I just got back from my annual weekend at the NCHE Homeschool Conference and Book Fair in Winston-Salem. I have attended every year since we made the decision to begin homeschooling our children 19 years ago! Some years the whole family has gone, some years it has been just Mark and me, and some years I have gone solo and hung out with my girlfriends. This was one of those years, and my friend, Becky, and I shared a hotel room and hung out for the weekend, browsing the vendor hall, listening to speakers, eating out, and staying up half the night talking!
We started off the weekend by attending the support group leaders luncheon, and hearing Carol Barnier, Heidi St. John, and Dr. Chena Flood speak to leaders from across the state. For the rest of the weekend I alternated between attending workshops, browsing the book fair, and chatting with my homeschooling friends.
In my earlier years of homeschooling, I spent a LOT of time in the vendor hall looking at curriculum, talking to vendors, comparing materials, deciding on purchases for the coming year. This year, I was much more casual, looking around for enrichment items for the most part, and purchasing a board game,some story CDs, a grammar workbook, and a book for me. I went to workshops on support group leadership, romance in marriage, homeschooling high schoolers (even though I've done it 4 times, I'm starting high school with the last one this fall) and discovering God's plan for your life.
Why do I still go to the Homeschool Conference? My husband tells me that after homeschooling for 18 years and graduating 4 of our 5 children, I cannot possibly need to buy any more books! (he's so wrong!) Over the years, I have heard dozens of homeschool speakers talk on every topic under the sun and read even more books, blogs, and websites. So what it there left to learn? I go to Conference for the same reason I still am active in our homeschool support group, and that is ENCOURAGEMENT. Homeschool moms, no matter how long they have been doing this or how old their children, need encouragement. We need affirmation and inspiration and motivation. Every child is different, every stage of life is different, every year is different. I always come away from Conference with a "nugget" - some information or exhortation that is just for me where I am right now. This year, the nuggets mostly had to do with marriage, and the need to purposefully take care of that very important relationship and not let homeschooling or anything else drive a wedge between husband and wife. Heidi St. John is my new favorite homeschool speaker, and her workshops titled "The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance" and "Ten Marriage Myths That Will Steal Your Joy" were funny, informative, and yes, convicting.
Here are Heidi's Top Ten Myths:
#1 My homeschooling wife doesn't care if I help or not.
#2 Myspouse understands my non-verbal cues.
#3 Being a parent should come first.
#4 We are okay living parallel lives.
#5 If we just "keep love alive", our marriage relationship will take care of itself.
#6 Date night means dinner and a movie.
#7 Joy is a product of my circumstances.
#8 My spouse can/should make me truly happy.
#9 My marriage is immune to the possibility of divorce.
#10 My marriage isn't all that important.
I'll expand on this topic more in another post......
For more information about the North Carolina Homeschool Conference and Book Fair, go to www.conference.nche.com