Tag Archives: Health

About Michael Rosen and his Sticky McStickstick – #readilearn

In this post, I share some information about Michael Rosen. I hope you are already aware of Michael Rosen because he is an amazing poet, author, educator and so much more.

If you know nothing else about him, you probably know his award-winning picture book Going on a Bear Hunt with its wonderful illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. This article in the Guardian that tells how he came to write it and Helen to illustrate it is quite fascinating.

Here’s a video of Michael telling Going on a Bear Hunt and some others of his stories.

Or maybe you know of him as a meme.

Perhaps you’ve read the post Storytelling with author Michael Rosen in which I introduce you to Michael and his wonderful story Chocolate Cake.

The story is great fun, perfect for storytelling and a wonderful stimulus for writing. In that post, I suggest some lessons you can build around the story.

Continue reading: About Michael Rosen and his Sticky McStickstick – readilearn

Mr Potato Head

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Five a DayEvery week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenges writers to respond to a prompt with 99-word flash fiction. The prompts provide an opportunity to practice craft while having a little fun in a supportive writing community. Although participation is voluntary and never prescribed, the benefits to mind and spirit equal the benefits to physical health by the five-a-day servings of fruit and vegetables recommended by many health departments around the world.


This week, Charli challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Five a Day. It does not have to be five servings of fruits and vegetables. What is needed five times a day? Have fun with what pops to mind for the prompt.

It’s a good thing Charli not only allows, but encourages, writers to “Go where the prompt leads”, as I’m not always satisfied with the obvious, literal interpretation. My mind jumps about like a rabbit in a vegetable patch, trying out different thoughts and ideas.

While Charli was talking about the five serves of fruit and vegetables as day for our physical health, I wondered about essentials for mental health that help us navigate each day.

sweet hearts

Mental health

How about a daily dose of these?

  • Self-worth – a sense of being valued, of having the right to occupy space in the world
  • Confidence – a willingness to approach tasks and face what life brings
  • Trust – an ability to trust others and feel safe in one’s environment
  • Empathy – making connections with others on a deep level
  • Compassion – giving and accepting kindness, contributing to a positive community and environment

What would you add?

I also wondered about the essentials for nurturing children’s growth and development. What would those five servings a day be?

girl child dancing

Children’s needs

First and foremost, children need to be loved and to have their physical needs met; for example food, water and warmth. They are givens.

Then to have their minds stimulated, every day, they need adults to:

  • Talk with them
  • Read to them
  • Sing songs with them
  • Play with them, and
  • Laugh with them.

What would you add?

world earth map

The world’s needs

And what about for the world, what do we all need?

  • Friendship
  • Understanding
  • Tolerance
  • Empathy
  • Peace

What would you add?

Why don’t children like vegetables?

But let’s get back to Charli’s five, and children. Sometimes getting children to eat their five serves of fruit and vegetables a day can be difficult. While fruit is often enjoyed, vegetables are frequently rejected. Researchers have investigated reasons for children’s refusal to eat vegetables and found these reasons (reported here and here):

  • Children burn lots of energy and need foods that are high in calories – vegetables aren’t.
  • Children are generally more sensitive to bitter tastes, which are often nature’s warning of toxicity.
  • Children have not yet learned through repeated taste tests and observations that vegetables are safe to eat.
  • Children associate vegetables with unpleasant situations (parental nagging) and associate other “treats” with more pleasant situations.


How to get your children to eat vegetables

Suggestions include:

  • Reduce the natural bitterness by adding salt, sugar and other flavours
  • Serve small amounts of vegetables with other foods familiar to children
  • Present vegetables in different ways and repeated times
  • Avoid using food as reward or punishment and don’t nag

Of course, there are the old camouflage tricks – dress them up like a funny face – or play games like the “aeroplane” spoon trying to land food in the mouth.

What works for you?

Thanks Pixabay!

Thinking about the relevance of bitterness to toxicity and food refusal in children got me thinking about dementia patients who refuse food, believing it to be poisoned. I did a quick internet search (not very thorough) but could see only articles in which food refusal was linked to paranoia.

I wonder, with their changing realities and sensitivities, could they become more sensitive to certain tastes? Could taste contribute as much as the paranoia. Many would find it no easier to express than children. I’m certainly no expert, and it’s an uneducated thought, but it’s the thought that’s led me to my flash fiction response. I hope you enjoy it.

Mr Potato Head

Jamie’s head shook, and his bottom lip protruded as tears pooled.

Mum sighed.

“But you love Mr Potato Head,” coaxed Dad.

Jamie lowered his eyes and pushed the plate away. This was not Mr Potato – just a stupid face made from yukky stuff.

Dad moved it back. “Just a little try,” he urged. Mum watched.

Jamie refused.

Jamie visited at meal time. Mum was in tears. “He won’t eat anything.”

Jamie considered the unappetising mush. “Who would?” he thought, as he replaced the cover and opened dessert.

“May as well enjoy what you can,” he said. Dad smiled.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.


Making friends with exercise

Exercise and I have never been friends.

Okay. Maybe “never” is an exaggeration, but our relationship has been quite frosty for most of my adult life with only occasional attempts at reigniting the friendship.

As a child I played on the beach, swam in the sea, climbed the cliffs and played in the bush near where I lived.


As a teenager I played tennis in a school team and for fun with family and friends in outside of school hours.


At college I played on a basketball team and went out dancing at least once, and sometimes up to three times, a week.NBA_Court_Sports2010

But always my preferred activity was to be lying on my bed engrossed in a good read or scribbling ideas in a notebook.


Then came adulthood, work and parenthood; a life brimming with activity but no scheduled “exercise”.


All too soon middle age, with its stealthy creep, could hide no longer; and my youthful fitness, feeling the dejection of being taken for granted, promptly left.


I know. I know. Exercise is important; not only for body but also for mind.

I always made sure that my own children and the children I was teaching got plenty of opportunities for exercise. But my own body, that’s a different story.


There were already too many other things I wanted to do. How could I possibly fit in something that I didn’t want to do?Green Eggs and Ham

With apologies to Dr Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham”, I offer the following:

Ode to exercise

Exercise. Exercise.

I do not like that exercise.

7271-Stick-Figures-Woman2-1-webI do not like the time it takes.

I do not like the effort it makes.

I do not like being sweaty and hot.

I just don’t like it. I do not.

I do not like it with a trainer.SteveLambert_Woman_on_Exercise_Bike

I do not like the circuit strainer.

I do not like it in the gym,

I do not like a vigorous swim.

7273-Stick-Figures-Woman2-1-webI do not like the heating sun.

I do not like an outdoor run.

I do not like it on a bike.

There’s very little I would like.

Would you like it on TV?exercise TV

Would you, could you with a Wii?

Okay. I’ll try it on TV.

Okay. I’ll try it with a Wii.

7285-Stick-Figures-Woman2-1-webOh I love it.  Yes I do.

This exercise is good for you!

I could do it every day.

I would do it, step this way.

I would do it on the floor. 7266-Stick-Figures-Woman2-1-web

I would do it right indoor.

Exercising with the Wii,

I have found the one for Mii!

Computer and video games had been a source of much fun for me since the days of Atari and others in the 80s. When the Wii Fit came out, I thought that if anything could get me to exercise, this would be it.

Although I still don’t manage to incorporate it into my routine every day, I am doing a lot more than I would without it.

These are the top 10 reasons I love my Wii Fit:

10.  I can do it in the privacy of my own home.

9.  I can spend the amount of time doing it that I choose.

8.  I am sheltered from the outdoor weather – it’s always a beautiful day on the island.

7.  It gives me positive feedback and tells me that I am years younger than I really am! (Who can argue with that?)

6.  If I get lost (which has happened) I don’t have to find my way back; I can just stop and I’m home.

5.  It notices if we haven’t seen each other for a few days and tells me I’ve been missed.

4.  I can choose from a wide variety of activities including juggling, tightrope walking and flying as well as step, jogging and cycling.

3.  I see and have the support of family and friends who “accompany” me through their Mii characters.

2.  I can listen to audiobooks or Ted talks while I am jogging or cycling — good for my mind as well as my body. The especially great thing about listening to Ted talks, is that most of them are of about 15 minutes’ duration: just how long it takes me to jog or cycle around the island; and because I am listening and learning

1.  I don’t even notice that I’m exercising.


If this sounds like a sales pitch for Will, it probably is, because I am sold on it.

If you are one of those lucky people who enjoy exercise, then good on you, I say. So many times I have been told, “You’ll feel better after you do it” – something to do with endorphins, I believe.

I wish. I’m yet to experience that exercise glow. It would make it all so much easier.

A little while ago Talli Roland wrote a post for Women Writers about “how to avoid writer’s arse”. I think I’ll have to become even better friends with my Wii Fit in the future to stop this becoming a big problem for me, now that I am spending a lot more time sitting on my posterior, writing for posterity.


Just in case you are wondering what other “exercise” I dabble in from time to time:

  • On work days I include a 10 – 15 minute walk from car to office and back again
  • In summer I do a very gentle swim-ercise in my very private backyard pool
  • I take frequent walks from my desk to the kitchen and back again throughout the writing day
  • I participate in active play with grandchildren (but only when a book won’t do!)

What about you? Are you one of the lucky ones to whom exercise is a pleasure?

Or, like me, do you always find there are 1001 other things you would rather be doing, and struggle to find the time and energy?

Images from open clipart and eLearning Brothers.