this message before? If so, let me know your thoughts on it? What touched you the most?

Other moms can probably relate!

The past two weeks have been better than the previous two, thanks to a friend of mine who recommended taking “Dramamine”… That stuff actually works! I don’t take it as much as I probably should, because it makes me drowsy and gives me dry mouth (Of course, those are a small price to pay for relief of extreme nausea and dry heaving!) but when I do take it, I find I can wake up in the night without being forced to eat or drink something immediately… Which is kind of nice. I get better sleep. I recommend Dramamine, for sure!

I still do get sick, however, which has made it difficult to get much accomplished. (But now it’s not a CONSTANT pain like it was before… Thank goodness!)

Since I’m the kind of person who likes to get stuff done, not being able to get it done makes me feel VERY blue when the house is a mess or the kids schoolwork gets behind a few days. (Thank goodness I’ve been able to snap out of it finally, because I was feeling pretty moody tree for while. Hormones don’t help!)

Let me tell you how a typical day goes for me: I wake in the middle of the night to check the baby and go to the bathroom. As soon as I get up, I start to feel that wave of nausea hit. I think, “Oh no… I have to eat something or I’m going to be too late!” So I run to the refrigerator and stand there, looking desperately, for something that I would be able to eat without gagging. I consider making eggs. I start to gag. Nope! That won’t work. After standing there swaying back and forth trying to decide, I finally just drink a cup of milk, because it’s easy and goes down fast. If I’m lucky, it will reach my stomach before the dry heaves begin. I go back to bed and sleep.

When I wake up, I go through the exact same scenario. Sometimes I make it in time, sometimes I don’t.

James is really nice and will make food for me if he has time. It really helps!!

If I make eggs, I can only choke them down if I smother them with hot sauce. (Right now, Valentinos seems to be a favorite). Yes, hot sauce! Almost anything tangy, sour, or tart seems to really go down well for some reason.

If I smell bacon cooking I can barely stand it. And I usually LOVE bacon. I’m not kidding when I say it smells like rotting flesh cooking when I’m pregnant. Not appetizing!

I usually get a cup of coffee in the morning- so delicious and comforting-but I can’t stomach it anymore. (Which is a real bummer since my brother bought me a sampler of 100 keurig cups for Christmas! Now I gotta wait, while hubby enjoys them… I figure that by the time I get to them, all that will be left will be breakfast blend or columbian decaf. Lol)

During the day, I will have to frequently eat…almost nonstop I have to be finding something to put in my mouth. If at any time my stomach is empty, I will have dry heaves. Really painful ones, which leave you sore for a few days.

The nausea comes and goes throughout the day. I do find that unfortunately carbs go down better than foods that are better for me. A ketogenic diet is almost impossible for me if I want to keep anything down during the first trimester. I’ve tried!

I plan to return to the diet as soon as the nausea subsides. One thing that I do find interesting though, is that my blood sugar has not been that bad. I guess the placenta has not yet begun blocking insulin yet, or the baby uses all that extra glucose in some way. I don’t know. I thought I understood how low carb works but maybe there is a world of things that happen in the first trimester that I’m not aware of.

Now all the nausea and everything is not such a problem though, in the long run. It is ALWAYS worth every minute of the pain, to know that there is a baby that I will have a chance to meet one day. I am very excited to meet this new little one! (In two weeks, I’ll have an ultrasound, which will be great!)

So tell me about your experiences with pregnancy? How did a typical day go for you? Was it about the same?

What kind of foods did you crave? (I find that tart berries and lemons are very addicting right now).

Morning sickness- could use advice

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/705/70785217/files/2014/12/img_4891.jpg

My seventh pregnancy (updated to add: I probably should have said my 9th pregnancy… Just didn’t want to be confusing. I’ve had 9 pregnancies, 6 carried to term so far) has been the most difficult so far (as far as morning sickness goes) which is one reason my posts have been almost nonexistent lately.

I’ve tried a lot of things to remedy it, but haven’t really been able to find much relief at all.

My other pregnancies were hard to, but I seemed to always have a break until I smelled something that triggered a reaction, or when I first woke up and didn’t get something to eat right away… But this is pretty much a continual thing.

Does anyone have any morning sickness home remedy ideas? If so, please share them below.

It’s gotten to the point where I am hardly able to do anything except on the verge of dry heaving or throwing up constantly in between the times it actually happens (usually mornings and evenings).

This makes it difficult to get through the day or get anything accomplished- especially with 6 kids to care for. I will be asking my doctor about Zofran but have to wait till my appointment in about 1 week.

Any suggestions would be very, very appreciated! And if I don’t respond right away, it’s not because I don’t like you… I just don’t feel so good!:)

5 ways to promote yourself and your work

I have had many people over the years ask me, “How do you promote your artwork? How can you get people to see what you’re doing, and want to buy from you?”

This seems to be a pretty common question, so I decided to write a blog post about it. I hope it will be helpful to someone else who has the same questions.

Below are 5 things that you can do to promote your work:

1.) Create business cards and hand them out to everyone you meet.

business-card-exchange

When you go to the store, visit the gas station, stop by the coffee shop, pay your bills- or whatever you do during each day- each of these things is an opportunity to give out a business card. I like to strike up a conversation with someone (asking them something about themselves first, then secondly mentioning my work and what I do) and then hand them my business card. When I send letters or books or gifts in the mail, I like to include a business card. Sometimes I leave a business card in a magazine at the doctors office. You could put a card up on bulletins at grocery stores or other places that offer one. There are so many ways you can use a business card to promote your work.

The quality of the business card you use really makes a difference. When you create your business card, you need to be sure it is something that you find to be beautiful, and a reflection of you and your work. Since people do judge a book by its cover, it only makes sense that they would judge your work by the look of your card.

You can actually make a decent looking card at vistaprint.com for a low price ( think you can get 100 for about $16.00). That’s all I could afford for a long time. Finally, I was able to get some cards made at a site I heard about: moo.com. Their cards are AMAZING.

10455423_10204649571939178_2955679355205975103_n

They work out to be about 25 cents per card or so (ouch! I have only purchased once, and give them out sparingly), but really seem worth the extra money. The feel of the card is almost like holding a drivers license … It’s thick and sturdy, glossy and beautiful.

10425450_10204649571699172_5852971158290857894_n

They make a great impression when people see them. Because most of my work is drawings or paintings, I can put examples of my work on the front of the card, and my details on the back, creating a mini portfolio (since moo.com allows you to make several different fronts to your card in one order). These cards are so pretty that when I give one out to someone, I will sometimes have other people standing by requesting a card for themselves. That’s pretty cool.

10411122_10204649571779174_7065826394418959784_n

2.) Give your stuff away!

giving-2

It may seem counterintuitive when you’re wanting to make money, but I have found that giving stuff away is the BEST way to get your name out there and get exposure for your work. I have more commissions as a result of the gifts I have given than any other method I’ve tried. In 2010, I donated a 40 foot long mural to the city. The reasoning I had was that this would be a HUGE free advertisement for my work- and it worked. I have received many more commissioned murals as a result of that first free mural. It also is something I can point to if local people ask for an example of my artwork. Most of them have already seen it (or see it every day when driving through town).

cullmanmuralfinished1

It works well to donate drawings to raffles for charity events or other such things. This provides a lot of exposure, as well as helping a good cause.

You could also donate your work to a local business, hospital, or other public building for them to display. One drawing that I made of Truett Cathy (founder of Chick Fil A) is hanging up in our local Chick Fil A.

Sometimes I’ll give a portrait as a gift to someone who has lost a relative or who I know really could use lifting up. Not only does it make me feel good to be able to help bring someone a smile, the recipients of these portraits many times become my best non-paid advertisers, enthusiastically letting other people know about my work over and over. You can’t pay for advertisement like that.

3.) Create a Facebook business page

fb

A Facebook business page is such a great tool to advertise your work! The key is to keep it updated often, with plenty of pictures and interesting tidbits of information that other people might find interesting. Every time you post a status update regarding your work, it will show up on your fans’ feed. (One great way to encourage more fans is to offer a giveaway, taking a drawing of the names of those who “like” and “share” your page. When you reach the number of fans that is your goal, you draw from the names to pick the winner).

One great feature about the Facebook business page is that you can pay to spread your posts to specific audiences. You can pay as little as $5.00 to have your post appear on a few thousand people’s page, or you can pay as much as $200.00 and reach over 23,000 people at once. Every time I’ve used this feature, I’ve gotten orders. Sometimes more orders than I can handle. It’s an incredible tool for getting word out about your work.

4.) Offer a reward for referrals

one-dollar-bill-01

One thing that has worked for me in the past is offering a small cash reward to anyone who refers my work and actually gets me a sale. It works out for the referrer and me too…a real win-win. You could also offer a gift of some kind rather than money- whatever works for you.

5.)  Care, really care, about your customers.

I know you have to keep business and friendship somewhat separate – at least, enough to actually make money- but I believe it is so important to care about your customers and let them see that you care.

I know that when I feel someone cares about me, I automatically want to buy from them more than I would if I felt it was “just a business transaction”.  I believe the same is true of others.

I make an effort to take time to get to know my customers, and ask about their day. I try to remember all of their names as much as I can. Many of them become really good friends (and eventually bring me repeat business too).  Because they are my friends, they are willing to tell others about my work for free…I’ve made many sales this way.

 
These are just a few of the ways that I promote my artwork. What are some tools that YOU have found useful in your work, whatever it may be? :) Let me know in the comments below.

Merry Christmas!