Exercise Makes You a Better Homeschool Mom


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Last week I posted on how the HEAV recordings are good for your health. If that wasn’t good enough to convince you that exercising is good for you, here is an article I found: 6 reasons why exercise can supercharge your productivity. As you know I love reading business articles.  I love how I often get life-hack ideas from them, especially if you think about how it applies to you as a homeschool mom.

Most everything we read on homeschool mom blogs is about becoming more efficient, more productive, more — whatever. How to get the best deal, how to homeschool 10 kids at once, how to have a clean house and homeschool those 10 kids at once, etc. All really interesting articles on their own, but what they really boil down to is – how can you do more with the limited resource of YOU?

If you’ve been around for a while, you know I have gone hard-core gluten-free (undiagnosed celiac because my results were “inconclusive.” BLEH.) Living through this meant I have spent several years with about 25% of my previous energy levels, and couldn’t do half of what I used to do, and barely make it through the other half that I had to do, whether I felt like it or not. Through this experience, I realized that ENERGY, not just time, is my most valuable personal commodity. Can I do something had all new meaning.

So, becoming very productive and efficient took on greater and greater importance for me. How can I do more with less. How can I stretch that less of me that I had to spend to cover the necessities of things that have to get done?

Beyond my fav of their reasons

  • Exercise will kick up your energy level
  • Exercise improves brain function
  • Exercise can spark a breakthrough idea
  • Exercise can help you find your optimal work-life balance (change that to “homeschool-rest of life balance” and you get the idea) –

here are a few of my own that I would add as a homeschool mom:

  1. Exercise gives you time to mentally chill AWAY from the kids. It took me time to figure out when I first started homeschooling how much I needed this. Public school has set hours, but when you homeschool it can feel like you are “on” as a teacher all the time! Looking to help learning happen 24 hours a day can be rewarding, but it can also lead to some serious brain fatigue! Sometimes you just need to turn the brain off for a while, and obviously doing this while working out is much better than vegging in front of the TV.
  2. Exercise reminds you that you are more than just a homeschool mom. Man, I could so write a book about that alone, but what I have found by making time for myself and my health is just one thing that reminds me there is more to me than just being a homeschool mom. My identity isn’t found solely by that title.
  3. Exercise is one way I can lead my kids by example. Part of my own personal parenting theory is that since kids learn best by watching what you do, that I really need to live the life I want them to lead as adults. I need to be the role model and example I want them to follow. A major component of that for me is that I want them to lead healthy lives. And how can they know how to do that if I (and their father, of course) don’t model that for them? Teaching them about nutrition, about healthy eating choices is a part of that. But also, showing them how important taking care of your physical body is another component. Whether I want to or not on that particular day, I want my girls to SEE ME taking time to take care of myself.
  4. Exercise can make me more healthy, which means I can then fulfill my regular roles. There is nothing like having your health taken away to help you appreciate it more. This falls under the “put your own oxygen mask on first” category. Even now, I am propped up on a couch not feeling my best, rather than spending it with my girls at the pool. If I want to be the person I want to be, the mom/wife I want to be; I have to take the steps to keep myself in a physical state that allows me to do so. (Please note – this is not me trying to be Superwoman, this is about me living at a level that is higher than “barely functioning.)
  5. Exercise makes me feel better about myself. I want my girls to have a healthy level of self-esteem, but again I have to role-model that for them. How can I do that if I have terrible self-esteem about my body? And I do, as I’m sure about 99.99999% of women in the US struggle with every day. But I want more for my girls. Is it possible to inoculate them from that particular disease? I can only doing it by living it out, and the only way I can live that out is by becoming healthy and feeling better about the skin that I am in. Taking care of my physical body is not only about losing weight (even though I really need that), it’s also about showing my girls that I value myself enough to take care of myself. I am worth it.

How to Homeschool Year-Round . . . But Not


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When we first started to homeschool, hubby and I discussed what the schedule might be. I had read several posts about “homeschooling year-round” and decided that was for us. It made complete sense to me, even beyond all the facts and figures. The girls were young, it’s not like we spent that much time each day in organized lessons to begin with, and I had to keep them occupied somehow. It allowed us to have a very flexible schedule and take vacations/breaks whenever we wanted. Plus, it really seemed to help to keep our lives on a good routine.

And then, I started to burn out.

The first time, I took off a month. Having the break in routine was a welcome change and let us all recover from mental fatigue.

The second time, I took a two month break, and within weeks the girls were begging to do school again. They loved learning, and mommy wanting a vacation from homeschool meant little to them. I crammed all my lesson planning into one week, and then away we went again.

Last year we had a “summer break” in the sense that we didn’t do official homeschool for the entire summer. Unfortunately, we also spent the entire summer with the move from HE-you-know-what. Preparing and lesson plans were squeezed in between repair contractors and my job. I had absolutely no break whatsoever. Getting back to homeschooling in September was a very welcome reprieve!

By this Spring though, I was DONE. D-O-N-E, put a fork in me DONE. Tired and weary, I just needed a break. A true break, one that was going to allow me to catch up on the backlog to-do that I was drowning in, but also a break that would remind me why I was homeschooling in the first place.

And yet, my girls still love learning. They see no need for a long “break” from that at all! (After all, summers during public school for me was all about getting to spend my day playing and doing the activities that I wanted to do. We don’t have that problem in homeschool!) Even while writing this post, my youngest just asked when we are going to get back to the Physics unit we were studying.


We have been mightily blessed that my husband’s job allows him to have a FSA – Flexible Spending Account for childcare. We always fund it, because that usually pays for our regular childcare while I work. Now that the kids are older, they don’t need as much of that during the day as before, so we also use it to cover any summer camp activities I can find.

In the past we did a FABULOUS math camp in the Northern Virginia area (MathTree for anyone who is there.) Our first purpose in this was to make sure they were strong in math, and cover any pitfalls they might have because I am the one teaching them. (I am not a math person. AT ALL.) I love that camp so much that I’d pay for it, even without that FSA account. But, Math Camp and VBS was all that we did.

This summer though, I knew I needed more time. I really needed that entire summer off. Of course though, I can’t take the summer off from being Mom if they are still home! So I was on a mission to find really good-quality summer camps.

Since I’m not really looking for “playtime childcare,” I tend to focus on “educational” type opportunities, specifically on activities that we haven’t been able to investigate during the year, or to help cover any possible “mom-weak spots” like the Math Camp I mentioned before. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a “math camp” here. But even without that, the girls are having a total blast with all the cool things they are doing.

This is our summer plan:

  • One week at Franklin Institute (Children Science Museum) in Philadelphia. We LOVE the Franklin Institute. I just wish it wasn’t in downtown Philly, with the hellacious drive.
  • One week at local community college kid camp – one did art camp, and one did a “building” camp. The art camp was loved, but sadly, the building ended up being more “crafts” and less “using real hammer and nails” like our younger one hoped. (Neither hubby and I are very “handy” type people.)
  • One week off the week of July 4th- they played at home a ton, and we went to the community pool as well!
  • One week of VBS at our church. I spent the mornings running errands and doing meetings, then the girls came home and played each afternoon.
  • One week of dance/cheerleading camp at their dance center. We didn’t do Upwards Cheerleading last winter and they’ve been asking about it.
  • One week of sewing/knitting camp, hosted by another local community college. My girls have been begging for this, but I don’t know how to do either! I was so excited when I found this one.
  • One week of no camp, because I have to take a work trip and can’t do the carpool. Most likely we will have our Spanish-speaking babysitter here those days I’m gone, and she will continue to work on their Spanish as they play.
  • One week learning of “World Culture” camp at Pearl S. Buck International. This goes along with our World Geography emphasis right now, and also allows us to take advantage of an awesome local resource.
  • And then, hopefully 2 weeks of hanging out at the beach and with family!

At Franklin Institute. Proudly showing off our homeschool T-Shirts.

Art Camp. Self Portraits.

I’ve been using this time to make myself work on my to-do list! I’ve been cranking out work projects (that were sadly way-past-due), networking locally to find new business and clientele, and catching up on a few work writing projects. It’s that list of “I need to do this” that I haven’t been able to make time for over the past year. You know – that list that hangs over your head making you feel stressed out because X didn’t get done. As an also-working-homeschool-mom, most of mine are work-related right now, in addition to the 60 million blog posts I’m holding in my head for this blog! For you, it could be the deep spring-now-summer clean, or the errands and chores that never get done, or perhaps to get ahead in prepping for the fall.

And as much as getting everything done, it has been a massive sanity saver! I really just needed some time where I wasn’t the one who was coming up with cool summer activities and fun things for the kids to do. My kids also seem to thrive on having a at least a bit of structure in their day and on having some sort of routine. We all love free-form-play days, but after about 3-4 days of that there is usually some sort of behavioral outburst. And frankly, I can’t seem to concentrate well if they are in the house. My “mom-antenna” just won’t turn off if they are here and awake. So projects that require long stretches of quiet or concentration (like my writing projects, or video recordings for work) tend to not happen. So, I’ve been able to take these weeks and just THINK for just a few hours. It’s been awesome.

If you’re a bit creative, year-round “homeschool” can still happen, even if you are on a tight budget! I remember my parents taking me to several different VBS programs when I was growing up. We also were very active in the library summer program – they had a special event/activity once a week.

I have found that today’s working parents are always looking for great deals on summer programs and it feels that there are a growing number of more affordable camps out there – so be sure to ask around! The local YMCA and nature centers might also have “free programs.”

My sister, a school teacher, also used to do what she called “Papa Camp” where Grandpa comes and takes over the week! Sometimes he’d bring the boys down to his house for the week and they’d have the fun of going to the beach and fishing, etc.

Or, you can get a bit creative and “create camp” with a few homeschool moms! Do you have a few families that your kids play well together? Perhaps you moms can each rotate taking a week being “summer camp leader” and share the load, giving the other moms a few weeks off. Locally, I’ve heard of free bowling afternoons and $1 movies.

One of the perks of my “experiment” this summer? I have realized that I absolutely hate carpooling. Just another renewed appreciation for the freedom of homeschooling! I have loved that my girls are having these experiences, but I hate the driving back and forth, the stress of getting up to make sure we get to Point A by a certain time, remembering to make lunches the night before as well as actually remembering to take the lunches with us, dealing with traffic (or what PA seems to consider traffic. HA), and then stressing to make sure that I leave wherever I am to make sure I am back in time to pick them up from Point A at a specific, certain time. I’m very thankful we’ll be back to our “normal” soon!

Another lesson learned, is to not get to a point where I burn out so badly in the first place! I am going to be much more intentional about my planning this year. When we changed our homeschool plan last January, it made a true difference in our homeschool experience, for me. I feel I can really relax and just enjoy the homeschool study with them, as opposed to stressing about whether or not I’m doing enough, blah blah blah. I’ve learned to trust the process, and it’s become one of my of my favorite parts of my day. BUT, I am going to be sure to schedule in full week breaks with regularity in our upcoming school schedule. That way, if we are “behind,” we have a time set aside to catch up. If we’re “caught up”, we have time set aside for goofing off and play! I’m also going to put us on a full 4-day week schedule, allowing for one day to be devoted to whatever it needs to be devoted to. Some weeks that might be free-play while mom works on a work project, some weeks it might be focusing on AHG badge work and learning projects that never got into the rotation last year. So far, this fall we’ll work on some fun AHG Badges for the girls, and I also want to spend some time doing music theory lessons and getting very intentional about their Spanish.

Oh, and the best part? I can count these camp days toward our “homeschool days” requirement of 180 days here in PA. So we are getting a huge jump-start on this year, the girls are still learning even if I am not the one teaching, AND my to-do list is being completed! I’m practically having my cake and eating it too!

The HEAV Convention Recordings Are Good for Your Health!


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20150422_185650Did you get the HEAV recordings of the Convention?

Or, perhaps, a better question is — have you done anything with the recordings once you received them?

This was my dilemma this past year!

Sometime in January, I realized I had multiple years of recordings that I had never even touched. I buy them every year with very good intentions, but never actually listen to them!

About the same time, I was working on my New Year’s goals – of which one of them is to get in better shape and lose weight before my XXth (you know, it ends in a 0) birthday this December. And then I thought – heck, I can kill two birds with one stone!

I downloaded the entire collection onto my iPod and set off to the gym. My oldest had ballet on Wednesdays this past year and her class is in the same complex as my gym.  So the youngest went into the childcare room, and I got on the treadmill for a solid 50 minutes each week. (Plus 5 minutes of treking to the treadmill once I dropped the oldest off, and 5 minutes treking back.)

Staying entertained at the gym has always been my biggest downfall. Classes are hard for me because my strength and endurance level aren’t enough to endure a high intensity class for the full hour, and this gym seems to schedule their classes at odd times. But getting on the equipment was always a bore. I could last about 15 minutes before going stark raving mad.  (Why are all the dumbest TV shows on in the only time slots I can seem to make it to the gym?) I would listen to music, but then I’d spend half the time choosing music or flipping between songs.

So, the convention recordings are PERFECT for my workouts! Most recordings are at just around an hour, so the timing is perfect for me. Once I get the treadmill going, I really didn’t having to think about what I am doing. (I’m klutz-prone and actually have to focus on the elliptical or stair-thing-a-ma-jig. I actually sprained my ankle in June putting on shoes. Not even kidding.) But walking at a good speed? That I can handle! I can really focus on the words being said instead of what my feet are doing.

At first I made it about 20 minutes before my legs started to protest and then I would spend the rest of time doing good yoga stretches, etc. But by the end of the semester, I was able to walk almost the entire hour at a quick walk speed! I was even trying to figure out how I could squeeze a second workout hour somewhere into my schedule! And then of course, I sprained my ankle putting on shoes and sadly spent the rest of this summer so far trying to heal from that.

But this week my girls are attending a camp at my gym and I’m going to start the regimen once again after I drop them off. I am so glad I have some new recordings to listen to!

Convention-Logo-2015-660x660“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

Catching Up!


Hello all! It’s been quite a while since I posted regularly and I thought I would quickly catch up here with you! Here are a few pictures from the last few months:


In April, the girls hosted a Lemonade Stand at our yard sale. They made more than us. HA!

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Our AHG Troop participated in the local Memorial Day Parade. They got to ride in an authentic WWII jeep!


Our AHG end of year award ceremony! The girls received their badges, and our oldest earned the level (promotion) award, and promoted to the next level.

Ballet Recital.

Ballet Recital

HEAV Convention! This is most of our haul. Well, part of it, anyway.

Since HEAV Convention, the girls have been enjoying different summer camps.

They are also having a weekly Daddy Date activity, taking archery classes. Because there is a badge for that, of course.

They took their hard-earned lemonade stand cash, and treated their friend to ice cream!


We enjoyed the local small town 4th of July parade (including the John Deere Tractor Club!) and had family over for food and fun!

Someone insisted on turning 9.

We took a day trip to New York City on Saturday, where they got to enjoy their first NYC bagel!

In our spare time, we have been practicing with our brand new roller skates, and

learning to ride a bike without training wheels! Not to mention, hitting the pool whenever we get a chance.

So, that’s what we’ve been up to! Hope you are all enjoying our summer as much as we have been!

Day 3 of #HEAVCon 2015

Oh my gosh, did you guys have a good time!! I did!

We are on the drive back home and I am attempting to write on my phone. Ya know, using my time productively, ha! The girls are playing the license plate game in the back, since they did Travel Bingo on the ride down. They are determined to earn their Travel Badge for American Heritage Girls on this trip!!

We had such a blast. Sold about half our stuff at the Used Curriculum Sale, which isn’t too bad. We drifted through the gleaning area mainly because I wasn’t looking forward to getting in the car. Congrats to those who found great items there!

This was my fourth year at HEAV, and what a dramatic difference from the first! My first time I felt like a true fish out of water. I had moved into our place just two weeks before, I didn’t know a single other homeschooling family in the entire state! I went to a lot sessions but really felt so alone wandering the halls.

And this year, I’m running into all sorts of people I know! I feel so more confident even in going up and questioning the exhibitors. I have a personal goal of saying hello to random strangers in line everywhere, because I remember how much I wanted even that little bit of support my first visit.

So, this year I was really focused on getting decent sleep AND being able t9 eat (gluten-free), and I’m happy to report that both went well! I ate a lot of pb&j, but I ate and got really good sleep. Bringing my own pillow, taking advil for my feet and using my essential oils really helped! I only had to pull out the ear plugs once, ha!

I found several more items on my wish list which was super exciting. Now, the trick will be figuring how where to put it all!

And I got to sit in a great session on notebooking this afternoon by Jeannie Fulbright (http://www.jeanniefulbright.com/).

This whole weekend really confirmed to me that unit studies and notebooking is definitely the way to go for our family. I feel so energized!

Here’s a funny for you. No one but a homeschool kid would entertain herself by creating “homework pages!”


Views from Convention:










And I can’t say thank you enough to all those who make the Children’s Program such a success! My girls adore it!!


Day 2 of #HEAVCon 2015!


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Wow. What a day, right?

First of all, I could’ve sworn I took more pictures. Really. But apparently I was much too busy shopping!

Our morning started bright and early, with me taking advantage of our lovely golden ticket to the UCS:




And let me just give you this plug for next year.



I’ve “tried” the UCS in the past, and kinda had a “take-it-or-leave-it” feeling about it. But WOW, this year, I really got some fabulous finds! TONS. Perhaps it’s just because I really had good stuff on my list this year, perhaps it’s because I got in so early while the piles were “fresh.” Not sure.  But I am telling you I really, really got some great deals. I saw even more, but I had to reign myself in. It was hard, but I did.

Really. Put it on your to do list NOW for next year. It was worth every minute of it this year, and now I’m a firm believer and UCS convert! :)

(PS. Go in there and buy my stuff! We had a lot of stuff in there, and I really don’t want it back!!!!)

After lunch, I started back in the Exhibit Hall. I was just going to kill some time before a session I wanted to go to. And like the casinos in Las Vegas (which have no windows or clocks so you can’t notice time passing), I lost time. Hubby finally pulled me out of there at 6pm.

This is most of my total haul for the day. Not all. But most.


My poor 31 Gifts cart might not ever be the same after carrying that load.

(PS. Did you know you could check boxes of items so you don’t have to haul them around all day? It’s in the Exhibit hall, all the way toward the left side on the front wall. I checked those two boxes on top. And then of course went back and got more!)

There are some totally good deals in there, folks! Support your exhibitors, so we’ll see them again next year!! Truly, so many interesting people to talk to!







Like I said, I could’ve swore I took more pictures, so if you don’t see your picture here, I will try again tomorrow!

And what is now an annual tradition, we had BBQ for dinner! Y’all didn’t know I was a world connoisseur of BBQ, and that I actually have BBQ sauce running through my veins, did you? Well, I do!

11418610_10205706374432479_827742625_nAnd it was awesome. :)


And oh, for you guys that are curious.

Screenshot_2015-06-12-21-46-51And no, I refuse to walk even one more step to make it to the goal! I am D-O-N-E.

See y’all tomorrow!

Day 1 of #HEAVCon 2015!


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Man, was it PACKED today or what?? I am loving all the activities HEAV had here today!

And how fun is it that our dear babysitter from last year (before we moved from VA to PA) showed up and surprised me?? Apparently babysitting for us helped her decide to homeschool herself, and so she and her husband came to check out #HEAVCon this weekend! That was such a fun surprise! You’ll never know who you will run into in the halls here!

Speaking of “running”:

Screenshot_2015-06-11-20-50-40That was almost ALL since we arrived here – from 3pm-7pm. As we say in the deep South, “my dogs are barking.” (Translation: my feet are killing me.) I have no idea how I will make it through tomorrow.

So, after our blogger “Meet and Greet” with the Exhibitors, I started to peruse the hall and check out all the awesome stuff. (That would be me in the teal “Homeschool Rocks” t-shirt and the poofy hair. I told you guys to wear your homeschool bling! Ha!)

I didn’t even make it through half the hall. THERE ARE SO MANY AWESOME BOOTHS OF STUFF THIS YEAR!

Here are a few highlights:












I really had some lovely conversations with several more vendors, but the camera was not cooperating with me. More pictures tomorrow!

And here is a NEW offering at #HEAVCon this year! I just love that we have this!



Okay, it is time for shut-eye so I can be up and ready bright and early tomorrow! First up will be dropping the rugrats off at the Children’s program, and then getting in line at the UCS first thing! (I signed up to volunteer so I could get in early! Did you???? I bet they still need some volunteers!)

And then, who knows . . .

Last Minute HEAV Convention Survival Tips



32nd_convention_signature_wavesAs I am STILL trying to hurridly finish labeling books for the UCS, I wanted to make sure these last minute notes got out to all of you!

Here are my last minute survival tips!

1. Have your shopping lists ready! Break it down into your “must get, “would like to get,” and your “I wish I could get” categories! Have a little extra fun money for a few fun toys or surprises, if possible!

Also, break down your list of “subjects” in case you decide to change your mind completely while you’re there. For example, I know I want to teach the girls music theory next year. (Seriously the best way to help a kid understand fractions. I know my background in music was the only way I got through math in 4th and 5th grade!) I don’t exactly HOW I want to teach it or what “books” I want to use. But I know I want to. So, I’ll keep an eye out for that topic while I’m searching the Used Curriculum Sale, etc..

1a. Be sure the convention recordings are on your shopping list. YOU NEED THEM. REALLY.

2. PACK the following: Earplugs so you can sleep peacefully sharing a room with your snoring, “talks in their sleep” family, a good pillow, your camera AND the charger to your cellphone!, and very comfortable shoes.

2a. You guys might think I’m joking about the earplugs and the pillow. But getting a GOOD night’s sleep is vital to surviving a homeschool convention without a mental breakdown. Plus, HEAV starts a solid hour before my brain is fully functioning! (I’m not a morning person. At all. Ever.)

3. Do you have your fun “I’m cool because I’m a homeschooler” T Shirts packed to wear? Because this is the best place to wear them!

4. Make your list of places for dinner! We always take the opportunity to scout out good BBQ. It’s sooooo worth it.

4a. By the way, the convention area is NOT the most gluten-free-friendly area. If you have dietary issues, PLAN AHEAD. Bring your own snacks and be sure you bring more than you think you will need. Oh, and those hotel breakfasts? They are going to be swamped and they’re not gluten-free either. I made the mistake of thinking I was going to be able to eat at the hotel last year. Last year, I had two days of salads with no dressing, and nut bars. I got a bit cranky after eating the 6th nut bar in two days – I need real food, LOL. I will plan much better this year.

5. Plan for sanity breaks. The hallways are wide and you’ll find many folks taking breaks in them. I would also recommend having a hidden stash of chocolate on hand and I plan to bring my “serenity sticks” I made with my essential oils (like a lotion bar). A few Advil for the headache you’ll get staring at math curriculum. Earplugs for listening to music if you need to zone out and decompress for a while.

6. Stock up on Redbox movies on the way for the kids! Definitely worth the price for peace and quiet during the car drive down!

Convention-Logo-2015-660x660“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

HEAV Convention and Using Global Missions to Teach World Geography


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My very, very, first HEAV convention, I was wandering the exhibit hall alone and stopped by a table that was offering free books.

Yeah, what kinda homeschool mom would pass that up, right?

And that was my introduction to Gospel For Asia. At a table at HEAV.

Actually, I had read the book, Revolution in World Missions a few years before and it had a profound effect on how I looked at missions. And of course that was one of the books that was free!

Speaking with one of their volunteers, I felt led to become a monthly sponsor of a missionary. At first it was really more for me, but the girls and I pray for our missionary regularly and read the regular updates from the area.

Then, we started our own efforts to help. Instead of an allowance, our girls “earn money” (more in a post later about that) to put toward helping the poor in India.  So far, my girls have collected changed and earned money to purchase chickens, rabbits, blankets, and gospel tracts. A few months later, we got ambitious and stepped it up a notch! We created a myGFA campaign and raised money for a water filter, so they could have clean water! My girls love reading about what’s needed, and they love to shop, so we look through the booklets and pick a new project on special occasions! (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.)

My girls were horrified when we read how many in India didn’t have toilets. We have saved up their earnings money to save up and buy an outdoor toilet.  I even give incentives for memorizing math facts for money (speed drills – every problem they get right earns them a penny for the jar.)

This all came from spending five minutes at a booth a few years ago at HEAV, and now our girls have true understanding of this particular country – far beyond memorizing capitals and gross national products.

We’ve expanded into other areas as well. We sponsor a child in Haiti through World Vision, and have visited/talked with friends that are missionaries/ doing global relief work around the world. When a missionary speaks at our church, we take our kids  – that’s how we introduced the Ukraine and the conflict there to our girls last summer. We’ve created Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child every year, and then tracked where the box ended up. This past year, we’ve been reading biographies of missionaries as we look at various counties around the globe. Many of these are stories that hubby and I haven’t learned. We love reading through these books each evening!

Our girls now have an eye for God’s world in a way that I NEVER had as a child. Oh, what a great blessing homeschooling has been to our family!

Is this something you’re considering adding into your “homeschool” next year? There are several resources at this year’s HEAV convention you might want to check out these organization in the Exhibit Hall:

Christian Freedom International

Lamplighter Publishing – Good group of Biographies!

New Tribes Bible Institute

Samaritan’s Purse

Widow’s Friend, The

WYAM Publishing – Great for Biographies! Many of the ones we use come from them.

Getting Ready For HEAV???


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This is re-posted from last year, with minor changes.

It’s coming! It’s coming!

HEAV’s convention is very very soon!!!

It’s time to make that last minute to-do list of everything you need to get done before hopping in the car. If you’re curious, mine at the moment includes things like “make ask hubby to get a hair cut” and “find mini cassette recorder to use for interviews.” :)

While you’re making your plan, I wanted to share with you some advice I’ve been gleaning from some of my homeschooling friends with WAY more homeschool convention experience than me!

And here are my tips from previous years!

Advice for Homeschool Conventions

There were a few overwhelmingly common pieces of advice from pretty much everyone I spoke to. I would even say these are non-negotiable:

1) Wear Comfortable Shoes. Absolutely no one cares what your feet look like. You’re going to be walking the equivalent of a marathon around that convention center, so take care of your feet! Your little piggies will thank you by the end of the day.

2) Take a Cart on Wheels! You can get these a number of places, from Amazon, or even some grocery stores. Others have suggested a rolling suitcase, or a stroller even. I learned this lesson the hard way. I’ll actually be using on of my Thirty-One Gifts bags, which is actually an insulated rolling cart-type thingee. Oh well. My purchases will stay “cool” at least, AND it will be easy to spot amongst the crowds!

3) Return Address Labels. Pre-make labels with your address and contact information on them. This is going to save you from massive writer’s cramp all weekend. Really.

4) Prepare for OVERWHELM. Really. It’s not that the crowds are “Black Friday” or “Disney” bad, but they’re there. For me, it wasn’t the people, it was the STUFF. So much information, so many choices, so much to look at. It was just A LOT on input coming at you.

Everyone had several tips to cope.

  • Just order the mp3s right when you get there. That way you’ll be able to rest in the fact that you won’t have to worry about missing anything. Or, if some of the events are full and you can’t get in, it won’t be such a big deal. You can re-listen to the sessions at your leisure all summer long.
  • Don’t buy anything the first time through the exhibit hall! Do a complete walk through the first time, getting an eye for the different vendors, perhaps checking prices on your first choice items. Talk to the different vendors, get advice and information, that sort of thing. Make your list, and THEN go buy.
  • My advice: If there are particular items that you already know you HAVE to get, I’d at least go ahead and get that out of the way first. Then you’re done and can focus your time on the “extras” or items you need to spend more time thinking about. And, you don’t have to worry that the vendor runs out of your “must have.”
  • Many even recommend leaving your wallet at home and not even purchasing anything at your first convention. If you can do that, then you have mountains more willpower than I do. At the very least, come with your budget in mind. Or, failing that, come prepared with a detailed list of what exactly you MUST have, what you need but aren’t sure what to get, and what your wish list would be. That will be very useful in both the Exhibit Hall and the Used Curriculum Sale.
  • Carry as little as possible with you, because, again, it means carrying it with you. And that is going to get old very quick. However, a water bottle, notebook, pens, protein bars, your return address labels, wallet and cellphone are all great things to have. Just be sure to turn off the ringer to your cellphone during sessions! Hubby and I mainly use our cellphones to find each other when we get separated, etc. If you’re in a hotel nearby, you should be able to run back to the hotel and dump things to start fresh during lunch breaks!
  • Just focus on what is best for your family. No need to deal with all the sessions and vendors that don’t pertain to you. (Such as, we don’t have boys – I don’t go to the booths that sell “boy” paraphernalia. Or the sessions on raising boys. While I’d love to, I have to set boundaries and focus on what my family needs right then. Also, I don’t go to “high school” sessions when we’re only teaching second grade. That sort of thing.)
  • If you don’t have to have your kids with you, I wouldn’t. Use the awesome kids programs, get a babysitter, etc. It’s too hard to keep them entertained and also hear what you need to hear. If you do though, be sure to bring items to keep them occupied. Remember, in order to record the sessions and have decent quality, “vocal” children should be taken out of the room.

5) Have fun! Goodness gracious, after all that it might sound like Homeschool Conventions are stressful events. Why would anyone want to go? Well, they can have stressful moments, but last year was also wonderfully inspiring and motivational. I can’t figure out another way to say it, other than I left with my heart completely full.

Talk to people. In this building, for three whole days, you are going to be surrounded by homeschoolers who just want to do their best for their children — JUST LIKE YOU. Make new friends. In this day and age, there is no reason you only have to be friends with the people who live right around you. Bring “business” cards, or those address labels and exchange information. Chat with the folks next to you in line. Be sure to meet the parents of the kids your children make friends with in the kids’ program – you already have a lot in common!

I’m looking at this convention weekend like it’s my mini “homeschool” vacation! Mommy event on steroids!

So, what is my plan?

  • I want to be packed the day before – I know the week leading up to leaving will be insane because I will be working right up until the last moment, so being packed the day before will alleviate a little bit of my stress.
  • We plan to arrive as early as traffic will allow on Thursday – I have a meeting I need to attend, and also I really want to check out the the exhibit hall Thursday night and get some of that stuff done then before all of the speakers the rest of the event. Plus, have you seen all the great events happening on THURSDAY??? If we get there “too early,” we can use that as an excuse to check out the Richmond Children’s Museum before everything gets started.
  • I buy my “must haves” right away, then spend time going over and over the “I know I need something but I don’t know what to get” list. And then in between, as things might catch my fancy, I might sneak them in. Or, if they are truly a splurge I might wait until the last minute. Just in case I can talk myself out of it. Or not.
  • ***New TIP: Are you wavering between buying certain items? TAKE A PICTURE WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE of the item AND the booth where you found it! Then, when you’re ready to go back and purchase, you’ve got that info just waiting for you!!***
  • I’ve got my seminar list ready to go! I’ve highlighted all the ones I want to see
  • I plan to plan our meals ahead of time. Since I went gluten-free, eating is an all new adventure for me, and grabbing a slice of pizza in the exhibit hall isn’t going to cut it. Last year I had quite a bit of difficulty coming up with decent local-to-the-convention-center-food where the line wasn’t a mile long, and I really paid for it. (By the way, food IN the convention center? Expensive.) So, we’ll come with snacks and water for the room, but also, I plan where we’ll eat each evening in advance. At least that way I know I’ll get one good meal a day. Plus, is breakfast added into the cost of your hotel room? Will you have time to eat real bfast? Then we might want to bring something to the room for bfast each morning.
  • Beyond that? I plan to take lots of deep breaths and just relax. Absorb what I can absorb, meet who I can meet, enjoy everything I can, and just take in all the inspiration I can to get me through the next school year!

HEAV- Home Educators Association of Virginia – website



“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

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