Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Overdosing on Utter Awesomeness!

This past weekend we again travelled into Phoenix for the annual AFHE homeschool convention, and WOW did we have a great time!

We knew we would, of course! We always do. Each of the three times we have attended has been memorable and wonderful. It is truly the event of our year - equal to or more so than Christmas! (And considering that there's not an insanely busy month of stress and strain leading up to it, as there is with Christmas, the homeschool convention may come out considerably ahead!)

This year's keynote speakers were...

Jessica Hulcey - the creator of the first homeschool curriculum, KONOS. She was great! We ended up hearing her speak at least four times, and we learned so much. She is an inspiring woman, and one who has tremendous insight and wisdom (that's what happens when you homeschool for thirty years and counting!). She is also tremendously witty and funny in her presentations.

Although I still find KONOS a bit too overwhelming for our family, I really did catch a vision for connecting history/science with hands-on activities, especially reenactments and literature-based activities (making recipes mentioned in history texts, etc.).

Michael Farris - one of the world's most knowledgeable lawyers in the subject of Constitutional literacy and fighting for individual, parental, and family rights (check him out over at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association). This guy was awesome and spot on (which was slightly depressing, as his opinion as to the current and coming state of liberty in this country is not sanguine, a position with which I heartily concur). Listening to Mr. Farris was an education in itself, and I was so excited to get to hear him!

Hearing Mr. Farris was also an excellent experience for DH, who has until this point remained on the outside with regard to the current politics in the areas of individual, parental, and family rights. He got an ice-water bath, so to speak, and he is now eager to get started in political discussion and activism. This is awesome! I don't do too well in political and issues discussion, because I tend to deal with too much anxiety and stress when I do. DH, however, like most men can engage in those battles without those side-effects, and I'm thrilled to see him go at it.

I was also excited to meet Michael Farris because his wife, Vickie Farris, is the author of "A Mom Just Like You," one of my ten books that changed my life (read it!). How exciting! Unfortunately I never did get to meet Mr. Farris, but I am going to email him anyhow to say a big thank-you to the two of them.

Besides the keynote speakers, we also got to hear our very-very-very favorite speakers, Hal & Melanie Young, authors of one of my favorite parenting books, "Raising Real Men."

As expected, they were absolutely awesome! We so enjoy their straight-forward, truth-speaking lectures, and they have so much wisdom to impart! I can't wait until we can hear them again - the sooner the better!

I was also able to stop by their booth on a couple of occasions to speak individually with Hal and Melanie to let them know how much we love their book. Wish I'd thought to get a picture with them - definitely on the to-do list for next time!

Other highlights of this convention...

- As always, we attended each and every class session, and they were awesome. If you attend your convention, don't skip the classes! They are worth their weight in gold!

- We loved getting to chat and catch up with friends from all over the valley - it's like a giant family reunion, and more so every year as we get to know the community better and better.

- We also got to catch up with curriculum vendor friends that we made last year! Specifically we were able to greet our Mennonite friends over at Christian Light Education, and it was so fun to see them again.

DH was homeschooled during high school, so he took a moment to pose with his alma mater's booth.  
- We also spent hours feverishly going through the exhibitor's hall, which is the acre-upon-acre space where curriculum vendors display their wares. Thankfully it's not nearly as overwhelming as it was at first, and I also had a better idea of what I needed to buy and where I needed to go. That was a big improvement on our first year, when I basically walked into the exhibitor hall and felt my brain explode with curriculum-overload. New home educators, beware the exhibit hall! It truly can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you're someone like me who does not like lots of choices.

Here are the things that we bought this year (total bill: approximately $50):

Handwriting for First Grade: I know it's upside down, but I'm too lazy to do anything about it. 

Map Skills, Book #1. 

I bought the original "Books for Boys" at a used curriculum sale last month, and this is the sequel! Highly recommended! 

A session recording from Hal & Melanie Young...

.... and another session recording! 

Three of Hal & Melanie Young's recordings of "Hero Tales" - written by Theodore Roosevelt and recorded by Hal Young. 

What can I say? The homeschool convention is truly the highlight of our year, and we love it. We don't plan to miss it in the future except for medical emergencies. It's a wonderful combination of teaching, encouragement, inspiration, rest, revival, community, spiritual strength, and a marriage/parenting retreat - all in one wonderful weekend.

Next year.... Join us! 

P.S. I'd be glad to answer any questions about the convention or about home education in general (as far as my limited knowledge allows). Fire away!

Coming soon... Curriculum round-up for 2013-2014! Don't miss it! 

These two pics were taken on the way out, when we realized, "Oh, crumbs! We forgot to take pictures!"

Brothers reunited after the eldest returns from Grandma &Grandpa's house! 


  1. Oh, Diana - I have been thinking of you quite a bit recently as I have been trying to navigate through this maze of curriculum choices! My question for you is how do you process the fear that you might mess things up for your kiddos? I am absolutely confident that I am my children's best teacher, but I keep worrying that I am making the wrong decisions about curriculum (the reading one is the one I am struggling with - this is such a fundamental skill that if it is lacking at a young age can have implications for the future!). My worry has paralyzed my decision-making ability. Couple that with the fact that our financial situation does not allow us to just try something out and shelve it if we don't like it. I am putting a whole lot of pressure on this first year of teaching since M has such a strong desire to learn to read.

    My second question for you is how do you integrate Bible into your homeschool day? I don't want it to just be another subject in the day! I have some ideas but would love to hear what you do!

    Thank you for your transparency as you go through this homeschooling journey! I love to "stalk" your blog!
    ~Kim W.

  2. Kim! It totally made my day to "hear" your sweet voice! We miss you guys!

    I'd love to (do my best to) answer your questions, but you've asked so many good ones that I'd like to turn it into a separate post. Okay by you??

    Hope you guys are doing well!! Lots of love!

  3. Oh, of course! Cannot wait to hear your response :). I am looking forward to reading your next post on curriculum choices. I can get overwhelmed reading homeschooling blogs out there (let's be honest, you can find a positive review on any curriculum out there!); I appreciate the opinions of someone I trust! We are doing well - thanks! I cannot believe how big your boys are getting!

  4. Okay, great! Give me a day or two, and I'll do my best to write out some thoughts. Miss y'all! :)


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