Arlington Homeschool Convention 2012

So, I took a longer break this weekend from blogging than I think I have since I started in January.

Why?

There’s only one thing that could keep me away from the computer for more than 10 hours or so, and that would be a convention.  This time it was the annual Arlington Homeschool Convention.  I go to this one every year, stay in a hotel ALL BY MYSELF for a couple nights, eat junk food without a conscience, and complete many a thought without a single interruption.

And boy was I happy to get back home last night!

Even though there are three big homeschool conventions closer than Arlington, I go to this one because it is always Mother’s Day Weekend (so it’s part of my Mother’s Day package), and it has a reputation for having the most vendors, and you know how I LOVE to shop.

I don’t know, it just didn’t seem that big this year.  Maybe I’m just a little jaded about new curriculum and homeschool workshops, but I just didn’t feel the same charge in the air, and I didn’t feel compelled to fork over the big bucks for the latest and greatest stuff out there.  The box of the “latest and greatest” stuff from last year’s convention is still mostly full of books never opened.  Actually, it kinda seemed like there was no latest and greatest this year.  I’ve already seen all of it.  Maybe the recession is slowing down the publishers, because surely we couldn’t have reached the final frontier of great ways to teach our children about absolutely everything.  It was just kind of odd.

I do have to say this convention was the most well attended I’ve been to in Arlington yet.  The overflow parking at the convention center was humming, and I don’t recall it ever even being used in the past.  So there’s lots of people still homeschooling, and lots of new ones coming aboard.  But it appears the excitement is gone.  We’re starting to realize that not every girl brought up in a good homeschooling family gets married at the age of 18 to the love of their life and goes on to be able to stay at home and raise children like she thought she would.

We’ve started to realize that even in some of the “best” homeschooling families, children grow up and start making decisions that fall outside the realm of conservative Christian homeschooling expectations.  We’ve started to realize that the boys we’ve worked so hard to train to be Godly Christian husbands don’t care much for the ultra modest, all I want to do is stay home and play housewife, whatever you say, dear, daughters we’ve raised.

We’ve realized that sometimes what we think our children’s callings are don’t turn out to be their callings, and if denied an education, there are few options for a 20-something young woman.  It’s just not as easy as we thought it was going to be.

The most exciting and beneficial session I attended over the weekend was the one I was least eager to attend.  So many of the workshops are pretty much “same song, second verse,” if you know what I mean.  So I opted to go to listen to Stephen Guffanti, M.D. and his workshop on helping your children find their passion.  This is the creator of Rocket Phonics.  I wasn’t too excited about this because I thought I had seen Rocket Phonics years ago, and I wasn’t impressed.  After hearing Dr. Guffanti speak, though, I looked at Rocket Phonics on-line, and it is nothing like the program I had stuck in my mind.  I got it confused with a program called Rocket Readers, which I don’t think is even still around.  AGGGHHH!!!!  The one booth that would have had something new and exciting for me, I stayed away from because I got the name mixed up.

Anyway, this session turned into discovering our own passion rather than helping us help our children find theirs.  (Although, of course, once you know how to find your own, it’s much easier to help someone else find theirs.)  I was so surprised at the cut to the chase wisdom of Dr. Guffanti.  Honestly, he wasn’t overly eloquent or organized, but he hit on some pretty amazing truths that he was able to demonstrate to us through the use of the audience.  He had us identify what we consider to be our passion.  Then we were to explain it to our partner and they were to take notes.  Then he called up a pair, and had the listener read off their notes and talk about the other person’s passion.  If while the person with the passion was listening to the notes their face lit up, it was true that that was their passion.

Here he mentioned that if you think something is a passion and your face doesn’t light up when you talk about it, then it’s probably an addiction.  Wow.

One team thought the passion was for singing for an audience.  But when the partner talked about the love for singing, the singer’s face just lit up a little.  So Dr. Guffanti started asking questions.  He asked her when the last time she sang was, and she said four years ago.  He asked her why it had been that long, and she started explaining that she is too busy now with a bustling homeschooling family.  When she started talking about her children and homeschooling, her face lit up.

Hmmm.  So his point was her children were her passion, why didn’t she know that, why did she think it was something else.

She said it was because she didn’t feel like she was doing a good enough job, so surely that couldn’t be her passion.  If it were her passion, surely she’d be doing a better job.

He said, “Don’t ever let your expectations steal your passion and your joy.”  (or something like that.)

Wow.

See, I thought my passion was my writing.  I LOVED to write when I was a kid, a teenager, a young adult.  At some point, though, I really felt like it was such a waste of my time and talent, because no one ever read my stuff, and I wasn’t interested in investing in trying to make a career out of writing.  So I threw away most of my writing and set it aside.  In January when I started this blog, I rediscovered my love for writing, and now it was actually being read.  I was thrilled (I am thrilled).  And somewhere the lie that my passion has to be something completely aside and apart from my family, something “all my own” has crept into my mind.

So I sat in that session thinking my passion was for writing.  By the time I left, though, I knew I was wrong.  My passion is my children, my passion is teaching my children.  And my emerging passion is for people with Down syndrome.  I’ve never learned how to enter their world, so it’s a passion that I never could pursue, but it’s been there since I was 16 years old, working at JoJo’s, waiting on a sweet teenager with Down syndrome who would come in every week with her grandparents.  She would hug me simply because I made eye contact with her, smiled and said hello.  It was like we were old friends.  And her cranky old grandfather would tell her to stop and he’d act annoyed, but I got it.  She was pure joy.  And I loved being in her world, if only for a few seconds once a week.

What I came away with from that workshop is just absolute awe and thanksgiving that God not only has God given me passion, but he has put those things I am passionate about in my life and has given me the opportunity to purse them.  What a good God we serve!

And don’t expect me to quit blogging anytime soon.  It is true, I LOVE to write, and it is a good release for me.  I’m just going to quit apologizing for my other passions.

What’s your passion?  And in the words of Dr. Guffanti, “What are you going to do about it?”

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2 thoughts on “Arlington Homeschool Convention 2012”

  1. I enjoy reading your stories. It’s like… feels like I’m sitting at the table with you and you tell me all about the convention in Arlington. Awesome!

    Great that you “rediscovered” your passion of writing. 😛

    No need to apologize for your other passions. Of course not! You can share them – along with your passion for writing. 😉

    PS: Thought about you Monday – watching “Emma’s Gift” on TV. Have you seen this documentary? I kind of had “mixed” feelings when watching it. I missed the… um… “passion for people with Down syndrome” a bit. 😦

    1. Oh, so nice to see you. It is amazing to me how small the world can be when we gather in His name. No, I’m not familiar with Emma’s Gift. I’ll google it. Blessings,
      Alyson

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