March 7-March 13, 2016
Denver to South Carolina:
Range of miles: 2,950-4,575
We started our week by visiting our friends at Focus on the Family (FOF) in Colorado Springs. Our family loves hanging out at Whits’ End indoor playground. I couldn’t resist Wooten’s, (Adventures in Odyssey character), two-story swirly slide. So glad I made the height limit! However, a little boy who must have thought I was too old for the fun cut in front of me. I politely explained I was waiting my turn to go down the slide. I wish you could have seen his startled face as he looked up at me. I wanted to answer, “Yes, I’m fifty-four years old, but I ain’t dead yet!”
We met Nathan Hoobler, producer of Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) and featured author on HTHL’s Meet the Author segment in HTHL’s Write a Book series. It was great catching up with him personally and with what is happening in AIO. Nathan and his wife recently celebrated their third anniversary. Their love story is gripping. You can hear their story about how their loved blossomed in the midst of tragedy on FOF Boundless Podcast.
Nathan also shared how AIO has launched more amazing stories and is partnering with ministries from around the world. AIO is dedicated to telling the real life faith-filled stories of these ministries to kids. What an excellent way to inspire kids to take God at his word and actually go into all the world to preach the gospel! Did you know that part of your AIO membership fees get donated to Christian organizations and ministries? I didn’t. That was my knowledge nugget of the day. Catch our interview in episode #4 in On the Road with HTHL.
After we had filmed with Nathan, we headed over to the home of Brock Eastman, author of The Quest for Truth series. He is also a featured author on HTHL’s Write a Book project. Brock and I have teamed up to offer a national writing contest. We want kids to write! In fact, we want kids to write early, write often, and write well! So we designed a contest that does just that! Get the details-HERE. We filmed a promo for the writing contest and a segment highlighting Brock’s book series The Quest for Truth.
Brock’s books are packed with excitement that will leave your kids hanging on the edge of their seat, and more importantly, thinking about how their own decisions shape their eternal future. I love filming with Brock! We are both over the top with animation and spirit. Except, I think he has me beat! Scratch that…I KNOW he has me beat!
It was a pleasure meeting his lovely wife and four beautiful kids. Brock is a new homeschool dad, and you just might be seeing him at homeschool conventions in the coming years.
We said goodbye to the Eastman family, and we drove from Colorado Springs back to Denver and made a right on Hwy 70. Destination? South Carolina. On these long stretches of asphalt, the HTHL van becomes a schoolroom and an office. Forrest’s head is up while driving, and BusyGirl and I have our heads down working.
For me, I have no problem working in the passenger seat next to my man tangled in my electronics. My BusyGirl, however, is challenged by her limitations. If you know our BusyGirl, she is a kinesthetic learner who can’t understand how someone could or would want to learn about the Greek culture without wearing a toga. On this stretch of highway, we created a new hashtag for her #BusyGirlProblems.
The challenge on the homeschool convention trail is to keep cost down. So we prayerfully look at where we can sacrifice to limit expenses. We decided that when we are trying to pound out a lot of miles that it doesn’t make sense to pay $60-$95 for a hotel. For us, that’s a high price for 7-8 hours of restless sleep knowing we have to hit the road in the wee hours of the morning. So Team HTHL opts to catch our forty winks in the van snuggled in our sleeping bags. We park the van at a well-lit truck stop or rest area. Our first truck stop slumber was in Salina, Kansas. On the HTHL Google Map, you’ll see little blue trucks; those icons will show you where we slept in the van.
More driving and another night sleeping in the semi-upright position in the van. However, joy comes in the morning. Two words, Dunkin Donuts. Those two words bring me back to my childhood growing up in New York and that rare beautiful moment when my dad would stop and get us kids a glazed donut. The truck stop in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee has a Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk. <cue heavenly music>.
I waited my turn for coffee. The truck driver ahead of me smiled at me and dropped some sweet talk. I guess he thought I was alone. I answered, “Well you might want to continue this conversation with my husband. He’s standing right there.” The old man was caught and quickly started to apologize to Forrest and me. My dear husband, who is an expert in male banter, started in good humor to give it back to the repentant trucker. In moments, everyone around the kiosk was laughing, I mean really laughing! We went to pay for our breakfast, and another trucker in front of us told the cashier, “I’m paying for their breakfast.” What a blessing! We didn’t know what to say but thank you. The man smiled, and said, “You’re welcome, you guys are awesome!”
Two and a half hours down the road and the tire on the trailer blew to pieces. Since the tire was already nicely dissected for us, we had an impromptu radial tire anatomy lesson. #HomeschoolersNeverMissaLesson.
Forrest changed the tire in record time, and we were off to the nearest tire store. After an hour of searching for a tire that met the specs of the HTHL trailer, we were the proud owner of our new tire. With lunch in our belly, we were back on the road again. We rolled into South Carolina where spring had sprung, and warm breezes welcomed us. We slept supine on a bed with sheets in our hotel room!
Southeast Great Homeschool Convention: South Carolina
Thursday morning, we arrived bright and early to the TD Convention Center. The vendor hall was due to open the doors at 6pm. We set up the HTHL booth in record timing, 2 hours! We filmed a time lapse of our set up in episode #4.
With plenty of time before the doors opened, we walked through the vendor hall and greeted vendors we hadn’t seen since 2014 when HTHL was on the convention trail. Vendors become friends quickly. We share the road and the journey. Our hearts are united to serve homeschool families.
A very special little lady visited me in our booth. She came by the HTHL booth to show off her first HTHL writing project! Don’t you love her smile? My heart melts when I see kids getting excited about writing! #Ilovemyjob #Colossians3:17
Her mom, Jenny K is a TOS Crew Review Blogger and recently posted a stellar review for HTHL’s Writing Program. You can read her review HERE. You can also read what the rest of the TOS Crew Reviewers said about our writing program-all 100 of them!
“Please to meet you neighbor!” is how I introduced myself to Colleen Kessler. This spunky homeschool mom, author, speaker had the booth next to ours. Colleen has a passion for encouraging moms who have to negotiate the world of gifted and twice exceptional kids. You can find Colleen blogging at RaisingLifeLongLearners.com. She offers resources and a place to ask questions and even a place to get real and honest as you face the challenges this kind of kid presents. She’s an up and coming speaker, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing her name more frequently in the homeschool circles. Thanks Colleen for sharing your chocolates, and your smiles with us! Oh, and she even inspired me to get on Instagram. Click to follow HTHLinsta!
We closed the first day with a cool treat! The Willis Clan performed for the GHC families, and they were outstanding! Dad, mom, and 12 kids keep step to a country beat accented with a springy Irish rhythm. The whole family seems to be at home in their performing roles. Unfortunately, the whole clan was not present. Apparently, the Willis family was being plagued by a chicken pox epidemic.
Back at the hotel, we popped popcorn in the microwave. We huddled together on a hotel bed counting the blessings of the day and crunched the buttery puffed kernels.
Day two and this BusyGirl was ready to serve.
I so appreciate this girl’s attitude and her ability to work hard. She’s a real asset to HTHL’s team.
Long day but a good day! My workshop on Treating Writing Allergies was lively and fun to teach. What a great group! This is becoming one of my favorite talks to give.
We enjoyed the warm southern hospitality of the new homeschool families that we now call friends. Language in these parts are dotted with lots of pleases and thank yous and a genuine kindness that reflects the value they have for their fellow neighbor.
We closed the night by going out to dinner with vendor friends Dan and Brenda from Artistic Pursuits and Jan and Gary Bloom from Books Bloom. We always share laughs!
My early morning workshop, Finding the Pieces to the Puzzle: Developing an Educational Plan was well attended. It’s meeting needs, and that makes me happy.
The Great Homeschool Conventions provide homeschool families with an incredible buffet of homeschool choices. The sheer numbers in attendance spark an atmosphere of inspiration that we are not alone in the homeschool journey while respecting God’s gift of individuality in each family. HTHL is honored to a part of their mission.
The vendor hall doors closed at 5:30 pm. Our booth take-down took about two hours. Dinner was a welcomed sight. Somehow we forget to eat lunch when we are spending time with homeschool families.
Two (14 hour days) + daylight savings (lose an hour)= Sleeping in late and missing the hotel breakfast. So for the first time ever, we immersed ourselves in the Waffle House culture and boy oh boy, we sure didn’t regret it!
Thankfully, we didn’t miss church. We were invited to an evening service by the Dye Family, a homeschool family we met at the convention. The message was wonderful and inspiring. On the way home, we talked about how we were going to apply it to our lives. Thank you, North Hills Community Church for being there to encourage and fill some weary but happy travelers. Thank you Dye family for inviting us!
Thanks for traveling with us! It’s a pleasure to be sharing the journey with you!
Next week, we are headed for Fort Worth Texas!
From Our Home (On the Road) to Yours,
Follow our journey on HTHL’s Google Map (Click: HERE)