We've been blessed to attend a lot of conferences over the years. It's such a blessing that many Christian conferences are available and all over the country! We have traveled to homeschool conferences, church conferences,Vision Forum retreats and others. Living within driving distance of Houston, we are able to make the trek there for great teaching, fellowship and fun a few times per year. The above photo is two of my daughters at Semper Reformanda a few months ago.
We love going to conferences whenever we can because:
- The teaching we receive is edifying and strengthens us in our Christian lives.
- We have made lasting friendships with other families walking similar paths, making some conferences now seem more like family reunions.
- We get to meet the actual people whose teaching we listen to or read from. At Semper Reformanda my son visited with a celebrity--Michael Horton. What? You don't think everyone considers him a celebrity? ;)
Why is it that getting ready for a trip resembles the nesting instinct in a new mom? Anytime we go anywhere, a few days before we leave I get the urge to make sure everyone has a fresh haircut and clipped fingernails. Maybe that's just me. But there is a lot of preparation time that goes into taking this many people on the road. Here are a few organizational tips that help me keep my sanity and also save money while traveling:
- Put the clothes you want to pack straight into the suitcase from the dryer. Saves a step.
- When possible I try to pack some clothes that match for the the littles. In settings where there are lots of other little ones, this is a bit of help to me.
(Me and some of the littles in their matching orange at Renewing the Family Camp last summer)
- List, list, list. Then make a few more lists.
- Label each suitcase with bright duct tape designating what is inside and help the kids learn which bag is theirs.
- Plan the stops ahead of time and try to prepare the children how long you'll be traveling between each stop.
- Prepare travel activities for the kids to do on the way. We do not use a DVD player in our vehicle, but for trips we make an exception.
We have been known to camp or stay with friends in order to cut costs on a conference, but this time we'll be staying in a hotel. There are some great large-family-friendly hotels that even sport bunkbeds. Renting a suite or adjoining rooms can also help cut costs. We have considered renting a house before, as this seems to be the best option for large families, but it hasn't worked out for us yet.
It's all about the food, right? :) It is at home and much moreso when traveling! Right now I have every meal planned out. I use the term "meal" loosely. Lunches will consist of cheese and crackers, fruit and nuts.
I'll be toting my hand-dandy crockpot and using it to heat our already-prepared- meals for suppertime. We'll use paper products and disposable containers to make the clean up easier. Although this is a bit of an expense, it's nothing compared to the amount of money it requires to eat out.
At the Conference
Whew! Finally there in one piece and even though everyone is worn out from travel and slightly grumpy they're sitting still and listening to the messages, right? Yes. Except not all at once. Someone needs to go to the restroom and when you get back someone else needs correction. Once that's been settled, two of them have begun poking each other. Back to the restroom you go.
Here is my solution to the dilemma of will mama actually get to listen to the messages?
Lower your expectations and make the best of it (however, I am not saying that children shouldn't be trained to sit still). I have decided that it's still worth it to attend conferences that will strengthen our family even if I don't get to hear
What about you? Do you attend conferences? If so, which ones have you attended? What travel tips would you add to this list?