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.



Friday, June 24, 2016

MySchoolYear.com: Homeschool Record Keeping ~ a TOS review

MySchoolYear.com Review
I am really trying to be more organized in my thoughts and plans. Because we have a lot going on in this season of life and I don’t want to forget someone or something. In our schooling I am trying to stay ahead of the game now that we are headed back through high school again. My state is pretty relaxed as far as record keeping goes, but I do like to track attendance and keep lesson plans for myself. Recently, I've been using My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) from MyShoolYear.com to do so.


MySchoolYear.com is an online lesson planner and record keeper that allows you to keep track of all the important things you need to track. It features:
 ~ automated attendance tracking 
~ lesson plan generators 
~ automated grading ~
 friendly teacher’s reminders 
~ activity tracking for awards, reading logs, volunteer work, and sports 
~ reports to create transcripts, report cards and more 
~ lesson plan sharing if you want to share with others 

At first I will admit I was like a deer in the headlights when I started using this program. Not fault of the program, just my own. I was overwhelmed by the days activites so I logged out and came back the next morning refreshed and found that it is actually quite user friendly after I played around with it for awhile.

Setting up your account with your student’s information only takes a few minutes for each child. Once that is done, you can begin adding in classes and daily lesson plans. Tracking grades, attendance, reading, and extracurricular activities is a breeze with this program. Because we are in our summer learning period right now, I did not add in any current lesson plans, rather, I went ahead and started adding in stuff for the new school year. I am super impressed with the book log and can’t wait to have a place where I can list all the books the girls have read or been read to for the year. It will be a great visual accomplishment to look back and say you read this many books this school year; especially for my daughter who is not an avid reader.


Another feature of MySchoolYear that I am impressed with is the report card feature. Recently my children asked for a report card and I was happy because they wanted one, but then I thought oh no, I need to prepare one. Now, all I have to do is make sure I input the grades into this lesson tracker and the program will automatically generate a report card for me. YES!!! A huge plus in my book. The program will also produce a transcript for my high schooler too and that is one less thing that I have to do.
MySchoolYear.com Review
Overall, I am super pleased with this homeschool record keeping program! I am personally a paper and pen/pencil kind of girl, but I do see myself being drawn into the digital/online world utilizing this online program for the rest of our yearly subscription and beyond, especially since it generates the reports that I need and want to track. At $5.00 a month or $40.00 for the year, it is priced just right for my “extras” budget. And because we are a large family, that price is for unlimited students whether I have 1 or 12 MySchoolYear.com has me covered.

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

Homeschool Record Keeping {MySchoolYear.com Review}

Company ~ MySchoolYear.com
Price ~ $5.00 month or $40.00 yearly memebership
Ages ~ homeschool planners

MySchoolYear.com Review

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©2008 - 2016 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, June 23, 2016

LearnBop ~ a TOS review

So you have heard me talk about the “summer slide” quite a bit these last few weeks, right? Well, it’s because I am battling it head on to keep my girls at the top of the stairs so to speak and nowhere on the slide. Recently we have had the chance to review an online math tutor program from LearnBop. We received a 12 month subscription to the Family Plan of the LearnBop for Families program which gives access for up to 4 students. I used Madison, Mikayla, and Montana as my students.

LearnBop is an online interactive learning system that delivrs personalized, self-paced math help to students in 3rd to 12th grade math through step-by-step support. And because LearnBop is specifically built for family learning it doesn’t just test what your child already knows, the program actually teaches your child to solve math problems just as if a teacher was right beside him or her by identifying knowledge gaps right away.


Benefits to using LearnBop:
  • Increase your child’s confidence in problem solving and exams like PSAT, SAT, and ACT.
  • Personalized math help all year long at a fraction of the cost of hiring a live tutor.
  • Step-by-step guidance to help master math concepts quickly
  • Catch up or get ahead in math by working at your own pace.
  • Parents can monitor progress with dashboards and reports for immediate feedback.
LearnBop for Families Review

LearnBop contains 11,000 lessons for 3rd -12th grade math and includes unlimited access for your subscription period! Including video lessons that teach the math concepts before the student actually starts to practice completing problems. With positive reinforcements the program builds the students confidence in helping them see that they can get smarter and stronger in math.




Logging on and setting up account for my girls was super easy. Madison and Mikayla used their own laptops for access to the program while Montana used a combination of computers including my desktop, laptop, or using their family computer. It really just depended on what we were doing at that time of her accessing the program. Being able to choose from comprehensive learning plans or math by subject was great. They each have their own cute little avatar for their learning site and I can track progress by looking at the parent dashboard. With the comprehensive learning plans the program was able to identify just where each of my girls needed help.




We ended up having to do some backpedaling to get them started but that’s okay I would rather them have a strong foundation in math to build on throughout their lives. Even though two of my girls complained about their time using the program, I made them push through. Because not everything in life is butterflies and rainbows and one needs to learn to push through and finish the task at hand with a cheerful heart. The built in positive reinforcements also encourage the students to work through and master concepts and complete units within the program.

LearnBop for Families Review

By using LearnBop two to three days a week for 20-3 minutes each session my children have grown more confident in their math skills. Their individual effort levels have improved as well as the frustration levels have gone down. Which in my book is a win-win! We will definitely be incorporating LearnBop into our weekly math lessons during our regular school year even if It is just one day a week. Be sure to see what my CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.
LearnBop for Families Review

Company ~ LearnBop
Price ~ $19.95/mo or prepay 12 months at $199.95

Ages ~ students working at 3rd – 12th grade math
LearnBop for Families Review
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©2008 - 2016 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, June 16, 2016

Progeny Press: The Drinking Gourd ~ a TOS review

School’s out for most of us and we are settling into a nice summer routine. I don’t want the learning to come to a complete stop even though our official school year is done because I have seen the effects of the “summer slide” and it is not pretty. I am so glad that we are able to incorporate literature guides from Progeny Press into our daily reading and learning.


 Our family has a fond affection towards good books. I try to fill our bookshelves full of good books as well as check them out from the local library. Trust me when I say our bookshelves are overflowing. Over the last few years I have found that literature guides make reading even more enjoyable and fun. Have you ever checked out the literature guides from Progeny Press? For this review we received a downloadable interactive PDF copy of the study guide for the novel The Drinking Gourd.

Progeny Press has been a family owned and operated company since 1992. They produce high quality literature guides from a Christian worldview ranging from lower elementary years through high school. They literally have 100+ guides and add 3-6 new titles each year ranging from lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school. If you are looking for a literature guide, they have got you covered!

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
The Drinking Gourd is an engaging story about the Underground Railroad. It is set in 1851 in a small New England town where Deacon Fuller and his wife and six children live. One Sunday morning Deacon Fuller sends his son, Tommy, home early from church for misbehaving during service. While at home, Tommy uncovers a shocking discovery in the family barn. A family of runaway slaves. Tommy learns that his father is breaking the law to help this family of four get to freedom in Canada as part of the Underground Railroad by following The Drinking Gourd, which is a song with a secret message with directions northward by following the Big Dipper.
The first week I used the time to read the book aloud to my younger girls Montana (9) and McKenzie (6). After we finished the novel we then dove right into the chapters working through the vocabulary and reading comprehension questions. Vocabulary is addressed in many ways to make sure the reader has a full grasp, even at the elementary level. Using a thesaurus and a dictionary to study definitions is also taught. This was a timely study for us as we were just winding down in our study of the Underground Railroad.
Our family finds that literature guides make reading even more enjoyable! We give this guide 2 thumbs up and I look forward to adding more literature guides to our collection over the course of the school year. We enjoyed our literature guide and have purchased and/or reviewed several guides in the past and will be purchasing more in the future. I love that there is no limit on copying pages for use within our homeschool. Progeny Press Guides are economically priced from $10.99 to $27.99, The Drinking Gourd sells for $11.99.


Be sure to browse the online catalog for individual pricing on all the available guides. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this guide and the many other guides being reviewed, Minstrel in the Tower, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Sword in the Tree, Give Me Liberty, Indian in the Cupboard, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Great Expectations by clicking the banner below.

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
Price ~ $11.99 E-Guide 
Ages ~ Lower Elementary, K-3

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©2008 - 2016 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, June 15, 2016

Wordless Wednesday ~ Montana and McKenzie bridge to Juniors and Brownies


©2008 - 2016 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. 

Forbrain - Sound For Life LTD ~ a TOS review

God designed an awesome thing when he gave us our brain. Our approximately 3-pound organ is essentially the crown jewel of our body and does everything from initiating movement to controlling behavior and interpreting our senses.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

We recently had the opportunity to use a bone conduction headset by Forbrain - Sound For Life LTD. I was so excited to try this out with my daughters who struggle with reading fluency and comprehension. Let me tell you a little bit more about this gem and how we have all been using our voice to boost our brain! 

SOUND FOR LIFE Ltd, is the company that produces this FORBRAIN. Their mission is to enhance individual’s cognitive abilities, i.e. attention, speech, memory, reading, comprehension, and language through regular practice. The state of the art device they created with the help of Aftershokz LLC, is portable and easy to use.

As I mentioned earlier, Forbrain is a bone conduction headset that works to stimulate your brain through the sound of your own voice. Have you heard your own voice lately? Like really heard how you sound. It is fascinating how this device transmits the vibrations from your voice to the bones just in front of your ears, resulting in bone conduction.


Wait, bone what?! Essentially, sound waves are transmitted through the bones in our heads. The bones vibrate and the sound travels along the cochlea vestibule nerve in the inner ear, eardrum and middle ear. This vibration causes nerve impulses and connects the sounds that we hear to our brains.


Sometimes the natural process by which everyone hears sounds is interrupted causing problems with attention, concentration, working memory, and or short term memory. Using Forbrain for as little as 15-20 minutes a day for reading, speaking, or just general everyday talking you can stimulate your auditory reception and processing.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd ReviewThe Forbrain product is made up of a microphone, two bone conduction transduces, the parts that fit just in front of your ears, and the rectangular dynamic filter on the right hand side which controls the power and volume. The device is powered by a charge from a USB cord that is included. It comes packaged in a neat little black case with extra mouth piece covers for the microphone, the user manual, and quick start guide.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

Using the Forbrain is as simple as placing the headphones around the back part of your head with the ear pieces sitting on the two bones in front of your outer ears. The device comes adjusted to the right volume out of the box, but I had to adjust the volume down for McKenzie and I since we apparently have sensitive ears. Just adjust the volume to your liking and position the microphone to a comfortable place near your mouth and you will begin to hear your voice.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

Forbrain is recommended for daily use over a course of six to ten weeks for children through the elderly. Children 5 and below should use the product for roughly 10 minutes a day, while older children aged 5 through 15 are recommend to use the device for 15 minutes. Older teens, adults, and elderly should use the Forbrain daily for 10-30 minutes. The deivce should be used for a period of 10 weeks, then take a break and start the cycle again.


I used this product with my three youngest daughters, 13, 9, & 6. They each used the bone conduction headset for the allotted time for their ages. They each have a specific area I was trying to help them with from reading comprehension, memory, and attention span. They all eagerly wanted to try out our new toy, but first we had to let it charge up for a full 3 hours before the first use. Charging it was simple as I just plugged it into my desktop USB port. The light on the dynamic filter is red while it charges. Once the charging cycle is complete, the red light will turn off. A blue light will shine when the headset is on. I also went over instructions for its usage, because I must tell you this product is not cheap! It retails for $395 USD but if you have a child struggling, it is worth its weight in gold.



With Mikayla I have seen tremendous improvement in her reading comprehension and reading rhythm, especially. She used to read so fast without any pause and in such a monotone voice. Now that she has the headset on she can actually hear how she sounds and has made great strides in slowing down and reading. Her comprehension has skyrocketed too. She no longer reads a passage and cannot narrate back to me something she read. To help her get to this point I used the Echo and Accompanying technique, in which I overlaid my voice with hers. I would begin reading the passage and she would pick up {+/-} one second lag. It was hard tedious work, because she is a teenager and thinks she knows everything, but once she started seeing little results each day she was more eager to try and didn’t fuss too much.



For Montana and McKenzie I basically just wanted them to read aloud with the device on so they could hear their voices. Every day they would sit at the little desk next to my desk and read from their individual reading comprehension books or binders. I would follow along and correct them if they made a mistake. Other times for Montana, I would have her read her free reader out loud or a science book she was interested in reading aloud. Montana is my child who struggled to read because she could not hear the sounds the letters made. I wish we would have had this product a few years ago. She has made many strides as well in the last six weeks, as well as McKenzie. McKenzie is a petite girl, and the headset did not always fit right on her head. To solve this, I would tell her if she stopped hearing herself to tell me so that I could adjust the headset. It would be awesome if the Forbrain was adjustable for the kids with smaller features. However, this does not distract us from using the product at all.

When I first tried on the Forbrain it gave me a little start hearing my voice so clearly and actually hearing how I sound. It made me want to talk more and more and see what would happen if I changed pitch or made my voice loud or soft.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

Overall, this is an awesome product and we will definitely keep using it daily in our homeschool. I have seen tremendous improvement in my three girls that I can wait until my son is just a bit older to use it with him for vocabulary development. Right now he is just a little too hands on and rough and I would hate for our bone conduction headset to get broken.

 Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this product by clicking the banner below. 

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

Company ~ Forbrain - Sound For Life LTD. 
Product ~ bone conduction headset 
Price ~ $395 USD
 Ages ~ early ages to Seniors



Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
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©2008 - 2016 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, June 10, 2016

The Glass Castle ~ a TOS review

I am always happy to get a new book to add to our ever growing literature collection, especially since nowadays it’s sometimes hard to find good, clean fiction written for kids. While most of my children take after me and enjoy a great book to read, they all love to be read aloud too. We enjoy mystery stories so when we had the opportunity to review The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins from Shiloh Run Press presented itself I jumped at the chance.

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}
You see, when this review was offered I read the entire first chapter online and was enthralled and drug into the scene. It was powerful story about a girl named Avery, who is just thirteen and she has been kidnapped on her birthday. Once she realizes what is going on it’s too late because she has already be taken hostage inside the castle of the King. This King is growing very old and his “new” wife that wants to make sure that her child will be the one and only heir to the throne once he is gone. But, there is a catch. The Kings first wife did indeed produce an heir to the throne, a son. But where is he? Is he even still alive? That is the question that has left me on the edge of my seat wanting to know more about this girl named Avery and her 3-year-old brother, Henry, and her band of underground friends Kate, Tuck, and Kendrick who set out to find out the truth.

The new wife wants to make sure that this son is not alive and has hatched a simple plan in her mind to alleviate this little “problem” of her child not being sole heir to the kingdom. Her solution is to dispose of all the 13 year olds in the kingdom. These kids will not go away without a fight though and are trying to foil the queen’s plot because they have discovered something that could very well blow the kingdom apart. They just need to find a way to not get caught!

This story was penned by Trisha White Priebe and the famous author Jerry B. Jenkins. Trisha is a wife and mom who loves everything water polo. She is also the assistant to Jerry B. Jenkins who is the renowned author of more than 175 books, including the bestselling series, Left Behind. Mr. Jenkins is the former vice president for publishing at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and is currently a member of the board of trustees.

I read this book aloud to my younger three daughters, aged 13, 9, and 6. It was probably over my youngest daughter’s head but she did recognize the familiar story line that is similar to the Bible story of Moses. She happily played while I read aloud. My 9 year old enjoyed the story! It was mysterious and suspenseful without being too scary and had positive Christian character traits that I like my children to know about, along with a strong girl and boy role model. Some of the parts I did not care for. Specifically, the “attitudes” presented at times. I know kids have “opinions” but because I am knee deep in adjusting attitudes opinions at home it is not something that I wanted to promote. Fixing it was easy enough for me, as I was able to just add in another word or change the sentence around. Not the ideal or best way, but for my younger daughters it worked.

Because my 13 year-old, who is not a big reader, trains for gymnastics during the daytime hours, she only caught a few chapters that I read aloud here and there. She is currently reading the book over the summer and I am hoping that it will help her catch a spark for reading especially since she likes mystery books. I have her take the book to the gym to read during break and school hours. When she is at home I have her read a few pages aloud to me if she didn’t finish her reading at the gym. The best part is that I already know what happens so we can have a discussion about what she has read each day.

Overall, I give this book two thumbs up for great middle grade fiction. I would recommend the book but don’t just take my word for it. See what my CrewMates thought of this book by clicking the banner below. I know that we are eagerly awaiting the release of the second book of the series this fall.

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}

Company ~ Shiloh Run Press 
Price ~ $12.99 hardback book, Kindle edition, or ePub
Ages ~ 10-14 year olds {tweens/teens}

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}

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©2008 - 2016 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.