Sunday, April 23, 2017

4 Top Educational Apps for your next Road Trip!

This is a sponsored post by U.S. Cellular.  I was compensated as a member of the U.S. Cellular Ambassador program.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

Are you planning a road trip this summer?  I love road trips, but my kids are not always as thrilled with the long drives.  As they have gotten older, we have started to allow them to use devices in the car to make the trip a little bit smoother now that they no longer automatically fall asleep as soon as we leave the driveway.  I really encourage them to use fun apps and games that also give them a learning experience.

4 Top Educational Apps for your Next Road Trip

I am pleased to see that there are so many fun and educational apps out there available now!  We use many of these in our daily homeschool routine, they get screen time, they are still learning, and I get a bit of a break in the day – win-win-win!

I love that there are so many options when it comes to kids and technology these days.  You don’t have to choose between entertainment and education, because you can easily have both!

Mobile technology is increasingly a part of everyday family life, and that is why we want to encourage parents to find ways to make screen time educational.

According to a recent survey, 58% of respondents had at least one child with a cellphone – up from 49% in 2015.  The same survey showed that 79% of adults had used their smartphone to assist them while traveling.

I love that U.S. Cellular is such a reliable network.  It allows me to use my iPhone for directions and to find the nearest rest stop, and also allows my kids to have some fun apps to use when they get a little antsy on the drive.

My Top 4 Education Apps

Duolingo – a fun and effective way to learn a second language.  Not just for kids!  My whole family loves this app!

Hooked on Phonics – always a wonderful way to get more practice for younger kids on learning how to read.

Mathmateer – This app is available to iPhone and iPad users and will keep grade schoolers busy with 56 fun math missions.

Stack the States – I recently heard about this app in one of my Facebook groups.  We are studying U.S. History right now, and this is an amazing way to teach kids about U.S. Geography, state capitals, and flags. 

What are your tried and true ways to help your road trip go a bit smoother?

4 Top Educational Apps for your Next Road Trip

Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Books I want to Read Now and You Should Too!

There are affiliate links in this post.  If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links I may receive a small commission.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

I have an immense love of books – I love story.  I love to get lost in someone’s story, and because of that I almost always have a running list of books that I want to read.  I don’t always have a ton of time to read, but one of my goals this year is to complete my 100 books read challenge, and because of that I have made it a priority. 

It is amazing what you can accomplish when you make something a priority (this works for all things, not just reading!).  I am spending less time scrolling through Facebook, and more time pulling up a book on my kindle

I try to utilize the library app for my local library on my iPhone for a lot of reading, as well as a subscription to kindle unlimited.  But, when there is a book that I really want to read, I most often buy it – I am a little impatient when it comes to reading new books.  The convenience of it being delivered to my phone and kindle on the day it is released is something I love.

5 Books I Want to Read Now and You Should Too!

Here are a few books that I am really looking forward to reading in the next several months – as well as a book that I have already read before, but love to revisit every spring when the weather starts to be a bit nicer in Maine.

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider – I have followed Tsh and her blog since about the time she started her first blog Simple Mom way back when.  I have loved all of the books that she has written, but have definitely been looking forward to this one.  It is a memoir of her family’s trip around the world.  The reason I am most excited about it?  The family travel part.  

She traveled with her three young children (I believe the youngest was 4 at the time).  This is something that I dream of doing with my own family, but have yet to pull the trigger for various reasons.  This book releases tomorrow – so very very excited to sit down and read it.  I also highly recommend her book Notes from a Blue Bike a book about living intentionally in a chaotic world – awesome book!

Cultivate by Lara Casey – In 201 I read an amazing book called Make it Happen by a new author I had never heard of.  It was life changing – showing me I could definitely follow my passions.  When I heard that Lara would be releasing a new book this June, I immediately pre-ordered it without really knowing what it was about.  But, after I read the description, I knew this would be a book for me. 

Women often feel like they have to have it all together in order to live a meaningful life. Instead they feel inadequate, overwhelmed, and exhausted as they to figure out how to do it all. Author, business owner, and mom to three Lara Casey offers sound and grace-filled advice: “We can’t do it all, and do it well. But, we can choose to cultivate what matters.”

This book will be released on June 27th.

Business Boutique by Christy Wright – I recently heard Christy Wright on the Dave Ramsey podcast (getting out of debt, yes please).  Christy’s mission is to equip women the tools they need to do the things they love when it comes to turning a hobby into a business.  I majored in Business and Economics in college, so I love any type of business book – especially as a blogger.  There are a lot of “blogger” resources available, but I find sometimes that they don’t speak to me the way classic business books do.  This book came out TODAY!  So while my kiddos are having their rest time this afternoon, I will be digging into this book. 

Mess in the Moxie by Jen Hatmaker – I have read several of Jen Hatmakers books in the past couple of years.  My favorites have been Interrupted and 7:An Experimental Mutiny Against ExcessI love her stories, they definitely bring me back to my own youth, and some of the pop culture references she uses have had me laughing out loud while I am trying to read quietly next to a sleeping babe.

…somehow women have gotten the message that pain and failure mean they must be doing things wrong, that they messed up the rules or tricks for a seamless life. As it turns out, every last woman faces confusion and loss, missteps and catastrophic malfunctions, no matter how much she is doing “right.” Struggle doesn’t mean they’re weak; it means they’re alive.

This book will be released August 8th.

My last book is a book that I have read before, but I believe that the message is so important that I continue to refer back to it when I need some parental motivation during the year.

Simplicity Parenting by Kim Jon Payne and Lisa M. Ross.  The title really does give it away, it is a book about less in order to raise happier, and healthier kids.  It talks a lot about the importance of nature and unstructured play.  I think it is a perfect book to read right as the school year winds down for most kids, and to give myself permission to not fill summer with a bunch of activities.  Instead, I can take a step back and watch my kids play in mud all day, and know that they are making the same types of memories that I did so many years ago.

Are you looking forward to any books that have yet to be released?  Do you have a favorite book you revisit year after year?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Year Without Internet - Is it Possible?

There are affiliate links in this post.  If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links I may receive a small commission.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House.

I have been a bit MIA lately from this space of mine.  When I look at my word of the year – margin – I can see why.  I have been taking the time I need to recover from what seems like a constant state of overwhelming crazy.  When I think about margin, I often think about books, and how I want to read more of them.  Then a couple weeks ago I heard about a new book that I wanted to read – What Falls from the Sky.

The premise of this book is that a woman decided that she was too fully entwined with the digital world, and decided that she would instead take a year off the internet – yes, an entire year, no internet (in fact she didn’t even use a debit/credit card during this time).

A Year Without the Internet - Is that Even Possible?

This isn’t the first time I have read something with regards to breaking away from technology.  Several years ago I read another great memoir called The Winter of Our Disconnect – about a family in Australia who turned off their screens for six months.  And there was this article about a man who decided to take a year off the internet and his follow up article after his year was finished.  

It seems to be something I read about a lot. Why is that?

It certainly interests me to no end.  I dream of a simple life, and realize that as we become more engaged with technology, simple isn’t always possible.  Or at least the way I have defined simple in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, I love the ease of finding information, the ability to look up things on my iPhone whenever I want, the ability to always have hundreds of books with me, right on my kindle.  The pictures, I love to take and look at all the pictures on Instagram, it makes me happy!

But, it also can be detrimental, especially to someone who wants to learn all.the.things.

This past fall and winter I seemed to be completely overwhelmed and I couldn’t quite figure out why.  We were not doing anything really different in our lives, my kids were in basketball, we had church, we had homeschool, we had a toddler (it could have been the toddler), but I didn’t see anything specific as to why everything felt so out of control.

Lately, I haven’t been watching the news. 

That probably does not sound like a huge revelation to anyone, but to me, an information and news junkie, it was kind of a big deal.  I love all the news.  I’m not particular.  I like to listen to all sides, give me all the liberal media, give me all the conservative media, and I will listen to everything and then figure out what I feel about a subject. 

Last fall the news was insane, the buildup to the election, the entire process of the primaries, it was all consuming, and it was negative, and it spiraled out of control (in my opinion).  I thought that once the election was over things would improve, it did not. 

The negativity that is in the media, in politics, in social media, is overwhelming.

I think the problem was less about my schedule, and more about the information overload of negativity.  It wore me down.

Where does that leave us here at Townsend House?

Well, I have been posting a whole heck of a lot less, you may have noticed, or perhaps not, maybe you have information overload as well.

I became so accustomed to going through the motions here, that I wasn’t happy with what I was writing, it wasn’t fulfilling me in the way that writing typically does, so I stepped back.  I took a couple (or more than a couple) deep breaths and I started to think about what I wanted to change.

I have been listening to this little voice in my head telling me to simplify for years now, but it is starting to get louder, and bigger, and reminding me of my reasons for starting a blog to begin with.

It is amazing what a little perspective can do for a person. 

Once I stopped consuming so much negativity *out there* I was able to start concentrating on the important smallness of my life, and my family, that I crave so dearly.

It could also be this very long winter.

The calendar says it is spring, but living in Maine I know that we are still a few weeks away from consistently warmer weather.  I’m ready to be outside in the sun, working in the garden, and I am looking forward to sharing my smallness, and slowing down with you all.

I have known for a long time that I prefer to be off the beaten path, but it is so easy to follow the crowds to the paved roads where I can be swept up with everyone else, still enjoying life, maybe moving in a direction I don’t necessarily agree with, but perhaps easier.

I plan to be back in this space more consistently, but it might not be as often (3-4 posts per week) as it has been in years past.  My writing may continue to be more introspective, but it is exciting, to be able to share these challenges and changes with you all.

While I hope that I am able to help others through my writing, I also largely use my writing as a way to process my own feelings, and I am glad that a few of you are still around to follow along.

Now a short book review on What Falls from the Sky.

The author, Esther Emery, is the daughter of the famed Carla Emery who wrote The Encyclopedia of Country Living  – which is an amazing resource if you are trying your hand at any sort of self-sufficiency.  The author ran from that way of life, as far as she could, fully immersing herself in what seemed to be everything as far away from homesteading as you possibly could go.  But then, with two small children, living in Boston, she decided to take a year off the internet.

It became a complete time of healing, for her marriage, for her spiritually.  It gave her a time of silence, to really be still, to evaluate what was important in her life, what she was willing to give up, and what she wants to continue to have.

I think that time of fasting is amazing.  The book was a wonderful read.  There was so much emotion poured out on those pages, and the trials that she had to go through during that year, and right before the year started, were many.

I definitely recommend it.  I learned a lot.  I don’t necessarily have to swear off the internet for a year, but I am able to do some soul searching for how much time I spend immersed in a digital world and how I spend that time when I am there.

A truly interesting read.

Have you ever considered a challenge like this?  Does it sound completely unrealistic in this day and age?