I went this past weekend to see some family in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and attended the book fair all day Saturday. Unfortunately, my conference-loving blogging friends from Houston and Austin weren’t able to go this time, so I was on my own. I decided to drag my daughter along with me let my daughter attend with me. It was her first book fair (that she can remember). She did a great job as a pack mule helping me carry things (since they don’t allow strollers in the convention center – WHO’S idea was that??!).
After we registered and checked in our extra baggage, we scoped out the bathroom and nursing room so we could flee there at the first sign of trouble. Mr. Viking needed a diaper change and I made sure he was well fed before we rushed to make it to our first conference session: Family Man Ministries!
Todd Wilson was giving a talk about his book, “Lies Homeschool Moms Believe” (now in my sidebar – go buy it and tell them I sent you!). I am quite certain that I believe most of the lies he writes about, so I figured I needed his pep talk. I snapped this photo right after another mom in the audience took one and he said, “She’s taking pictures of me, too! I bet you both are bloggers.” How did he know?! I guess Bloggers are the only ones carrying heavy-duty digital SLRs in to the convention center and taking photos of everything from books to balloons. Sorry Family Man. We just can’t help it.
Fifteen minutes in to his awesome lecture, the timer went off (the baby one, that is). I discreetly stepped on ten or eleven people trying to make my way out of the crowded room before the little guy blew his top. There was not a spot on the floor to walk – people were standing all around and sitting on the ground. Everyone had to move so I could exit. Nice and embarrassing. I didn’t stop to get a picture of that.
Morgan got to stay in the room and listen to the rest of the speech. She told me later when she found me in the nursing room: “Mom, you really needed to hear the rest of what he said. He said you shouldn’t worry so much about the house being clean. It’s like a ZERO on the scale of 1-10. Ten is your relationships with your kids.”
Thanks, Family Man. Now they aren’t going to help me clean the house. There’s proof that his lesson is sinking in already (you should see my house since we got back home from the trip).
After another nursing session (and seeing some friendly familiar sleep-deprived faces – glad I’m not the only one!), I was determined to go hear Renee Ellison of Homeschool How-To’s. She’s such an awesome wealth of information! Her specialty is training mothers on how to effectively discipline and raise their children in a Godly fashion. I brought along another lady from the nursing room as we had been talking about discipline while feeding our babies. We managed to catch the last fifteen minutes of Renee’s talk and I stopped by her booth to get a photo afterwords.
What a great picture (even if it makes the convention center walls look pink)! I didn’t even have to ask them to pose. When I arrived at her booth, she was sitting in her husband’s lap. He told me, “It’s the best thing to do for your kids to show love and affection for your spouse.” Amen to that! I just love the people at Homeschool Conferences!
I was bound and determined to find some bloggers. I knew that Smockityfrocks and Reflective (my twitter buddies) would be there somewhere. I didn’t know they had lots of other bloggers lined up to meet as well.
I searched through the entire convention hall – taking pictures as I went. A lady behind one of the booths said, “What a great idea to take photos of the curriculum you are interested in so you can buy it later!” If only she knew that I hadn’t stopped to look at ANY curriculum. I was there for the bloggers this time. My kids would be lucky if they got the basics done next year with a newborn in the house. Aren’t I such a great homeschooling example? Just as I started feeling guilty for ignoring all this great curriculum I couldn’t afford, I bumped in to Connie!
We picked the spinach out of our teeth and posed for the kids (…who managed to take our picture without even rolling their eyes! Aren’t homeschool kids great?!). Unlike Connie, I was unable to do the “Funky Chicken” with a baby sling and a fifty-pound camera bag diaper bag slung over my shoulders. How purdy she is! Her ultra-polite children said ‘Hello’ to Morgan. Too bad we aren’t neighbors. That would be cool. I could be a bad influence on her and we could both play hooky all year!
I asked her what she was up to and she said she was stalking waiting around for JenIG. I didn’t even know that Jen was at the conference! My blogging eyes lit up with glee. Unfortunately, I was unable to find Jen for a photo even after a siege of the Rosetta Stone booth. After the fifth time that they asked “Can I help you?” in a worried tone, I decided to head for the next conference session (afraid they might call security). I wished they could have helped me by offering free Italian or Spanish curriculum. I heart Rosetta Stone.
On the way there, I ran in to my old buddy Jessica Hulcy and her groovy husband, Wade (the authors of KONOS). Of course, I had never actually MET Jessica. I had seen her at a few conferences, but was way too shy to go up and meet her. She was always busy at the booth with her countless admirers anyway, but THIS time she was free! I sauntered up to the booth and asked if I could take their picture. After an awkward pause, they both agreed. I told her I was a blogger. That explained it, I’m sure.
Aren’t they a cute couple? Morgan was thrilled to get to meet the lady who had created all those fun unit studies we’ve done since they were wee tiny tots. Jessica said she would link to my site so I could share all my old unit study posts – even after I told her that I was a really poor example of a KONOSer. “I miss those fun days of school with Konos,” I confessed to her.
She made my school year by telling me this little known secret, “You shouldn’t feel bad. There was one year when we were teaching the kids that we did nothing but math…” WHAT?! This homeschooling giant was a slacker like me?! “…instead we built a house that year and the kids learned more that year than I ever would have imagined. They jumped ahead academically by two years even though we only did math!”
I could have cried. Inwardly, I did. It was probably the nicest thing anyone had ever told me. I thanked her for telling me that and treasured it as I made my way towards the convention room doors.
Outside, I bumped in to Connie again. Only this time, she had a crowd of bloggers with her! From left to right is: Smockityfrocks, Are We There Yet?, little-ol’ me, Life Nurturing Education, and Mandigirl Muses. I did the happy dance without dropping the baby or the diaper bag… and whipped out my Canon for a few poor-lighting photos that barely came out. So what if they aren’t “I heart Faces” quality? At least I got to meet BLOGGERS! And I have PROOF! Look at all those pretty ladies! And aren’t y’all jealous that I got to hug sweet Renae’s neck. I just love her. Even if she got to see King Tut and I didn’t. All you other groovy bloggin’ mamas that I didn’t know before but should have, “I love you, man!” We so need to get back together where we don’t have to share the day with a homeschool convention.
Since we were holding up the session with our picture taking in the back of the room, they had to announce that the program was starting and threaten to lock the doors (what they really meant was that they wanted to lock out us weirdos). We took the hint and said quick goodbyes. I sat down to listen to John Erickson (who I affectionately refer to as “Hank the Cowdog Man”) do a banjo concert. To my surprise, the baby started fussing again. I mean, who wouldn’t fuss if their overall buckles were crammed into their pudgy little cheeks while their body was being compressed into the size of a soup can inside a hot, sticky sling.
I had seen a lady earlier with a much more comfy looking sling. Her baby didn’t look quite as angry at her, either. I had sling envy.
I made my way out of the Cowdog Concert at the end of a beautifully executed old church hymn. Wish I could remember which one it was. I do a love a good old-time hymn! The nursing room was full when we returned. I got to meet a bunch of other nursing mamas and we compared each other’s slings, diapers, and birth stories. I learned more in the nursing room than anywhere else at the conference. And there were gourmet chocolate mints. [I love you, McCords!]
The nursing room was really nice. There were changing tables, complimentary mints and water… and free wipes in case you ran out or forgot yours. They had tables to eat at and lay your books and bags on, plenty of chairs, and a quiet atmosphere – tucked away from the conference and directly across from the baggage check room. That was handy. Made getting something from your stroller a cinch (like the lunch that we brought with us to avoid paying concession stand prices).
However, it was nice to have the concession stand around when we got thirsty later. Seven dollars for two bottled drinks is a little steep, but boy, they hit the spot!
I was glad that I had given my old cell phone to Morgan. I handed it to her as she ran off to go meet her idol: Grace Mally. Grace and her siblings wrote the book, “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends”, which is a favorite devotional book we have used for years! She also took my camera. Grace was giving a talk about marriage and courting or something like that. A little over the age limit for my ten-year-old, but Morgan was determined to meet her beautiful favorite author. She waited patiently for Grace to finish her discussion and asked someone to take a photo with her. I can’t believe I let her carry off my Canon 40D SLR. Good thing the baby and the chocolate mints were there to distract me! The photo came out wonderful! In fact, who-ever took it must know more about cameras than I do. Nice to be outdone by a perfect stranger.
Although I scoured the convention hall for my long-lost blogging buddies, I wasn’t able to ever find them again. I did run in to Hank… er, John, who was finished serenading us Texans and ready to sign books. Morgan got a picture with him as well. We sufficiently thanked him for his wonderful books and continued our search for the bloggers.
Somehow, the sling kept getting heavier. The diaper bag, too. The convention hall seemed to be getting bigger, as well. My spry young legs having been replaced by some old lady’s; I wasn’t sure I could last much longer. “If I don’t see [insert groovy blogger’s name here] again soon, I think maybe we should just leave.” I told Morgan.
After one last lap around the hall, we went to get our stroller out of captivity and placed the disgruntled Viking in it. He let us know in no uncertain terms that he was FINISHED gallivanting around Arlington. I’m quite certain that his last fussy whimper could be translated as, “I’ll get you back for this next week, lady.” He turned on the puppy-dog eye charm and I couldn’t resist. I guess he was just too young to enjoy a good book fair, bloggers or no bloggers.
As a parting gift, one of the friendly book fair workers handed me a tiny cup of mints to take home with me. I guess that was my consolation for not getting to spend any money on books or more than five minutes with my blogging friends. Oh, well. At least now I know a lot more about cloth diapering, sling brands, and nursing. Not that I would ever actually USE a cloth diaper. Nursing is as ‘earth mama’ as I get, y’all. Maybe next year I can leave the Viking behind and hit the halls with renewed interest in all those great homeschool products again. I’m sure that there will be plenty of bloggers there in 2010. Next time, I’ll make sure they don’t get away so quickly!
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