Schoolhouse Expo

Feeling a little weary?

If you could be totally open about homeschooling right now, what would you say? I know for many of us, midwinter is a really tough time. You might feel weary. Like you’re just in survival mode and running on empty. It just seems really difficult to get back into the swing of things after Christmas. There are the winter colds and viruses passing back and forth between family members, and the shorter days and cold weather keep us cooped up more than usual.

If you’re feeling weary, please know that you’re not alone and that it’s perfectly normal. Even students and teachers in public and private school deal with this stuff too.

But I’ve got an idea of a way that you can recharge your heart and do more than just survive these dreary days of winter: the Schoolhouse Expo. The next one is coming up May 16-20, 2011 and the theme this time is Homeschooling with Heart. I know that May might seem like a long time away, but if you can, you really should go ahead and buy your ticket now.

Let me tell you why:

First of all, when you buy your ticket, you’re giving yourself something to look forward to. I think that always helps perk up your spirit.

Secondly, the price is the absolute lowest during our Early Bird sale. Right now, tickets are only $19.50, so you can attend this encouraging conference online for under $20, plus you’ll get to listen to and watch all of the videos over and over again with our Expo To Go option which is included with the LIVE ticket.

Thirdly, two nights of preview sessions are included with the price of your ticket. You won’t want to miss Mary Jo Tate’s session on March 15th or Dianne Craft’s workshop on April 12th. Those dates will be here before you know it! Check out all of the speakers and topics HERE. The full schedule hasn’t been released yet, but you can go ahead and see what all we have to offer.

And finally, as soon as you buy your ticket, you can immediately begin downloading your free E-books and audios. During the Early Bird Sale there are even 6 bonus freebies so you’ll be getting 27 different gifts valued at over $300! These gifts could be just what you need to snap out of your funk. There are words of encouragement about how to help everyone in your family act more like a team through fun memorable activities,  thoughts on letting God’s light shine in the darkness, fun activities to do with your family, learning games, unit studies on a variety of subjects, tips on working from home, gardening advice, healthy recipes, information on organization, marriage, and much, much more.

I really do hope you’ll buy a ticket to the Schoolhouse Expo and join us. I have loved being a part of the other two and look forward to this one as well. If you haven’t attended before, you probably can’t imagine the true sweet spirit, camaraderie, and encouragement you can feel even though the Expo is held online. I really do think it will be a blessing to you. Our speakers are funny, smart, thought-provoking, inspirational, and transparent. You’ll feel more like they are your new friends by the end of the session. And we all know that it’s nicer to get by with a little help from our friends.

Have a great day, friends!



Schoolhouse Expo: Day 5

John Taylor Gatto

John Taylor Gatto at the Schoolhouse Expo

Cindy wrote an excellent review of our final day at the Expo. Here are just a few of my own highlights:

  • Deb Wuehler did a wonderful job talking about how God meets all of our needs using Scripture. She even had a beautiful chart that had a Scripture showing how He meets different needs. You can print a copy from page 5 of her powerpoint.
  • Tricia Goyer talked about how she got started writing from home. I was amazed at HOW MUCH writing she has done while she’s been busy raising a family. I really appreciated how she told us all about how she got started and shared some great writing tips. I started working on a book this summer and have an idea for a children’s book series. This workshop came at a wonderful time for me.
  • Kim Kautzer did a really nice workshop about teaching writing called Your Child’s Writing: Garden or Weed Patch? The main emphasis was on getting your children to understand that writing a paper is kind of like growing a garden. You have to edit and make improvements before you get a wonderful final copy, just like you have to water, fertilize, and weed a garden.
  • Diana Waring did a presentation on history next. Honestly I didn’t get to hear very much of it though. About this time, we were trying to make sure that Mr. Gatto had the correct address for the hotel.  Thankfully he did. He was just running a bit late because he had a hard time getting a cab. The joys of midtown Manhattan. Ha!
  • Our highlight of the evening was when John Taylor Gatto spoke to us for three hours.  He shared about the history of institutional schooling, little known facts about it, and the secrets of successful private schools. I felt truly honored to hear what he had to say. He is a pioneer and truly wants to change how people think about education. It was very generous of him to spend so much time with us and I will miss having a reason to call and chat with him. He was a class act and an encouragement to me personally. I had to smile as we got off the phone the other day. He said, “Until our paths cross again,” and I just thought that was something to look forward to. Such a happy thought.
  • Finally, we wrapped up with our Door Prize Extravaganza. We had a ton of fun asking trivia questions and giving away gifts. Perhaps a bit too much fun. I think we almost killed the GoToWebinar system. My Internet kept stalling and at one point, I started humming the Jeopardy theme song. Little did I know that somehow they could all still hear me and that they were just cracking up about it.

Altogether it was a wonderful week and God truly ministered to me, right along with many others. I’m thankful for my buddies on the Expo Team that really worked hard to pull things together.  I’m thankful for the other TOS folks who prayed for us and helped however they could. I’m thankful for the very generous sponsors who make the Expo possible. I’m thankful for the speakers who put so much into their presentations and share from their hearts. And most of all I’m thankful for how God works all things together for good. He does all things well. And I was blessed to be a part of it.

See the rest of my Schoolhouse Expo Recaps:
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday

Schoolhouse Expo: Day 4

A Behind the Scenes peek at the Schoolhouse Expo:

I was a little worried just before we went live because for some reason my mom’s Internet went out unexpectedly without reason for about an hour earlier that morning. As we were chatting before the Expo went LIVE, I was just reminding Sharra & Cindy to just follow the script in case the Internet went out again and I disappeared from the Attendee List.

Without missing a beat Carol Barnier said, “Oh, that’s good to know. That way we won’t think the rapture has happened.”

That woman is a hoot.

For a full recap (and a cute picture of 3 handsome boys), read Cindy’s entry on the new Schoolhouse Expo blog.

And don’t forget that tomorrow is the LAST day of the Expo and your chance to hear Deb Wuehler, Tricia Goyer, Kim Kautzer, Diana Waring, and John Taylor Gatto! You can buy a ticket for a reduced price to join us LIVE and you’ll also get the Expo To Go with it, AND over $240 worth of free downloadable gifts.

See the rest of my Schoolhouse Expo Recaps:
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday

Schoolhouse Expo: Day 3

A Little Touch of Home from the Farm

Well it felt like a bit of a wild and wacky Wednesday as we got things started for the Schoolhouse Expo today. Our first speaker of the day usually logs in about 15 minutes early just so we can do the sound check, but because of some time zone confusion our speaker had mixed up the times and didn’t think she was supposed to be on until an hour later. YIKES!

I was scrambling with the other of the Expo Team to come up with a plan B and sweating bullets until Sharra sent me a happy message that Dianne Craft was logged in and ready. And wow, I am SO glad that she joined us.

  • Dianne’s workshop was fabulous. Honestly I think that EVERY homeschool mom should hear what she has to say about learning glitches. She talks about the different learning paths in the brain and how we can figure out what learning gate might be closed for our struggling learners. She also shared some information about nutrition and what an important component that can be. Her presentation had us all saying, “That’s my kid!” or even sometimes, “That’s me.” She was just full of practical information that we can all apply and left everyone wishing we had more than just one hour with her. Her handout will give you a little taste of what she shared, but I’d really suggest that you spend some time clicking around on her website and visit her vendor booth.
  • Next was the Rosetta Stone workshop and I’m sure it was great. I saw lots of great comments in the chat box, but guess what. I didn’t get to hear much of it. . . because . . .  I was talking to John Taylor Gatto!He called to confirm things for Friday and I just have to say that I drop EVERYTHING when John Taylor Gatto calls. I was like, “Expo, what expo?”. I can’t tell you what a special thing it is to have him joining us for this online conference. In recent  years, he has decided to step away from some technology – like email, cell phones, etc… He feels like in some ways it keeps people from connecting with each other on a personal level. However at 74 years old, he believes so strongly in homeschooling that he was willing to take advantage of this opportunity to speak to as many homeschoolers as possible (as long as we would send someone to get him logged in and set up. ha!).  He’s not even traveling as much as he used to. I’m telling you all that we are in for a special treat. I crack up because whenever I say, “Hi, Mr. Gatto.” He always says, “Please call me John.” and I just almost giggle with joy thinking that I am on a first-name basis with John Taylor Gatto. Sigh . . . Enough of my gushing.
  • Deborah Wuehler had another wonderful devotion for us today. The one was I Don’t Know What To Do! Deborah shared a lot about how we should respond when things are so crazy in life that you don’t even know what to do. One thing that she reminded us was to say to the Lord, “I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You.” We simply MUST keep our eyes on Him. Deb shared so many insights from 2Ch 20:1-30: God Defeats Judah’s Enemies in King Jehoshaphat’s Reign. Check out her slides and her handout.
  • And then Zan Tyler blessed us with her absolutely inspiring Life in the Fiery Furnace. (Click here for the handout.) She shared about a time when her family was threatened with being thrown in jail if they continued to homeschool and pointed to how God is always with us during those challenging times just as He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I loved how she said that so often when things are going wrong, we automatically wonder what we’ve done wrong to deserve them. But perhaps we should remember that sometimes we are attacked for doing right!  Rich Mullins once said, “We will see Christ in the furnace long before we see Him in the air.” Isn’t that a wonderful reminder to look around right where you are to see Him with you?

I hope you all are enjoying my little recaps of the Expo each day. I wish you all could be there to enjoy it with us. It really is a special fellowship time, but I know how crazy life can be.

In fact, I’ll actually be stepping down as Director of the Schoolhouse Expo after this week. I’ve just been struggling so much with my fibromyalgia that I need to slow down and give my body some time to recover. I guess that’s why Zan’s message was such a blessing to me. I feel like so much of my struggle with pain feels like I’m being kept in the Refiner’s Fire and I appreciated that reminder of Who is there with me keeping me safe.

Have a great week y’all. He’s right there with you through it all.

See the rest of my Schoolhouse Expo Recaps:
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday


Schoolhouse Expo: Day 2

We had so much fun with the Expo on Monday that Sharra and I just had to laugh. We started snapping pictures of our rooms where we set up to do the Expo. Here we have this fabulous group of speakers and hundreds of people logging in to listen and we’re running this thing from laptops on tray tables with cords draped across the rooms.


Michael & Sharra's control center

My temporary office set up in my mom’s spare room.

What can I say? It truly goes to show how God can use humble people. No fancy equipment required! (And if you have a picture of where you are listening in to the Expo, please share them on our Schoolhouse Expo Facebook page.It’s fun to get to visit each other virtually.)

Anyway, Tuesday was another wonderful day at the Expo.

  • The day started off with a fabulous presentation by Molly Green called Companyʼs Coming! Friendly,Frugal Hospitality for Real Families. It was full of inspiration about how hospitality is about reaching out to others, not spending a lot of money. She had a TON of practical tips and pictures from her own house of ways she made every day things look special. It’s a session that I’ll definitely be looking forward to watching again with our Expo To Go.  Molly even put together an 11 page handout on Tips & Tricks for Frugal Entertaining. You can download it here.  Great job, Molly!
  • After Molly, we had Patricia Gilbey from Lighthouse Christian Academy. Lighthouse Christian Academy is a distance learning academy which individualizes each student’s program using the ACE curriculum. They lay everything out for you and handle all the recordkeeping too. Patricia’s heart and passion for helping other homeschool families was evident in her presentation. If you have any questions about how that could work for your family, I know that she would be happy to help. Her email address & phone number are right in her vendor booth.
  • Deb’s devotion for today was How Do You Present Yourself? You can view her powerpoint HERE and her handouts HERE. It was all about how we have to present ourselves to God to be used and then we can represent Him to others. We must spend time with Him each day!
  • After Deb, Lee Binz did a presentation on Getting the Big Scholarships. It was full of great information that you can use when planning ahead to the high school years.
  • And then Andrew Pudewa ended our day on a high note with his presentation on Freedomship and Entrepreneurial Education. It was absolutely FANTASTIC. And I was amazed with how it ties in so much with what John Taylor Gatto will be sharing on Friday night. He absolutely emphasized the blessing and importance of helping your child to figure out a practical way that they can earn money. All kids want to do that.  Education is not just about putting information into their minds, but instead should allow them to think, dream, and discover what they can offer to the world. IEW has a great writing program called Lemonade to Leadership that will help your child to write their own business plan, and there is a $10 off code in their vendor booth. Woo hoo! You can also watch one of Andrew’s other presentations right there in the vendor booth. It’s VERY cool.  Andrew also gave us his actual powerpoint presentation to share in both color and b&w (smaller file). I am just SO blessed by the generosity and sharing spirit of so many of our speakers.

Through all of this, I’m just amazed at how God works all of these little details together. It’s fun hearing where everyone is from and getting to chat with moms from around the world in the chat box, and just getting to see what God is up to. I am exhausted, but encouraged at the end of each day.

I hope that some of you will be able to join us! We’re reducing the price in case you’re just able to join for part of the week!

See the rest of my Schoolhouse Expo Recaps:
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday