IHM Conference for Catholic Homeschoolers - My Weekend in a Nutshell

So over the weekend I went to the national IHM conference, and I had such a great time! The vendors were awesome, I went to some very inspirational talks, and the people were great! I absolutely loved meeting people that I've only had the pleasure of talking to online.

I went with my mother-in-law, and it really was more fun to go with someone (even though I ran into people I knew all over the place). I started off going to several talks, some of which were super great! I definitely enjoyed some more than others. My favorite was Sr. Mary Joseph Heisler's talk on finding God in the pots and pans. She was an amazing speaker! I actually purchased the talk on CD so I could listen again. I also really enjoyed Amy Kalscheur's talk- Cofessions of a Homeschooling Mom. She was so funny!

Then I hit some vendor booths. Here I am with Monica from Arma Dei. She has so much cool stuff for teaching Catholic kids! I've been to Monica's website before, but it doesn't do justice to how cool this stuff is in real life! It was so great to see it all first hand, and my mother-in-law left with a pile of stuff. :-)

Next I finally met Fran from Illuminated Ink! (I talk to her on facebook all the time, but it's not the same). She is soooo much fun and her family is so sweet! (Not to mention that their company also offers the coolest Catholic craft kits ever, including those gorgeous first communion banner kits!) My mother-in-law was actually impressed that I knew who all the fun vendors were. :-)

I stopped by the Illuminate Ink booth again on Saturday. Here's Fran teaching me to use their rosary tools. I told her that her tools were a lot fatter than my rosary-knot-tier-thingy that I made myself out of sculpey, but it didn't take me long to master using it. ;-)

I was also excited to see Pius Media there! This is a company that I really love! It's like a wholesome Netflix for Catholics, so you can rent all the best Catholic movies without having to buy them. My family is really enjoying our membership! I was thinking this picture looked really great and then I realized why- I match the booth! Maggie is so sweet- it was great to meet her in real life. :-)

I ran into lots of Catholic Icing readers, which was so much fun! Here I am with Jennifer from Palmetto Sweetheart (and it turns out we went to the same high school! What are the chances?!) and on my left is Mrs. Tucker from Teach Them Wisdom. She was actually younger than me, a quality I don't find in most mothers of 3. :-)

More shopping. I told myself I wasn't going to buy anything, but some of the stuff was way too cool to resist! I'll share books I specifically loved later.

Had to stop by Emmanuel Books! :-)

More pictures from around the hotel:

They had confessions going on through the whole conference, which was awesome! The priests were amazing, and the one I went to was the best confessor I'd ever had. Yep- I left with makeup running down my face. They even had a chapel set up for penance and prayer, which was awesome.

I also ran into Amanda, who is one of the artists behind these beautiful (and free) Catholic coloring pages

Gotta love the stroller parking lot!

A few bones to pick about the Conference- The biggest problem was the location! The convention was spread out all over a hotel, and it was super hard to find stuff. There were booths here, there, and everywhere. Some of them were pretty hard to find, and one section I almost missed all together! I felt bad for the companies stuffed into random rooms in the basement. It might have been easier to navigate the hotel if the map they had given us made more since. Maybe.

Also, every single room in that hotel was either hot or cold, but nowhere in between.You'd think a nice hotel would have some thermostat control. 

The IHM conference also made a big deal of promoting that the conference was free on their site. See?
But... when we got there it was actually suggested to give a $20 donation. 

I know it's not free to run something like this, and I have no problem with a suggested donation (or flat out admission), but I really think a suggested donation is a totally different thing than "FREE ADMISSION!". It would have been nice to know up front because I was taken a little off guard at the registration booth.

Over all, I had a great (and exhausting) weekend, found some amazing companies and resources, and met a lot of fun people! I fully plan on returning next year. I wish I could share about 100 more pictures, but this post is getting super long so I'm going to stop now. If you went to the conference, let us know what you thought in the comments, and leave a link if you blogged about it, too! :-)

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  1. I went to the conference and have the same complaints as you about the venue.  My husband (I think he secretly wants to be on the safety patrol) was very concerned about a fire or emergency.  It was so packed, the hallways were meandering and there were so many tiny, cute babies....he worried about people getting out safely if there was an emergency.  Oh and the parking...don't even get me started on that.

    The vendors were awesome!  Most of the speakers that we saw were good, some not so much.  We were only able to attend on Friday, though. 

    The donation thing caught us off guard too!  Having a little up front notice would have been nice.

    The best part of the conference for me was to be with so many like-minded Catholics (like my friend, Amanda in your pic above with tiny, cute Clare)!

    This was my first conference (and the end of my first year homeschooling).  I may have set my expectations too high.  They announced that next year's conference will be at the same place :(  so I really will think twice about attending.

  2. My daughter and I were there on Saturday, and had a great time!!!
    I missed the Pauline Media booth somehow. Seeing it on here, I now wonder what else I missed?! I thought I found them all.
    I also had a very good confession. VERY good for my soul.
    I was in the Finding God in the Pots and Pans and felt the same way. It was an awesome session, and I want to listen to it again.
    and again.
    I felt thrown off by the suggested donation too, but since it wasn't required, just did not donate. I chose to spend my money on the vendors instead.  I do not object to an entrance fee, but it was advertised as free. I would not object to a fee next year, as long as it is advertised up front. I certainly supported several vendors that day, lol.
    My overall experience was excellent. I wish the vendors were in one room, but that wasn't possible, so we made due.
    Overall, my teen (13 today!) and I had a wonderful time together, and can't wait for next year. I wish I had met you there, next year we will have to make arrangements!!

  3. I have the same complaints!! I missed a TON OF VENDORS!! And it seems while we were in a lot of the same talks, I totally didn't get to MEET YOU!! Boo Hiss!
    I did love being around so many people of different stages of homeschooling. I was able to really connect with some people I already knew.. however, I didn't really have time to meet NEW people. 
    I feel also that maybe there should have been more time between talks for shopping (or at the end of Saturday after the talks)... mostly because it was all over the place!!
    I also didn't bring my camera, that was a fail on my part!

  4. Looks like you met lots of cool people. And I didn't think that there would be confession as well in such an event. I wish they had something like this in Singapore! 

  5. Amazing_Grace102010June 13, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    It sounds like you had a wonderful time.  I would LOVE to hit the vendor booths.  It is so hard to find good Catholic activities and there they were all together under one roof!  :)

  6. A Slice of Smith Life SmithJune 13, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Hi Lacy! Great summary of your weekend! I'm glad you had a great time and met lots of inspiring people!  I have been following Monica's amazing Catholic crafts through the No Ordinary Blog Hop (NOBH) I co-host and I am always so impressed by her creativity and hard work! It must have been so neat to see her things in real life!  I didn't get to go this year (we were on vacation and it was my daughter's birthday), but I went several years ago and loved it!  I also bought lots of Catholic goodies and loved the speakers!  Maybe I'll get to meet you in person at a future conference! 

  7. I was disappointed this year, too! Last year it was at the Dulles Expo Center, which was a perfect venue. Even when we show up later in the day, like we sometimes do, there are plenty of empty parking spaces and we don't feel like we have to walk two miles to the door. It's fun to walk past all the 15-passenger vans and pro-life bumper stickers. :) They also had a snack bar with ridiculously unhealthy but mildly inexpensive foods and drinks, and there is a large selection of fast food places right across the street in walking distance. This year, we decided against the $12 salad at the hotel restaurant and went out with some friends to eat. We got back to the hotel at 1:20 and I was ten minutes late for the 1:30 talk because we couldn't find a parking spot! My husband ended up dropping me off so he could keep trying for a spot, but he ended up missing the ENTIRE talk because of that. It was ridiculous! All the walking between talks was awful, too; I would have liked to chat with a few of the speakers but unless the next talk was in the giant ballroom, I knew it would be standing room only unless I got there early. In some rooms I had to position myself right under the A/C vent or suffer through the heat. Apparently the Dulles Expo Center is going to be made into a retail space, because, as you know, there is nowhere at all to shop in Northern Virginia! I realized too late that I missed the Pauline Media table, where I usually spend a lot of money, because the vendors were so scattered. I did get a couple goodies at Adoramus books and had a nice chat with a representative from Kolbe Academy and Making Music Praying Twice. I was very happy to run into some friends and to meet you of course! I just wish the venue had been more accommodating; it was a beautiful and elegant space but not at all practical for the IHM Conference in my opinion. 

  8. This was my first time at the IHM Conference.  I have to agree was not a fan of everything so Scattered.  It was a big mess.  There were people everywhere....  If you were trying to get from one seminar to the next you can go ahead and bank on not making it in time.  The lunch and dinner times were not long enough to get something to eat and shop.  we realized we had to skip a few lectures in order to get shopping time. I was planning on going to a lecture each 45 minutes and ended up only being able to go to 4.  

    I am glad I had a chance to meet you!  Little Miss Celebrity that you are :)  It was also nice finding someone a little close to my age :)

    Oh and it looks like that the picture you got of Sister Heisler has her parents sitting right in front of you.  Too bad you couldn't find a way to send that to her I bet she would cherish it!  

  9. I honestly didn't even realize how bad the parking was because my husband
    was meeting us there to pick up the baby, and we were running late, so he
    gave us his spot. Glad to hear I wasn't the only one caught off guard by the
    donations thing. I also heard them announce that it would be in the same
    place, but my friend Christine works for IHM and she said they were going to
    try to find a different location. Here's hoping!

  10. Love that someone has the guts to admit they didn't donate- I didn't either.
    I would have if they hadn't ADVERTISED free admission! I only brought like,
    $30 with me, and I spent it all on books.

  11. Well, no one else there needed a camera because I took enough pictures for
    all of us- lol! ;-) I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one with these

  12. You should come to the 2:1 blogging
    conferencefor homeschoolers in April!
    I'll be speaking, so it will be impossible to
    miss me! ;-)

  13. The food really was ridiculous! My mother-in-law and I were starving, but
    didn't have time to go out to eat before the next talk, so we just split a
    sandwich to hold us to the end of the day. I wish I had thought to position
    myself under an AC vent- during one of the talks I literally had sweat
    dripping down my back and it was so gross! lol!

  14. I was there too. In fact, I can see my 19-year-old daughter and half of me in one of the pictures! I was a vendor so I missed the talks :-(. I almost managed to sneak off to see Andrew Pudewa but then got busy. 
    Sadly, the Dulles Expo Center was sold and I'm told that IHM had to really scramble quickly to find a new venue. I was looking for the cool Catholic Icing bag but missed yet. Even so it was still a wonderful weekend.

  15. ASHLEY! Man, I could NOT remember your first name or find it on your blog-
    lol! Are those really her parents in that picture? I knew they were
    adorable, so I took several from that angle, but I didn't realize that's who
    they were. What a great talk! It was really nice meeting you!

  16. A vendor for what? That's funny that you're in one of my pictures! I think a
    lot of people missed my bag. Oh, well- I wasn't willing to be the nerd in a
    Catholic Icing t-shirt. ;-)

  17. Nice to see all the comments and attendees of IHM!
    As a vendor (Arma Dei), I was frustrated by the scattering of vendors and knew that although we were in a pretty active room, we would be missed by some.
    I was sorry that people rushed in at the end, when we were packing up to race to 5pm Mass before our long drive home! (Why couldn't there be Mass at the end of the conference...that vendors could attend, after take-down?)

    I hope we can attend next year and I look forward to meeting more Catholic Icing fans.
    It was such a pleasure to meet you, Lacy...and your awesome mother-in-law!
    Would love some of those pics! =)

  18. So I guess that means you wouldn't be willing to be a super nerd and wear a Catholic Icing hat?! It would be awesome if you were willing! And no one would miss you either.

    I was with Homeschool Connections. We were in the Hades room (as in no AC). 

    Everyone should make sure to send their comments to the conference organizers to help them plan for next year. 

  19. Hi Lacy,

    I went Friday and I have all the same issues - even trying to wait in line to get lunch with books and a baby in a stroller, really inconvenient and I left without anything.  I felt like I was not welcome in even the vendor area because there was no room for me to walk without bumping someone with my backpack (diaper bag) and stroller.   Even walking through the hallways were too crowded to maneuver without worry.

    Very sad.  There were less vendors than last year, so I really missed Right Start Math. :(

    I think if it is in the same place next year, I know I only want to get to very specific vendors.  I will not peruse the rest or the vendors because I felt like the 4 hours I spent there were not worth the stress I felt when I left. 
    Oh. and I was lost in the parking lot afterward to get to my car (I parked on the road).  Feeling lost in 100 degree heat, with an infant, was not fun.


  20. Hi, Lacy!  I, too, went to the conference.  The first in a few years, and they asked for donations then, too, though not as much as they asked for this year.  Thought it was too spread out and spent much time getting a workout from the parking lot to the lobby and more! 

    This was the first year I brought any of my children to the conference and I will do so again - - while my daughter had mixed reviews on the teen talks,it does seem like she gained something from them.  Next year I will bring the others! 

    I live close enough (about 1 hour away) that I drove down both days and enjoyed talks and browsing.  My daughter especially loved the talk by Regina Doman and we stopped by to get one of her books and she was excited to meet her.  My favorite talk was Friday's first one about the manners of yesterday - - Jane Austen - - for today's world. 

    Too bad I didn't get to meet you -- but I think I did spot the bag!  If you ever get to Antietam Battlefield, let me know!


  21. Hmmm... I've never been much of a hat person- lol! But as long as I'm being
    to complete super nerd in this scenario, I should probably find a hat shaped
    like a cupcake, huh?

  22. I was supposed to have Violet with me, but Mark showed up at the last minute
    and picked her up (my husband works in Herndon) so I was able to go baby
    free! I was glad lot to be lugging her especially since they didn't allow
    strollers in the talks because I know she would have fallen asleep in the

  23. You spotted my bag and didn't come say hi? NOT cool! ;-)

  24. I agree - I wrote a long list of things I didn't like about the venue. (I was nice.) :) I hope other people filled them out, too. DH works in NOVA and has been to many conferences in many hotels; he says there are plenty of nearby hotels that would be a much better fit for IHM. I told him to email them with a list!

  25. Weelllll, I wasn't sure and I can be a little, I wouldn't say shy, but something similar - - next time I will be sure to say hi! 

  26. hahaha! There's no such thing as being shy around me because I am SO not
    afraid to do all the talking! ;-)

  27. DH and I attended the conference, too.  The organizers are seriously thinking of moving it to Fredericksburg, VA.  From the feedback on their FB page, it sounds like the F'burg Expo Center would be a better site all around. 

    I think I missed some vendors!  This was our first conference so I can't compare, but I've been to other Catholic conferences at hotels w/ much better layouts.  I was so happy I was able to manage our son in our Ergo carrier & forgo the stroller - I would have been frustrated trying to maneuver a stroller around. 

    The donation threw me for a loop, too.  I had emailed the organizers to clarify that they didn't require registration (or provide child-care :( ).  They could have mentioned in their email that they would be asking for donations. 

    As someone new to homeschooling (starting this fall), I was very excited for all of the affirmation and information I gleaned from the talks.  A little overwhelmed, to be sure, but excited nonetheless!

    Thanks for all of your great ideas on your blog! 


Thanks for your comments! They're the icing on my cake ;-)