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!


Matt Waters said...

What a fun post to read! You have solc me on Tapestry for next fall (2012). You are such a fun and encouraging person Heather, I am sure you were a huge blessing to every newbie (and oldie) there. By the way this is Annie not Matt but I don't have a google account so I don't think I can post without one, is that right?

Kathryn said...


Totally imagining a Monty Python British accent with that one. :)

Glad you had a great time - in my opinion, you're the best convention booth mom in the world.

David Caywood said...

It's not only July that we have 10% off of something. It's EVERY month! August will be 10% for Unit 1 books from any and every year plan!

Marcia Somerville said...

Thanks for serving us at the convention, and more for serving the moms according to our vision. :D Glad everything went well... except for the poor Humanities Map support... ah, well!