Homeschool Encouragement

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


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.  

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

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.  

Standard Deviants ACCELERATE (a review)

Do you want to add a video/interactive component, automatic quizzes, and hands-on assessment activities to one your child’s courses without spending a small fortune?  Maybe you want to take a look at the new ACCELERATE program from Standard Deviants?

The same folks that have developed fast paced supplemental dvds for math and science have put together a series of supplemental courses for middle school through high school.

sd accelerate review at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsSubjects Currently Offered:


  • Earth Science (grades 6+)
  • Nutrition (grades 6+)
  • Biology (grades 7+)
  • Chemistry (grades 9+)


  • Arithmetic (grades 3+)
  • Fundamental Math (grades 4+)
  • Algebra (grades 7+)

Misc High School

  • English Composition
  • US History

AP Exam Prep (grades 11+)

  • AP Biology
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP English Composition
  • AP US Government and Politics
  • AP US History

Outsourcing High School Math on a Shoe String

high school math-001I admit it.  My 9th grader has switched Algebra 1 programs twice this school year.  Why, oh why, is it so hard to find a solid math program that I can teach well?  If I were a mathematician, maybe that would help?  Or if he was particularly mathy (he’s definitely not), that would help. 

But alas, I am who I am and he is who he is.

David started in September using Discovering Algebra, because it had been recommended to me for its exploratory qualities (he is a creative soul).  This text proved to be:

The Art of Organization… or How Clutter Almost Ruined My Homeschool!

Welcome to week 4 of the Virtual Curriculum Fair!  Today we are talking about:

Seeking Beauty: the Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty to Our World---includes any of the arts, handicrafts, but really ANYTHING at all that adds beauty to your homeschool.

How Clutter Almost RUINED My Homeschool @Homeschooling Hearts & MindsMy co-host this week is Lisa @ Golden Grasses and we have 13 other homeschool bloggers joining us.  If you’d like to join the conversation, use the linky at the bottom of this post to link up your own posts pertaining to Seeking Beauty in your homeschool.

When I invented week 4 of the VCF as a way for families to talk about the beautiful things, whether that be the fine arts, religious studies, or really whatever brings beauty and joy into their homeschools, I made it open-ended and flexible for a reason.

Real life doesn’t fit in a box. 

Right now, what is bringing beauty, joy, and PEACE into my homeschool is the lack of clutter.

It is freeing my mind and spirit of a lot of unnecessary conflict.

At the beginning of this school year, we set up a “school room” for the first time in our home.

I had resisted that for a long time because I didn’t want to recreate school at home. 

But school was exploding all over my house.  And while learning everywhere is a good thing, having to clear books and art projects off the counter every time I wanted to prepare a meal was a drag.   Tripping over projects and books was not pleasant, either.