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.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Typing Coach ~ a TOS review

Learning to type correctly on a keyboard is an essential life skill. And I am not talking about a phone keyboard, but a regulation computer keyboard. Montana will be taking her first online history class in the fall and part of that class means turning in typed homework assignments so solid typing skills are a must for her. My goal for her is to be able to type at least 25 wpm by the end of the summer which is a doable goal.

The Typing Coach

I was glad to have the opportunity to review The Typing Coach Online Typing Course provided by The Typing Coach. I remember taking a keyboarding class in high school and learning to type 75 words per minute. Since then I have studied Stenography, court reporting, and learned to type 165 words per minute on my Steno machine. I have since put my stenography on the back burner as I homeschool my children but I do insist on the girls learning to type properly and not use the hunt and peck way.
The Typing Coach

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course is a great introductory for anyone looking to learn how to type. The course is completely online and is available for purchase for $17.00 per person for a full year of course access. The self-paced course teaches basic typing skills in a systematic way. Since Montana has not had any formal typing training, she did do the classic and dreaded two-finger typing. We were quickly able to get away from it though as she progressed through the lessons and found the HOME row. I chose to have Montana move through the lessons at the slower pace because I wanted to focus on proficiency and accuracy in her lessons. 

 There are seven pillars to the program that include: 
~ Having good posture 
~ Home row 
~ Top row 
~ Bottom row 
~ Shift Keys 
~ Typing Practices
 ~ Number row 

When you first log into your account on The Typing Coach you will see all the lessons available listed. Each lesson has instructions for each lesson to be completed. Lessons begin with an audio lesson along with a corresponding printed page for practice. I printed out the printable PDF Student packet that contains the lessons for the students to complete.

Montana has made great progress within this program! She likes doing the lessons and thinks it’s fun to get on the computer for extra screen time. She has progressed to knowing the home row keys and is now learning the top row of the keyboard. I feel this is a gentle, yet thorough online typing program that gets the job of learning to type done. Montana will continue to use this program to completion and if we still have time within our 1 year subscription I would love for my younger daughter to start a very gentle introduction to typing lessons too. 

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

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

Format ~ online typing program 
Price ~ $17.00 per year 
Ages ~ 12 and up, younger students can use a slower pace

The Typing Coach
Social Media Links: 

 Twitter: Tag:@thetypingcoach

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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. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mess Free Creativity with the new Thin Stix Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. ~ a TOS review

I am always looking for new and fun ways to keep my littles busy while I am teaching the older girls or while we are out and about. One thing McKenzie (7 years-old) and Micah (3 years-old) like to do is paint. While I don’t mind pulling out the bottles of tempera paints or watercolors it’s always nice to have a quick mess free option too. We get just that when we utilize the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. 

Thin Stix just like the original Kwik Stix’s are solid, non-toxic tempera paint sticks that require no water or paint brushes to use. Thin Stix have a smaller tips for a smoother control or for more detailed painting.
Thin Stix by KwikStix
Would you believe me if I told you there was such a thing as no mess painting? That's right, no cups, smocks, brushes, or a single drop of water needed to paint a masterpiece for your budding Picasso? That’s exactly what you get with the Thin Stix! They are sized just right for small hands and used just like a fat crayon or marker. The creativity possibilities are endless as kids simply draw or color with them.

With a 90 second drying time and non-toxic formula, you can’t go wrong with these! The vibrant colors dry in just 90 seconds after coming in contact with your paper, cardboard, wood, or even canvas media. Just pop the cap off, twist the stick to make the paint rise up and you are ready for hours of fun painting.

McKenzie received these in her Easter basket this year. It was so hard for me to wait until Easter to give them to her because I knew she would love them so much! Easter morning, I found her painting in her Easter dress before church! Thankfully she did not get any paint on her dress. Later that evening I found her painting happily dozens of pictures with her new Kwik Stix Thin Stixs!

Now, don't get me wrong. I do still let him paint and get messy with regular paint, but that is few and far in between these days since we have been introduced to Kwik Stix.

 I also, really like that these are so portable. We have taken them to gymnastics and softball games near and far and they keep everyone busy and entertained on long meet days. I store the Thin Stixs and the original Kwik Stixs in pencil cases along with plenty of sketch paper for easy portability in our travel tote.

Can I tell you we love these paint sticks! Someone in the house is using them on a daily basis. They are extremely affordable at just $8.49 a set so. They are so much fun and I have no problem letting Micah or McKenzie pull out the paints and start creating! I am so excited the company decided to include the neon and metallic colors in the Thin Stix version too!

And guess what!? You can get your very own set of Kwik Stix paints by visiting Toys R Us!

Check out what my CrewMates thought of the Thin Stixs by clicking the banner below and go out and grab yourself a set too!

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
 Price ~ $8.49 a set 
Ages ~ 3 and up
The Pencil Grip, Inc
Social Media Links
 • FacebookTag: @thepencilgrip  ~ Twitter Tag:@thepencilgrip ~  Pinterest Tag: @KwikStixPaint/boards

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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. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Focus on the Family: Captain Absolutely ~ a TOS review

Today I have a great book review to share with you. Over the last six weeks we have had the opportunity to read the new book called Captain Absolutely from Focus on the Family and my girls devoured it the minute it hit the mailbox!

 Captain Absolutely

Captain Absolutely is written by Wooten Z. Bassett and illustrated by Dennis Edwards and is actually a spinoff of the ever popular Adventures in Odyssey series. Written in comic book style with 105 colorful, action filled pages of Christian Adventure. This book took 5 years to finish and was written and illustrated 2 pages at a time for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine.

Captain Absolutely tells the story of Josiah King, a mild-mannered librarian who is transformed into a superhero. This happens when a computer explosion occurs at the library and Josiah runs for cover in a room full of Bibles. As he delves into the Word of God for the first time a mysterious radioactive fume covers him and transforms him into a superhero, Captain Absolutely. Now that Josiah is transformed he must stand up to battle the forces of evil and his arch nemesis, Dr. Relative, all the while defending God’s truth.

Does this sound exciting? I know my 10 year old 4th grader, Montana, was super excited to be on this review. She anxiously checked the mailbox each day for it to arrive and when it did she read the whole book in one day! Then she passed it on to my 14 year old daughter who read it over the course of a few days because of her training schedule. Even my 7 and 2 year olds “read” the book together looking at the pictures and decoding the story.

Montana actually read the story several times since we have had it at our house. She loves it as we are huge fans of the Adventures in Odyssey series it is molded after. Here are Montana’s words about the book:

 “I really liked this book! It is an easy read but has a lot of information in it. Captain Absolutely is a great character and I like the comic book style. I think anyone, even girls who like Adventures in Odyssey will enjoy this book too, I know I did!” 

There you have it, straight from Montana’s mouth. Be sure to click the link and get your own copy of this graphic novel for just $9.99. You won’t be disappointed! Be sure to click the banner below to see what my 69 other CrewMates thought of this book.

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}

Product ~ Captain Absolutely 
 Format ~ paperback graphic novel, ISBN 9781589978522 
 Price ~ $9.99 
 Ages ~ elementary and up

Focus On The Family
Social Media Links:

 • Facebook:    Tag: @AIOFanPage • Twitter:    Tag:@FocusFamily • Pinterest:       Tag: @focusfamily/ • Instagram:      Tag: @focusonthefamily • Google+: • YouTube:

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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, May 16, 2017

Do you need a Homeschool Rescue? ~ a TOS review

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Now that we are at the end of the school year I like to take sort of an audit of our homeschool year. Even though I am considered a veteran homeschooler, I was blessed to work through Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity

Homeschool Rescue is an online resource created by Heather Aliano.  Whether you are deep in the trenches of homeschooling littles or charting your way through the high school years or some combination of both, Homeschool Rescue will help you when you feel like you are drowning or overwhelmed by the task of educating your children. Homeschool Rescue will be there to hold your hand through the good times and bad times of homeschooling.

Homeschool Rescue is a great online service that lets you take a good hard look at yourself and your homeschool. With 60 days of online e-course lessons you will be able to get your homeschool back on track. Within the program there are 5 modules that touch on topics such as time management, curriculum planning, and troubleshooting what's not working in your homeschool.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Because Heather knows you are a busy homeschool mom, she designed the lessons to be short and sweet without missing the important stuff. The videos range between 10-35 minutes. And just to make sure you are really getting the material there are simple homework portions for each lesson. Don't worry, it's nothing too taxing, just letting you dig a little deeper into the topic. I had no trouble playing the lessons on my laptop and loved that I could take it with me.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

There are two pricing options for the course including:

Option 1- $97.00 Homeschool Rescue eCourse:  includes lifetime access to eCourse, all videos, bonus course content, private Facebook page, and "live" course content from June-July 2017.

Option 2 a $137.09 Homeschool Rescue VIP Support:  includes everything in option 1 and 3 one-on-one personal coaching sessions with Heather.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

My favorite part of the self-paced course was the 60 day schedule all planned out for me! This made it easier for me to see what I needed to work on and when. The schedule keeps track of the modules and lessons. And if you're like me and enjoy checking things off your list, there is a little check box on the planner. It's the little things that make me happy 😁

For this review I was blessed to receive full lifetime access to the course. This includes access to all the modules and the private FBI group. Even though I am a veteran homeschool mom, I still have struggles in some areas and I am glad I have this encourage to shore up my weak areas. This course really made me take a good look at our homeschool and I have been making changes already to how I do things.

I highly recommend this eCourse! Even though I am a veteran home school mom, I was blessed to work through Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity. If you need a Homeschool Rescue this is the course you need to utilize and get back on track. The program is well worth your time and the cost is worth every penny spent to get everyone happy, healthy, and learning each and every day.  Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below and read what they have to say.

Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}

Format ~ online eCourse

Price ~ Option 1- $97.00 Homeschool Rescue eCourse OR
Option 2 - $137.09 Homeschool Rescue VIP Support

Ages ~ for Moms (or Dads) homeschooling

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Social Media Links:

 #hsreviews #homeschoolrescue

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, May 11, 2017

Algebra for Breakfast ~ a TOS review

If you asked each of my six kids what their favorite subjects is, you would get a gamete of answers. But I can guarantee you that at least two of my children would say math and one would say lunch, lol! Since breakfast comes before lunch we have been substituting over the last few weeks as we round out our current school year so I was super excited when we received both the Grades 3/4 and the Grades 5/6 Lessons from Algebra for Breakfast to use as math enrichment!

Algebra for Breakfast

I know you are probably thinking Algebra in 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th grade? I admit, I thought the same thing too because I am sure you have heard the saying that your child is not ready to learn Algebra until they grow hair under their arms. However, Bob Hazen, the founder and teacher of Algebra for Breakfast believes that once a child, even as young as 8 or 9, understands Algebra math will become easier over time. Ever since Mr. Bob was a young child he has been fascinated with math. Through his online math enrichment program he has been building up children and making them truly understand math makes his eyes sparkle with joy since 1995!

Algebra for Breakfast

We were given 6 months of access to both levels of the program for Grade ¾ and Grades 5/6. We also received the Skip Counting songs and I already had math dice and manipulative blocks needed for the program. Both grade sections of the program teach topics such as:

 ~ Countability
 ~ Skip counting 
~ Perfect squares
 ~ Polynomial Identification 
~ Place value
 ~ Mental math and more

 When you purchase either the Grade 3/4 or Grade 5/6 Full Membership Package you will receive the following five items:

~ 1st months of membership that includes access to 40+ video lessons
~ a skip counting CD
~ a set of 12-sided math dice
~ a set of math manipulatives
~ printable worksheets for each level

Lessons within each of the program include 3 components:

Online videos ~ Mr. Bob teaches the lessons on short videos. Currently there are over 40 lessons available.
Physical tools ~ Manipulative blocks, skip counting CD, and math dice are needed. 
Printable Worksheets ~ worksheets with extra practice and games that are print and play. 

Setting up our subscription was super easy. I literally just followed the directions on screen and we were set up within minutes. My product testers for this review were Montana (10-year-old, 4th grader) and Mikayla (14-year-old, 8th grader). Montana used the Grade ¾ while Mikayla used the Grade 5/6 as a math supplement with our favorite spiral math program. The girls both worked through the lessons and videos 2-3 times a week for about 15 minutes a day.

My girls liked using the manipulatives and enjoyed the video lessons.We have especially enjoyed the hands-on game features of the program! My girls loved to play WAR now and frequently beat me. I’m not mad at all though because that means they are learning those pesky math facts well. I am really impressed with this program! 

Montana and Mikayla have both made strides with the areas they tend to struggle in just by seeing and hearing a different explanation as to how things are done. I think this program would make an excellent summer bridge so your children don’t do the summer slide if you take off long periods in the summer. I know we will be utilizing this program throughout the summer.

Be sure to check out what my 38 CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.

Bob Hazen's Algebra Lessons {Algebra for Breakfast Reviews}
Company and Product ~ Algebra for Breakfast, Grades ¾ and Grades 5/6 
 Format ~ online
 Price~ $22.00 - $122. Depending on membership package
 Ages ~ 3rd-5th grades and up for remedial work

Algebra for Breakfast
Social Media Links: 
 Hashtags: #hsreviews #mathsupplement #mathenrichment #algebrareinforcement 
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, May 10, 2017

IEW: High School Essay Intensive ~a TOS review

I am on my second of six rounds of teaching high school in our little homeschool with my third daughter quickly approaching the high school ranks. I must admit that High school writing can be overwhelming at times especially when the student is not a natural writer. Because my current 10th grader is in the midst of preparing for the SAT , ACT, and college applications I was super excited to receive High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing.

Institute for Excellence in Writing High School Essay Intensive
If you have been on the homeschool scene for any length of time I am sure you have heard of Mr. Pudewa and the company, Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). His mission is to teach children “…to write well, think clearly, and express themselves eloquently and persuasively.“ Yep, that’s what I am aiming for with my students We recieved the second edition of the High School Essay Intensive and comes complete with DVD seminars and printable handouts. It is the perfect companion for getting high school students, grades 9-12, to be comfortable, confident writers.

Institute for Excellence in Writing

The intensive includes the following items:
5 DVDs 
Student Handouts
 Portable Walls for the Essayist Folder 

 DVD seminars cover:
 Part 1A – General Strategies for Essay Writing: Length and Structure Initial Exercise A Hurt and Rescue Operation What is an essay? Two Questions Writers Need to Ask Translating Assignment Length to Paragraphs Types of Paragraph The TRIAC Paragraph Model Essay Models

Part 1B – General Strategies for Essay Writing: Invention and Style Canons of Rhetoric Invention Practicing Common Topics of Invention Practice with TRIAC Outline Sentence Patterns Literary Devices: Schemes and Tropes Practice with Sentence Openers and Figures of Speech

Part 2 – Understanding and Preparing for the New ACT Essay ACT General Guidelines The Assignment Strategies for Planning Strategies for Writing Strategies for Proofing

Part 3 – Understanding and Preparing for the Redesigned SAT Essay General Guidelines The Assignment Annotating Handy Annotation System Annotating Practice Strategies for Planning Strategies for Writing Using Effective Vocabulary Strategies for Proofing

Part 4 – Strategies for the Personal Essay General Guidelines Sample Essay Prompts Strategies for Planning: Pop out from the Crowd Strategies for Writing, Editing, and Proofreading A Not-So-Secret Secret Final Practice Concluding Comments Last Bits of Advice for Life

Teaching writing can either strike fear into you or make you giddy. I have been hovering between the two camps for the last few months as I was planning for next school year. You see, I have a reluctant writer. One who dreads putting pen to paper and avoids it at all costs. We have dabbled with many writing programs before, but none just quite fit.. We have been working slowly through the first part and i am starting to see that she is getting it. I only intended for her to complete the first two parts of the program for right now, and to come back to the SAT/ACT portions in a few years. Being able to guide her through this intensive with a gentle and slow approach has worked well and I am pleased with her progress as a rising 9th grader!

Using this set with my 10th grader has been a breeze! You see she is a confident, accomplished writer. With her we spent the majority of of time in the section on preparing and understanding the new ACT and the Personal Essay as she is set to take her first shot at the ACT in June. The course was the right amount of teaching and guidance for her. I am confident that with the techniques she learned using this intensive she will knock the Essay portion of the ACT out of the park.

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

High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}

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