MommyCon Austin 2017 Schedule and Giveaway!

It’s that time of year again, mamas! MommyCon Austin is a little less than two weeks away, and I am so excited! I am so lucky to have been invited to be a part of the blogger collective again, and I get to be a part of the media team for the VIP session that Friday as well (more on that later!). AND I have a pair of tickets to giveaway too! Check out my Instagram @sharonisamom for the ticket giveaway (good luck!). The giveaway closes on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, and a random winner will be drawn to win a free pair of tickets for MommyCon, so bring a friend to share in the fun!

MommyCon vendors | sharonisamom.wordpress.com

The general admission day is on Saturday, June 3 at the Austin Convention Center. There will also be VIP sessions available the day before on June 2 as well. If you don’t have a ticket yet, you can use my code SHARONISAMOM17 to get $5 off your general admission ticket (you can use the code for any of the MommyCon locations, not just Austin!).

I always seem to luck out on the timing for MommyCon. Last year, my husband had a trail race in the area that he wanted to do that evening, so our trip worked out perfectly then. And this year my husband and son will be going to San Antonio (not far from Austin) for my nephew’s graduation that weekend, so we just have an extra excuse to be staying in Austin for the weekend. Plus it’s our anniversary weekend, so we’ll get to spend an extra day in Austin having fun and eating lots of delicious food. So looking forward to it!

If you’ve never heard of MommyCon before, I’ll let you in on the details! Last year was my first time at MommyCon, and I loved it! It’s all about breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapers and more! It’s a great place to find your new Mom BFF and be surrounded by a group of like-minded mamas. There are a wide variety of sessions to check out, a ton of awesome vendors, and at the end, they giveaway thousands of dollar worth of awesome baby gear! Plus the swag your get in your general admission bag is fantastic too. You get so much for the price of your ticket!

They just released their finalized schedule for MommyCon too, and I’m going to go over a few highlights of the sessions I’m most looking forward to below.

Let’s start with Friday’s VIP session: Not Your Momma’s Baby Shower! This VIP session will be so much fun, with a 1950s ice cream parlor theme, complete with food, games, prizes and more! Plus Jessica Martin-Weber (AKA the Leaky Boob) will be hosting with Ameda. I am already Pinteresting 50s hairstyles and hoping I have a dress that will work. I Thought this VIP session is too perfect for me to pass up, since I’ll be 4-5 months pregnant come MommyCon! It’ll be a co-ed baby shower too, so both moms and dads are welcome. They’ll even have Ameda Aunties there to help if you are bringing your little ones too!

For Saturday, I think I’m most looking forward to the birth story circle. Pregnant or not, I have found that I love hearing other people’s birth stories and sharing mine as well. But since I will be pregnant at this year’s MommyCon, I am especially looking forward to this session!

Another one of my favorites on the schedule for Saturday is the session on Natural Remedies for Common Childhood Ailments. I love having natural options to try and help my little one feel better instead of going straight to medicine. Heck, even if I wanted to do the medicine, it always tastes so gross, my child spits it right out anyway. So I am looking forward to hearing more natural ways to prevent and treat things like ear infections, sleep problems, reflux, colic and more!

And that’s just a taste of what’s on the schedule! All sort of topics will be covered, like Breastfeeding and Pumping Q&A, potty training, cloth diapering 101 and much more! Check out the full schedule below!

MommyCon Austin 2017 Schedule | sharonisamom.wordpress.com

Don’t forget to use my code SHARONISAMOM17 for $5 off your ticket and check out my giveaway to win a free pair of tickets to MommyCon over on my Instagram @sharonisamom! Hope to see you guys there!

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My First MommyCon

After much anticipation, MommyCon Austin is officially behind us. And it was awesome! I enjoyed all of the sessions I went to, and loved being surrounded by other like-minded moms. Now it’s time to finally recollect my thoughts after the whirlwind that was my first MommyCon!

My First MommyCon: media swag bag | sharonisamom.com
Here’s the swag I got in my media bag!

I’m somewhat of a planner. I went into MommyCon with a schedule written out of all the sessions I planned to attend, and what times I had breaks to check out the vendors and grab lunch. I may try to plan and be organized, but I am also a bit of a hot-mess mom. It seems like the more I try to have control, the more things don’t go according to plan. Since I was a part of the MommyCon blogger collective, I planned on getting to the convention center early to meet up with the other members of the media team for breakfast at 8:30. But after a rough night, Ellis needed to sleep in Saturday, so I let him. That meant I was missing the media breakfast, but I still planned on catching a ride with my friends to get there by 9 for registration, or at least by 9:30 for the first session on our agenda. But we were running late, and by the time we parked, fed the baby and walked over to the convention center and got checked in, it was about 10:15. So we missed the first session we had planned to attend, but that’s OK. There were still plenty more great sessions for us that day. I peeked in to check out a couple of the vendors and grab a Kind Bar (thank goodness, since I’d skipped breakfast!), then we headed into the next session on our lineup to learn about potty training. My son is only 14 months old, and we hadn’t quite starting researching all that jazz yet on our own. I ended up learning a lot from this session and took home some great tips to try out when it’s potty-training time.

All this time, my husband was with Ellis, taking him on some Austin adventures. My friend Catherine was also at MommyCon with me, and her husband was watching their 17-month-old, so we let the dads be “mom for a day,” (as I called it). They met up at the Thinkery to let the kiddos have fun while the moms enjoyed a relaxed morning without the babies at MommyCon. My husband said they loved it! And we didn’t even have to pay, since we have a membership to the Fort Worth Museum of Science & History (we get in free to over 250 other museums around the country, how cool is that?).

While I waited for my husband to pick me up for lunch, I spent a little time checking out some more of the vendors (there were so many great vendors!). He picked me up around noon, I nursed Ellis, then we headed to lunch. The first place we went to was oddly closed, (apparently their servers didn’t show up), so we checked out our list of other restaurants we’d planned to hit up, and headed to the next one. To save time, we ordered it to-go and ate in the car as we headed to Starbucks (another stop I needed, since moms need coffee). Grabbed my coffee and headed back to the convention center. Tried to find where our friends parked since we needed to swap out car seats for the ride back after MommyCon. Turns out we went up and down the wrong parking garage before we finally found where they were parked at the other parking garage. Ellis was napping in the car seat at this point, so my husband made the trek to walk to the convention center, go up to the 4th floor and meet our friends to grab their keys, come back and do the swap. After all that madness it was 2:30 by the time Ellis and I got back to MommyCon (insert the ghost-breathing emoticon here)! All of that lunch/shuffling/driving around took two and a half hours out of my precious time at MommyCon! We had an hour allotted for our lunch break, and that means I missed yet another session I had planned to go to. So I spent a little more time checking out the vendors before heading to my next session: Sex and the Breastfeeding Mom with Naya Weber (she’s an awesome lady who runs the Lactivist in Louboutins blog and is an aspiring IBCLC, lactation consultant). This session was very different for me, since I could no longer sit and quietly take notes. I had Ellis with me now, so I listened from the back as he played in the play area, diligently eating all the spongy play things.

After that I made another stop to check out more vendors and get help from Tekhni for some one-on-one wrapping breakdowns. Before I knew it, MommyCon was coming to a close. I’d say winding down, but that wouldn’t be an accurate description. The excitement kept building right up to the very end, with everyone packed in for all the awesome giveaways. They finish out each MommyCon by giving away $10,000 worth of mom-approved products, so make sure you stay to the very end! Heck, one of my friends ended up winning the BEST jogging stroller- a BOB duallie ($710 value)! Totally jealous.

All things considered, here’s what I learned from my first MommyCon and what I might do differently next time:

Considering how long my lunch break ended up taking, next time I’d rather just do what my friends did and literally walk across the street and eat wherever is closest, not caring about how fun and family friendly it is. Ain’t nobody got time for that lol. Or most likely, I’ll pack a lunch or have my husband deliver to me. Either way, that means I don’t have to go anywhere, so I’d have more time to shop during the lunch break rather than having to miss sessions to check out vendors.

My afternoon at MommyCon with Ellis in-tow was admittedly less easy than my baby-free morning. However I LOVED that the convention was totally prepared for our littles. They had snack stations, arts and crafts areas, toys/play areas and several diaper changing stations (with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, the works!). Seriously. The Babyganics diaper changing stations were SO AWESOME! It’s funny the things we get excited about as moms, isn’t it? I never thought I would be so stoked about butt wipes, but here I am. Nearly a month later I’m still raving about it haha.

All in all, I had so much fun at my first MommyCon. Absolutely loved it, and can’t wait to do it all again next year! We got cool swag, learned great tips, listened to some rad speakers and made fast friends.

One of the biggest takeaways was being able to nurse my baby in public, no cover, no shame without feeling like I had to worry about anyone saying something ugly about it. I don’t ever cover while breastfeeding in public anymore anyway. I tried it early on and decided it wasn’t for us. Sometimes I do the double shirt method (which keeps you very covered) and sometimes I have clip-down nursing tanks or a wrap-style dress. I generally try to avoid NIP if I can, but sometimes it’s unavoidable, and baby’s needs come first, of course. Sometimes I’ll retreat to the car to nurse, and sometimes I’ll nurse where I am. Sometimes I try to find an isolated and quiet corner, but sometimes I’ll nurse at the table while I’m waiting on my food at a restaurant. When I do the latter, I find myself with a resting bitch face that reads “Come say something to me. I dare you. I WILL CUT YOU.” Haha no joke! I live in a very conservative state, and you hear stories all the time of moms being shamed for nursing in public. Luckily I haven’t had anyone say anything to me, but they might not want to approach me with that look on my face either lol. Anyway, it was a nice relief to be in such a breastfeeding-friendly environment with no worries while I fed my baby. Based on the online chatter, that seemed to be one of the aspects that attendees loved most about MommyCon, and I agree!

While MommyCon Austin is over, MommyCon is not yet done for the year. Next stops are Costa Mesa (Aug 20 & Nov 11-12 for MiLK), Orlando (Sept 3) and San Jose (Oct 29). For more info, check out mommycon.com and use code SHARONISAMOM16 for $5 off general admission tickets.

Best Places to Eat in Austin with Kids

I won’t lie. My favorite thing about Austin is the food. We live in Fort Worth (about three hours North), and we love to visit Austin just so we can eat a bunch of delicious food and be fat and sassy. No joke. It’s that awesome. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. So today I wanted to share with you a few of my top picks of kid-friendly places to eat close to MommyCon! I’ve included links, addresses and I’ll even tell you how far it is from the Austin Convention Center. All of my picks are less than two miles from the Convention Center, but there are many, many more family-friendly restaurants to check out in Austin if you don’t mind driving a bit. Explore and enjoy!

Voodoo Doughnut (.5 mi)
212 E. 6th St.
Best Places to Eat in Austin with Kids: Voodoo Doughnut | sharonisamom.comHave you heard of Voodoo Donuts yet? This place has some serious hype. With crazy, fun varieties like bacon maple, Captain Crunch and Mexican hot chocolate. They also have several vegan options as well. And don’t forget their infamous voodoo doll donut, filled with raspberry jelly and a pretzel stake! Keep in mind if you go, they are cash only. So worth it though. This would be a great place to grab breakfast before MommyCon or the perfect place to fuel-up before heading back home.

Whole Foods (flagship) (1.4 mi)
525 N. Lamar Blvd.
Whole Foods has a delicious café menu, and you can enjoy your meal Al Fresco on their rooftop patio. They also have live music Saturdays and Sundays 11-1 and Fridays 6-8 p.m. Perfect timing to sample some local music that Austin is famous for! Oh, and they have a nice little playscape for the kiddos to enjoy. #momwin

Casa de Luz (1.8 mi)
1701 Toomey Rd.
Casa de Luz is a 100 percent organic, plant-based, gluten-free restaurant. I know many moms will love this option if you or your kids are vegan, vegetarian or have dairy, egg or wheat allergies. It’s nice to know there are restaurants where you can order anything off the menu, instead of only having only an option or two to pick from. But you don’t have to have a special diet to love the healthy and delicious menu items at Casa de Luz- herbivores and omnivores alike rejoice in their whole-foods-based soups, salads and entrees. They also have a playground the kids can play on all day Saturday and Sunday and after 6 during the week. Healthy food + playtime = SCORE!

Blue Cat Café (.6 mi)
95 Navasota St.
This is a great place to relax, play and grab a bite to eat with your little animal lovers. My 13-month-old boy LOVES our cats. He crawls around the house, throwing balls for them, trying to play with them. So I know he’ll love his first visit to the cat café. And I’ll confess. I really love kittehs myself. I am no stranger to cat cafés. When I heard of the concept, I was thinking, “WHAT!! I NEED THIS LIKERIGHTNOW.” Blue Cat Café is a wonderful place filled with adoptable kitties, and they have lots of tasty comfort food options like the Big Meowth Melt and Blue Ribbon BrisCat. They just combined puns with Pokemon. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY, right?? Bring the kids to pet and play with the cats while you fill your tummies with delicious vegan food. Yup, you read that right. Another dairy-free, egg-free and meat-free option- rejoice!

Best Places to Eat in Austin with Kids: Shady Grove | sharonisamom.com

Shady Grove (1.6 mi)
1624 Barton Springs Rd.
Shady Grove has a very low-key, chill vibe, perfect for all the crunchy moms to unwind after all the excitement at MommyCon. While this restaurant doesn’t have a playscape, it does have ample outdoor space with shade from pecan trees for the littles to play. Their kids menu has all the favorites like corndogs, PB&J, grilled cheese and more. And for the adults, everyone goes nuts for their tortilla-fried queso catfish. Plus they’ve got a nice selection of adult beverages to keep you cool in the Texas heat. Speaking of adult beverages…

Max’s Wine Dive (.4 mi)
207 San Jacinto Blvd.
Mom’s night out! Those three little words are music to my ears… I figured some of you might enjoy a little MNO option thrown in here that’s close to the Convention Center. Get the kids and husband tucked in, and sneak away to Max’s Wine Dive for some “no-no juice” while you catch up with your friends from MommyCon. If you want to bring the kids though, it is family-friendly: they have highchairs, plenty of seating and even some mac and cheese on the menu for the little ones. I’ll drink to that!

I hope you enjoy these places as much as I do! Bring your appetites with you to Austin, y’all! Can’t wait to see you next week for all the fun at MommyCon!

Family-Friendly Fun in Austin

With MommyCon Austin fast approaching, you’re probably trying to shape together your plans for the weekend. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to take a dip, go for a family hike, or beat the heat with indoor fun, there is plenty of family-friendly fun in Austin! Here are a few ideas to add to your itinerary:

 

Deep Eddy Pool
401 Deep Eddy Drive, Austin TX 78703
Do your kids love to swim? They’ll LOVE the Deep Eddy Pool! And it just so happens that the Deep Eddy Splash Party Movie Night is at 8 p.m. on Saturday June 25! Enjoy watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens from the pool or pack a picnic and watch the movie from the hill. What a perfect way to relax after all the fun at MommyCon!

Family Fun in Austin | sharonisamom.com

Zilker Park
2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin TX 78746
There is something for everyone at Zilker Park! Let the kids run around the playground, take them for a stroll around the Botanical Garden, or check out the Austin Nature & Science Center. If you need to cool off, bring your swimsuits and sunscreen and stop by the Barton Springs Pool! The pool is fed from underground springs and is a popular spot for summer fun in Austin.

Texas State Capitol
1100 Congress Ave, Austin TX 78701
First time in Austin? A visit to the Texas State Capitol is a must! They offer free 30-minute guided tours throughout the day, with new tours starting every 20-30 minutes. This is a great option for history-lovers or anyone with older kids. If you don’t have time for a guided tour, take a self-guided tour and explore the beautiful building that dates back to the late 1800s. Be sure to check out the kid-friendly interactive exhibits at the Texas Capitol Visitor Center (located on the southeast corner of the grounds)- there’s something for everyone to love there, with lots of fun to be had!

The Thinkery
1830 Simond Ave, Austin TX 78723
Families and science play side-by-side at the Thinkery Children’s Museum. Saturday and Sunday, kids 4-7 and 8 and up can create their own art robots in the Space 8 Maker Labs. If you’re still in town Monday, bring the little ones in for Baby Bloomers (9 a.m. to noon): arts and crafts, singing, storytime and more- perfect for kids 3 & under! Check out their calendar for more fun events.

Mayfield Nature Preserve
3505 W. 35th St, Austin TX 78703
Care to take the kids on an adventure? The Mayfield Nature Preserve is a great spot for a family hike and picnic. The hike is about a mile, is mostly shaded and easy for beginners and young children. There is a creek that runs through the preserve and one side of the preserve is bordered by Lake Austin. Peacocks roam freely on the grounds- what a fun sight for the kiddos! From here, you can also climb to the top of Mount Bonnell (the highest point in the city) to get a great view of Austin- photo op!

Family Fun in Austin: Mural Tour | sharonisamom.comMurals of Austin, Texas
Because you can’t leave Austin without taking some great selfies in front of these famous murals… Jeremiah the Innocent, “i love you so much,” Butter Half and more- this list has them, tells you where to find them and even where to park. Score!

There is so much fun family-friendly things to do while you’re in Austin, this is only the tip of the iceberg! You may also want to check out the Austin Zoo, Mt. Playmore, and there are tons of pools and splash pads to beat the heat as well. Squeeze in all the fun you can, and enjoy your time in Austin! See you at MommyCon!

MommyCon Austin Lineup: Get Excited!

MommyCon is only a few weeks away! Haven’t heard of MommyCon before? Check out my previous post all about this awesome, natural-parenting convention here. MommyCon Austin will be on June 25th (VIP sessions on the 24th), but make sure to check out the other cities MommyCon is coming to in 2016 to find one that’s closest to you. Breastfeeding, babywearing, birth, cloth diapering and more: if any of those make you do a little happy dance on the inside when you read them, you’d love MommyCon! Find out more on their website at mommy-con.com, and use code SHARONISAMOM16 to save $5 on your general admission ticket.

MommyCon Austin 2016 schedule | sharonisamom.com

On to the juicy details! The official schedule for MommyCon Austin is out, and I’ve been debating which sessions I want to go to. This was a tough one! There were so many great options, and I love the variety in topics being covered at this year’s conference. You can check out the full schedule above to plan out your day, but I wanted to go ahead and share with you a few that I’m really excited about! Without further ado…

MommyCon Austin 2016 schedule | sharonisamom.comWrapping 101 with MOBY and Tekhni Wovens: OK, I’ll admit. I am not a babywearing expert. In fact, it takes me approximately eight minutes to spell Tekhni and double-check three times that I spelled it right. I’m alright at babywearing, but I’m not one of those super-talented babywearing gurus who innately know how to wrap and tie all the carriers a million different ways. That being said, that’s one reason I want to go to this session! I feel like it’s an area I could use a little help in to gain some babywearing skills and confidence. I use my Sakura Bloom ring sling and the Ergo Performance buckle carrier on a regular basis. But I’ve never tried a woven wrap. I figured I needed to add that to my repertoire to level up to a babywearing ninja (because why not?). I heard a lot of moms on the Facebook discussion page were excited about the Tekhni VIP session, so I hopped on the bandwagon and signed up for that one too. Plus you get to take home your very own Tekhni woven wrap at the VIP session, so that makes it worth the price, easy!

What Love Tastes Like with The Leaky Boob: this lady is my hero. I didn’t even have to read the description. Saw “The Leaky Boob” and knew immediately that I wanted to add this one to my list! She is like the rainbow unicorn of the breastfeeding world. Check her out on Instagram, Facebook and all that jazz. You won’t regret it! Also check out her Feed the Baby VIP session on Friday the 24th.

Cloth Diapering 101 with Jenn Labit presented by Cotton Babies: We use cloth diapers and love it! When I was pregnant I had read about the many benefits of using cloth (saving money, good for the environment, less problems with diaper rash, an average earlier potty training age, etc). Anyway, despite the fact that we’ve been using cloth diapers for about a year, I still feel there’s some good info I could take home from this session. Looking forward to learning more about cloth diapers!

Why Body Positive Images for Mothers is Paramount by Moby Wrap: I could go on and on about this one. Coming to terms with and loving your new post-baby body can be hard. As vain as it sounds, that was one of my main concerns before we started this journey. I worked hard to get my body to where it was pre-pregnancy, and I was sad to think that it would never be the same. I’m sure many moms can relate to the sense of your body not feeling like your own body anymore. It’s different. But different doesn’t have to mean bad. I think we could all benefit from giving ourselves a little forgiveness when it comes to our bodies after baby. The female body is an incredible thing. Growing and giving birth to a baby is nothing short of amazing. Let’s focus more on that feat and celebrating each and stop looking at ourselves under a harsh microscope and worrying how we measure up to our former selves or to others.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, friends! There are so many great sessions to choose from, mamas! Next on the blog I’ll share some of my top picks for places to eat and family-friendly fun to check out while you’re in Austin for MommyCon!