We're back to "real life," sort of, but I'm determined to make time to process at least some of the things I saw and heard during our time away at the amazing Cincinnati Homeschool Convention, which was HUGE! This post will be an overview of what we did, and in following posts I hope to zero in on specific topics and share some of the notes I took and my own observations, what God laid on my heart, etc.
First of all, I just have to say a huge PRAISE GOD for the last few days!! And a huge THANK YOU to my mom and Ted's mom for their willingness to be left alone with five kids for 60 hours, LOL! They did great, all of them, and we only got one phone call from home--a desperate cry of "Where's the nearest Starbucks?!"--which is understandable since Ted and I don't drink coffee as a rule! (Although, ironically, we were enjoying finally being able to use Starbucks gift cards Rhonda gave us for Valentine's Day!)
Both our moms flew in on Wednesday (and boy, were their arms tired, I know, ha ha). Mom's flight was delayed out of Milwaukee, so she arrived around 9:30 p.m. and I picked her up soon after. We drove home, visited awhile, and Ted left to pick Rhonda up after her flight landed at 11:30 p.m. We all crashed around 1 a.m. and slept until 7:30 the next morning, which, for Ted and me, is sleeping in...except for going to bed about 3 hours later than normal! There was plenty of time Thursday morning to go over instructions, answer questions, etc. I left a "Grandmas' Survival Manual," a notebook with pages listing phone numbers and neighbors' names, schedules for Lucan, Kenna, and the older kids, recipes, etc. No one can say I didn't leave enough information, I think!
Ted and I left around lunch time, and the kids barely turned their heads to say goodbye, they were so excited to be left alone with TWO grandmas. We drove a little ways and ate at an Indian restaurant we had gone to on a date night in February and enjoyed their yummy buffet. Then it was on to Cincinnati, where we checked into our lovely two-star hotel (hey, it was a cheap king suite) and met up with Blair and Heather, who had taken a red-eye from Las Vegas and arrived in Ohio around 7:30 a.m. Fortunately they were able to check into their hotel room early and caught some sleep and a shower before we arrived. We visited quite awhile, then drove to the Convention Center to check in. Ted and I were able to trade our 8:30 Tim Hawkins tickets for the 2:00 show so we could be with Heather and Blair, and then we sat down and reviewed schedules, looked through our packets, and finally decided to leave and get some dinner before things started.
We enjoyed a Chipotle meal and then entered the Exhibition Hall, where there were literally over 1000 booth spaces set up. Homeschool heaven!! We girls split up from the guys after awhile, since we were planning to attend different sessions, and Heather and I oohed and aahed and shopped and priced and had a grand old time. Then it was finally time for our one session of the day, since we had skipped a couple in favor of eating dinner and looking at vendor tables.
Sadly, the very first session we had wanted to see ended up being a bust--the speaker was a no-show, and even the tech guys had no idea what was going on. Interestingly enough, the topic was organization, and the room was packed! Heather and I were with a lot of people in the back of the room on the floor, so obviously it was a topic many of us wanted to hear about, but no such luck. The speaker had another session scheduled later in the conference, but it was in a room that seated 100 people, and neither Heather nor I was able to make it. Bummer...but maybe it's a hidden message that organization is truly an unachievable goal, LOL. Anyway, we joined the guys and listened in on the end of the session they were attending.
It took us 45 minutes to finally leave the parking garage...we had had to park on the top level, and the line of cars simply did not move for a verrrrrry long time. So, no Catan for us Thursday night! We were all too beat.
Friday morning we had breakfast at the hotel, then drove to the parking garage and managed to snag a lower level parking spot. Friday was full of great sessions and fun. Ted and I attended two parenting sessions with Dr. John Rosemond as the speaker (love him!!). Later on the guys grabbed lunch from Chick-Fil-A while Heather and I staked out spots at the doors in preparation for them to open for the Tim Hawkins show, which was a great way to start the afternoon. We laughed so hard our cheeks and stomachs hurt! We had seats in the second row and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the show. Blair and Heather agreed the show alone was worth the trip out here!
More sessions in the afternoon, and then we decided we were too tired to stay for the evening sessions. So we went back to the hotel and ordered Papa John's pizza and set up a game of Catan in the breakfast eating area, which was a perfect place to play and eat and visit. We retired at a reasonable hour feeling satisfied with how we spent our time--there's only so much you can do in a few short days, and we wanted to make the most of our time with good friends!
Saturday morning I woke at 5 a.m. realizing it had been nearly 48 hours since I had last nursed Lucan, and I had forgotten to grab the pump. Doh! A long shower and some hand pumping helped, but let's just say I was eagerly looking forward to being reunited with my baby all day! Ted helpfully pointed out that he was sure any number of moms would have been more than willing to let me "hook on" their babies for awhile, as there certainly was no lack of offspring needing to be fed, LOL.
More sessions, more shopping, more note-taking...lots to think about. I did spend more money than I anticipated, but I got some really great stuff!! Not necessarily "curriculum," but good supplemental activities. I'll have to detail the resources in a separate post. Of course I stopped by the Sonlight booth to say hello and to browse through the core 3 books that were on display. I also enjoyed chatting with Jill and got some very helpful advice that I plan to follow--more on that in another post.
We ended on a high note--or at least I did, in the session I attended last--everyone was doing different things at that point. And then Ted and I drove Blair and Heather to the airport, which is actually in Kentucky, and, because of major traffic going back into Cincinnati, drove home via the beltway, which took us through Indiana and back to Ohio. It was nearly an hour and a half of driving, so more good time to talk together and process some of the things we had learned and prayed about. We had hoped to make it home in time to take the family to Young's for dinner, but we had to compromise and have them eat dinner and be ready for us to take them out for Young's ice cream instead. No one seemed to mind, and I for one was just happy to make it home and nurse Lucan before I burst. We had a lovely evening enjoying the nice weather and yummy ice cream and catching up with everyone while we drove to and from Young's.
Sunday morning we were up early because of wanting to attend the early service at church. Since Rhonda had to fly home that afternoon, we gave Tobin his family birthday presents at breakfast (his birthday is actually April 13) and took him, Arden, Charis, and Rhonda to see How to Train Your Dragon in 3D after church. It was a pretty cute movie. I was very glad we left Kenna at home--as much as she loves movies, this would have been too much for her. So thanks to my mom for staying home to watch the little ones! She said she would not have done well with the 3D experience because of her eyesight, and I think she enjoyed a quiet afternoon with Lucan sleeping and Kenna watching a Peter Rabbit DVD.
I got a late afternoon nap, and after an easy dinner of leftovers, Ted and I took all 5 kids to the park in our neighborhood and also let them explore "Dragon Mountain" (which is their name for a pile of rocks and dirt by the pond). It was a gorgeous evening--we agreed we need to take advantage of the wonderful weather before mosquitoes start to arrive and the weather gets too hot and muggy to want to go anywhere.
So now it's Monday, and we're still enjoying some grandma time as my mom gets to stay until Wednesday morning. It's been a fairly quiet day--Kenna and Lucan had dental appointments early this morning, and Charis has been at a girlfriend's house for a rare play date most of the day. Mom and I took the other 4 kiddos to the boardwalk at a local fen after lunch, and we enjoyed hiking and exploring and making observations about various aspects of nature. The kids' favorite part, I think, was seeing the "billions" of tadpoles in the standing water along part of the boardwalk. The skunk cabbage is in full bloom, and the marigolds were gorgeous. Lots of different birds were calling out along the trail, and we even saw a snake!
So, on that exciting note, it's time to wrap this up and wake the little ones from their nap so they will eventually settle back down tonight! Hopefully I will have more time to type up some thoughts about specific sessions later on. I don't anticipate being on the computer any more than I need to in the coming weeks as we enjoy extra time outside and on field trips before the weather gets too warm. Also, I'm just flat out tired of feeling tied to a screen! I've been re-energized and renewed in different ways, and I don't want to resort to the feeling of laziness and apathy that can set in when I park my rear in front of the computer and click away. I intend to schedule computer time carefully so I can continue to enjoy keeping up with friends and my business without frittering away precious moments I could be spending working on the relationships that matter most.