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Homeschool Week in Review ~ January 30, 2016

Homeschool Week in Review

Where oh where did this week go? I can't believe it is Saturday already! We had a very fun and busy week this last week! I can't wait to share with you what we were up to.

Homeschool Week in Review

Moe Man has been busy working on his high school classes. I am still in shock that I have a high schooler. I know, I know, it is the middle of the school year, but the shock is just setting in! We started a new history program, All American History from Bright Ideas Press. It picks up right where we were, so we are not skipping or repeating anything. So far we are in love with this program!

Homeschool Week in Review

For his electives, Moe Man is using This is a great free resource. For gym he is busy in martial arts twice a week. Language arts has been Applied Grammar. This is something new and fun that we have been using. Guess what is on the reading list? Nothing, we get to pick! I love this! We are able to pick books that go along with the other subjects that we are learning and use them as a double whammy!

Math, well that is another story. He has never liked math and finding the right program has been difficult. I am hoping to finally find something, but if any of you have a great program for pre-algebra I would love to hear about it!

Ray Ray is still Ray Ray. He loves to go at his own pace and really doesn't care what I have to say half the time. His reading is out of control! He taught himself and hasn't stopped. I am having the issue of finding the right books, with the right kind of language lessons to go with them. That is why I homeschool though, to be able to find something that works for my kids, not making my kids work for the curriculum.

Homeschool Week in Review

Math is the same way with him. He can do it all in his head without a problem, but ask him to write some numbers and he freaks out. Those silly fine motor skills in a boy who just wants to move! Once again why homeschool is for us!

Homeschool Week in Review

Little Miss is the school queen. She is the opposite of both her brothers in every way shape and form. She only wants worksheets and doesn't want to do anything boring. She wants to learn and is mad when I tell her to wait a minute. If I can't get to her, she finds her own learning. Where it took her brother until 6 years old to write his name well enough for a library card, this little one mastered it by 4 for her library card! She feels about 10 times older now, and makes mom and dad love those little cuddle up moments when she is still little!

Homeschool Week in Review

Baby Girl, well she isn't baby girl anymore. We hit the one-year birthday. Right now we are in the middle of a teething marathon. While this is great for the eating situation, this means mom and dad have their hands really full with a little one who doesn't want to be set down. She loves her singing and dancing. Music is the key to her day. If there isn't music, she isn't happy.

Homeschool Week in Review

I can't wait to see what next week brings. The fun and learning we get to enjoy together. Even if they are learning different from most other kids. They are mine and they are learning just right for them!

What have you done this last week? Did you start something new in your homeschool? Did you have a memorable moment happen? Let me know with a comment below or an email, I would love to hear!

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Tap My Trees ~ A School House Crew Review

Tap My Trees Review

Maple sugar, maple syrup, maple candies…oh my goodness! All these and more come from a simple tree. But you won't be able to just cut open the tree and get what you want from inside, you have to use the art of actually tapping the trees and collecting the maple sap from the tree. But that is not all. We have the chance to study all about this process and actually tap a tree with the Starter Kit with Aluminum Buckets from Tap My Trees! I am so excited to share with you more about this!

Tap My Trees Review

First of all, it is too early to actually tap a tree here in Minnesota, but we have already started the studying of the process so when the time is right, we will be ready to go! How do you start to study? Besides wasting away on Pinterest, you can start reading the included Maple Sugaring at Home book. This book has all you really need to know to get yourself some maple sugar!

First things first, you need to know what equipment you will be using during the maple sugar season. With the starter kit, you will get a lot of different items that may be new to you if you are new to the maple sugaring process. This is a great time to get yourself and your children to get to know the items in your kit. These items include 3 of each a spile, hook, bucket, and lid. With this kit you will also get the drill bit you need and some cheesecloth along with Maple Sugaring at Home.

Tap my Trees Review

After learning about your supplies, you are going to want to go and identify your maple tree. There are four different maple trees that are great to tap, the sugar, black, red and silver maples. If needed, you could also tap a birch or walnut, although their sugar content is not as great.

The first and easiest way to start identifying your tree, would be to look at the habitat. After making sure you are in the right area, we are in east central Minnesota, so we are in the right location, you want to start looking at the leaves. Maple trees have some of the most beautiful colors for leaves in the fall, and the shape of them will help you to determine also. You can also look at the bark, and twig/buds of the trees. But the one main way we knew our tree in the front yard was a maple, was the fruit. That fun "helicopter" fruit you throw into the air as a kid, or adult if you are me! This was a great way to know what we were looking at in the trees in our yard, and grandma's yard as well.

Tap My Trees Review

We had a lot of fun learning about the different kinds of maples. Did you know that they let their fruit go at different times during the year, the red maple in the spring and in the fall for a sugar maple? Even though they are all maples, each of these four have a different type of leaf. And those leaves usually end up being a different color. This was almost as much fun as the anticipation we have for actually tapping our trees.

After finding our maple, we looked at the next section of the book, "Tapping Trees". We learned about when we can start planning on tapping our maples, we have to wait until the end of February or even into March when our day time temperatures rise above freezing and our night time temperatures still fall below freezing. Once we are able to tap, we will have 4-6 weeks worth of sap flowing from our maples.

We are beyond excited to actually tap our trees, and with the quality of the products we received, I don't think we will have any problems. I am also very confident that I will not have an issue with any of the steps thanks to the detailed instructions within this manual. They even have drawings and pictures that show me what I need to know, and I work well with drawings and pictures!

Now after we collect our sap, we have further steps to take before we can have syrup. The supplies needed for that are not included, but are not that hard to obtain or purchase. While we have had fun learning about our trees, while we are excited about tapping our trees, the best part of this whole process is knowing that in the end we will have a sweet treat!

All in all, we are thrilled to have this product. The quality of the product is there, and it is not a simple two-page instruction flyer on how to use this, you have a full book, did I mention it had pictures?! This is something that I can see us using year and year again! I can't wait to update you on how we actually did on our tree tapping, keep an eye out!

While you wait, check out some of these other reviews!Tap My Trees Review
Crew Disclaimer


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Newbery Medal Books Reading List

What books are you reading as a mom? You should have your own list of what you want to read so that you can be an example to your children. Your children should have their own list of great books to read. Where do you find a list like that? Well, right here at Teach Beside Me you can grab your own FREE printable of Newbery Medal Books.

Which one or more of these have you or your children already read?

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Wellness Wednesday ~ Walking and Water

Walking and Water

So here I go. I have been meaning to write this post, but I am a busy mom. When do I have the time to do things for myself? I mean, getting a shower in more than once a week is a win! But when you're on the airplane they tell you to take care of yourself before you take care of others. Well, this applies to in the house too mom!

I have decided that 2016 is the year when this mom is going to take care of herself first! I have made my plans and goals, and will take this journey one day at a time. What is my goal? To be healthier! I don't care about a number on the scale, as long as I can keep up with the kids and not be winded. I want my clothes to feel good and my health is number one.

Walking and Water

Now, this is easier said than done for most of us, isn't it? We make these plans, get it all written out, and then the baby needs us, or the lunch needs to be cooked, or homeschool lessons need our attention and before you know it, it is time for bed. Because that is one of our goals too, to be in bed at a decent time so we can be well rested! Oh I didn't even mention anything about the house!

See how easy it is for us to be distracted from taking care of us? This is not good! I want to change that, and will have to take some small steps to make that happen. Will you join me?

First, I have put my Jawbone pedometer back on. I used it a lot at the beginning of the summer, and then I forgot it one day, and then another, until it was just sitting there collecting dust. This simple little thing has me focused on how much I am moving. I am making an effort to get 5,500 steps a day to start. This may not seem too hard, but try this once! I notice that now that I have it on I am walking circles more, but hey, I am moving!

To help me get those steps in, I have started following Jessica Smith TV and love her walking workouts! I really love this video where I can pick which mile to do, and this one is great for when I only have 15 minutes. Every little bit of walking helps and 1 mile is about 2,000 steps. So that alone helps take a chunk out of my steps each day! Heck, even walking around the living room for 5 minutes every hour can help you out! Get up and walk with me really quick?

Walking and Water

(Walking around the room with a baby on my shoulders!)

Wow, that 5 minutes of walking got me 400 steps, what did you get?

Now, I just can't think that moving is the only thing that will make me healthier. Yes, it is a large part of it, but really what you put into your body matters too. My hardest thing about what I put in, is my water. I like water, but I tend to forget to drink it. I have my cups of coffee in the morning, and then get busy. Sometime after lunch I will open a can of pop or an energy drink. By supper time I maybe have one cup of water in me, and by bed, maybe 2 or 3. This is HORRIBLE! I can't have that when I am trying to teach my kids about being healthy and drinking their water. So what is a mom to do? I downloaded an app on my phone. Hydro Coach sends me notifications of when I should be drinking more water. In fact, it just went off as I am typing, hold on while I grab a glass of water. Hey, join me quick? I will wait for you!

(drinking my water)

Now don't you feel better already?!?!

With this added water I have taken in less pop during the day, and even stopped with the energy drink! One or two of my cups will have some Lemon essential oil in them, I couldn't go without that! Want to know why? Send me an email and I will fill you in!

Well…now that we drank some water and did some walking, I need to get back to homeschool and kids! Next week I will let you know how I am doing and we can talk food!!

What will you be doing this week? More water and walking? I want to know how you are going to take care of you mom! Drop me a comment below, so send me an email!


God bless and keep you!!



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Five Minute Friday ~ Time

Five Minute Friday Time

Five Minute Fridays is the time when you sit down, set the timer for 5 minutes and just write, no editing, no planning, just write. Each week is a new word. This week the word is Time. So, ready, set, and let's go!

Five Minute Friday Time



How much time do we have in our life? Do we have a little time? Like my uncle who passed within days of birth? Just enough time to know love and bring a smile to the face of those who love us? Or do we have a short amount of time, like my cousin who passed at 18 years after defeating leukemia? Enough time to love and be loved. Enough time to show the world what a person is supposed to be like. Do we have a fair amount of time? Making it to our 70s like my husband's grandma before losing the battle to brain cancer. But still having time to raise kids, grandkids and even seeing your great grandkids. Seeing the bad, but more good. Or do we have a lot of time, like my great grandpa who will be turning 101 next week. The time of seeing a lot of history. Seeing kids, grandkids, great grandkids and even great great grandkids grow. Knowing that you have been gifted this time to pass on greatness. And hearing that you have passed on the values of your time.

Time means so much to so many. To me, that word is more than the time on a clock, it is the time we spend with others and what we leave them with.

What does time mean to you?

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Winter Birds Unit Study Resources

Winter Bird Unit Study

It is cold, no wait, it is freezing outside right now. This is not a fun time for mom. I don't want to send the kids out in the extreme cold of Minnesota, but I want them to enjoy the outside at the same time. So, what is a mom to do? A bird study!

Winter Bird Unit Study

We are finally in a house that allows us to actually see the birds outside. We are not in the country, yet, but we have some aged trees in the yard, and that is enough to bring the birds this way. That means we spend time looking outside. Even Baby Girl loves to stand on her chair and watch the birds, and squirrels out front!

So, because I am that mom who still wants her child to have a nature study unit when it is cold outside, we have begun a bird month, or two, because I said so. I still haven't heard any arguing, so that is a good thing! What is a unit study? Well, it is a fun way to focus on one thing, but learn within all the subjects you need to learn from.

Here in the cold Minnesota weather, we still have a bunch of fun birds that we get to watch. These birds include black-capped chickadees, house finches, downy woodpeckers, blue jays, red-bellied woodpecker and Northern Cardinal. We even have a pileated woodpecker that makes his way to our feeders at least twice a week.

Now, for it being cold, that is a lot of birds. This is awesome because that gives us something to watch and learn about. Something that is not a video game or tv show. Something that makes mom happy!

I am not a creative person, I try to be, but sadly I am not. However, there are a ton of other ladies and gents out there that are. That means, when I want to work on a unit study I go to Pinterest and take a look at what I can find! Heck, I even made a fun little board full of different studies of just birds! For the bird unit studies, here are what we will be working on:

We are going to head on over and have some fun with what we found here at Homeschool Giveaways. When you go here you can find a great list of freebies to make bird learning fun!

Winter Bird Unit Study

Little Miss needs to have some fun while we are learning, right? That is when I am going to head over to 1plus1plus1equals1 and have some fun with Counting is for the Birds. What a fun way to keep her involved and having fun with us!

Winter Bird Unit Study

Over at Education Possible there are a lot of great hands on fun activities to keep those little ones busy!

Winter Bird Unit Study

Learning the key facts about birds is the main idea over at Triumphant Learning. I would love to see a turkey looking in the window at me, but we just have the cute little chickadees looking in here.

Winter Bird Unit Study

If you are looking for more resources all in one place, take a look at what Premeditated Leftovers has on their site! They have a little bit of everything!

Winter Bird Unit Study

I love the idea of being able to keep the kids busy with fun learning this winter! You need to check back with us next week and see what we have found! I keep trying to get a picture of the birds on our feeders, but apparently they know that I am watching them!

What do you like to learn about in the winter? What are some of the birds you see in the winter? I would love to hear from you!

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Tips for the Picky Eater in Your House

Tips for Picky Eaters

Do you have a picky eater in your house? That one child who will only eat read food, but not green? Or the one who won't eat veggies and just fruit? There are many different stages of the picky eater, and sometimes it is not a picky eater, but a growth spurt or something more.

Tips for Picky Eaters

We have gone through the many stages of a "picky eater" in our house with all the kids. But they haven't been just picky. Moe Man has a texture issue. This has nothing to do with the actual food, but the way he was raised the first 5 years of his life. I have had to readjust my thoughts from the get go with him! This has made it easier to for me understand the other kids when they went through their phases. Right now Baby Girl is in the middle of this stage. At least with her I know she can outgrow it, where Moe Man may have to deal with this for some time.

Little Miss is the child who has given me a run for my money! She started out as a dream eater. She would eat anything and everything. She went from nursing straight to table food and skipped the baby food stage. But when she turned 2 years old, she stopped. Just quit. She would only eat hot dogs, chicken nuggets and fruit snacks. This child taught me that the saying "They will eat when they are hungry" is not a saying you tell a parent who is worried about the food that is, or isn't, going into their child!

Ray Ray has been the good eater. I don't think he has ever had an issue with food until recently. His deal right now is no chicken nuggets. He will do chicken tenders, but nuggets are out of the question! Now this kid is the kid who NEEDS sautéed mushrooms on his t-bone steak, so I will deal with the chicken nugget issue!

Now, how in the world do you "make" your child eat their food? First off, you don't make them eat anything! They won't. No matter what you think, you won't be able to make them do it. But there are some tips on how to help them change their minds about what they do and don't eat. We have tried all the tips, some of them work for one child and not the others, some worked for all the kids. It really depends on the child. You are their parent and you are the only one who knows your child the best.

The very first thing I recommend is to read the book, French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters*. This book helped open my eyes to a lot of things that we were doing wrong and showed what the French do and why their kids truly do eat so much better than we do here in the States.

After reading that book, we made some new rules for our house. Each child has their one "no-no" food. The one food that they really don't even want to take one bite of. This food is not decided upon at the beginning of each meal, not in the middle of the meal, this is something that mom and dad have taken notice of. We have sat down with that child and talked to them about it. This is Ray Ray's chicken nugget. Little Miss has her green peppers that she won't touch. This is fine by me. This is the one food per child that I will make something different for them.

Now, we also have set meals and snacks. The kids don't get to just run to the snack cupboard and grab a snack when they want to. We like to try and space the meals and snacks out so that when the important meals come along they are hungry. We aim for a snack no later than 2 hours before the next meal. Water is fine, but the actual food has to be timed just right. This has helped us, and them, to be ready to eat a real meal and not be full from the snacks.

Now, just because we know that not all kids are the same, I want to tell you want else we try to do. We are members of the "one bite" club. This club is only for those of us who will try one bite of all the foods on our plate at every meal. Now this works well with the keep having them try the same food more than once. Just like when they were babies, you need to keep trying those foods more than once before your child can really know if they like something or not.

I like to have the children at the table. Even if they don't plan on eating what you make, I still make the kids sit at the table with us. We are a family and I expect them to sit with the family at the table for supper. But to make it fun, once or twice a month, sometimes more, I allow the kids to make the Hopkins Restaurant come to life.

What does this mean? Well, the kids plan a menu, from beginning to end. They also need to plan the ingredients, and shopping. They work together to print up a menu, they decide who has what job between the server, cook and dishwasher (I make them all work together, but one person has a name each time). When I give them the chance to be in control of the food, they seem to enjoy eating it more. Funny how that works!

While all these are wonderful ideas, I know that not everyone will work with every child. How to do you help make sure that your picky eater gets to eat?


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2016 Reading List

I love the new year, with all the new goals for every area of our lives. If you can think it, you can make a goal for it! This is both good and bad, I like to look at the good parts of it, and I hope you will join me!

2016 Reading List

This week, I have been planning out what books I want to read this year. Now I am not talking about those read aloud books that you read to the kids. I am talking about the books that mom reads for mom. Those are the good books!

This year I hope to read 24 mom books. That is right, 24 books that are not for the kids or written for kids. Although one or two may be the young adult, (I do like to know what Moe Man is reading). 24 mom books means that I would want to focus on 1 book every 2 weeks. This should not be hard, but this is me we are talking about. I have put all mommy things on hold and only focused on the kids.

To me, 2 books a month that are not mom books is heaven! I used to read mommy books nonstop, then I had kids. The kids made it hard to find time for mommy. But I have plans to change that this year. Not only will I be going back to something I love, reading, but I will be showing my kids that reading is something that we all should do.

So, what books do I plan to read? Well, I have a very rough draft of what I want to read. This will change I am sure! Why? Because the library is full of wonderful books, I have books waiting on my bookshelf and Amazon is killing me with those free book deals! Yeah, those deals make me load up on books I don’t know if I will ever read! But this year I hope to put a small dent in that list!

Here is my list, with links of course!

Right now I am currently in the process of reading these two:

Pines (The Wayward Pines Trilogy, Book 1)

Submerged (Alaskan Courage Book #1)

These two are books that I have been trying to finish. I figure I might as well finish them with this goal/challenge that I have set up for myself.

After these two, my ideas are to read:

The Last Survivors: A Dystopian Society in a Post Apocalyptic World

Witch Is When It All Began (A Witch P.I. Mystery Book 1)

The Veritas Conflict

Deer Season (Ray Elkins Thriller Series)

Dead Wood (A Private Investigator Murder Mystery Series) (John Rockne Mysteries Book 1)

Someone Else's Daughter: Book I (A Miranda's Rights Mystery 1)

A Promise for Ellie (Daughters of Blessing Book #1)

The Thorn (The Rose Trilogy Book #1)

Once Upon a Summer (Seasons of the Heart, Book 1)

The Potluck Club (The Potluck Club, Book 1)

Blueprint Homeschooling: How to Plan a Year of Home Education That Fits the Reality of Your Life

The Good Neighbor The Good Neighbor

Terms of Use

Bone Dust: A Medical Thriller (The Gina Mazzio RN Medical Thriller Series Book 5)

Finding Hope (Generations of Hope Book 1)

Death of a Dapper Snowman (Book 1 of a Humorous Cozy Murder Mystery Series): Stormy Day Mystery #1

Transfer of Power (A Mitch Rapp Novel Book 1)

The Life and Legacy of Pope John Paul II

Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope): A Novella

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

The 'One Thing' Is ­Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything

I am hoping to read all of these books by this time next year. But, like I said…this whole free book thing from Amazon, well, that could change things in this list mighty quick!

What are your book choices for this year? Do you have a top three that you really want to read?


Our Must Read Books for 2016 {Dad & Mum's Book Stand}

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New Year, New Goals

New year, new goals

Today is the start of a new year. With the start of a new year, everyone wants to make resolutions. What about instead of resolutions, you make new goals? Goals of varying lengths and outcomes? Wouldn’t that make it a lot easier to feel good about yourself this year?

New year, new goals

I have always had resolutions, and when I don’t accomplish them, or fail because they are too far out of reach, I feel like a failure and give up on them. This is not what I want to show my kids. And I have to say, having them has shown me that short, medium and long term GOALS are a lot better than those silly once a year resolutions!!

So, what are the goals for this new year? I have them in different categories so that I can separate home, school and work. Not to mention mommy goals.

Goals for the House

My goals for our house this year are simple. I want to find a plan to clean and follow it. I don’t want a house out of a magazine! I work from home, daddy works from home, all four kids do school from home. We are always home. This house will be lived in, but it can be clean. I have found some great information over at Clean Mama and have decided that I want to be a part of her Homekeeping Society. Within this society is everything to keep your house clean. You could go for spotless, but we are going for clean!

Goals for School

This year, I have a few different goals. First, I want to work on catching up on my grades during the month of January. That is my first short term goal. My second short term goal is to have all kids “caught up” to my lesson plan by the end of March. This will give us time to take more time off when we need to. I know we are never really on a lesson plan, but I have my ideas of what should be done each month, each quarter and each year. If it takes us 3, 4, 5 or 6 days a week, so be it!

Long term for the school goals is to have Moe Man working on his own, Ray Ray working on more handwriting and Little Miss getting ready for Kindergarten by the fall. This gives me time to assess each child’s needs and work on them as they need the help.

Mommy Goals

Mommy has her own goals for the new year. I want to work on mommy. My short term goals are to first start drinking more water and less pop. This may seem like a super simple goal, but for me, to get this done is a huge accomplishment since I love pop so much! Knowing how “simple” this goal is will make more achievable for me, and achieving this goal will make me stronger to work towards the next one.

Which leads me to my next goal, keeping an eye on the foods I eat. This has always been a struggle for me. I have never had to worry about food before, but now I do. To help me with this, I love the idea of a great filling snack, and Chobani now has their Simply 100 Greek Yogurt!! This is going to be my lifesaver when I need a healthy snack!

Not only will I be watching what I eat and drink, but I will be adding more movement into my day. There are lots of ways to gradually add that in that extra movement. Lots of great ways to burn an extra 100 calories a day! Check out this really cool graphic!!

New year, new goals

By adding in some of these activities I will get a start on my movement goals. I will also be following along with Jessica Smith and her fun workout routines. She has some great ones to purchase, and for FREE if you follow along on her YouTube channel. I love how simple they are, yet by the time I am done, I am sweating and feeling the burn!

Those are my mommy goals, my home goals and my school goals. I don’t do the resolutions thing, I do the goals so that I can see myself achieving them. This is my plan for 2016, what is yours?

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Our Homeschool Learning Styles

Our homeschool styles

Where oh where has this last year gone? It feels like it was just yesterday that I was sitting here pregnant and waiting for the day that I would meet Baby Girl. Now I am planning a first birthday party! Not only am I planning that special party, but I am planning for the new year of goals and school.

Our homeschool styles

I love to use the new year as a time to step back, look at what is or is not working for my schooling with the kids, and fix what needs to be fixed. This seems to be fitting since it is right around the middle of the “school year”. I say it like that because we don’t really ever stop learning, so is there really a middle of that?

This past year has shown me many different things about our school. I can homeschool with a newborn for starters! I was scared and nervous about that, but I did it! Another thing, we need multiple learning styles, one for each child actually. This seems natural since they are all different people, therefore they should learn differently. Isn’t that why we decided to homeschool in the first place?

With learning noticing that each child needs me to teach them differently, I have found myself learning more about the different styles of learning and creating new lesson plans as we go. I am thankful that I only wrote my goals for the school year down, and not a full year of lesson plans! This has saved me a lot of stress, and paper, after finding out the truth about our homeschooling.

So, what are the styles in this house? Well, Moe Man is the traditional learner. He loves, and thrives on the structure of the traditional classroom. He likes to follow the lesson plan and he likes to sit at a desk with the posters/maps hanging up. He does better when in our school room versus sitting in the living room or even at the dining room table.

Ray Ray, he thrives with the Unschooling. This is the hardest for me, because I want some structure, and want some control. But I have learned to slowly step back and let him show me what he wants to learn and when. This has been proven when he taught himself how to read, and in his ability to do math that I haven’t yet “taught” him. We are working together to learn between this and Charlotte Mason style.

Little Miss loves her books. She is still in Pre-school, but loves the books…and worksheets. I see her working in the traditional school setting AND the Charlotte Mason style. While loving the worksheets, it has to be in short segments, and books come first for her. Since she is still young, I have no formal style of education planned for her, I just listen to her and include her in both of the boys studies.

During my holiday break I plan to learn more about the homeschool styles of the kids. I love the resource list available at Eclectic-Homeschool for all the different styles. There is even a quiz you can take to find your top 3 styles.

What kind of homeschooling do you do in your house?