Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend Adventure

I had the great privilege of getting away for the weekend and spending time with my friends Becky and Jen, my Godson Noah, and THE DUGGAR FAMILY!

It was actually us, the Duggar family, and about 6000 other homeschoolers at the Midwest Homeschool Conference in Cincinnati. We had a wonderful time. I am VERY thankful to Jon, my mom, and my sister Colleen. They juggled schedules and cared for the boys so I could go on this adventure.
Noah, Jen, and Becky at the conference
My friends and I were so excited to have this little break from our regular family routines. It was awesome just to be able to talk to each other without being interrupted by children. We enjoyed eating out and staying at a hotel, going to workshops and shopping at the conference, and even going to Mass on Sunday morning before heading home. I got lots of time to hold Noah and soak up his smiles.  It is so wonderful to have such good friends. I know I couldn't do this "homeschool thing" without these (and so many other) amazing moms with me along the way. My sister laughed at the fact that I consider going to a school conference fun and relaxing.... but homeschooling is where my heart and mind are at this point and I was very glad to be able to attend this conference.

When I first heard about it, I figured there was no way it would work for me..... being scheduled right at the height of tax season. But then I heard who was coming to speak - THE DUGGARS! I found a way to make it happen. I know that many people are critical of the Duggars (the family with 19 children who star on a TLC reality show), but I have great respect for them. I admire their strong Christian faith, their openness to the gift of life, and the values that they are instilling in their children. I love seeing a faithful, homeschooling family on TV.

I had really hoped that TLC would be filming this appearance (so I could try to get on the show - ha ha), but they weren't. I did get to say "Hello" to Jim Bob as he and Michelle (and a security guard) walked right past me 10 minutes after I arrived at the conference. I was so stunned to see them right there, I couldn't think of anything engaging or memorable to say. Throughout the day people flocked to Duggar book signings, a talk by Michelle, and the evening concert/talk. I was impressed by Michelle's talk. She spoke openly and with great humility about the struggles she has faced and continues to face. She (with the help of several of her children) distributed family pictures and scripture verses and a chart of virtues which she uses to teach her children. You can  find encouragement for moms and homeschool/parenting resources on their family blog.

The finale of the conference was an evening performance by the Duggar family, which included singing and violin pieces as well as Jim Bob and Michelle telling their story. We were amazed that people were lining up for this event 2 1/2 hours before it was scheduled to start. We opted to go get dinner and finish up some shopping instead. We were so surprised when we took the elevator up to the ballroom about 45 minutes before the Duggar event..... and a security guard took our tickets and let us in. At that moment they had just allowed the lined-up people to enter the ballroom as well. We ended up in the 6th row! It was awesome luck!

I was inspired by the Duggars and very impressed by their children, both in the "show" and around the convention center throughout the day. They were incredibly poised as people pressured them for pictures and autographs everywhere they went. 

Here are some pictures from the evening. I apologize for the poor quality. I think I should have been using a different camera setting.
The Duggar Family

The children played several violin pieces.
They were great!
Check out the little ones on the end in the front. Too cute!

The younger children sang, "I've Been Saved By the Blood of the Lamb" and they were sweet.

Jim Bob and Michelle told their story.

Please pray with me for families. For the Duggar family - in thanksgiving for their Christian witness and for blessings on their family. For ALL families - for a widespread recommitment to family life, for openness to the gift of life, for grace and strength and perserverance. For homeschooling families - for grace and strength to answer the call to educate our children. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Most Holy Family, pray for us and guide us every day. Amen.

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