I think the things they decided to buy at the convention reflected their interests and personalities. Elf selected a muffin tin very much like the cookie tray you see here near Emperor's apple baker. Stainless steel. Niiice. Threw out all my old gummed-up nasty stuff from Evil Mart and am happily using these as well as my new pizza pan. D says you could just about hang it on the wall, but I know it will get dinged and cut and scratched like anything else in our home. It won't leach into our food, tho'. That alone makes it, as Woodjie would say, "You-ee-full."
Emperor scouted all over the convention hall. You would think that with a zillion homeschoolers about, that there would be better chess books for sale. He was miffed that the nicest one with illustrations didn't get any more in-depth than explaining castling. He bought a magnetic chess set so he could play chess in the car (two hours each day on the computer is not enough) and some chess trinkets... the sort that he would be able to hang on his backpack... if he ever USED a backpack. Nice stuff, though. Elf had enough money for a little knight that is on his messenger bag for school next year.
Emperor was determined to get a set of history books from either My Father's World or Sonlight this year. His prime mission was to see which books were too soft, whether they were interesting, and "stuff about Rome."
First... the My Father's World booth. I thought from the catalogue that this set would actually be the best fit for his age and reading ability. Maybe just not the chess book that comes with it. It seems to be geared to a slightly younger set than the Sonlight core that includes Ancient Rome. He liked the books well enough, but NOT the worksheets. They were terrible, he told me. Umm... that's because they covered them in plastic sheeting so they wouldn't tear while everyone is looking through them? You can't just base your dislike for the program on that... Well, that and the disappointment in the chess book seemed to sour him a bit.
On to the Sonlight booth. The consultant tried to steer him to a younger core package that did NOT include Rome. Emperor was displeased. He came for Rome. Also displeasing was the fact that several of the books were absolutely identical in both programs. I don't know why he hadn't figured that out before, but perhaps the extreme amount of STUFF in the Sonlight curriculum especially blinded him to that fact.
I rather liked the look of the books in their core, though doggone it, they didn't bring them all! Emperor wanted to check for softness. The consultant musta thought we were crazy and kept showing us the PICTURES of the books on the back cover. In all honesty some of the Sonlight selections were a probably bit above him. Not a big deal if, as the consultant told us, we could stretch a core to last two years if we wanted. (Why not, and supplement with library stuff? Plus the fact that almost no teacher ever gets through everything, and every activity, in one school year.)
I was thinking this was a great idea, but I could tell Emperor wasn't happy. That's ok. He has lots of time to stroll around the convention hall and think about what to get. For that matter, we could always order something later if he couldn't decide that day. Eventually what he decided on was something in both his top contenders' packages: Story of the World. But I had no idea it had its own activity workbook and test book as well as they are not included as any sort of set I'd encountered before. Of course Emperor loved it for the same reasons I was hoping he'd buy a boxed curriculum set: lots of fun hands-on activities. Which of course means more teacher work. I will need to plan ahead... which... I am not that skilled at doing. Guess I have to give it my best shot, because I DID promise him he could pick out that one subject.
Emperor also wanted to buy Augustus Caesar's World and Famous Men of Rome from Memoria Press. The latter may be a bit ambitious on his part, but he says he can do anything. He can learn anything. By the way, he is starting to consistently beat the 1000-rated computer and most of the children who play online at chesskid. I signed up "HappyElfHomeschool" on chess.com and Emperor is now soundly getting his butt trounced by 1400-rated players. He was able to get his rating up to 1340, though. For a minute. I should have taken a picture. Honestly, the chess.com players are mostly adults and he's gonna feel the pain. Yowch.