Homeschool Encouragement

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Updates: New Blog is Now Live!

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds will remain on the web for now.  I probably will be removing some of the personal content or making it private, but the freebies and articles on homeschooling will continue to remain available to the public.

If you'd like to keep in touch and find out what we are doing these days, my new blog is now live:

Why Not Sparkle?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hello to Spring and New Beginnings! Important Announcement!

Our first crocuses opened their purple petals just in time for Holy Week.  The wind is still a bit chilly, but the lilacs are donning whispering leaves.  4

Spring is really here!  I’m looking forward to nature walks, garden planting, and joyful voices at the playground.  One of my kids came home the other day with the first sunburn of the season.

New Beginnings...important announcement at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Just as the landscape is undergoing a transformation, so is our homeschool. 

I remember last year around this time I was thinking about giving up this home education thing.  My kids were having a hard time getting along (growing pains) and I was having a hard time in my heart.  I wondered if it would be best for my oldest to attend high school in a brick-and-mortar school.  I wondered if my 2nd oldest needed a break from the rest of us.

In retrospect, I think it was the 7-year-itch.  It was the middle of my 7th year as a homeschooling mama and it was a hard year for me.  If I’m completely honest, it continued to be hard until quite recently.  I think I’m over the hump, now.  Our home learning continues to be an important and enriching part of our lives.

But part of getting over that hump was coming to some important realizations.

1st Realization:  I love teaching my kids. 

I love learning alongside them.  And I love talking with them every day about the things that are important to them.  I love knowing first hand what they are learning about, but also being taken completely by surprise when they teach me something that they have learned on their own.  They teach me something new every day!

2nd Realization:  My kids love learning together, but they can seriously get on each other’s nerves.  

Most of us are introverts.  We like people, but we also need space and time to recharge (away from everyone) on a regular basis.  

3rd Realization:  I was (am) worrying too much about fitting our learning into “acceptable” patterns. 

There isn’t one right way to do high school.  There isn’t one optimal course through the foundational grades. I knew that in my head, but I still found my plans being heavily influenced by what others think is a rigorous, engaging course of study rather than what really and truly works best for my crew.

The reality is that my kids are not the norm.  Nobody is.  And trying to stuff them into the accepted course was, well, it wasn’t working for anybody.

4th Realization:  Sometimes simpler really is better. 

The best curriculum is the one that gets done.  I’m not going to get into all the plans I had for this year that didn’t happen (and there are lots of reasons), but what we are doing right now is much simpler and it’s working!  It is the best plan for us because it’s getting done.  The kids are learning so much. 

My grand plans may have looked better on paper (or in a blog post), but this, this is what works and so it’s what we will stick with.  For now.

This same realization applies to so much more than just homeschooling.

5th Realization:  There is so much more to me than being a homeschool mom, a mom, or a wife. 

And in just a few short years, my kids will start graduating from my homeschool and I will have more time to pursue my interests.  But, here’s the thing---none of us know how long we have on this earth.  Don’t continually put off until tomorrow what you can start today.

6th Realization:

Deep Breath.

It’s time for a new beginning. 

I will be retiring this blog and starting a new site (the new site is a way to help me focus on the 5th Realization above).  When the new site goes live sometime in the next couple of weeks, I will post an update here to let you know where to find it. 

This decision has been a long time in coming.  In fact, I’ve owned the domain for the new site for over a year and it’s taken me this long to go ahead with it.  It’s hard for me to let go of a good thing.  I’ve put a lot of myself into this site, but I know that putting it aside is for the best.

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds will remain here as an archive for homeschoolers looking for the resources I’ve accumulated over the years, so no worries about downloading everything before it is gone. 

But over the next couple of weeks I will be shutting down the comments, follows, etc.  I may keep the FB and Twitter pages intact, haven’t decided for sure (let me know if you want to still connect about homeschooling on FB). 

Please be aware that I may or may not renew the domain name when it comes up for renewal at the end of this year.  If I do not renew, I will revert it back to its blogspot address and will post an update here.

The Virtual Curriculum Fair will run again in 2016, but I have turned it over to a group of lovely homeschool blogging friends of mine.  I will post an update about its new home at some point in the future.

So, please stay posted---and look for my new home on the web in the next couple of weeks. 

He is Risen!

He is truly risen!

He is Risen-001

Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Play Love Laugh---Kid-Safe, Vegetable-based Nail Polish (a review)

Do you have a little girl who loves fancy nails?

Play Love Laugh, Inc. has developed a kid-safe, vegetable-based nail polish that comes in all the trendy colors, including pearls and sparkles. 

I recently had the opportunity to try out their pearly Pink Rose polish with 5-year-old Emma and…

She is in love! 

play love laugh-001IMG_0503


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Don’t Compare Your Darkest Moments to Someone’s Highlight Reel

The other day I read a post where the blogger was showing you how to stage your own “baby birthday cake smash” photography session without having to hire a professional photographer.  It got me thinking about how what we see around us is getting further and further from reality.

highlight reel-001Babies have been smashing cake on their first birthdays for…well, for a long, long, LONG time.  And while it may be a memorable family event that mamas and papas would want to capture on film (or digital memory), this idea of staging it in a photography studio or hiring a photographer to come out and stage it for you is…well, somehow it seems contrary to the whole thing here.

One of the attractions of “candid” photos taken by a non-professional is that the resulting pics are real, not merely staged phantoms of what is real.  But real. 

This really happened. 

But then there are those professional photos that are carefully lit, posed, and retouched.  Even when they are of things that really happened (whether it be in the moment or a recreation), there is a quality of unreal about them.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Perfect Meal for Ash Wednesday

After fasting all day while schooling, then rushing off to our homeschool group’s Little Flowers Girls Club and Boy-Powered Creations Club , and finally coming home at dinner time…well it was nice to have a hearty, meatless meal waiting in the crockpot.

Not sure what to call it…started out as a bean soup, but then thickened to more of a chili consistency.  Whatever you call it, it was good.  I served this with a loaf of bread from the bread machine.

Susan's Meatless Bean Chili Soup @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Susan’s Bean Chili Soup

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Art: Playing with Charcoal

I’ve heard it said that homeschooled kids don’t get exposed to real art instruction or making a mess with real art supplies unless those things are outsourced, because moms and dads don’t want to deal with the clean up. 

Don’t be afraid to make messes.  Life is messy and so is learning!  When we make mistakes (or happy accidents, depending upon how you look at them), we learn.  We grow in the making and the cleaning up. 

Besides, if I were afraid of cleaning up messes, I’d have to outlaw pencils and erasers.  Those little rubber doobers get everywhere and it seems at least one kid always has a graphite blackened hand, which can easily leave a find handprint on a wall.  So today we dabbled in charcoal.