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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Heirloom Audio Productions: With Lee in Virginia ~ a TOS review

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

If you know me well, you know I love a good book. Now that I have been hooked on audio books and audio theater it has opened up a whole new world of listening for me and the family. A few weeks ago we were asked to review the newest audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions called With Lee in Virginia. It should come as no surprise that we gobbled it up as soon as it arrived at our doorstep.

Heirloom Audio Productions is passionate about bringing history to life in exciting and engaging audio dramas. With their newest release title, With Lee in Virginia, the have set the bar high and it does not disappoint.

We received With Lee in Virginia CD set, Digital Download of the Study Guide, Soundtrack, and a printable poster. This story retells history’s most daring expeditions filled with character and courage of fifteen year old Vincent Wingfield as he finds himself in a thrilling adventure as he joins ranks among the cavalry of the Northern Virginia Army during the Civil War.

The two CD set of this high energy and fast pace story focused on building character for the next generation while bringing history lessons to life within the chapters. With the extremely high quality audio reenactments, this story it is perfect for ages 6 years old to adult. The realities of war do shine through, just so you are aware. However, they are presented in a way that is not too overwhelming for younger listeners.

The two disk story comes in a handy fold out CD case with a blue and grey CD and also includes a study guide booklet. As part of this review, I also received a PDF copy of the study guide which is just an expanded edition of the one included in the CD set. The study guide also includes three brief Bible study suggestions to help you and your child gain a clearer understanding of godly character.

Because we are on the go almost every day of the week we strictly listened to this while traveling. The girls were silent as the story played, eagerly listening for each detail. Sometimes we would stay in the van until a chapter had ended just so we could hear the end of the story. I really like the fact that the stories where numbered so we could find our spot quickly.

So, what’s the bottom line?! We love this CD! I would recommend this product to any and all looking to add a bit of family friendly audio / radio drama into the homes.

Be sure to see what my Crewmates thought of With Lee in Virginia by clicking on the banner below.

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

Company ~ Heirloom Audio Productions

Product ~ With Lee in Virginia

Price ~ Many packages to choose from, starting at $29.97

Ages ~ 6 years – Adult

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama 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, July 30, 2015

Ready for new adventures


We upgraded our family vehicle on Tuesday morning to the 2015 Odyssey Elite. It is very similar to my 2008 Odyssey Touring, however, I won’t be paying $$$$ for the tires like we were doing. We choose a local dealer who offers “Priorities for Life”, meaning we get FREE:

~ Oil & filter changes for life

~ State inspections for life

~ Engine Guaranteed for life

~ Parts & Service Guaranteed for life

~ Towing for life

betty blue odyssey

Not too shabby a deal, especially considering we will be in our current location for 3-4 more years.  My husband worked his magic and was able to get the price for the 2015 model 15% below MSRP and a fantastic offer for our 2008!!!


Last Friday when I had to replace my back tires, we got serious about car shopping to replace my old Honda. You see, we had just replaced all four tires earlier this year because we knew we would be going up and down the highway for Mikayla’s gymnastic season. I was also quickly approaching 145,000 miles, which is not bad for a Honda, but because of our upcoming travel and Mr.M’s work schedule we decided it was best time to sell the 2008 and get a 2015.


My budget allowed for me to choose from any vehicle as long as it had good gas mileage, that was Mr. M’s only stipulation. I have been wanting to go back to an SUV for a few years now because I wanted to be a little higher off the ground, especially with all the 18 wheeler trucks I share the road with.  I was “<” close to getting a Ford Expedition EL, but I quickly came to my senses while comparing gas expenditure, fuel tanks and mileage. Not to mention the fact that in less than 3 weeks we will have a full time residential college student. Books are expensive guys!!!


So, while we were at the dealer getting the 2008 tires changed I took a good look at the 2015 Odyssey’s and asked around to friends who have more than two kids in carseats. This van is quite fancy, even compared to my 2008 Touring model. Yesterday I sent a text message to my daughter while I was in the driveway figuring out how to program the radio. I am still getting used to the push button start and smart key fob. I have only locked myself out once when I left my keyfob inside the cup holder. Thank goodness I was at home and had the extra keyfob inside. The kids love the bigger DVD system and the fact that they could play the Wii in the van on trips. I haven’t figured that out yet, but there are outlets and plugs. Oh! did I mention there is a built in vacuum!? I may just have the cleanest vehicle yet.


I love the fact that I can fit our two Britax car seats side-by-side in the middle row. We will have littles in car seats/booster seats for the next 5-6 years so that's a huge plus for me. The only thing I miss on my new model from my 2008 model is the adjustable pedals. I am a bit vertically challenged so not having to sit so close to the steering wheel was a big plus. The new model offers the same thing with an adjustable steering wheel. It has taken me a few days to get used to it and get my seat just right.


We all love our new Odyssey, here’s to new adventures!




©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.

UnLock Math: UnLock Pre-Algebra ~ a TOS review

Unlock Math Review

Math can be one of those subjects that makes you tremble with fear with the thought of teaching it to your child. But, it doesn’t have to be! For the last six weeks I have had the opportunity to use UnLock Pre-Algebra with Mikayla from UnLock Math.

UnLock Math is a fairly new online math program that was developed from the teaching passion of Alesia Blackwood. From an early age she knew that she wanted to become a teacher and accomplished her goal in 2000 to teach Mathematics to grades 7-12th.

Unlock Math Review

UnLock Pre-Algebra is recommended for any child who is ready for traditional Pre-Algebra. By breaking up the math lessons into fun, interesting bite-size chunks students are able to understand the concepts being taught and build confidence without feeling any anxiety that typically comes with math. With UnLock Math’s unique teaching style your students will engage in:

~ Teaching Videos that engage, explain, and entertain. Alesia teaches each lesson as she would to a class, explaining the concepts thoroughly and going through several examples. You won’t find any dry, boring lessons here!

~ Advanced Assessment with various question types that truly assess your child’s understanding of concepts.

~ Your Child Will Only See ONE Question at a time. Perfect for students who get overwhelmed and/or anxious when they see a whole page of "math".

~ Immediate Feedback & Fully Explained Solutions for each question presented.

~ Unlimited Practice to really master the new skills.

~ Unlimited Review

~ Grade book & Progress Reports real-time reports so that you and your child can track progress and assignment details.

Unlock Math Review

There are 16 Chapters of lessons presented in this math curriculum. Since the program works on any device you can enjoy math lessons at home or on the go. A downloadable pacing guide is also included and your child will have full access to complete reference notes for each lesson presented.

1. Whole Numbers

2. Integers

3. Variables and Expressions

4. Rational Numbers

5. Fractions

6. Equations

7. Inequalities

8. The Coordinate Plane

Midterm review and Test

9. Decimals

10. Percent

11. Polynomials

12. Triangles

13. 2D Geometry

14. 3D Geometry

15. Analyzing Data

16. Probability and Stats

Getting started with this math curriculum is really easy! Once you go through the sign up process, your child will just log in to their personalized Dashboard. From there you can see the progress at a glance and choose the next lesson to be completed.

I was able to use this program with Mikayla, my rising 7th grader. I like that she was able to log in on her Kindle at the gym while she was on break and work on her lesson for the day. Mikayla excels at math but she struggled a bit with some of the concepts at first. I found it helpful to watch the lesson myself first and then ask her questions when she returned home from the gym.

Overall, I really like the way the program is presented and will be continuing to use it as we approach our upcoming school year. Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.

UnLock Math Review

 Company ~ UnLock Math

Product ~ UnLock Pre-Algebra

Price ~ $299.00 annually, or $49.00 monthly

Ages ~ child ready for Pre-Algebra

Format ~ online, any device

Unlock Math 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, July 23, 2015

SimplyFun: Shape Whiz ~ a TOS review

Simply Fun Review

We have a huge arsenal of games in our house. I love to be able to play a game and sneak in learning at the same time for the girls. It’s always fun when the creators at SimplyFun offer one of their games for review and this time was no exception to the fun when we received the game Shape Whiz six weeks ago.

The team of “Playologists” at SimplyFun make play an important part of academic, social, and emotional skill development for children. With over 90 award-winning educational  board games and puzzles for children aged 3 to 103 there is sure to be a game just perfect for your family to play in just 30 minutes or less. Perfect for those busy families to slow down and make some memories playing games.

Simply Fun Review

The game of Shape Whiz is all about mastering the principles of geometry and is recommended for ages 10+. 2D geometry and shape measurements are some of the concepts used in this game. Using speed and your knowledge of geometry to solve the clues given, be the first player to find the Shape Card to solve the Whiz Card question.  Clues are given and you are to try and find the shape described faster than your opponents. This game is intended for 2-5 players. In our package from SimplyFun we received the Shape Whiz game box and a set of game rules.

Setting up to play this game is as simple as three easy steps

1. Shuffle all the Whiz cards

2. Choose from two levels of difficulty you would like to play.

3. Game play starts as players flip over the cards and begin to play.

I played this game with Madison and Mikayla while my other daughters looked on. Mikayla is not quite ready for geometry but it is good for her to see and hear the shapes and terms. We primarily used the blue cards during our playing times and took things nice and slow each time. Which was great for me too since Geometry was never my strong point in math.

Overall, we give this game two thumbs up! If your family enjoys playing games this would be a great addition to your game cabinet. Not only do you get to spend some quality family time, but also you get learning snuck in too. I definitely see our family playing this game for many more years, especially as we start to navigate the world of Geometry again.

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this game and the other game being reviewed, Expanders, by clicking the banner below. SimplyFun is also offering my readers  a discount code of 15% off of your first purchase for any game on their site. Be sure to click over and check out all the wonderful games they have for learning in disguise. {use the code SHREVIEW at checkout by July 31, 2015}

Simply Fun Review

Company ~ SimplyFun

Product ~ Shape Whiz

Price ~ $24.00

Ages ~ 10 and up

Simply Fun 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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Home School in the Woods ~ Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt ~ a TOS review

Home School in the Woods Review

Are you going to be studying Ancient history this school year? Do you want to make history come alive? If you answered yes to those questions then you definitely need to hear about the new hands-on history from Home School in the Woods called Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt.


Home School in the Woods Review

History has always been a favorite subject of mine to teach and re-learn with my girls. I grew up learning history from a boring textbook so I am so happy that now I can teach the girls history with awesome hands-on, project based learning. Amy Pak, a talented graphic designer and experienced homeschooler, has created a new addition to her project based history curriculum to study Ancient Egypt.  


Your first step is to make a passport and luggage folder as you prepare to travel through the Ancient Egypt study there are 25 stops that can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks to cover. Each stop has a Guide Book Text to read and a detailed Travel Itinerary that is filled with directions and over 50 project choices to complete. Activities included in this curriculum include:


  • Creative Writing
  • Eight dramatized audio tours with over an hour of listening
    A "Dining Out Guide" of Recipes
    A File Folder Game
    A "Scrapbook of Sights" for storing notebook projects
    A Newspaper "The Kemet Chronicle"
    A "Snapshot Moments in History" Scrapbook Timeline
    "Postcards from Famous Folks"
    Souvenir Craft Cards with a dozen 3-D projects to make
    Over a dozen Lap Book Projects

Setting this up to start was so easy too. Since I received a PDF download, it was as easy as saving the files to my computer and then printing the necessary papers I needed. I choose to keep my printable in a binder so that when I go back through this study again with my younger girls it will already be ready to go.ae2

Minimal prep work is needed on the teacher part as everything is contained in PDF files. A detailed teachers guide includes Travel Tips, Teacher Keys, Quick-Stop Itineraries, and Additional Resources in case you want to dig a little deeper and enhance the study even more.


I was so excited to be selected for the Ancient Egypt study because it ties in with Mikayla’s history for the upcoming school year. I wanted to get a jump start overview refresher for her during the summer so that we could dive into the rest of her curriculum throughout the school year.


The thoroughness and detail in Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt is so amazing! Both Mikayla and I have enjoyed this study and have learned some neat facts that we previously did not know. We both are looking forward to completing the Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance & Reformation study when we get to that time period later this year.

ae4 ae5 ae7

If you are looking for hands-on, highly detailed learning, definitely check out the Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt and the other studies they offer, Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages, Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance & Reformation. Be sure to click on the banner below and read what my CrewMates thought of the products reviewed.

Home School in the Woods Review

Company ~ Home School in the Woods

Product ~ Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt

Price ~ CD version $34.95 or Download version $33.95

Format ~ compatible with both PC and Mac computers

Ages ~ 3rd-8th graders

Home School in the Woods Review




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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, July 16, 2015

Homeschool Buyers Co-op: Homeschool Planet ~ a TOS review

Homeschool Planet Review

I try really hard to keep everything organized so that everyone can get where they need to be at the prescribed time. Yes, sometimes it’s overwhelming and I fail miserably, but hey, I am human.

Wouldn’t it be great to have something to help you keep track of everything in your busy life such as homeschooling, housework, activitites and more? For the past 6 weeks I have been testing out a little gem called Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Now, I hope I am not the only one who thought that Homeschool Buyers Co-op was just for buying curriculum at a great price? Homeschool Planet gives you all the tools you need to organize your home and homeschool so you are running in tip top shape with there online planner.

Homeschool Planet Review

To get started is as simple as having a computer with internet access. Once you create a free account on the Homeschool Buyers Co-op page you can sign up for a free 30 day trial and no credit card is needed! How great is that!

This planner packs a big punch with all the features it has to offer! Let me tell you about three of my favorite features.

Homeschool Planet Review

The attendance tracker is a great feature that allows you to not only track the days you school, but also mark off any other days that are holidays, etc. Since we school 6 weeks on, 1 week off this was a great feature so I could see at a glance when the break week fell on the calendar.

Homeschool Planet Review

Grade Helper is a life saver! This feature lets you track your child’s grades in each subject. This is the main area where I struggle to keep up in our homeschool. I am confident that I will be better prepared to do so this year with this feature.

Homeschool Planet Review

I am definitely going to utilize the Transcript feature, especially since we are heading back through the high school cycle with Madison. With Marie I waited too long to start her transcript and it was quite overwhelming to input 3 years worth of classes and grades. This transcript can be printed out if you need to turn it in.

While this is not our “busy” season, I do really appreciate this planner and all that it offers. Before getting a chance to review this planner I would have told you I was strictly a paper planner gal, but now I can definitely say I Love this online planner! It has simplified my life and allows me to keep on task and on schedule of where everyone needs to be. I love that the girls can log on and see at a glance what is happening for the day too.

Even if you are a paper planner, I would wholeheartedly recommend you checking out this program. They offer a free trial so you can’t go wrong. Try it out and see how you like it, don’t just take my word for it. And be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.

Homeschool Planet Review

Company ~ Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Product ~ Homeschool Planet

Ages ~ Household managers

Homeschool Planet 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.