Great Homeschool Convention Ontario

I arrived at the Ontario Convention Center around noon on a Thursday to set up my booth. There were tons of vendors who were doing the same. It was really cool to walk through and see what everyone had to offer. There was one booth in particular that caught my eye Lux Blox (In fact look out for a review on them soon).   I quickly stopped by and promised I would be back. I later went back to get the Super Sampler but now know I should have gone with the bigger package.

When setting up my booth I had three sections I wanted to focus on:

  1. Products
  2. Mom Card Project
  3. Brown Bag Project

Book sales were my priority because they are the bread and butter for my business. I sold my book How to Lead with Emotional Intelligence and took pre-orders for my new release How to Lead Teens with Emotional Intelligence. I found that many parents preferred to buy my book for leaders and share the information with their teens rather than wait for the pre-sale to come out in August. The book sales were great. I had the opportunity to pray with readers and I had one lady open the book, read, a page and burst into tears. I love seeing peoples lives touched by what God has shared with me.

I also started taking sign-ups for an in-person class I am teaching geared towards helping people discover their purpose. All in all, product sales were really good.

The Mom Card Project brought a lot of people to the booth and gave moms an opportunity to connect with one another after the convention. It was so beautiful to see moms pour their hearts out via pen.

Encouraging other moms to keep going and reminding them they are not alone.

 

 

Lastly, the Brown Bag Project was really cool. Kids loved coloring brown paper bags to fill up and give to the homeless. There is a wonderful lady at my church who has a homeless ministry. The decorated bags will be passed on her and her team.

 

This convention I taught on Emotional Intelligence. My class had a great turn out. I had some technical difficulties at the beginning with the convention centers equipment but they sent someone in to work out the kinks and it turned out all right.

Another cool booth that caught my eye was a financial services company called Revolution Financial Management. First, this family is so loving. The love of God just oozes off them, Second, they know their stuff. K attended a class they taught on generational financial security and got a card to meet up with them.

The final booth I want to mention is Money Muchkids. I met the creator and founder Victoria who is committed to empowering and educating children through her curriculum. This program is designed to teach kids about money and the younger they learn the more comfortable they are with money in the future. I want my kids to make wise choices so I would rather they make a bunch of money mistakes now, with fake money,

If you are looking to be a vendor at this conference the traffic was pretty slow compared to the convention in Texas. If you are looking to attend this conference to shop the slow traffic may appeal to you giving you time to stop and chat with the vendors and not feel rushed. This also may equate to smaller class sizes giving you the opportunity to ask questions.

If you went to the convention what was your favorite booth and why?

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Mom Card Project

Every time I speak at a conference where there are booths I try to do something to make my booth stand out so people will stop and chat. Last conference I had a cultural diversity activity for the kids because I taught on cultural diversity. This conference I will be teaching Emotional Intelligence so the activities at my will be geared towards emotional health. The kids will be able to design paper bags for a small group ministry at my church and the moms will get to participate in the Mom Card Project. The information below was taken from the homepage of the project leeanahjames.com/momcardproject. If you and your friends decide to participate please send your pictures there so they can be featured on the site.

MomCardProject

The Mom Card Project is a way to encourage the mothers of your community, church or tribe. “Mom” is defined as a woman who supports, loves, and cares for a child in their community. This can cover aunts, cousins, friends and even teachers. Participating in the Mom Card Project is simple.

You will need the following.

  1. Stamps
  2. Envelopes
  3. Cards
  4. Markers and pens
  5. Stickers (Optional but very cute!)
  6. Basket or bowl

GatherTheGirlsHands

Step one: Gather the girls! It is always fun to have food, drinks, and snacks. This is an activity I like to do at events such as baby showers or retreats. It is and should be a side activity not the main focus of the event otherwise everyone is standing around wondering what the others in the group are writing.

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Step two: Write it out! Have each person as they are entering the gathering write their address on a stamped envelope and place it in the basket.

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Step three: Express yourself! Each person should then write a heartfelt not in one of the cards. Feel free to decorate the card with stickers or drawings. It may seem corny but little touches may make a difference to the mom who reads it.

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Step four: Choose wisely! Once the card is complete pick an envelope out of the basket, and insert the card. If you are hosting encourage participants not to look at whose envelope they choose.

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Step five: Send it off! Place all the cards in the mailbox and so they reach their destinations.

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Step six: Snap a picture! When you get your card post it on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter using #momcardproject #leeanahjames (Don’t worry we don’t need to read the note.)

I will be picking participants weekly and featuring their pictures on this post.

Have fun!

We’re Making A Podcast

Do you listen to podcast? There are some great people out there who have a lot of awesome things to say. It’s pretty fun to be able to refer back to episode to find the information that you’re looking for. Well Melanin Taught is launching a podcast!

There are already some episodes in the pipeline waiting to be published but did you know the average podcast series stops at 10 episodes!

I am not a quitter so I want to set this up to succeed before it starts the only way I can do that is with your help. So, what are things that you would like to hear about on our homeschool podcast?

Make sure to like, follow and subscribe to be the first to know when we release them.

Start Loving You Conference Review

On Friday, March 18, 2018, I went to the Start Loving You Conference in San Diego. I reached out to them a few weeks prior looking for information on becoming a speaker. Their roster was set but they invited me to come down and enjoy the conference. I took them up on that offer and made the two-hour drive from my home to the beautiful coast.

The conference was held at the Marriot Marquis in San Diego. Finding parking was pretty easy. I opted to park in the garage on-site since I was traveling alone (Safety first!). When I walked in I found concierge and they pointed me in the right direction. I was about 5 minutes late so my first contact coming in was a vendor. Maria from Soiree by Ria. She was so sweet she invited me in to sit with her. Her picture wall embodied the spirit of the event and people were lining up to take pictures throughout the day.

So I sat down, opened my heart and was ready to truly hear what these brilliant women would share. The first speaker was Angel Fiorini. She talked about what it means to be a hero. This woman ran into her burning home to save her daughter. She then had to be rescued by a passerby who noticed her home was on his way home. Her story showed such bravery, strength, and self-awareness. She challenged us to examine the titles placed upon us and define them for ourselves. She was a hero and though she had a hard time accepting it, she came to embody that very attribute. You can hear her amazing story here.

The next speaker was Kristen Hewitt. She spoke to us from a vulnerable, transparent, intimate place. She shared personal struggles that come with deep desire and longing. Kristen challenged us to face our fears and be brave in order to chase the very things we want. She was raw and bold. Fearless and moving. Reminding us to be gracious because unseen battles often come with unseen battle scars.

Before attending this event I’d never heard of the START brand and now I can’t get enough! Kristy Dickerson was the life-changing speaker for me. She explained how she started START Planner and as she was speaking a light bulb went off. I realized a few things listening to her.

  1. I’m on the right track. She discussed habits and attributes that she developed in the process of being an entrepreneur. All the ones she mentioned, I have been working on. I am not where she is in terms of business success yet but it was encouraging to find I am on the right track.
  2. START NOW! I am a “ducks in a row” kind of person. Kristy inspired me to put myself out there and let my business hold me accountable. As a result, I have 4 projects launching in the next 3 months. Scary? A little. Empowering? Definitely!
  3. Delegate. I am working on this. Listening to Kristy let me know I can delegate whole business systems and the success of my future projects depends on this.
  4. Grind. I already grind but it is always great to see someone else living the results of their grind.

Next up was Laura Kyttannen. She spoke on defining success. This woman left a lucrative career she in which she was unfulfilled to follow her heart’s passion. Now she helps others find and follow their hearts song. She gave us an amazing vision board activity and set us on a path the seeing our dreams realized.

Cat + Nat, moms, vloggers, and social media sensations came in with a bang. They had mimosa’s for everyone and for those of us who don’t drink they provided straight OJ in pretty champagne glasses. These two spoke on their rise to fame and turning a hobby into a career. It was amazing to hear these women speak of the other women who help them on their journey. They embodied women helping women shine.

After some funny and fun group pictures and boomarangs, it was time for lunch. We had the option of a simple box lunch that was provided or going off-site. I didn’t want to be late for the next segment so I opted for the box lunch and I am glad I did. They had a vegan wrap that was delicious.

After lunch, we got to participate in a service project making Blessing Bags for Live Love Works. Can I just say that I truly admire the fact that these women made blessing others a focal point and priority of this conference!

This seems like a long day but at this point, I still had tons of energy because the speakers were so great!

Vanessa Quigley of ChatBooks came with her sisters and they shared how they cope with the struggles of motherhood. There were tears and it was beautiful.

Shasta Nelson was the last speaker she came up and blew our interpretations of what loneliness looks like to Timbuktu. She broke down the 5 Circles of Friendship as defined in her book and challenged us to examine which circle was lacking. Everyone left with tools to become better friends.

I can’t even get into the awesomeness that was the swag bag. This picture from Start Loving You says it all!

All in all, it was a great conference. I look forward to next year! They haven’t set a place yet but follow Start_Loving_You on IG for updates.

*I did not personally hear Thursday nights speakers but fellow attendees said they were great! My phone died during the event so all the photos are marked and their owners tagged. Be sure to follow these blogs and IG accounts you will not be disappointed!

Photocred

instagram.com/kimpilchercoach

instagram.com/girlfriendsguidetoworkplay

instagram.com/vanessaquigley

instagram.com/startplanner

instagram.com/start_loving_you

instagram.com/alexclarkphoto

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Summer, Summer, Summertime!

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Today marks the official last day of school for the kid’s school. SJ finished the first grade and is going into the 2nd (according to her school) and KJ is going to Kindergarten this year. Both kids have subjects they are performing higher in but that just the way homeschool is. So I am so excited to start our summer routine.

I am speaking at a few homeschool conventions next month. You should check my schedule and come see me. I also will be stepping up my homeschool t-shirt and apparel game. There is nothing like jeans, cute sandals, and a sassy tee. I have been updating both our store and my Pinterest board with some cute stuff.

I also have tons of ideas for keeping my little ones busy. Check out a few of them here. Well, we have school year around in our family but we do like to switch things up from time to time. So here is what our summer routine will look like.

 

Make it Monday – Mondays will be our arts and crafts day. After coming off of generally busy weekends it’s nice to have a low maintenance activity day.

Talk About it Tuesday- On Tuesdays, we will focus on our Spanish lessons. We have Rosetta Stone homeschool edition and though it is not designed for young learners I will be doing the lessons with the kids. We will become bilingual together.

Work it out Wednesdays – This will be our math days. We will do drills (I know, I know! They are great in moderation) and math games. I foresee a lot of baked goods being cooked on Wednesdays.

Take me There Thursdays – Cultural diversity is something we are intentional about. We will explore different cultures and their beautiful contributions to the world.

Fun Fridays – This is our field trip, science experiment hiking day. We have a brand new microscope we have yet to open, and a pack of Petri dishes. My kids will be growing all kinds of crazy germs (except on purpose).

This summer will be so much fun! I love change, clean slates and switching things up so the next three months are going to be a crazy fun ride for the James Family!

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Bloggers Night Out at CHEA Con

I am so excited to be on the panel this year for Bloggers Night Out at CHEA Con. We will be talking about how to start, grow and expand your platform! The event will be hosted by the incredible Kristi Clover!

She is a blogger, vlogger, podcaster and homeschool mom. You can check out her blog here. If you are coming to CHEA be sure to stop by and say, “Hi!” Can’t wait to see you there! You can find more details about the event here.

Top 5 Pick of Summer Activities

The summer is upon us! As you began to plan for your kids being home for the summer here are 5 activities that will keep them away from the screen.

Puzzles – If it’s too hot outside or the kids just want something challenging to do. Sturdy puzzles are the way to go. I like wooden puzzle pieces that can withstand my children’s rough play. These Tetris like pieces come with an added bonus in that there is more than one way to “complete” the puzzle. They can use the pieces to create animals, buildings, and people to imagine and role play with. The possibilities are endless.

LEGOS– Legos and lego-like building blocks can keep kids busy for hours. They can create people, creatures, building, structures, and whole cities. The blocks come in various sizes allowing you to foster the love of legos at a young age.


Building Blocks– Kids love to build. I love to see them learn from building things. The hand-eye coordination, imagination play, architecture, physics, concentration, and math skills that are developed and fostered during the process makes building a valuable learning activity. What looks like play to us is actually a lot of problem-solving and theory testing.

Painting kits– The summertime is perfect for painting. Having kids paint outside makes for easy cleanup and quick dry paintings. I like to allow the kids to use various tools for painting and stamping such as leaves sticks and rocks. You can set up a string between trees or along a fence and set use clothespins to set up an outdoor art gallery.

Sculpting– Kids love to touch, shape and transform clay. I recommend you using various colors then leaving the clay pieces out to dry in the sun. My kids love to use both colored and white clay. Colored clay can create some fun blended color creations while all white sculptures allow kids to color or paint their finished pieces if they so choose.

What activities are you planning on doing this summer? How will you keep your kids engaged and learning?

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Battling Perfectionism

I used to replay my day before falling to sleep. Every comment said, by myself and others. Every mistake made, actual and assumed and I would choose this self-punishment over rest. I would get up the next day, tired, defeated, frustrated and determined to get it right.

I had some good days. Days where everything went right. Silent pats on my back for a job well done, crises averted by my careful words and expert planning. This perfectionist attitude was taking over my mind.

The small fox destroys the vine. Let me tell you, those small foxes are tricky. They seem small, insignificant, and harmless but they are extremely damaging and life-threatening.

Small foxes can destroy dreams, destroyed dreams cannot manifest into destiny. So here are things I do to battle the perfectionist mindset.

1. Tell on myself- My husband is confident, funny, and honest. I trust him. So wither I say something that comes off too flirty or too cold I can tell him. He usually responds by teasing me and making me laugh. Sometimes I have to go back and apologize to a person I may have offended, but it helps to have someone I can be honest about myself with. I have learned that my greatest gift can also get me into trouble and that is my way with words. I have to totally rely on God to keep me in check.

2. Journal- If I don’t want to talk about how I am feeling I can write it down. I don’t write my mistakes and shortcomings. Instead, I change to focus and journal about a scripture or the things I am thankful for. (Philippians 4:8)

3. Say no- Jesus needed rest. Its okay to say no simply to take a breath. Sometimes we need to stop to clearly hear from God. (Mark 6:31)

4. Take the risk – If my only concern in failure I must take the risk. In the parable of the talents, a master was leaving his home to travel. He gave talents to each of three servants according to their abilities. One man invested and doubled his money, another also was able to double what he was given. The third man hid his talent. He made no profit so it was taken away. (Matthew 25:14-30). It was the man who was too afraid to act who was punished. Inaction is worse than failure.

5. Recognize and Appreciate the Seasons – Everything has seasons. There are some seasons in which I am able to accomplish so many things at once. It is as if times stands still for me. Then there are times where there are not enough hours in the day to complete even the smallest tasks. I have learned to roll with it. When things are running smoothly I seize the opportunity and when it is time to rest I try to do that too. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

I hope these tips help you on the journey of self-care. Life can get hard so we must be our advocates for health and mental wellness.

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Eggs and Hearts

My four-year-old boy KJ is fun! He is rough and smart and… destructive. He often leaves a trail of broken toys, trinkets, and household items in his wake. He breaks things for different reasons. To see how they are made. Out of frustration or retaliation. Even just to see what the consequence will be.

I am trying to raise kind, compassionate, mindful children which meant I needed to address this issue. I needed to teach my son that not only was this action unappreciative it was also unkind and hurtful. These actions could have unforeseen consequences for both himself and others. While praying for wisdom concerning this manner God answered my prayer in the form of an idea.

So I went to work soft boiling a half dozen eggs. I wanted the eggs to be messy when broken but cooked enough so the kids wouldn’t get sick if ingested. I handed KJ one cooked egg and said,

“This egg is mine, it is very important to me. Please take care of it. If you break it there will be consequences. I don’t want it to get hurt so please be careful.”

The first egg broke within fifteen minutes. I explained that this was my egg and I was sad that it was broken. He cleaned up his mess, then he was put in time out for 3 minutes. I gave him a new egg and repeated the speech.

“This egg is mine, it is very important to me. Please take care of it. If you break it there will be consequences. I don’t want it to get hurt so please be careful.”

The next time around he lasted 30 minutes and this time when the egg broke it made a huge mess and left a trail of egg in his wake. He came to me crying (by now he understood the consequence that came with the broken egg. He tried to explain but I stopped him, reminding him that the egg was in his care and it was really important that he protect it. I told him,

“When we break other peoples things sometimes it affects other people too. Your sisters can not walk over here until we get this cleaned up, no one can sit in the chair we just cleaned until it dries. Our decisions sometimes have unforeseen circumstances.”

The time after that he held on to the egg for an hour. Each time he took more and more care of my egg. By bedtime, he held the egg close carefully aware of AR (19 mos.) and SJ (6). He was learning his lesson. So was I. See peoples hearts are like these soft-boiled eggs.

Wither in friendship or romance when one opens their heart they are saying,

“This heart is mine, it is very important to me. Please take care of it. If you break it there will be consequences. I don’t want it to get hurt so please be careful.”

I am so proud of my little guy and I pray that I am as careful with hearts as he has learned to be with soft-boiled eggs.

The Great Homeschool Convention Review

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This year I had the pleasure of going to the Great Homeschooling Convention in Texas. It was amazing! There are so many things I want to share, so I’m going to break it up by days.

Day 1

On Thursday the 15th my mom and I get to the convention center and start to set up. I have to be honest I was overwhelmed. I did not realize how many vendors would be there. I also did not realize how elaborate some of these booths would be. They were amazing! Some booths had a setup that allowed you to walk into the convention center and look up and see their advertisements or displays right away.

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I was feeling a little anxious and inadequate. So we dropped all of our boxes off with our product and run to the Dollar Tree to find stuff to pretty up my vendor table. The doors open and they one of this convention there are so many people. The very first hour is young white kid about 16 years old comes over to our table grabs one of our shirts explain to us what the one drop rule is historically and then dives into Acts 17:26.

I was so impressed by this kid and his parents who have homeschooled him because they are awesome! Of course, he ends up buying a shirt later on in the convention but this was just an example of the bright future of homeschooling.

 

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Running a booth was a little intimidating because I’m not really a salesperson, so it was hard to deal with some people avoiding the booth altogether because they don’t want to be sold anything and then other people being weary, wondering what we’re about and gauging whether or not my brand represented what they believed or who they are. I wanted to yell, “Hey guys! I’m nice I promise.” Thankfully most of the interactions at my booth were positive. However, going forward I will be a much nicer, engaging, consumer to booth owners when I am just an attendee at these kinds of things.

Day 2

I came into the convention center on Friday the 16th feeling really confident. I knew what to expect from the types of people that were at the homeschooling convention and I was really excited to engage with people again. This is also the day where I caught my first class called Integrating Cultural Diversity using Homeschool Curriculum you Already Have.

This class was so much fun! We didn’t have a huge turnout but I really felt like there were the exact people there that God wanted in that class. The presentation part of the class was about 45 minutes. During the last 15 minutes of the class, we made some activities that I will add to the site this week. During the craft time we discussed race, multiracial families, resources for different cultures, and exploring different cultures; it was a whole lot of fun.

I will be creating cultural book list and posting them to this blog in the upcoming weeks just to share some of the books that we have read and some of the books I plan to integrate into our library this year.

Day 2 I sold out of all of my books! I was really nervous but thank God I was next to a booth with an established author Aaron and Joyce Kook. They’d run into this issue before in their many years of writing and selling books and simply encouraged me to set up a form and allow people to direct order the books.

I follow their advice and continued to sell books throughout the day. I learned that support can be found anywhere. Those women in my class on Cultural Diversity really connected with me. I felt like they were rooting for me and that gave me a lot of confidence and a great feeling of support. They inspired the creation of this shirt.

Day 3

My mom and I got into the convention center and right away we had people at our table asking questions about our book. Since I’d sold out of the book I converted half my table into an activity station so children could recreate the activities we made in the cultural awareness class.

We got a lot of great feedback and interaction at our booth and at 11:30 that morning I went and taught my class titled Emotional Intelligence for Teens. This class had a great turnout. You can check the class out here.

The feedback I received from the class really warmed my heart. People felt like they’d received tools, to help them strengthen their emotional resolve, improve their communication skills, and live a more fulfilled life. I had people find me after the class to talk to me about the things they’d learned and I had people in tears, come and talk to me about how just what they’d read in the first part of my book, touched them. You can pick up your copy of the book here.

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All in all, it was an amazing experience I cannot wait to go to the Great Homeschooling Convention in Ontario this June. If you are in the area I highly recommend you get tickets the classes the curriculum vendors, the wealth of information will be well worth it.

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