Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Young Girls Lack STEM Role Models in Books So These Parents Created Their Own

by Kristen Suzanne in family, Motherhood, STEAMTEAM5

STEAMTeam5: The Beginning – A children’s book to get girls excited about STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math.

 
Announcement from SteamTeam 5
 
Young girls lack role models in children’s books and toys that depict girls being interested in and focused on careers in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, so these parents created “STEAMTEAM 5: The Beginning,” a children’s book that’s about to hit Kickstarter.

Monsoon Publishing announces the June 21st, 2017 launch date of their Kickstarter campaign to publish STEAMTEAM 5: The Beginning, a children’s book aimed at empowering young girls for careers in STEM/STEAM.

The book features five characters — Sandia Scientist, Treeka Technologist, Evelyn Engineer, Ariana Artist, and Mattie Mathematician — who use science, technology, engineering, art, and math to do amazing things.

STEAMTeam5!

The book’s authors, Greg Helmstetter and Pamela Metivier, embarked on the project for personal reasons. 

“When my daughter was born,” said Helmstetter, “like all parents, I wondered what the world would be like when she grows up. Would she get the education she needs to be competitive in that world?” When Helmstetter noticed a lack of books and toys oriented to girls in STEM, he started making up his own stories to teach his daughter during directed playtime.

“When other parents heard about these stories I was telling my daughter,” said Helmstetter, “they asked for copies to read to their own kids. That’s when I asked Pam Metivier to join with me to help write and publish the stories to make them available for everyone.”

Co-author Pam Metivier had her own personal reasons for publishing the book. “When Greg asked me to help him write and publish his amazing stories, I couldn’t wait to get involved,” said Metivier. “As a female co-founder of two Silicon Valley tech startups, I was well aware of the shortage of women in these fields. There are many structural reasons for the gender asymmetry, but one of the obvious solutions would seem to be hooking girls’ interest while they’re still very young, and providing role models intended specifically for them. And not just girls — we want boys to see girls in these roles, too.”

Initially, the writing duo set out to publish a series of short storybooks about each of the characters. But they soon realized that crowdfunding a larger, single volume through Kickstarter made more sense. STEAMTEAM 5: The Beginning is expected to be over 150 pages long and full of color illustrations. The first half of the book tells each character’s backstory. The second half shows how the girls came together to form STEAMTEAM 5 and sets the stage for future, large-scale, epic adventures. 

“This book’s basic concept is a perfect fit for crowdfunding,” said Metivier, an online marketing expert. “We naturally expected some support from parents, educators, and girls-in-STEM advocates, but the response has far exceeded our expectations. With that kind of energy, Kickstarter is the perfect vehicle to help us launch not only a more ambitious first title, but a whole new character universe.” 

Kickstarter is JUNE 21, 2017! Stay updated at STEAMTeam5.com

 

STEAMTEAM5 website

STEAMTEAM5 on Twitter

STEAMTEAM5 on Facebook 

About SteamTeam 5

STEAMTeam5 is a book series about a team of five girls who use Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math to do amazing things!

Press Contact:

Pamela Metivier

pam@steamteam5.com

(480) 319-0623

Interview Availability

Authors Pamela Metivier and Greg Helmstetter are available for interviews. Please contact Pamela Metivier to schedule.

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Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Homeschooling with a Headache

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

 ​

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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Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Instant Pot Pasta – 15 Minute Meal in One Pot!

by Kristen Suzanne in instant pot, Motherhood, omnivore, recipe

Instant Pot Pasta. One pot. Too easy!

 

I’m back at it again. Sharing another fantastic meal to make in the Instant Pot

I LOVE MY INSTANT POT! (that’s me screaming)

Regular readers of my blog know this, because I frequently gush about this magical kitchen robot. 

Ok, it’s not magical, but it makes me feel like I’m living a magical life from all the free time I have since I’m not spending it cooking all the time. (Mostly) hands-free cooking. Yes Yes Yes.

My family eats damn near ALL of our meals at home. That’s a lot of time in the kitchen … unless you have a brilliant Instant Pot. I have since talked a few people into buying Instant Pots, and they, too, don’t know how they lived without one.

Easy to use. Quick cooking. Nutritious. Easy to clean.

Get one here! (<– that’s an affiliate link in case you didn’t know so it doesn’t cost you extra to buy through it but it gives my blog a little cha-ching – thank you!)

Here’s how I make a ridiculously delicious meal in 15 minutes with my Instant Pot.

Stirring in some grass-fed mozzarella

Ingredients

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons butter (grass-fed, unsalted)
  • 1 jar (25 oz or so) organic pasta sauce
  • 1 to 3 pinches sea salt
  • Dr. Cowan’s veggie powders, totally optional (affiliate link, same drill as above)
  • 1 box noodles (I like Jovial gluten-free)*
  • 1 to 2 cups filtered or spring water (or bone broth!)
  • Mozzarella cheese (grass-fed, organic)
  1. Get out your awesome Instant Pot
  2. Put the butter inside it. Add the sauce and the sea salt. Add Dr. Cowan’s veggie powders at this time if you’re using (I love these powders… see WHY here and get a coupon code for your first order.)
  3. Add the noodles. Add the water (the goal with the water is that you add at least a cup plus any extra needed to just about barely cover the noodles. It’s ok if they’re not submerged – I don’t submerge them all the way with a few peeking out).
  4. Put the lid on your trusty awesome Instant Pot. Set it to LOW pressure for 5-minutes (if your box listed cook time of 9 to 10 minutes – see note below).
  5. Go do something enjoyable because in about 15 minutes it’s all done (10 minutes to reach pressure, 5 minutes to cook).
  6. When the time is up, quick release the pressure. 
  7. Add plenty of cubed mozzarella for kick ass flavor.

* Tip for cooking noodles in the instant pot with respect to time and temperature: cook them for HALF the time listed on the box and cook them on LOW pressure. Therefore, if my box reads 10-minutes, I’ll cook on them on LOW for 5-minutes. If my box reads 9-minutes, then I’ll round up and cook them for 5-minutes on LOW pressure.

Extra tip: Oh, sometimes I add a pound of crumbled (grass-fed!) ground beef on top of the noodles. I don’t change anything else as this is enough time for me to cook the ground beef right along with everything else. I season the beef with sea salt, too.

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Friday, March 10th, 2017

Minimalism Time: Minivan to Prius Downsizing

by Kristen Suzanne in Expat, family, Minimalism, Motherhood, travel

Big-ass minivan

 
Living a life with a minimalist emphasis is a work in progress, naturally.
 
Even though I’ve sold and donated many things and happily reduced my overall consumerism footprint, I’m continuously finding new things to let go.
 
For the next step in our minimalism adventure, I wanted to look at our two cars. We have an old Mercedes (sedan) and a pretty-new Toyota sienna minivan. Greg drives the Mercedes, primarily. I drive the Toyota minivan.
 
I told Greg that I thought we could survive with one car, because we’re both home a lot. He works from home and I’m retired (I homeschool our daughter and play domestic goddess, but I don’t report to anyone –> retired).
 
I figured there might be a bit of sacrifice with a one-car plan, but nothing that we couldn’t handle. I loved the idea of getting a bit of cash for the Mercedes, too.
 
He was reluctant though.
 
Since the Mercedes is paid for (though it frequently hates us and has issues), he thinks we should keep it around. Just in case. 
 
Then, he dared to suggest something. Since we’re interested in saving money, and going minimalist, I should pursue the idea of reducing the impact our awesome, gorgeous, fun, big minivan has… by going for something smaller. He offered trading in the minivan for a used car that is smaller and less expensive. 
 
Oh shit. I didn’t expect that.
 
Ummmm…. I. Love. Our. Minivan.
 
I squirmed and got a bit uncomfortable, berating myself for opening this shit-can of worms.
 
Whoops.
 
Fast forward only a day or two later and that damn planted seed was taking root in my soul. 
 
Why do I even have a minivan? Well, I know why I bought it originally. I didn’t care about gas prices. We like road trips. It’s new and has a nice warranty. It can handle a lot of groceries. I can move a table in it. And… for everything else… just. in. case.
 
Hhhhmmmmmm….. well. Let me be honest with myself.
 
I rarely move tables. I don’t buy that many groceries. I DO (now) care about gas prices and the impact a larger vehicle has on our earth. And, although we like road trips, we’re planning to move abroad in a little over a year so we will be selling (both) cars by then anyway.
 
Fast forward another day and I’m driving our BIG minivan with Kamea in the back to run some (local) errands. Wow. There’s a lot of space in this vehicle for ONLY TWO PEOPLE. Kamea and I are the primary users of this BIG minivan and it has a LOT of room in it for only us. Even with Greg, it’s still overkill for three people, especially given our future abroad.
 
Well, whaddya know? I’m starting to dislike my minivan. I’m starting to feel wasteful driving it. I’m starting to give it the stink-eye.
 
WTF? Less than a week ago I was loving it, and now I can’t wait to downsize. 
 
Off to the Internets I went to car shop. 
 
Long story short, I fell in love with Prius cars because they’re hybrid, smaller, made by Toyota, and fucking cute as hell. 

Let’s Dance.

 
Done. Minivan traded in. Used Prius bought. 
 
I’m crazy happy with our choice and wish I’d done it sooner. 
 

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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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Monday, January 23rd, 2017

I’m Nicer Now That I Meditate :)

Taking time to smell…

 
 
Meditation has profoundly changed me in many great ways… 
 
I’m ridiculously more calm, which is good for everyone.
 
I don’t freak out as much, and, if I do, I quickly stop myself before it gets out of hand. (Mindfulness in action.)
 
Food tastes better.
 
I feel like I’m “flowing” more through life. More “in the zone” moments. 
 
I smile a lot more.
 
I laugh more.
 
I sleep better.
 
I embrace aging (most of the time).
 
I’m nicer to other people.
 
I’m nicer to my self.

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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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Friday, October 28th, 2016

We’re Go Girls! Field trips and Homeschooling.

by Kristen Suzanne in home school, Motherhood, travel
Here we go! Homeschool fun out and about.

Here we go! Homeschool fun out and about.

I’ve recently dubbed my daughter and myself, The Go Girls, as we have been just getting up and going for all kinds of activities lately.

Most of you know that we homeschool though I’d kind of lump us into the unschool category, which I prefer to call FUNschool. Our lives are about learning through fun activities. And you know what? It works.

She is learning to read, spell, and write by texting on her iPod and playing Words with Friends. We read books as well but there’s no pulling teeth with all of these fun alternatives. We learn math with cooking, board games, and simply talking about numbers out loud so she can see how to manipulate them to get the answers to questions.

When we have longer car rides to activities, it’s a ripe time for conversing about everything from zombies to politics (maybe that was the same conversation).

Kamea is full of questions every single day. Being able to answer them all in the moment, or help her find the information when I don’t know the answer, is a blessing.

 

Time to go global.

Time to go global.

I want to take learning to a global level in the near future.

I was recently inspired by the book Global Student, which has my brain’s gears thinking about living abroad for extended periods of time to immerse ourselves in other cultures, learn language and show Kamea the world. (This book is not just for homeschoolers.)

From Amazon.com about the book

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. 

Ready to ditch the drama of the traditional hypercompetitive SAT/AP/GPA path? Meet the bold American students who are catapulting into the global economy at twenty with a red-hot college diploma, sizzling 21st-century skills, a blazing sense of direction–and no debt.  

You’ll discover:  
• the one thing preventing your student from blasting forward
• why Advanced Placement isn’t so advanced
• why international programs fail to provide a truly global education
• the most critical time for your student to study abroad
• the best exchange program in the world ($3,000 or less per year)
• the strategic way to fast-forward through high school
• how to maximize a family sabbatical 
• how to live the life of your dreams abroad–and save thousands for college

 

I always knew we’d travel, in some way, someday, to other parts of the world.

Someday.

Upon completion of Global Student, it easily clicked as to how we would actually do it.

In 2018, we’ll sell some stuff, put the rest in storage, pack some suitcases and take off. I’m only in the very beginning of researching this but we’re considering south of France (and other parts of Europe), the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and/or Costa Rica. Probably all of them eventually.

For now… here’s our world in Arizona. These are some things we’ve been doing to have fun and learn at the same time.

The various parks offer homeschool classes and family activities that are loaded with hands-on learning.

Kamea is feeding a sweet and hungry tortoise some prickly pear.

Watch your fingers - feeding a tortoise.

Watch your fingers – feeding a tortoise.

 

I’ve always thought snakes were cool and witnessing this king snake eat a dead rat was fascinating.

Mouse was dead prior to feeding.

Rat was dead prior to feeding.

We also saw a rattlesnake have her lunch, too, which was epic.

We like jumping at an indoor trampoline park. Great exercise and ridiculously fun.

Time to jump!

Time to jump!

 

Kamea is enjoying a Lego Engineering class where she built a battery-operated car.

Kamea in Lego Engineering class.

Kamea in Lego Engineering class.

 

We celebrated Dia de los Muertos in Phoenix which was quite the event. Now that I’ve had a taste of this locally, I can’t wait to visit Oaxaca to witness it there someday.

Dancing along with the others.

Dancing along with the others. #Diadelosmuertos

 

I’m grateful Kamea can experience some culture like this in Arizona. She sat at a table filled with Spanish-speaking kids, learning and having fun.

Art with other kids at Dia de los Metros.

Art with other kids at Dia de los Muertos.

 

We visited a pumpkin patch which was filled with activities and fun including a train ride, hay ride, games, animals, and horse rides.

Pumpkins with a desert backdrop.

Hmmmm which one?

Even though I’ve been in Arizona over a decade, I’m still not used to some holidays here. Seeing the cactus in the backdrop is weird different.

 

Horse riding time

Horse riding time

Kamea wanted to ride the horse so badly! When I got to the part where I could choose the non-mandatory helmet, I was struck with protecting my child’s brain in the event of a fall or saving her from potentially getting lice with this community-helmet (ewww). Obviously we went with the helmet but next time I’m bringing her own. 

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