7 Things I Always Bring to a Homeschool Convention

As a homeschooling mom, each year I try to attend at least one homeschool conference.  I find it so encouraging for me as a mom, to get me refocused on how exciting it is to have the opportunity to teach my children at home.  I just love getting to spend all of that time with them!
You all know how disorganized I can be.  I keep telling you all about my procrastination and never ending organization projects!  Well….I actually do get a little organized before I attend a homeschool convention (try not to drop your jaw, lol!).  There’s just a few things that I’ve learned that I need to have with me, otherwise, my experience is a little less productive.
If you’re a homeschooler and planning to attend a convention, let me encourage you on the things you need to bring with you!
7 Things I Always Bring to a Homeschool Convention - SidetrackedSarah.com
(This post contains affiliate links)

7 Things I Always Bring to a Homeschool Convention

  1. Bottled Water – They often do have water available in the convention halls, but I like to keep a spare bottle or two in my bag so that I’m able to keep myself well hydrated.  I find that I don’t make it over to the water dispensers as often as I should if I don’t just carry it with me.
  2. Pen & Paper – I definitely take notes.  Lots and lots of notes.  Sometimes it’s just to help solidify the ideas in my head, other times, it’s so that I can go back through and look up some of the things that the speakers talked about.  Either way, I’d be sorry if I didn’t have a pen and paper!
  3. List of Curriculum I’m Looking For – This is a big deal and quite possibly the most important item on my list.  There are so many curriculum vendors at homeschool conventions.  I always have to look through all of my kids’ books before I leave for a convention and take notes on what I need to for sure purchase as well as what I want to look at while I’m there, to see if I want to purchase it.
  4. Money – Most of the convention halls do take debit & credit cards, but some do not.  Don’t be taken by surprise.  Be sure to bring some spending money for curriculum purchases, food, etc.  You just don’t want to be without any paper money, just in case!
  5. a Friend - I love attending homeschool conventions with a friend!  It lifts my soul to get all the visiting and comparing notes time that we have together.
  6. List of Speakers I want to Hear – Usually before the convention starts, the convention website will share with you which speakers will be speaking and what they’re speaking on.  I like to take my list, read all of the descriptions of the speaking topics and rate them as which ones are the most important for me to hear.  I do this based on the things that are concerning me about my family, my kids and our school year.  Once I get there, I compare my list with friend’s list and we choose where we are going together and where we will split up.  It’s nice to have a good idea before you get there, otherwise it can get overwhelming trying to figure it out on the fly.  There’s so many great speakers available it can be hard to choose!  Be sure to pray and ask God to show you which ones you need to hear the most.
  7. Snacks - If you’re anything like me, about 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. I hit a slump.  I start getting the yawns and I’m ultra sleepy.  This is a great time to break out your snacks to give you a little extra boost.  I prefer to grab for some crunchy granola bars or other crunchy snacks.  I find the crunch in my mouth does a little something to wake me up.

What about you?  What are your must have items that you would have to take to a convention?

If you’ve not decided where to attend a homeschool convention, let me encourage you to give Great Homeschool Conventions a try!  Not only do they have an incredible lineup of speakers, but they even have comedy!  Yes, comedy!
They have 3 great locations to choose from:  Greenville, SC (already happened); Cincinatti, OH (April 24-26);  and Ontario, California (June 12-14).  In February of 2015, they’re even coming to Fort Worth, TX!  This year, in Ohio, they’re having a blogger meetup where you can actually meet your favorite homeschooling bloggers!  There’s several on my list that I’d love the chance to meet in person!
If you’ve ever considered homeschooling, are a seasoned homeschooler OR just never attended a homeschooling convention, it’s time to make plans to attend and order the tickets now!  I assure you, you won’t be sorry that you did!

I Finally Got a Smart Phone with Walmart’s Lowest Priced Unlimited Plans

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. 

Walmart Family Mobile - I Finally Got a Smart Phone!

I know that I’ve told you before on Facebook, but in case you missed it, I’ve been living in the “dinosaur age”!  I was one of the very few people I know who did not have a smart phone!  I know that sounds insane to some of you.  Yes, I did have a cell phone, but I didn’t even have a texting plan, so all my friends would be texting me, and I’d never text them back because every text I sent would add money owed to my bill.  I once went into a cell phone/computer repair store and the man working there did not even know that they still made flip phones, until I flipped mine out, lol.  So…now is the time to do a little upgrade with Walmart’s lowest priced unlimited plans!

Walmart Family Mobile is Affordable

Walmart Family Mobile

I’ve been eyeing Walmart Family Mobile Plans for a while.  They seems so affordable at $39.99 per month for Unlimited Talk, Text and Data/Web.  If I decide I don’t want the data part of the plan, it’s only $29.99 per month for unlimited talk and text.    You do have to buy a phone to go with it.  I think the price of the phone has always been the main thing to hold me back.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to actually buy a phone.  Then, when I got to looking at them, I realized they were way more affordable than I had originally thought.  Plus, it’s tax return season (for some of us anyway), it’s time to splurge a little, right?  I didn’t have to splurge too much though.  I ended up with the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit for $99.99.

My Accessories

Accessories for Samsung Galaxy Exhibit

I decided to purchase a few accessories along with my phone.  I love listening to podcasts while I’m doing the dishes or driving down the road, so I decided to get myself  a Bluetooth Speaker.  Along with that, I also got a car charger and some earbuds (I’m serious about listening to podcasts, lol).

How I’ll Use My New Phone

Walmart Family Mobile Cell Phone

As a blogger, there are many times when I’m out and about that I really NEED to check my email or Facebook.  If it was likely that I would need to do that before I returned home, I would bring my tablet along with me and pull over to a McDonalds or a motel and do what I needed to do while I was out, utilizing their free WiFi.  I won’t have to do that any longer (Yay!).  I’m hoping to be able to use it while waiting for appointments at doctor’s offices and just be able to use my down time when I’m out and about and nobody needs me for anything.

I do have a pet peeve though.  When people choose to interact with their phones more than they choose to interact with other people, it drives me crazy.  My goal will be to not make that phone and what I have access to within it #1 when I’m with others.  I want each person I’m spending time with around me to feel just as important as I like to feel.   If it’s possible to engage in conversation with those around me, my priority will be to do just that.

So far, I LOVE my new phone.  (and I keep finding my kids trying to steal it to fill it up with photos, lol!)

WFM - KIDS Keep Stealing Cell Phone

It’s taking a bit to get used to the touch screen (as I’m used to the dinosaur flip phone), but….I can see that it’ll get easier as time goes on.  I’m working on finding a bunch of great apps and loading all of my contacts in.  Before I know it I’ll be  proficient at this Smart Phone business.  :)  It’s great to be among the rest of you!  :)

For  more information on Walmart Family Mobile, be sure to visit their website!


Why Our Kids Need Modern Day, Real Life Heroes

(This post is sponsored by Great Homeschool Conventions.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own.  This post contains affiliate links)

Why Our Kids Need Real Life, Modern Day Heroes

Heroes.  In this day and age, it can be  hard to find anyone famous that is worthy to admire, can’t it?   I remember when we were picking names for our children, I never wanted to name them after anyone.  You just never know what skeletons that person has hiding in their closet.  Do I really want my child named after them, if they do?

Even though we know that every person alive has to have some kind of fault, that doesn’t mean that they’re not worthy to be admired and looked up to.  But, who is “good enough” to point our kids to?  We can’t look to most modern day TV.   We can’t look to most modern day music either.  Who, then, can we look to?

What Makes a Hero?

I think to get to that answer it requires answering these 7 questions:

  1. Is God first in their life?
  2. Do they demonstrate the fruits of the spirit?  (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness)
  3. Do they give more than they take?
  4. Are they brave?
  5. Are they selfless?
  6. Have they committed their lives to God’s will?
  7. Are they devoted to doing God’s work?

Wow, that’s a tough pill to swallow isn’t it?  How many of us are all of these things all the time?  I know I’m not.  Who, then, has most of these qualities, most of the time?

There’s really only one man who can replicate these qualities all the time.  That is Jesus Christ.  That means, to be a hero to be looked up to, we really need to be just like Jesus.  Isn’t that what we, as Christians should be aiming for anyway?

Why Do We Need These Modern Day Heroes?

1.  To Teach Our Children How to Respect

We need someone to respect.  Our American culture seems to be severely lacking in the “respect department”.  We are living in an “As long as it makes you happy, it must be OK” society.  I strongly disagree with this point of view and I aim to teach my children not to follow along with it either.  Instead, my desire is to give them examples of who is worthy of respect and teach them how they can respect them.

2.  To Give Our Children Examples of Who to Emulate

We need someone to challenge us.  Someone who is not afraid to do what is right in the eyes of God, even if it is hard.  We need someone who daily seeks God’s face and someone whom you can see God’s love pouring out of.  These are examples of who I want my children to look up to.

Examples of Modern Day Heroes

1.  Pastors

We are so blessed to have a pastor who emulates all of these qualities that are outlined above.  He is not afraid to say what needs to be said to the congregation and is not afraid of offending others.  Even though he’s not afraid of offending, he’s strong enough to realize that he has to say things that not everyone agrees with (making him brave).  He’s a true example of someone who is actively seeking God’s will daily and you can see it by the fruit in his life.

2.  Kirk Cameron

He started out as an atheist American actor most famous for his role in the American sitcom, Growing Pains, but then God got a hold of him and he’s been blazing a trail ever since.  He’s been a part of making movies (Left Behind series & Fireproof for example) to encourage Americans to pursue God’s best for their lives.  He also travels the country teaching others how to share their faith and live out a gospel centered marriage and family.  He’s a great example of using the talents God has given him to further His kingdom.

3.  Tim Tebow

He was born in the Philippines to Baptist missionaries.  His mother had gotten ill and it was recommended that he be aborted, but due to their strong Christian faith, his parents refused and decided to go forth with the pregnancy, despite the possible outcome.   In college, he made headlines when he wrote his favorite Bible verse, John 3:16, under his eye in black. His tradition of bowing down on one knee and praying after each touchdown, now known as “Tebowing,” has been adopted by school kids.

More recently, Tebow and his mother, Pam, were featured in a 2010 Super Bowl ad for Focus on the Family. In the 30-second spot that aired on CBS, Pam Tebow recounts Tim’s traumatic birth, in which doctors recommended that she abort her baby because of potentially deadly complications.  Tim is best known for his strong faith and his amazing stand against abortion, even though he’s also well known as a former NFL quarterback.  He’s not afraid to share with the world all about the God he serves.

4.  Dr. Ben Carson

“Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., had a childhood dream of becoming a physician. Growing up in a single parent home with dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper, and low self-esteem appeared to preclude the realization of that dream until his mother, with only a third-grade education, challenged her sons to strive for excellence. Young Ben persevered and today is an emeritus professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for over 39 years.”

He is very active in the media, where he is a large proponent in reversing Obamacare.   He recently published a new book One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future. In it, he offers a bold plan to stop the country’s slide into fiscal and moral decay. He is definitely a man following after God’s will for his life.  He speaks of his faith often and is an excellent example of someone who gives freely of himself.

Would you like the chance to hear Ben Carson in person?  He’ll be at the Great Homeschool Convention in Greenville, SC, March 20th through the 22nd and also the Cincinnati, OH convention being held April 24th through the 26th.   If you’d like to attend his session, the cost is $10 per person.  I hear he is an amazing speaker and well worth the time and money spent.  For more spotlights on Ben Carson, go here.    

Attend a Great Homeschool Conventions Conference

If you’re looking for a homeschooling convention to attend, one of the biggest and best ones to attend is Great Homeschool Conventions.  They have 3 great locations to choose from:  Cincinatti, OH; Greenville, SC; and Ontario, California (in 2015, they’re coming to Texas!).  They have THE BEST speakers, and the biggest vendor halls!  They cover all the bases by including comedy, spirituality and practical learning, too.  They have sessions for teens and a children’s program as well.  If you’ve ever considered homeschooling, it’s time to make plans to attend and order the tickets now!