Greetings from the Sunshine State! This is on of the most anticipated events of the year by many Florida homeschoolers, the annual FPEA Convention! One jam packed long weekend with too many things to do but there is always something for everyone from workshops to the exhibit hall, from the kid’s program to all of the extra activities that are planned, all the way to the homeschool graduation on Sunday! By the time you read this post I will already be home from our annual homeschool convention!
This year we decided to stay at the Gaylord Hotel, where the convention is held. Usually we stay off site and drive over after breakfast. When we went to the fall conference last year we stayed at the host hotel and we realized how much easier it made everything. We slept in later, didn’t have to deal with parking in morning, and it was so nice to be able to walk from the hotel room over to the conference. The fall FPEA conference is tiny compared to the convention. Usually, my husband and I attend the convention without any kids and make it a couple’s weekend. This year, since we had to bring one of them for something homeschool related, we decided to bring the other two older kids. My mom kept the youngest two for the weekend. They were happy to have grandma over with them to play.
There was a long line to check in. While we were waiting a magician from the hotel stopped by and played some games with my girls. They enjoyed the card tricks he did for them and it helped pass the time. There were multiple people out there entertaining other guests waiting in line.
Once we got our luggage and settled in we went over to the convention center to pick up our ID badges and then went over to the pool to get our arm bands. Since the FPEA convention is a huge event they use arm bands for the pool to easily identify who is allowed to be in the pool area. If you lose your arm band it is expensive to replace it!! ($50). Don’t fret if it falls off (unless you lost it). They will replace it free of charge providing you bring the broken one to them. After we got our pool bands the girls went with Daddy to the water park and I went over to the convention center to go to the exhibit hall.
I highly recommend that the first time that you attend the FPEA convention you should make plans to go to the exhibit hall on Thursday evening. It is only opened for a few hours in the evening but well worth it.
There is not enough time in the weekend to do all of the workshops and look through all of the booths. I do also recommend purchasing the audio files of the workshops. There are tons of awesome speakers every year! I listen to the workshops throughout the year.
I made it through about four aisles before my crew was through playing in the water park and was ready for dinner. My girls did not want to leave the exhibit hall without first saying hi to their Spanish Teacher Señor Gamache from La Clase Divertida. We looked up where his booth was and the girls met him. La Clase Divertida is a video based program that teaches elementary school children Spanish. They LOVE this program. We still have a few more lessons to complete in Level 1 but we will continue on with Level 2 when we are through. Here is my review of La Clase Divertida.
After we left the exhibit hall we went to dinner at Chipotle and then over to Publix to get breakfast food. Food here at the hotel is very expensive. The guests staying at the hotel use the same parking lots as those who are at the convention for the day. We would have to sit in all of the convention traffic just to park. Not worth it!! The girls are so thrilled that they are staying at a hotel that has a water park. One of the girls excitedly told the cashier that we are staying at a hotel and there is a water park. The cashier asked her which hotel we are staying at and she replies, “Orlando”.
When we arrived back at the hotel a spot close to one of the entrances was available and we took it. Parked just a few spaces was this truck.
Hello to whoever owns this truck! I wish I would have seen you on the road because we would have honked and waved!
After we came back to the hotel for the night I looked through what I had picked up at the booths. I rarely purchase anything on the first night. I use this time strictly to visit booths, look around, and get their catalog or any other information. When I look through everything I will write down anything I know I want to buy and the prices, make a note of any questions that I want to ask a vendor, and things that I want to go back to look at. I saw a couple of vendors that I thought the girls will enjoy seeing but they were ready for dinner by the time they caught up with me tonight. Snce I only got through three aisles out of sixteen it looks like I will not go to as many workshops (sad face) so I can get through the exhibit hall but I know I will be able to catch them on audio at a later date.
Everyone is all settled down for the evening and are asleep. I wanted to blog for a few minutes before heading to bed myself. The mornings do come fast and will be, as usuall, non-stop from the time we get up in the morning until we are ready to go to bed.
Have a great evening!!