Thursday, April 22, 2010

SV Moms Chicago Event - Part II

Back to the SV Moms Chicago Event recap - Part I if you missed it is here.

I left off with my stop at Bit Defender, a great resource for computer and online safety, with an educational component in their organization BitMoms.

My next stop was eBay Classifieds, which until last month was named Kijiji (go ahead, say it again - that was fun!). It's essentially an eBay-run Craigslist type program. You can post ads on their site and screen potential buyers (and sellers!), which is something that I will be doing very quickly once I get some "free" time, as we have a lot of items from a like new Graco Pack 'n Play to a kajillion Bob the Builder toys that we no longer need I want out of my house. You can even post the ads online using your smartphone, although sadly it's for iPod Touch and iPhone only - I'm a Droid user myself. More than 200,000 ads are posted every month, which attests to its usefulness - and I'll be adding another oh sixty or seventy myself. It is a free service - and it complete classifieds, so it includes job postings, housing, and more, in addition to items for sale. Now if they just created a Droid app, I'd be thrilled. And broke.

From there, I chatted with Peapod. Now I'm one of those rare people who actually enjoys grocery shopping. Go fig. However, with two small children who keep me somewhat tethered to my home or busy elsewhere, there are times where we get creative with our food - dinner of hummus on tricsuits for example because we're out of peanut butter and bread. This would be the perfect opportunity for me to utilize Peapod (oddly, when working I had more freedom to grocery shop because I could just stop on my way home). They have a huge warehouse right near me, and I'm excited to tour it and learn more about it how they do what they do (especially since Mister Man's school toured a Jewel on a field trip I chaperoned last week). I love they they're introducing their own line of more healthy products, as I'm a somewhat picky mom when it comes to packaged foods - we don't do fake ingredients, for the most part. They also have prepared dinners that they make themselves each day, which I'm intrigued to try out. And yes, with the $25 gift certificate (I was a miniscule movement away from clicking onto the $100 gift certificate, bummer!) I won from Peapod, I'll be trying out some of their stuff very soon! Just looking at their specials, their prices are very comparable, and they have a much larger selection of brands and organic items than my local grocery store does. I love that you can do printable coupons with them and simply give them to the delivery driver for a credit when you receive your order.

Up next was litl, a company I'd never heard of before. They are a new company that makes laptops for home use. While these aren't power models made for road tripping and the like, they have some cool functionality. Because they use all cloudware, the operating sysem is very small, requiring less parts and memory, etc resulting in a very thin and lightweight computer. Oh, and did I mention no additional software to buy? It folds over so you can rest it standing up such that you can see the screen, great for baking, monitoring the weather, displaying photos, and the like. You can also plug it into your television to display the images larger with an HDMI cable. Pretty cool. The laptop costs $699, but they provided us with an offer for $100 off with free shipping and a free remote by going here.

I also had a great chat with the folks at Powerade Play, where I embarrassed myself and proved that basketball is not my game by making only one of ten tries as a basket. Do I get to blame it on not being a regulation sized basketball? Regardless, Powerade Play is a sports drink aimed at kids. While my wee ones are currently not running around enough to require more than water, once they start into soccer and other more draining sports, I can see this being the sports drink of choice. It has no HFS (which we don't ingest) and fewer grams of sugar (15 v 21) compared to G Thirst Quencher. It also includes Vitamin C, Bs, and Zinc to get some more vitamins in children. I appreciate that it's 12 ounces, as a seven year old has no business drinking a much larger drink filled with unneeded calories.

I then hopped over for more food with Stonyfield Organic. I have to break for a moment to mention that I love yogurt, as does Mister Man. However, we have been reduced to buying plain yogurt and adding honey or pureed fruit or vanilla ourselves because all the other yogurt carried by my grocery store contains high fructose corn syrup, which we don't ingest as discussed above. Stonyfield? No HFCS. Ahhh. And did I mention the flavors? They let us try the new Greek yogurt OIKOS that they make in either caramel or chocolate. Yum! They are also the makers of Yo-Baby, which was the only yogurt the wee ones had until they were well out of babyhood. I also discovered that they make O'Soy yogurt - a dairy free alternative that Little Miss would be able to eat. And when I got home and checked, it is sold by a Super Target near where I do some shopping, so she'll get her special treat. Unfortunately, my local Dominick's (boo, Dominick's!) carries a very limited selection of Stonyfield, although I have requested that they get in the OIKOS and O'Soy yogurts. We'll see if it happens. I may be shifting more of my shopping away.

The most heartwrenching booth I stopped at was the Army of Women. This is sponsored by Avon but is not a fundraising group. Instead it focuses on getting women for research towards finding a cure for breast cancer. They are working towards getting one million women involved and have well over three hundred thirty thousand so far. You simply sign up with minimal information, and they periodically email you listings of studies that need participants (ranging everywhere from specific subgroups of suvivors on specific treatment regimens to those who are genetically predisposed to those who have no history). If you are near the study location and are interested, you click for more info. I love the idea behind this, and I am absolutely a soldier for the army of women. Go here to join up yourself.

I spoke quite a bit with Schlage after that. I'd heard of Schlage before, as they make the locks we installed on our house when we moved in and I was on a kick of changing every single door handle, electrical outlet and light switch in the house (by myself, mind you). They were showing off some new products that have a keypad that unlocks the door called Schlage LiNK. Brilliant for those of us who have full hands and can't dig out keys or who have kids who lock themselves (or us) out of the house. I have a keypad on the garage, but when we're coming back from a walk, I hate opening the garage and having an argument with them over whether we're getting out bikes or chalk right then. Problem solved! The lock is powered by a battery that lasts for three years, and not only that - you can access your lock via your phone or computer. Forgot to unlock the door for cleaning ladies or contractors? Let them in remotely, and the door locks again so you don't have to worry that they'll leave your house unprotected. Yes, ours is already installed. The front door was the one lock I never got to. Fortuitous, no? Ignore the need to fix and repaint the door.

The Oprah Store was also a sponsor, although again I somehow missed out on the fact that Oprah had a store. Shame on me. The coolest thing about the store I learned was that outfits she wears are sold there (like... the actual outfit, not a replica), with the proceeds going to charity. I love those little touches about businesses and finding unique and creative ways to give back. The store itself sells all sorts of items from baby onesies to jewelry and everything in between. We got to see a neat selection of some of the items the store carries.

My final stop was with 1800baskets. This is a subsidiary of 1800flowers, I discovered, and they make gorgeous baskets for all sorts of occasions. The baskets aren't that expensive, and I actually ended up purchasing an adorable one for my cousin's daughter's baptism this weekend. They had a number of their baskets on display from a wine lovers basket to a cookie tower and more. I ended up taking home the vanilla spa basket, and I can't wait to take some time to indulge with it! Even more fun? The CEO of 1800flowers (and baskets) was on Undercover Boss right after the event, so it was pretty cool to see how they run their company after having talked to them for awhile!

Chevy was the title sponsor, and I love what they did. They collected clothing, shoes and linens for House of the Good Shepherd, which is a program to help battered women and their children put their lives back together. It was amazing to see all the items that were brought in and donated by the women attending!

Not present at the event but providing a neat takehome in our bag was BusyBody Book, which is a wonderful concept (provided your family isn't too large!) - it's a notebook calendar with everyone's schedule laid out next to each other so you can very clearly see who's supposed to be where and what conflicts are arising. Let's just say that it's a good thing that in my family my parents are available and willing a lot of the time, as we frequently discover at the last minute that my husband is supposed to be home later than I expect and I or the wee ones need to be in other places. There's also an online component to it, and I can't wait for us to all get (literally, in this case) on the same page.  And do you see the great plastic cover that will protect the calendar and keep it from getting destroyed?  Someone was thinking when they created this!

It was a wonderful event where I was able to meet and see again so many of the women that I've heard about and read. The SV Moms is really a great community, and I learned so much about products and companies that I would never have known existed otherwise. Thank you again to SV Moms and the Chicago Moms Blog for hosting this - especially Linsey, Jill,  MJ Tam (and everyone else!) who put in a ton of effort and did a great job!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was invited to the event which was free and provided with sample products from many vendors, including those listed above. I did not receive any compensation and am providing a recap of my own volition.

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