We had the most awesome weekend at the MPE Homeschool Convention in Kansas City. I had been to the TPA Convention in Wichita the last two years and really enjoyed those but this year my daughter has her ballet recital that same weekend, so we came to this one. We were very pleased with it. I actually enjoy both and if I could I would go to both each year. Then again, I absolutely love conventions and conferences. If you have an opportunity to attend one in your area I highly recommend that you go!
The Key Note Speaker was Michael Farris and as most of you probably know he is the chairman of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) of which we are members and the chancellor of Patrick Henry College. He is also the president of ParentalRights.org of which I am very passionate about. His original Keynote address was on the issue of protecting parental rights and encouraged me to work even harder on getting the Parental Rights Amendment passed. When I got home I was inspired to start a blog dedicated solely to that fact which I titled Support Parental Rights. I am a member of ParentalRights.org and have also signed up for parentalrighs.us and will use my blog to share any and all updates, news items and other information about the amendment process. If you have an opportunity to hear Michael Farris speak about the issue, I urge you to do so. As an attorney who has been defending parental rights for over 30 years he has seen first hand how that right is being taken away. His passion for freedom is truly inspiring. You can see a short clip about the amendment in the top corner of my blog.
I also attended his session titled From Tyndale to Madison based off a book he wrote by the same name. It covers the movement of Tyndale to get the Word of God into the hands of the people and shares how that impacted our Bill of Rights. His speech was only one hour but was extremely interesting and I can't wait to start the book.
The other workshop that I attended by Michael Farris was on the Spiritual Power of a Mother, which is also based upon a book he wrote by the same name. That workshop was truly encouraging, inspiring and refreshing. You left not only feeling capable of homeschooling your child, but renewed in your realization that it is the Spirit of God that empowers us and guides us. His workshop really blessed me.
Special Needs Workshop
One other workshop that was incredibly helpful for special needs families was on financial planning and how to protect your child's benefits when they become adults. The Speaker as Scott Adams from the Special Needs Planning Center in Kansas City. He was in the financial planning business when he got married and then adopted 3 children with special needs. He soon found out that there really was not much help in that area and now he runs a business that works only with families with special needs children. The information he gave was priceless but it is hard to share because every state is different. If you live in my general vicinity, either in MO, KS, NE, or OK, feel free to check out the information from their website and sign up for their newsletters. Our local Down Syndrome group is now planning to attend one of their workshops together.
The curriculum fairs are always a pleasure to visit. You can visit the booths of stuff you know you are going to use year after year often times getting some great discounts and you can also find new treasures to try the next year. Since we actually made a mini-vacation out of the trip we did not purchase much from the fair. We plan to make most of our purchases online over the summer but now we know what we are going to get.
I am really excited about the new Science Curriculum we found. I actually went looking for this specific curriculum because one of my blogging friends, Our Nifty Notebook, blogged about it when she attended the St. Louis Homeschool Expo. There she discovered, and blogged about, Real Science 4 Kids and it sounded really great so we went and checked them out. I took my hubby with me as he is the Science expert in our household and he was even impressed at how good it was. We plan on getting her the Pre-Level 1 Chemistry Bundle to start with. Now while that may sound difficult, especially for a child with special needs, take a moment to check it out. They have a sample chapter online and if you click on the book below you can see how easy it is to read and comprehend. There are also 10 labs for each unit and we are excited about doing some real hands on Science this year. I plan to do labs on the weekends so daddy can enjoy the fun as well. I will be sure to let you know how this works out for us next year.
I also went looking for some Social Studies material. While I did not find a specific curriculum I found a few helps. One was the American Presidents Coloring Book. Ever since Presidents Day in February, Gess has been fascinated with "presidents." She even saw a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the background of a TV show and started yelling "president, mommy, president." Sometimes she gets confused and calls him George Lincoln, but that can happen when you study two presidents at once. Still, there have only been two presidents in her short lifespan, George Bush and Barack Obama and all my materials here are older and do not have information on either one. Now we have a coloring book that has not only pictures but some information about each one, including President Barack Obama!
We were also at another booth by Master Books which had some history and science books we liked. Last year I purchased the Annals of the World by James Ussher and this year I wanted the fold out map that went with it but chose not to drop that $30 just yet. We did find a few books on clearance for Gess, one about lightening and another about the Sun. The man there was sweet and let Gess pick out one book for free from the Character Builders Series. He had these on sale for $3 each. Well she got Dog Tired which is about perseverance. I was headed to yet another workshop so my husband read it with Gess while I was gone. He put the CD in and helped her follow along in the book. She absolutely loved it! It not only reads the story on the CD, there are also fun songs on it too. After they listened to it together my daughter listened to it again and again, sometimes following along in the book and other times just coloring or something while it was playing. When I found out how much she loved it I went back and got the other three books in the series. Her favorite seems to be Wise Quack which is a lesson on self control.
We spent the rest of our time going out to eat, swimming in the pool, and just relaxing in the hotel. Our hotel experience at the Holiday Inn located next to the KCI expo was so-so. The pool was heated and was very enjoyable. Gess loved it. The room was very nice and the beds were comfortable. However when looking under the bed for my daughter's shoe I found they do not seem to clean underneath it very much. We found candy wrappers for items we did not bring into the hotel! The Internet was also troublesome. I have never had such a hard time staying or getting connected to the Internet. My husband is even a computer geek! He called for help and one time they got us hooked up and the net worked great for that time but after we shut down we were back to the same old troubles when we started back up again. Their staff was very helpful and nice, but in the end it still did not get us anywhere most of the time. I think we will find another hotel next time. All in all though, we had a really great time and enjoyed our respite from the every day grind of homeschooling, housekeeping and work!