Whew! That was a crazy week! Sorry I have been a little bit elusive this past week, but I was busy working hard at the 2013 Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio! It was amazingly fun trip and I felt so blessed to have been given the opportunity to speak in front of so many eager homeschool parents and students, and to meet them face to face and hear about their lives.
I do a wide variety of speaking engagements, from schools to libraries to conventions, and I have to say that homeschoolers are some of my absolute favorite people to be around. Because I am a homeschooler, duh. Therefore I love talking to other people whose lives are similar to mine and who I feel I can really encourage and inspire with my story.
The week had so many highlights, I’m really not sure where to start, but I thought I’d just record all of my favorite moments for you all like a photo diary of sorts!
On Wednesday, my mom and I drove up from Virginia to Ohio on a ten-hour long road trip that lasted us pretty much half the day because obviously we 1) HAD to stop and eat. Several times. And 2) HAD to stop and take pictures (well, at least I did). When I think back on it, ten hours is a loooong time, but it didn’t seem long at all because my mom and I intensely debated everything under the sun for at least half the car ride, then we belted out the “Les Miserables” soundtrack for the other half and talked about how absolutely dreamy Eddie Redmayne is as Marius. (Yes, this is how we pass our time) But seriously, it was an absolutely gorgeous drive that I totally want to take again sometime with my sister so I can do a ton of portraits by all the beautiful old barns in Ohio. But yeah, we were glad when we finally saw this sign:
Not that I didn’t totally love West Virginia! Because I did. The Blue Ridge Mountains always make me drop my jaw, and I’ve always said I preferred mountains and valleys to oceans or farmlands. There’s just something about the hills and rolling fields of cattle that make my heart happy. Also, the Shenandoah Valley is where I’m living when I grow up. I’ve already decided.
When we got to the convention center, we were quick to set up my booth and get some photos by it for posterity (aka to wave in front of my kids one day and say, “See? Mommy had a life! She had her own banner and everything!” when they make me feel old and lifeless).
I was also fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to co-present two workshops with my wonderful CPA (certified public accountant) Carol Topp on the topics of “Teens and Microbusinesses” and “How You (Or Your Child) Can Become a Published Author”. Think I had anything to say on those topics? You’re probably very right.
Even I was completely shocked at the amazing response our workshops received. Both sessions were completely packed, standing-room-only, with kids sitting on the floors at our feet and adults pressed up against the walls and standing in the hallways, listening through the open doors. Wow. Talk about feeling like a celebrity! (And in this photo you can only see half the room!)
After the workshops, the number of teens and parents that came up to talk to me was absolutely overwhelming. And what I found funny was that while most of them were trying to tell me how much I had encouraged their children, *I* was the one feeling encouraged and inspired all over again every time I talked to someone new who was interested in the same things I am! One girl even broke down in tears when she was at my booth, and her parents had to explain that she had always wanted to be an author and never thought it was possible in her teens and as a homeschooler. I just about cried myself, it was so sweet. But I made many new friends and even had a few people ask to take photos with me, which was a total celebrity moment again. And I even met blog reader Rosie, who had driven up to Cincinnati to see me! Yay!
While I’m definitely not sold on the idea of Ohio, and you probably won’t find me building a summer home there, Cincinnati was definitely beautiful in the early morning light. The sun casting beams down the old historic streets in the downtown section was just lovely. I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos. And the weather was just perfect! Not that we really got to enjoy it much, but when we were setting up and packing down our booths, or running out to grab a bite to eat, we just had to smile at the warm breeze that greeted us.
Our little trip finally had to come to an end, though, and my mom and I spent all day yesterday driving back to old Virginny, listening to “Les Mis” yet again, and singing aloud to all the old country music radio stations we stumbled across in the West Virginia area (and, if I’m being honest, replaying “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together” a few times, just to be obnoxious). A few random and happy surprises awaited us on our way home, though. First we randomly happened upon the first ever Bob Evans restaurant. Our stomachs were growling about lunchtime, and we pulled off the interstate and drove through middle-of-nowhere Ohio where this giant Bob Evans was sitting smack-dab in the middle of a bunch of fields with signs like, “Bring your quilt to our quilt show this weekend!” signs everywhere. Yep, it was the site of the original Bob Evans and it even had the historic house where the Evans children grew up. Weird.
We also stopped about suppertime in the absolutely gorgeous town of Staunton, Virginia, which is where I’ve decided to move on day. Firstly because it’s in the middle of nowhere and is completely surrounded by mountains, with quaint little historic houses scattered around on hilly streets that absolutely called out to me. And secondly because I found the vintage shop of vintage shops tucked away there, and promptly fell in love. An entire attic filled with hundreds of vintage clothes. No wonder they label it a “Vintage Wonderland”. Also, I just realized I’ve begun a nice little habit of going vintage shopping every time I go out of town for a book signing. Let’s keep this tradition going, shall we?
Overall, it was a fantastic trip and one I hope to make again next year! For those of you who are convention-goers but didn’t get a chance to come and see me in Ohio, I will also be speaking at the ENOCH Convention in New Jersey May 17-18, and HEAV in Virginia June 6-8. And I’d love to do even more conventions next year, so if you have a local convention you’d like to recommend to me, please do so in the comments section!
(This is me on the last day of our trip, coming back to Virginia. I mistakenly asked my mom “Does my hair look okay?” As if ten hours in the car was going to leave me with an even decently good hair day)