8.30.2016

big girls' night out

we took the big girls to the Rangers game last night and they had a BLAST!  they've been a couple of times when they were little bits and still willing to sit in my lap during the game.. and last year my belly was giant and there was no way a couple two year olds would sit for even ONE inning, so this season we decided to give it a try!  Jordan and I took Parker and Jolie to the store and let them pick out their grilling meat of choice and we headed to the game early to tailgate.  they were so pumped about the game and not knowing what to expect, except they knew they wanted "ice cream in a helmet" from what their daddy had told them before the game.


we brought our little picnic table and it proved to be a success for toddler tailgating:)


 Texas with a double XX because thats how we roll



straight away the Rangers hit a homerun and the fireworks and cheering crowds were enough to get the girls into the game- clapping and hollering along.  Jolie's sweet demeanor about it all had my heart basically exploding while Parker bounced off the walls and could hardly sit still in her seat- leaving me feeling the need to apologize to the guys sitting behind us and the couple in front of us for her frequent bumps of their seats and sloshing of their beers.




they got their ice cream in a helmet (which was a giant mess, btw.. but so worth it to watch them attempt to eat the melting pile of sugar at 9pm.) and mama got her garlic fries.
garlic fries are the sole reason to come to the ball park.

 meanwhile.. miss Baker lived the life of a single child at BB + Papa's house for the night.  she played dress up (but honestly, those beads are a regular thing for that girl..) went to their favorite restaurant and filled her belly with chips and salsa and rice and beans and chicken.. 
and had Papa's lap all to herself! 

such a fun night!  this was such a success with Parker and Jolie, I am hoping to get in another trip to the ballgame again before the season is over!

8.29.2016

photo every hour | take me out to the ballgame

7am
we dont always fit in a Saturday workout, but they are probably my favorite of the week- maybe because Jordan and I get to workout together.. plus the trainers always pull out their biggest toys (think tractor tires and sandbags). a fun way to start my weekend!
8am
9am
everybody looooves the kodiak cakes!  we got a huge box at costco, but I have seen it at whole foods and market street
10am
11am
Parker and Jolie have been giving me "pink haircuts" for days since they got their hair done. NO idea why its a pink haircut, but thats what Parker has been calling it for almost two years since they had their first cut.  
I got them little clips and it proved to be amazing entertainment. 
note: dont mind my greaseball hair- I still have not showered at this point.
12pm
1pm
lunch for mama! I buy these chicken quinoa meatballs (Target!) and a couple different varieties (they have beef and turkey) for the kids and they are actually SO delicious. Baker eats them UP like crazy and she's not much of a meat fan outside of grilled chicken.  she had them for lunch and didnt eat all that I made, so I threw a couple into my quinoa bowl and holy YUM.
quinoa, kale, cherry tomatoes, feta, black bean hummus, chicken meatballs and a couple hatch chilie kale chips sprinkled on top.
2pm
3pm
they always play perched up on my window sill in the bathroom.  
4pm
date night! Ranger's baseball game for the adults:)
5pm
we always tailgate when we go to a baseball game. there are crowds of people everywhere, and then there is just me and Jordan and our party of two.  
the best kind of party.
6pm
7pm
Jordan's dad's cousin works for one of the owners of the Texas Rangers and invited us to sit in their suite on Saturday night. the last time we sat in a suite was when the Ranger's went to the World Series playoffs back in 2010. we were such babies!
8pm
9pm
free-beee blue bell!
10pm
Ranger's win!
11pm
night night!  we poured into bed before midnight. 

8.26.2016

five on friday

its been a quiet week on the blog.. and a quiet week in the Massey house.  when we aren't blowing and going we are.. well, we are sleeping:)  this post brought to you by my second cup of coffee this afternoon and a handful of leftover donut holes while the babes are sleeping.  I swear Baker must be growing like a weed and I cannot decide if its causing her to sleep more or less.  yesterday she refused naps all together, literally, and today she's on hour three of her afternoon nap.. and I should probably just get on with it while I can because I probably just jinxed myself..

one. haircuts
it was about time for haircuts and a little color for their mama.  Parker's hair, bless her, just doesn't grown well and it seems to do better and lay right when its shorter.  she's been asking to wear it down all the time and its a fight to the death to get her to at least get it in a ponytail.  this time I went a little more bold with her trim and opted for a bob.  OMG she's SO cute.  Jolie, of course just got the minimal taken off because her hair is basically to her rear and I can not bring myself to cut it!  
my blondie and my brunette.. looking SO BIG!

two. everything you need to know
in case you missed it.. which maybe wasn't THAT hard seeing I have only posted one other time this week, ha..
my girl Krista of SGM gave us all a little schooling on becoming a blogger influencer and pitching those brands you have always wanted to work with.  she has helped me tremendously over the last year or so and I know she can be the same resource to you!
be sure to check out her guest blog post HERE!

three. start 'em young
 I couldnt even believe my eyes when I came upon this site in my bathroom earlier this week.  Parker and Jolie are ALWAYS always allways in my makeup.  Not necessarily making a huge mess with it, but organizing the tubes and eyeshadows all in a row and playing with the brushes. it didn't take long for Baker to figure it out and she now wants to carry as many brushes as her tiny hands can hold and direct me with grunts and gestures to put eyeshadow and blush on her baby face.  
being a girl mom is way way wayyyy fun.

four. golden tote
 I've never been one to trust anyone else to style me, because well, I really enjoy doing it myself, but I completely get the reason and fun behind it all.
when I was approached by golden tote to share their brand and try out their service I thought to myself, sure.. why not! when my tote hit my door step (it really does come in a tote!) I was impressed at how well everything fit and how easy it was to wear right out of the box!  I wore the off the shoulder top to dinner with girlfriends that evening, and the dress I wore to work the next day.. I didn't actually wear the vest with the dress, but with a white tunic and white denim jeans to church, and lastly, the tank I wore to dinner on the patio with family.  of course I didn't take pictures of any of these occasions..and I am missing a top from the mix because I forgot, and well I haven't actually worn it yet..thats my brain for you right now.
anyway.
each tote is personally curated and includes a variety of items to complement your wardrobe
.
The Mini Tote:  contains two items; one you choose and another we pick for you for $59.
The Golden Tote:  contains five items; two you choose and three we will pick for $149.
The Surprise Tote:  contains three items, all of which our stylists pick for you for $89
·        basically you choose 1-2 items to go into your tote and the stylist surprises you with the rest based on your style profile, which you create on the Golden Tote site.
it was a lot of fun to try, and totally reasonable in price for five items! their new totes go live on the first monday of every month, so you will always have something different to choose from!

five. donuts.
 because its friday.  I totally skipped work out this morning and don't feel guilty about it.  we were up  before the sun and out the door by like 8am this morning to run errands before the business of the weekend hit.
also. Baker ate every single one of her donut holes and proceeded to steal them off of her sister's plate after her's were gone.  
we are so weekend ready.  
Happy Friday! 

8.23.2016

the blogger's guide to becoming an influencer + pitching brands

ya'll.  I am so excited to share today's post with you!  I have been working with Krista of Social Graces Media for over a year now after getting connected through a brand she represented and she has been nothing but a God send to me as I wade through this adventure of blogging I've found myself on the last several years.  I have been blogging for a long time and when I started I never once thought to myself where the future of this blog would go, what partnerships would flourish, the shape this space would take and what message I would send.  when big opportunities followed by even bigger opportunities started to present itself, I was so thankful for Krista's guidance through all this- because honestly, I was totally lost the first time someone asked for my media kit.. or requested the number of unique visitors to my site, and who the heck is the FTC
I have been begging her to put all this knowledge down onto paper and finally she's done it! 
As a blogger, you probably started writing because you wanted to share something with the world. Whether you’ve been doing it for years or you are just getting started, the possibility of getting PAID to share things you love with your audience is no doubt an alluring prospect. So, how does one go about doing just that? That’s a great question, of course, but one that needs explanation since there are several aspects involved. 

YOU GOTTA HAVE THE RIGHT STUFF!
Let’s look at it this way: as a blogger with all the right stuff (no worries, I’ll explain what all the “right stuff” is in just a sec), you are known as an “influencer” - the popular kid everybody wants to hang out with. Brands really, really, really want to work with influencers on social media (a.k.a. the playground) because no one trusts them (the brands) so everyone simply ignores them

You, on the other hand, have already devoted the work and time to building a rapport with your audience, they trust you and will easily purchase things that you suggest because they believe you when you tell them it’s something they should have. 
*Image via Pinterest
Cue the NKOTB - “Oh, oh, oh, oh oh. Oh, oh, oh, oh. Oh, oh, oh, oh oh...the right stuff!” 
(This will now be stuck in your head for the rest of the day - you’re welcome).  
But just what is the “right stuff”, anyway? Let me break it down for you:

There is a myth that you have to have an audience the size of a small country to have influence but this just isn’t true. It might make you look cool to have all those followers but if none of those people interact and engage with you, they are not the right audience. In other words, they hold no value. 
The value is not in the number of followers that you have but in the percentage of followers that interact, engage, return to your blog and are genuinely interested in you and what you have to say - these people are most likely to buy, based off of your suggestions. 

This kind of love doesn’t happen overnight, folks. It takes consistent blogging about topics that are important to your people and relationship-building through social media. And you can’t just assume you have the right stuff, you have to prove it. That proof comes from analytics! So, if you haven’t already, link your site/blog to an analytics tool (hint: Google Analytics does a fabulous job...and it’s free). 
All of the data is important (to someone, somewhere, I just know it!) but for brands, the following ingredients are key to their secret sauce:
Page Views - how many people have viewed your blog over the last 30 days?
Demographics - who is your primary audience - gender & age? 
*Unique Visitors - how many new people have viewed your blog over the last 30 days? 
Bringing people back to your blog, time and time again, is most definitely something to celebrate. But...brands want to know that you’re not only good enough to bring peeps back but that you’re also attracting a decent percentage of new visitors on a regular basis, too. 
Social Drivers - which media is most responsible for driving traffic to your blog & how many followers do you have on each?
NOTE: All of this information (plus a few other key ingredients) should be packaged in a professionally branded media kit that is regularly updated so you can easily shoot it over to those that are interested in working with you. No worries if you don’t already have one, Social Graces Media can design one for you (and if you’re wondering whether or not I’m any good at it, I designed Amber’s...so, there’s that). → MEDIA KIT 
Ok, so, once you’ve armed yourself with the right audience, your analytics and your shiny new media kit, you might think it’s time to approach “Brand Central”, right!? Wrong...

YOU GOTTA DO YOUR HOMEWORK! 
First, you have to determine “who” you want to approach? Scratch that. 
The real question to ask yourself is not who you want to partner with, but who you should partner with? 
In other words, if you don’t take the time to consider whether or not a product or service is right for your brand and audience, and you start pushing every product under the sun (think: Kim Kardashian - girl doesn’t turn down an opportunity to make a buck), the fiercely-loyal followers you’ve come to know and love will run for the hills. Now that you’ve earned their trust, it’s best to pick and choose products or services that you would truly use and that would best serve your audience. Remember, they trust you - don’t let them down...or this will be you: 
*Image via Google (E News)
Not a good look. 
So, do your homework and figure out who you want to collaborate with - whether it be another blogger, a social celebrity/brand ambassador, a small business or a larger brand; you will need to narrow down the possibilities so you have a clear vision of who you will (and will not) work with. 
The second assignment in your homework, is to determine your value

Say what? 
What I’m saying is, I have a formula that will help you calculate what you should charge brands who want to work with you - you can read all about it HERE. This will prove helpful so you don’t undervalue or overvalue yourself...you know, rookie mistakes (wink, wink). I got you!  

YOU GOTTA FOLLOW THE RULES!
Now...this one is something TOO MANY bloggers & brands aren’t even aware of, or even if they are aware of it, they aren’t familiar with it. You don’t want to be one of them. You want to be one of us - the ones that are in-the-know about the FTC guidelines
*Image via Google: Brook’s Beat (Mean Girls)

Basically, to summarize, it states that if you should advertise or promote a product or service, you have to disclose that information to your followers in a clear and prominent way. This ARTICLE explains the guidelines further and even though the author is a bit blunt (to say the least), she preaches the truth - Amen! 

But just to reiterate my point, here is an example from PB+J Babes (Amber Massey’s blog):
Exhibit A

*Image via PB+J Babes (Blogspot)
Did you happen to notice her “fine print” - yeah, it isn’t so fine, is it? The section header is in a different color and all caps so that YOU will notice it and read it - which is exactly what the FTC requires of her. Let this be a good example to follow. And this doesn’t just apply to your blog, but to your social posts as well! Believe it or not, there is yet another set of rules you should be aware of, too: each social medium has their own guidelines pertaining to influencer marketing. 

This girl is crazy if she thinks I’m about to look up all these rules! 

Yep. I am. Why? Because you’ve put A LOT of hard work into building the perfect audience for your brand & I don’t want to see you get removed or banned from social media because you aren’t following their rules! Each medium is passionate about their space, just as you are about yours, and they will not hesitate to remove you if they think you are spamming their people. 
*The same link above, that directs you to a blog post on determining your value, also goes into more detail about this topic as well - click to read more. 

“YOU CAN’T RIDE IN MY LITTLE RED WAGON!” 
(are you tiring of my metaphorical magnificence yet?)

Here you are, having checked off all the boxes on the “right stuff” list. You are officially “influential” and you can now go forth with a pep-in-your-step, knowing you offer significant value to brands who want to reach your audience. Congrats, friend! You have most certainly worked hard to get here and now you get to put your sassy pants on! 
Who better to convey sass, than Miranda Lambert, herself! 
Image via Google (Lyrics: Little Red Wagon), Graphic: Social Graces Media 

If, at this point, you haven’t already started receiving requests to collaborate, you may need to let those you are interested in working with, know you exist. Now, I’m not saying you should just start throwin’ your media kit to whoever. What I am trying to convey to you, is that pitching yourself to brands or brand ambassadors is like navigating a preschool playground...you have a crowded space, with lots of players and it’s time to learn the rules of the game. 
When considering the best place to find and approach a brand, there is only one playground to meet on: social media. You are the popular kid (influencer) so you get the upper hand in choosing who you play with. Once you’ve determined why certain players would be a good fit for your brand and audience, it’s up to you to recruit them - there are a few ways to do this: 

This may go without saying but...blog about them! Use your best superpower to write about them (a product or service) and why you love them. Make sure and share it across mediums and TAG them (or use their handle) so they are made aware of your post - especially if your audience eats it up & they earn an additional profit because of your suggestion.  

Find out which social medium that brand is most active on and interact regularly. Use their custom hashtags to highlight yourself participating in their social efforts, like and comment on their posts and start a conversation about them with your followers (make sure and tag them to make them aware), etc. The point is to build a relationship so they become familiar with you. 

Take the traditional route and research the brand & their staff, determining who the best contact person is and reaching out. Send them a short-but-sweet email, attach your media kit and make sure to tell them why the two of you are a match made in marketing-heaven. Be sincere about it and show them you’ve done your homework! 

Brand Ambassadors & Small Businesses: All of the suggestions above apply to these groups as well. The point is to connect and help them see the value in what you have to offer. And just FYI: in my experience, brand ambassadors are much less likely to agree to work with you if you haven’t already taken the time to build a relationship with them.

Even though you probably get the point, I have included this very recent ARTICLE, by The Southern Coterie, that provides insights and tips from two top editors on the best ways to pitch and what to avoid - it’s definitely worth the read! 

YOU GOTTA DO YOU! 
Just some words of wisdom.. Throughout it all, though, remember this: you started your blog for a reason. Don’t forget what that reason is. Be true to you, stand your ground and always provide more value than you promise...word-of-mouth is powerful and you want the players on your playground to whisper all good things. 
To ensure a positive experience for everyone involved: Make sure you have a contract to protect you, your brand and your audience; always track the outcome of your campaign so you can provide results/benefits of your efforts; and if you are going to align yourself with another brand of any kind, make sure that you adhere to online social graces - refrain from vulgarity, engaging in highly controversial topics, posting inappropriate images, etc. 

Finally...you’ve got this. Anytime you start doubting yourself, just jam out to Miranda’s Little Red Wagon and you’ll be good-to-go! 
“...you can’t step to this backyard swagger!” 
Krista Cassidy is the founder of Social Graces Media, a boutique firm in Charlotte, N.C. that specializes in social media, digital marketing and branding. She empowers creatives & entrepreneurs with the knowledge, tools & resources in growing their businesses using contemporary marketing & advertising methods (including the importance of online social graces). When she isn’t consulting, blogging, making e-courses or planning workshops, the few hours left in her day are filled with the love & laughter of twin 5-year-olds. And a little sleep. Maybe. If she’s lucky. 




8.19.2016

five on friday

one. my guy
how many times do I forget what Jordan actually does for a living.  how many times am I brought to my knees in thanksgiving to have him walk through the door after a night full of medical and fire incidents that he is called to be first on the scene..  Irving FD has what they call citizen's fire academy that are the beating heart and soul of the department.  they host parties in honor of retirements.  they bring ice cream and sandwiches to active fires and medical scenes (if it weren't for them the guys sometimes wont eat for hours at a time), and they capture these firemen doing what they do best.  last week there was a large apartment fire in Jordan's district and his station was first to the scene. one of the citizens goes to almost all the fires to take live action photos and he caught a picture of this guy I know just coming out of the heat and heavy black smoke to change his air pack.
he's like the coolest person on my planet. 
 two. baby snacks
I am ALWAYS looking for easy baby snacks with a little more nutrition than "puffs", which Baker is totally over by this point.  she is obsessed with yogurt melts (I get these at Target!) and will eat an entire bag, but I came across these multigrain snacks the other day (again, I got them at Target!) and they are almost like cookies!  her BB always gives her those snackwell cookies and I texted her this picture and said "no more snackwells!" but that's probably the best part about BB in all three of my girls' eyes.  she always has the best treats.  and she occasionally has a lalaloopsy in her purse. 
why my kids LOVE those dolls is so random.
 three.  $8 camp gladiator.
say WHAT?!  eight bucks.  that's like.. FREE.
Camp Gladiator is having their 8th Birthday next week and to celebrate they are dropping the price of their 4-week camp from $189 to $8 for a limited time!  it will ONLY be this price ON their birthday next Wednesday 8/23 at 10AM - 6PMif you have been reading here over the last couple months you know my love of CG and how its basically brought my health and fitness to the next level.
you can read about my first camp gladiator camp experience HERE
want to register??!  c'mon. 
CLICK HERE on Wednesday, august 23rd between 10am and 6pm and the price will automatically be lowered (no promo code necessary)!
four. pink blush + lily jade.
did you catch my blog post earlier this week?  I'm giving away a $50 shop credit to pinkblush! you don't want to miss it!  they have some great transitional items, not just maternity.. and this dress is SO freaking comfortable.  you need it. 
also.
while I tend to gravitate towards the warmer earth tones of brown and orange, the cailin in black from none other than lily jade is SO good!  the best shape and the canvas/leather combo is genius.. and its on sale. SALE my friends. a diaper bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag. lily jade has got you covered!

five. weekend sales
is the turtle neck BACK?!  ya'll.  I went through a phase about 6 years ago when all I had in my closet as far as sweaters go were cowl and legit turtlenecks.  something about the preppy style and classic look gets me drawn in as something to wear during the fall and winter months.  I got my LOFT email this morning and its BOGO 50% off right now on their tops and sweaters.  Gap also has a couple of fun things (and more turtlenecks!).  I am totally digging this layered look.. and its 40% everything (online only) if you use code TGIF before noon and 35% after noon (PT). get your shop on, ladies!

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