This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 8th year of homeschooling using a Classical approach.

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



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Apologia Educational Ministries: Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth), full set ~ a TOS review



If you are like me, getting a package of new curriculum is like Christmas! Imagine my surprise when I came home and found a box from Apologia Educational Ministries on my front porch. Yes, I knew it was coming, but still, it's always exciting to get a box of new curriculum to try out! Inside was the brand new homeschool reading curriculum called Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) full set.

Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence

I am sure you have heard of Apologia Educational Ministries if you are a homeschooler. If you are not, let me tell you a little about them. Apologia is one of those companies that everybody talks about and for good reason too! When most people hear Apologia’s name mentioned they immediately think of their award winning science programs for elementary through high school. But did you know that they now offer a homeschool reading curriculum too?

Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence
For my review I received the Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) Full Set that was written by Debra Bell. This full set is geared towards students in the 4th-6th grades or for students who are behind in reading. Some students with special needs may also find this curriculum beneficial as well. This homeschool readers set teaches the student to learn how to comprehend what they read all the while appreciating the beauty of the novel itself.

Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence

Readers in Residence can be used to complete your language arts curriculum as it includes instruction in reading comprehension, literature, and vocabulary. The complete set includes a big spiral-bound all-in-one Student Text and Workbook. I love that the spiral is a bright green color. It makes it very easy to find, especially when the books somehow get up and walk away. A helpful softbound answer key is also included. This answer key book contains complete answers to student activities from the Student All-In-One Text and Workbook.


Over the course of the reading curriculum your student will cover three genres of fiction: historical fiction, animal fantasy, and contemporary realistic fiction using the novels Sarah, Plain and Tall, Charlotte’s Web, and Because of Winn-Dixie. To round out the school year, you will also select three other novels, one from each of the same genres listed.


The Student Text and Workbook is a huge book like I stated earlier with over 550 pages. Inside there are 14 modules over 6 units in this program. Each of the units in the student book are color-coded for ease of use and a helpful suggested daily schedule for 32 weeks is included. I found the fine details the schedule provides to be especially helpful for pacing and getting things done on our end.


I used this program with my current 4th grader, Montana. She is an avid reader now after initially struggling to learn to read. We worked through the program at a slower pace than the suggested schedule and used the program 3 days a week instead of the four days as suggested.


I love that the directions are crystal clear for each section of the assignment. I was able to go over the assignment with Montana and then turn her loose so to speak to complete the pages for the day. I especially liked that novel suggestions were given for the three books that we were to pick on our own. It made my job easier to not have to narrow down the many great novels out there. Read more about this product and download a sample or check out the FAQ’s.


Overall, we have truly enjoyed using this new homeschool reading curriculum from Apologia and will be using it the rest of our school year. I am sure you know Apologia also publishes K-12 Creation-based science and worldview curriculum for children K-12, inspirational books about homeschooling, and hosts online classes through Apologia Academy, but if not definitely check out the website and explore all their offerings. And be sure to check out what my other 49 CrewMates thought of this product, Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth), by clicking the banner below.

Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}


Format ~ spiral bound books 

 Price ~ $89.00 full set 

 Ages ~ 4th-6th graders, students who are behind in reading, or some students with special needs

Apologia Educational Ministries
Social Media Links:

Facebook ~ Instagram @apologiaworld ~Twitter @apologiaworld ~ Pinterest 


Hashtags:  #hsreviews #readersinresidence #homeschoolreading


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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CompuScholar, Inc.: Digital Savvy ~ a TOS review

CompuScholar, Inc. Digital Savvy

My oldest daughter at home this year is Madison. She is 16 years old and has dreams of going to the Air Force Academy. Upon researching admission requirements I found that she needed a year long computer class. But what exactly does that mean? After many hours of stressing out  praying and talking with a friend whose son has just be admitted to the Academy I figured out what she needed and began my search for a class. I kid you not, a few days into my research we were offered to review a new computer program called Digital Savvy from CompuScholar, Inc.! It has been the answer to my prayers!
CompuScholar, Inc.
CompuScholar, Inc. is also the company formerly known as Homeschool Programming and was founded in 2008 by Chris and Andrea Yust, so you may already be familiar with them. Chris and Andrea know that a love of computers begins at an early age so they set out to equip and inspire a new generation of students by creating courses that teach professional programming in a fun and exciting way. At the same time, they realize that most parents and teachers are not fluent in the technical aspects of computer programming so they made Computer Science education easy and approachable for all involved.

The Digital Savvy course we received is a two-semester course that is equivalent to an introductory information technology course. Basic computer knowledge like knowing how to log into the computer and launch a program as well as how to use the mouse and keyboard are all that are needed to start. This may sound trivial in this digital age, but some students and older adults do not know these basic skills.
CompuScholar, Inc.
The Digital Savvy course has enough material to cover 36 weeks of learning. You, the parent need to decide with your student if you will take the course as a self-study course or teacher-led course. Pricing for each option is a bit different yet cost effective for your budget.

 Self-study ~ $15.00/month or $120.00/year 
Teacher-led ~ $35.00/month or $300/year 

*** Choosing the 1-year option allows you to add an additional sibling to the same class for $40 (self-study) or $220 (teacher-led). ***

This course requires a computer running on a Windows or Mac operating systems. Course materials and interactive online systems can be accessed from any HTML5-compliant web browser on standard computers, laptops, or tablets with a solid internet connection. However, to complete the hands-on projects within the course, students will need to use a computer with one of the following operating systems:

 • Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 
 • Mac OS version 10.7 or higher 

The course covers the fundamental computing topics and skills students need such as:

 • Hardware, software, and operating systems 
 • Managing files and folders 
 • Basic networking 
 • Online safety and computer security
 • Using Word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation programs
 • Creating simple databases 
 • Image editing 
 • Using social media and email communications
 • Introductory website design 
 • Simple computer programming concepts 
 • Exploration of computing careers 

A detailed course syllabus for all 25 chapters is included online. Each chapter has topics divided into multiple lessons and gives an estimated number of days to complete. Lessons are presented in a similar fashion throughout and contain:

 • Video instruction ~ clearly taught video instruction that includes demonstrations of the computer concepts being taught. Perfect for auditory learners.  
 • Text ~ detailed written texts of the video lesson.
 • Quizzes/Tests ~ an automatically graded multiple choice quiz covering the written text material. Chapter tests are also graded automatically at the end of every chapter.
 • Projects ~ hands-on learning to help students practice what they have learned.

Teachers/parents are given access to their own administrative login account to track the students progress. A Teachers Guide includes a summary of the lesson, teaching objectives, copy of the student text, suggested order of lesson activities, and class discussion questions. There is also a Quiz Answer Key provided in this account feature.

The only difficulty of using this program in our household was actually getting my duaghter started. But that is at no fault of the actual program because it is easy to set up and get started within a matter of minutes. Madison was (and still is) super excited to take this class and get started, however, it was a busy season when we received the log-in info. I thought she was capable of logging in and starting on the material for the class on her own without any handholding from me, so I let her go at it. Big mistake on my part and lesson learned. She is still a young adult and needs my guidance and double checking.

While Madison has not made as much progress as I had hoped she would have, she is making strides now through the program and truly enjoying the class. I am confident that she will be finished with the first semester of the course over the summer so that we may begin the second semester when our school year starts up again at the end of July.

Having access to this course has been a lifesaver for me. Not only does my daughter get to satisfy the “computer class” requirement for the Academy, she gets to have fun in a hands-on online class. I am confident that this Digital Savvy class exceeds the “computer class” requirement and look forward to Madison's successful completion of Principles of Information Technology in January 2018.

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program, Digital Savvy, and the other two programs offered for review, Web Design and Java Programming, by clicking the banner below.

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

Product ~ Digital Savvy 
 Format ~ Online course with student-led or teacher-led options. Requires Windows or MAC operating system 
Price ~ Self-study: $15.00/month or $120.00/year OR Teacher-led: $35.00/month or $300/year 
Ages ~ 6th-12th graders
CompuScholar, Inc.
Social Media Links 
 Homeschool Programming:
 Facebook ~ Twitter  @hsprogramming 

 CompuScholar, Inc.:
Facebook ~ Twitter  @compuscholar 

 #hsreviews  #computerprogrammingforkids #codingforkids #computerskills

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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.    
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Watch out!


Madison jumped out of the way to avoid getting hit by a pitch in todays double header.


©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, April 8, 2017

See you in Michigan!


Mikayla qualified to compete at the 2017 Eastern Championships this year! She is also the Region 7 FLOOR CHAMPION with a score of 9.575 and she came in 2nd place on the Vault with a 9.750. She had a personal best AA score of 37.825. Way to go!


©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, April 6, 2017

Homeschool 365 ~ 95/365

She beat me in our game of "Making 10"! {95/365} 




{95/365}  #astablebeginning #365homeschool #brownhomeschool365 #hiphomeschoolmoms #saxonmath #grade2math #handsonlearning #mathgenuis #mathisfun 



©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, April 5, 2017

Memoria Press: The Story of The Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic AND 200 Questions About American History Sets ~ a TOS review

History is an important subject in our house. After all, you learn not to repeat past mistakes from the history that is already complete. Well, in theory you do. We are studying the later half of American history this year in our homeschool but I wanted to give my 8th and 4th graders a refresher on early American History as well as we wrap up our school year. I was so pleased when I found out we were on the review for the The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and  200 Questions About American History Set from Memoria Press! We are Classical homeschoolers who lean to the Charlotte Mason side and use quite a bit of Memoria Press curriculum in our yearly studies. If you are new to the homeschool area a let me tell you a little about Memoria Press.

Memoria Press

Memoria Press (MP) is a family-run publishing company founded by Cheryl Lowe in 1994. The company creates simple, easy-to-use classical Christian education curriculum for home and private schools all over the world. Memoria Press's produces many popular Latin, logic, literature, and classical studies courses for children in PreK-12th grade. There products are written and field-tested with the students who attend the highly acclaimed Highlands Latin School. We were blessed to receive both of these sets from MP, let me tell you more about them.

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set

The Story of The Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic set comes with a reader, a student guide, and a teacher guide. With 32 weekly lessons you will find a comprehensive study on American history from Native Americans through The Spanish-American War. Each lesson in the student guide is set up with the same four part format that includes:

 I. Facts to know
 II. Vocabulary
III. Comprehension questions
IV. Enrichment

The reader is a historical reader that can serve as an elementary textbook or supplemental book added to any history program. The chapters are short and sweet but don't leave out what is truly important in the events. All of the chapters include a picture or two about the chapter topic also.

200 Questions About American History Set
Grades 5-8

The 200 Questions About American History Set includes of a set of flash cards, a Student Book and a Teacher Guide. This set works well with the The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & The Great Republic set I talked about above,  however, it is meant to be used along with The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer and Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework by Kate Kelly and Anne Zeman. The student book also includes memorization practice in the form of famous poems and speeches. The flashcard set is a thick deck of heavyweight cards and includes four different categories of questioning including:

~ 150 drill questions
~ timeline dates 
~ 44 U.S. Presidents
~ notable quotes

To help my children learn and remember the  American history questions, we played in a Jeopardy style game on Thursday and Sunday nights. My girls loved the fast pace of the game and trying to gain points. Most importantly they were learning and retaining the information, a big plus in my book! We loved everything about both of these sets. It is through and gets the job done! Definitely take a peek at this set from Memoria Press and the other sets offered for review, First Form Greek Complete Set, and the Iliad & the Odyssey Complete Set by clicking the banner below.

First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}

Company ~ Memoria Press (MP)





Format ~ physical book sets

Price ~ $48 and $27.90 respectively

Ages ~ grades 4-8

Memoria Press

Social Media Links:  
 #hsreviews #memoriapress #classicalchristianeducation #classicalyhomeschooling #Memoriapress #classicalchristianhomeschooling


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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.  

Wordless Wednesday


©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.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver ~ a TOS review

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver}

I’ve always loved history. In fact while I was growing up I used to read encyclopedias for fun. Nerdy, maybe, but I loved reading about Ancient times. This year we are finishing up our study of American history and in the fall it means we are heading into Ancients again! I love being able to tie in literature to bring history to life. Over the last few weeks I have been doing just that as I read a new novel called Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver - Author.

Peggy Consolver
The author, Peggy, did not start off being an accomplished author. She was born the third child of six and raised on a wheat farm in southwest Oklahoma. She met her husband, George, while enrolled in Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Before having her two children Peggy taught shorthand, typing, and business law in a north Dallas high school and also worked as an executive secretary for a construction company in Austin, TX. She loves teaching Sunday school and reading through the Bible annually.

Originally, I intended to have my 16 year old read this book. But life got busy for her and she just couldn’t fit it into her schedule. So, I jumped into the story and I have really been enjoying digging into this historical fiction, let me tell you more about it.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer is a paperback book with 375 pages with 46 chapters and tells the Biblical account of the Hebrews’ last 40 years in the wilderness as referenced in Numbers 20 - the book of Joshua. The novel tells the story through the eyes of a young 13-year-old Canaanite shepherd boy named, Keshub, who lives in Gibeon. As the fifth oldest son of Ishtaba, Keshub, lives adventure every day as he defends his flock from predators while he attempts to prove himself among his older brothers. However, Keshub longs for his father’s affection and approval yet has an intense longing for adventure beyond his daily horizons. As the biblical story of Joshua unfolds and the Hebrews threaten to invade his homeland, Keshub becomes a spy keeping watch of the Hebrew’s movements through the Jordan River Valley.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer Peggy Consolver

Doesn’t that sound fascinating!? Since taking over as being the primary reader of this novel, I am loving it! I do plan to have my 16 year old read this book over the summer because I am finding it to be a great read. I am going nice and slow because some of the names are a bit confusing, but the handy reference chart at the beginning helps keep the people straight. The author has also included a helpful study guide on her website to accompany the novel reading. It provides links, maps, and videos to help things stay clear.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer Peggy Consolver

Overall, I would recommend this novel for high schoolers and up. A middle schooler might be able to grasp the content. I plan on finishing up this novel in the next few weeks and to start reading it aloud to my younger children as we prepared for our journey back through Ancient history. Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this book too by clicking the banner below and reading some of their reviews.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver Reviews}

Format ~ paperback book, ISBN 978-1-942587-09-5
Price ~ $10.14
Ages ~ middle - high schoolers through adults

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer Peggy Consolver
Social Media Links

Facebook


 #hsreviews #siblingrivalry #geography #Bible #survival



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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.  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

1st place BEAM!


Way to go McKenzie! 
Today she placed 1st on the Beam at the Hurricane April Showers meet. It was a tough competition but she persevered. 
Go baby girl, go!

VAULT ~ 6.500 

BARS ~ 9.000 (3RD) 

BEAM ~ 9.100 (1ST PLACE)

FLOOR ~ 9.275 (4TH)

ALL-AROUND ~ 33.875


©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.    

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Creating a Masterpiece ~ a TOS review

My children are artsy. In fact my oldest is an art major. She has been drawing and creating masterpieces since she was three. I am not sure where exactly she gets her ability but its pretty amazing! I on the other hand, will admit to having limited art skills. A few weeks ago we were asked to review the Monthly Plan art lessons offered by Creating a Masterpiece. I have to tell you I am pretty excited about my art abilities now.

Creating a Masterpiece

Art is one of those subjects that is easily pushed to the way side in our house. I have great expectations every year to keep it in the forefront and revive our Masterpiece Monday's because I think it is an important subject. Yet, at times I fail. However, with the Monthly Plan the lessons are already planned out for me and even include a supply list! The instructor, Sharon Hofer, is so very encouraging and its like having your very own art tutor giving you step-by-step instructions in the comfort of your own home.

I drew this, yay me!

With six levels of instruction from Beginners through Advanced you are sure to find just the right starting point for your ability in the 144 lessons available. If you are looking to study a specific historical art period there are several different options too. Currently there are 18 types of media projects taught within the program, including:

  •  • acrylic painting • soft pastels carving Conte’ crayon • oil pastels • sculpture Batik • watercolor • block printing • ink • silk dyeing • pencil • Bombay ink • colored pencil • charcoal • glass mosaic • gouache • balsa carving 

Getting started with this program is super easy! Once you are signed up each time you log in to the website you are taken to your very own family dashboard. From there you can see all the projects listed and get started. Monthly or annual student plans are available and include unlimited access to all the projects for your entire family.


Overall, we have really enjoyed this program! I do encourage you to check it out for yourself and see if it would be a good fit. There is a FREE lesson avaialbe on the site for you to try before you buy, I highly recommend checking it out. The Monthly Plan makes having art lessons super affordable! The supplies may be expensive to gather for some of the more detailed, advanced projects, but worth it in the long run.

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

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

Product ~ Monthly Plan 
Format ~ Digital online 
Price ~ $39.99 per month 
Ages ~ elementary through adult

Creating a Masterpiece

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Hashtags:  #hsreviews #artinstruction #homeschoolart #onlineartprogram



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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.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Kregel Publications: Circle C Stepping Stones, books # 1 & 2 by Susan K Marlow ~ a TOS review


Montana has a thing for animals. She loves them, especially big cats, but really she loves all animals and tried to convince me a few weeks ago that we could get a horse in our backyard. A few weeks ago we received two new books from the Circle C Stepping Stones series, Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top written by Susan K. Marlow from Kregel Publications. For anyone who loves horses this is the book series for you, let me tell you more about it.

Andi Saddles Up

Andi is a 9-year old girl who lives on the Circle “C” Ranch in Fresno, California in the 1877. Her birthday has just occurred and all she wanted was a new saddle so that she can trick ride her palomino, Taffy, like a real horse-and-rider pair. However, her older brother Chad quickly puts a stop to any and all trick riding dreams. One day while she is out in her special spot Andi discovers a new friend, Sadie. Soon her friendship with Sadie is threatened because of a nasty boundary quarrel between both of their families.

Andi Under the Big Top

The next book we received was Andi Under the Big Top and tells the story of the summer when she turns nine. The circus is coming to town and Andi is so excited to see the elephants, acrobats, and the champion bareback rider. At the circus Andi meets a little boy named Henry who sells circus treats. She thinks he must have the coolest job in the world, but soon finds out that there is a deeper darker side to the circus. Andi decides she needs to help Henry with his situation, but helping Henry with his secret may mean losing something very precious to Andi.

I was so happy to get both of these books for Montana to read. They are wholesome books for kids aged 7-10 and retail for $7.99 each. The website includes a downloadable study guide to accompany each the books. it is filled with 56 pages of various learning activities that correspond to the books. There are also coloring pages straight out of the book for you to print and color. 


Montana’s assignment after reading the first book was to make a diorama of the story. She loves hands-on learning so this was right up her alley. I love the way she was creative and searched high and low for supplies for her project. She presented her story to us one evening and did a great job retelling the story. For the second book I read it aloud. We are about to go to real circus at the end of this month and my younger girls are so excited. We may not have some deep dark secret to discover at our circus but it will be fun nonetheless.


Overall, we have truly enjoyed both of these books and look forward to reading more books in this series! The illustrations are so detailed even and draw you into the story even though they are just black and white. My younger girls especially enjoyed the coloring pages as I read-aloud. Be sure to check out what 59 of my CrewMates thought of these books by clicking the banner below!

Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}
 Format ~ paperback 
Price ~ $7.99 each 
Ages ~ 7-10 year olds
Kregel Publications

Kregel Books: Twitter ~ Facebook

Susan K Marlow: Twitter ~ Facebook 

 #hsreviews #oldwest #horsegirls #fictionforgirls

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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.