If You Give a Kid a Pickle...

By now you should all know my unhealthily love for McDonalds. Only because I document it far too often on Instagram....but all it took was one trip that taught me a lesson that I will forever be grateful for. Seriously, who goes to a fast food restaurant and thinks that they will leave with anything more than high cholesterol or extra pounds? πŸ˜‚  I know I didn't, but sometimes things happen in the most unusual ways.

My daughter orders the same thing every time we go to McDonalds. A plain cheeseburger (only pickles) Happy Meal with extra fries and a small strawberry smoothie. It is always a guessing game between us on how many pickles she will get on her sandwich because it always varies. My husband was with us for our weekly Mickey D's run and he was quickly corrected when he tried to change up her order! Haha he lives in a house with very verbal women....poor guy.

So, Rowan gets her Happy Meal, opens up her cheeseburger, and quickly looks to see how many pickles she got. She shouts out "ONE!" I said "What? You were cheated!" She replied and asked me what that meant, the word cheated. And there I was stuck trying to explain the meaning of the word cheated to my 4 year old. Rude awakening. My husband tried to chime in a help pick me up while I stumbled over finding words she would understand. Unfair, deprived, and then I finally resorted to telling her that she should have gotten more than what she got. Her innocence quickly fired back with a "Why Mom? They didn't cheated me, I got one pickle. And it's a really big one too." 

I know I know you all are thinking what the heck does this have to do with anything or who cares, but it was a stop me in my tracks moment and instantly made me change my thinking. Why? Because in that moment I was reminded that my actions and words are shaping this young girl into what she will become. Do I really want her going through life thinking she was cheated because someone didn't give her more pickles on her cheeseburger? I hope you understand my point and where my heart is on this issue. It's not about the pickles at all, it's about everything in life. Why do we feel like we are so mistreated when we don't get exactly what we want when we want it? Why aren't we just thankful that we got one pickle? I scrambled to reply to my daughter that she was so right and how silly that was of me to say! I told her she was so lucky because she got a pickle! Yes, I know we ordered it and so naturally it should be there but when it's not, how do you want your child to react? I want my daughter to eat her cheeseburger no matter what and not think anything of it, like oh well at least I have food. It is not life altering in any way. Or go home and put on your own pickle.

Maybe you are thinking to yourself that this is so dumb and why would you teach your child not to stand up for what she wants or orders? Because life is hard & unfair already, I don't want her to constantly find the bad in everything she does. She will be let down so many times I won't be able to save her every time, but I can teach her how to think differently about things and situations, just like she taught me in that McDonalds drive thru. 

I remember before I was a mother, there was this great debate about all participating children receiving trophies instead of just the winners. I am not here to debate what is right and wrong, but I grew up not getting anything if we didn't win, but that just pushed me to practice more, try harder and to be a better teammate so we could win something. Too many times these days we expect handouts from life and when they don't come, we fall into a mood where we feel like a failure. Trust me, I have felt like this a lot and especially now as a mother and a wife. It doesn't have to be something great and grand to teach your children important lessons in life, or I guess it applies to adults to in this case. I am constantly learning from her. The spirit of a child is so innocent and pure. The joy they have where they just can't walk into the store, they have to skip, jump or twirl the entire way there. The way they love is so raw. They really love with everything they have because they know no different. So the next time you are walking into Target and your child is holding your hand, yanking it in every direction because they are skipping, look down and smile and maybe start to skip with them. Or the next time the waiter forgets something, teach them to look for the positive or ask politely. Find good in every situation and use the failures to teach valuable lessons. I now smile and wait for her to tell me how many pickles she got on her sandwich, because I know she is going to be thrilled either way. Today she got one again....and one big one. 

Start to treat people with the type of love you want people to treat you or your child with. Trust me, love can and will change the world. XO

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Love your neighbors as yourself. There is no other commandment greater that these." Matthew 22 37-39

I am Nothing like the Mother I Wanted to be

Go back to the time before you had a child. Did you envision what your life would look like, the kind of mom you would turn out to be? Whether you wanted to be like your mom or nothing like her? You probably had at least one unrealistic expectation of becoming a mother. I did. Some days I am a rockstar and other days I ride the struggle bus.....all day long and I will be the first to admit it.

I had dreams of the perfect birth, the baby boy that I was going to have, his name, what things he would do as a child, and all of the cute things I would dress him in. I prayed and prayed for that child to come when I wanted it to. But prayer doesn't work like that, and it's a good thing it doesn't. I wanted to be just like my mom and have the kind of relationship with my child that we have today. It's like that fairytale life that doesn't exist except for in the movies, which forces us to believe that what we are living and doing is much less exciting or important. And a lot of the times we believe it.

I am a labor nurse (just not practicing) and I have watched hundreds of women give birth to babies and their expectations are sometimes shattered. It's reality. I had to take medication to get pregnant with my child and no one plans for that. Our bodies are supposed to know how to make babies right? Like everyone else can without issue. But no one likes talking to you about the difficult stuff, and if they do, it scares you into going to the crazy side where you then Google every scenario possible, then bawl. I was lucky enough to get pregnant, give birth via c-section, and now I am trying to keep this child alive on a daily basis.

I started reading books on how to properly bring up a child. I read the book, Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. After finishing the book I swore up and down I would never give my daughter snacks. HAHAHA right. I literally reached for every "right" way to parent and what was going to make me appear to be a "good mom". I had access to every thing possible during my pregnancy being the wife of an OBGYN physician . You know all of those ultrasounds where you could see your baby, their sweet facial expressions, and then find out the sex before anyone else can? Yeah well, my husband improperly informed me at 14 wks when he thought it was a boy on ultrasound, and I actually saw it too. Damn cord. Because at 19 weeks it was clearly not the vision I had imagined. A girl. What in the hell was I going to do with a girl? I didn't want that or know how to do that. I didn't want to raise a child who could potentially go through all of the pain and heartache I thought I had as a child, or the drama in school. I didn't want her to be like me. And on top of that, my stubborn little girl never showed me her face the entire time she was in my belly, not even once. She always had her hands by her face, the exact way she still sleeps to this day.

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I thank God every single day for ignoring my selfish behavior and blessing me with a daughter. I had no idea what I was missing out on, but she is everything I needed and more. I thought I would dress her to the nines and make sure that she didn't leave the house without looking her best. Don't get me wrong, she has nice things and I do try to make sure she is bathed, but she also has a personality that is much bigger than my attempts to "perfect" her. I thought I would be the controlling, bossy mom that wanted everything to be in line and orderly, but that all went out the window pretty quickly after she was born. I allow her to pick out her sometimes hideous outfits, I run errands with her in no shoes, and if the fight is too much to brush her hair.....it goes unbrushed. No one dies. I think I became the mom who was just trying to survive at some point. I know that some older moms reading this are laughing and wanting to tell me that it will all be ok. I know it will be. How can you even reason with a toddler or child? They believe the know everything and sometimes that is a good thing because it forces me take a step back and ask myself, does it really matter? More than one case, it doesn't. She knows how to use her manners, share with her friends, and she is kind. Isn't that considered some success?

It was against ALL of the rules to ever let your child sleep with you. Every parent and non-parent will advise you of the havoc it could have on your life. We had strict sleeping rules right up until 6 weeks of age, that's right, 6 weeks, then she became a permeant part of our bed. Still is, no matter how much I bribe her with a new room or a new bed. So now I enjoy a kick to the side and a slap in the face almost every night, but I wouldn't change it. I smell her sweet smell, I remember her breathing patterns, and I cherish that quiet time where I can thank God for her. Take it in because it doesn't last forever. She told my husband the other day she will get her own room when she is 18 

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I thought I would be the most organized mom, photos every 3 months, baby book all decked out in her biggest accomplishments, sort of like a brag book. But the reality is I finally just got her 4 year old photos taken and the last entry in her baby book was when she was........ONE 😬 I guess my focus wasn't on those things and still isn't. I hope one day she doesn't ask me why I never completed her baby book up to age 5 like it allows for, and my answer may just be that it doesn't matter that much. I enjoyed every milestone with her, watching her grow and I remember the most important memories without having to read her baby book. Just because I chose not to scrap book like Martha Stewart, doesn't make me less of a mom. I feel like we all sort of loose our focus when we try to do what we think is right or what society expects of us. What if we had no expectations for ourselves? Do you think we would and could be better parents? I am so unorganized that I am thankful her school is only 5 minutes from my house so when I forget to bring 7 cheerios in a snack baggie with a perfect little label on it, I can run home and throw something together. I thought I would magically acquire patience and understanding. I loose my patience so fast still and it is something I constantly work on, but it's because I have these unrealistic expectations of my toddler that she is to behave like an adult in public for fear of being judged by other people. I am learning to let go.

I thought I would be the healthy advocate or the mom who pushed her daughter to do the activities that I loved. I am neither. Honestly the thought of being so booked up with her activities gives me anxiety. Of course I will put her in whatever activity that she chooses to do or try, but there will be limits. My daughter is tall and skinny. She was born 4 weeks early and has been on her own curve since then. Despite my efforts to make her part of the "normal" curve, she just isn't. So when she wants to eat a cookie for breakfast, somedays that is what she gets and we frequent McDonalds way more than the average human should but who cares? In the grand scheme of things, these are not priorities, at least to me. It is ok if they are yours, I am the last person to judge anyone, I promise you that! But I do challenge you to take a step back and look at what your visions were for your life and as a mother, then compare them to where you are today. 

It's okay to have that "dream" busted. I think it's better that way. If I would have gotten the exact thing I thought I wanted, my life would not be what it is right now. I would not have the richness and the learning experiences that I have had. I have made PLENTY of mistakes but that is life. My daughter is happy and loved. That is really all I could ask for right now.I want you to go back through your photos of when your child or children were born, then follow them until you reach where they are today. iPhoto makes this extremely easy to do and when I did it, my heart was reminded of all of the love that I have in my life. Remember that time you expected something more than what you got? I guarantee looking back on it now, it doesn't even really matter in this present moment. Try it. Looking at my daughter now, it is impossible to ever think I would want her to be something different than she is right now. 

Happy Mother's Day. The greatest gift of all is LOVE 

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Blogging Q&A with Lady and Red

I started blogging in January of 2014 with this post HERE.  Short and simple, but something to hold me accountable. I had made the decision to stay home with my daughter and needed some sort of an outlet, as I am a very social person who enjoys spending time with other people! It was one of the hardest things to do for me in choosing to stay home, which I would never regret, but I felt like I was giving up MY thing. So I decided to trade in one thing for another thing that would allow me to still have something that was just for me. I used to write a lot about being a Mom because everyone assumed I already knew everything about babies, being that I was a labor and delivery nurse, but boy are you guys wrong. I told my patients no co-sleeping, we co-sleep, I told them not to get too worried about small things, and I freaked out all of the time. πŸ˜‚ The list goes on and on, trust me, but I also told my patients to do what works for them, and that I do. People are so quick to judge, and force beliefs onto others without taking into consideration their situations. Stop it.

Have some grace, for yourself and towards others. That is one of my biggest tips for people who want to start blogging or that person who has started a blog but frustrated it's not taking off like they had hoped. When you put yourself out there each day with a public profile, photos, clothing, your child, your life, it opens your world up to a lot of criticism, rude comments, and unfortunately inappropriate comments as well. Proceed with grace. Realize that sometimes they are the ones struggling with something and move on, block, or use it as fuel to keep going! It may be hard sometimes to look away, but you have to know it will happen sometime. I mean, I am no Kardashian, but the comments I receive are sometimes so hurtful you start to think twice about allowing everyone to see your life in real time. But in hindsight, I have more supportive and kind people in my life due to blogging and I love them way more than to let a few comments get to me. Give grace, get grace. Simple as that.

How did you get started blogging?

I seriously think I Googled "best blogging sites" and bam signed up for Wordpress. I really just wanted to be able to write, have my own .com site without the .blogspot.com.blablabla so that is where I chose to purchase my domain, Ladyandred.com. There is a small fee for it but I think if it is something you want long term, it is worth it. Wordpress was perfect for me starting out because it was super user friendly, but this past May 2017, I was accepted to LiketoKnow.it and unfortunately unable to sync to Wordpress due to their incompatibility. Talk about panic mode. I put an SOS out there for someone to help this technically challenged gal out and a friend suggested this angel who then fixed me up and gave new light to my new business! If you are needing someone to help you, let me know and I will get you her contact info, because she is the best!! 

How did you choose what to blog about?

Well, like I said, I was a new Mom when I started my blog, it was a lot about mom stuff to start with, but I also loved to cook, and I have always loved fashion, so really that is how I came up with my name! Lady and Red. It stands for Lady= me and Red= is my daughter's initials. And that way I didn't have to choose just one thing to write about! In the beginning I was trying to show other Moms that just because we have a child or children, doesn't mean OUR lives should end. I was clearly a first time Mom πŸ˜‚ haha. My life did not end, but it changed, and I would say for the better. I would choose a Friday night at home on the couch rather than bar hop any day! Keeping my independence was and is crucial to my happiness and sanity though! So if you go back and read my first posts, you will find entries like Easy Over Experience or Go Ahead and Judge Me because that is where I was in my life! Then in 2015 I signed up to become a Stella & Dot stylist because I needed that excuse to get me out of the house. Hosting parties is actually a blast! Wine & shopping are two of my favorite things! I started styling my jewelry like a mad woman and one of the first selfies I posted to IG was re-posted by Stella & Dot and that fueled my idea to pursue the fashion and styling part. So here I am! It has been a long journey of learning and my content continues to improve, but I want to remain the same honest and genuine person that I strive to be. It is so easy to sit behind a screen and want to pretend you are something much greater or that your life is "perfect" but that is not reality....for anyone. 

What is your advice to someone just starting out on IG?

I get asked this a lot. To tell you the truth, I am still trying to figure the whole IG thing out myself. I know it can be really hard not to focus on the number of followers you have, but try not to. With the new algorithm, it makes it even harder to be noticed I think! Some of my loyal gals may miss several posts if they don't continue to interact with my account. It's crazy.

Also, in the beginning before liketoknow.it, I thought you needed a certain number of followers to get noticed. But I was wrong. I bought, yes you heard me right, I bought 1,000 followers from some company I once again Googled. It did not hurt me or help me. Most of them dropped off rather quickly and it wasn't any help because I learned that they are bots, not buying, or engaging, which is what I needed and ultimately wanted. I seriously was starting from the bottom and willing to try anything. Don't do it. I feel now it is all a learning curve and wouldn't have know if I didn't try I guess. 

The best advice is to interact with like accounts to your niche. If you are into fashion, follow fashion people who inspire you. Comment, follow, lift up, share through Follow Fridays or just share in general. We are all in this together and when you help and lift up others, I think it makes you more successful. Plus, the more people who learn how to shop with Liketoknow.it, whether it's from me or another fellow blogger, it helps us both. For the most part, we all have our own styles and products, so you are not seeing the same things on every blogger or maybe you are but they are styling it differently. Make sure you friend these alike IG people because they will be the ones to help and support you the most. They all had to start somewhere too. So the next time you see something you love, share it with your friends! Tag the gal who inspired your look, share bloggers with your friends, and comment!

How do I get accepted into LiketoKnow.it?

It was a long process, trust me! I first applied alone, and that is ok to do but I don't recommend it. I have some pretty awesome friends who are also blogger babes and they referred me through the referral system in Liketoknow.it. The person who refers you will end up receiving a small commission from your sales, but only for the first year (it's really minimal so don't think we do it for the money! Haha). I don't mind referring anyone, but I will look at your content and give you some tips and suggestions if I do not feel your IG is ready, because I want you to succeed too! Keep in mind though, just because you are referred by another blogger, doesn't mean you will be accepted!! Just keep trying to better yourself if you are rejected, then re-apply!

What do they look for to be accepted into LiketoKnow.it?

I would say they look for good content, consistency, and photo quality. Now I am just guessing based on their feedback during the acceptance process and also if you follow them on IG, you can tell by what they repost as to what they are looking for. Photo quality is big because you want people to see the details of the pieces you are wearing. Think about it like you are a part of the magazine that is modeling these products for the companies! With that being said, you don't have to loose your creativity! 

I have heard that posting 1-2 times a day is best for you to be noticed, but also staying consistent is key because people want to see what you are wearing even on your "off" days. But let me tell you one thing, they don't care how many followers you have. Some people have 400 and some have 400K. It doesn't matter.

How do you start making money blogging?

The biggest misconception is that once you start a blog, you start making money....like a ton of money. Nope. I am fortunate enough to stay home with my daughter and that is why I blog. I did not quit my job because I was making so much money blogging, I wish. After several companies started reaching out to me to collaborate with them, I was taking a lot of time away from my daughter to meet, style and promote these products just for an exchange of product. I had to figure out how to better balance my time and if I was going to take the time away, I needed to be compensated. I put together a media kit, which I highly recommend, and once companies reached out after that, I was able to send that directly to them and they can choose "packages" that I created to accommodate their needs and mine too! 

I do know that you do need to be reaching a certain number of people for the larger companies to even look at you! But that is to be expected right? Makes total sense for them to put their money with someone who is reaching a lot of people from their accounts! Something to work towards!

Are you in any of those comment pods? How do they work? Do they help?

I am! But my pod has like 6 people in it πŸ˜‚ They are some Stella & Dot sisters who also love fashion! I have been asked and added to several pods but at the beginning of the year I was totally overwhelmed when I was added to one with like 40 people! I literally freaked out thinking about the mass amounts of comments and likes I was going to be responsible for and removed myself from it before I even started! That is not to say I wouldn't join another small group, because I do think they are beneficial, but I really just love to scroll feed and comment and like things I love, and on my own time.

Comment pods work by helping the algorithm of Instagram and making your photos seen. The more likes and interactions you get, it helps get noticed on others feed. So you join a group (if you wish), and once you have posted or each time you post, you notify your group and they like and comment on your photo. Now do you see why I freaked at the thought of liking and commenting on 40 other people up to two times a day?! 

Are you constantly on social media or on your phone?

The short answer is yes, but that is my job. Yes I have boundaries that I have set for myself because it can take over very quickly. I usually get up before my daughter so I answer questions, scroll feed and reply to people while I drink my coffee. (Now you see why some comments bother me? Because I haven't had a full cup of coffee yet πŸ˜‚) At night I turn my phone to silent. No buzzes, dings or calls because I need my sleep or I am a B. I do most of my phone stuff after I put my daughter to bed while I watch reality TV, multitasking at it's best! If I am out to dinner or on a date, I leave my phone in my purse because I HATE when couples are out to dinner and both on their phones. Also no phones at the home dinner table either. I am not perfect by any means and you may see me out and I am looking down but I haven't ran into anything yet, so I consider that a win! πŸ˜‰

My social media accounts consist of Facebook, TwitterInstagram and my blog. I would say I spend the most time on IG but the second runner up is definitely Nordstrom! Haha

I truly hope you all enjoyed this post and that it answers some or all of your questions! If you have any other questions, of course feel free to ask!! I think most of you know I try to respond to each comment or message!

If you are wanting to read past posts, utilize the search bar or the tab at the top of the page to find what you are looking for! XOXO

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Airplane Activities for Your Toddler

We have been jet setting with our daughter since she was 4 months old! Lucky her right? I remember that first flight wondering how I would ever survive it, but somehow we made it through! Each stage is a completely different task on how to keep them busy, but now we have it down to a science! We do not travel with our car seat, never have. If we rent a car, I rent a seat, and if we are in Mexico, well she rides in my lap or next to me in the car seat belt. She rode on my lap until we had to pay for a seat at 2 years old, but honestly, it is so much better to have her own seat. She has freedom to stand and move her legs, and usually curls up in her seat for a nap! But do whatever you find works for you and your family! 

I pack her a BACKPACK, usually her school bag, small enough for her to carry herself, but big enough to fill full of goodies. A trip to TARGET usually does the trick for me! Here is what I stuff in her backpack:

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CRAYOLA MINI COLORING PAGES. These are found in the painting and coloring isle. There are a few versions of these like DORY but it comes with pages and markers to color with. If you want the mess free markers, they have those too!

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Scour the dollar spot and you will find all sorts of goodies! We love these crayon packs that come with stickers, crayons and more pages to color! My daughter really just loves the stickers.

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If you have any sort of handheld device, earphones are a must! These are under $20 but you can find some for less too like THESE. Bonus: Use these at restaurants too with the devices!! Sometimes it is nice to have a quiet dinner with your sig.other!

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WINDOW CLINGS I think this is the most brilliant thing I have ever thought of! You can find these almost every season and they are super cheap! They stick to the windows, seat, tray table and not clothing! Plus you can rinse them off if you want to reuse them, but if not, pitch them out! Total must have for any age!

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WATER WOW! Another must have! You fill up the pen with water, then you can color on the pages with no mess. Once you are done, the pages will dry, and you will be able to re-paint them over and over again! It also have several things to reveal upon "painting" the photo. 

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The best of the best. The iPad. Make sure you have a good case like this one HERE. I am pro- iPad but we definitely monitor the use of it! So for things like traveling, here are some iPad tips:

1.) Download some new Apps!

2.) Download or rent a new movie for your child to watch.

3.) Put on some new music for them. We love Pandora baby Einstein radio.

4.) Load some photos of them over the years or videos of themselves in your Photos App. My daughter loves watching old videos of herself as a baby.

5.) YouTube. Ugh I have no idea why my daughter loves watching people make slime or open eggs but her eyes are glued to that screen. Hence the need for timed iPad use in our house. (only if airplane has wifi availability)

We are off to Cabo this Saturday and her bag is already packed! Don't let them peek inside the bag until they are on the airplane! That way it is all a big surprise!

We also used those Dum Dum suckers when she was younger to suck on if it seemed her ears were bothering her, but honestly it was more of a bribe 😊 She can now chew gum without getting it on everything so that is another helpful thing for her.

If you have other suggestions that you love, let me know! I am always looking for new surprises to pop inside of her bag! XOXO