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 10th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Charlotte Mason approach.

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

Friday, December 7, 2018

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan ~ a TOS review

If you are looking for a great new devotional in time for Christmas or the New Year I have a fantastic one to tell you about today! As the mother of 5 daughters, I was thrilled to receive Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan. When I think of Bibles I immediately think of Zondervan, because both of my main Bibles are published by this well-known Christian company.

This is a gorgeous hardcover book filled with 365 inspiring stories of girls and women in the Bible from the NIV translation. You will read about people such as Ruth, Esther, and Mary as their stories will encourage you in your faith and give you an abundance of confidence to tackle your day. Each devotion is set up the same way each day. There is a main scripture written in maroon followed by a brief summary of the bible story and practical application for your life. I also appreciate that there is journaling space upon each page where you can write down your thoughts.

The pages within this sturdy book are not numbered with a date so you can pick up and start at any time of the year. Inside you will find over 370 pages worth of devotions that focus on relationships, bravery, inner beauty, love, and chasing your dreams. The pages are thick and have the same floral theme down the half inch margin. The print is not entirely too small either and it is a nice typeface that makes it easy to read. A handy ribbon bookmark is also in the book so that you may mark your place.

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women

The title of this devotional says it is for young women, but I was really excited to share this devotion with my newly turned 12-year old. Many of the messages are relevant to any woman, young or old. To use this with Montana, each day I set about to read the devotion before her so that we could have a discussion after she had done her reading.
Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women

Typically, we would discuss the daily devotion on the way to cheer practice since we had a 30 minute drive. This scenario worked especially well for both of us but I think I would like to order my own copy so we don’t have to share. There were many heartfelt and thought-provoking conversations between her and I and her sisters as they chimed in with their opinions.

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women
As I was reading ahead I found many of the devotions to be perfect for me and what I was dealing with day-to-day. Like on day 18, when it speaks of being overwhelmed and drowning. I was there and have been at that point many times over the last few months. This particular devotion called upon me to remember that even when I feel as if I am drowning, that God is our ark and our safe refuge from the floods. It’s simple little reminders like this that I am grateful to be able to have this book to share with my daughters.
Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women {Zondervan Review}
I love this devotion! In fact, I have already ordered my three older girls copies of this book and the other title Zondervan sells in the series for their stack of books at Christmas. This devotional book would be the perfect gift for any woman, young or old, on your Christmas list this year. Simple little devotions like these will make anyone’s day go smoother after spending time in the Word. Check out this book for yourself and also be sure to read my CrewMates thoughts by clicking the banner below.

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women {Zondervan Review}

Company ~ Zondervan 
Format ~ Hardcover, ISBN #978-0-310-76277-5 
 Price ~ $15.99 
 Ages ~ women


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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines from Lisa Tanner Writing ~ a TOS review

This is my last review of the 2018 year and its a good one! I don’t know about you, but I am a busy mom. Most of us moms are. I start my days early and end them as early as I possibly can, because I am tired by 8pm. While I do not work outside of the house, I am busy running our household and homeschooling my children in the process. Today I want to share with you a fabulous resource for work-at-home moms: Balancing Diapers and Deadlines from Lisa Tanner Writing.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}

Homeschooling is work. It takes effort and organization. So, while I don’t physically step outside of the walls of my house to “work”, I do consider homeschooling my daily job. Thats why I was excited to get to work through this new course from Lisa Tanner, a fellow CrewMate. She wrote this course to help busy moms balance our household responsibilities with while working from home.

This course has 30 lessons that are broken down into 8 smaller bite-sized units:

 • Welcome to Balancing Diapers and Deadlines
 • Building Your Foundation with the Basics
 • Minimize Your Decisions
 • Minimize Your Decisions: The Annual Meal Plan
 • Sustainable Growth
 • Growing a Business with Your Kids Around
 • Boost Your Productivity
 • Closing Thoughts

Each unit is full of tips and ideas to help you manage your home while growing your business or work opportunities. Wishing each lesson there can be worksheets and action steps to help you reach the goals set out in the lesson. The lessons are easy to read and not long at all. In fact, some units can be completed in one sitting.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

One section that I found especially helpful was on meal prep. Every single day, when I pick up my girls from a long day of training at the gym, they ask the dreaded three words that make me cringe…”What’s for dinner”? I struggle to come up with fast, yet healthy meals to feed my growing athletes.

It’s daunting sometimes, but they have got to eat so that means I need to carve out the time to cook. This section helped me realize that I can just have the kids pick out their favorite meals and then I can make sure they are balanced and healthy. This unit has a download of meal plans that I loved! I printed it out and used it as a guideline for our family as well as taking one weekend to sit down and make a list of seven of each child’s favorite foods to eat for dinner. When we were looking a little skimpy on the vegetables, I added them in too. I have since made a rotation of the kids favorite meals and which of those meals my older children can help cook. Because I realize I can’t do it all.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}

Overall, I am especially happy to have had a chance to work through Lisa Tanner Writing Balancing Diapers and Deadlines course. I still have a few units left to complete but I feel it provides work at home mom productivity tips that are helpful to everyday moms just trying to get through the day. So be sure to check it out even if you don't have babies in diapers, there is something for all! Check out what my CrewMates thought of this course by clicking the banner below.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}

Company ~ Lisa Tanner Writing
 Format ~ text-based online course 
 Price ~ $50.00
 Ages ~ for Mom’s
Lisa Tanner Writing
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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Math-Whizz ~ a TOS review

Math! It can strike fear within a person like nobody’s business, whether it be on the account of the parent or the student. Many people struggle or don’t feel as confident with teaching different levels of math so It’s nice to have a helping hand. You get just that with the Math-Whizz from Whizz Education. Using this online homeschool math program it is like having a private math tutor working with my daughters on their math skills.

Math Whizz
Getting started is quite simple. First, to ensure that your student is placed into the proper level, the program requires the student to take a placement test. The series of assessments will help target your child's math age. The assessment is long but it is thorough.

Once you get through the assessment the child can get into their dashboard where they can decorate the room however they want. I love that is theme based and with holidays you get different things. For example, a pumpkin just showed up one day in October when the girls logged in.

Math-Whizz {Whizz Education Reviews}
Ideally, to get the most from the program your child should be logging on and using the program at least 30 minutes a week. There is a tracking bar on the dashboard so that the child can see how much time they have spent weekly. We have been using Math-Whizz  from Whizz Education to our supplement our regular math curriculum.

With this I was able to identify and address the learning gaps in my 6th grader, Montana, and 3rd grader, McKenzie, math skills. I love that they were each given a math age so I can really see where they are. I will say I was initially disappointed with each girls “math age” because it was lower than what I expected. McKenzie, who is 9, has always excelled in math. Numbers and number sense comes easy for her. Montana, my 12 year-old, on the other hand does well at math but she has to work at it. However, I think it is right on target for Montana and maybe a little skewed for McKenzie. I kept my thoughts to myself and just pressed on with where they both were at. 

This program has brought out the competitiveness within my girls. One day they Were on the program unbeknownst to me for over an hour racing to get a snake. McKenzie ended up winning the snake first but let me tell you it was intense. Overall, I feel this is a complete and thorough math program that rivals other computer based programs.

I am pleased with the instruction that both Montana and McKenzie have had access to as we fill in any learning gaps. I also love that this is a portable program. We start up traveling for gymnastics competitions and the girls will each be able to access the program on their iPads while we are away from home. Especially since my van has wifi capability, learning will definitely be on the go!

Be sure to check out what my 29 other Crewmates thought of the Math-Whizz program by clicking the banner below.

Math-Whizz {Whizz Education Reviews}

Company ~ Whizz Education
Product ~ Math-Whizz
Format ~ online
Price ~ $12./mo, additional children $9./mo; $124./yr, additional children $90./yr
Ages ~ elementary and up

Math Whizz

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Heading into week 9

It’s Saturday friends!

                                                                                                                photo credit to Mikayla

This should have been the completion of our 9th week of the 2018-2019 school year however, the children and I needed a break. More so me as I was burning the candle at both ends so to speak. So, last Friday I made the executive decision to take this week off and it has been just what I needed to regroup.

Now, we did still attend co-op on Wednesday this week and Mikayla and Montana still are working on their History co-op assignments but we just did a little each day. McKenzie is also working on a new math program called Math Whizz. My expectation was that she would just work 15-20 minutes a day, but she has chosen to stay on it for 45 plus minutes each day because she enjoys it so much. I'll be posting our review in November so be on the look out for that.

Next week we will begin week 9 of school and continue with our scheduled lessons until Dec.21st! Well, we may adjust the ending date by a few days because we just received the girls competition schedule and we have an out of town meet the weekend of Dec. 21st. Once we get our session times I will be able to adjust our schedule accordingly so that everything is done before we leave. 

Speaking of gymnastics, McKenzie has her Level 5 test out meet in mid-December as well. So excited and proud of this girl as she trains hard and checks off her goals. We had a bit of a scare this week and had to get an x-ray on her ankle because she has been complaining about it. Thankfully, it is just a mild sprain! She needs to have a well child check up within the next few weeks because in 5 months she has only gained 1 pound. And I am sure that that 1 pound is muscle. Now, that is normally a good thing, but for her it is a signal that her body is not working at optimal condition.

As we head back into our next 9 10 weeks of school we are tweaking our curriculum to fit our needs better. Madison and Micah have no changes to their course loads but here are a few of the changes we are making at each grade level for the other girls.

Mikayla ~ 10th:
Vocabulary: Words on Wednesdays, Vol.1 and Vol. 2, Ultimate Differentiated Vocabulary Activities
ACT Prep: Magoosh ACT *Mikayla will take her first test on Dec.8th and then we will have a baseline of what she needs to study to improve on. She will not be able to test again until July 2019 because we will be traveling for gymnastics and college/high school graduations for her older sisters. 

Montana ~ 6th:

McKenzie ~ 3rd:
Literature: Instructional ~ All About Reading, Lv 3
                At-Level ~ 3rd Grade Reading Comprehension
                Fun reading ~ Sonlight Readers 3
Phonics/Spelling: I thought about changing McKenzie’s spelling/phonics but I have decided to stick with what we use, Rod & Staff, and give her more hands-on learning. She is excited about this switch because she likes doing centers.

With these slight changes I am hoping to streamline better and get things done. Because the best curriculum is one that gets used, right? Have you made any changes to your curriculum line up? I would love to hear what you have planned out.

©2008 - 2018 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, October 12, 2018

Brinkman Adventures: Season 6: Underground Rising ~ a TOS review

Are you up for an adventure? If you have been reading this little blog of mine for any length of time you know that we love good books and we love audio theater just as much! So, if you are ready to experience the known for its action-packed, faith-building, real life, extraordinary drama adventures of the Brinkman family keep reading because they have just released their newest adventure, Season 6: Underground Rising.

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 Reviews

I love adding Audio Dramas to our listening time while we are out and about on our daily travels, so  I was thrilled to receive the digital version of Season 6: Underground Rising from Brinkman Adventures for our listening pleasure. The  Brinkman Adventures will take your family on heart-pounding, exciting adventures all the while showing God’s love for everyone on earth. We received a digital copy of Season 6 of The Brinkman Adventures which contains six action packed episodes. The company just recently moved to the six episode editions instead of the twelve like previous editions. But don't let that disappoint you. You still get over 2 hours of audio drama/entertainment that is perfect for a road trip.

Episodes in Season 6 include:

55 – Dutch Underground Part 1 ~ Theme: Resisting Evil                            
56 – Dutch Underground Part 2 ~ Theme: Helping When it's Risky
57 – Twice Born Fly  ~ Theme: Salvation
58 – I Wonder Why? ~ Theme: Trusting God's Plan
59 – Free Burma Rangers Part 1  ~ Theme: Can God Use a Warrior
60 – Free Burma Rangers Part 2 ~ Theme:  God Guides Even When He Feels Distant

Once we received our email to download the files we were all set to enjoy our adventure. Each Episode can be played on a phone or tablet, but first you need to download the files onto your computer and then sync them to your portable device. Trust me, it is a simple process to do!

After the syncing is complete, just press play and fasten your seatbelts as you step back in time to war-torn Holland. Based on real life events during this time period The Brinkmans’ great-grandparents are faced with a harrowing decision. Will they protect themselves from the Nazis or will they aid the Jews? In another episode, the boys Jack & Ian accompany Dave Eubank and his Free Burma Rangers on a daring mission to save a Burmese village from a rapidly approaching army bent on destruction. 

Underground Rising Season 6 Brinkman Adventures

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

We spend a lot of time in our van driving here and there each week and while listening to the popular kids satellite radio is fun, one does quickly tire of hearing the same songs looping over and over. With my new van, I was so excited to be able to plug my phone into the socket and pull up Apple Car Play. From there I was able to access the files that were on my phone. I love that we can control the files just as we would manipulate a CD by rewinding etc. in case we missed something. 

We have listened to many audio books before but nothing is quite as exciting as The Brinkman Adventures. From the very beginning, everyone in the van is completely immersed and listening intently to the stories to not miss a beat. Everyone in our family has thoroughly enjoyed these stories many times over.  Our family’s favorite stories from this collection would have to be episodes 55 and 56 about the Dutch Underground. This is a fascinating time period where ordinary people did extraordinary things to help the Jews during their time of persecution. I have always enjoyed studying this time period and frequently while listening to these stories I asked myself would I be so willing to help in the face of danger and death. I sure hope I would! 

Season 6 continues in the tradition of high octane, faith growing stories. I will say that some of the stories were a bit intense. I did have to turn off the episodes and wait until my littles were not in the van to continue to listen. I would say, if you have children 10 and under to use your own judgement and listen along with them. If it is too intense, then save it for another time.

The Brinkman Adventures are available to purchase on CD for $23.99 or digital download for $19.99. The prices are worth every cent and more! Plus, you are in luck! Right now until October 31st you can get your own set of The Brinkman Adventures for 10% off by using the code  FALL10 . It's the perfect way to begin your adventures!

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of Season 6 by clicking the banner below. There are 69 other reviews to check out.

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 Reviews

 Format ~ digital download
 Price ~ $19.99
 Ages ~ 10 and up
Brinkman Adventures

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

CashCrunch Careers ~ a TOS review

Helping your children figure out what exactly they want to do when they graduate from high school is a task. Sometimes it can be stressful especially when your child has the foggiest idea what they want to do. My youngest daughters aren’t quite sure what fields they want to go into, so I am especially happy to be able to take the CashCrunch Careers survey from CashCrunch Games.

Cash Crunch Careers

CashCrunch Games, was founded by Paul Vasey. The company’s main goal is to help children and young adults learn to “save first, spend later”. The company has several different games that help children learn about money. Now, they have just released a new product called CashCrunch Careers. We received four subscriptions to take the survey. I used it four my four oldest daughters, Marie (21), Madison (17), Mikayla (15), and Montana (12).

Getting started was super easy. I logged onto the site and registered each of the girls with their individual email addresses and the registration code we received from the company. Once I had the surveys set up, all my kids needed to do was to log in and take the survey. The survey was short. Each of my daughters took about 15-20 minutes to complete the 75 questions. Some of the words Montana didn’t really understand there meaning so I helped her by giving examples. Once she had examples she was able to choose between the two words.

CashCrunch Careers {CashCrunch Games Reviews}
So, just what did my children think of their results? 

Marie says ~ I thought my survey results were very accurate. My top 5 career choices were general & operations manager, advertising and promotions manager, marketing manager, sales manager, and public relation manager. Being an entrepreneur and starting my first business on my own, I need to function as all 5 careers to successfully run it. My other maching job choices as well as my motivators & demotivators were accurrate.

Madison says ~ I took a similar job survey during my Calvin College's Entrada Scholar's program except I got the exact opposite results. Entrada's jobology accurately predicted that I prefer working alone with a set of directions and a deadline. CareerCrunch, again, told me the opposite, that I would like to work with a team. Some of the jobs I was suggested all included the title 'manager'.

Mikayla says ~ I was able to complete my survey while on break at the gym. Signing into my survey was easy to do. I am not quite sure what I want to do when I go to college but the survey results say that I would be a good manager. I think I want to go into the Air Force as an officer, so being a manager fits that criteria.

Montana says ~ Some of the words were hard for me to understand but with my mom helping me it was easy to get the survey completed. Like my sisters, I think I want to go into the Air Force and be either a vet or something else so manager also goes with what my survey results say.

Overall, we are all happy and excited with the results of the survey. I definitely think you should check out this survey if your children need a little guidance in deciding what they want to do.

69 of my CrewMates also took the survey so be sure to click the banner below and see what they have to say.

CashCrunch Careers {CashCrunch Games Reviews}

Product ~ CashCrunch Careers 
Format ~ online survey 
Ages ~ middle school - adult
Cash Crunch Games
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©2008 - 2018 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 - 2018 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, October 9, 2018

Who is who?

Happy Tuesday friends!

6yr old Madison

I can't believe we are blazing through October already! I wanted to write a quick message to all my new friends here on the blog, Facebook and Instagram. If you know me in real life you might be wondering why my children are called by different names.

First off, you are not going crazy! I do call my children all by their middle names, with the exception of Micah. His middle name is not Micah but we have a "M" thing going on and I would confuse you even more so we just stick with Micah. Why, you ask?

Well, way back in 2008 when I started this little blog of mine I had four little girls and I wanted to give them some privacy as I began documenting our lives on the world wide web. The thing is, we have called our children by their middle names since they were babies. They answer to my and my husbands voice when we call them by their middle names out in public etc. I guess you could say it is for safety in a sense.

Now, not to throw you for a loop but I have stopped referring to my oldest as Marie on Instagram and Facebook, as she is now a {young} adult. I still from time to time brag talk about her and when I do I use her real name. However, I do call her Marie on the blog because it's just easier. My second oldest, is nearing adulthood, but I will continue to refer to her as Madison for a few more years.

So, next time you are reading a post or a status update from me and wondering just who is who, check back on the blog or ask. Like many parents, I love chatting about my kiddos and their individual adventures through this thing we call life.

©2008 - 2018 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.