Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Learning Piano Online For Free!

by Kristen Suzanne in family, homeschool, kamea

Practicing proper piano posture.

 

I grew up playing the piano, clarinet, and even the drums. Piano and clarinet were better instruments for me than the drums, and my family probably agrees. My mom played the piano and sang, my brother, a genius with music played piano, saxophones, trumpet, guitar, and anything he wanted really. Music was just always in our family. 

While I didn’t always love practicing music, I’m glad I have the skills for music now. It was probably really good for my brain, too, because that’s what research is showing. Thanks, mom for pushing me to play music! I think my big brother served as inspiration, too. If he was doing it, it was probably cool.

Naturally, I wanted Kamea to take music lessons.

We started her with some basic music lessons when she was three. They went well enough, but life got in the way and we put them on hold. She was really young, too, and as we were proponents back then of unschooling, I wasn’t keen on “making her practice something” for fear it’d kill the joy.

After a couple of years, we decided to buy this awesome keyboard. We hoped that simply having it around, with both parents playing on it, we’d inspire Kamea to play. Or maybe she’d learn through osmosis. Hey, it was worth a shot.

In truth, she did take to playing a bit here and there, but she wasn’t really interested in learning how to play.

Fair enough. We’ll wait a bit longer.

A year later, before her brain matured too much, I started her back in music lessons. I figured we’d hire a teacher to come to our house who could play with her and get her excited about music lessons, without requiring much on her part. Long story short, they didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, for a variety of reasons. Poor fit with music teacher, lack of enthusiasm on Kamea’s part, and not concentrating on just one instrument.

I continued to be against forcing Kamea to practice for a set time every day if she didn’t want to. I wanted her to enjoy what she was doing, but I also wanted her to learn some music. I also felt that she’d be glad she did it later in life, even if she didn’t love it now. At this rate though, she wasn’t learning any music. I wasn’t sure how to proceed.

So. We took another break before spending more money on something that wasn’t working for us.

I decided that maybe I could just teach her, but decided to wait before pursuing it.

Then, something happened.

During this time off, Kamea took some homeschooling classes online through Outschool.com. 

I realized that I could basically search for anything online and find a class for it. So, I wondered, hey, are there online piano classes? And, if so, they’re probably less expensive than a person coming to our house. 

Google: online piano lessons.

Jackpot! Of course there were lessons, lol duh, because you can pretty much find anything online.

I found a couple of options, and I decided to try Hoffman Academy which was FREE.

Yeah. Free.

What did we have to lose? Um. Nothing.

First online piano lesson.

We jumped in and started them over a week ago, and so far, they’re solid gold. Brilliant little lessons long enough to teach something and short enough to keep the student interested. Kamea played a song after her first lesson! That didn’t happen with in-house private lessons for weeks when we had a teacher coming here.

We put her iPad on the keyboard. Watched the lesson, pausing when required, practiced, and LEARNED PIANO! Mr. Hoffman rocks.

The next day, Kamea woke up and asked to take another lesson. YAY! (And, did I mention they’re free?)

It’s working! Online piano lessons are fun.

So far we’re doing their basic free program which is great. I suspect at some time I might sign up for the premium option, which is still awesomely cheap at about $15 a month. Or maybe we’ll just stick with the free ones. 

I’m still smiling at the fact that my kid is taking piano lessons online.

Ukulele here we come next! (After all, I figure she’ll need an instrument we can take abroad when we move.) 

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Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Homeschooling with a Headache

by Kristen Suzanne in homeschool, kamea, Kristen Suzanne, Motherhood

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Science with dad

 

Wow, I’ve had a splitting sinus headache today. It’s spring, and with spring comes gorgeous flowers, pollen, and allergies. 

Sneeze sneeze runny nose irritated nose painful eyes….. and then headache. Ouch. 

I finally took some ibuprofen after suffering for the day. The headache just wouldn’t go away. 

Well, in spite of my headache, we homeschooled. At least part of the day. :)

Here are the things we did. 

  • Math (adding on worksheets)
  • Writing practice
  • Art (lots)
  • Building with Legos… a lot. (phew, cuz I had a headache so Kamea did lots of play and building)
  • Story time
  • Minecraft tutorials on Youtube
  • When Greg was done working, he did some kitchen science with Kamea. Pictured above. 

Looking forward to a good sleep and waking up refreshed for another day of homeschooling. We started some online piano lessons that are really quite amazing. I’ll tell you more about them later.

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Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Getting My Daughter On Board with Minimalism via a Donation Box

 

Donation Box worked like a charm.

 
When I started my amazing journey into minimalism, my daughter didn’t quite buy into it. 
 
She didn’t know why I would get rid of so many pretty things. So much stuff that we might want back someday. 
 
It’s been a couple of years now that I’ve been donating things, but I became really serious about it recently. Though she’s been watching, it wasn’t sinking in totally. Yet. 
 
But she does see me happier. She loves that. 
 
You see, I love my life with fewer things. It frees up my mind, spirit, and body to enjoy what’s really important. When I have less to distract me, I can spend more attention on better things. 
 
Quality over quantity. 
 
To be clear… it’s not a life with nothing in it. It’s a life with only the things that I use. Things I love and use. Things I love and use and I would buy again today. Things that “spark joy” and I love and I use and I would buy again today. 
 
Funny but most things do NOT fall into this category.
 
Anyway, enough about me. This post is about my daughter and how SHE got on board with minimalism.
 
It all came down to a “donation box” (or basket or container).
 
I came across the tip while listening to The Minimalists’ podcast. They suggested simply putting out a box with a sign on it for donations. From there, when other family members see fit, they can add to the box when they’re ready. No more trying to talk my daughter into donating things that I knew she really wasn’t using. 
 
Here’s the best part:
 
The container wasn’t out even five minutes before she started filling it up.
 
Yay(!), and then there was a time later that night that she couldn’t be disturbed because she was going through her stuff and telling me what “didn’t spark joy” and what “didn’t have value” for her.  
 
She understands it better now, and she’ll appreciate it even more over time. We’re giving these things that no longer are of use to us and helping them find another family who could use them. Making more space in her room and closet. Making time for the things that matter more than “things” – like us playing outside together or reading together or snuggling. 
 

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Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Please Support Our New Project: Children’s Book for Girls in STEAM / STEM

by Kristen Suzanne in books, kamea, kids, Kristen Suzanne, Motherhood

Let’s do this!

(I’m very excited!)

My husband, Greg, his business partner, Pam, and I are working on a new project and we’d love your support.

We’ll soon be launching a Kickstarter to publish a children’s book to empower girls for careers in STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). As the mother of a daughter, this is something that’s very important to me. 

 

 

STEAMTEAM 5: THE BEGINNING

STEAMTEAM 5: The Beginning is a children’s book that tells the story of five amazing girls who use science, technology, engineering, art, and math to do amazing things. This book is the first volume of a fictional universe built around these characters, designed to grow so that they can serve as ongoing role models for young girls.

This story is awesome!

But this is much more than just a book.

It’s the beginning of a movement.

Science education happening here.

This movement is to attract girls to careers in STEM/STEAM. 

To do this, we need your help!

Kickstarter campaigns are most successful when lots of people hit all at once. If you are interested in being a backer, please sign up to receive announcements so that we can build up our list and direct a ton of people on the day of the launch.

Please help us KICK ASS with Kickstarter! Sign up here. 

Together, we can get more girls going into STEAM!

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Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

The Book, The New Global Student, Lit A Fire Under My Ass

by Kristen Suzanne in Expat, family, kamea, kids, Kristen Suzanne, travel

This book inspired me to move abroad… sooner than later.

Image credit

I bought the book, The New Global Student, to inspire my family’s future travels around the world. I don’t recall how I came to know of the book, but when I read the description, I knew it was destined to be in my library.

From Amazon.com 

In 2005, Maya Frost and her husband sold everything and left their suburban American lifestyle behind in order to have an adventure abroad. The tricky part: they had to shepherd their four teenage daughters through high school and into college. This hilarious and conspiratorial how-to handbook describes the affordable, accessible, and stunningly advantageous options they stumbled upon that any American student can leverage to get an outrageously relevant global education. 

Sounds good, eh? 

It is, though I didn’t devour the book in one sitting. Actually, I started and stopped the book a few times over the past year (or two?).

I guess I didn’t feel a need to rush through it, seeing as my daughter was only five years old at the time. I figured I had a while before I would take action on anything I was reading. Not only that, I didn’t see the reality that we’d be moving abroad any time soon, because, like, THAT seemed a daunting idea… so why rush reading through the book? I could take my time.

As I was reading it one day, however, I wanted to share some of it with my husband, Greg. So I did that. We were driving to my mom’s which was about 45 minutes from our home and I started reading some of the really cool things I’d highlighted. As expected, he loved what I was reading to him, and his excitement served to inspire my continuing the book. 

Over the following weeks, I read the book at a faster clip. It became more and more exciting, as I imagined the life we could give Kamea… helping her become  The New Global Student. Wow, the advantages were numerous and awesome. 

So. Yesterday, I wrote that we’d always known we would travel the world. Honestly, though, I never knew when that would be. I really didn’t know how to make it happen. It seemed like a dream. It was a dream I felt would come true, but I didn’t know when “someday” would be. 

I mean… how does one just up and travel the world or move to another country?

The New Global Student was enticing me with fun stories of families traveling all over the world (many of whom didn’t even homeschool, by the way). Still… while I was reading it, I didn’t really make a connection of how I could relate to the stories I was reading. For example, I read about families selling their houses, cars, and/or businesses. They sold belongings, got rid of tons of stuff, and then had money to move somewhere else in the world. One family even bought a sail boat and took to the oceans for their epic adventure (turns out that’s a thing). 

Well, I didn’t have a business to sell. I didn’t have a house to sell either. I didn’t want to buy a boat (Greg gets seasick.) 

Hmmm… I just kept reading the book, figuring that someday we’d figure it out.

At the end of the book the lightbulb came on for me. At this point, the author’s husband chimed in and itemized the savings and expenses the family incurred while living in Mexico. I was blown away by the savings and cost of living that was possible. The book also illuminated the notion that any age is a good age to start (with respect to kids), emphasizing that younger is good and totally doable!

I salivated at how much money we could save living in Mexico (or other parts of the world). Savings plus the obvious awesomeness of immersing ourselves in other cultures, learning languages, and helping Kamea be a Global Student was just too good of an opportunity for which to wait. 

Turns out I wouldn’t have to… I realized that since we rent our condo, there would come a time when the lease ends and we won’t be obligated to pay that rent anymore. (Um, duh, Kristen. Why hadn’t I thought of this before now??) At that point, we could sell belongings (not a whole lot since I embrace minimalism these days), including cars. We could donate stuff. We could put anything leftover into storage (um, hello mom!).

Bam. We could take this dream of living abroad and make it happen when our lease is up. 

I know this sounds silly, but it just never dawned on me that we could simply not renew the lease. The veil had been lifted. The light was turned on. I could see our worldschooling path before my eyes.

At this point, I closed the book, having finished it, and called Greg into the bedroom.

The topic of living abroad was not new to us, as I’d just been reading him The New Global Student a few weeks prior. But, when I told him that we could actually do it when our condo’s lease ended, I think I took him by surprise. I filled him in on the details, and told him about some areas in Mexico where we could begin our adventure… and the wheels began turning in his head.

Now, mind you, he wasn’t jumping up and down with excitement (yet) like I was; but, truthfully, I’d had a whole hour to chew on it before I told him. :)

He raised a few questions about whether he could transfer his work successfully to a laptop only. He already works from home, and I told him we absolutely could (exciting details on that for another blog post). However, to make it easier on him, the lease wasn’t going to end for a good long while. We had time to figure it out and make it work.

The fire was lit under my ass… my deep dive into living abroad research began. Expat life is within reach.

It’s been about three months since that conversation in our bedroom, after I finished reading The New Global Student. I’ve gone from knowing nothing (other than it was possible somehow to do this because clearly other people are doing it) to knowing quite a bit about the how, when, where, and why for our adventure. 

I’ll share in the next post what I’m learning with my deep dive of research.

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Monday, January 9th, 2017

Using an Online Drawing Class with My Daughter for Homeschool

by Kristen Suzanne in homeschool, kamea, Motherhood

Getting ready for our online drawing class.

We are planning to move abroad (Worldschool here we come!), and even though we won’t be doing this for over a year, I’ve been diving deep into research to decide where to go.

Through my research I found a witty blogger and author, Christine Gilbert, who wrote a book called Mother Tongue which I am crazy eager to read. If the book is anything like her blog I’ll be entertained the whole way through as she tells her family’s globe-trotting tale.

So while devouring her blog, I learned that her husband offers an online drawing class for only $12 (looks like the price went up to $39 now but still worth it).

LEARN TO DRAW AND KEEP A SKETCHBOOK

Have you ever sat yourself in a cafe in some unfamiliar place just to people watch? Have you been thinking about keeping a visual journal of your trips? Make this the year you take your travel sketchbook out to sketch your travels, and start by learning how to put on paper what you see in the world.

Wow. Awesome.

This will be a super fun way to spend time with Kamea and improve our drawing skills. Kamea is a huge fan of doing art. It’s never been my forte but that’s because I suck at it. :)

Case in point: the assignment for the first day it was to look at a picture of yourself and draw it. By the time I was done I looked like I had drawn a monkey.

Don’t laugh. No, please, go ahead and laugh.

That’s going to change though. I’m already seeing progress.

The assignment for the second day had amazing results because of the technique used. We drew a picture that was presented upside down. It was trippy seeing the results when I turned my sketch right-side up.

Mine: left. Kamea’s: right.

Hard at some fun work.

I can see it now … Greg, who is very good at drawing, alongside Kamea and me, with our sketchbooks and pencils in hand … drawing what we see as we travel the world. I’m loving this dream.

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Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Welcoming 2017 With More Hands Free Mama Time

Happy New Year!

Happy 2017.

I’m starting off the year by still wearing the same clothes I wore for the past couple of days, which means I’m wearing the same clothes as last year – hehe. It’s just been one, or two, or three of those days.

All good though, because my lack of changing into clean clothes meant more time for me to plan our move abroad, in the sort-of (not sort-of) near future. So much more detail on that throughout the year as we plan our epic adventure, and OMG I’m beyond excited to Worldschool Kamea.

In other news, I am not loving my dark hair and feel the need for some highlights… And… I’m becoming a Hands Free Mama to spend more quality time with my daughter and husband.

Enjoying this book very much.

Enjoying this book very much.

 

Being a Hands Free Mama means more active listening and less thinking about snacks while people talk to me. Or, maybe that’s just plain being polite.

Yes!

Yes!

I stumbled upon this author’s website last week and it hit home.

I immediately started implementing the ideas.

I took my Hands Free Mama-ness seriously when I forced shined a smile while Kamea threw those pom-things everywhere and rolled in them, scattering them even more. My old normal reaction of, “Ok ok, cute, um ok can we clean those up now?” was put on hold for a good ten minutes while I played with her. Rolling in poms.

Pure joy.

Pure joy.

Sadly (because I didn’t do this with her until now) yet excitedly (cuz I see how I can be in the future), Kamea had one of the best times of her life giggling into fits as we played with the poms on the floor.

Creating a life with more moments like this.

Creating a life with more moments like this.

We will have a lot more funny crazy moments.

Case in point.

Life is too much fun.


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Monday, September 19th, 2016

Lucky YOU! Dr. Cowan’s Garden Coupon Code! Plus Super Slaw Recipe.

My collection of Dr. Cowen's Garden powders. SO GOOD!

My collection of Dr. Cowan’s Garden powders. SO GOOD!

Today is your lucky day!

Recently, I blogged about my passion for both my new kitchen robot, the Instant Pot Smart as well as my collection of Dr. Cowan’s Garden Vegetable Powders.

In case you didn’t read that post, I’m loving my Instant Pot Smart because cooking just became so easy I think I could do it while I sleep.

And, I have new best friends in my life: Dr. Cowan’s Amazing Awesome Nutritious EASY-TO-SNEAK-ADD VEGGIE POWDERS! For more details read here.

Dr. Cowan’s team saw my post and wanted to offer my readers a 15% discount coupon for their veggie powders. OMG! Lucky dogs you are!

You will get 15% off your purchase when you use the coupon code at checkout: KRISTEN

It bears repeating that I love these quality garden vegetable powders. They have thought of everything from using miron glass containers to protect the product to briefly cooking the kale, for example, before dehydrating it.They also use an amazing variety of vegetables to strive for balance and nutrient variety.

I can’t speak highly enough about Dr. Cowan’s Garden Veg Powders. I am a customer for life!

Dr. Cowan's delicious kale powder.

Dr. Cowan’s delicious kale powder.

For example, from their website about the kale powder…

Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable known for its many phytochemicals, which are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer. It is one of the best sources of Vitamin K, which helps regulate the body’s inflammatory process, as well as beta-carotene, which has been shown to help prevent cancer.  It is also a great source for Vitamin C and manganese, which is important for skin health.

However, kale also contains goitrogens, which inhibit thyroid function but which are mostly removed with cooking.   We steam our kale before dehydration to remove these goitrogens.  More than four pounds of kale are contained in this 150-gram jar. The varieties in our powder include Red Russian, Scarlet, Lacinato, Dwarf Siberian and Toscano.

The flavor is bright and grassy. When folded into most other foods, it takes on the flavor of those foods, which makes it ideal for picky vegetable eaters. To use, sprinkle on salads, eggs, rice, quinoa, buttered popcorn, steamed or roasted vegetables, fish or chicken. Add to smoothies, soups, stews, pasta, spaghetti sauce – really, anything you enjoy eating! Our favorite way to use Kale Powder is sprinkled on scrambled or over-easy eggs in the morning.

See? Awesome.

I’m able to add extra nutrients to just about anything I eat. I use these powders on so much and I can’t wait for them to make their pumpkin powder to amp up all foods and recipes Fall Season related. Um… pumpkin latte anyone?!?

Today, as I write this post, I’m drinking homemade grass-fed kefir to which I simply added a 1/2 teaspoon of Perennial Greens. This powder blend includes: Tree collards, gynura, perennial chard, chayote, moringa, perennial kale. That’s a powerful blend.

Super Kefir with Dr. Cowen's Garden Veg Powder #grassfeddairy

Super Kefir with Dr. Cowan’s Garden Veg Powder #grassfeddairy

 

Not all powders are available all the time. But, here’s a secret… if you join their newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when they have new options available. Jump on it(!) and buy, because they sell out fast!

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, because I find use in all of them.

I like the winter squash to increase my beta-carotene. I LOVE THE LEEK (which as of this writing isn’t available but I’m told it’s soon) because of its FLAVOR (OMG!) and leeks might be extra important for gut health it seems. I love the beets because I’m just not one to make beets often (well, except now that I have my Instant Pot I admit it’s way easier).

Still, the ease of adding Dr. Cowan’s beets to anything is mega attractive. Plus, an important note is recognizing that Dr. Cowan’s team uses three varieties of beets (Detroit Red, Chiogga, and Golden) – remember that variety is the spice of life. It’s important for health.

I also love the threefold blend because it’s so balanced. I use that one often with my 6-yo daughter. One of her favorite combos right now is my open-faced grilled cheese with raisins.

 

Very special open-faced grilled cheese for my daughter.

Very special open-faced grilled cheese for my daughter.

Here’s what I do…

I toast a slice of organic, TRULY sourdough bread. Then, I spread grass-fed ghee on top.

After that, I sprinkle Dr. Cowan’s Garden Threefold Blend on top and add some raisins (I stuff them into the sourdough holes when possible – hehe).

Add a sprinkle of sea salt, sometimes fresh herbs if I have on hand.

Then, I top with thick slices of raw grass-fed cheese. Toast it briefly under the broiler to melt the cheese.

Voila! She has this almost every day right now.

 

Super Slaw with Veggie Powders! (no mayo)

Super Slaw with Veggie Powders! (no mayo)

And, then there’s my SUPER SLAW recipe.

Super Slaw 

Try this super coleslaw which is amped with veggies and doesn’t have mayo. Creamy and cooling with a bit of cabbage-crunch.

Yield 6 to 8 servings (or fewer if you like big-ass bowls of coleslaw per person)

2 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium head green cabbage, cored and shredded
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon (or more!) Dr. Cowan’s Garden Threefold Blend Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons raw honey
1/2 cup grass-fed sour cream
1/2 cup grass-fed, whole-fat Greek yogurt (I like Straus)

Place the shredded vegetables into a large bowl. I use this food processor, fitted with the shredding blade, for shredding with ease.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients for the dressing. Add the dressing to the bowl of vegetables. Toss to mix well. Season with additional salt, if desired. Add more Dr. Cowen’s Garden powders if desired, too!

Refrigerate for up to an hour before serving, if possible.

REMEMBER! You will get 15% off your purchase of Dr. Cowan’s Garden Vegetable Powders when you use the coupon code at checkout: KRISTEN

I also want to add that these garden veg powders are super for travel. I’ll be heading to the 2016 Bulletproof Conference later this week, and I’m taking my veggie powders with me. #HaveVeggiePowdersWillTravel

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Friday, April 22nd, 2016

My 5 Year Old Teaching You How to Meditate

by Kristen Suzanne in kamea, kids, Meditation
My little girl. :)

My little girl. :)

My five year old daughter, Kamea, was visiting my mom for the night, and they surprised me with this video that she made about “how to meditate.” Glad to know that all of my meditating is rubbing off on her.


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Friday, March 18th, 2016

Corn Chips and Salsa? Nope. Try Apple Chips Instead.

by Kristen Suzanne in crackers, gluten free, kamea
Try apple chips with salsa instead of corn chips.

Try apple chips with salsa instead of corn chips.

We don’t keep chips in the house, at least not the common kind. And for crackers, we don’t usually eat those unless they’re flax crackers like these.

But, we love us some salsa.

What could we dip into salsa?

My daughter had a great idea!

Apple chips.

Have a great day :)

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