March 2, 2015


I have a feeling about March. 

March is bringing all the good things.  Shamrocks, green stuff, and a good dose of luck.  I mean, I am Irish, so it makes sense.  This March in particular though, is going to be pretty amazing.  I just have a feeling. 

We were in Minneapolis for the weekend celebrating my oldest THIRTEENTH birthday. (what!?) And on the way back to South Dakota, the excitement started swelling.  I put all the kids to bed early last night and sat down with my planner, planning out my month...prioritizing, making plans, getting organized.  This morning I woke up early, went outside for a colder-than-blast run and I it sort of gave me a dose of stamina to take on the tasks ahead.

March is going to be full.  March is going to be crazy.  But March is going to be awesome.  Why?

...because Learning Well. 

This ecourse is my baby right now.  It's a project I've been cooking up for a long, long time.  I am so thankful to Jeanne for helping me with this.  The videos from the guest mamas are coming in daily and I'm tearing up watching them.  Not because they're sad at all, but they are SO so good and I am so proud to know these mamas.  I'm so humbled that they would take the time to record themselves and share their homeschool talents for this course.  And I am so very excited for YOU to learn from them.  I am working on my videos too, editing, and preparing printables and an awesome class notebook for notes and more!

Click here for lots more info on the course and click here to register.  Don't forget! Right now is the early bird registration, but it will end on March 16th, so don't wait to sign up!

....because birthday planning.

You know I love me a good party.  Little Sissy is turning 7 this month and we're currently deciding on a theme.  I've given her till end-of-day to decide so we can get busy.  I'm dreaming about last year's Woodland Fairy party and wishing for spring, but we've got some pretty good will be good.  And what's not to celebrate about SEVEN??!!

....because teenagers.

You guys, I have a teen.  What the what!?! I have NO idea how this happened, but I do and frankly, it's a little freaky, but I'm going to look at the good 1. adult conversations//not just about the reasons why brushing your teeth is beneficial and discussing why Forest Gump is an awesome movie.  2. a babysitter//I mean, this is totally selfish, but hello! He's a teenager now, no reason why big bro can't babysit! :) 3. maturity//I know, I know...not like super mature yet, but he's getting there...he's becoming an adult and I can see it. It's pretty cool, actually.

....because a house!!!

That's right!! We found a house, the inspection is done, and we are closing on the 31st!! You know how people say they just walk in and know? Well, I knew.  I knew on our last house too.  I can reconciled with myself that this house hunt had turned so ugly and desperate that we were either going to end up renting or buying a house that was just so-so and would live with it just because.  This isn't like that.  I love it.  I love the lot, love the interior, the exterior...all of it.  There's of course little things to do like painting and such, but mostly we are going to move in and live in it.  We'll save projects for summer or later, but for now we are just looking forward to living under one roof with unpacked boxes and getting to know our new city.  From what I can tell, we will be near a new library, lakes, and trails.  And yes, I am so excited.

March,  so far, I love you.  You hold so much right now!

February 25, 2015


Last week, I announced a really exciting new project I've been working on: a video-based homeschooling ecourse! Today I wanted to give you some more details and answer some questions I've been receiving over the last week.

Q. What will happen after we register? 
A. When you register, you should receive an email confirmation that you are a member of the class.  When the course content begins on Monday, April 27th, you'll receive an email link every day for five days linking to the new material.

Q. The links here are leading to Jeanne Oliver's that correct?
A. Yes! I am so thankful that Jeanne is helping me with my first ecourse.  She has published many amazing ecourses and she is hosting mine on her site.  You will pay through her site and the daily content will be provided on her site as well.  All the content is created by me and my amazing guest moms, but all hosted on Jeanne's site.

Q. How long does the course start and when does it start? 
A. The course is a total of five days long.  As I mentioned, you will get a link everyday to the new content each day.  Day One of the course is April 27th.

Q. Are the videos pre-recorded? Or do I have to watch them live?
A. The videos are all pre-recorded.  The beauty of this is that you can watch them at ANY time.  The course is available for life, so if you're not able to watch them as they come out, you can watch them whenever it is convenient for YOU!

Q. How much does the course cost? 
A. Currently, the Early Bird price for the course is $32.  After March 16th, the price will move to $49.

Q. Can we still participate if we miss the registration deadline? 
A. Unfortunately, no. You must sign up before the deadline (I believe it is April 26th) in order to participate.  If you are not registered before that date, you will not be able to participate unless it is offered again in the future.

Q. Is this course just for beginners?
A. Absolutely not! I wanted this course to be for homeschoolers at ANY stage in their journey.  Whether you have high school students, preschoolers, elementary, or if you're still on the fence about homeschooling, this course is for you!  Keep reading for details on what is being taught each day...

DAY ONE is all about the beginning of the journey.  You will hear from Joy Prouty, Jeanne Oliver, Lyndsey Kramer, and myself about how we started homeschooling and what keeps us going on this journey.  I will share the basics of starting out like state laws, testing, writing a homeschool mission statement, and other basics for beginners.  

We'll also talk about several styles of homeschooling.  Tina Marie Ernspiker with talk about unschooling her children, Cindy West will cover Charlotte Mason education, Annalea Hart will share about classically educating your children, and I will explain the unit study style and how we add a little bit of this and that to our style of school.

DAY TWO is all about your little schoolhouse and running an orderly homeschool.  I'll share a video on how to choose your curriculum based on your style.  You'll receive a printable list of curriculum and their associated styles.  

I'll also talk about planning your homeschool year and you will also receive some scheduling printables.

Two of my friends and homeschool mamas, Amy Giffin and Darcy Struckmeier, will give you tours of their homeschool spaces and show how they organize and keep things flowing day to day.

DAY THREE I'm really excited about: literature! There will be a segment on how we do literature in our house and hear from my kids about their favorite books and why they love reading.  You will receive the following printable lists: 100 Biographies for Kids, Classic Books for Kids to Read, and 50 Ideas to Use in Literature.

Segments on building your library, a love of books, and why reading as a family is important are included in this day.

Also for Day Three, you will receive videos of my children and me working on literature...both the reading part and the creative part.  We will show you how to create your own Literature Fair in your homeschool groups or for your family.

We love literature in our home and I can't wait to share this with you! 

 DAY FOUR gets down to the nitty gritty of teaching in your homeschool.  I will share on learning of my great passions in homeschooling and how to use our children's learning style to teach them well!

You will also hear from Liz Quick, Kim Cassanova, Alison Agnew, and Laine Chambers talking about exactly how they teach their favorite subjects in their homeschool.  I will share videos on How We Teach History and How I Taught my Daughter to Read.

DAY FIVE is all about Mama.  We'll talk about common problems in homeschooling and day-to-day solutions.  We'll talk about dealing with burnout and teaching those hard subjects.  You'll also hear from Glenda Childers, one of my very favorite veteran homeschool mamas, that homeschooled her girls for over 11 years and graduated them both from her homeschool table.  She will give us mamas encouragement to keep going and let us in on what worked for her while she was in the trenches.

I am beyond pumped to share this course with you.  If you have questions, please email me {}. I would love to hear from you.  I am so excited to share my passion for homeschooling with you in this way.

Click the photo below to register!

February 23, 2015


I've written several posts lately about middle school solutions for my oldest little student.  It's hard as your kids are getting older to teach them to the level they need when still teaching the younger kids.  Your goal as homeschool mama is to also teach your older students to work independently. 

I was recently introduced to a homeschool company I had not previously known about: Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum.  They offer a variety of subjects both digitally and printed, which I love, and best of all, your kids can earn credits while doing these courses. 

We received the course on Basic Science Mysteries to review.  We had a great time getting to know about this fabulous curriculum!

A Little About Paradigm Accelerated Learning

Basic Science Mysteries is an elective course published by Paradigm Accelerated Learning.  The subjects in this course include so many science subjects, but just a few are: genetics, the circulatory system, ecosystems, and the five senses.  Each chapter is introduced with a real-life scenario story and ends with a life principle to add to their activity pages.

Basic Science Mysteries gives clarification to science conversations that might have been confusing before; dehydration, the scientific process, electricity and circuits, spiders, meteorology, and so many more.
PAC is currently in the process of incorporating QR codes for all of their courses so students can access extra content via their smartphone or tablet.  Currently, Biology is the only course with this feature, but they are adding it to all the other courses as we speak.

The course consists of five chapters.  Each chapter has its own text booklet and activity booklet with tests and quizzes.  The teacher also receives a booklet with answers for easy correcting.   

What We Enjoyed About Paradigm Accelerated Learning

1. Students can work independently.  I love that Noah can grab his text booklet and get to work on his own.

2. Material is easy to read.  The chapters are the perfect length to get a lot of great information, but not drag on for students.  It's also very interesting...not boring or dry.  Your child will love diving into this text.

3. Vocabulary is introduced at the beginning of each lesson.  I like this a lot because your child can see the new words at the beginning of the lesson, read the definition, and look for them in the lesson as they read.  I think the repetitiveness is great for retention.

4. PAC courses include a transcript planner (which I need all the help I can get with) and a goal chart to complete the course.  These extra teacher helps are very handy when planning daily work and helping your student stay organized.

We are really enjoying this course right now.  It's age appropriate for my middle schooler and very easy to use.  The chapter booklets and activity booklets make it super easy to tote around if need be and so simple to get started. 
Right now, Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum is offering discounts to the following:
40% off for:
  • homeschool groups (minimum purchase of $1000)
  • single parents
20% off for:
  •  ministry families
  • military families
  • farmers and ranchers
  • first responders
  • and foster parents
Call Paradigm at 325-649-0976 for your discount code when ordering if you fit one of these categories.

You can follow Paradigm on the following links for updates on their curriculum and other announcements:

February 19, 2015


Geography is a hard subject for me.  I love it, and I love the idea of my kids getting more geography in their daily school routines, but it doesn't always happen.  Since we use Story of the World for history and they actually have mapwork to accompany every chapter of the book, I just use that for my younger kids right now.  But like I talked about before, I needed to beef things up for my middle-schooler and geography seemed like a place where we could really add more. This is where being a brand ambassador for Bright Ideas Press has been amazing for me.  I got to try out several of their products in exchange for an honest review, and like I've told you many times, I am always honest with  you on this stuff.  I would never recommend something that I don't think is pretty darn great.  So, speaking of great, I introduce to you: NorthStar Geography by Bright Ideas Press, designed for middle- and high-schoolers.  This geography program is awesome.  Here's a little more about it and why it solved my problem for needing to incorporate more geography into our homeschool regime:

NorthStar Geography and my Middle-Schooler

I'm not going to lie, my boy is totally turned off by curriculum with too much "busy reading." As in, you have to read five pages to even know how to do your assignment.  This is not the case here.  Each week is the very same: read the quick lesson, work on his atlas, answer some research questions, memorize a short list of geography terms or locations, take some notes, look up vocabulary words, do a simple activity on certain weeks, and take a quiz to check on progress.  All this takes place over two weeks.  When I asked Noah why he was enjoying this curriculum, these were his top points:

  • Short amount of work daily.  Dude's just being honest.  He's not going to want to sit for hours studying maps, but he's ok with shorter lessons every day.
  • Every day is different.  He likes variety, as I'm sure your kids do too. 
  • New content every week.  This curriculum builds on itself.  Your child won't be studying one kind of map or one area of the world for too long.  Noah always seems interested in what's going on and not tired of the content.
  • Learn a variety of things, not just mapping.  One of the greatest things about this curriculum is that your kids will cover so much more than maps.  They will study world cultures, religion, geology, and more.  I love that Noah is learning about elected officials and government with geography because it really does go hand in hand.
  • Numerous activities.  Noah loves to do hands-on activities.  With every lesson there are ideas for hands-on things for your kids to do.  They are also working on building their own atlas every week and memorizing lists and places.  It's just never boring...and that's pretty awesome.
  • Get to use different skills.  To go along with the above point, you child will get to use different skills...drawing, researching, and creating.

NorthStar Geography and the Mama that Teaches It

When choosing the curriculum you're going to use for your kids, it's not just important that it's easy to use for your kids, but you have to be able to use it easily too.  Being able to grab the book and figure out how this new curriculum is going to fit into your school schedule is a huge deal to me.  I need easy in my life.  NorthStar Geography is just that: ease-to-use and I love that! Here's the break down of highlights of this curriculum for a teacher point of view:
  • This curriculum is so much more than a geography curriculum.  Your kids are going to learn so much more than the seven continents.  The goal of NorthStar Geography is to cover three areas of geography: geography skills, physical geography (like earth sciences, spheres of the earth), and human geography (like sociology and cultures and religion).  I love that!
  • Because of the nature of the subjects covered here, we have had some great conversations on different things around the world.  Having a middle school kid is so great for that reason: great conversations.
  • Kids can work on their own.  If you have multiple kids in your homeschool, you totally get this.  It's hard to work one-on-one with a bunch of kids.  Teaching them either all together or having one work on his own is perfect.  This geography curriculum is perfect for your child to work on his own.  You will want to discuss what he read about later together, but that can be done while making dinner or folding laundry. 
  • The atlas building part!  With each lesson, the student is to create a page or pages for their atlas.  The accompanying disc has all the maps to print out for the lessons and your child will color or fill in the maps for his atlas.  I love this part and I can't wait to see what it looks like when we're done!
  • My kid is memorizing great things!  Lists on regions, countries, physical features, and more are included in each lesson for your kid to memorize.  I love this because it's built into the curriculum and it's hard to stay on top of memorization otherwise.
  • This is a one-book curriculum.  I know you mamas can relate to curriculum is the best.  No teacher manual, no workbook, just one text and that's it! Easy, easy.
  • Everything you need is on a photo-copying necessaryThis is also great because photocopying can get really time consuming.  You just pop in the disc, click what you need to print and away you go.
  • Lots of schedule options.  I love it when a curriculum will provide lots of schedule options.  This one provides plans for using the curriculum for one year, two years, or one semester and how to use it everyday to get through the book in that allotted amount of time.
  • Graphic organizers include so many awesome things: continent facts, country facts, cultural facts, government officials, and region facts.

As we continue on with this program, I am SO excited to see Noah build his atlas and learn more about world cultures and governments.  NorthStar Geography has so much area where you can choose to dig deeper into certain areas.  It really is the best geography curriculum I have found for middle-school aged kids.  We are planning on stretching this book out through next year too and really take our time and delve deep into memorizing and cultural studies.  I'm pretty excited about this one.

Early registration for my new NOW! Click photo for more info and to register.

February 16, 2015


Good morning, friends! I am so excited to announcing something I've been working for several months on: a new video-based e-course on homeschooling...and learning well!

This journey of homeschooling our kids is not an easy one.  This is a hard job! We need support, but no one understands this homeschooling gig as much as other homeschooling mamas.  I want to create a place where we can come together and inform, equip, encourage, and inspire each other.  It is so important to have that support!

Learning Well was inspired by you, my sweet readers.  After receiving many comments and questions about your homeschooling journeys, I thought, what better way to support each other than to create an encouraging course you can tune into from the comfort of your couch and learn how other mamas do it.  You will hear from many homeschool mamas in the same boat as you.  These ladies are tried and true and have many years of experience under their belts.

This video-based course is full to the brim with functional tools that will help your homeschool run smoother or just get you off to a great start.  You will hear from many homeschool mamas talk about their struggles in homeschooling, but mostly why they love it and how the deal with the road bumps.  You will find your own personal teaching style and hear from moms that might teach differently than you, but you will learn a ton from these ladies.  You will get books lists and a heap of ideas to do with those great books.  Basically, you'll receive a giant dose of homeschool encouragement and inspiration in a one-week course designed to build you up on this journey.

Registration opens today! Yay! From now until March 16th, you can receive early registration discount of $32, but after that it does to $46.  Either way, it's a great deal for the amount of knowledge you'll be receiving.

I'll leave you will this trailer we filmed to get ready for this course.  I so hope you'll join me.  Please email me with any questions!

To register for the course click HERE.  I'll see you in class!

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