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.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Blogging Through the Alphabet ~ D is for decorating disasters

Have you ever put up and taken down a 7.5 foot artificial tree 3 times in a span of 24 hours? What about stringing 850 lights on said tree, 3 times?


By golly, its not for the faint at heart. The girls and I are were having THE worst luck with Christmas lights this weekend. First, our lights blew out after we had them on the main tree Friday afternoon. I went to Walmart Saturday morning after dropping Mikayla off at carpool and bought all new lights. Once we took the tree down and took off all of the old lights and it was completely re-stranded with ll 850 lights, the center pole light cord ripped clear off the strand! Seriously, I almost cried at this point. I was this (<) close to just having our Advent tree up this year, or biting the bullet and purchasing the Basalm Hill tree of my dreams.

So, I trudged back to Walmart and exchanged the lights for a new set while the older girls took down the tree again. Thankfully, the third time was the charm and our big family tree is up and looking as beautiful as the day we bought it 17 years ago.

This is week 4 of my attempt at Blogging Through the Alphabet with by Meg @ Adventures with Jude and Cristi @ Through the Calm and Through the Storm. Be sure to check out the posts this week and see how creative everyone is as we make our way from A to Z.

Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=


Missed a post? Catch up with the links below.

A is for Arithmetic

B is for Birthdays and Bones

C is for Caramel Corn




©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.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Blogging Through the Alphabet ~ C is for Caramel Corn

We love to make homemade caramel corn around here. In fact, Madison requested some for her birthday last weekend so we whipped up a batch.


The recipe is a family secret of my mom’s that has a special step, so I won’t be sharing it here, however, there are several variations online :-)

As she used to say,

 Bon Appetite!

Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=
Missed a post? Catch up with the links below.

©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, November 20, 2015

TOS Blue Ribbon Awards

Over this past year I have had the privilege of reviewing over 50+ products from curriculum to things just for mom. At the end of each review year, the members of the Crew vote for their favorite products. Several of the products listed below are some of our favorites too, be sure to check them out!
2015 Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards
Favorite Reading Curriculum: Reading Kingdom Favorite Writing Curriculum: Institute for Excellence in Writing
Favorite Vocabulary Program: Dynamic Literacy Favorite Spelling Program: Institute for Excellence in Writing: Phonetic Zoo
Favorite Penmanship Program: CursiveLogic Favorite Literature Curriculum: Progeny Press
Favorite History Curriculum: Home School in the Woods
Favorite History Supplement: Heirloom Audio Productions: In Freedom's Cause
Favorite Science Curriculum: Visual Learning Systems
Favorite Science Supplement: Ann McCallum Books: Eat your Science
Favorite Math Curriculum: CTC Math
Favorite Math Supplement: SimplyFun
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum: Grapevine Studies
Favorite Christian Education Supplement: Brinkman Adventures
Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum: Middlebury Interactive Language
Favorite Fine Arts Product: Maestro Classics Favorite Elective Curriculum: Apologia Educational Ministries: Field Trip Journal
Favorite Audio Drama: Brinkman Adventures Favorite Video:
Favorite Elementary Product: Star Toaster
Favorite Middle School Product: The Critical Thinking Co
Favorite High School Product: Writing with Sharon Watson
Favorite College or College-Prep Product: Freedom Project Education
Favorite Parent Product: Koru Naturals
Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: Homeschool Planet
Best Online Resource: Super Teacher Worksheets Best e-Product: Home School in the Woods
Just for Fun: USAopoly
Kids' Choice: La La Logic
Teens' Choice: YWAM Publishing
All Around Crew Favorite: Institute for Excellence in Writing
I am pleased to announce that I will be rejoining the TOS review Crew for my 6th year. It’s been a fun ride and I look forward to reviewing more products and telling you all about them!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Blogging Through the Alphabet ~ B is for birthdays and bones

20151114_141555Yesterday we celebrated Madison’s 15th birthday. Not quite sure how 15 years has flown by, but it has and we have been able to see Madison blossom into a fine young lady.


She is not one to want a big party or for us to fuss by having a big celebration. She actually wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese because she knew her younger sisters and brother enjoy it. So, that’s what we did.


This week, we also finished up our bones unit in science for Montana and McKenzie. They both were able to tape their bones to their body outlines. Montana’s body is obviously bigger than the bones we received, but she gets the jist of there location.


One morning, McKenzie came running to me and said that Montana’s leg fell off. What!?! Then I remembered the skeleton Smile and we fixed it by adding more tape. Next week, we start on the muscular section and I have some fun activities planned to round out our school year before Christmas break.


Be sure to check out what everyone else is blogging about this week for letter “B” by clicking on either hosts link here or here.



Friday, November 13, 2015

Grapevine Studies: Birth of Jesus: Multi-Level ~ a TOS review

Grapevine Studies Review

My girls have great drawing skills, especially Marie who has been doodling and drawing detailed pictures since she was four! Let me be the first to tell you that I can not draw. Well, I can draw stick figures, but that’s about it. Over the last six weeks we have had a chance to prepare our hearts as we enter this Christmas season by using Birth of Jesus: Multi-Level from Grapevine Studies .

Grapevine Studies has developed one of the leading Bible study curriculums to grow disciples for Christ. Children use their own Bibles and study materials for their level through a multi-sensory approach that includes hearings, seeing, and drawing the Biblical lessons. One of the great features is that this curriculum does not promote any one specific faith or religious practice, so it works for all denominations.

Grapevine Studies Review

We received eBooks of The Birth of Jesus Multi-Level Student Workbook, Teachers Manual and Traceable Pages. The Birth of Jesus study includes five self-paced lessons that can be spread out over 24 days.

The weekly lesson topics are:

~ The Announcement

~ The Birth of Jesus

~ The Proclamation

~ The Wise Men & Herod

~Final Review

Each lesson includes the complete timeline for the entire story you are learning and includes several pages to correspond to the verses, including the memory verses, you are learning about. The traceable pages are perfect for the young learners who want to be involved in Bible study time.

I used this curriculum with my youngest two daughters {9 & 6} during this review period. I love how simple stick figures have helped them see the whole big picture of Jesus’s birth and the Reason for the Season. The program is so great for visual and artistic learners.

My plan is to go back through this study at the beginning of December with all my girls at home as we prepare for the Christmas season. Or you could use it in addition to your Advent studies. My younger girls are excited to go back through the program again and this time really memorize the story of Jesus’s birth.

Grapevine Studies Review

If you want to use one of Grapevines other studies but are too sure about where to start, be sure to check out this graphic chart below. It will give you an idea and overview of what the company offers. Overall, we have enjoyed this product and will continue our stick figuring through the Bible in January as we start preparing our hearts for the Resurrection with The Resurrection Studies.

Grapevine Studies Review

Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this product and the other titles being reviewed, Birth of Jesus: Beginner, Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob, Old Testament 1: Level 2 Creation to Jacob, Old Testament 1: Level 3 Creation to Jacob, Old Testament 1: Level 4 Creation to Jacob , by clicking the banner below.

Grapevine Studies Review

Company ~ Grapevine Studies

Product ~ Birth of Jesus: Multi-Level

Price ~ between $6.50 – 10.00 for eBook versions

Ages ~ 5-7 years old

Format ~ eBook download

Grapevine Studies Review





Periscope: @Grapevine Studies

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, November 12, 2015

The Critical Thinking Co.: Fun-Time Phonics! ~ a TOS review

If you are looking for an easy to use phonics program then look no further than The Critical Thinking Co. Fun-Time Phonics!. I have had the chance to use this with McKenzie for the last six weeks, let me tell you about it.

The Critical Thinking Co. is a family-owned business  that has been “empowering the mind” for more than 50 years. They sell critical thinking products/supplements that cover reading, writing, mathematics, science, and history. Instead of rote drilling and memorization, students are encouraged to “carefully analyze what they are learning.” The Critical Thinking Co. is on a mission to develop the critical thinking skills in all children. The phonics book is available in either book form or Windows PC download.

Fun-Time Phonics offers a systematic phonics program that teaches students that spoken words are comprised of sounds and those sounds are written with 26 different letters. The program places emphasis on knowing the vowel patterns and not rote memorization of rules.

The book is broken down into 3 different sections:

Phoenemic Awareness


Beginning to Read

and is filled with 300+ pages of reading basics. Using the book program is as simple as turning the page to the activity and following the directions at the top of the page. It is recommended to cover up the sections below and above the section you are working on to maintain focus, especially with young children.


Overall, this has been a great addition to our phonics studies for McKenzie! She is becoming a confident reader and Fun-Time Phonics! helps to fill in the gaps we may have missed or sections where she has trouble. Because she is such an eager learner, she has soared through the book and is currently on Activity 38. She does have a little trouble remembering the sounds that “G” makes, but with daily practice she is making excellent progress.

We plan to finish out this book until completion and then save it for when Micah is ready to learn phonics. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this book and the other products, Surfing the Net: Science , The Basics of Critical Thinking , U. S. History Detective, Book 1,
Practical Critical Thinking, being reviewed from The Critical Thinking Co. by clicking the banner below.

The Critical Thinking Company Review

Company ~ The Critical Thinking Co.

Product ~ Fun-Time Phonics!

Price ~ $39.99 paperback book

Ages ~ PreK - 2nd grade

Format ~ paperback book


Google +



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, November 11, 2015

Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Ann McCallum Books ~ a TOS review

I have a real treat for you today if you like hands on learning! A few weeks ago we were given a copy of Eat Your U.S. History Homework from Ann McCallum Books and we have been enjoying it.

Eat Your U.S. History Homework is penned by Ann McCallum, who has written several books. She is a teacher by trade and started her career teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in northern Canada. Now she enjoys teaching high school in Maryland.

This awesome 47 page hardback book is jammed packed with history information on everything from the earliest settlers to the American Revolution and more! It’s always fun to add a food component to anything you are learning about the past or present and this book does not disappoint. With recipes like:

Thanksgiving Succotash

Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt

Lost Bread

Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes

Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies

Independence Ice Cream

you are sure to find something just right to cook with your children.


It's not everyday you get to tell your kids to eat their history and learn about important historical facts at the same time. I did have to let go of my type -A tendencies and just let the girls do it, regardless of any messes and missteps. But that's exactly what I did with the girls and it was so much fun cooking with them.

The recipes are easy to follow and the illustrations are so cute and fit each page and recipe. The girls were able to follow the directions easily and sometimes with little to no help from me, except supervision.

e1 e2 e3

We had fun making Independence Ice Cream. It was our first time making ice cream from scratch and the girls loved it! They have already thought of add ins they want to include on our next batch.

Overall we are so pleased with this book and have our eyes on the other books in this series, Eat Your Math Homework and Eat Your Science Homework, to add to our collection. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this book and the other titles being reviewed, Rabbits, Rabbits Everywhere: A Fibonacci Tale and Beanstalk: The Measure of a Giant by clicking the banner below.

Ann McCallum Books Review

Company ~ Ann McCallum Books

Product ~ Eat Your U.S. History Homework

Price ~ $15.95

Ages ~ all ages

Format ~ hardback book

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.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Blogging Through the Alphabet ~ A is for Arithmetic

So, I am going to try my hand at Blogging Through the Alphabet again. Last year I think I made it to week 3, letter C. I am hoping to have better luck this year and make it through all 26 letters! Without further ado, here is my “A”.


{*none of the links I list below are affiliate links. I LOVE Teachers Pay Teachers, too much sometimes :-) }
I think it is important to have rote memory of math facts. So, this year I am making it a priority to solidify the math facts for Montana and get a jump start with McKenzie because she is such an eager learner. We use Saxon for our math curriculum and yes, you either love it or you don’t. We just happen to be in the LOVE it category. It works for our family and so it just makes sense to keep plugging away. McKenzie is currently working through Saxon 1 while Montana is in Saxon 3.
 original-1213346-1 SOT1-2T original-1274176-1

To help us learn our facts we be using a variety of materials from some of my favorite teacher vendors on the Teachers Pay Teachers , including:

Kicking It! ~ Math Facts Fluency for Addition and Subtraction

Kicking It! ~ Math Facts Fluency for Multiplication and Division

Times Alive! We were fortunate to review this program 4 years ago! I have used it with Madison and Mikayla and now I am excited to use it with Montana because she is a visual learner!

Interactive Math Packet -The Bundle (Addition and Subtraction up to 20)

The interactive math packet from The Moffatt Girls is a favorite here. Montana used this set when she was learning her addition/subtraction facts. The author also is the producer of the sight word program we use, Ready 2 Read.


The girls both enjoy racing the clock to complete their timed drill tests for sight word reading so I am hoping they will enjoy the math drills too.

images photo credit

The girls will have plenty of time to drill each other or play math games during the week to help master these facts. This will be a great time for them to study when I am working with someone else. Fluency tests will be given each Friday afternoon with intermittent prizes given out here and there. Small things like a special treat from the store etc.

Blogging Through the Alphabet is being hosted this round by Meg @ Adventures with Jude and Cristi @ Through the Calm and Through the Storm. Be sure to check out the posts and see how creative everyone is as we make our way from A to Z.


Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Brinkman Adventures: Season 3 ~ a TOS review

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review
We love audio dramas here at A Stable Beginning, so I am excited to share with you this morning the next installment from Brinkman Adventures .
Are you up for an adventure?  If so then you are in for a treat with the new season of The Brinkman Adventures. Prepare to become immersed into an adrenaline filled journey as you travel the globe from Ecuador to Alaska with a group of modern day missionaries with The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3.
Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review
The Brinkman Adventures will take your family on a heart-pounding, exciting adventures all the while showing God’s love for everyone on earth. We received Season 3 of The Brinkman Adventures which contains 12 action packed episodes on 4 CD’s.  That’s over 5 hours of  audio drama/entertainment, perfect for long road trips or just around town.

Episodes include:


1. God’s Mule

2. Mountain Mover

3. The Silent Ambassador


4. Translating Trouble

5. Man-Up

6. Acorns & Oaks


7. A Saint’s Story, prt 1

8. A Saint’s Story, prt 2

9. Untouched


10. Busy Bees and A Bullhorn

11. Missionary Tourist, prt 1

12. Missionary Tourist, prt 2

The Brinkman’s are not just your normal everyday missionaries. They are a modern day, large family with 9 children, whose powerful stories come together through the wild and crazy adventures they take to share God’s word. Their escapades will inspire the old and young and strengthen your faith to love and follow Jesus with all your might.

We spend a lot of time in our van driving here and there each week and while listening to the popular kids satellite radio is fun, one does quickly tire of hearing the same songs looping over and over. I was so excited to be able to pop this audio drama cd into the CD player for something different. We have listened to many audio books before but nothing is quite as exciting as The Brinkman Adventures. From the very beginning, everyone in the van is completely immersed and listening intently to the stories to not miss a beat.

Everyone in our family has thoroughly enjoyed this CD many times over.  Our family’s favorite story from this CD would have to be episodes # 7 and # 8, A Saint’s Story, prt 1 & 2. This story tells about, Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint, a missionary pilot who was killed in 1956 along with 4 other missionaries by the Waodoni tribe. As a young boy Steve lived with the Waodani, including one of the men that killed his father. Over time Steve learned to put the past behind him and forgive and help the people of the tribe. They especially needed help with dental care and the tribe expressed interest in learning to fly.

The Brinkman Adventures are available to purchase by season on CD for $27.99 or on MP3 download for $17.99. The prices listed are suggested donations but trust me they are worth every cent and more! Be sure to click HERE and download your three FREE episodes and sign up for Brinkman’s quarterly newsletter. You also have the chance to win a full CD set of Season 3 for the whole month of November! I know you will be thoroughly impressed and want to know more, so do click over ASAP! Our family can not wait for more adventures with The Brinkman’s!

Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought by clicking the banner below.

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

Company ~ The Brinkman Adventures

Product ~ The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3

Price ~ CD for $27.99 or MP3 download for $17.99

Ages ~ Families of all ages

Format ~ physical CD or MP3 download

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 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, November 3, 2015

Homeschool Courses: Standard Deviants Accelerate ~ a TOS review

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

I have children in every learning level in our homeschool, so its always nice when I find an online curriculum supplement that pretty much everyone can use. A few weeks ago, the girls and I received a full annual subscription to try out the Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate .

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate was created over 20 years ago by two college graduates whose golden idea was to record full academic courses, but in a funny and memorable way. The brands clever name is actually a play on words based off the mathematical term “standard deviance” or “standard deviation,” which means the variation from the average. Pretty clever, if I do say so myself.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate provides secular supplemental online homeschooling programs for children in grades 3 and up in English, Math, Science, Social Studies. There is also AP Test Prep available for the Juniors and Seniors. As noted above, the content is secular in nature, especially in the science courses, so use your discretion for your family. However, for my family, we were able to get around that as we used the program.

We received a yearly subscription which includes online access to over 14 course offerings, including:

Arithmetic - Grades 3+
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
Earth Science - Grades 6+
Nutrition - Grades 6+
Algebra - Grades 7+
Biology - Grades 7+
Chemistry - Grades 9+
English Comp. - Grades 9+
U.S. History - Grades 9+
AP Biology - Grades 11+
AP Chemistry - Grades 11+
AP U.S. Government & Politics - Grades 11+
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Primarily the courses offered are recommended for children 8 years old and up, but you the parent will know where to place your child. Pricing is based per course for use by one student for just $9.99 a month or $745.00 one time payment for lifetime access. A great feature/option if you are homeschooling multiple children. 


Getting started was really simple! Each user will need their own separate email address to log in and get started. Originally I planned to use this program with several of my girls in different courses. However, there are only so many hours in a day so I decided to focus on just using this with Madison, focusing on Algebra.


Once set up it was easy as logging in and clicking on the correct tabs to get started. The Algebra section has 7 sub-sections with topics ranging from Foundation of Algebra, to polynomial and factoring and quadratic equations.

Each section of each lesson is broken down into five different parts.


Video ~ watch the video and follow along with the transcript on the screen. You can even print the full transcript out if you are a paper person who likes to have a copy on hand. There is a not taking feature also and you can also save the notes in your “locker” or print them for reference.


Vocab ~ this section lists the essential terms needed to know while working the lesson. There is a handy feature to click on the speaker to hear the pronunciation of the word and the definition. This would come in handy for those with audible learners.


Diagram ~ This section is interactive and lets you drag and drop words and clues from the word bank to complete the puzzle. The program keeps track of how many tries it takes you to get the  placement correct and only the correct answers will “stick”.


Quiz ~ a short quiz section helps to test your knowledge on what you have previously learned. Submit your answers and they are graded automatically. Plus if get any wrong you can see a short video showing you the correct answer.


Written answer ~ a short section that correlates with the topic you just reviewed. Simply read the question and the jot down a couple of sentences to answer.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Overall, I am completely pleased with this program. It is a valuable tool for our family and it works great as a supplement. Madison has been able to shore up her Algebra skills using the program 1-2 days a week depending on our schedule. That makes this Mama happy!

Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought about this program and the courses offered by clicking the banner below.

 Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Company ~ Standard Deviants Accelerate

Product ~ Homeschool Courses

Price ~ $9.99 a month per student

Ages ~ 8 years old and up

Format ~ online

Standard Deviants Accelerate 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.