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 15th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Literature based approach.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

 gymnastics birthday 177 gymnastics birthday 172

©2008- 2015 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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ARTistic Pursuits: Early Elementary book 2 ~ a TOS review


It’s always a fun day when we get to pull out the art supplies and create something fresh and new. I used to struggle to incorporate Art into our week, but not anymore since I have added the Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art from ARTistic Pursuits to our Masterpiece Monday lineup.

Aunt Janice visit misc 342

ARTistic Pursuits offers a wonderful Art program put together to involve children in the creative process while developing skills of observation. with books ranging from for Preschool through High School, you are sure to find the right book for your family. 

ARTistic Pursuits Review

We received Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art for this review with Montana (8) and McKenzie (5).  With 36 easy to follow and do-able lessons, ARTistic Pursuits makes it easy to get a full year of Art in just this one book. Book 2 focuses on the lives of Master artists like Giotto, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Turner, who have been inspiring budding artists for generations. Interweaving the stories of individual artists within several different major periods of art from,13th century late Gothic to the academy artists of the 18th century, you and your child will cover a wide selection of great art projects including:

~ watercolor painting

~ oil pastels

~ printmaking

~ mixed media art 

ARTistic Pursuits Review
With books for many different levels you are sure to find one just right for your student(s)...

~ Preschool, ages 3-5

~ Early Elementary K-3rd, Book One
~ Early Elementary K-3rd, Book Two
~ Early Elementary K-3rd, Book Three

~ Elementary 4th-5th grade, Book One
~ Elementary 4th-5th grade, Book Two

~ Middle School 6th-8th, Book One
~ Middle School 6th-8th , Book Two     

~ Sr. High, Book One
~ Sr. High, Book Two

~ Sculpture Technique: Construct

~ Sculpture Technique: Model

~ Sculpture Technique: Carve {available 2016}

Artistic Pursuits has won many awards in the homeschooling community, including Practical Homeschooling Reader Awards, 2010 Homeschool Crew Favorite Fine Arts Product, and first place in the art category in the Excellence in Education awards.  Each of the books sell for $47.95 each and can be purchased HERE.  The great thing about them is that the pages are non-consumable so you can use the books again and again with your family.  ARTistic Pursuits also sells art supply packs needed to complete the the projects in the books and prices vary for that.  You can however find the items at your local craft store and be fine too.


ARTistic Pursuits has met all of my expectations and then some! This art program has taken the struggle to incorporate art into our week away.  They will always be my go to curriculum when it comes to Art for my girls because of the ease of lessons and the open and go format of the books.  It’s no wonder they have won so many awards, the books are fabulous and we will continue to use them in our homeschool for many years to come! 

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Click on the banner below to see what my  Crewmates thought about the different books reviewed.

ARTistic Pursuits Review 

Company ~ ARTistic Pursuits

Product ~ Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art

Price ~ $47.95

Ages ~ K-3rd

ARTistic Pursuits Review


Crew Disclaimer



©2008- 2015 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, April 17, 2015

Star toaster: Orphs of the Woodlands: The Treasure of HighTower ~ a TOS review

Star Toaster Review

I am a huge fan of reading at our house. I like to get the girls to catch the reading bug at a young age and then have them take off with it. However, I do have one daughter that is not a huge fan of reading. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out we would be able to review a new online book called Orphs of the Woodlands : The Treasure of HighTower from Star Toaster.

Star Toaster Review

The Star Toaster Team believes that learning is a lifelong experience with opportunities all around us. They also believe that children learn best  primarily in the home regardless of where they school {i.e. home, private, or public}. The Orphs of the Woodlands material is presented in such an entertaining and engaging manner way that children don’t even realize they are learning! Not only does it fill in the missing gaps, but it also instills a desire to learn.

I received a year long subscription to use with up to three children. At the time of this review, I only focused on having Mikayla, my 6th grader, complete the program.


Orphs of the Woodlands is an online educational series like no other that encourages the love of learning, all the while helping to develop positive character traits in children. Designed to capture your child’s imagination, your child will embark on an educational journey that includes:

Star Toaster Review

1. A reading adventure ~ This series is about a squirrel {who you get to name} who becomes a spy fighting against Night Creatures who are terrorizing the Woodlands. Your spy reluctantly finds himself responsible for a settlement of orphans known as the Orphs of the Woodlands. As the game progresses your squirrel develops a passion for the orphs and grows into a leader.


2. An academic treasure ~ Hundreds of lessons in math, science, grammar, vocabulary, thinking skills, character, life skills, the arts, and more are woven into this exciting story. Not only is the story packed with knowledable things, but it also teaches your child how to learn.


Several techniques are used to present material including: flashcards, videos, and memorytyper, a highly rated memorization system. At the completion of each chapter, lessons are reviewed before the spy works at “jobs” to earn his pay in the woodlands.

Jobs are actually fun exercises that allow students to improve on their skills. Payment for jobs is given in “goldstars”  currency for a job well done. The more skills a child learns, the higher their pay.

Star Toaster Review

3. A rewarding game ~ The money {goldstars} earned for the jobs is used to build a settlement for the orphs in a fun game of strategy. By strategizing and choosing the best course of the game,you can build the best settlement to sustain more orphs. Having enough goldstars to care for the orphs is a powerful motivator for children to master skills.

Mikayla loved this game just as I did! Getting her to read for pleasure daily has always been a struggle, but not with this program! Some days I would have to tell her to stop reading so that she could concentrate on the rest of the schoolwork. She  named her squirrel spy after her brother and read the book entirely on her Kindle Fire. Her only complaint was that she could only read it when she had access to Wi-Fi.



My favorite part of the program would have to be the detailed emails that I received after Mikayla finished a chapter. I was able to see everything that she had learned within a specific chapter, to the number of lessons completed.

Star Toaster Review

Overall, we really enjoyed this program and I look forward to using it with Montana {my rising 3rd grader} over the summer. Normally, the subscription is two months long, with the option to extend a month. I would definitely recommend you checking out the free trial that is offered. You will have access to the first 100 pages and 50 lessons!

Be sure to check out what my Crewmates though of this program by clicking the banner below.

Star Toaster Review

Company ~ Star Toaster

Product ~ Orphs of the Woodlands : The Treasure of HighTower

Price ~ $19.99 two month subscription for 3 children, $6.99 for a 30 day extension

Ages ~ 4th – 7th grade

Star Toaster Review




Crew Disclaimer



©2008- 2015 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, April 16, 2015

First Start Reading by Memoria Press ~ a TOS review

The thought of teaching my children to read used to make me tremble with fear? I know that’s probably silly to say out loud, but it is how I felt when we embarked on this homeschooling journey six years ago. I have since taught two children how to read and McKenzie, my 5 year old JrK’er, is the next in line to become a reader with the help of First Start Reading from Memoria Press.


McKenzie is a very eager learner, always has been since she was a little toddler. She was having trouble remembering her letter sounds and letter recognition so I held off on teaching her to read. When this program was offered for review, I jumped at the chance because of past success with Montana.


The First Start Reading Program takes on a classical, traditional approach to teaching phonics. We received the Teacher’s Guide and 4 Student books, A, B, C, & D. The program focuses on three important skills throughout the phonics program which include:

1.pencil grip & correct manuscript letter formation

2. mastering the sounds for consonants and vowels

3. mastering short and long vowel sounds, short 3-letter words and 45 common “sight” words

The Teacher’s Guide provides scripted lessons and everything you need as the teacher to successfully teach your child to read. It is a great resource for helping with vowel sounds, ear training, b-d confusion, and pencil grip.


Scripted lessons make teaching the classical phonics program so easy. You don’t have to worry about what to say or what to write because it is all there right for you. In the beginning it is a bit repetitive, but McKenzie did not seem to mind.


An important part of the daily learning is the phonics recitation. It includes 10 questions to ask your child each morning before beginning your lesson. Sample questions include asking “How many letters are there” and to “Name the vowels”. McKenzie and I went over this recitation in addition to our normal recitations each and every day.


Each lesson covers the following categories:
~ Letter sounds
~ CVC Words (Common Word, which include sight words)
~ Reading skills such as beginning punctuation and plural sounds
~ Beginning Sentences


{car schooling while waiting for big sisters at Girl Scouts}

McKenzie was so excited to get her mail. We began using the phonics program the day after it arrived! Because I had previously used this program with Montana, I also already had the supplemental Classical Phonics which is a handy little book for extra phonics practice. Since we are such huge fans of morning time recitations and Memoria Press I also already had the Kindergarten Complete Lesson Plans for One Year {First edition, 2009} in my possession. Inside this lesson plan book, the First Start Reading student books A-C are scheduled out for daily work over 27 weeks. I am confident that by the time we get to book D, I will be able to schedule out that book on my own. If not, I know I can upgrade my scheduled out plans.


Currently, McKenzie and I are on day 1 of Week 6 according to the plans. Since we got a late start, we just take one day at a time and don’t really pay attention to the weeks. We start out our days by completing the phonics recitation. At first she was not too keen on doing these questions, especially reciting the alphabet while pointing to each letter. However, it has helped her letter recognition tremendously! Before she would do the normal LMNOP, instead of separating them as individual letters. Once I had her slow down and point to each letter within 2 weeks she had it straight and I could say point to letter “N” and she would know it.


For the vowel’s I choose to highlight them in the back of her student book. McKenzie is a visual learner and seeing the vowels highlighted pink helped her know that those were the “special” letters that make their own special sounds.

20150319_101332 {pencil check}

I am so excited to continue to use this program to completion with McKenzie and eventually with little Micah. It just works and now my little girl can READ! Something she has wanted to do for so long.


I will sing praises to Memoria Press to all who will listen!  We LOVE this program and I have been recommending and sharing it with friends for the past few weeks whether or not they homeschool! 


{I can read!!!} 

***click HERE to hear McKenzie reading ***

Memoria Press offers a wide assortment of homeschool material from Latin, Greek, Literature, to whole grade level sets from Junior Kindergarten through eighth grade. They graciously offered some members of the Crew to review their New American Cursive:  Penmanship Program Workbook 1 while others received the Classical Phonics program.  Check out what my Crewmates thought about these programs by clicking the banner below.

Memoria Press Review

 Company ~ Memoria Press

Product ~ First Start Reading

Price ~ $42.95

Ages ~ K – 2nd or for struggling readers

Memoria Press Review

*Stayed tuned for the beginning of June when we review Latina Christiana I Complete Set .






Crew Disclaimer

©2008- 2015 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, April 8, 2015

Trimming the fat

Literally and figuratively I am trimming the excess “fat” from my daily life. Maybe that is too strong of wording, but it’s how I feel right now so I am going with it as I share with you what’s on my heart as I link up with the Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop.

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
I have had several ladies tell me over the last few weeks that I am “super mom” and ask “how do I do it all”? Truthfully, I am not a “super mom”! I am just a plain mom doing my best to get what needs to be done each day, feed my crew, trying to get my crew where they need to be at the prescribed times, and I have fallen behind on laundry even when my washer runs 6 days a week.
Lately, I have failed, in my own eyes, but I have realized that I can not do it all. Especially not without my Savior and being in the Word daily. The days when I hit the morning running forgoing my quiet times have been some of the most challenging days. I have raised my voice at my children or been short with my husband for no apparent reason except the devil attacking when I am weak.
But you know what! My God is more powerful and He has shown me the error of my ways and I am getting back on track one day at a time, moment by moment. He has shown me what needs to be cut out of my day. And even in my stubbornness I am bowing down and realigning obligations in my life by letting go of commitments  that are holding me back from the blessings God has in store for me and my family.
God has a great plan in store for this Caffey girl and I can’t wait to share with you some of those blessings over the next few weeks and months.
Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more below.
Every Bed of Roses
Ben and Me
Footprints in the Butter
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Counting Our Blessings
Homeschooling for His Glory
Ozark Ramblings
 Chestnut Grove Academy
Only Passionate Curiosity
 Farm Fresh Adventures
For This Season
Unexpected Homeschool
For Him and My Family
 As We Walk Along the Road
Growing in His Glory
Homeschool Coffee Break
 Daily Life
There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
 Proverbial Homemaker
 ElCloud Homeschool
Treasuring Life's Blessings
Double O Farms
Simple Living Mama
 Fried Clams and Sweet Tea
This Sweet Life
 A Net In Time
Counting Pinecones
 Some Call It Natural
 Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Debbie's Homeschool Corner
©2008- 2015 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.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter 2015


Happy Resurrection Sunday!






©2008- 2015 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, April 2, 2015

Ready To Teach: Greek Morphemes {It’s NOT Greek to Me!} ~ a TOS review

Ready to Teach Review

Do you find it hard to teach vocabulary to your middle or high schooler? Are you searching for just the right program that will help improve your students vocabulary while also helping to develop high order thinking skills? Then I have the vocabulary that might work for you!


I was so excited to be offered Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's  NOT Greek to Me!) from Ready to Teach. This vocabulary program is the brainchild of Alene H. Harris, Ph.D. who taught secondary vocabulary and life science in the schools of Nashville TN for over 16 years.


Once our package arrived at our house I opened it up to find two books, a teachers manual and a student book, and a flash drive.

As I explored the program that night reading through the teachers manual, I discovered that this program can be used three different ways.

~ independently, with the student fully in charge of the flash drive and working through the lessons

~ with the parent as the teacher working right along with the student and guiding he or she through the lessons

~ in a co-op setting

Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's  NOT Greek to Me!) studies Greek roots, suffixes, and prefixes  in 12 lessons with a major review and test after Lessons 6 and 12. Ideally the course can be completed in just 14-16 weeks if you complete a lesson a week.


A detailed daily lesson plan is included inside the teachers manual so you know exactly what to do. Answers are included for each lesson too. Each lesson also includes a set of color – coordinated study cards for further review for the visual and tactile/kinesthetic learners. The study cards are printed on cardstock and I plan to laminate them for use with future children down the road. Bulletin board ideas and transparency masters are included if you have those options available to you. At the end of each week there is a lesson test which includes 25 to 30 morphemes.


I choose to work right along with Madison, my 8th grader, through the lessons. Before we began I went over the detailed lesson plan so she would know exactly what was expected. While I did not sit right next to her during study time, I was available in the next room for questions. I also found that reviewing with her in the van while driving to the gym or while sitting at the ball fields was a great way to get her to explain what she was learning. This proved a good way for her to stump me on some of the words too Smile

“An article in the June 2008 Peabody Reflector, a publication of Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, recently highlighted research showing that children learn best when they explain what they are learning to their mother”. {pg.7}

Overall, I {we} love this vocabulary instruction program and wholeheartedly recommend it to 20150402_111531anyone looking to build a solid foundation in Greek or Latin roots. Madison has a firm grasp of the written language and vocabulary has always been one of her strong points because she reads so much. This program has helped her in preparation for the SAT / ACT and in her general everyday studies. We plan to finish out the second half of this book and then begin the Latin book available in the fall.

Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this vocabulary development program by clicking the banner below.

Koru Naturals Review

Company ~ Ready to Teach

Product ~

Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's  NOT Greek to Me!)

Price ~ $69.95 plus $12.75 shipping & handling

Ages ~ 8th grade and up

Ready to Teach Review
Crew Disclaimer


©2008- 2015 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.