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.

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


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

Crew Disclaimer

©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 14, 2017

I'd Rather Be Your Mommy ~ a TOS review

We received another book to review a few weeks ago called I’d Rather Be Your Mommy from the Home School Adventure Co. and I want to tell you a little about it. We were blessed to receive a digital copy of the book written by Stacy Farrell, the corresponding coloring book, and the print set of I’d Rather Be Your Mommy.

I wear many hats in this family, from head chef to taxi driver. Sure, I had dreams as a young girl of being a pediatric trauma surgeon but God knew that was not my calling. It was made very clear to me as a teen that I was meant to be a Mommy to my future children and I have no regrets!

I'd Rather be Your Mommy Book

I’d Rather Be Your Mommy is a 32 page book that tells all the reasons that I’d rather be your mommy. With such a sweet, flowing story that is easy to read, you and your children will enjoy many different scenes of motherhood portrayed. The illustrations are fantastic and draw the reader into the full story. The book is available in digital PDF download or as a hardcover book.

I'd rather be Your Mommy Coloring book

Also available for $9.95 is a PDF Digital download of the I’d Rather Be Your Mommy Coloring Book which includes text from the original book along with illustrations to be colored. This is great for children who love to color while you read aloud or for adults who also enjoy coloring.

I'd Rather be Your Mommy Print set
The last thing we received was a digital print set of three full color images from the book that can be printed on 8.5” x 11” portraits. You can either choose to print them yourselves or buy the printed set and have it shipped to you. These tiny affirmations of why I would rather be your mommy would be great to hang in a child’s room or anywhere in the house.

Motherhood is a special gift from the Lord. The world sometimes makes this seem like a bad thing, but to me it is the greatest thing! I could be sitting in a court room or office right this very minute taking a deposition as a trained court reporter, but I choose not too because being in the daily lives of my children is important to me. I know some women have to work and I applaud them for doing that and being a Mommy. For right now, raising my children each day is more important than what any paycheck I could be bringing home is worth. Enjoy your children daily and live in the moment because one day they will be grown and out of the house.

See what my CrewMates thought of this book and the other books being reviewed from Home School Adventure Co. including Creative Freewriting Adventure, Celebrating Manhood: A Rite of Passage Guide, and Walking with the Waodani by clicking the banner below.

Resources with a Biblical Worldview{Home School Adventure Co. Reviews}

Format ~ Digital PDF download 
Price ~ $8.95 - $16.95 
Ages ~ all ages
Home School Adventure Company
#hsreviews #celebratingmanhood #waodani #CreativeFreewriting

Crew Disclaimer

©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 9, 2017

Homeschool 365 ~ A new go-kart {68/365}

These two got a surprise today when their new go-kart arrived! They are busy assembling it with Madison and Mikayla so they can go riding. {68/365} #astablebeginning #365homeschool #brownhomeschool365 #hiphomeschoolmoms #wearyourhelmet #notsofast 

Eclectic Foundations: An Old fashioned Language Arts Curriculum using McGuffey Readers ~ a TOS review

There are many different parts that make up Language Arts. From phonics to poetry. But what if I told you that you could use one resource for Language Arts and cover all your bases! That’s just what I have been doing with McKenzie, my 1st grader, for the last few weeks. Let me tell you more about it!

There are several different approaches to learning how to read. Some programs teach reading by learning sight words while others like Eclectic Foundations take a classical approach to learning phonics. With the help of the timeless classics, McGuffey Readers, your child will learn Phonics, Grammar, Spelling, Reading Comprehension, Handwriting, Composition, and Poetry using the Eclectic Foundations Language Arts, Level B.

We received a digital edition of the program and have been using it 4 days a week with great success! Our digital package included a PDF file with the:

~ Teacher’s Guide 
 ~ Student Workbook 
~ Phonics Practice Sheets 
~Word Cards

Since I opted for Digital resources I printed and spiral bound the Teacher’s Guide at home. I printed the Student Book and placed it into a binder because it is a thicker book. I also opted to print the Phonics Practice Sheets and Word Cards and store them inside the binder in sheet protectors. We also received a link PDF of the McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader. This can also be found online for free. I was able to open the Reader on McKenzie’s Kindle for use during our lessons.

Currently Eclectic Foundations is available to purchase in three levels of instruction. The fourth level will be ready for release in April 2017. Options include either physical or PDF download for the program. Each of the 144 lessons in Level B are taught from a Biblical Worldview and are intended to be used 4 days a week for 36 weeks.

To get started with this program you just need the materials listed above and a few supplies you probably already have at home including:

 • an index card 
 • additional 3/8' ruled handwriting paper for extra practice if desired 
 • a pencil box, baggies, and/or elastics for word cards 
 • crayons, markers, or colored pencils for word cards 
 • thin dry-erase markers and a rag 
 • a pencil 
 • scissors

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }

Level B is recommended for students in 1st-2nd grade. You and your student will cover:

Reading lessons are typically covered two times a week in the McGuffey Reader. The first day is spent studying the picture and reading the words while the second day is used to study and review parts of speech. Coloring the word cards is also done. Each part of speech is broken down with a color-coded color throughout the program. For example Nouns are red, pronouns are pink, adjectives are orange, verbs are green, adverbs are yellow, prepositions are blue, conjunctions are purple, and interjections are black. McKenzie is not a big colorer but she especially enjoyed coloring her words and these color-coding the parts of speech is helping her to remember them.

Phonics lessons at this level are not to be confused with Spelling lessons that start in Level D. The intended purpose in Level B is to get the student reading the words comfortably. A short list of words are covered in each lesson that are meant to be read three to four times.

Handwriting practice includes cursive writing at this level. A gentle review begins by going over each letter in the alphabet. Five lines for practice are included on the page. It it recommended to use the first two lines for the capital letter, the next two lines for the lowercase letter practice, and the final line to review letters the child needs extra practice with. I have found it helpful for me to use a highlighter and write the first lines of the capital and lowercase letters so that McKenzie may trace them out first. In future productions of this program I would suggest that as an upgrade, especially when children are used to printing their letters. She just needed a little more help. Once letter formation is introduced the student moves on to copying short quotes. This can either be done on a slate board or on the provided lines within the Student Book pages.

Poetry is offered each week along with comprehension questions about the poem. It is suggested to help the student find the rhyming words by circling them in different colored crayons.

Grammar is taught with lessons from First Lessons in English. The program teaches a little bit above grade level but it is only meant to be an introduction at this level. The McGuffey word cards and grammar lessons are meant to compliment each other, but don’t be alarmed if your child struggles with the grammar portion.

I love this program for first grade! McKenzie loves it too especially since she now knows how to write her first name in cursive! This program is classical in learning style and very affordable for everything the program offers. Normally I would have a separate program for each LA area covered, but with Eclectic Foundations my daughter is getting everything she needs with one program! I love that it is rigorous, yet gentle, and contains no "fluff"! Your child will have a strong foundation in grammar for many years to come. I am super excited that the program is expanding and offering a Level D program for 5th/6th graders in April. I will be using Level C with McKenzie when she finishes her current level and using Level D in the fall with my rising 5th grader!

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of Level B and the other levels reviewed, Level A and Level C, by clicking the banner below.

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}

 Product ~ Level B 
  Format ~ PDF download, also available in spiral bound 
  Price $30. PDF download set 
  Ages ~ Recommended for 1st - 2nd grades
Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }

Social Media

#hsreviews #languagearts #mcguffeyreaders #eclecticeducation

Crew Disclaimer

©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 2, 2017

365 Homeschool ~ {61/365}

I love the secret drawer under my drivers seat. It's the perfect size for storing books for on the go learning. {61/365} #astablebeginning #365homeschool  #brownhomeschool365 #hiphomeschoolmoms #ihomeschool #classicaleducation #livingbooks #homeeducation #tapestryofgrace 

©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.  

Pennsylvania ~ Here We Come! ~ a TOS review

If there is one thing to say about our family its that we love books! Good, quality books that teach us knew things. I was especially pleased when we were offered the book Pennsylvania ~ Here We Come! from the By the Way Book Series.

The By the Way Books are written by Joy Budensiek and are filled with 48 full-color pages of beautifully illustrated work by Stephanie Robledo. The artwork included truly draws the reader into the story.The Pennsylvania book is the 3rd book in the series. The book is told from a Biblical world view and is chock full of facts and information about the state. The book is an 8 X10 inch hardback book and perfectly geared towards children 5-12 years old.

During the story you follow along with Alex and Lexi as they accompany “Penny”, the state mascot, to several Pennsylvania celebrations in July. Throughout their journeys, Alex and Lexi explore many of God’s amazing creatures like crickets, bears, white-tailed deer, groundhogs, chipmunks, trout, and more! Traveling by plane, they are able to visit places such as:

 ~ Gettysburg 
 ~ Pittsburgh 
~ Lake Erie 
~ Bethlehem 
~ Philadelphia 
~ and Lancaster

The trivia information found within these pages are super! Did you know that the founder of Hershey Kisses, Milton Hershey and his wife had a ticket on the ill-fated Titanic? They canceled their trip because Mrs. Hershey had gotten very sick. The world was close to possibly not having chocolate! But God knew, his plans are always better than our own. 

Did you know the state dog is the Great Dane? We also find out about the conservation efforts Pennsylvania has made to save the Bald Eagle. Thirty years ago there were only 3 nests in the entire state of Pennsylvania, now there are more than 250 nests!

So, why did I choose the Pennsylvania book? My husband will be retiring from his military career in 8 short years and Pennsylvania is at the top of our list for our retirement home. We have only driven through Pennsylvania for gymnastics meets and college visits but later this spring we will have the opportunity to visit the state a little more in depth. We plan to travel one of America’s oldest highways, the Historic “Natioanal Road” along Route 40. 

We are all excited to explore Pennsylvania and this book has given us a first glance of the many exciting sites we will see. And you know what? There are more books to explore within this By the Way Book Series. We can't wait to add more titles to our collection. Be sure to check out the books on: 

Florida's Treasure Coast ~ Here We Come! 
Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come! 
Washington ~ Here We Come! 
Colorado ~ By the Way 

 Click the banner below to read the reviews of 64 of my Crewmates as they explored the states above.

Nature Books With A Biblical Worldview {By the Way Book Series Reviews}

 Format ~ hardback book 
 Price ~ $14.99 
 Ages ~ suggested ages 5-12 years old
Nature Books With A Biblical Worldview {By the Way Book Series Reviews}

Social Media Links: 

#hsreviews #travelbooks #statehistory

Crew Disclaimer

©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, March 1, 2017

Math Mammoth: The Blue Series ~ a TOS review

For the last few weeks Montana and McKenzie have been supplementing our math lessons with Math Mammoth and their Blue Series. Math is a subject that we have a main curriculum for that we love! However, it is always fun to supplement and that is exactly what we did when the opportunity to review the Blue Series Introduction to Fractions , Measuring 1, and Measuring 2 from Math Mammoth was offered.

Math Mammoth was created by Maria Miller, a homeschooling mom with a degree in mathematics. Her company offers multiple products that help parents teach math to their kids. The Blue Series worktexts are individual  units intended for graders 1-7 and focus on specific topics. It is not meant to be a full curriculum, rather, a helpful supplemental or remedial for extra help in:

 place value money (several different currencies are offered)
 data and graphs
 statistics and probability and more!

Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth }
The Blue Series is not based off a specific grade level, rather, they approach math as a mastery approach. These make a good supplement to any math program and can also be used for review. I choose the Blue Series  with the following worktexts:

Teaches all measuring units in both customary and metric systems and some conversions. Filled with lots of hands-on exercises with measuring cups, scales, and so on. $4.85 for grades 1-3.

Teaches all units in both customary and metric systems and conversions between them, including the usage of decimals and fractions with measuring units. $6.80 for grades 4-5.

Includes the first half of the fraction arithmetic: equivalent fractions, fraction addition and subtraction, comparing fractions -- all explained with the help of visual models. $3.50 for grade 5.

I used the the Fractions 1 and Measuring 2 worktexts with Montana {10, 4th grade} and Measuring 1 with McKenzie {7, 1st grade} as a supplement to our main math program. The Fractions 1 book served us well as our math program is already diving into simple fractions. We both loved the hands-on aspect while making fractions. Both girls were able to work through the texts for 15-20 minutes, 3 days a week. I loved the in-depth look that the girls got on individual topics that they needed just a little extra help with.

These worktexts are just the right amount of material without being too overwhelming. I also love that the worktext files come as a PDF download. With children of multiple ages and stages this is a wonderful option for me to just print off what pages I need when I need it and bind the notebook myself.

With so many topics to choose from in the Blue series including you are sure to find a worktext for your child. We will definitely be looking to the Blue Series more as we master topics within our homeschool math program. Check out the samples online to find the perfect starting spot for your child. Each Blue Series work text retails between $2.20 to $7.40.

Check out what my 49 other Crewmates thought of the Blue Series and the Light Blue Series by clicking the banner below.

Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth Reviews}
Company ~ Math Mammoth 
 Product ~ Introductions to Fractions , Measuring 1, and Measuring 2 
 Format ~ PDF Download 
 Price ~ Between $2.20 - $7.40 per worktext 
 Ages ~ topics for grades 1-7

Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth }

Social Media Links

 #hsreviews #mammothmath #homeschoolmath 

Crew Disclaimer
 ©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.