May 13, 2009

Texas Homeschool Book Fair: A Photo Essay

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What is better than the Arlington Texas Book Fair (#txhsbf on Twitter)? Meeting up with BLOGGERS at the Arlington Texas Book Fair, that's what!

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??!).

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!]

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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).

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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24 comments:

Ruthanne said...

I absolutely love Todd Wilson! Hubby and I heard him speak two years ago - I laughed and cried through the whole thing. He's great!

Amy Bayliss said...

Oh I wish I could have gone. I would have loved to give you and Renae a big ol' southern hug. :)

I'm glad you had such a good time. You so deserve it!

love ya!

Just call me Butterfly... said...

How fun! I was there this weekend. We are finishing K with my oldest and I have been reading your blog since before the move back to Texas sometime in 2007ish. And, as my girlfriend and I pulled into park Saturday, I saw you and Morgan with the stroller walking in...I squealed like I saw a celebrity! ha! And, a little sheepishly, I scoured for you and didn't see you when we got inside though I am not sure what I would have said - other than I heart your blog! Thanks for your so often needed encouragement! You rock! ~April

PS I don't consider myself a blogger because I have one but never post! I hope to get better!

Alli said...

what a great wrap up! I have one of those wraps the other Mama had- it's a Moby wrap and sooooo comfy. My 15 pound 2 month old loves to be in it.

I wish I knew more area homeschool bloggers (I know one)... so it was awesome you got to meet some in your area, even if it was for 5 minutes. Maybe I should go to the next Chattanooga conference with a sandwich board asking, "Are you a homeschool blogger?"

http://crumleyblog.com
http://alwaysalli.com

Darcy @ lwm3b said...

I'm thinking next year that's the fair I should hit. I did Cincy this year. Maybe then I could meet some of the dear girls you did!

Looks like fun.

live4evermom said...

I thought of asking you if you were going but thought you might not go since you had the little one. Again we don't meet. I was at the In the Hands of a Child booth. I'm planning on going to Sethsa. Maybe then....

Martha

JMajma said...

I always enjoy your blog. I was at the bookfair and was able to meet the Hulcys for the first time. I don't blog but I do enjoy a good one! Keep it up!

JenIG said...

I have to admit I'm fairly bitter about NOT getting to meet you. And you must've been at the Bob Jones or My Father's World "Rosetta Stone" set up. They have banners that look just like us. Me and Coie were the only ones working the official Rosetta Stone booth, but we were hidden way back in the farthest most outter reaches of the convention hall. None-the-less, we still had a great show -- besides the fact I never got to meet you in person!

Mrs said...

I've used KONOS for 11 years and have worked in the KONOS booth for probably 8 (twice with Wade and Jessica!). I get to be with Jessica in the booth again in Florida!

I can tell you that Wade and Jessica are the real deal. They'll be the first to tell you their kids aren't perfect, nor are they perfect themselves. I can also tell you they care DEEPLY for homeschool families!

Yes, they sell a curriculum, but their hearts are to turn the hearts of Moms and Dads to their children and to the Lord. I have watched Jessica, dead on her feet, listen quietly and patiently as yet another homeschool mom pours out her woes over a rebellious child. She's not just listening, she's praying for wisdom to give that mother and then gives it. Sometimes Wade has to step in and drag her away or she'd literally collapse.

Knowing the hearts of the authors makes me support KONOS even more. I know it has changed my own family tremendously.

Sprittibee said...

Ruthanne - He's great, isn't he? I so need his book.

Amy Bayliss - You should have been there, mama. Wish I could have given you a ride. Next time, get a last-minute plane ticket and I'll drive you around town!

JustcallmeButterfly... I would have LOVED to meet you. I was lonely without a conference buddy this time. Usually my friend Ammie and/or Rhonda go with me to the fairs. I haven't ever been alone before. It would have been cool to touch base with someone - even if you aren't a blogger! LOL I want to warn you though - there ain't no celebrity bone in my body. You have no idea how bad of an influence I am for homeschoolers everywhere. So you need to just get that squealing stuff right out of your system! LOL

Alli - Moby, eh? Well, I certainly thought it looked cool. I've even thought of making one from material since I saw her tie it up. Yes, yes -you should go to your conference. I love conferences. They are exactly what a homeschool mama needs (I go mainly for the conference sessions - but the vendor hall is a nice plus!).

Darcy - I would be SOOOOOO happy if you could come down here to Texas and go with me to the fair. Mi casa es su casa, baby. You and Amy are welcome to shack up here at my place for a day or two and I'll take you to the capitol and around town for some el Mexican food before we head for Dallas to the conference. It would be so neat to ride in the car with you guys for three hours chatting and twittering from our i-Phones. LOL Put it on your calendar. K?

Martha - Man, that stinks. I remember that you were at the last conference I attended and we missed each other there as well. Wasn't that the Austin CHEACT one? I've been taking a while off from conferences since then. I missed the ones in Houston for the past few years, too. I might try to do those this year, but not sure.

JMajma - Thanks for the sweet comments. I would have enjoyed meeting you at the fair. :)

Helena said...

Sounded like chaotic fun. I just backed out of going this weekend to the bookfair at Feast in San Antonio, I don't want to go alone(I know how you feel). I may just wait till June and hit the one in Austin. Maybe I can find someone to go with then. I only been to one bookfair since homeschooling started, three years ago. Yes the moby wrap is so the way to go, got one with #5 and love it she 20lbs plus and I still use it.

Renae said...

It was wonderful to meet you! I just wish our circles crossed after Hank the Cowdog. I would have love to hold that fussy little boy for you. ;)

Glad you photo of all of us turned out. Do you mind if I copy it? Mine's a bit blurry, but I did crop it correctly. My squishy belly is not supposed to show. :P

An Austin meeting sounds great! How about sometime this fall?

And I can't help but wonder where blogging would be on scale. For me, it's above house cleaning, but below homeschooling.

saradickens said...

So you must spill the beans on everything you learned about cloth diapering. Hes is wearing his first FuzziBunz right now, although it's still a bit too big for him.

Jennifer said...

I was at the bookfair on Friday and saw a lady with the cutest little boy in a cute cute sling...I actually stopped her and asked her if she was you...looks A LOT like you...I mean a lot..needless to say, she wasn't you but she laughed and I complimented her adorable baby and oh so cute sling so maybe she didn't think I was a complete idiot!!!

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

How fun is that?!

Someday to cross paths in a conference hall!

Your little man is a dream, your daughter a joy, you, sunshine herself.

Keep shining, Sprittibee!

All's grace,
Ann

Renae said...

It was so wonderful to meet you! I just wish that we could have found each other after Hank the Cowdog. I would have loved to hold that fussy baby for you. ;)

Your photo of everyone is great, except it's not cropped quite right. You're not supposed to show my squishy belly. :P

Renae said...

Oh, and if I left two comments, please delete one. We had issues with our internet and when it came back on I didn't see my comment, so I left another one. Now I see you moderate comments. Doh!

Sarah Schreffler said...

If you change your mind about cloth diapers let me know :) We didn't start that young, but we've been doing cloth diapering since we moved to Texas. (So about 14 months) (part-time)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a friend of Sarah and Grace Mally -- that's how I found your blog post. :-) I just had to comment to say that I have two children a 18 month old and a 3 month old and I don't know how I would live without my wrap -- you could and should definitely make one! :-) I made mine out of cheap cotton fabric I got for $1/yard. You just need to get 5 yards of fabric and then cut it in half so you have two pieces that are each 5 yards. Hem the unfinished edges and give the extra one to a friend -- or keep one in the house and one in the car. :-) You can find directions for how to use them at www.wearyourbaby.com. It is totally worth it! :-)
God bless you and your family!
<3 Laura
joyfullyhis819 at yahoo dot com

Sprittibee said...

Jen - Oh, well... next time! Just make sure you let me know when you are in TX!!! I am driving distance to most of the fairs... Texas driving distances are much farther than most states. LOL

Mrs. - I love the Hulcys. ;) Amen to that. They are great.

Helena - I don't even know when the FEAST is, but I could have gone. I am not sure if I'll make the Austin one this year. Did that one last year. Much prettier convention center than the Arlington one, but not set up as friendly - but I loved listening to Andrew Pudewa. He rocks.

Renae - Go ahead and copy the photo. ;) My squishy belly was well hidden behind the culprit in the sling. I'm fixing to go on a diet. Let me know when you'll be in our great state capitol-town. Blogging on a scale should be better left to another post... and I'm not sure right now I'd agree to answer that question! LOL

Sara - You are so much more the domestic earth mama than me. Where in the world did you get it? It isn't from our side of the family. Must be somewhere on your dad's. Love you and admire you for it. But I have to admit... I'm insanely jealous of that Kitchenaid (sp?) Mixer. Tell your boy that 'auntie H' is soooo excited to come meet him when she can afford the gas.

Jennifer - :) Too funny. I know I do have a twin out there somewhere. When my husband and I got married, he worked for an oil and gas co. in Houston. One of his co-workers had a photo of his daughter on the company fridge. She looked so much like me that I literally had to do a double-take and STARE at the photo to make sure I wasn't dreaming. And it was a VIVID and CLEAR portrait from Olan Mills! Scary. Very scary. Maybe she moved to Dallas and is a homeschooler with a late baby like me now? What if we're in parallel universes? What if there is no spoon? I really shouldn't blog past midnight.

Ann - :) Love and hugs sent your way on a warm breeze! I hope you'll do a booth down here in Tejas someday. ;) Tejas meaning 'friendship'. And I'm so blessed by yours.

Renae - I was getting a bunch of spam (typed smap first because it is so late and I should be in bed). So I turned on the moderate. Then the spam stopped. Ugh.

Sarah Schreffler - Wow. That's dedication. I just really am not much for the cloth thing. However, Viking has taken to exploding daily and ruining all his clothes anyway - so I am getting quite the nasty taste of it. Suggestions on how to get stains out are much coveted.

Laura - YOU ROCK. I can't wait to try that. Making my own sling. Now that has to count for something - since, of course, I don't do cloth diapers.

God bless you, too! I love the Mally's tender hearts and awesome insights. Such great kids... and Grace's blog is as lovely as she is.

Mrs said...

I didn't know where else to send this but here. PLEASE be in prayer for Jessica Hulcy! She was in a car accident today (T-Boned by a small fire truck) and is in critical but stable condition. Her lungs are collapsed, she has internal bleeding, and some brain trauma. No bones are broken.

Please lift up Wade, Jessica, and the Hulcy family in prayer, and pass the word to other prayer warriors!

Sprittibee said...

Praying for Jessica!!! Sent the message on via tweetdeck for prayers!

Kathy said...

Loved the Book Fair report! It brings back good memories of me living just south of Dallas and hauling my then 3yo and 1yo all around those booths. I discovered Wikki Sticks, met Jane Lambert as I was using Before Five in a Row, and wondered when I'd *ever* get to really sink my teeth into homeschooling and all those fantastic resources. That was 8 years ago, and I don't live anywhere near
Dallas now, but I have precious memories of those early days.

Anonymous said...

I also love Todd Wilson. I highly recommend any homeschool attend his sessions or buy his CDs of his lectures. He is great.

Aren't Jessica and Wade Hulcy wonderful? They are truly amazing. I worked for three days at the FPEA convention (in Orlando) in May 2007 and loved every minute with Jessica. I also participated in their first two years of their online virtual co-op through www.homeschoolmentor.com Very cool. It is awful that Jessica was in the accident so she couldn't make it to FPEA this year. I bet Mrs. was bummed not to work with her. I would do it again. It was exhausting work but also a great experience.

I always love reading your blog! Thanks for all the hard work you do! Sue in FL

 

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