Nearly every year, one or both of my parents would head off to Richmond for the annual Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) convention. For those of you that aren’t in the know, homeschooling conventions are fantastic places to hear speakers on a plethora of topics, meet fellow homeschoolers, and to examine/obtain materials for the upcoming school year…among many other things. I was (am) one of those weird kids who were (are) actually disappointed when summer break starts, so I would use the boxes and crates of awesome that came home with my parents to console myself and get all jazzed up about the next school year.
As I got older, my friends started graduating at the HEAV convention. Seeing them (and hundreds of other kids) graduate helped make being a homeschooled kid seem more official, especially back when homeschooling wasn’t exactly as mainstream as it is today. Like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie…my favorite part of graduation was getting to go into the exhibit hall myself and browse among a selection of books that called to my book junkie self much like the Sirens called to lost Greek sailors.
This year, when I was brainstorming about what I wanted to do with Oldest and Toddler for the upcoming year, I remembered that HEAV has a convention option that gives you a shopping pass. Since this was what I was most interested in…and because I didn’t think of the convention in time to do the hotel thing, I decided to go ahead and register. The convention was this past weekend. My hubs took Friday off and stayed home with the kiddies. (P.S. Thanks, Baby!) I left my house slightly after dawn cracked and made it to Richmond without getting lost more than once. Side note…while I was lost, I think I may have accidentally run a red light which I didn’t know existed until I was already in the intersection. Dang sun visor. And dang roundabout intersection with no signs. I didn’t kill anybody, and if I get a ticket, it’ll be my first one ever. That has to count for something, right? Anyway, this year, HEAV offered shuttle parking for the Friday of the convention, which was great. I didn’t have to look for parking in any of the 8, 000 parking lots and garages around the convention center…I just had to grab my wheelie suitcase (to carry the awesome I expected to find) and hop (I use that term loosely these pregnant days) on a bus. Easy peasy.
I got there and checked in about an hour before the exhibit hall opened. This was good because I got an opportunity to look through the goodies I got at registration and kind of prioritize which vendor booths I really needed/wanted to visit. I also found out that I would get to go to one speaker session, so I picked five sessions out of the program that looked especially interesting, and then factored in starting times/lunch/my estimated time of departure to pick the lucky winner. (I ended up at an Answers in Genesis presentation on Creation vs. Evolution. It was great, in case you were wondering. So great that I bought the MP3s of the other three sessions being given by that particular speaker so I could listen to them this week.)
By this point, the exhibit hall was open, so I walked in to see what I could see before my session started. I swear that place has quadrupled in size and content since my junior year, when I attended the convention with my dad and sister. I’m a non-shopper. Like, I don’t like it at all. In fact, I prefer to visit the dentist. Walking into the exhibit hall was something like drinking out of a fire hydrant. I realized belatedly that my little wheelie suitcase was probably not going to be large enough to contain the awesome, but as my daddy always said, “Life’s tough…get a helmet.” I ended up purchasing a variety of awesome from the following publishers/vendors:
- BJU Press Homeschool materials via Homeworks by Precept (These ladies were super sweet and helpful…hands-down my favorite vendor of the day.)
- JM Cremp’s: The Boys Adventure Store
- Schoolhouse Publishing
- Answers in Genesis
- The Heritage Foundation
- Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
At this point, my wheelie suitcase weighed about 75 pounds, so I was reduced to metaphorically drooling on a lot more awesome from several other vendors, including:
- Lego Education
- Picture This! Ministries
- ShatterPoint Entertainment
- … and I can’t remember the rest. At this point, I was reeling from straight-up sensory overload.
My hubs and I are hoping to be able to go to the whole convention together next year. I really want to be able to attend more sessions, and to be able to browse the awesome a little more at leisure.