MommyCon 2016 Review & Ticket Giveaway

Crunchy Parent MommyCon 2016 Chicago natural parenting conference review & ticket giveaway

Yesterday I reviewed MommyCon’s recent Chicago stop, focusing on the overall natural parenting conference experience and speakers. Today I wanted to spend some time highlighting the expo side of MommyCon, and reviewing MommyCon’s great gifts and giveaways.

I’m also excited to jump on the giveaway bandwagon myself. MommyCon has provided me with two free tickets to give away to the upcoming MommyCon event of the winner’s choice. You can enter to win at the end of the post. You can also knock $5.00 off of any MommyCon ticket price with the discount code CRUNCHY16.

MommyCon Vendors

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As much as MommyCon is appreciated as a natural parenting conference, I think that they are equally well known as an expo; bringing together great vendors whose products cater to natural families. Any time that you wanted to pry yourself away from the speakers, and all throughout the lunch hour, the exhibitor area was bustling with activity at all of the wonderful booths. For people who frequently only get to explore natural specialty products online, this was a great opportunity to see, touch, and interact with items, and to make purchases, often at promotional MommyCon discounted prices.

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Over 100 vendors were present at the show, selling baby carriers, cloth diapering supplies, teething jewelry, reusable menstrual products, natural personal care items, organic mattresses, hip advocacy and nursing wear, and more.

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In addition to vendors selling their products, there were also companies promoting their products through product samples, local service providers raising awareness about their businesses, and organizations spreading the word and rallying support for their causes.

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The vendor area also housed the Babywearing School stage toward the back, where babywearing topics were presented. Products were demonstrated to show different wrapping and wearing techniques to accommodate children of various ages.

Sprinkled throughout the vendor area were informational tables helping to educate conference attended about feeding techniques and cloth diapering.

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Cloth Diaper Resource Center

For anyone who has ever tried to figure out the difference between a fitted, AIO, pocket, or prefold, there were displays on-hand allowing parents to touch, see, and consider which products might work best for their families.

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More Cloth Diaper Resource Center

Consultants were also on-hand to help answer questions that parents might have about cloth diapering in general. I thought that these informational displays and consultation areas were great low-pressure ways to promote the use of more natural products and increase awareness.

My one regret was that I walked throughout the vendor area taking it all in without buying any products initially. I planned to wait to make my purchases at the end of the day because I didn’t want to have to carry them with me throughout the show (I was already lugging a bag, snacks, a reusable water bottle, note pad, etc.) My intention had been to take the 20 minutes in between the final big presentation of the day and the end-of-the-day product giveaway announcement to scoot back to the vendors and make my purchases. As I came to learn, that plan was flawed (more on that in a moment). As a result, although I saw many products that I would have loved to have brought home from the show, I ended up not buying anything. Fortunately, several of the vendors included special MommyCon promotion codes for savings off of online purchases in the show materials, so the chance for future orders remains. Still, had I known how the end of the day was going to shape up, I would have planned my purchasing differently.

MommyCon Giveaways & Gift Bag

If there is one thing that has earned MommyCon great word-of-mouth, it is their amazing gift bags and giveaways. Before going to the show, I learned that every attendee to the show would receive a jam-packed gift bag. In addition, MommyCon gives extra gift bags to attendees of their VIP events. All MommyCon attendees are also be entered in the end-of-the-show giveaway to receive any of a number of amazing prizes ranging from car seats and organic crib mattresses, to high chairs and baby carriers. MommyCon had also promoted some mysterious “scavenger hunt” prizes through their Facebook page with small items hidden throughout the MommyCon convention space that could be redeemed for prizes. In all, there is no doubt that MommyCon knows that people really love gifts and free goodies.

The MommyCon conference day ended with 25 minutes of giveaways, for which the winner was required to be present. What that looked like in actuality was every last man, woman, and child at the conference descending upon a central area to hear if their tag number might be called as a winner. As mentioned before, the prizes were fantastic and the giveaway was clearly a huge draw and an incentive for people to stay, learn, and shop the expo up until the very last moment. Unfortunately, this also meant that the room was filled to bursting with overtired babies and toddlers who had been troopers through almost 8 hours of the conference already, and the noise level began to climb with restless, crabby children. It also meant that as everyone filtered into the room, many gathered toward the back near the doors, making exiting and entering the room a bit of an adventure.

MommyCon Chicago 2016 giveaway crowd

The MommyCon crowd awaits the giveaways. Photo Credit: Katie Hovland www.katiehovland.com

I had been seated near the front of the room during Jade Beall’s presentation that ended 20 minutes before the giveaway was scheduled to begin. As mentioned, I had intended to scoot back to the vendor room to make my purchases in those 20 minutes and return for the giveaway, but as I saw the traffic situation in the room shaping up into a major bottleneck by the doors, I gave up that idea, and stayed put in my chair.

The giveaway dragged on a bit, not helped by the restless crowd. I am sure however that the many winners were completely delighted by the items that they received, and found them well worth the wait. Once the last product had been handed out, all of the attendees poured out of the room and headed toward the elevators and parking garage. Despite the large numbers of people, I was surprised by how smoothly the transition went. It wasn’t long before I was back in my car, and ready to make the drive back home.

The gift bag that I received was for members of the Media Team, since I was attending MommyCon as part of their Blogger Collective. I’m not sure how the Media Bag differed from any of the other gift bags, but since it was in a different area than the general gift bags, I can only assume that it is unique in some way, so I wanted to provide that caveat.

I have to be honest and say that I was rather impressed when I went to pick up my gift bag and was handed a giant reusable MommyCon tote filled with goodies plus an adjunct item. I have attended many conferences and expos in my day and never have I received anything like this. I was eager to get back home and look through all of the goods.

MommyCon Media gift bag

MommyCon Media gift bag

The bag contained loads of informational and promotional materials from vendors and sponsors of the event, many of whom had included special codes for MommyCon exclusive discounts off of orders. The bag also held many great products from vendors at the conference.

If I was a mother of very young children, I would have been especially thrilled by all of the useful items, which ranged from disposable breast pads and glow-in-the-dark sippy cups to a cloth diaper wet bag and a breastmilk pumping and feeding system. As a parent of children who are past their infant, toddler, and preschool years, only a fraction of the items included were relevant for our family at our current stage of life. I felt a little guilty for being the recipient of such lovely items that we have no use for. I am sure that I will have no trouble finding a friend who will enjoy the items, but nevertheless I wish that more of the products were useful for families with children beyond the nursing, diaper, and bib stage.

The theme for MommyCon 2016 is “Growing Together” and I know that a lot of emphasis has been placed on including topics relevant to older children, families, and to parents themselves. I loved this step forward to embrace more of the natural parenting community, but the gift bag didn’t seem to hold true to this idea as well as the conference and expo on the whole. I would have been thrilled to find a reusable menstrual product, advocacy wear, un-paper household product, or other items that would have helped the overall balance of the bag to better reflect this year’s theme. I am nevertheless still blown away by the general awesomeness of the gift bag and will savor the yummy foods, household, and personal care items that were included in the bag.

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Evenflo scavenger hunt prize

In addition, my eagle eyes were fortunate to find one of the “scavenger hunt” items hidden in the conference area by Evenflo. As a prize for my good fortune, I received a cute Evenflo coffee mug and a $10 Starbucks gift card, which by far was Rich’s favorite thing that I brought home.

Final Thoughts about MommyCon Chicago

I was a bit dubious about attending MommyCon as a mom of children in elementary and middle school. I wasn’t sure if there would be much for me to learn after parenting from a natural/attachment parenting perspective for over thirteen years; and with the birthing, nursing, diapering, and babywearing years behind me. I was encouraged by the “Growing Together” theme, and figured that even if I didn’t find the topics to be directly relevant to my family, the conference would still be a great chance to meet other like-minded parents in the area.

I was really pleased to find the conference experience to be completely satisfying and enriching. There was not a moment of my time that I did not feel was being spent productively; learning or discovering something new that was relevant to me and to my family. I came away from the day feeling more empowered and prepared to take on approaching milestones for my children at their current ages, and for enhancing my relationship with my husband at this point in our marriage. I reflected on myself as a woman beyond my role as either wife or mother, which I know is far too easy to loose touch with, especially when one is oriented toward a very hands-on approach to parenting.

Overall, I was very impressed with the extent to which MommyCon attempted to cater to the needs of parents and children attending the conference. From diapering, feeding, snuggling, napping, playing, and more MommyCon had given thought to what their guests would need to comfortably enjoy the day. This alone is such a juxtaposition to so many conferences and expos, where children and their needs must be “managed” by parents so that adults can attend, rather than woven into the fabric of the event as it was at MommyCon.

For any parent of young children navigating the waters of natural, gentle, crunchy, or attachment parenting, I would assert that MommyCon is a safe place to find your tribe; to learn, to discover, and to grow. For experienced crunchy parents of older children like myself, I am pleased to report that I found MommyCon to move the conversation of natural parenting forward into later phases of parenting as well. In addition, MommyCon shed light on the too-often neglected topic of parents themselves, and their needs as individuals and partners. I am already looking forward to MommyCon returning to Chicago next year.

MommyCon Ticket Giveaway

If you are still waiting for MommyCon 2016 to arrive at a location near you, you’re in luck. In addition to offering the CRUNCHY16 code for $5 off tickets, I have two tickets to give away to one of the upcoming MommyCon 2016 events*. I will select one winner who will receive 2 free ticket to the 2016 MommyCon event of their choice*, or two passes for a 1-day attendance to MommyCon’s Milk or Wear conferences.

Fine Print: The winner is responsible for any transportation or accommodations as needed. Contest will remain open through Tuesday March 29, 11:59 PM Central time. Winner will be notified by me within 24 hours via email, so please enter with an email address that you check regularly. If I do not hear back from the winner with their city of choice within 72 hours of being contacted, prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected. Crunchy Parent will make every effort to arrange and support prize distribution, however ticket giveaway and distribution are ultimately the responsibility of MommyCon. Good luck!

*The April 2nd Seattle Conference is not eligible as a prize option due to the timing parameters of the giveaway.

Win 2 tickets to MommyCon! (Please click the link to enter)

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Goddess Provisions Spirit Enhancing Subscription Unboxing & Review: November 2015

Crunchy Parent Goddess Provisions Spirit Enhancing Subscription Unboxing & Review November 2015

Goddess Provisions is a new subscription service, just added to the recent fall update of the Crunchy Parent Ultimate List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. Created by the owners of Vegan Cuts, Goddess Provisions is a monthly lifestyle box for women. They send products to nourish your inner goddess and grow your spiritual practice. Boxes feature a mix of 4-6 full size items, spanning across the categorizes of aromatherapy, apothecary beauty products, superfood snacks, teas, crystals, books and more. All items are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

Boxes cost $33 per month, which includes shipping. There are discounts for multi-month subscriptions. I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. If you want to see my unboxing of the first-ever Goddess Provisions box from October, look here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing of the November Goddess Provisions box, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came well-packaged, and everything was received intact.
Goddess Provisions November subscription box review

As with last month, I loved the bright and informative enclosure card. Goddess Provisions does an exceptional job of highlighting their featured brands and products, as well as weaving the theme into the box. This month’s theme was passion and creativity, and their association with the sacral chakra. The card was a vibrant orange, the color of the sacral chakra.

The box was packed full of goodies. The first item that I spied was a Kishu charcoal filter (value $9.99). This all-natural water filter is designed to be dropped into a reusable water bottle and used for up to four months of water filtration. The filters are made from sustainably harvested oak branches that are kiln heated to transform them into naturally detoxifying charcoal. The brand makes their filters in several sizes to use in pitchers, jugs, carafes, and even a pet’s water dish. I think that the concept of a natural and plastic-free water filter is a great one. I have never seen anything like this product before and am excited to give it a try.

I was also excited to see the next item in the box, 100% Pure’s Maraca Oil Mascara (value $25.00). As with all items in Goddess Provisions boxes, the mascara is vegan, and it also happens to be gluten free and colored naturally with a blend of black tea, berry, and cocoa pigments. I had kind of written off mascara for about ten years due to the toxic ingredients that they generally contain, but in more recent years as the green beauty industry and options have grown, I have been experimenting with the more natural mascaras available. I was very happy to receive this. I like the 100% Pure brand and was eager to give this a try. I was surprised by the chocolaty scent of the mascara. I’m not sure if I like the smell or not, but if fades pretty quickly so it isn’t much of an issue. I found that the mascara added a length and thickness to my lashes that looked natural and not clumpy. It was not as dramatic a change as other formulations that I have used, but I kind of liked the more natural looking “enhancement” for an everyday option or times when I want to look fresh but not too heavily made up.

Goddess Provisions vegan spirit box Noveber review

My sweet tooth was all excited about the heart-shaped cranberry pecan raw cookie from Rawxies (value $1.99). The ingredients include oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, dates, vanilla, cinnamon, and more. The cookies are raw, vegan, and free of gluten, dairy, and soy, which is perfect for us. I couldn’t wait to give this cookie bar a try. I think that my expectations may have been too high. I was not a fan. I have eaten a lot of date and nut bars in my day so perhaps I was expecting something sweeter. Maybe a more dedicated raw foodist would have developed a different palette and greater appreciation for the cookie’s flavor.

The next item had been released as a sneak peek item by Goddess Provisions earlier and I was eager to give it a closer look. The Healing Crystals Information Card and Oracle Deck (value $6.95) was even more awesome that I expected it to be. The deck included several cards with information about crystals, their form structures, and the Mohs hardness scale for rating crystals, as well as several cards with information about the seven chakras. The deck also included 47 additional cards, each highlighting a unique crystal with a photo, chakra association, attributes, affirmation, Mohs rating, and more. I even noticed a card for the Vera Cruz amethyst crystal included in last month’s Goddess Provisions box.

I know that I would have loved this deck as a kid and would have poured over it learning about all of the crystals. I think that it would make an excellent homeschooling tool when teaching about crystals, or a gift for any science or spiritually-inclined child or adult. The cards can also be used as an oracle deck for a more metaphysical application.

Goddess Provisions 21 drops essential oil rollerball and red quartz crystal November box unboxing & review

The fifth item had also been released in the earlier spoiler, an essential oil mini rollerball from 21 Drops (.3 ml, value $7.00). The Passion rollerball is a blend of jasmine, rose, cardamom, and sandalwood essential oils is a jojoba oil base. The rollerball is designed to be applied to wrists, temples, or neck and inhaled to bring about a release of inhibitions, and to heighten magnetism and sensuality (oh my!). I found the scent to be feminine and beautiful. On initial application, I smelled the jasmine and rose primarily, but when going back for a second sniff, I could sense the cardamom especially shining through. Cardamom is such a warming herb, and I cannot ever get enough of it in autumn. I think that I will use get lot of use out of this rollerball as a natural perfume option.

Just like last month’s unboxing, I ended with the opening of a tiny drawstring bag. This month I discovered a small crystal point of red quartz, also known as hematite quartz (value $5.00). The crystal features a unique burnt orange color and is associated with the sacral chakra. I am really enjoying building up my collection of crystals large and small through subscription boxes.

Goddess Provisions included a final bonus item that I did not notice until after I completed the unboxing video. The enclosure card listed a code for an online yoga class with instructor Michelle Shea Walker. The yoga sequence was specifically designed to balance the sacral chakra, and had a listed value of $22.00. In the past of couple months I have been increasing my yoga practice at home through online video options such as these. I appreciate this bonus item and cannot wait to give it a try. I am curious to see if it incorporates the crystal in any way.

Goddess Provisions November box unboxing & review organic, natural, vegan goodness

The overall value of the box was $55.93 which does not include the $22.00 value of the online yoga class, since Goddess Provisions designated it as a bonus item. I think that this value is very strong for the purchase price and high for the “spiritual lifestyle” genre of subscription boxes. I loved the mix of items in the box, with food, beauty, body, home, and spirit all represented. With the exception of the one snack item that I just didn’t personally care for, every item will be put to get use by me, by my family, and in our home. I was introduced to a number of new brands or received products from brands that I had been hoping to try. I am very impressed with the two boxes that Goddess Provisions has put together thus far, and am already looking forward to my next month’s box.

As a reminder, you can see my unboxing and review of the first Goddess Provisions box here, and you can go to Goddess Provisions to get your hands on your very own box. Will you be getting in on the December box? I think it would make a great centering gift-to-self during the heightened energy that surrounds holiday time.

If you would like to see the most recent Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes for other great crunchy-friendly subscription or gift deas, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or reviews, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe!

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Vegan Cuts Offering Bonus Gift to New Subscribers

Vegan Cuts July 2015 Box + Bonus

Vegan Cuts is one of the many crunchy-friendly subscription box services featured in the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes. They source and send quality, 100% cruelty-free cosmetic, skin care, and beauty products. Their products also tend to be low in toxins and contain high-quality, and often organic ingredients. Each month Vegan Cuts sends 4-7 sample and full-sized products for $19.99/month including shipping.

Vegan Cuts has revealed two products for their upcoming July box, the first is an eye shadow trio in one of two palettes (value $10.00) from Pacifica, a brand that I love. The second previewed item is Spring Lavender Hand Cream, from new-to-me brand The Wonder Seed (value $12.95). The cream has amazing all-natural ingredients, including hemp seed, as referenced in the brand’s name. Check out this video to see the previewed items for the Vegan Cuts July box. In addition, they have announced a bonus gift for the first 500 first-time subscribers, a full size Dew Puff Konjac Sponge (value $8.00). Konjac sponges are made from the root of the Konjac plant and offer an all-natural and reusable way to gently exfoliate and soften skin. If you’ve been on the fence about trying this subscription, this may be the perfect time.

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Barganic Alert-Vegan Cuts Men’s Grooming Box

Have you had a chance to check out the Crunchy Parent list of crunchy-friendly subscription boxes? If you have, you may be familiar with Vegan Cuts, a monthly subscription service specializing in cruelty-free beauty and skincare products. They tend to feature a lot of natural and organic products as well. In addition to their monthly boxes, Vegan Cuts will occasionally offer special themed boxes for individual purchase.

Vegan Cuts Men's Grooming Box

Right now, Vegan Cuts is offering a special Men’s Grooming box, perfect to delight the animal-loving, crunchy guy in your life. If you can stand to keep it a secret, this would make a great gift to tuck away for Father’s Day too.

The Grooming Box features 12 vegan products including:

Thrive – Face Wash 3.38 oz
Ursa Major – Stellar Shaving Cream 2 oz
Bare Bones Body Care – Deodorant 2 oz
Brickell Men’s Products – Face Moisturizer 1 oz
nyl – Foaming Castile Hand Soap 1.5 oz
Preserve – Triple Razor System Handle & 2 Blades
Aubrey Organics – Men’s Stock After Shave Balm 4 oz
Fanciful Fox – Beard Oil 4.25 oz
Sage & Arrow – Coffee Scrub 2 oz
Jonathan Product – Green Rootine Pure Paste 1.7 oz
Verb – Shampoo .65 oz
Verb – Conditioner .65 oz

The box is valued at $108 and costs $39.95 with free shipping in the United States. Boxes will start shipping the week of March 30th. Are you in for one?

Make sure that you don’t miss out on any Barganic Alerts, these babies tend to be time-limited. Subscribe to Crunchyparent.com to always be the first to know!

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