Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happiness. Lately. (vol 4)

Happiness.  Lately.  September.  My monthly collection of "Happiness" - appreciating God's goodness in the little things and seeing his grandeur in the simplicity of my life and "Lately" - what I've been into and up to.

Happiness is...

the backyard mouse house Papa and Grandma gifted us...

remembering that if they're dirty, it means they must be having fun (I learned this from my mom!)...

the tiny tomatoes we're still getting on our one plant - just enough for a few in my salad each day...

some of the pretty carrots we harvested...

celebrating the first day of fall... with homemade pumpkin bread for breakfast and not-so-homemade boxed pumpkin dessert for after dinner (and reading some of our favorite fall-themed books, of course!)

the first of the lovely leaves...

and some of my favorite guys on an evening walk...

our first pot of chili this season...

a gloriously, warm hot fall day at the creek with friends...

music time with Papa...


I raced through Masterpiece Mystery: Endeavour Season 2 from the library.  And then Russ was out of town for four days and I watched a lot of Foyle's War, which he is not sad to miss ;)  I may have mentioned once or twice how much I enjoy British television...  just once or twice :)

We've been enjoying and singing the ridiculous lyrics of Beethoven's Wig: Sing Along Symphonies:  A friend recommended this cd to me a while ago, but we've just gotten around to listening to it in the last few weeks.  It's funny for kids and adults alike :)   (I even just requested the second the third volumes from the library!)

I've been not reading... who has time for that?

I got to take the kids to a homeschool-ers only morning at a Sky Zone.  It was our first time there.  Wow!  I didn't get any really good pictures conveying how awesome it was.  Just this...

I've been back to crocheting... a little bit.  Hats, mostly.  Sometimes they fit and sometimes they don't...

I've also done some more peg dolls painting!  I had tried my hand at it for the first time at Christmas and made a Nativity set and some saint dolls.  I had meant to make two additional saints for my boys, but never finished them.  I finished them this month in time for the corresponding feast days:  St. Vincent de Paul (Sept 27) for my Aaron Vincent, and St. Jerome (Sept 30) for my Dominic Jerome.

a little frustrated about the hairs from the paint brush came off onto the doll when I was varnishing it...  have. to. let. it. go.
I tried to involve all the kids in making special cookies for Russ one day, but this is what happens when you try to bake in a kitchen with a lot of kids and no table: Chocolate Chip made-on-the-floor Cookies... 

And that's about it.  It's been a busy and lovely month, and I can hardly believe it's over.  I sort of feel like it's still August......

**  Feel like joining me in reflecting on the past month and sharing some of the moments that made you happy and the things you've been up to?  Link up your August list of Happiness. Lately.  I'd love to have you join me! **  Don't have a blog?  Let's chat in the comments!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Michaelmas for Better Eye Sight

This was my first time serving a (somewhat) traditional dinner to celebrate the Feast of the Archangels - or Michaelmas, if you're a reader from medieval England.  In the past we've done the obvious dessert options like Devil's Food Cake or Angel Food Cake, but I was inspired by so many other lovely Catholic bloggers to offer my family a somewhat more traditional (read "labor-intensive") feast to honor Saints Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, as well as to celebrate the end of the harvest, give me an excuse to make blackberry cobbler, and unite in spirit with my beloved Jane Austen characters by casually referring to Michaelmas in my daily conversation like it's no big deal and everyone knows what I'm talking about. 

So... "Michaelmas."

Because the Feast of the Archangels falls at the end of September, it was traditionally associated with the end of the harvest season.  Consequently, the feast always involved a lot of beta-carotene, as you will see.  (Seriously, no one in my family should need new glasses for the next two year after this meal...)  

Here's how we celebrated Michaelmas:  We rushed through the grocery store first thing in the morning so that we could take the 8-month old to his 6-month old well pediatrician visit, only to find out that he wasn't well at all and has been suffering (for quite some time apparently) with an ear infection.  My poor James!  (Perhaps that explains his outbursts of screaming, which I had just chalked up to being 8 months old...)

After that fiasco, here's how we celebrated Michaelmas: I spent the entire day in the kitchen.  Literally.  (except of course for when I was at the grocery and the doctor)  This was more labor intensive than Thanksgiving even, because I was working solo.  I gave the boys the afternoon off from lessons under the auspices of "celebrating the feast" but it was really because things were getting cuh-ray-zee in the kitchen.  I used every pot and pan and bowl I own and washed them all at least twice.  I ran the dishwasher mid-day (which I can usually avoid) and by the end of the afternoon, I had decided that I probably wasn't going to be preparing a Michaelmas feast any other years.  

But... the dinner was a huge success, with three fourths of my speaking children proclaiming it the best meal they've had in their whole lives.  We had a few guests with us as well who also assured me it was a delicious meal.  (It was pretty good!)   During dinner Ruth recounted the story of the archangels casting Satan and the fallen angels out of Heaven, Dominic told of the significance of the blackberries, and James screamed.  Given the evident catechetical success, the health-nut-levels of beta-carotene we consumed, and the thumbs up I got from everyone, I think we just might plan on future Michaelmas celebrations after all :)  

So really, here's what we did:  

We cut marigolds to adorn our autumnal table.

We prayed the prayer to St. Michael after the meal.  

We dined on this fine menu...

A traditional roasted goose  er... I mean... $4.99 rotisserie chicken  (don't tell my home-steading, chicken-raising friends ;) )  

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples  (I mostly followed the recipe, but I didn't have rosemary, so I used thyme instead, and I added about 2 T. brown sugar.)  This was so delicious!  

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

 Harvest Dinner Rolls (I used this bread machine recipe and just added sunflower seeds to the tops and called them "Harvest" to make it sound fancy :)  )

 Blackberry Sparkling Water (For the kids.  But I could have finished off a bottle or two myself.)

So what's with the goose and blackberries anyway??  I looked into it:

As for the goose, the food experts at the BBC say: 

It falls near the autumn equinox and also marks a medieval festival when harvest was finished and farmers paid rent to the landowners, often offering geese as part of the exchange.
Goose fairs became popular across the country, with farmers driving their geese for miles to get to market.
The Michaelmas goose itself became associated with paying off debts, and according to folklore eating one on the day would bring financial luck for the coming year.
And as for the blackberries, the Church is full of rich legends and this is one... 
It is said that when Michael and the other archangels cast the fallen angels from Heaven, Lucifer, on his way into Hell fell through the thorns of a blackberry bush and cursed its fruit.  The medieval English said then, that blackberries were no good to eat after the day we remember that fall and the triumph of the archangels (Sept 29) and that all blackberries should be finished up on that day!  (Ok! Yum!)
As usual, I hardly every take photos of people actually enjoying the meal - I'm too busy and people don't look great when you snap their picture mid-bite anyway.  Let me assure you though, everyone was licking their lips (and maybe a plate or two) and smiling!

not picture-pretty, but so delicious I'm putting it in here anyway :)  

Saint Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our protection against the wickedness 
and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
cast into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl throughout the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Persevering Through the Imperfect (Embrace the Ordinary :: Vol 11)

Sometimes, when a thing can't be exactly the way I want it or the way it should be, I skip it.  Even if it's a good thing.  And that's a bad thing.  Because things don't have to be perfect to be fruitful.  

I thought of this this past week when one of my sons wanted to pray the Rosary every day.   That's a very good thing, right?  Yep.  And even more so because in the past he's been voted "Least Likely to Pray Voluntarily."  So when any child, but that child in particular,  asks to pray and talk about all-things Faith, Russ and I do it.  

But a couple of those days it was really inconvenient and it was far less than perfect. One afternoon, aforementioned child asked me to pray with him and I agreed, but the timing was so off.  The Rosary that we said wasn't the prayerful experience I tend to think the Rosary ought to be.  I was nursing the baby, then changing diapers, then rubbing a bruised head, then taking dinner out of the oven while calling out the prayer responses from the kitchen.  

It was not a perfect Rosary.   It was an ill-timed attempt at prayer during the busiest part of the day, and I probably should have suggested we wait, but instead we plowed through it - diapers, crying, oven timers, and all.  

That's not what it's usually like around here when we have family prayer time.  Usually we do try to gather in relative peace and quiet to sit and pray with limited distractions.  But that afternoon that imperfectly prayed Rosary did serve to illustrate this to my children and me:

Our daily life is not peaceful and perfect, so our prayer is not likely going be that way either.  We don't need to wait for a perfect, peaceful moment (either mentally, or in the home) to pray.  It's more important that our faith and prayer are woven into all we do - including those disorderly, imperfect parts.  The distractions of that afternoon were not ideal, but when they happened they reinforced that fact that our faith and life are inseparable and one does not have to be practiced independent of the other.  

*   *   *   *   *   *

"...there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary
situations, and it is up to each on of you to discover it."
Passionately Loving the World, St. Josemaria Escriva

Linking up with Gina at Someday (Hopefully) They'll Be Saints. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Delightfully Free to Liebster Away

It was perfectly delightful timing to receive a Liebster nomination from Erin at Seven Little Australians and Counting.  Russ is out of town, the kids are in bed, I have a pumpkin beer in hand (well, obviously not right now, because I'm tapping it out on the QWERTY two-handed, but it's near by...) and I have the evening free to tell you a little more about me.  Thanks, Erin!

Now, along with Erin, you'll be in-the-know about...

1. How do you express yourself creatively?  Wow.  Stumped by the first question is never a good thing...  I'm fairly creative, but I haven't thought of it much as expressing myself.  I get an enormous amount of satisfaction from being crafty - especially when the end result is something lovely and functional.  I love to sew and crochet most of all.  But in terms of expressing myself, I think it may be singing as prayer - in Church or alone.  I love to sing, but have a mediocre voice, so when I'm singing to pray I pretend like no one is listening and find it expressive.  

2. What is your favourite genre of books?  I currently read mostly non-fiction, but I love a good mystery, especially set in the past (like the Jane Austen Mysteries I've mentioned before.)  I also enjoy historical fiction, and popular historical non-fiction (like Shadow DiversEndurance, and Unbroken, etc...)

3. What is a favourite childhood book?  Very difficult to just choose one, but I *think* I can narrow it down to two: The Riddle of the Drum, a tale from Tizapan, Mexico .  I received this book as an award when I was in Kindergarten or first grade, and I still have it and read it my kids!  The second is from high school:   His Enemy, His Friend, by John Tunis.   Read it.  (note: link is to Kindle Edition.)

4. If you had a whole day to 'yourself' what would you choose to do?  Go to Mass, then sew.

5. Would you consider yourself an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in the middle?  Introvert.  A dyed in the wool introvert.  

6. What is your preferred method of exercise?  none, unless it's done with a companion :)

7. Share a quote that has 'spoken' to you:

"A married woman must often leave God at the altar to find Him in her household care."
St. Frances of Rome

8. What is your favourite genre of movies?  British TV.  Some favorites (that's how we spell if over here, Erin ;) ) that are not as obvious as Downton Abbey include the  Horatio Hornblower Series and To Serve Them All My Days.  You MUST watch these.  Put them on your Christmas list because they are the best two series ever.  Right now, I'm also enjoying Foyle's War and The Paradise on Netflix.  

9. Share one blog you 'must read' regularly?  Someday (Hopefully) They'll Be Saints, by the fabulous Gina, is my new must-read spot, but I'm afraid that she'll be scared of me if I look too enthusiastic, so don't tell her it was me that sent you in her direction!  But do go there!  You'll enjoy getting to know her

10. How many bloggers and whom have you met irl?  In my little corner of the world, I know and see regularly the lovely Mary from Better Than Eden, and the hysterical Heather from Mama Knows, Honeychild, and among those I wish I saw more regularly is the indomitable Nella from Is There a McDonalds in Heaven?    Most recently, my sister, Sarah, has started blogging (yay!) at Too Wonderful, where she's written about books, our phenomenal parents, and... thongs :)   
I think that's it.  Hope I'm not missing anybody!

*   *   *   *   *   *

So remember when I told you I'm an introvert??  I'm also a little shy and self conscious when it comes to stuff like "tagging" other people for posts.  This is a huge (and not a little uncomfortable) step for me... but I'm going to do it and ask if a handful of you want to join in...  If you don't, no hard feelings!  At all!  


Sarah at Too Wonderful
Amanda at Erring on the Side of Love
Gina at Someday (Hopefully) They'll be Saints
Christine at Splendor in the Home 
Ann-Maria at Ulczynski Update
Kathy at 9Peas

Asking... (I gave you a couple of my answers for fun!)

1. Have you ever had something stolen from you?  (me: yes, a beaded turtle coin purse :(  )
2. Show us your favorite internet meme or cartoon.
3. Can you show us a picture that tells us something about you (no words)?
4. What's one of your guilty pleasures?  (me: scented candles and watching Professional Bull Riding)
5. Is there a hobby/sport you'd like to learn?  
6. How do you see yourself spending your retirement (or golden years, as it were!)  (me: being alone with my husband!)
7. What was one of the most thoughtful gifts you've received? 
8. What's your biggest pet peeve (me: stepping in water with clean socks)
9. Have you started your Christmas shopping or crafting?  (send your awesome ideas my way!)
10. Blogger's Choice: You pick that awesome question that I'm forgetting to ask - the one you've been dying to answer!  (sorry!)

and then... pass it on!

I'd actually love if anyone else wanted to participate too.  Link your blog post back to here or answer some or all of the questions in the comments!  It's always fun to get to know each other on a little more informal level :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The New Latin for Weight Loss System!!

Please welcome the first and only sponsor of Ordinary Lovely, Latin for Weight Loss.  I have been considering using their system for my own personal weight loss goals for a while.  Now that they're officially on board at Ordinary Lovely, I'm definitely going to give it a whirl and will keep you updated on my progress.  I think you'll be quite impressed with their groundbreaking technique and encourage you to read on...

Here at Latin for Weight Loss, we believe that every man, woman, and child deserves a healthier lifestyle and the confidence that comes from having a little extra room in your toga.  Our groundbreaking system is guaranteed to help you eliminate eating, slim down, and regain the confidence that comes from denying yourself almost every single type of food.  

We are so certain that you'll eat less, lose weight, and love the program, that we are offering you a free trial through this blog affiliate.  To prove how serious we are about the quality of the Latin for Weight Loss System, we are sharing with this exclusive audience, the one and only tip you'll need for success:  Make all requests for food using the proper Latin vocabulary and grammar.

It's that simple.  Here's how it works.  When our bodies need nourishment, they send a hunger message to the brain.  The brain then converts that message into a request for food.  With the Latin for Weight Loss program, you will learn to deny your body the basics, like food and water, for rapid weight loss by re-programming your brain to only request food items using their appropriate Latin nomenclature and grammatically correct suffixes, of which there are nine hundred forty-seven thousand mind-boggling options.  

Let's take a look at the system in action...

Sallyentia* often gets hungry mid-afternoon.  In the past, she would have asked for a snack, would have received it, and would have eaten it, setting her back in her weight loss goals.  With our groundbreaking technique, Sallyentia's brain will struggle to convert the hunger message into a request for food because the Latin language is so bizarre and difficult to use, she will be conditioned to give up trying to ask for food and will be transformed into an individual who would rather go hungry than deal with the hassle of Latin. 

Here are some examples illustrating the genius behind the concept. You will see that by the time you are done mentally decoding the Latin words, the desire for food has past, or you have given in to frustration and have quit the pursuit all together.

"I would like a chocolatebitimusaerausiscum  baraeiaitimusasterulentus."

"May I please have a large bowl of iceariousorumbimustorius creamimimarumiaeumitius?"

"Where is the rest of the cookiearavisbimusaeitibunt doughabuntimusuntorum?"

"What does a girl have to do around here to get her hands on a bag of Doritosamascumaeitisbamusbantarius????????"

You can clearly see how the Latin for Weight Loss System is light years ahead of its competitors in setting clients up for weight loss success.   We are excited to send you our introductory DVD, Latin Grammar: Taking the Fun out of Falafels and Fondue and our bonus booklet of testimonials entitled How I Almost Learned Latin and Stopped Eating in Under a Week.

We are so confident that you will see immediate results with the program that we invite you to try this risk free offer for no cost using the code #sawitonafrustratedbyLatinmomblog#  Order within the next four hours, and we will also send you this plush robe.  It's the back-up plan to our groundbreaking weight loss system - the sleeves are sewn shut.  

If you are not completely satisfied with the Latin for Weight Loss DVD, return it to our distribution centers but keep the robe as our gift to you.  

We have maintained a long and meaningful relationship with many of our customers and look forward to the same with you once you try the Latin for Weight Loss System.  Just eat something before you call, because once you start attempting to request your meals in Latin, you will. never. eat. again.  And you will eventually tear your hair out in frustration and collapse on the floor because, after all, it's Latin.  Oh, and you're starving.

* Sallyentia is a fictional character from ancient Rome.  Her "supposed" weight loss and eventual demise are the typical results when using this program correctly.

Latin for Weight Loss is not a medically approved weight loss plan and is currently involved in several law suits in the third, fourth, fifth, eleventh, and eighty-eighth district courts to prove otherwise.  You should not begin a new dietary program without consulting your physician physician.  Togas can present a tripping hazard.  Side effects of the Latin for Weight Loss System of can include, but are not limited to, malnutrition, muscle weakness, loss of consciousness, and death.  Note: it has been concluded by some studies that food and water are usually essential to health, wellness, and life.  Clients who abandon the program often suffer from a binge-eating rebound period.  Always consider the risks and benefits before beginning a new wellness program.  Latin for Weight Loss is a limited liability company and is actually not responsible for anything that may happen to its clients while using the system, or afterward.  And there really is no DVD or robe, though it does look cozy, doesn't it??  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Adding a Little Extra Tech to Our Homeschool (Don't Judge Me...)

Three years ago when we started homeschooling, I would have balked at the idea of employing electronic devices to teach my children.  I had done my reading and planning and we were going to "do school" with hands-on activities, real world experiences, and "living books" (which we would read while sitting next to a babbling brook and eating freshly picked wild fruit, of course.)

Things are a little different now, the most obvious of which is I have two more children than I did when I first dreamed up my dreams, and we've taken a little more "classical" approach to school.  It turns out, my perfect blend of Charlotte Mason/unschool-ish/unit studies doesn't actually work for us.  We still do those nature-y/hands-on/real world things as often as possible (which is fairly often, thankfully)  but they are not the backbone of our homeschool.  They are more like the happy side effect of short lessons (which IS a backbone of our homeschool) and the freedom to set our own pace and schedule.  

A couple years ago, my mom introduced us to the world of the iPad.  I was skeptical at first, but we quickly put it to good use and continue to use them, almost exclusively for school and audio books, daily.  This year I've been even more intentional about including  gadgets and screen time as part of the curriculum.  I really need "help" covering all my bases during lessons time, so I'm not above using technology as a servant.  The kids like it for the variety and I like it because it helps keep the learning humming along even when I'm not sitting next to a child in a one-on-one lesson.   (You don't have to link to any "screen time" articles in the comments, I've already read them and am aware that my children are more likely to be over-tired, obese, violent delinquents with every on-line Latin drill they complete.   I have been informed and have signed the waiver...   Man, can you believe they let people like me have kids???)    

So here's what we've been "using" so far.  Nothing earth shattering, but all very, very helpful to us :)  

Number (1) Most helpful: A new thing I call AUDIO LESSONS.  I put that in caps to emphasize how fabulous this has been so far this year.  It's part of my new homeschool philosophy: "go audio whenever you can."  My mom, who's good at this kind of stuff (thanks mom!) helped me get our curriculum cd's onto our hard drive.  I use Windows Media Center to create new playlists for the boys about once a week.  "Audio Lessons"  is part of their daily schedule.  It's an actual academic "requirement," not fun time at the computer.  

When it's on their schedule they have to listen to their playlist at least once, then review the material with me. They use a headset so that it doesn't disrupt the other lessons going on.  It's really been a game-changer around here because in the past, if I was working closely with one boy, the other one would often just wander around being distracting.  Now, he's engaged in his "audio lessons."  Dominic in particular learns songs and chants very easily and I believe this is going to be very beneficial to him; already he's learned more than I think he would have if I was just giving him plain old instruction.

Here's an example of Dominic's audio lessons playlist this week:

from the Math U See skip counting/addition facts CD:
     Skip Counting by 2's (both versions)
     Skip Counting by 5's (both versions)
     Addition Facts +8's
     Addition Facts +9's
from Song School Latin (books 1 and 2)
     vocabulary songs from Chapters 3 and 5 (book 1)
     present tense verb endings song (book 2)
     present tense conjugation of esse song (book 2)
     1st declension noun endings chant (book 2)
from First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Audio Companion for Levels 1 & 2:
     "The Goops,"  poem by Gelett Burgess
     pronouns chant
     state of being verbs chant
     state of being verbs song

So that's what Dominic's got right now.  Aaron is only listening to skip counting by 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9 at this point in anticipation of starting multiplication around the end of the second quarter.  The lessons change every week - I take off old tracks and put on new ones to include new vocab, math facts, grammar rules, etc...  We'll also use it for poetry memorization as well as some science and geography memorization as well.  

(2) Good ole Old-Fashioned Kindle (I say old fashioned because I recently heard that they are only going to manufacture touch screens from this point on and I really recommend the old ones that are button-operated and aren't connected to the Web.)  

I'm so excited about this, I have to shout it from the mountain tops:  AARON HAS BEEN INDEPENDENTLY READING AND ENJOYING HIS FIRST BOOK!!!!!   I'm talking about the first book that he's reading on his own initiative!!  (but then I chat with him about it to assess/confirm comprehension and call it a lesson.)  Anyway, he's reading  The Boxcar Children on the old fashioned Kindle.  He likes it because it's "cool" and he can hardly believe that I'm letting him do it.  And I like it because he can't accidentally swipe the pages around and get lost or confused and he can't get on-line and ruin his childhood with scary on-line things.  I chose to let him use the Kindle in the first place because when your non-reader hints that he's interested in reading something, you make it happen immediately for $3.21 instead of waiting a few days for a library request to come through...  

Now that I've allowed my first book for kids on the Kindle, I'm wondering if i should consider the Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription (and just make it official that screens are taking over my children's lives...)  Does anyone know if the Unlimited library has a decent selection of easy reading kids books?

3) Headventure Latin vocabulary drills (coincides with Latin for Children from Classical Academic Press)  So far, this has been hugely helpful to us.  Aaron and I review his vocab together a few times, then he sits down at the computer and does a couple rounds of Latin to English and then vice versa, reporting to me on his scores each time.  Once he gets enough A's, he's done for the day.   (Aaron's in Level B now, and what's available on-line is very limited.  It looks like they'll be adding to each level though.  Level A seems to have many more "fun" activities.)  

(4)  Math U See website drills.   The boys use these occasionally, but I have to admit, they're pretty lame.  I really like the MUS curriculum (and the lessons themselves are on DVD, so that's a bonus to me!)  but what they really need is an iPad/android app that allows students to play math games using the MUS method and order of instruction.  For now, the on-line drills will have to do...  (We also use their on-line worksheet generator a lot.)

(5)  Stuff you already know about - Netflix and Amazon Prime.  But maybe you didn't know how many educational programs are "free" (with membership) on-line.  For example, they have tons of NOVA on Amazon Prime :)  Also, now with Amazon Prime's new free music, you can basically decide in the morning which new classical composer you want to study and then start listening right away!  

(6)  And of course, we're still using the iPads.  I've found a few new-to-me apps that I can recommend: (don't forget, I usually get all these apps for free with the notifications from Smart Apps for Kids)  

Marble Math Jr.  - the boys really enjoy this game that combines math practice with a marble maze.  

Art Authority K-12 - this is going to be a wonderful for our art appreciation this year!  You can view the "gallery" either by artist, or by era/style.  The collection of artwork is very extensive but was assembled with young people in mind, so no nudes :)   I like this app so much I may end up writing about it more when we study our first artist this quarter.  It's worth checking out if you do art study at home and would appreciate having a veritable museum at your fingertips!

Handwriting Without Tears Wet, Dry, Try - if you use HWT curriculum I highly recommend this app.  Because HWT uses non traditional paper and method-specific strokes, etc... my kids often get frustrated when writing or tracing letters in other apps.  They're usually done differently than they had been taught.  It's nice to have an app that reinforces the method they use during lessons.  I also like being able to leave behind the dusty chalk, rags, and slates for the less-dusty iPad :)  

(7) Finally, as I mentioned before, I'm replying heavily on anything else that I can get an "audio" version of.  It's not my ideal situation, but I just don't have the time to read everything that needs to be read out loud.   So, books on CD or Audible?  Yes.  Among other things, we're using Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times Audiobook CD  (Susan Wise Bauer), D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths from Audible (the list of narrators on this production is impressive!!  Paul Newman, Matthew Broderick, Sidney Poitier!)  and Tales From the Odyssey CD Collection  (Mary Pope Osborne).  It's really been a blessing to be able to "do history" while driving in the car.  Both the kids and I are really captivated by it!  I could never read each chapter two or three times, but in the car it's totally reasonable to replay a couple tracks and by the time we get where we're going we all know quite a bit more about ___fill in the blank with your favorite topic using your best dramatic Jim Weiss imitation___.  

*   *   *   *   *   *

Tech time can never replace real books, activities, and time spent learning through human interaction, but as I have more and more on my plate each year, I'm open to new ideas for making home learning fun and sometimes more feasible.  What ways do you use gadgets, screens, and technology to aid (but not invade!) your homeschool?  

*   *   *   *   *   *

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