This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives raising and educating our children for His glory. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 9th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Charlotte Mason approach.

Come along for the good, the bad & the ugly.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back to School Blog Hop ~ School Supplies

Do you know what I love most about Back to School time? Yes, you guessed it!

School Supplies

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While I don't actually *need* any school supplies this year besides replinshing my stash of  spiral notebooks and blank top handwriting books I still love to browse the aisles of all the stores and touch and feel everything. Yea, that may sound weird, but boy is it relaxing to window shop. Today I want to share with you a few of my favorite most used everyday school supplies for our homeschool, so let's get to it!

***the only affiliate link is for the Free month of Instant Ink. All other links are just for reference**

1. Printer ~ Hands down the most used item in my homeschool, besides my laminator, is my printer. This past Mother's Day the kids and hubby upgraded me from my old beloved HP Officejet 8600 series to the primo HP Officejet Pro 8730. I LOVE this printer! It's sleek, fast, and prints double sided like a pro. Well, I guess it is a Pro :-) With my old printer I use to worry about ink and even used generic because it was more affordable for my printing needs but now I have HP Instant Ink and it is a lifesaver! No more worrying about running out of ink because they deliver it right to my mailbox. I have the $9.99 plan that includes 300 pages per month. Don't worry if you go over your page limit, adding 25 pages is just $1.00. That is a steal! Normally, I imagine I would be fine with printing 300 pages, but with back to school prep I have gone over that amount. But you know what my bill is way less that the cost of just 1 cartridge of black ink so it's win-win for me! Guess what!? Right now YOU can get one month for free by signing up for Instant Ink yourself. Just click this link before September 30th and you will get 1 month FREE. In return, I get free ink too and Free is good!

2. Laminator ~ My lamination habit goes hand-in-hand with my printing. I am always printing activities for my kids to use. I use the Scotch laminator and laminating sheets weekly. Sundays are my heavy lamination days. This lamintor heats up really fast and does a super job. I have never had any trouble with it.

3. Binding machine ~ Now you didn't think I could print and laminate without binding did you? I love making spiral notebooks for keeping things nice and neat and this binding machine does the job. It's so easy to use and the end result is a perfect little notebook. I like to use printable assignment sheets for my students and this machine helps me do so.

4. External Hard drive ~ A few years ago I had catastrophic hard drive failure. It was an old external hard drive that my hubby had passed to me. It was a horrible experience and I shed a lot of tears over the memories and work that I had on that hard drive. Thankfully, I was able to get some of the digital curriculum I had purchased back by finding emails with purchase receipts, but my digital photos are only memories now.  This hard drive is a biggie at 2TB and I actually keep a back up to this back up because I don't want to experience another failure again.

5. Prismacolor colored pencils ~ These are our favorite colored pencils hands-down. They color beautifully and we love them! Each of my girls has a tin set with 24-72 pencils depending on their age and usage for their notebooking needs. I got this set for Christmas last year, I love the color options!

6. Ink Pens ~ Zebra Sarasa  and Pentel EnerGelX pens are my new favorite pens. 0.5 is my favorite tip as it provides a clean, sharp print. Tomorrow I will tell you how I use these to color-code my planning with my Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner.

I would love to hear about your favorite school supplies so leave me a message below. See what my CrewMates love by clicking the banner below.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to School Blog Hop ~ Curriculum

Welcome friends! This week starts the Back to school Blog Hop and I am excited to participate with my Crew Mates! Today is all about curriculum. We are on week 3 of our 2017 - 2018 Plan of Study, slowing adding in subjects until Sept 4th when we will be at full force in all subjects. You can check out our Morning Time Recitation plans too. We have very loosely been doing these together as we find our groove.

Below is a snap shot of what curriculum we love to use in our homeschool:

Bible ~ Sonlight, Bible Road Trip

Math ~ Saxon: 2/3, 65, Algebra 1, Advanced Math

LA ~ AP English Language, Rod & Staff, Well Trained Mind writing

History/Geography ~ Tapestry of Grace

Science ~ Apologia Honors Physics, Apologia Honors Biology, Real Science Odyssey

Spanish ~ Homeschool Spanish Academy, Alpha Omega LifePac Spanish 1

Latin ~ Memoria Press: Prima Latina, Latina Christiana, Second Form Latin

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates are up to by clicking the banner below.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Weekly Check-Up ~ weeks 1 and 2

Happy Saturday friends!

Another school year has started in our house and it feels good to be back in routine. Well, sort of a routine because we are still juggling summer gymnastics and cheerleading schedules. I'll be the first to admit that I am ready for September 5th to get here so we can get back into our real routine.

We are in our 9th year! WOW, 9 years guys! I remember the LCDR and I decided to homeschool our girls. Since then we have added two children, McKenzie and Micah, to our Academy and have graduated Marie, who is now a Junior in college! This year we have a 11th grader, a 9th grader, a 5th grader, a 2nd grader, and a preschooler to round us out. Check out our Plan of Study for the 2017 - 2018 school year,  I made a few changes for the better just before we started school because I am dealing with meeting requirements for the    U.S. Service Academies for Madison and NCAA guidelines for Mikayla.

Our first day of school this year was on July 31st much to the chagrin of a few of my students. As you can see from the picture, some were more excited than others to hit the books again. We don't jump full force into our year the first week, rather we do a few subjects based on the grade of each child and then continue to add in more subjects each week. By the week of Sept 4th I plan to be at full force schedule for everyone.

A lot has happened over the last two weeks including a few meltdowns but learning has taken center stage. I am still in the process of figuring out a schedule for me to teach each of my 5 school age children effectively this year. Our year end testing identified some gaps in some of my children's learning, I take full responsibility for that. I thought they could learn a bit independently, and I was wrong.

But you know what?! God is good and has shown me the error of my ways and already showed me how to get back on track. Is it going to be easy? No. Not in the least bit of sense. It will mean long days of schooling for me; but my children are worth it! Their education is my primary focus and I will "Do the Work of Homescholing" as I read from Brandy at AfterThoughts. We will be doing some extensive review and filling in gaps with fun and creative ways and also learning new things. Attitudes will need to be put into check at times, mine included. Since I am not one to back away from a challenge I say, bring it on and let's do this!

Micah is all boy and I love it! He is a 3 year old trapped inside of a 10 year old body, LOL! The things he says are hilarious at times. I am learning very quickly that he is not a sit down for long type of child to learn lessons. He likes to move, wiggle, and dance to his own beat so I have been tailoring and sneaking in learning time. One big change over the last few weeks is that he is sleeping through the night in his own bed! In turn, that means I am getting a great nights sleep too. Really, it's a win-win!

Madison has been hanging out with friends all summer and preparing for her upcoming AP and online classes. The process to get her IQ tested has fallen through because of loop holes, we still have the option to pay for the test out of pocket and we may or may not pursue that option. We are praying for direction as we go forward and hope that the online and AP classes she is signed up for will give her the challenge that her brain needs and craves. She was also just recently republished in the Homeschool Literary Magazine, The Phoenix.

You know the saying when one door closes, another will open? Well it's true! Two weeks ago Marie had an interview with what she thought was her dream job at school and after a good interview we found out she did not get the job. A few days after that she received another interview with another program and yesterday morning we found out she was hired! They are enthusiast to have her because she did community service last year with another division of the group and she left a great impression. The hours for this job are better and she will have her weekends free for spending time with friends and studying.

Montana started cheerleading with Pop Warner. She is enjoying it and this sport suits her personality to a "T". She comes alive when on the field cheering. Right now they are conditioning and selling products because the coach has every expectation that they will travel to Disney in December for Nationals. I am started putting a little bit aside from our monthly budget because apparently we will find out Thanksgiving weekend and will need to pay as soon as they make it. Our fall will be just as busy as our winter and spring, but I am excited to see my girl cheering!

Mikayla attended the NCAA College Showcase at Hills Gymnastics last weekend. It was an awesome experience for her and I. She was the only girl from our gym's location to be invited to go, which is a huge honor! Her session started on beam which is not her strong event and she kind of almost let her nerves get the best of her. I am so glad she has the training she does to cope with the fears that beam brings her and push past the fear. She was able to do her series, front tuck, and a jump series before moving on to the next event. If you want to see her videos here is a link on my Instagram. She had a few recruiter/coaches looking at her and making notes while she was on floor, which is super exciting! God has big plans for this girl, so excited to see them falling into place.

McKenzie loves school, hands down! She is a hard worker at home in her studies and inside the gym. The TOPs results came out yesterday and we are so happy that one of her teammates she looks up to is going back to TX for the 3rd year in a row for National Testing! This year was a training year for McKenzie, not to take anything away from her skill and ability, but we had no expectations she would make the cutoff score, especially since she started officially training TOPs mid-February. I can tell you this though, she is more determined now to make the cutoff next summer. After her birthday party, I am going to really try and change her diet for good. She needs to cut out the grains and refined sugars, as she has had many flare ups the last few months. It hinders her training and daily life because its not any fun with a bloated, hurting belly. The only thing is she is super picky! Like, seriously P-I-C-K-Y! Any suggestions?

Friday has been declared our new library day. We won't go every week, but every two weeks and bring home a gaggle of books I'm sure. Yesterday a little boy who was about the same age as Micah cleared two bookshelves of books! The librarian was visibly perturbed but she kept her cool when explaining to him that they would now have to re-shelve the 75+ books he put in a heaping pile on the floor. I am just glad it wasn't my son!

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Next week we will be participating in the Back-to-Homeschool Blog hop with my CrewMates from the Homeschool Review Crew. Be sure to check out the site and come back and read what we will be sharing.

Happy schooling friends!

Weekly Wrap-Up

©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Friday, August 11, 2017

2017 ~ 2018 Weekly Check-Ups

Hi Friends!

A new school year is upon us and I am ready to hit the ground running! Let's just pray I feel the same way come February, LOL! This will be the landing page for each of my weekly check -ups for the 2017 - 2018 school year. I hope you will follow along on our educational journey!

©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Math Essentials: No-Nonsense Algebra ~ a TOS review

When you think of fall do you think of school starting back up, cooler weather, football, and pumpkin everything? I do too! Well, maybe not the pumpkin stuff :-) But I also know that fall begins the beginning of SAT and ACT testing dates. If you’re like me and have a high school Junior or Senior, it’s on your mind. In fact, testing has been on my mind since early May this year.

In early June we were given the opportunity to review Math Essentials No-Nonsense Algebra and I almost passed it over because I thought we had a good system of review going on. But I am so glad I jumped on the opportunity to review this book with Madison, my Junior because we have found a few gaps in her Algebra knowledge.

No-Nonsense Algebra was written by Richard W. Fisher, who says that Algebra does not have to be a long, drawn out boring subject. Each of the lessons presented is very short and sweet and gets right to the point.

 Table of Contents 

 Chapter 1~ Necessary Tools for Algebra 

 Chapter 2 ~ Solving Equations 

 Chapter 3 ~ Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations 

 Chapter ~ 4 Solving and Graphing Inequalities

 Chapter 5 ~ Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities 

 Chapter 6 ~ Polynomials 

 Chapter 7 ~ Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions) 

 Chapter 8 ~ Radical Expressions and Geometry 

 Chapter 9 ~ Quadratic Equations 

 Chapter 10 ~ Algebra Word Problems 

No-Nonsense Algebra is written to the student with short, concise, self-contained lessons that are easy to understand and eliminates distractions. Each lesson has five key elements to teach the system of Algebra:

~ Clear introduction and explanations of each new topic 
~ Helpful Hints that teach shortcuts and important tips
~ Examples with solutions worked out step-by-step 
~ Written Exercises and corresponding answers in the back of the book 
~ Comprehensive Review to make sure the student remembers what they have just learned

Everything you need to know about Algebra is included in the ten chapters of this non-consumable book. Review is built into each lesson to ensure mastery of topics and full examples are given with step-by-step solutions. Chapter tests and a final exam allow you to measure student progress. How the process works:

Step ONE: Thoroughly read the Introduction that include essential information about the topic.

Step TWO: Read the Helpful Hints for important tips and shortcuts.

Step THREE: Read the Examples that show step-by-step directions to complete each problem. Physically write out each problem and the process it takes to get to the solution.

Step FOUR: Complete the written Exercises. If you need help, repeat steps 1-3 above.

Step FIVE: Review. Complete the review problems.

Step SIX: Check your work for the Exercises and Review. The answers are provided in the back of the book.

When the book arrived, Madison and I jumped right in and use it apart of her 1-hour PSAT/ACT study time! Since she is studying for her first ACT in September and taking the PSAT in October for real this time I want her to have a solid math foundation. Honestly, I am not worried about the LA/reading portions of either test as she is a strong reader and writer, it is the math where she is weak. As she finishes up her Algebra 2 course I have noticed she is making little mistakes using the Quadratic Equation, which just happens to be my favorite kind of equation in math. Yes, I am a bit of a math nerd, LOL! So we dug in right into Chapter 9 to begin with. Having Madison write out each step did clear things up for her and she is now able to solve these types of questions without any hesitation. Next we worked on word problems which are both of our least favorite types of problems but necessary to know.

For the next three weeks Madison is plugging away at the Final Review in the back of the book. It has 157 problems all of which are covered in the book. She has been completing 10 problems each day from the review and I grade them as she goes. If she gets one wrong, I have her go back and re-read the section and write out the steps to similar problems. With this process she should finish the final review by Saturday, August 26th, and then we can focus more on the specific ACT practice tests and again reference this book when we find weak spots. Prayerfully, she and I are shooting for her to score a 28 or better on the math sub-section of the ACT because she is shooting for score of a 32+ overall. If she does as well as preliminary testing has shown, the other sub-sections can carry her math score if she can reach her math score goal. She can do it and I am very confident that with the help of her review of No-Nonsense Algebra she will get it done.

A feature that I really enjoy is that there is a video that corresponds to every lesson. It’s like having your own personal tutor for the price of $28.95 you pay for the book! The code to access the video’s online is self-contained inside the book so you won’t misplace it. Another feature I like is the Glossary. It is eleven pages of algebraic definitions, charts including important formulas, symbols, multiplication table, prime numbers, squares and square roots, and fraction/decimal Equivalents. These are priceless charts, especially the Important Formulas in my opinion, to be able to have handy at your fingertips.

Mastering Algebra should not be stressful; No-Nonsense Algebra takes the stress out of it and for that I wholeheartedly give this book 2 thumbs up! Check out what my CrewMates thought of this book by clicking the banner below.

No-Nonsense Algebra {Math Essentials Reviews}

Company ~ Math Essentials 
Format ~ Non-consumable paperback book
 Price ~ $28.95
 Ages ~ 8th grade and up

Math Essentials

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©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

5 Days Back to School

Have you started back to school yet? We are plugging along in our second week here, however, we are not at full schedule just yet with all our courses.
Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
Join me next week as I participate in the Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop with my CrewMates from the Homeschool Review Crew! I am excited to share with you how I keep my students engaged and learning in our Classically ~ Charlotte Mason homeschool.
 See you next week!
©2008 - 2017 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.