Monday, June 14, 2010

The Convention, in Bullet Points

* I do believe the parking garage at the convention center held every make and model of minivan built in the last 15 years. Homeschoolers are a minivan-lovin' bunch. And yes, there were a few vans even larger than that, for the super-size families. But we didn't see any two-door cars in the entire lot.

* On the first day of the conference, I remarked to Jeff about how I appreciated the modesty that the girls and women were displaying. Here and there, I spotted some immodest clothing; but it was definitely the exception rather than the rule. The next day, I thought, "Hmm. I take it all back. This group is not necessarily any more modest than any other group." The reason? Graduation that afternoon. Why, oh why, do women think that it's OK to be immodest when they dress up? (And weddings - don't even get me started. Does the fact that it's a wedding mean you can expose your body in a way that would make you blush any other time?) Here's a hint: if your dress looks like a slip, it's probably not a good idea to wear it. And just because it's a special event or a celebration or a church service or any other kind of dress-up occasion does not mean that standards of modesty should be flung out the window, folks! (Can you tell that immodesty is a huge pet peeve of mine?)

* One thing that blessed my soul was seeing the general attitude and behavior of the older kids there (despite the immodesty I just described). The teenagers were respectful, kind, willing to help with their younger siblings. I saw a number of older brothers and sisters pushing their little sibs in strollers or otherwise entertaining them. I'd expect older sisters to do that, but lots of older brothers were, too. Those kinds of loving family relationships are one of the Big Three reasons we decided to homeschool. I'm certainly not naive enough to think that all homeschooling families get along so harmoniously all the time...or that just because we homeschool, our boys will never argue...I could supply plenty of evidence to the contrary! But both Jeff and I noticed a difference in the way the young people at the convention acted versus an average group of similar-aged people.

* Homeschoolers defy stereotypes. Oh, there are stereotypes; and there is some truth to them. But not everyone at the conference was white; there were blacks. Not everyone was Christian; there were Muslims. Not everyone had 12 kids; some only had a measly 6 (kidding, of course). :) Not everyone wore matching clothes; most didn't. Not everyone ate sandwiches for lunch made from bread they baked themselves with wheat they ground themselves; some bought ridiculously-overpriced food at the convention center. Not everyone homeschooled all of their kids from cradle to graduation; some only homeschooled some of their kids for a much shorter amount of time. We certainly didn't all fit into the same mold, even though we were brought together by one reason.

* Why on earth do convention centers set their thermostat for roughly two degrees above freezing? Ideas we floated around include: a) cooler temps slow the spread of germs which is nice when you're in a large crowd (although this didn't seem to work for me...more on that in a sec), b) cooler temps keep people awake which is nice if you're the speaker and you don't want your audience falling asleep, or c) cooler temps put more money in the pockets of the coffee vendors who work in the convention center, since everyone is desperate for some way to warm up (when Jeff went to buy a cup during one of the afternoons, they had actually sold out). We were chilly the whole time; and in fact, sometimes as we walked from one building to the next, we opted to walk outside to cross the street, rather than take the indoor bridge--simply so we could warm up for approximately 8.3 seconds before walking into the indoor Arctic again.

* I haven't seen so many "rolly carts" (what are they really called anyway?) since we left Israel. We quickly discovered, when we lived in Tel Aviv, that they were an indispensable part of city life, so we soon purchased one and used it constantly. But here in the States where we drive everywhere and load things into our car for transport, who needs a rolly cart? Well, duh, homsechoolers do--at least, during the convention they do. I'm not sure what they do with them the rest of the year.

* Even if you think you're only going to buy "a few things" at the convention, you WILL buy more. After all, how can you pass up a book for only a dollar at the Used Curriculum Sale, a book that Josiah will love? And here's a set of Bob the Builder early readers for David that he'll be so proud of. And an alphabet book for Tobin. And more books for Josiah. And some Sonlight materials that I was going to buy anyway. And in the Exhibit Hall? Well, Josiah's birthday is here so it would be great to get him at least the first book of this new series. After all, it's an allegory about the Bible. And we need a handwriting book for David. And Josiah wants to learn cursive; here's a great one for that. And science! Oh, we need to focus on that this year; let's get this set... Whew! We were wishing for a rolly cart. ;)

* You will be inspired. I had previously gone to a much smaller convention in Northern Virginia; and from that experience, I knew we were in for a treat as far as the speakers go. Sure, there was one session that didn't live up to Jeff's expectations, and there was one that failed to hold my attention...but the rest were, for the most part, outstanding. I am always blown away by Jeff because I watch him get convicted about something, and then take immediate steps to correct it. He's already doing things differently because of what he learned, and I'm so proud of him.

* God provides. Here's how I saw that demonstrated this past weekend: a few days before the convention, I suddenly realized that I had not reserved a hotel room for us. We talked it over and decided to wing it, so Friday evening after we left the convention, we got in the van and started driving without any set idea of where to go. We exited the freeway rather randomly and went to the right, only to discover that we were getting into an area of the city that was probably not the wisest place to spend the night, so we turned around and went the other way. It wasn't long at all until we came to a great area that had one hotel--a hotel that was very nice and was exactly in our price range--but even better, was very close to an Olive Garden restaurant! I've mentioned before how much I love the Olive Garden. :) It was perfect how it all worked out, even if we went into it a little unprepared.

* Just getting away from daily life and being together was wonderful for Jeff and I. As we headed south on I-81 on Friday morning, we looked at each other and said, "Even if the convention is terrible, it's still going to be a great weekend because we get to have this time together!" It was so nice to have time to talk...and not worry about little ears overhearing (because even though Shav was with us, we weren't too worried about him hearing). :)

* Having dear friends watching our older boys was an incredible blessing, one which I'd like to write more about in days to come.

* Having a fever of 103 degrees doesn't do much to enhance a convention experience; in fact, it detracts significantly! Even in this, however, I saw God's hand because when I was packing, I decided to include a few Tylenol in our stuff. I NEVER think to pack pain medicine before we go somewhere, and I was feeling completely fine when I packed it, but in the back of my head was the thought that maybe I would get a headache and want something for it. In the early morning hours of Saturday, I had to get up with Shav who had woken up; and I found it incredibly difficult to sit up on the couch in the hotel room and nurse him. I kind of rushed through his nursing, and gratefully sank down into bed again. When morning came, I still felt poorly, but thought maybe I was a little dehydrated from not drinking my normal amount the day before. I drank several large glasses of orange juice at breakfast that morning, but continued to feel achy all over, so I suspected I had a slight fever. I took two Tylenol and perked up, which lasted a while; when I started feeling bad again, I took the other two, and they kicked in and helped quite a bit. However, by the last session of the day, I was again feeling so bad. I didn't really know what was going on, but I was just so uncomfortable and cold and could hardly wait for the speaker to finish so I could get out of there (and it was a good session, too--one which I still think about and ponder!). By the time we walked over to the parking garage, I was shivering uncontrollably and literally could not stop my body from shaking. In the van for the trip home, I put a blanket over myself and tried to sleep...which I did for about 20 minutes or so until I woke up feeling like I couldn't breathe. Well, I could breathe, but I just felt like I wasn't getting enough oxygen. I would get sleepy again and drift off to sleep, but then wake up feeling short of breath. Strange. It wasn't until we got home and I collapsed on the couch that I could take my temperature and discover that it was about 103. I haven't had one that high in recent memory. Yesterday my throat started hurting; and when Dad checked it, he saw white spots. Tonsillitis. Yuck. The worst part is that it changed our plans for Josiah's birthday, and both he and Jeff have dealt with fevers during the past two days as well. I'm trying not to be too pessimistic, but I wouldn't be surprised if it sweeps through our whole household. One day at a time though. Hopefully I'll be feeling better before it hits the little guys. If only my throat would stop hurting so bad!

* I took the camera to the convention, but the only thing I ended up taking a picture of was Shav.
That's OK; he's the best thing to take pictures of anyway. :) It was special to have that time with just him. Even though I had to focus on him to keep him entertained and quiet during the workshops (and couldn't sit and take notes and give the speakers 100% of my attention), he actually did really well and was a joy to have with us. I love him. :)

* I didn't mean to be so wordy in this post, but look how long this got! Overall, it was a tremendous convention, and I hope I get to go again next year. :)


Bonnie said...

Oh my goodness, the first bullet made me laugh!
We mostly see "Yoder-Toters" around here (8-15 passenger vans) with hoeschoolers.
Our convention is next week, I am really excited, *and* B. is coming along. I'm never sure what will catch his attention and cause him to join in, and what is strictly "my area as the mother". He wants me to homeschool, but, well, his dad wasn't very involved when B. was homeschooled (before homeschooling was "cool"), so I sometimes wonder what B.'s involvement will be.
Good thing you mentioned freezing temperatures, I hadn't thought of that possibility....

Bonnie said...

HOMESCHOOLERS! not hoe. Jeeze.

Ceci said...

The convention was very inspirational. I enjoyed being there. Next year maybe I can take in more seminars. Baby steps. And it was cold there. We were very cold walking the exhibit hall floor. And were glad to have some warm air when we went to leave.

Davene said...


That's another thing I should have mentioned about the convention. We heard about quite a few people we knew who were there, but we saw very few of them! I guess that goes to show how many people were there. It would have been fun to bump into you though. :)

I did happen to meet a family I've only known through blogging. Meredith's (from Striving to Serve at Home) mom and two brothers were there, although Meredith herself wasn't. I was so surprised when I looked up in the Used Curriculum Sale and saw this beautiful lady that I was sure must be Meredith's mom. :) I had to go up to her and say hi, of course. I felt like I had just met a celebrity! :)

Sally said...

Wow! You've had a lot going on recently! I wonder if someday I'll go to homeschooling conventions. It would be great, especially if it will get me inspired. I am still dreading homeschooling, to tears at times. It is just SO MUCH WORK!

I really hope you all get better soon. I'm sorry you're so sick. That is no fun at all. We will keep our distance, that's for sure. Here I was feeling discouraged because I discovered a "flower" bed with weeds out of control and over my head. At least no one is seriously ill over here!

Morning said...

What an experience! I think it would have been a worthwhile weekend for homeschoolers and those parents who just want to enhance their child's experiences out of school. Homeschooling in Australia is a very small area, but one which is growing quickly.

Sally said...

I thought I was the ONLY one who is fed up with the rampant immodesty I see everywhere! It even more outrages me when it's displayed among professing Christians. How am I ever going to teach Hannah to be modest if all the people we go to church with, associate with, etc., think nothing of...well everything you see these days. I'm so glad I'm not the only one. I'll send our girls over to see you when they think Mom is weird and too strict!

Margie said...

At our church, the kindergartners are split up - girls and boys. I was talking to my friend who'll be teaching Elizabeth's class in the fall, and she said one of the issues they'll be addressing is modesty! I'm so excited she'll be getting it there and at home. I assume this will be a fairly big topic for us in years to come.