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 24, 2018

Home School Navigator: Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum ~ a TOS review

A few weeks ago I needed to go a different direction with our language arts studies. Nothing drastic, but I needed a little break because I was getting overwhelmed with everything life was throwing at me. God is good when He sends a program that will help you get over a “slump”. For the past few weeks, Montana (5th grade) and McKenzie (2nd grade) have been using the Indigo and Yellow Levels of Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum from Home School Navigator.

We received access to Home School Navigator for one year and it filled the need I had when I was overwhelmed. This program takes the worry out of teaching reading, writing, and grammar for my elementary aged students. One of the best features of this program is that it doesn’t label students based off grade, because we all know that different students work at different abilities. Instead, they have labeled each of the six levels of their program by color. The levels include: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo. Here is a reference guide to choosing a level:

 • RED: Letter recognition and formation. (Approx. K)
 • ORANGE Reading simple words and sentences and beginning to write. (Approx. 1st grade)
 • YELLOW Reading simple stories and can write complete sentences. (Approx. 2nd grade)
 • GREEN Can read short chapter books and is writing longer passages. (Approx. 3rd grade)
 • BLUE Reading chapter books and is writing in paragraph form. (Approx. 4th grade)
 • INDIGO Can read longer chapter books, critique ideas and write longer pieces of writing. (Approx. 5th grade)

 You can take a look at the scope and sequence HERE.

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}
Each level of the Home School Navigator course includes:
 ~ 36 weeks of instruction
~ 60 instructional videos
~ Daily lesson plans that include reading, writing, poetry, and a word study program with a word wall ~ Engaging activities that cater to multiple learning styles
~ Portfolio

Home School Navigator

At the beginning of the program we had access to all levels for both of the girls. Choosing a level to start with was easy for McKenzie but a little more challenging for Montana. While Montana is an avid above level reader she still needs a little more work on the mechanics of language arts. I ended up starting and keeping both girls at their appropriate grade levels the program recommends. Logging them on and setting up their accounts was really simple. I just logged in myself and then set up a user name and password for their separate accounts.

Two days a week the girls would log into their account and complete a section of the work required for the day. Some days that included watching a video and other days it required Montana to do some reading. Everything you need for this comprehensive program is right at your fingertips! Well, actually you need to supply the literature but those can be found in your local library if not on your own bookshelf. We actually did not have the Holes book Montana was scheduled to read, but a quick trip to the library filled that need.

Overall, we have enjoyed using this language arts curriculum. It came at the right time when I needed a change of pace and still kept my girls learning at the level I strive to teach them at. Did it work perfectly for both of my girls? No, but it filled the need we had. Montana is not much of a computer learner, she does better with pencil and paper. On the other hand, McKenzie is an excellent computer learner so this program was a better fit for her. I plan to have McKenzie use the program throughout the summer.

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

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}

 Product ~ Yellow and Indigo Levels of Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum
 Format ~ online learning 
 Price ~ $97.00 per student 
 Ages ~ PreK - 5th
Home School Navigator
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wordless Wednesday ~ Last day of Girl Scouts

© 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, May 22, 2018

Reformed Free Publishing Association: T is for Tree: A Bible ABC ~ a TOS review

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC 
This morning I want to tell you about a sweet Christian children's book called T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association. Each page in this hardcover book is beautifully illustrated and includes a corresponding Bible verse as you make your way through the alphabet.

I primarily shared this book with Micah, my newly turned 4-year-old son. He is the youngest of 6 kids and has been immersed in a world of learning from the beginning. Now that he is getting older he is reaping the benefits of being able to participate in the Crew reviews just as his sisters have.
T is for Tree: A Bible ABC
This 32 page book is written and illustrated by the talented Connie L. Meyer and published by Reformed Free Publishing. Reformed Free Publishing is “an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1924 for the purpose of witnessing to the distinctive Reformed truth”.

This alphabet book is new to their collection and is filled with Bible passages, short rhymes, and detailed illustrations to teach the youngest ages about their heavenly Father’s almighty power and faithfulness. My son loves looking at the beautiful pictures in  T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association.

I think we have read this book every single day since it arrived. The beautiful page layouts are perfect for instructing your children in the truths of salvation for all of God’s children and they keep his attention. We have had some thoughtful conversations about what is included in each letter picture. I especially enjoy the fact that there is a corresponding scripture reference. Micah’s favorite letter just happens to be letter “M is for Moon”.

In the fall I plan to use this book as a spine to Micah’s preschool learning by studying just one letter a week. My plan is to have him memorize the memory verse that corresponds with each letter each week. That may seem like a big task but children are capable of doing big things if we set that expectation. It may not be perfect, but at least I will be doing my part in laying that foundation and helping him hide the Word in his heart.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC {Reformed Free Publishing Association Reviews}

Overall, this has been a great addition to our family library. I appreciate that it is hardcover because I know it will get many years of use with my children and future grandchildren to come. I would really love to see these pages shrunk down and made into flashcards. Even if it was a digital file that I could print at home. We travel a lot and that format would be an excellent extension to the book for our family for learning and reviewing on the go.

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

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC {Reformed Free Publishing Association Reviews}

 Format ~ hardcover book
ISBN ~ 978-1-944555-27-6 
 Price ~ $17.95 
 Ages ~ 3-6 year olds
Reformed Free Publishing Association

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

PandaParents: MessyLearning for Preschoolers and Kindergartners ~ a TOS review

My resident preschooler, Micah, was given the opportunity to use the first three months of a new preschool learning program called MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS from PandaParents.

Messylearning For Preschoolers and Kindergartners {PandaParents Reviews}

Don’t let the name scare you away! This program is not messy in any way but rather it is a fun filled experience where early learning takes shape. In fact MESSY is just a fun acronym for learning. It stands for: Mixed subjects & activities for integrative learning Engagining activities that challenge young minds Simple 1-2-3- steps: Read, Learn, Create Smart designs for creative learning Yeah, a new way to promote preschool STEM & early brain growth!
Panda Parents Kindy Curriculum

The folks at PandaParents have one main goal and that is to “bridge the early learning gap” that is sometimes found with the youngest set of learners, the preschool group, aged 3 to 6. Spending just 30 minutes a day, 2 to 3 days a week is all that is needed to see the benefits with this program. This is a fun online program that really caught and held my son’s attention right from the start. We received the three units called A Jingle Jolly Journey, Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound, and Mommy’s Baby. With videos include bright graphics and are animated to teach colors, letters, vocabulary, patterns, short stories, and more. Also included with our access what a PDF copy of the story that you can read over and over again just like preschoolers like.

Each story also included workbook pages. These are roughly 40 pages of worksheets that you can print out. These worksheets include skills such as visual tracking, math, science, reading, writing, cutting, coloring and more. They are pretty thorough for this age group and a definite assest for the complete program. I didn’t necessarily print out all 40 pages of the worksheets when using this with my son and just printed certain sheets here and there when he wanted to work on coloring or tracing. The cutting portions were definitely his favorite activities though because he loves using his scissors.

One of the best parts of this program is that each month focuses on a different theme with new ideas being added in and taught. If you want to try this program yourself, you are in luck! PandaParents is offering a free 10-day trial when you sign up you get immediate access to the first unit. If you find you need to cancel, just do so within the first 10 days and you will not be charged. If you love it, keep the subscription and receive a new unit every month!

We have enjoyed our subscription so I encourage you to check out yourself. See what my Crewmates thought by clicking the banner below.

Messylearning For Preschoolers and Kindergartners {PandaParents Reviews}
Company ~ PandaParents 
 Format ~ online 
 Ages ~ 3 to 6 years


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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Blogging Through the Alphabet: Diary of a Multi-Sports Mom from A to Z ~ A is for Athletes

So, I am embarking on another journey of Blogging Through the Alphabet with my friends Amanda, Kirsten, Jennifer, Kimberley, Desiree, Markie, and Hilary. In year’s past the farthest I have made it is to letter “I”. I am hoping to change that this time around and make it across the finish line 26 weeks from now.

What’s my topic you ask? Something that I know very well… Blogging Through the Alphabet: Diary of a multi-sports Mom from A to Z. Now, I am not saying I have it all together, because I definitely don’t. However, I hope to impart how I keep up on this journey we are on. This week, I want to  introduce you to my five Athletes.

First up is Madison. She is our Speedy Scientist who plays Varsity softball with the local Christian School. She is a former Level 6 gymnast and past Track & Field Sprinter too. Softball is her game though. This season she has improved so much it is so much fun to watch her. My best memory of this year is when she was put in to pinch run on first. Bases were loaded and a power hitter was up to bat. The batter hit the ball to mid-outfield and then you saw my girl sprinting around the bases and touching home plate. I don’t even think the other team realized she had made it home! Just last week her team competed in a big tournament in TN where they came home with the Championship trophy! So exciting for these girls!

Mikayla is our resident gymnast but she has a protégé in the wings that I’ll tell you about down below. This year, Mikayla competed Level 10 for the first season and qualified for the JO Nationals (highest level of competition for Level 10, essentially their Olympics). We literally just got home from Cincinnati on Monday morning. This trip was super fun and she competed on Mother’s Day so it was extra special. Overall, she did great as a first year Level 10 and we could not be more proud of her and her accomplishments. She overcame so many fears and setbacks this season, God is good! At Nationals she scored a 9.400 (personal best at Lv10) on balance beam, an event that she struggled with all season long. We are currently navigating the waters of collegiate recruiting as she wants to compete at a Division I school. Things are headed in the right direction and our goal is to secure a commitment by the end of next season.

Montana is our double sporter who competes in cheerleading and plays softball. While she has taken some time off of softball to pursue cheerleading she is looking forward to stepping back on the field next spring. The plan is for her to play on the JV team at the school where Madison plays. Montana is a natural cheerleader! She must get that from her MiMi :-) She comes out of her shell as soon as she steps on the mat and has so much fun with her teammates. I make sure that I bundle up because boy howdy is it cold out there in the fall. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world to see her shine. I have even learned a few of the cheers and dances myself, but I won’t embarrass her or myself and keep it inside of our walls. This year she was named a POP Warner Scholar which means she excelled not only as a cheerleader but as a student athlete as well.

D-E-T-E-R-M-I-N-E-D that’s my McKenzie! To say she has been watching and waiting her turn on
the gymnastics stage is an understatement! This year she competed Level 4 and is also training TOPs. She has the best time with her teammates and loves all of her coaches. In a few short weeks she will begin her TOPs state testing in hopes of making it to National testing for a chance to make the A or B Developmental Team. In addition to training and testing TOPs, McKenzie is especially excited to begin summer training. Her goal is to wear the same leotard as Mikayla next year as an Optional gymnast. She knows if she works hard and picks up her skills that will become a reality for her. My main job is to be her encourager because she’s type A and gets upset with herself and to keep her belly inflammation down during testing time so she can be at her best. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this little one. I know it’s going to be big so hold on to your seatbelts!

I don’t know how it happened but my Micah will be 4 on Sunday! My baby boy is growing up to be a little man child. Which has always been the plan but wow, the days are flying by and my baby is growing up. Micah loves baseball as much as he loves cars and PJ Masks! This spring he officially is old enough to play tee ball with our city’s rec league. Once again I throw on my cold weather gear because sitting on the bleachers for practice in early spring is brutal for me. And I imagine fall ball will bring the same thing but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Micah’s favorite part of tee ball is running the bases because he gets to use his “Super Cat Speed” like Catboy from PJ Masks. I will say he is quite speedy like big sister Madison.

So, there you have it! Five athletes, four different sports, twelve months of the year. Non-stop sports action for #teamcaffey, but I love cheering for my kids and their teammates every single minute! Yes, it is tiring some days. Yes, it is expensive some months as we travel. Yes, I give up things to get my kids here and there. But bottom line is that my kids love their sports and I love cheering them on even more so the memories we make along the way are worth it!

I hope you will join me as I blog from A to Z about being a multi-sports mom. If you feel led, jump on in and link up with the group I would love to read your A to Z. See you next week!

© 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.     

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Kayla Jarmon ~ a TOS review

Sometimes we have to talk with our kids about tough topics like death and dying. The loss of a pet or loved one is especially hard on anyone. But children are a little more sensitive so it is nice to have an outlet that makes the subject a little easier to approach and discuss. A few weeks ago we received three books, A Boy and His Dog, Dying is Part of This World, and Don't Forget Me from Kayla Jarmon.

Discussion Book Series and A Boy and His Dog by Kayla Jarmon
Kayla Jarmon is a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend in Christ. As an accomplished author, screenwriter, director, and blogger storytelling has always been near and dear to her heart. In fact when her oldest son was nervous about starting kindergarten she wrote an encouraging story for him hoping to instill a love of learning and school. The books we received are geared towards Christian families, let me tell you a little more about them.

A Boy and His Dog tells you the story of a young bog and his beloved dog. Everyday they do fun and exciting things they both enjoy. The boy’s love for his dog is evident throughout the whole book. This book shows us the true friendship that exists between a boy and his dog.

Don’t Forget Me is the first book in the Discussion Book Series by Kayla. This book was written to help parents engage in meaningful conversations about God with their children. Written in conversational format you can image the conversation taking place between God and a baby. By digging deeper into God’s word you can help your children develop a deeper understanding of life and the world we live in.

Book two in the Discussion Book Series is called Dying Is Part of This World. This book deals with dying. Yes, everyone dies but many people struggle with this topic, especially talking to your children about it. In this book you follow a conversation between and mom and her child who has an real fear of death. This book contains scripture references and discussion questions that will lead to deep conversations and prayer with your children. Yes, death is a scary topic, but God’s wisdom and knowledge helps us overcome the fear of it and this book shows you how.

We have two dogs, Max & Mollie, whom my children just adore, especially my 3 year old son. He loves playing and feeding the dogs. A Boy and His Dog showed him all the fun things he can do with our own dogs too. The other two books were read aloud by me to my children and we discussed them if they had questions. I took the discussion as far as they wanted.

Overall, we have enjoyed these books! I think you should check them out for yourself, especially if you are dealing with any tough topics in your home. But don’t just take my word for it! She what my CrewMates thought of the books by Kayla Jarmon by clicking the banner below!
Discussion Book Series and A Boy and His Dog {Kayla Jarmon Reviews}
Company ~ Kayla Harmon 
Product ~ Kayla Jarmon Books 
Format ~ PDF books, with audio files 
Price ~ $14.99 each
Ages ~ elementary and up 

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Word{ful} Wednesday

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Reading Kingdom ~ a TOS review

Having a solid foundation in reading is very important right from the start. My 2nd grade daughter and my 3.5 year old son both enjoy there online reading lessons with Reading Kingdom.

Reading Kingdom

For the last few weeks McKenzie and Micah have been plugging away at an online reading program that was created by Dr. Marion Blank, world renowned reading expert and Director of the Light on Learning Program at Columbia University. Using the program she created can teach your children, aged 4 to 10, to read and write to a third grade level in a fun and exciting way.

With easy-to-use and interactive components, this phonics and reading program offers customized online reading instruction for your child. While your child is busy learning with fun and engaging activities the program targets your child's reading weaknesses. And so they don’t get discouraged or frustrated the program also keeps them confident in their strengths.

Reading Kingdom is easy to start, no need to download anything just log onto the website. At the start of the program, simply have your child take the Reading Skills Survey which customizes the program and places your child in just the right spot for their individualized reading level. Instead of your child having to learn numerous complicated phonics rules, Reading Kingdom utilizes the six skills method for reading which include:

 ~ Sequencing 
~ Writing 
~ Sounds 
~ Meaning 
~ Grammar 
~ Comprehension 

This process targets your child's weaknesses while also keeping them confident in their strengths.

McKenzie and Micah both started with the assessment. It is a thorough task that covers all the bases. While McKenzie was familiar with the keyboard, Micah was not and I found him to get frustrated at times because of it. Micah started from the beginning of the program while McKenzie picked up where she left off in the program before. I especially enjoy that the lessons are short yet effective to hold my children’s attention spans.

If you want to try Reading Kingdom out for your family, you can sign up for 30 Day Free Trial. After the trial period has ended and you would like to continue, a subscription costs $19.99/month (with no monthly minimum), or $199.99 per year. Additional children on your account get 50% off ($9.99/month or $99.99/year) and you can cancel your subscriptions at any time. In addition, because Reading Kingdom is so passionate about everyone getting to enjoy the joy of reading there is a scholarship program available for those who qualify.

Overall, we have enjoyed Reading Kingdom and the phonics and reading platform it supports. I look forward to continuing to use this over the summer so my kids stay actively involved in reading and phonics instruction and don’t lose any skills they have gained thus far. I encourage you to look into giving it a try for your family too! Check out what my CrewMates thought by clicking the banner below!

Learn to Read with Reading Kingdom OR ASD Reading {Reviews}

Company / Product ~ Reading Kingdom 
 Format ~ online website 
 Price ~ see breakdown above 

Ages ~ 4 years - 10 years

ASD Reading

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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.