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 11th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Literature based approach.

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



Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Online math facts practice with Online Times Alive! ~ a TOS review

It never fails…around 4th grade my kiddos just seem to struggle with their math facts. Thankfully, I have a secret weapon to use to get them over the hump. Because everyone needs to learn the math facts and getting a head start is the best way to go. We received a 6 month subscription to the online Times Alive program and also the Times Alive App.


Memorizing multiplication facts can be boring and, for some students, difficult, but with the Online Times Alive subscription from City Creek Press, Inc. students learn math facts by watching videos and practicing math facts. Its super fun and for my ten year old little girl, she loves it!


Online Times Alive! is a fun, engaging, supplementary math program founded by former Sylvan Learning Center owner Judy Liautaud that has been “Helping Kids Get a Kick Out of learning since 1992.” Times Alive! is the interactive online game that uses stories, songs, and quizzes to help teach the multiplication facts from zero through the nine.


I love that this program really plays to the audio and visual learner that McKenzie is by providing short animated video clips with catchy lyrics for her to learn. Because we have been super busy running here and there to physical therapy and her own practices, utilizing the Times Alive App on my iPad mini has been a lifesaver for us.


My son, Micah who is 5, has really loved following along with McKenzie during her screen time. I love that the story is read aloud to the child while they view the music video and the catchy songs are also a favorite in our house. Just the other day I overhead McKenzie humming along to the 4x8 song and Micah tried to sing too.


I only discovered by accident that the data from the Online program does not transfer over to the App. The online program allows students to stop anywhere and resume where they left off. However, it doesn’t log in the info to the App. But for our family that is not a huge deal! We still love the program!





Online Times Alive {City Creek Press, Inc. Reviews}
So, don’t just take my word for it. Be sure to check out what my 44 CrewMates think of this curriculum to learn multiplication facts by clicking on the banner below. I love that my daughter is so eager to learn math!

Online Times Alive {City Creek Press, Inc. Reviews}

Company ~ City Creek Press, Inc. 
Product ~ Online Times Alive and the Times Alive App 
Format ~ Online and App 
Price ~ Online is $9.95 / month and a $6.95 sign-up fee, $14.99 app 
Ages ~ elementary
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   http://astablebeginning.com 


Friday, September 13, 2019

Happy 13th birthday Montana!


Officially a teenager! Love you, wild cat!



© 2008 - 2019 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.         

Grammar lessons in just 10 minutes with Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 11 ~ a TOS review

I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to Grammar in our homeschool. Why? Because if you have a solid foundation in grammar, other subjects like writing will be a bit easier. I am trying to raise strong readers writers who can express their thoughts effectively in writing so I was so excited to get some extra help with Mikayla with the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series:  Grade 11 from Easy Grammar Systems.

Now, I’ve been homeschooling awhile now and I have always heard of Easy Grammar but never have jumped in to see what it is all about. I am sorry I waited so long because I love the quick and easy lessons it provides for my busy girl.


We received the digital copy of the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 11 that also includes the Grade 11 Test Booklet. This curriculum includes 180 daily teaching lessons geared towards any student beyond 6th grade. With short 10 minute lessons, students will get step-by-step teaching lessons written at a fourth-grade reading level so that they can focus on learning the grammar concepts without all the fluff.

Each daily lesson includes several different types of grammar instruction including: 
~ sentence structure 
~ parts of speech
~ punctuation 
~ sentence combining and more

In our house, we have been using the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 11 since the end of July to help Mikayla prepare for her upcoming ACT. Before we started back to school in mid-August, I had scheduled Mikayla to complete 3-4 daily lessons three to four days a week. Now that we are full force into our school year she only completes 2 daily lessons on the days that she doubles at the gym, which is two days a week.

Since we received the digital copy, I simply just print the worksheet pages Mikayla needs each week. She keeps her completed papers filed within her school binder. As you work through the lessons you will find an assessment test after every 10 lessons. I found these to be a good assessment of how much information Mikayla had retained and helpful to know what she needed to spend a little more time on.
Overall, Mikayla and I have both enjoyed this language arts curriculum. She especially likes the short and sweet lessons because it makes it easy for her to get her grammar lessons completed, especially on our busy days. I love that the program is spiral and comprehensive but doesn’t take all day to learn and/or teach. I also like that the answers are provided. I have other children that need to be taught and having the ability to grade Mikayla’s work without having to spend too much time on my end is priceless for me.
Easy Grammar, Daily GRAMS & Easy Grammar Ultimate {Easy Grammar Systems Reviews}
Sixty-nine of my CrewMates reviewed several different curriculum including: Easy Grammar:  Grade 1,  Easy Grammar:  Grade 3, Daily GRAMS:  Grade 3, Easy Grammar Plus, Daily GRAMS:  Grade 7, and Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9. Be sure to check out their reviews and see what their thoughts are on these language arts curriculums. As for us, Mikayla will continue to use this grammar curriculum in her weekly studies as well as her test prep.

Easy Grammar, Daily GRAMS & Easy Grammar Ultimate {Easy Grammar Systems Reviews}

Format ~ digital copy 
Price ~ $29.95 
Ages ~ 6th grade and up

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© 2008 - 2019 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, September 11, 2019

Wordless Wednesday




© 2008 - 2019 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, September 5, 2019

Middle School Music Appreciation with Zeezok Publishing ~ a TOS review

I have a secret to tell you! For the last several weeks Montana has been learning all about Frederick Chopin using Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades from Zeezok Publishing. It’s been really fun incorporating this homeschool music program into our weekly studies. Let me tell you about the newest program from Zeezok Publishing.


 If you are not familiar to Zeezok Publishing then you need to know that they are committed homeschoolers just like you and I. They started providing homeschool materials to the community way back in 1993 traveling to homeschool conventions with a simple vision; “to publish top quality materials that will complement your educational needs”. In 2003, they launched Zeezok Publishing to help all the homeschools enrich their children’s schooling.



 We received the jackpot with the Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades! The set covers seven composers through nine biographical books and also includes a Student Book. The biographies include:
 Frederic Chopin, Early Years
Frederic Chopin, Later Years
Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff
Adventures of Richard Wagner
Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray
The Young Brahms
The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky
Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet
Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines

This middle school set meets all the national standards for music appreciation for 5th-8th grade students through living books. This unique approach enriches the learning of these composers as we get a first-hand glimpse into their lives of yesteryear. The program has several components to it and using all of them will give you and your student the most benefit of the curriculum. The Journal notebook, Student book, Readers, and online apps all work together simultaneously to give the best music appreciation program.



 Getting started for us was easy! Montana is a fluent reader so she literally just took off with the program. For each composer there is a weekly outline laid out for you to follow. I love this feature because I don’t have to break it up on my own. As a busy mom trying to fit everything into the day it is great to see what needs to be done each week without too much planning on my part. We simply have followed the schedule for the composer/books and have made great strides.


Another great feature, especially if you are not musically inclined is that all the answers to the activities and quizzes are included! The graphics throughout the Student Book are in color and black and white and are easy on the eyes. The layout of the reading inside the Student Book is also easy to read and not overtly distracting. The QR codes are fantastic! My daughter had permission to use her phone when listening to the pieces of tracks for the composers. I love that technology has made this possible, especially since it makes this music curriculum portable for us.

Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades {Zeezok Publishing Reviews}
For my 7th grader, this is the right program for learning all about famous composers. Montana has enjoyed listening and learning about Chopin and Schumann so far and is looking forward to learning about the other composers studied in this set. Overall we have loved this program and will continue on with it. Now that we have started back to school full time, I plan to slow down our learning pace and spread this into her 8th grade year as well. It’s that good that I don’t necessiarly want to rush the learning when we have the option to slow down and savor each chapter. But, don’t just take our word for it, check out what my CrewMates think of this music appreciation program by clicking the banner below.
Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades {Zeezok Publishing Reviews}
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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wordless Wednesday




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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

{almost} Wordless Wednesday


© 2008 - 2019 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, August 27, 2019

Explore England in the adventure novel, Britfield & the Lost Crown ~ a TOS review


We love a good book in our house so I am really excited to tell you about the newest book that Montana has just finished called Britfield & the Lost Crown. Its a fast-paced story that leads you through an adventure in England with two orphans, Tom and Sarah.



Britfield & the Lost Crown is the first book in a series of five novels written by C.R. Stewart. This novel is penned for kids aged 10-18 and gives detailed highlights of places that Mr. Stewart has visited himself. The details within the pages makes the adventure come to life as you read. We received a physical paperback copy of this book and I am excited to tell you that it has earned a spot on our bookshelf.


This book is about two best friends named, Tom and Sarah, who are orphans at the Weatherly Orphanage. After learning that Tom’s mom and dad might still be alive, he and his best friend, Sarah, escape from the orphanage to try to get to London.


While on the run, they are chased by a famous Scotland Yard detective set on bringing them back to Weatherly. Luckily, they escaped the grasp of the detective and ran into the country and caught a hot air balloon. After narrowly escaping and being chased by the famous Scotland Yard detective in a helicopter the two safely reach the the shores of Dover after first making a pitstop at Oxford University.


While at Oxford they meet a couple of professors who helped hide them from the police. At Windsor Castle, they meet Philipp, who is on the Queen’s staff. When talking about the one clue Tom has to his parents, Britfield, it is revealed that Tom may be apart of the real royal family line who supposedly was killed years ago. Meaning that he is the true heir to the British throne.


Montana really enjoyed this 394 paged book and is excited for the next installment, Britfield & the Rise of the Lion, to be released in 2020. Here are some of her thoughts…

“I liked the book because it is interesting and a good read. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about friendship and loyalty because they will find it interesting and exciting”.


I love that this novel provides an accompanying study guide. It is 83 pages and provides an 8-week in-depth study broken down, chapter by chapter. There are many activities found within the study guide including vocabulary, comprehension questions, matching, and fill in the blank type problems. I chose to just let Montana read this book for fun, instead of making it a literary analysis.


When I had questions about the story, I referred to the study guide for the comprehension questions to help fill in the gaps for myself. The Britfield website also includes several free teacher resources that will help you dig deeper into the story and era as well as helpful historical facts and beautiful pictures of landmarks etc.

Britfield & the Lost Crown  {Reviews}
Be sure to read what my CrewMates think of this award-winning book by clicking the banner below. Some reviewed the audio book while others reviewed the softcover paperback. I know we are excited for the installment!

Britfield & the Lost Crown  {Reviews}

Format ~ 394 paged softcover paperback , ISBN: #978-1-7329612-1-0 
 Price ~ $16.99 
 Ages ~ 10-18 years

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© 2008 - 2019 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.         
   http://astablebeginning.com

Friday, August 23, 2019

My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping ~ a TOS review

Over the last few years I have really been trying to be more organized in my thoughts and plans. If you have been reading here long, you know it is a busy season for us. Because of this, I especially don’t want to forget someone or something important from our day. We received the Annual Membership Plan and I  have been using My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping to track of things in our schooling and daily life.

MySchoolYear.com is an online lesson planner and record keeper that allows you to keep track of all the important things you need to track. It features:

 ~ automated attendance tracking
~ lesson plan generators
~ automated grading
~  friendly teacher’s reminders
~ activity tracking for awards, reading logs, volunteer work, and sports
~ reports to create transcripts, report cards and more
~ lesson plan sharing if you want to share with others

Now that I am on my third high schooler, I am trying to stay on top of all the school deadlines, sports schedules, PT appointments, etc. With my daughter, Mikayla, starting her standardized testing cycle, I am really trying to stay on top of dates so I don't miss the deadline for registrations. My state is pretty relaxed as far as record keeping goes, however, I do like to track attendance. Recently, I've been using My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) from MyShoolYear.com to do just that.

I found that setting up my account was really easy. It is just a matter of inputting your student’s information. Once that is done, you can begin adding in classes and daily lesson plans. The ease of use of this program makes tracking grades, attendance, reading, and extracurricular activities is a breeze! Something I appreciate as a busy homeschooling Mama to multiple kiddos.


When we received access to this program we were still in our summer learning period so I did not add in any current lesson plans. I did however, take the time to add in the kids upcoming classes and input known dates into the calendar. This action really helped me to see the big picture for our upcoming school year. It also helped me see just exactly what I needed to order, if anything.

I also really like the book log feature. I like to track the books the kids have read throughout the year. This year I am putting together a visual list, but I also love that I can have a printed version as well. It is a great accomplishment to look back to your list and say you read this many books this school year; especially for one of my daughters who is not an avid reader. The reports section is a handy section for me as well because it is so comprehensive! There are literally reports for everything from tracking standardized testing results to generating report cards. If you are looking for a report, chances are My School Year will have it.

This program probably sounds pretty pricey for all you are getting. But guess what!? It’s priced nicely at $5.00 a month or $40.00 for the year. This price is for an unlimited amount of students so it's perfect for larger families like mine.

Annual Membership Homeschool Record Keeping  {My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping Reviews}
Overall, I am super pleased with this online homeschool record keeping program! While I am personally a paper and pen/pencil kind of girl, I do see myself utilizing many of the features this program offers. I am especially interested in utilizing the calendar features of this online program for the rest of our yearly subscription. Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.

Annual Membership Homeschool Record Keeping  {My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping Reviews}
Format ~ online homeschool record keeping
Price ~ $5/mo or $50 Annually
Ages ~ homeschool teachers


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© 2008 - 2019 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.      

      http://astablebeginning.com