I attended my first homeschool convention in the spring of 2002, when my first born was four months old. I had "retired" from public school teaching in December of 2001, and had a whole four months of experience in motherhood. I was going to do this mothering thing perfectly. I already owned flashcards. Yes. I was that mom.
Now, I've been to more conventions than I can count, but mostly as a booth owner. I've been dubbed a "Keynote Speaker," a booth owner, curriculum approval committee head, and given free language learning workshops. I have paid for giving workshops, been on the "give away" punchcard... you get the idea.
The furthest I've traveled to a convention is whatever the distance is from Bryan, Texas to Philadelphia. Or was it Pittsburgh - somewhere in Pennsylvania? Anyhow, I opted to check my luggage with all my samples. They got lost on the way, and didn't make it until Saturday afternoon - you know, the last day of the convention, with maybe four hours left. So there I stood for most of the weekend, in my empty booth, forlornly... chatting up a storm with would-be Flip Flop Spanish Customers. I held a lottery by scrawling on the plastic covered booth table with a pen from my purse: "What time will Señora Gose's supplies arrive?! Enter a guess! The closest guess will win the Spanish Fun Activity Calendar, should it ever arrive!" That one was a doozy. Go ahead and feel bad for me. I welcomed it! It was AWFUL. Heck, I felt VERY bad for me and even cried a few times. It was quite the pity party.
Because of that empty space, several big name publishers and curriculum creators stopped and chatted with me about the "state of my booth." I gained valuable insight and encouragement from absolute giants in the homeschool world. It was like my own little retreat of "poor me" being built up by my heroes. It was amazing. They sought me out in my sad state. Why? Because they are HELPERS.
Now, I've not repeated that particular error of letting my samples out of my sight... And now I don't typically travel as far, we only drive to conventions these days, but maybe I will next year.
In the beginning years, I brought a lovely homeschool mom with me to help, and then my best friend (also a homeschooling mom) became my typical travel buddy. The only payment I offered them was a stay in a hotel room, free food, and I promised not to call her "mom." It was always such a wonderful break for both of us, and I learned so much about being a mother and a wife as we compared notes and gave input.
Nowadays, the Flip Flop Spanish booth is manned by one or more of my children, and me. It's a wonderful time to work together, get a little sweaty, learn and train my children to respond and relate to the public on the whole, speak Spanish on the spot, and stand up under scrutiny of others on this learning journey with us.
We pray for you.... you lovely people who stop by our booth. (Let me just stop and say this: Joni has been on my heart since our last convention in Arlington. We love you, Joni! You and Eli swim around in my head all day, and I stop and pray for you. I'm so impressed by you.)
Each convention, as we set up, hang the banner, and haul in the boxes, we ask the Lord to bless our sales, but mostly we ask Him to help us help you. It's a lot of hard work, and we're there to help. When the exhibit hall is devoid of customers -- you all are listening to amazing speakers like Pam Tebow, and Ken Ham, and Emerson Eggerichs... and Tim Hawkins, and and and --.... and we're sitting or standing (we truly try to ALWAYS stand - we don't want to look unavailable to you!) and we are sort of bored. So we walk about and talk to other booth mates. They are bored, too. We miss you. We want to help. Not to mention, we need to pay for our hotel expense and booth expense.... but mostly we want to help. Then you return to the hall, and we're so excited to listen to your needs and see if what we have on our table, in our booth, will fulfill your needs.
Homeschool publishers are helpers. When I created Flip Flop Spanish, it didn't have a name. It was called, "Spanish homework packets." They were really just engaging activities printed out on paper stapled together weekly that I created for my 40 students. That's it. My awesome hubby pointed out that I was being a bit selfish to be so excited about these lessons and brag about how much my students were learning, and not make it available to other moms. Not everyone lived in Bryan, Texas, after all.
So, we did it. From the the first Flip Flop Spanish Workbook to the latest "El puente; The Bridge" which will be available on the webstore this summer (it's only available at the conventions at the moment), each publication is my endeavor to help you complete the goal of teaching and learning Spanish with your family. You can do it, and I can help!
So! At the convention: ask questions, probe, poke, pick up, and flip through the curriculum. We want to help!
Here are the conventions for 2018 for Flip Flop Spanish (some are in the past, but I still think you should know where the Goselings have been, and where they will be!)