Kids Club Spanish: Online Spanish classes for your kids!

I’ve always wanted my kids to learn a language and be comfortable speaking with people from different cultures.  I remember the shock of being in an immersion-style Spanish class in middle school.  My teacher didn’t speak a WORD of English, and I was super overwhelmed.  Since then, I have learned a lot of Spanish, and have dabbled in learning Chinese!

I wanted my daughter to have the chance to try a language.  So I researched online Spanish classes, and after a bit of looking around, decided on Kids Club Spanish!  Here’s a video with a bit of an introduction to the program, cost information, and some class footage!


We’ve taken about 10 classes so far, and love it.  My daughter has grown in confidence so much!  I feel like it is worth the investment.  They also recently added the feature that you can playback any previous classes, and re-learn what was taught!  Here’s how to do that:


If you’re interested, just check it out! Go to the website:  and use the referral code: 338-LARI-6727.   To use the code, write an email with the referral code to when purchasing or leave the code in the description in your child’s profile.

Happy learning!


#kidsclubspanishschool #onlineteaching #onlinelanguage #spanish #spanishclasses



Should you be loyal to one ESL company or work for two?

I have worked for VIPKID  for almost a year and half.  I love it!  I have no complaints.  I have a fully booked schedule.  So why would I want to consider pursuing another company to work for?

I have a couple reasons. I decided to pursue another company to work for: Gogokid.  After a lot of thought and consideration, I pulled the trigger and went for it.  Here are my reasons:

  1. Pay:  Now that I have done this job for a while, I have experience and am considered a “veteran” in some companies.  I am hoping this translates to a higher base pay, which will add up.
  2. Contract “insurance:”  What I mean here is that as an independent contractor, our employment is a bit uncertain.  We are at the whim of the company we work for.  If something happens, VIPKID could choose to not renew my contract and I would be out of a job.  Having another company “in the wings” is good preparation in case the worst happens.
  3. Variety:  After working for VIPKID for almost a year and a half, I’ve taught almost every lesson at every level.  I’ve taught the trial lessons dozens, maybe a hundred times.  I can teach Level 2 in my sleep (seriously… sometimes at 4am it feels like I’m asleep!).  I was craving some new lessons and variety.

I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments if you are an ESL teacher!


Hello! My name is Laura and I teach online for VIPKID, teaching English to Chinese students! I make videos here to connect with other teachers and applicants.

VIPKID referral link:

VIPKID referral code: 05IOD5


Instagram: vipkidteachermom

VIPKID/Parenting Blog:

Thanks for watching!

-Laura from Minnesota



Road Trips with Young Kids: You can DO IT!

Traveling with kids is the BEST. And, at the same time, traveling with kids is the WORST.  Every parent understands.  The meaning of vacation shifts as you become a parent. It doesn’t evoke feelings of calm, restful, carefree days.  The word I like to use is trip instead of vacation.  You are traveling to a new place with your kids, but it probably won’t be calm or relaxing. But you will make memories.  It WILL be worth it!

Here are my tried-and-true tips to help you actually enjoy your trip.  Maybe it will even feel a BIT like a vacation!

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This was our biggest road trip: Minnesota to Colorado with two little kids!

1. Pack one big bag, not small ones.

Walking into a hotel or camp with one big suitcase (preferably on wheels!) is so much easier than hauling six separate bags.  The fear is that it will get all mixed up with everyone’s things, dirty and clean, in one bag.  One way to avoid that is to bring a separate laundry bag (even just a big garbage bag), so that there will never be dirty laundry mixed in with clean clothes.

*One caveat: If your kids are old enough to carry their own bag, I would change this tip.  Let each kid who can carry their own bag have their own backpack of their things.  Then pack the rest of the family in one big suitcase.  I would start this at age four or five, depending on their endurance.  This teaches them responsibility, and saves you from carrying EVERYTHING!

2. Ziplocks and plastic bags

This is a MUST.  Bring ziplocks and plastic grocery bags for all the things that will be wet, leak, or be dirty.  Bring extras.  Throw the wet swimsuits in these bags to avoid getting all the other clean things wet.  Throw the leaking shampoo in one.  Throw the sand toys in one!  When a kid pukes, throw the nasty towel in there. You will need them, trust me!  This brings me to the next tip…

3. Plan for sickness.

Even if your kids are healthy, and good travelers, plan for the worst!  This, unfortunately, we learned the hard way.  Nothing is worse than a kid vomiting in the car, except for when a kids pukes in a car and you’re unprepared.  I always throw a small empty bucket, a rag or towel, and some extra clothes for each kid in the backseat.  A little prep work here can save you HOURS on the road.

4. Don’t stress if you forget! Buy it!

Yes, I know that finances are tight for everyone.  You don’t want to be running to Walmart on vacation if you don’t have to.  But there are very few things that are truly irreplaceable.  For me, the only truly irreplaceable things are my glasses and contacts and my baby’s one specific kind of formula that she likes from Costco.  Pretty much anything else that’s forgotten (toothbrushes, underwear, deodorant, charger, etc.) can be replaced if needed.  So don’t stress about it.  Focus on the irreplaceable things and relax.


Moms and Dads, what would you add to my list?


#roadtrip #family memories #vacation #travel #travelwithkids

Rediscovering HEALTH after pregnancies.

During my third pregnancy, I had this deep, unexplainable feeling that she would be our final kid.  I have heard from others that I’m not the only one to experience this.  It was a sense of accomplishment, finality, contentment.  I just “knew.”

My season of pregnancy and nursing was coming to an end, and my mindset began to shift.  I began to think about myself, my body, my health.  It sounds slightly selfish, but every mom understands what I’m saying.  We are so selfLESS for so many months or years, giving our bodies to the cause of creating and sustaining tiny humans.  I was thrilled, excited, and even nervous about the idea of having my body to myself, finally.  No more pregnancies. No more c-sections. No more nursing.  I felt a deep sigh of relief, and also a pride for what my body did.  I thanked God for the chance to be used to bring life into the world.

My mindset shifted from “I need to take care of myself for my kids” to “I need to take care of myself for ME.”  You only get one body.  I was scarred from three c-sections, I was carrying about 15-20 pounds of leftover baby weight.  I was wearing clothes that didn’t fit quite right.  It was time for a change in my health.

As I move into this new season, I know there are moms out there who are with me.  I know you’re struggling with your body image.  I know it’s hard.

I don’t have any hard and fast solutions for you.  I am not selling you a workout plan, a pouch of powder to add to your smoothie, or an “accountability group.”  I just hope to share my journey, which is a combination of nutrition, exercise, and faith. And I encourage you: NOW is the time.  You did it.  You birthed and nursed the babies.  NOW you need to find your new groove for your health.  You can do it!


#healthymom #postpartumbody #sahm #nutrition #healthyeating #running

Five Teachers Pay Teachers Missteps to Avoid! {For the tpt newbie!}

Hello teacher!  I hope you have found this post because you hope to improve or start your Teachers Pay Teacher (Tpt) store!  I am a teacher like you.  I do not consider myself an entrepreneur, just a teacher who wants to support other teachers with the resources I create.  I share many free resources, but yes, I do sell some too!  I aim to make high quality resources to help the average teacher save valuable time and energy.

I stumbled into tpt in August of 2013.  I was teaching full-time as a kindergarten teacher in a public school.  On my team of teachers, I was known as a the one who could create whatever was needed.  Need a permission slip for a field trip?  Ask Laura.  Need a chart to track student data?  Ask Laura!  I loved the challenge and enjoyed making resources that were useful, efficient, and beautiful.

I often went to tpt for my own purchases.  Many times, I found myself thinking, “I could do this. I create resources just like this.”  After a while, I pulled the trigger and put a few of my resources up on tpt, as an experiment, for free download.  I was shocked at the amount of downloads and positive reviews I received.  I had a product that was needed in the marketplace.  I was hooked.  I created my store, Miz Riz Elementary Resources, and have been improving it ever since!

I did not dive in head first, though.  I tip-toed in.  I never created resources specifically to sell, choosing instead to share resources that I had already created for my own use and used in the classroom.  Then I knew what I was sharing because I had personally tried it in the classroom.  My store grew slowly, incrementally, and I started selling items in addition to sharing them for free.  It is now five years later, and I am still seeing steady progress.  I am not a tpt millionaire, nor do I aspire to be.  I am not a sales person by nature and I don’t enjoy the process of trying to get people to buy my items.  I prefer to hand a “hands off” approach, where I share and sell, and let it be passive income.

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Here is a screenshot of my sales graph from the beginning.  You can see the steady growth!


That said, you can find tpt millionaires with courses to take to improve your marketing, your creative process, your branding, and so on.  Here, I hope to instead offer some simple ideas to improve your store, if you’re just beginning.  These are tasks that have made a big difference in my store, with little effort.

1. Make a “brand”

I know it seems self-serving or egotistical at first to “brand” yourself.  But it is truly a game-changer.  Decide what you want your store to be called, and make a logo.  You can do this for free with many websites and programs.  I use for almost all my tpt branding. It is worth the investment of a few hours! Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 6.35.00 PM

2. Copyrights

You need to be careful about using other people’s property.  In teaching, we are kind of “scavengers.”  I know it’s true.  We use whatever we can find, for the good of the students.  We have pure motives- supporting student learning!- but our methods can get slightly shady.  Sometimes unethical.  You need to be careful that you’re not stealing anything, and that you’re creating your own creative content.  This can be anything from using someone else’s borders without permission, using book characters without permission, stealing an idea from someone else’s store and re-creating for your own store.  It’s all a trap, anyway.  The best-selling items are always creative, never a copy.

3. Previews

There is a feature of tpt that I was mostly unaware of in the beginning: the preview.  This is where the potential buyer can see a snippet of your work to decide if they want to buy.  I made several mistakes in this area.  At first, I was uploading my entire resource there, essentially giving it away for free.  At times, I didn’t create a preview at all.  I soon realized the power of the preview.  You need a preview if it’s more than a one-page resource!  There are some good tutorials about how to make one.  Make sure that you create a watermark that says “preview” or something similar so buyers can still see the resource, but can’t steal it.

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Notice the BIG GREEN PREVIEW button on the bottom left side! 


Those are my first three tips for newbie tpters!  I wish you all the best!  If you’re interested in beginning tpt for the first time, I’d love to walk you through the first steps.  It is such a fun hobby and has potential to be a fun side gig!


#tpt #teacherspayteachers #sidehustle #iteachtoo #teacherlife

Practical Steps to Starting a Bible Study.

If you are a believer, then continually and consistently studying the Bible is hopefully a part of your daily life.  The Bible is our guide, and our connection to God.  And studying together with other believers is an amazing way to grow in your faith!

Why start a Bible Study?

Start with a purpose. Here are some ideas:

  • I want to grow with other believers
  • I want the consistency of a regular group
  • I want to invite unbelievers to learn about the Bible
  • I want to grow in a particular area or study a particular book of the Bible


Now that you have a “why,” this should make your “who” more obvious. If you want community, invite neighbors. If you want to evangelize, invite unbelievers. If you want to grow with other believers, coordinate with your church and invite your fellow church members.


Really anytime is fine. I’ve seen bible studies be successful at 6am on a Saturday morning, a weeknight, a weekday, a lunch hour. Look at your schedule and you family’s routines. Pick a time you can commit to consistently.

Also, consider the length of the study. People oftentimes will only commit to about 4-8 weeks. If it’s a 3 month study, they may get scared off by the length of time. Ask your bible study prospects what they’d be interested in and then go from there.

Another factor is the frequency. I would suggest one of two options: weekly or every other week. If it’s more frequent than weekly, people wont be able to commit due to schedules. If it is too infrequent, like only once per month, then there is no momentum and people forget what has happened previously.

I think the sweet spot is a weekly study, for 6 weeks at a time, with a two-week break in between studies. However, take into account the timing of holidays and seasons. For example, no one will start a study the week of Christmas. We have found in our community, summer is not a good season to begin something new either. People are busy with vacations and family time. So be aware of your audience and their schedules.


Well, obviously, you want to study the BIBLE! That’s really all you need. Sometimes we complicate it with published studies, video series, promotions, and so on!  You can truly come to the study with ONLY a Bible, and you’ll have plenty to talk about.

You can pick one book of the Bible, and systematically read through it, gleaning as much as you can from each verse along the way.  I’d suggest a book rich in theology and practical application to the believer.  Some great books of the Bible to study this way are Romans, Corinthians, Ruth, Hebrews.  Of course, any and every book of the Bible is valid and worthy of study.

Another option is to use a published study that teaches about a book of the Bible or a topic throughout the Bible.  There is no limit to the kind of studies you can find.  Stop by your local Christian book store if you want to actually flip through studies.  Ask a fellow believer what studies they have enjoyed recently.  Google a topic you’re interested in.  The beauty is that if your study is Bible-focused, you can’t go wrong.  You can always glean some new truth from the Bible.  The bible says that the Word of God is “living and active,” which means that it is always relevant to your life.

Other details:

-Consider location.  Often, people enjoy the coziness of meeting in a home.  But churches are a great meeting place too.  Perhaps your workplace is a good location!

-Consider food.  People love snacks, coffee, treats.  Sometimes this helps break the ice.

-Consider the dynamics of the group.  If possible, it’s always nice to have some strong, seasoned believers mixed in with new believers.  Natural mentoring happens this way!

-Consider age and generations.  You could always do a group of like-aged people (young adult study, 55+ study, etc), but there is something truly beautiful when people of all ages come together to study the Bible.  Be brave in asking people who are not in your age group to join!

-Consider communication.  How will you communicate to the group?  Will you email?  Text?  Use social media?  It’s always good to gather contact information on the first group meeting, in case of changes to schedule or location.

-Consider homework.  Some studies have built in homework, with varying degrees of commitment.  If you’re doing a Bible study with a group of college students who already have tons of school work, you probably want to keep the homework to a minimum.  If you’re doing a study with a group of retirees, perhaps they have more time to commit.  Ask your group and don’t make assumptions!

-Listen to the spirit’s guidance.  As a leader, you may get into conversations that you feel unprepared for.  You may stumble into controversial topics.  Be as prepared as possible, but listen to the nudge from the Spirit.  Enter each group prayerfully!


Go for it!

I encourage you to consider starting a study!  You can do it.  Any person can study the Bible.  That is the beauty of the Word of God.  It’s accessible to ALL.  Push away your doubts and go for it!

I’d love to hear in the comments any studies that you’ve loved, or any other tips you have for those beginning a Bible Study for the first time!


#bible #devotions #biblestudy #believer #wordofGod #church

Handprint Calendar: Great gift idea!

We always want to give meaningful gifts.  This is the perfect gift for grandparents or moms!  It’s a handprint calendar.  It is already bound together with quality materials, and has beautiful backgrounds.  All you have to do is add your child’s handprints or footprints with paint for each month.  They give you suggestions so you don’t have to “figure it out.”  So nice!

It’s created by a company called Learning Good News.  It only costs $12!  Wow! I expected at least $20.  And here’s a bonus, if you use this code (save10) you’ll get 10% off your order!  Yay!

Here is a video of my review, and also examples of how we created it.  I highly recommend it!

-Laura from Minnesota

Beat MN winters with these indoor play places for kids!

1. Edinborough in Edina

This is a must-visit for Twin Cities families. It features a giant play area, and a huge open gym with scooters, balls, and blow up jumpers.

Kids can spend hours roaming around this huge place. Great for very active kids who need an outlet for their energy! I think it’s totally worth the $7.50 admission.

It’s best for kids who are elementary age, but there is a whole section for younger kids too.

PRO TIP: Divide your time between the jungle gym area and the open gym with a lunch break in between. There is a snack area, or bring your own lunch!

2. Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka

This is a brand new play area opening in December 2017! It is huge, about the area of two store fronts! When you walk in, it feels more like a children’s museum rather than a play area! It’s centerpiece is a huge apple tree play structure with red “Apple” balls everywhere. There are suction holes that pull the balls up to the top of the tree and kids can push the balls out of holes so it looks like apples are falling off the tree.

There’s also a “light and shadow” area, a huge train track, a fishing area, and a section for toddlers! All for FREE.

PRO TIP: Park at Nordstrom’s. When you get there, park yourself at the middle of the L shaped area so you can see the whole area from one vantage point!

3. Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley

You think of going to the zoo in the beautiful summer months, but did you know that the zoo has plenty of indoor attractions to keep your kids busy in the middle of a MN winter?

Make a morning trek out to the indoor aquatic area with a touch pool and seal show! Or on the coldest days, stroll through the tropics trail and daydream about palm tres and beaches.

One often overlooked area is the toddler room by the cafe where little ones can dress up like bumblebees and build a “hive” of hexagonal blocks.

As far as the price goes, a zoo trip is not cheap. But do the math- if you plan on going three or more times, an annual membership will be worth the price.

PRO TIP: Bring the stroller. Even for the big kids. You’ll be grateful for it when the kids shed the layers and ask you to carry the jackets, hats, gloves, water bottles, lunches, and so on and so on.

4. Williston Fitness Center in Minnetonka

This is a hidden gem! You feel like you’re in the middle of a neighborhood, and then you turn a corner and a huge fitness center is tucked in the woods. There are many areas, but the section I want to highlight is the Treehouse.

It’s a massive climbing area, with a nice eating area for birthday parties. I like that it has good seating for parents and only one exit. It does cost $6 per kid, so plan on staying for the afternoon to make it worth your while.

PRO TIP: Bring snacks and water bottles because the only food is vending machines!

5. IKEA play area in Bloomimgton

Your favorite home store can also be your child’s favorite play area! Check in the kids in the play area and you have an hour of uninterrupted strolling and shopping! There’s also a great restaurant on the 2nd floor with inexpensive kid meals and a children’s seating area.

PRO TIP: Kids have to be potty trained! And there’s a limit to the number of kids that can be in there, so avoid peak times!

That’s my list! What would you add?


Intermittent Fasting: 10 observations from a beginner.

What are your initial thoughts when I mention “fasting?”  Does it bring up religious ideas?  Ghandi?  Media fasts?

I have a long history of fasting for spiritual reasons.  It’s a spiritual practice that has been a part of my life since college.  So when I saw “intermittent fasting” floating around the health websites as a fad diet, my first thoughts were, “Why would you fast for weight loss or health, without the spiritual side?”  As I researched and talked to people, I decided to give it a try.

This is a screenshot from the “Zero” fasting app I’m using!


Here is my “why:”

1. Health

My intentions were pure with this- I wanted to see if the proposed health benefits were true. I listening to The Obesity Code, and was fascinated. It explained that the “eat less, move more” mantra that has been accepted truth for so long is factually ineffective for long term weight loss. Wow. So how do we gain control of our obesity? It proposes fasting.  With diabetes a big part of my family health history, I’m definitely interested in anything that is proven to combat this disease.

2. Weight

So I’d be lying if I told you that weight loss wasn’t a factor. I knew it would affect my weight. I’ve plateaued lately after losing about 90% of my baby weight, and was interested in anything that could help me kick those stubborn pounds.

3. Self-control experiment

I think we could all use some more self-control and discipline practice.  As a culture, we are more into “treat yo-self” rather than “discipline your body” as scripture talks about.  I wanted to see if I could discipline myself to only eat during certain hours.  Honestly, it was just an experiment!



I’m using this app called “Zero” to track my fasts.  


Here’s my “how:”

My first day was a Friday. I chose to make this my schedule:

Eating time: 11am- 7pm (8 hours)

Fasting time: 7pm-11am (16 hours)


So basically, that means two things:

1. No breakfast

2. No evening snacking


To give you a little glimpse into my life, here’s a quick overview of my daily schedule:

4-8am Teach online (I know this is crazy early for most people!)

8am-3pm Stay At Home Mom with 2 girls

3pm-9pm Evening activities with family

9pm-4am sleep

So my schedule is already a bit abnormal due to my online teaching job. My first thought when incorporating intermittent fasting into this schedule was that it would be a long, hungry morning since I get up so early.

I decided to try it. I am currently three days into this experiment.

Here are my current observations:

  1. Hunger is not the worst thing.
  2. Hunger comes in short waves, and I can handle it.
  3. Disciple is easier in the morning.
  4. Supportive family members are key.
  5. My stomach feels fuller faster.
  6. My meals during eating hours can be less disciplined.
  7. Skipping a meal a day saves money and time.
  8. Feeding kids during fasting is challenging.
  9. Drinking water and coffee helps in the AM.
  10. I’m still able to run/exercise during the fast.

I’d love to hear from anyone who makes this a part of their daily life!  Any tips for a beginner?


#intermittenfasting  #zeroapp  #fasting  #healthymom