Archive | January, 2014

Share Your Story of Postpartum Depression

30 Jan

William's birth.blue bunny

A dear friend paid me an amazing compliment today. She shared with me that the New York Times is asking for readers to share their stories and experiences with postpartum depression, and she suggested that I send them my PPD story (Thanks, KCT!). I submitted the online form; nothing may come of it and that’s okay. However, I was wonderfully encouraged to hear the New York Times giving press to postpartum depression. Props, NY Times!

This actually refueled a desire that I have had over the last few weeks. No, I didn’t steal this idea from the NY Times; I’ve wanted to do this for a while. I would love to feature the stories of women who have experienced postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety here on my blog! So, if you’re reading this post, and you are ready to share your postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety story, contact me at suzanneshares AT gmail DOT com. Writing about my experience with PPD has been curative, restorative, redeeming. I want to encourage others to do likewise, so here we go! I look forward to hearing from  you! Don’t forget to share with the NY Times, too!

Reading Eggs–Free 5 Week Trial: Read-to-Cure Challenge

28 Jan

Our first year of homeschooling was quite unexpected. We were moving to plant a church, our house wasn’t selling, and school options whittled away to only one–homeschooling. Having never been trained as a teacher, I had no idea what I was doing. 🙂 I love learning, so my sons and I tackled it together. (Never did I anticipate loving it as much as I did and do! NO JUDGEMENT for those who school their children other ways. I know homeschooling is not for everyone, and I promise there is nothing “special” or “amazing” about me because I do. I’m sure those of you with school-agers feel the same way I do–it’s only God’s grace that gets us through schooling our children! Can I get an AMEN?!?!) One website that we stumbled upon was Reading Eggs. My oldest son, in kindergarten at the time, enjoyed doing something on the computer, and I loved that his computer time was educational. What I also loved was that I noticed an improvement in his letter recognition and reading only after a few short weeks. Now, we’ve used it with Son #2 for kindergarten last year, and Son #3 already begs to play it as well!

Reading Eggs has a fee to use their program. However, right now, you can sign up for a FREE 5 Week Trial if you are not currently a Reading Eggs user. We “test drove” Reading Eggs via a “Free Trial” as well when we first learned about it. I was thankful for the “test drive” because I hated to spend the money if my son hated it. If you’re curious to know if it would be a good fit for your family, sign up for the FREE 5 Week Trial. Reading Eggs has lessons for ages 3-13, so there is a vast expanse of lessons to navigate and explore! Another win-win for signing up for the 5 Week Trial before March 7th is that Reading Eggs is donating $1 to the National Children’s Cancer Society for every new free trial sign up! Love it!

So, sign up and give it a go! I would love to hear if your kiddos enjoy it!

Pampered Chef #15–Mix ‘N Chop

27 Jan

I’m hosting an online Pampered Chef party…for only a few more days! 🙂   (Today is the LAST DAY, Jan. 27! Don’t miss out!). To celebrate, I’m featuring some of my favorite Pampered Chef items here on Suzanne Shares. Missed previous posts? Read all of them including the previous 14 favorite Pampered Chef items I featured here.

Once upon a time, a washing machine flooded in a kitchen. That kitchen belonged to….yours truly. We called our good friend, Rob, to take care of the flood and our ruined floors. They did great work, but the flood and ruined floors meant our house was unlivable for a few days. Did I mention that my awesome husband was on the continent of Asia when these repairs were happening?!?!? Awesome, awesome, awesome. 🙂

Sweet friends of ours from church offered to let us live with them during those few days of floor repairs (Thank you Dave and Kae!). Bless them for letting me and  6, 4, and 1 year old boys invade their home. They were gracious hosts, and we had a blast! One evening Kae, amazing cook extraordinaire, was browning ground beef for our meal. She was using this wild looking contraption that made the cooking of ground beef look effortless! Kae was in the middle of a story when I observed the said ‘wild looking contraption.’ I stopped her mid-sentence and mid-story (a 2 year old apology for stopping you mid-story, Kae!) and screamed, “What is the amazing, ‘wild looking contraption’ that you are using?!?!” She said, “Oh, this Mix and Chop? It’s from Pampered Chef, and it’s amazing. My friend had one, and I used hers and immediately bought my own.”

Well, you know what I did?!?! I did exactly what Kae did! I immediately went out and bought my own after watching Kae cook with this amazing ‘wild looking contraption.’ The chopping design of the Pampered Chef Mix and Chop cuts the hunk of ground beef as you are cooking it. Do you know how, once the raw ground beef (or turkey, chicken or sausage, which this also works with!) is in the skillet, it is in one massive hunk?!?! The Mix ‘N Chop allows you to, literally, chop it while stirring and cooking it. Have you ever done what I used to do in my pre-Mix ‘N Chop days? Do you try to saw through the meat with a spatula (which is quite difficult, I might add) in order to make it cook evenly and faster? Or, do you try to stir the big massive chunk of meat with your spatula, flip it over and slosh hot grease on you? (Or, was that just me!?!??) Anyway, those days of mine are gone, and I’m so relieved! This little tool is only $11.50, and it is worth every penny!

The moral of the story is this–yes, my kitchen flooded, which wasn’t fun. However, getting new floors (thanks Rob and Serve Pro of Belle Meade and West Nashville), vacationing a few days with our friends during the floor renovations while my husband was on another continent, and discovering the Pampered Chef Mix ‘N Chop were very much a “making-lemonade-out-of-a-lemon” kind of experience!

Want to order one of these handy dandy Mix and Chop? The item number is: 2583. See below to order online and have it shipped to your door (or “shipped to host” if you are local to me.)

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ORDER (Jan. 27).To participate in my Pampered Chef online show, go here. Click on the “Shop” button on the upper left-hand corner, and shop away! Get one of these items free when you spend $60. Thanks to my fabulous neighbor, Aimee Howell, wonderful Pampered Chef consultant for allowing me to host a party! And…no worries if you don’t live anywhere near me! When you order online, you can have it shipped directly to your door! Oh, how I love shopping online.

Pampered Chef #14-Pineapple Wedger

25 Jan

I’m hosting an online Pampered Chef party…for only a few more days! 🙂   (through 1/27). To celebrate, I’m featuring some of my favorite Pampered Chef items here on Suzanne Shares. Missed previous posts? Read all of them including the previous 13 favorite Pampered Chef items I featured here.

I’m a HUGE Aldi fan. One of my favorite things to buy at Aldi are pinapples when they are on sale for $0.99! Yup, you read that right–$0.99! We’ve gotten so used to eating fresh pineapple that canned pineapple almost tastes like a totally different fruit to me. No, I’m not snooty. I will still eat canned pineapple; it just tastes totally different. Fresh pineapple for $0.99, or the canned variety for roughly the same price. I just go for the fresh one, and actually buy several when they’re that price.

If you would’ve told me that I would be buying fresh pineapple several years ago, I would have laughed in your face! Fresh pineapple scared me–not just the rough, prickly outside skin and the sharp leaves. Trying to figure out how to cut it up made me nervous, sweaty and anxious. Yes, sometimes cooking causes me anxiety. 🙂 However, I found a handy dandy little pineapple cutter contraption on clearance, so I purchased it. Then, I felt obligated to buy a fresh pineapple because I had the new-fangled contraption. So, I took several deep cleansing breaths and cut up my first pineapple, and eating each juicy bite was so worth it. Sadly, though, as with my cheap apple wedger, the pineapple cutter broke.

After my Pampered Chef Apple Wedger purchase and learning that it was worth the few extra bucks beyond the cheapy apple wedger, I decided that I should replace my broken pineapple wedger with the Pampered Chef one. So, I did. Again, a little more than the cost of my previous purchase, but it has been a great investment! It is even EASIER to use than the first one I had, and I can literally cut up an entire pineapple in less than 5 minutes! It’s so easy to use, and it has helped me overcome my how-in-the-world-do-I-cut-up-a-fresh-pineapple-anxiety. So, when I see the $0.99 sale price for pineapple at Aldi, I go runnin’. If you run into me at Aldi one afternoon, and I have 10 pineapples in my buggy, don’t judge. My Pampered Chef Pineapple Wedger will show its muscle when I get home.

Want to order the Pampered Chef Pineapple Wedger? Here’s how…

To participate in my Pampered Chef online show, go here. Click on the “Shop” button on the upper left-hand corner, and shop away! Get one of these items free when you spend $60. Thanks to my fabulous neighbor, Aimee Howell, wonderful Pampered Chef consultant for allowing me to host a party! And…no worries if you don’t live anywhere near me! When you order online, you can have it shipped directly to your door! Oh, how I love shopping online. :)

Favorite Winter-Themed Children’s Books (since we’re experiencing a Polar Vortex)

23 Jan

Polar Vortex?!?! What’s that you say? If you had asked me what a Polar Vortex was two months ago, I would have look at you dumbfounded and remained speechless (a rarity, for me!). Now, I know exactly what it is. It is the root of this frigid, take-my-breath-away-when-I-walk-outside weather. That settles it; I’m never moving to the North Pole or Antarctica. I even asked my husband this week if we could move to Florida. (He said, “No.” sigh.) I’m sure the housing market in Florida has spiked this winter, don’t you think?!?!

In honor of this winter weather that we are experiencing, I thought it would be fun to pass along some of our favorite Winter-Themed books! So, bundle up–parkas, scarves (why don’t we start calling them MUFFLERS again? Doesn’t that sound “cooler??!?!” ha!), mittens, ear warmers, leg warmers, and hot cocoa recommended.

Snowflake Bentley (Jacqueline Briggs Martin)-Our first year of homeschooling was birthed out of necessity and as a last resort. It was our first year of church planting, we were trying to sell our house which wasn’t happening) to get to our new town before the school year started (which didn’t happen). Since our house could have literally sold at any moment that fall, we decided that putting our son in one school and potentially having to rip him out a couple of weeks later to relocate him to another might be slightly traumatic for him. So, we homeschooled for kindergarten, and I had no idea what I was doing. 🙂 (And I told myself, “This is only for a year!” That was 4 years ago! ha!) One friend told me that she picked a theme for each month, and she and her son did activities and read books related to the theme. (Think: October=Pumpkins, November=Thanksgiving, etc.) For January, I decided on “Winter.” I’m really creative, aren’t I? I bought this Winter Unit Study for a whopping $1, and we had a fun month learning about Winter.

The best residual benefit from my $1 unit study investment is our family’s introduction to Snowflake Bentley from the book shown above. Wilson Bentley was a real man with a real love of photographing snowflakes. The story, particularly the actual photos, drew me in–breathtaking. Look at these amazing snowflake pictures he took…

File:SnowflakesWilsonBentley.jpg

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Our whole family enjoyed this book, particularly scouring the internet to find more of his original snowflake pictures. Read the book and marvel at God’s creativity and beauty in His creation of snowflakes. Truly, no two are alike as Snowflake Bentley helped us see. By the way, if you’re ever in Wilson A. Bentley’s hometown of Jericho, Vermont, you can visit The Bentley Museum at the Old Red Mill to see the Bentley Exhibit. Oooooooh, I’d love this!

Katy and the Big Snow (Virginia Lee Burton)One of my favorite books as a child was Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. I enjoyed introducing my sons to the book, and as I typically do when I enjoy an author, I check out all books that he/she has written. When throwing all of the Virginia Lee Burton books into my library bag from the library shelf, we found Katy. 🙂 This is a wonderful winter story of Katie the red-treaded tractor’s task of helping the people of Geoppolis after they have a big snow. The illustrations in the book are delightful, vivid. I enjoy the technique of the book that incorporates smaller illustrations on the edges of the pages almost telling a second story simultaneously with the primary one. Check this book out and enjoy meeting Katy. Here’s a free unit study based on the book.

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Books by Jan BrettWhen I think of Winter-Themed books for kiddos, I always, always, always think of Jan Brett. Although her books aren’t exclusively set in snow-drenched lands, many of them are. Our youngest son, shown above sportin’ his new copy of Gingerbread Friends that he got for birthday #4 last month, is who I immediately think of when I think of Jan Brett. I first picked up a couple of her books at the library per the recommendation of Honey for a Child’s Heart. One of those books was…

Son #3 fell in love with the mischievous little Gingerbread Baby. I think son #3 feels like he’s found his long lost twin; he and Gingerbread Baby share a love of mischief. In keeping with my typical “library behavior,” I began checking out any and all Jan Brett books. She, too, employs the technique of secondary illustrations around the pages’ edges as mentioned with Katy and the Big Snow. Some of our favorite Winter-Themed Jan Brett books are: The Hat, The Mitten and Trouble with Trolls. Once it warms up outside, branch out to some of Brett’s non-Winter books that we’ve enjoyed including Mossy, Hedgie’s Surprise, and Annie and the Wild Animals. There are multiple FREE Unit Studies for Jan Brett books at HomeschoolShare.

Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole (Stan & Jan Berenstain)I picked this book up a few weeks ago, primarily because I was intrigued by a book written by Stan & Jan Berenstain that had nothing to do with the Berenstain Bears. This book is hilarious, hilarious, hilarious! We read it multiple times and laughed at a penguin’s “boring” day at the South Pole. Shhhh, don’t tell the penguin that he’s missing out on a lot of fun!

The Snowman (Raymond Briggs)-This book is a wordless book that speaks volumes. It is the story of a snowman and a little boy and their memorable adventures one winter evening. When I first got this book from the library, I had no idea that there zero words. I didn’t know what to expect as I went through the book with my sons. However, I quickly learned to ask them questions about the pictures and illustrations that they beheld. The result? A wonderful conversation and storytelling adventure of our own as we turned each page. Our reading rendered the “Mosley version” of the book. Check out this book, and you can create your family’s version of the book. We enjoyed The Snowman DVD from the library over Christmas break, and if a wordless book makes you hyperventilate or slightly uncomfortable, there is The Snowman (Step-Into-Reading, Step 1) option. 🙂

STAY WARM, friends!!! What are your favorite Winter-Themed books?!?!?

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Pampered Chef #13-Apple Wedger

21 Jan

I’m hosting an online Pampered Chef party…for only a few more days! 🙂   (through 1/27). To celebrate, I’m featuring some of my favorite Pampered Chef items here on Suzanne Shares. Missed previous posts? Read all of them including the previous 12 favorite Pampered Chef items I featured here.

I bought the Pampered Chef Apple Wedger at my last Pampered Chef party. It was a last minute “throw in the shopping cart” idea. My friend, Duffy, told me, “not all apple wedgers are alike. The Pampered Chef one is worth the extra money.” So, I put faith in what she said, and I bought one. Best.decision.ever.

Here’s a little history with me and apple wedgers. I bought one in college because they were the newest, greatest invention. Yes, it was a knock-off brand. I had seen the shiny Pampered Chef one, and was too cheap to buy it. So, I bought the knock-off brand. Well, “knock-off” was an appropriate term because it was a little “off”; it broke ASAP. There were very few apples wedged by that apple wedger. I was disgusted with the poor quality and punted all ideas of ever buying an apple wedger again. After all, if I had my Pampered Chef Quikcut Paring Knife, I was good to go.

In a moment of weakness one year ago this month, I followed the wisdom of my friend, Duffy, and broke my vow of never buying another apple wedger. She assured me that the Pampered Chef Apple Wedger was worth it, so I took the plunge. You know, what? She was RIGHT! We’ve been using it for a year now, and it has lived up to the hype. We eat mass quantities of apples at our house (I’m currently buying them in 20 pound boxes. No lie.), and being able to have an apple ready for my sons to devour in 30 seconds is phenomenal! My Quikcut Paring Knife does the trick, too, with my apples. However, the Apple Wedger takes the cake. It literally is so easy to prep an apple and serve it to my boys with the Pampered Chef Apple Wedger. I love that I can give them a delicious, whole food snack in turbo speed. 🙂 So, take the plunge like I did, and you’ll be glad that you did! You’ll enjoy hearing your children ask for a piece of FRUIT for a snack instead of something junk-food-esque.

We also have this little beauty, “The Corer,” and we love it as well. Some days my boys want their apple “not cut up, Mommy, just a hole in it.” When this request is made, I know they mean “The Corer” and not the Apple Wedger. This is a fun tool that takes out–ta dah–the core of the apple! Use “The Corer” to remove the core, slice the apple horizontally, slather some peanut butter with a few mini chocolate chips in between each layer, and you have a wonderful snack or fun party appetizer!

Now, you’re ready to get your Apple Wedger or “The Corer” aren’t you?!?!? You’ll be so glad you did! Click on the link below to shop online through my party. Thanks in advance! The item numbers are: Apple Wedger-#2427 or “The Corer”-#2415.

To participate in my Pampered Chef online show, go here. Click on the “Shop” button on the upper left-hand corner, and shop away! Get one of these items free when you spend $60. Thanks to my fabulous neighbor, Aimee Howell, wonderful Pampered Chef consultant for allowing me to host a party! And…no worries if you don’t live anywhere near me! When you order online, you can have it shipped directly to your door! Oh, how I love shopping online. :)

Pampered Chef #12-White Ceramic Saute Pan

20 Jan

I’m hosting an online Pampered Chef party…for only a few more days! 🙂   (through 1/27). To celebrate, I’m featuring some of my favorite Pampered Chef items here on Suzanne Shares. Missed previous posts? Read all of them including my 11 favorite Pampered Chef items here.

When I had a Pampered Chef party last year, one of the Host Gifts was the White Ceramic 10″ Saute Pan at a discounted price. As I was closing out the show and finalizing all the orders with my friend, Aimee, Pampered Chef Consultant Extraordinaire, she asked if I wanted to buy it. I had looked at it and decided that I would pass. However, she started raving about it, and I listened.

She said, she…

*Uses it to warm up leftovers at lunch for her son.

*Can clean it in about two seconds by simply wiping it with a dishcloth.

Both of these things intrigued me because we have leftovers a lot for lunch during our homeschool week. I don’t mind leftovers, but that nice chewy texture that my food can be transformed into when I warm it too long in the microwave is…well…overrated. 🙂 (Can you tell I have a tendency to ‘overwarm’ my leftovers?!?!? ha!) PLUS, easy clean up without nonstick Teflon? I’m sold! I have a great set of stainless still pots and pans, and I love them. Easy clean up, though, they are not. 😦

So, I took the leap, I bought the White Ceramic Saute Pan, and IT IS AMAZING! Seriously, I use it more than any other pot or pan I own! My friend’s summary of the pan was spot on! We hardly ever use our microwave anymore. I warm up our leftovers at lunch in the pan, and everything tastes like I just made it at that moment! I can also warm up a variety of leftovers at the same meal because clean up in between the various dishes is so easy. 

Now, go order yours! You’ll be glad you did! The 10″ Saute Pan is item #3131, or the 8″ Saute Pan is item #3130. Or, check out the other White Ceramic pots and pans here.

To participate in my Pampered Chef online show, go here. Click on the “Shop” button on the upper left-hand corner, and shop away! Get one of these items free when you spend $60. Thanks to my fabulous neighbor, Aimee Howell, wonderful Pampered Chef consultant for allowing me to host a party! And…no worries if you don’t live anywhere near me! When you order online, you can have it shipped directly to your door! Oh, how I love shopping online. 🙂

Pampered Chef Online Party 2.0

19 Jan

Last January, I had an online Pampered Chef PARTAY (It was too much fun to simply be a PARTY!). It was so much fun, I decided to have another. I’m calling it Pampered Chef Online Party 2.0. Creative, I know. 🙂 Last year I wrote about my 11 favorite Pampered Chef items to CELEBRATE the PARTAY. Click on their names below to read why I love them–oh, so much!

Professional Kitchen Shears

Egg Slicer Plus (aka “Strawberry Slicer” at my house. I hate eggs.)

Quikut Paring Knife

Citrus Peeler

Core & More (aka “Stawberry Capper” at my house. Yes, we love strawberries)

Apple Peeler, Slicer, Corer

Salad Chopper

Large Bar Pan (Seriously, I use this daily! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!)

Medium & Large Scoops (and the Stoneware Muffin Pan!)

Glass Storage Containers

Mini Serving Spatula (This is the BEST!)

 I’ve decided to highlight some of my other Pampered Chef favorites this year as well. So stay tuned for that this week! 🙂

To participate in my Pampered Chef online show, go here. Click on the “Shop” button on the upper left-hand corner, and shop away! Get one of these items free when you spend $60. Thanks to my fabulous neighbor, Aimee Howell, wonderful Pampered Chef consultant for allowing me to host a party! And…no worries if you don’t live anywhere near me! When you order online, you can have it shipped directly to your door! Oh, how I love shopping online. 🙂

CC Tutor Tidbit: The grammar of Physics

19 Jan

If you are a Tutor for Classical Conversations, you are very much aware that these next 6 weeks of science experiments focus on Physics. I took Physics in high school–circa mid-1990s–and I have only a few recollections of the class. I wanted a “refresher” course in order to review and understand the grammar of Physics particularly relating to the science experiments for Weeks 13-18. I stumbled upon these two gems from my library and wanted to pass them along.

The Science of Music (by Melvin Berger)This book was geared for middle/high school, so I don’t recommend this for class reading. 🙂 However, it was a helpful refresher on sound, sound waves, pitch, frequency, how our ears hear and detect sound (fascinating!!) for this Tutor! 🙂 This book is an excellent book in preparation for our 6 weeks of Orchestra! It goes through the Orchestra sections–percussion, woodwinds, strings, brass–and details the mechanics of how sound is produced by each type of instrument. I will most definitely reference information from the instruments section of this book for Weeks 18-24 of the Orchestra! I loved the unifying of subjects in this book–science and instruments!

Rubber-Band Banjos and a Java Jive Bass (Alex Sabbeth)The subtitle to this book is aptly named, “Projects & Activities on the Science of Music & Sound.” This most definitely is geared towards elementary learners. There are wonderful, most simplistic definitions and introductions to sound, sound waves, frequency and how sound is taken in by our ears. There is also a section dedicated to instruments–strings, woodwinds, percussion–and how their sounds are made. This book is almost identical to the content covered. Both books are excellent, yet being geared for younger children this one is the simpler of the two to digest and understand (at least it was for this grown up!). It includes multiple activities to make and do with the concepts/ideas covered, and even has “instrument making” as several of the projects!

I know my Physics teacher, Mr. Wilson, would be so proud to know that I’m brushing up on my Physics. 🙂 Happy Physics learning in Weeks 13-18 of CC!

Cycle 2 Math Resources Second Semester

18 Jan

These are some various Math resources that can be used with Classical Conversations or by any family wanting to reinforce some Math concepts at home.

Liquid Equivalent Activity

Liquid Measurement Equivalencies: This activity helps with how many cups are in a pint, pints in a gallon, etc. 🙂 I always have to remind myself of these when I’m cooking! You can download the activity here: Liquid Equivalents Activity . Also, visit this post for a couple of different “Mr. Gallon Man” options. My sons loved making their own “Mr. Gallon” man. We have them hanging in our school room, and it is another great visual to reinforce these liquid equivalents.

Linear Equivalents.blog

Linear Measurement Equivalencies: I made this to use with my Abecedarians in my CC Class. Last year, my sweet little kiddos kept saying, “2.54 = 1 INCHWORM” instead of “1 inch.” Hilarious! You can download the file here: Linear Equivalents

Metric Measurements

Metric Measurement Equivalencies: Don’t you remember converting the metric system when you were in school?!?! I remember that our teacher taught us “Kids Hate Doing Meters, Don’t Confuse Me” as a mnemonic device for remembering the various metric prefixes. See, teachers, keep passing those mnemonic onto your kiddos, they work! I learned that approximately 25 years ago! (Whew, I’m old! HA!) You can download the file here: Metric Measurements

Math Laws

Math Laws: Here’s a quick printable with the 4 Math Laws for Addition and Multiplication. I laminated these for my students. As we recited the laws, they traced over the letters and numbers using a dry erase marker. One of the perks of laminating documents is that they can be used again and again with a dry erase marker. (I have this laminator and love it immensely.) Download the file here: Math Laws

How Tall, How Short, How Far Away? (David A. Adler)–While you’re studying measurements and equivalencies, check out this gem of a book! It is a vibrantly illustrated book that will be a fun way to see these few weeks of Math Grammar come to life. Go here to read a post I wrote about the book last year.

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

This post is a part of a CC Link up over at Half A Hundred Acre Wood. See more posts here.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.