Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Homeschool Book Fair and My Imaginary Friend

For the first time ever, I attended a Homeschool Book Fair, and not just your run of the mill book fair (whatever that may be), but rather the BIG book fair in Arlington -- the one held every year for the last 25 years. Several people I know attended the book fair last year, but it was held around the time we decided to homeschool and way before I knew about it or about curriculum or really even where to begin. (This time last year, I was busy picking the brains of my friends, reading reviews and commentaries, and visiting local used book stores trying to figure out where to start. I've come a long, long way.)

Earlier in the school year when I heard about the book fair after the fact, I was so sorry I'd not gone. As the year progressed, though, and as I learned more about homeschooling and how my children learn, I really decided against going at all. After some trial and error this year, we've found materials we love that worked for us and that will work for us for easily one more year. I thought attending the book fair and being tempted by all the shiny new books would sort of muddle my focus and get me off track.

The closer we got to fair weekend, the more the buzz heightened on the homeschool message boards. People were updating their Facebook statuses. Twitter was all a-tweet. I wondered if I would regret not going, still I made no plans... until I saw a blog friend was coming. She was driving into the Metroplex to attend, and that little fact tempted me.

Renae blogs on Life Nurturing Education, one of the most beautifully written blogs on my reader. She chooses her words as carefully as the artwork she features and as carefully as the scripture she includes to make her point, and I'm always so excited when Google indicates there's a post I've yet to read. She'd connected with me to make plans to meet once before when a local university hosted Space Frontier Days, but instead, I went with Amy and Sara to hear FlyLady speak. Because I essentially bailed on Renae before, I couldn't miss that connection when she was in town once again.

We made plans by e-mail and decided to meet in person over lunch. I arrived at our appointed time, but there was so much construction around the Arlington Convention Center, Renae drove in circles for a half-hour or more -- no more than two miles from me all the while. I felt so bad! I didn't mind the wait, though -- sitting alone in a quiet restaurant while drinking a cold glass of tea and waiting on a writer I admire is never an inconvenience. (Actually, with as busy as I feel I've been lately, sitting alone in a quiet restaurant while drinking a cold glass of tea sounds pretty good regardless of who eventually joins me... but I digress.) When all was said and done, I'm so glad we decided to connect -- my imaginary friend (as Renae so humorously put it) is as interesting in person as she is on her blog.

I decided to attend the book fair since I was already in the area, so after lunch, Renae followed me to the Convention Center. Once inside, we really went our separate ways. She was meeting some other blog friends and I had books and equipment and supplies to ooh and aah over. I knew the minute I walked through the doors that I was there to get in trouble. Instead of going crazy, though, I exercised some restraint. I learned by watching experienced conventioneers: I looked through things, I asked questions of the vendors, I made lists of things I wanted to buy, and then I walked away. I'll likely pick up some of the things I found interesting, but instead of buying at full price, I'll spend the summer watching curriculum message boards, checking out the local used bookstores, and perusing eBay and Amazon.

It's amazing how far I feel I've come in only a year's time with regards to homeschooling. Attending the book fair last year would have been far too overwhelming, but attending this year just helped to solidify the good decisions we've made to ensure the quality of the education our children receive. Being around so many like-minded people and seeing so many amazing children truly inspired me to persevere, and though my hands held only lists and catalogs, my heart was full of much, much more.


  • Renae

    You are so kind. Thank you for waiting and waiting for me. It was such a joy to meet you. You are just as beautiful in person as I imagined you to be.

    I hope we can do that again. Well, except for the getting lost part... ;)

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