Saturday, December 17, 2011

Just a Cup of Tea

In the past three days, I've had two separate friends - who I don't think actually know each other - sit me down for a cup of tea.  Sweet, quiet moments in the midst of absolute insanity.

I was astounded at how refreshed I felt, spiritually and even physically, by the simple act of taking time out for this simple ritual.

I've never been "all that" as a Mom, homemaker, homeschooler, or what have you.  Truthfully, I've never even longed for the whole, "let me create a quiet haven for my family with a nice cup of tea and freshly baked goodies" scene.  Maybe I just can't sit still long enough, or maybe I'm too busy with the next project. . . .

But it was lovely.  I don't know that I can pull it off every day, or even every week, but I think we need to sit for a cup of tea now and again.

So in this week leading up to Christmas, I wish for you, my friends, a quiet moment or two, and a cup of tea.

And a good friend to sip it with.

Friday, December 16, 2011

And Then there were Three

Teenagers, that is.  Officially today, we are the parents of three. . . count 'em, THREE teenagers.

(And - we've discovered that we will never have MORE than 3 teenagers at once.  Go figure!)

So somehow, in a few short, blink-of-an-eye years, we've gone from this. . . . .

To this.

To my lovely, Jane Austen reading, costume-designing, ballet-dancing, tender-hearted, beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, thoughtful, funny, charming, delightful Emily. . . .

Happy Birthday.

I'm so glad I have you in my life to tell me if my clothes match, if our house is decorated correctly, and if I'm embarrassing you too much.

You are a joy.  I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for your life!

And - just because I can - another very special picture:

Emily and Gretchen, friends since before they were born.  Literally.  Wish she could be here to celebrate the day with us!

And for the record?  I think having three teenagers is pretty terrific :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Adjusting My Vision

As I write this, I'm sorely in need of an eye exam.  (And since we've established that my mother does, sometimes, read my blog, I will add this comment:  Yes, Mom, I'm going to take care of that.  Soon.)  Things are just getting a little fuzzy, and I find myself moving books a bit to see some teeny tiny print now and then.  Ah, aging.

I've found that - lately - I've been so swamped with work and schooling and - well - life in general - that my spiritual vision has gotten a bit fuzzy as well.  Unable to see the forest for the trees, I've taken to grumbling and griping, indulging far too often in a pity party that has dampened my spirits and kept me from seeing clearly.

Time for an adjustment.

And so here, in this quiet moment, when the blessing of a head cold (yes, I did just type that. . .blessing) has kept me home all day, I'm taking a moment to reflect.  It's picture-heavy, I know. . .but here are some snapshots of blessings that have abounded to me and mine in the past month or so.

In mid-November, I took an unexpected trip to CT to attend a funeral and love on a dear friend.  Sadly, I have no pictures of my dear Darcy, but here are a few other remembrances. 

A fun night with Sheila and Tammy. . .acting like teenagers texting!
My sweet niece Sarah. . .so good to spend time with her and hear her heart.
How tall I remember them . . . . . .

And how tall they are now!!!

Jeremy, Oliver, Charlotte, Anna, and Caroline. . .I was there when many of them were born, changed their diapers. . . and now they're so grown!!!
With the Dirty Deed!  Just as fun an zany as ever, got to meet Dave & Cheryl Blough's twins.  They're still changing diapers!  Bless their hearts!!!

Thanksgiving. . . . for so many things. . . . . .

Me & Sweet Emily. . .Almost a teenager. . .So lovely
All gathered.  Love each and every one - what a blessing they all are.

Great shot - Dad & daughter doing dishes!

The gingerbread tradition is SERIOUS business.

Grammy & Kat play Scrabble iPad style. . .I get artsy with my camera.  Or at least, try to.

Sisters sharing a secret on the way to Black Friday shopping.

December has already been filled with precious memories - and here are a few of them!

Nathaniel and friends at the BEST Robotics competition.  So thankful for this program - it has really sparked a love of engineering in our boy!

Everyone needs to sleep under a Christmas tree at least once.

You've gotta love a 15-year old who doesn't mind his sister sitting on his lap during lunch - and a bunch of friends who think that it's nothing unusual to enjoy the company of your siblings, no matter their age!

This picture captures their joy.  I just love it.

Beautiful shepherdess at the Walk Thru Nativity.

Ever seen cuter shepherds?  Hannah in front, and Amy in the stripes.  It was Amy's dream for TWO YEARS to be in the scene with the goats. . . she got her wish!!!

Kathryn was a beautiful Mary in the scene where the Angel Gabriel visited her.  "Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord. . . "

Piano teachers are a blessing! 

Kathryn and Fellow Fellows show off their decorated cookies.

The "Flohnson" Learning Community - such a special and FUN group of students!  We were so glad to host them at our house for a Christmas party.  It's been a great semester for Kathryn.

It wouldn't be December without. . .ballet!  Amy in mid-air.

 And now. . . . because of another unexpected but "secret" blessing. . . .(and again, since my mother reads my blog I will say. . .thank you!!!!). . . . I'll stop the pictures for now.

But my vision has been adjusted. 

And I am so very, very thankful and so very, very blessed.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin. . Month? Kinda-Prize-Winning "Pie"

So much for pumpkin week.  Let's just say. . . .life. . . .got in the way.

Here it is, the night before Thanksgiving.  And I've just finished the last touches on my signature Thanksgiving dessert, "Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars" - which is heretofore known as. . . .

"Kinda-Prize-Winning Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake 'Pie'"

(You know there's a back story here, don't you?)

Our friends, the Bailey's, have The Social Event of the season - a good old fashioned Barn Party, complete with square dancing, a pig roast, and. . . . a Pie Contest.

So of course, never one to shy away from a competition, I whip up this recipe - in a pie pan, naturally - and submit it.  AFTER bragging on facebook that I would - um - soundly trounce a certain friend of mine.

The girls ready for some Barn Party Fun!
She won.

I didn't even place.

Oh, the humiliation.

Never to be deterred, I decided I would enter the blasted recipe at every contest I encountered - and luckily for me, that contest was at our Family Life Campout, held the weekend before Halloween.  I whipped up another scrumptious "pie", entered. . . .


(Never mind that there were only 3 entries.  Never mind that the other two entries were - ahem - made by girls under the age of 12.  I won, I tell you!  Victory!  I will not be vanquished!!!)

And now, with that gripping back story out of the way . . .on to the recipe!

Step One:  The crust

Crush one package of graham crackers - about 1.5 cups.  Mix with 1/4 c. sugar and 1/3 c. melted butter.  Spread in a greased 13x9 dish.  (Or. . . . in a pie plate.  If you're trying to win a pie contest.)

Step Two:  The Filling

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, softened, with 1 3/4  c. sugar and mix well.  Mix in 3 eggs, 1 cup pureed or canned pumpkin, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  After mixing, set aside 1 1/4 c. of the mixture in a small bowl.

Pay no attention to the can of pumpkin behind the curtain.  Let's focus on the nice, fresh pumpkins on the counter, shall we?

 Step Three:  The Secret Weapon - CHOCOLATE!

In a small saucepan, melt 6 oz. chocolate chips with 2 Tbl. butter.

 Try not to eat the other half of the bag of chocolate chips.

Once melted, add the small bowl of pumpkin mixture to the chocolate.  Add just a little at a time, I think it prevents the pumpkin-cheesecake mixture from curdling or something. I  dunno.  That's just how I do it.
I did not have a photographer take this.  I'm pouring with my left hand, taking the pix with my right.  Be impressed.

Mmmm!  Stir it up!
 Spread the chocolate mixture on the graham cracker crust.  Bake at 325 for 15 minutes or so.

Remove the chocolate layer from the oven.

Carefully pour the rest of the pumpkin mixture over the chocolate layer.  Put it back in the oven (use your pot holders!  I forgot once. . . OUCH!)  for another 40-50 minutes, or until the edges puff up and the center is slightly set.

Remove from the oven, let cool 30 minutes.

In the meantime, mix 1 1/4 c. sour cream and 1/4 c. sugar.  When the dessert has slightly cooled, spread the sour cream mixture on top.  I like to sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice or cocoa for presentation.  And to win pie contests.  Or at least - try to win.

Refrigerate overnight, and keep any leftovers refrigerated.

It's pretty yummy, even if I don't say so myself.

And at least one pie contest judge thought so!

Thanks, Mike - your check is in the mail.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Week: Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

Time to get the blog back a-hummin' again.  And since it's fall, and finally colder weather, let's break out some warm and cozy recipes, shall we?  (Plus, I really don't have the energy or time or brainpower to finish some of the more weighty blog posts.)  So - lucky you, faithful readers (all 3 of you)!  It's. . . .


Let's start with a yummy breakfast recipe, shall we?

My long-time readers will remember the great spice fiasco while making Baked Oatmeal.   Despite that unfortunate incident, I have continued to make and serve that yummy dish fairly frequently.

Mainly because it doesn't involve any knives.  Safer than - say - separating frozen hamburger patties with a chef knife.  Not that I have any experience in that.  Or any scars to show.  Nope.  None. At All.

So lo and behold, what did I find in my stash of recipes?  A variation on the theme!  So warm up your fall mornings with this yummy dish . . . . . .

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal!

Yumminess.  Pumpkin. Oatmeal.  What more can I say?

In a large bowl, mix together:

2 3/4 c. oats (I use quick cooking, they work just fine)
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice (more if you like)

(I think you should also add about 1/2 tsp. salt, even though the original recipe doesn't call for it)

Then add:

1 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin, fresh or canned
2 beaten eggs

1 T. vanilla
3 c. milk

Stir in 3/4 c. raisins or dried cranberries (dried cranberries.  Definitely dried cranberries)

1/2 c. chopped nuts (Meh.  Optional.  I'm not a big nut fan)

Pour into an 9x11 pan and bake at 350 about 45-50 minutes. 

Serves a whole hungry crowd.  Make sure you get a serving before the gang digs in!

And then get yourself to the store and buy a pile of canned pumpkin - you're a-gonna need it!  

(Or better yet, send your wonderful husband, while you stay home in your jammies and sip your pumpkin spice latte.  That's my plan, and I'm stickin' with it.)

Stay tuned for the next installment of. . . .Pumpkin Week!  See you tomorrow!  Lord willing. . . . .  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You Know the Drill: When it Rains. . .

. . . .it pours!

Blog's been quiet lately.  I really have about 6 great posts in draft form, and another 4 or 5 kicking around in the old noggin.  But in the past 2 weeks we've been hit with. . . .

. . . . . recovering from my sliced finger (which my mother knows about)
. . . . . celebrating 1 birthday for a 19-year old
. . . . . hosting a sweet couple for dinner
. . . . . pulling off some surprises for my Dad's milestone birthday
. . . . . navigating the fun, fun, fun world of dr's appointments, follow-ups, consults and insurance for aforementioned 19-year old
. . . . . someone (who shall remain nameless) puncturing her palm with a knife, requiring stitches (which my mother ALSO knows about)
. . . . . celebrating 2 birthdays for the Birthday Sisters
. . . . . and hosting 1 science party for the youngest Birthday Sister (which causes her Mommy to remember why, exactly she gave up hosting birthday parties a few years ago)

When the school year started, I said I could manage my schedule if no one got sick, or nothing major happened.


Ha ha.

Ha ha ha.

Maybe I'll blog while eldest is in surgery on Wednesday.  (Thanks for praying)

Or maybe I'll play Bejewelled.  It's addictive.  (Which my Dad knows about.  It's his evil plot to get us all addicted to that game.  It's working.)

Or maybe I'll nap.

But I'll definitely stay away from sharp objects.  (Which is my evil plot to get banned from the kitchen.  It's working.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday Supper: "Shy-dee-ay"

My brother and sister-in-law are, quite honestly, some of the most fun people I know.

When they got married, they had a cookbook produced, which they gave as their wedding favor.  It has a picture of monkeys on it. . . . .and there's a LONG story behind that, trust me.

Now, to be honest, I never - ahem - actually used the cookbook (there.  I admitted it.)

Until one summer.

When we used to visit at my parents' lake house in Indiana, we all took turns fixing dinner.  When it was their night, my sister-in-law whipped up this dish that was simply FABULOUS.

"Can I have the recipe?"  I asked, watching my children devour extra helpings.

"It's in our cookbook," she replied.

Oops.  Way to blow my cover.


I give you a yummy, easy, relatively inexpensive recipe, adapted from the famous "It's Chow Time" coookbook (pub. 2001, Monkey Lover's Press):

Grandma Darlin's Sheeyrea
(We call it Shydeeay)

1 stewing chicken, cooked (I use 1 large can of chicken)
4 c. chicken broth (use liquid from stewing chicken/canned chicken plus liquid from chick peas before using canned chicken broth)
1 can chick peas, drained
2 c. thin spaghetti broken into small pieces - don't substitute
3/4 stick margarine (I don't usually use this much!)
1 c. Uncle Ben's converted white rice (the recipe says it MUST be Uncle Ben's)
salt to taste

Here's what we do:
Get the little people in your life to break the spaghetti.  They'll have a blast, trust me!
In a large frying pan, melt butter, and then pour in the spaghetti.  Stir constantly to brown.

Next, bring the broth to a boil in a large pan with a good cover.  Put in cut up (or canned) chicken (make sure it's COOKED if you're using the stewing bird!!), chick peas, rice, salt (if desired) and browned spaghetti.  

Mix together, put cover on, and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done.  You might need to add more broth - just keep an eye on it.

Now. . . here's where the recipe gets controversial.

The Sauce.

In a saucepan, mix together 1 small can tomato sauce, a dash of garlic powder, and a can of peas (shudder).  Bring to a boil.  Serve over the Sheeyrea.

I avoid making the sauce if at all possible. I have an issue with peas.  Don't ask.  It's a traumatic childhood memory.  (Again, secretly hoping my mother doesn't read my blog. . . . . . )

My eldest, however, LOVES the sauce, and if I didn't include it, she would cry "Foul!"

But she does read my blog.  So there.  I included it.

Rather noble of me, don't you think?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Freebie: Math Drills Made Motivating!

I think I'm in an alliterating mood :)

But let's get back to all-things-homeschooling, shall we?  (I never really, REALLY feel like we've started school until September. . . .it's the Yankee in me, I suppose.)

Here is the part where I confess my shortcomings as a teacher.  I have realized this year, that my students (who shall remain nameless) are exhibiting a weakness in math - fact recall.  They memorized the cute skip-counting songs, and can figure out the facts given enough time, but we need instant, memorize recall here, folks.

And I missed the boat. 


Deciding it was time to remedy that glaring weakness, I went to my favorite homeschool resource and asked for recommendations.  One stood out:  Xtra Math.

Basically, Xtra Math is math flashcards online.  But more!  Your student races a timer, and gets their own progress report on how they are doing. . . and it's HIGHLY motivating for my girls to try to turn the "square green" (aka - answer the question in less than 3 seconds) and to get a "smiley face" on their chart.

I can also run reports for me.  . . . .and just as a sneak peek, they look like this:

So here I can see what problems Amy knows (the smiley faces), which ones she could answer in less than three seconds (the green checks), which ones she got wrong (and what she put for an answer!), and which ones she ran out of time when answering.  Pretty neat, eh?

We are really enjoying Xtra Math.  I thought it would be too much for Amy (1st grade), but she's gotten the hang of it now.  We're incorporating it as a part of our morning routine. . . and I'm looking forward to seeing how our math facts improve!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Which I Find Out if My Mother Reads My Blog

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
Proverbs 19:21

Yeah, it was a good night.

I was really humming along, the quilt was getting So. Close. to done. Girls happy, pancakes cooking for dinner, a night of quilting, full of promise, stretching gloriously before me.

And then.

A glass.  A sink.

A cut pinky finger.

I'm ok, really.  Just sitting here, all taped together, hunting & pecking on my laptop.  Watching "Tangled" with the girlie girls.  Looks like the Lord has an interesting way of getting my attention and forcing a little rest this weekend.  And you know something else?  Just for the record, I always cry at the end of Tangled.  The longing of Rapunzel for her parents, the hope, the reunion. . . . . it just gets me.  There's a spiritual lesson in there, but my hand hurts too much to think deep spiritual thoughts right now. 

At least I don't have any gigs scheduled!  Maybe tomorrow I'll feel like quilting again. . . .

Lord willing.  

And, Mom- if you're reading this, I'm really fine :)  Do. Not. Panic.  That part about my hand hurting was poetic license to make a point.  Really.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Last Deep Breath Before the Plunge

Sorry - my blog's been a little, well, quiet.

As a matter of fact, I can't believe it's almost September!  How did that happen????

But I'm sitting here tonight and thought I'd throw a little something up for my loyal readers (all 2 of you!)

(ok, ok - I SHOULD be quilting, but I'm just too mentally frazzled and will probably make a mistake like I did last night - you know, the one where I forgot to put down the walking foot, and stitched about a mile of invisible thread into loops on the back of the quilt???  Yeah, that mistake.  Not so interested in repeating that one.)

This weekend, it all begins in earnest.

Kathryn is in her "Connections" weekend at Samford.  Lots of chances to meet new friends, new classes - even attend a 90s party.  (A 90s party???  What does THAT involve?  I was too busy being pregnant in the 90s to remember much . . . . . . . . except Barney.  And Magic School Bus.  And diapers.)  It's thrilling - and humbling and a smidge scary - to sit back and coach from the sidelines as she enters this new phase of life.

Today's quote, College Student Version:

Me:  "Kathryn, I'm just not so sure I'm good at this being the mother of a college student thing.  I don't know when to offer advice, and when to stay out of it and let you handle it on your own.:
Kathryn:  "Don't worry, Mom.  I'm used to being the guinea pig."

Next week is The Insanity.  I'm always fooled into this false lull in August - you know, the "Hey!  This isn't so bad!  Maybe our schedule will work after all. . . . . . ." false lull.  Anyone else have that???  But next week starts ballet, piano, and my own (itty-bitty) piano studio.

So between homeschooling the kiddos, teaching science at 2 co-ops, piano students, and general driving around, don't look for too much on the blog!  Although, you never know when the muse will hit me. . . . . .

Like this gem.

Today's quote, Six-Year-Old Version:

Amy:  :tears:
"Mom!  Hyenas are NOT in the dog family!  I can't put them in my Dog Times newsletter!"
:insert more tears, sad eyes, and general crushed state of despair:

Me:  "It's ok honey,"  (tries desperately NOT to look at the other children downstairs, who are all smirking and about to blow my cover), "We'll give the hyenas their very own newsletter soon."

I'm so glad I have them at each end of the spectrum, and everywhere in between.

Wishing you all great Joy in your Journey, especially for my fellow homeschooling moms who are starting their new years!

Eh, don't worry.  I'm not going anywhere.  Give me a few weeks to finish Kathryn's quilt, and I'll be back. . . . . . .

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Love at First. . . . . . Bookstore?

I'm as corny as Kansas in August,
High as a flag on the Fourth of July,
If you'll excuse an expression I use,
I'm in love with a wonderful. . . . . . . 


Yes, it's true.  I have found me a new gem right here in my own backyard!

Armed with a stack of books I no longer needed/wanted, a list of literature selections and editions needed for next year's studies, and a hefty dose of caffeine, I set out to conquer the world!

Or at least the fiction section of 2nd and Charles. 

And I'm proud to report. . . .VICTORY!

Let me give you the run down: 

First,  I dropped off a stack of books for them to look at.  Now, they didn't take everything, but I got about $25 total in store credit for the books they did want.  (They also offered me about $11 in cash.  Yup.  Took the store credit.  Obviously.)

Next, I hunted for Emily & Nathaniel's  literature selections for middle and high school.  Here are some of the deals I found. . . . . . 

The Little Prince - list online at $8.65 - 2nd and Charles price. . . . $3.00
Lilies of the Field - online $5.75 - 2nd and Charles price. . . . . $2.10
The Crucible - online $11.45 - 2nd and Charles price. . . . . . $5.40
The Cherry Orchard - online $10.08 - 2nd and Charles price. . . .$0.70

Most of these are current editions, in almost new shape.  We're not talking beat up and musty books here!

So. . . . . here's the final rundown. . . . . 

After store credit, I spent a grand total of about $25.61 on ALL my kids books for literature next year!


I. Heart. 2nd and Charles!

(The downside.  Don't go with kids.  They will find books they HAVE to have.  Also, the organization leaves a little bit to be desired, so if you're in a rush, you'll be frustrated.)

If they had a coffee shop, I'd never leave.

I mean, I'd learn to drink coffee, just for 2nd and Charles.
That's how much I love it.  Seriously.

(The other downside:  There are only 2 locations in the country.  One here.  Come and visit.  Bring your books.  We'll party.)



Friday, July 8, 2011

Tonight's Two Inspirations

from Sally Clarkson:

The measure of a great woman is not her strength, but her reliance on God. Today I read this in my quiet time:
Lord, you have always given bread for the coming day; 
And though I am poor, today I believe.
Lord you have always given strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak, today I believe.
Lord you have always given peace for the coming day,
and though of anxious heart, today I believe.
Lord you have always kept me safe in trials,
and now, tried as I am, today I believe.
Lord, You have always marked the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden, today I believe.
Lord, You have always lightened this darkness of mine;
and though night is here, today I believe.
Lord, You have always spoken when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now, today I believe.

And from another blog I frequent:

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they make the best of everything."

And that's where my heart's at tonight.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blog Vacation - Kind Of

I know I've promised you, my dear loyal readers, a peek into Tapestry of Grace's wonderful curriculum.

But I've vowed to put all homeschooling thoughts away from me - far, far away - for these few precious days of vacation.   As Monty Python famously said:

"And Now for Something Completely Different!"

Vacation pictures.

Just a few of my favorites.  That's all.  Enjoy!  I sure am. . . . . .

Amy & her Dad at the beach

Sisters hanging together

Kat was pressed into service reading - and gathered a crowd around her

Emily's passion - sorting shells

Cute nephew action!

Drawing in the sand, looking for hermit crabs

Sweet Mo brings Auntie Heather a present - a Tar Ball!!!!

My favorite shot so far :)

(And don't worry, I'll be back to my regularly scheduled, witty, interesting homeschool blogging. . . . . . . soon.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tapestry of Grace: Part One - The Convention

What do you get when you take one terrific curriculum. . . . . . . 

Two encouraging, energetic booth hostesses. . . . . .

A steady stream of curious, sometimes overwhelmed, always receptive homeschool moms. . . .

 And a crazy cast of supporting characters????

 (Well, the first thing you get is laryngitis.  But I digress. . . . . . )

You get three days of fun, exhaustion, and rewarding times at 
the CHEF of Alabama Homeschool Convention!!!

My longtime friends know that I have an - ahem - weakness for homeschool conventions.  Soft spot, yeah, let's call it a soft spot, that's the ticket!  I've attended them for about 14 years off and on (more on than off) and worked at them a few times as well.


When I heard that the folks at Tapestry were looking for folks to host a booth at their local convention, how could I refuse?  It really is a joy to meet other moms on the same journey, to really listen to them, and offer encouragement.  I was thrilled to have the chance!

Let's examine the ingredients one-by-one, shall we?

(OK, I know, I know. . . these are the same pictures!  Sorry. . . . I was too busy talking to moms to get more than a handful of good shots!)

Ingredient #1: The Curriculum

We had on display everything you would use in one week's worth of Tapestry.

What more can I say?  Well, I guess I could give you my "elevator speech":

"Tapestry of Grace is a humanities-based curriculum that enables me to teach my kids on many different levels, using the same topics. It's a combination of Classical Education and Unit Studies, using real literature to make history come alive.   Would you like to learn more?" 

I gave a variation of that speech about - oh - a few dozen times over two days.  Tapestry of Grace has been a huge blessing in our lives . . . and I was so glad to share about it.  My next blog post, I'm actually intending to do a thorough overview of it, but for now, you'll just have to settle for my convention stories!

Ingredient #2:  Two Booth Hostesses

Here we are - The Dream Team!!  (Ha, only kidding!  Sort of. . . .)  Actually, we were a really good team.  I didn't actually know that Tamieka was coming until the morning of the set-up day (Wednesday), but boy-oh-boy (!) am I glad she was my partner!  Her kids are 8, 7, and 3, and she brought them home from school to use Tapestry last year.  She was full of great ideas and tips, and could really related to the younger moms (which does NOT imply that I'm an older mom, thankyouverymuch) who visited our booth in droves.  We had a ball. . . . . .  and I made a new friend!

Ingredient #3:  Homeschool Moms
 They came alone and in twos, homeschool moms in all ages and stages.  On Thursday, we had LOTS of moms whose oldest child wasn't even 7 yet.  It was so neat to meet all of them, and talk with them, hear their needs, their struggles, what they're looking for.  One of the blessings of being a booth hostess is that we were under no sales quota, or pitch, or anything.  Tamieka and I were simply free to share information and minister as the Lord led.

And minister we did!  I think I'm safe in saying that Tamieka's favorite moms were the ones with younger kids - she took great joy in showing them the simple yet effective way that she uses Tapestry, and how it can look when all your children are in the lower levels of the program.  My favorite moms were the ones with the large age spread in their families - you know, those of us who have emotional exhaustion from teenagers, combined with physical exhaustion from preschoolers!  I loved being able to say, "You know, you can meet the academic needs of your high schoolers AND still have fun and enjoy learning with your little ones!"

Even better:  when I watched the information video that Marcia Somerville (Tapestry's author) put together for us hostesses, she really stressed that we were there to minister.  That really freed me to steer moms in another direction - which, I must say, I occasionally did. (I also joked with the dads that we were the safest booth in the convention, since we couldn't take any of their money!)  Time and time again, we had moms of younger kids come and just ask for general homeschool advice, which was when I broke out, "The Cookie Speech".

Interlude:  The Cookie Speech
 (intended audience: moms with Kindergarten and younger students)

Bake cookies with them.  Take them to parks, museums, and the library.
Love them.  Read to them.  Love your husband.  Let them play.
Enjoy them.  They're only young once.

Not that I would have taken that advice when Kathryn was five. . . but hey!  I can only hope some of these moms have more sense than I did. . . . . . 

Ingredient #4:  Crazy Cast of Supporting Characters
From L to R:  Nikki and David Caywood, Dana Caywood
 Does it get any better than to have the staff of Bookshelf Central next door!!!!!????  Seriously, they were wonderful.  For the uninitiated, Dana Caywood has been instrumental in the writing of many parts of Tapestry of Grace, and her company (Bookshelf Central) carries all the books needed for Tapestry's curriculum.  Their web interface is outstanding, the books are beautiful. . . .and they are such fun!  The running joke was that I knew everyone at the convention (which was only about 75% true).  Oh, and did I mention that they're having 10% off in July???  Bliss!!!  (Editor's Correction:  Thanks to handy-dandy David, I am reminded they have sale promotions All. The. Time, not just in July!  Be still my beating heart!  Thanks, David!!  Go read his comment for more details.  Better yet, visit their website!)

Note to the folks at the office:  if at all possible, put the Bookshelf people next to the Tapestry booth.  It was SO easy to just send moms next door to look at what books they might use with Tapestry!

Epitaph:  The Banner Support Stand
Here we see Tamieka with our beleaguered banner stand.  I think I used an entire roll of duct tape trying to get that thing to stand. . . . . and by about 2 p.m. on Friday, it had quit. It was pining for the fjords, pushing up the daisies. . . . It was an ex-banner stand.  You get the picture.

But it did hold the really cool Map of the Humanities. . . . . once.  For a limited time.

In Conclusion:

A big shout-out to Juli at Lampstand Press (Tapestry's actual company) - she really made the convention an easy undertaking (well, except for the blinkety-blink blank banner. . .but I'm not bitter.  Really.)  Tamieka and I had everything we needed for a successful booth, and we got lots of positive feedback.

It was a wonderful experience, and Tamieka and I already agreed that we want to work together next year!  A hearty thanks to Marcia, Juli, Dana, and all the good folks at Lampstand for supporting local homeschool conventions and making it all possible!