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.
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.
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.
I’ve always thought snakes were cool and witnessing this king snake eat a dead rat was fascinating.
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!
Kamea is enjoying a Lego Engineering class where she built a battery-operated car.
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. #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 Muertos.
We visited a pumpkin patch which was filled with activities and fun including a train ride, hay ride, games, animals, and horse rides.
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
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.
Back story: I have had an electric pressure cooker for years but I didn’t make much with it. That is until earlier this year I pulled it out when I learned that a pressure cooker is the easiest way to make hard-boiled “cooked” (or soft-boiled “cooked”) eggs. The shell peels away effortlessly 95% of the time. But… pulling out a pressure cooker just for eggs, I just don’t do it often.
The Instant Pot came on my radar. This Instant Pot is a kitchen robot, basically, that has multiple functions including the main one as being a pressure cooker, using a stainless steel insert.
A multi functional kitchen appliance? Huh. I’m intrigued.
I started to look into it.
I learned the Instant Pot people had a new model that was dubbed “smart” because it connects via blue tooth. This means that I can write (and share) my own scripts (i.e., programmed recipes). Why is this cool?
Well, with this AWESOME function…
I put my food in and basically push a button (via the app – I use an iPhone these days) and it starts right up. The brilliance of this is that I don’t have to memorize the different times I use to cook different foods.
I like my broccoli to be under LOW pressure for only one minute.
Carrots… HIGH pressure for three minutes.
Those pesky-to-cook beets? I cook them under HIGH for 25 minutes.
Hard-cooked eggs for me cook HIGH pressure for five minutes, while soft-cooked they cook LOW for three minutes.
My rice cooks perfectly (brown rice 15 minutes, other rice varieties can be other times)
I can’t remember all of that, and I don’t want to pull a book out each time. Wth the Instant Pot SMART, I create the scripts and they’re programmed. Then, I just push a button.
Oh, and cooking spaghetti squash in 7 minutes under pressure? Um, yeah, awesome.
Effortless hard-ish-cooked eggs with Instant Pot Smart.
Mega easy dinner anyone? Instant Pot Smart.
I could go on and on and on and on about how much I’m loving my Instant Pot Smart. It has multiple functions and perfectly cooks rice, veggies, and whole chickens with ease and in a fraction of time.
This Instant Pot SMART makes yogurt(!) and is also a slow cooker (for the slow cooker they recommend the optional / additional glass lid). I’ve heard of some people using it for a sous vide too because it can hold a set temperature that you designate.
So many options with just one appliance.
It’s so amazing, I feel like Elaine from Seinfeld when she pushes people… GET OUT!
I sure wish I knew about this before I bought all of my slow cookers and my sous vide and my other pressure cooker. (By the way, even though I love that this is a slow cooker, who wants to slow cook when you can cook so much faster with a pressure cooker?)
Seriously… move over slow cooker, it’s time for something faster.
Hello, Instant Pot Smart. Can we hug?
I figured there must be a catch, right? Where’s the yang that goes with the yin (that is everywhere in life)? Surely there’s something wrong with it – like maybe the nutrition isn’t as good or it’s hard to use? Something?
Well, I just can’t find anything wrong with it. In fact, I read that cooking under pressure is healthier. The quickness with which it cooks (and the process) keeps more nutrients available.
This Instant Pot Smart appliance has changed my life and I’ve only had it less than a month.
I leave it on my counter and use it daily, sometimes two or three times a day. I love how perfectly everything gets cooked and it’s mostly hands off, which means I have more time to do other things I love such as read.
My latest read. Gotta be prepared. #Parenthood
Before buying an Instant Pot Smart, I’d over or undercook rice. Too many times to count. I’d ruin hard-boiled eggs. Too many times. I’d turn my broccoli to army-green mush more often than not.
Not anymore. YAY!
I love my INSTANT POT SMART so much that I just HAD TO TELL EVERYONE! (those links are affiliate, by the way, but I only rave and get cray cray over products that I use and love. And, if you should choose to buy it via my link then that’s awesome! As you might’ve noticed I haven’t been blogging as much. You could say I’m in the “space between stories” in my life right now. But with this friggin’ awesome Instant Pot, I had to get on my horn and write about it.)
Wait… did I tell you that you can make bone broth in like an hour???
It’s actually just a bit more than an hour. You have to add the time to get the Instant Pot to pressure. Plus add the time for it to come down in pressure – a quick release is fast though. This time-to-pressure and de-pressure vary by how cold the item is once it’s placed inside plus how much food there is in total. But it’s all hands off and that’s the important thing. And still, it’s waaaaaaay quicker than using traditional methods like the stove, sous vide, or slow cooker.
If you want to make bone broth and don’t have a pressure cooker then here’s my epic post on it.
Instant Pot Chicken Bone Broth in an hour.
I make the most delicious rice pudding in it. I had never made rice pudding before getting my Instant Pot Smart, but I make it regularly now. OMG so good and creamy with grass-fed whole-fat milk, unrefined sugar, pasture-raised eggs, vanilla, sea salt, cream and raisins and arborio rice. The first time I made it, Greg rolled on the floor in the fetal position because he loved it so much. I thought he was going to suck his thumb.
I make cheesecakes, too!
Yes. That’s right.
Cheesecake in a pressure cooker.
Gluten-free Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
I make a lot of things in my Instant Pot Smart… most things in fact. But my favorite?
Having an Instant Pot Smart has made veggies a regular appearance, because they’re just so damn easy to make. I don’t know what it is about veggies but I can get so lazy when it comes to making them.
With my Instant Pot – Smart, I can make “baked” potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, squashes, etc in much less time. I don’t have to watch the oven and test for doneness a million times because I know that my pressure cooker will do the job.
Broccoli, cauliflower, and beets are a pleasure to make. I never thought that before. Is that just me or do others feel the same?
Before cooking… just throw in the whole thing.
After 1-min under pressure. Vibrant.
And. Don’t forget to drink the vegetable tea that’s left behind. It has nutrients! I use Castle Rock Spring water when cooking veggies under pressure and then I drink it when the veggies are done cooking.
Broccoli “tea” – from pressure cooking.
I also cook gluten-free pasta in it. No more filling my stove pot with water and waiting for the boil, then stirring frequently, yada yada yada.
Nope. I just toss some sauce and noodles (plus some water or broth) into my Instant Pot and it cooks easily. If I want to get a bit fancy, I can saute some onion and garlic first, using the saute function, then add the sauce, noodles, and any extra water that’s needed. (The Instant Pot has a saute and browning feature).
There is just so much that can be made with the Instant Pot Smart and I love how I can control it from my iPhone using their app. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Speaking of the app, I think I can share my scripts on Twitter. I’ll look into it.
As you can guess, I wholeheartedly recommend everyone bring an Instant Pot Smart into his/her kitchen. You will be so happy did.
I find there are days where it seems the only veggies getting served are at dinner.
That’s not cool.
In my attempt to get more veggies in our bellies, I have started adding them more often in breakfast meals. Today, I hit it out of the park with an easy, nutritious, one-skillet breakfast. My whole family was thrilled. I was thrilled. Everything in the world was good.
And… I decided that it’d make a super easy dinner the next time I need a nutritious meal on the table in under 15 minutes.
You know you want some. Trust me, it’s easy n delish.
Drambuie would “not” be in the healthy category (I don’t think). “BUT IT’S THE HOLIDAYS!”
I’m sharing with you some key holiday survival tips. What do I mean survive?
Well, basically, some tips to help feel well during the holidays by not eating too crappy. It’s easy to succumb to the excuse “It’s the holidays” and make it a free-for-all, right? (Guilty.) But when we let our hair down too many times and go crackers (that’s another way to say “cray-cray”) then, sadly, we welcome a weaker immune system and lower energy. Sigh. Am I a buzz kill already?
No! I’m not! I promise.
We still need to have fun. After all, “It’s the holidays!”
Questions to ask a hospital on a hospital birth tour.
No. I’m not currently pregnant.
But, as I wrote in a post recently that talked about all about breastfeeding, I’m sharing some other posts from my old Green Mommy Blog. This is another one… taking a tour of a hospital even though I originally had planned a home birth for my daughter.
Well. As some of you know, I did end up in the hospital for the delivery of Kamea, but it wasn’t the local one I toured.
700 am Wake up naturally. Sometimes I oil pull at this time.
715 am Drink some spring water with organic lemon juice squeezed in. I’ve heard about people doing this forever. I never got into it… til now. I read recently that drinking it on an empty stomach does something to help digestion, which helps you better absorb nutrients from your food later. Interesting. Okay, I’ll try. (The rule is that it’s on an empty stomach and you don’t eat for about 30 minutes.)
717 am Rebounding to start moving, getting the kinks worked, blood flowing, and because it’s fun. (Bellicon is the best rebounder.)
As a mom who doesn’t give her kid candy unless it’s dark chocolate, Halloween is a tricky situation (pun intended)… until now.
To tell you the truth, we have a lot of things we do to celebrate Halloween and all without the traditional trick-or-treating.
For starters, we begin the celebrating with decorations at the beginning of October. This includes wall clings, scary music, carving jack-o-lanters, hanging skeletons from the ceiling, and more. This starts at the beginning of October to ensure a healthy dose of Halloween-ness.
Halloween is a whole month celebration for us.
Kamea painting a small pumpkin for decoration.
When the actual day of Halloween arrives, we have a Halloween Hunt where we hide dark chocolates and little trinkets, toys, stickers, etc around the house (or where ever we are).
Another thing we often do is travel during this time to make it extra special… with costumes, of course.
Travel to Flagstaff, AZ. A spooky town.
What kid wouldn’t want to go to DISNEYLAND for Halloween?
16 months old, as a fairy while traveling to Sedona, AZ for Halloween.
WEAR COSTUMES MANY TIMES!
We don our costumes many times(!) during the weeks before Halloween. Myself included.
I wear this costume pretty much every year.
Halloween Headbands are awesome.
We check out the crazy Halloween stores that pop up every year. Sometimes we go more than once. #FieldTrip
Trying on a witch hat. “I’ll get you my pretty…”
We go to Halloween parties… like this one at her Karate Dojo.
Halloween Party with a light show and dancing.
MONEY FOR CANDY!
I remember growing up, my mom gave us money for the candy we collected trick-or-treating, which we always preferred over eating the candy. That’s another idea.
A walk down memory lane with Kamea’s first Halloween.
This was Kamea’s first Halloween costume. She was a Chipotle Burrito.
4 months old Kamea as a burrito: Halloween
We swaddled her in an organic blanket, first, and you can see the rest. Foil. Organic lettuce. I actually thought she’d hate it because she’s not big on the swaddle thing, but she was a real trooper in her costume as Greg took photos.
Halloween as a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT! From Mothering.com…
I loved candy when I was a kid, but when I became a mother, I worried about my kids eating too much of the stuff. Still, I’ve never banned it from our home. Now, when my children come home on Halloween night, examine their candy, and go to bed without asking to eat a single piece, it’s not because I’ve forbidden it. It’s because they have better ideas about what to do with it.
It began with a simple question three years ago, when I was overwhelmed by our collection of Halloween candy. An afternoon with too-generous coworkers, a church Trunk-or-Treat (i.e., collecting candy at every car in a full parking lot), and a subsequent trick-or-treating expedition up our street had provided my four-year-old princess and two-year-old cowboy with mountains of candy. But since the candies had been the gifts of kind friends, and of elderly neighbors on fixed incomes, I didn’t want to throw them all away. Instead, I decided to dole them out one piece at a time. Handing out pieces after lunch was painful—the bowl loomed enormous atop my fridge, and I knew that at this rate we’d be eating candy for months.
Then, as my daughter Katherine poured out a box of Nerds, she asked the life-changing question:
“What would happen if I put these in water?”
I almost missed the moment. I was cleaning up the lunch dishes, and didn’t want to get out another one. Besides, the experiment sounded messy and wasteful (even though I’d just been agonizing about how to get rid of the stuff). I brushed her question aside, hoping she’d forget it. Instead, she asked again. I got her a white, unspillable mug, filled it with water, and set it down in front of her. She poured in her strawberry Nerds, examined them, stirred them into something the color of raspberry lemonade, and examined the cup again. Then I dumped it down the sink.
Epic fun house from popsicle sticks and creativity.
My husband gets credit for this post. Using popsicle sticks to create what has turned out to be an epic fun house was his idea. He wanted to teach Kamea a bunch of skills and concepts in a way that’s accessible to a 4-year-old, as well as convey that activities don’t all have to be pre-packaged, that you can do big amazing stuff with simple objects. He’s very big on teaching her to use things for their unintended purposes (to teach lateral thinking), kind of like “coloring outside the lines” on steroids. Also, he wanted her to engage in a multi-month project to augment the single-serving creative sessions we usually do. There’s something about seeing a project grow and expand over time into wild directions, some planned and some unplanned.
And, so, I share this crazy fun idea with you, parents, out there if you’re in need of a creative activity and long-term project for kids. Keep in mind though, it requires some participation from you, the parents, but it’s easy and relaxed fun. Even mindfully meditative, at times.
My husband bought a bunch of popsicle sticks, and he started gluing them together with Kamea (she’s five years, but this project started while she was four).
Excited to get to work on the fun house.
The house started to really take on quite a life for itself and they started to decorate it with paint, stickers, markers, clay, found objects from the recycle bin, and much more. They also incorporated colored popsicle sticks. It’s become the center of attraction for play-dates as kids stare at it in awe. In fact, so do the parents!
In spite of going to the gym for an hour a day, most days, I feel like my life is missing more movement. But, how could that be? I go to the gym almost daily. Surely that’s adequate.
Or, is it?
I took a look at our lives recently and realized there’s just too much sitting… whether it’s eating food at the table, working on computers, playing video games, watching TV, or reading, I had to admit that we’re members of the species homo sedentarius.
Sitting this much just doesn’t feel right. And research says that “sitting is the new smoking,” meaning deadly… even for people who exercise daily! Yikes.
So, on a whim I suggested to Greg that we get rid of our couch, which would make us move more. It was just an idea that made sense to me.
He wasn’t buying it. I mean, who doesn’t have a couch?
Well! Turns out, I’m not the only one to think about this. Apparently there is a movement (pun intended) known as “furniture-free” and I can’t help but be intrigued. There’s even experts on the topic. When Greg heard Katy Bowman, ummm, an expert, he realized it wasn’t just a crazy idea of mine – people are doing this.
Long story short, we got rid of our couch. (Gasp!)
Mom’s Secret Zen Garden – a place for play, imagination, or meditation.
Mom is taking Kamea for the night, which really means I get all day today, all night, and most of tomorrow to be child-free. Kamea loves going to mom’s sort-of citrus orchard, especially now that they’re creating a zen secret garden of it – statues, wind chimes galore, and hummingbirds a plenty.
So, what shall I do today? My list is long with much that I can blast through… things like…
Follow up emails
Make new recipes for my maybe new book
Make kelp capsules
Go to Trader Joe’s
Make liver pate
Read about qigong, yoga, and meditation
Shower and blow dry my hair
Dinner alone with Greg
I could just lay lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling for 30 hours.