Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Becoming a Mom

On February 27, 2014, at 3:08 p.m., Logan Xavier Banks was born, weighing 8lbs 4oz, and 21 inches long. At that moment I became a mom. Sure, I've been a mom for the past 9 months, but it was a different feeling when he actually arrived. I've never felt such joy and fear all at the same time.

The feelings of fear and joy have continued since we got home. It's been a whirl-wind of diaper changes, spit-ups, feedings, naps (there is no such thing as sleep) and cuddle time.

Thank you for all your kind words and support over the past 9 months. We are very excited to finally be home with Logan.

Below: a few pictures from our first two weeks home.








Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why Your Brand Is Losing Followers

As a social media strategist it is my job to help brands grow their audiences and position them as leaders in their industry through social media. On a regular basis I recommend all sorts of strategic ways to help brands best achieve their social media goals, direct messaging (DMing) new followers on Twitter is not one of them. 

Sure, there was a time when getting a DM from a brand or an influencer on Twitter meant something but today it's more like spam. Whenever I get a DM from a brand on Twitter with a message like "Thanks for the follow, "like" our Facebook page," or "check out our website" or just a regular thanks for the follow message, it just makes me want to unfollow them. Many times I do unfollow and I'm not the only one. 

If you believe your followers don't realize you are sending a generic message to everyone, you are living in a dream world. Followers are not that dumb, they know you are following them long enough to send your spamy DM and then immediately unfollow them or ignore them forever.

If you want to connect personally with your followers just reply to them publicly and make sure the message is meaningful and not just an empty "thanks."

If you want your brand to succeed through social media you must humanize your brand. You can't do that if you are responding, posting or interacting like a robot. Remember, it is SOCIAL media, you have to be SOCIAL for it to actually work.

What is your take on brands DMing followers? Do you like it? or do you unfollow? 

Keep It Real
Ellie

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bun in the Oven


If you haven't heard the news, we are expecting! My due date is February 27, 2014. We are very excited. I will be 13 weeks pregnant tomorrow.

So far it's been quite a wild ride. I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant at my annual on June 20. I had a feeling I was pregnant when I went in to my appointment. Of course, I told Grant that I was pretty sure I was pregnant and told him I would probably find out at my annual. He said I could not tell him until I got home. My appointment was in the morning. IT WAS THE LONGEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!! I finally got off work and called Grant. I told him that I wouldn't know for 3 days.

On my way home I stopped at Walmart and picked up a few goodies for him.


I picked out a monkey that played a lullaby when you pull it's tail, baby shoes and a onsie that said "My Dad is Super." I bought a card and a bag and put the test in the bag. When I got home I pulled the tail on the Monkey while walking in the door. Grant was very excited!

For the first few weeks I didn't have any morning sickness. As time went on though I started having weird pregnancy symptoms. The worst was my 7th week I got sick with a stomach virus (the doctor determined it was a stomach virus because of my symptoms which I will not go into detail about).

At my 8 week appointment I had my first sonogram. The baby looked more like a peanut than a baby, but the doctor said all was well and healthy.

Around this time I started having this crazy drainage. I had no idea this was a pregnancy symptom! It's a kind of drainage that is very thick and sticky. It makes it hard to eat or drink anything and tends to make you sick to your stomach.

I've had days where I feel great and days where I feel horrible. There is definitely something new every day. I have had some morning sickness but lately it seems to be getting better.



This week we had a pretty bad scare. Early Tuesday morning around 12:30 I woke up very suddenly. I was bleeding. This can be common if it is just a little spotting. Unfortunately, I was not spotting, I was bleeding. I called the doctor and they said if it continued or got worse to go to the ER. By 3 a.m. it had definitely gotten worse. I decided it was time to go to the ER. Grant and I piled into the car and drove to the hospital. They ran blood tests and did a sonogram. The result? Nothing out of the ordinary. They baby's heart beat was great and everything else seemed fine.

Luckily, I had my appointment with my doctor Tuesday morning at 8. We left the ER, grabbed some breakfast and went back for the appointment. The doctors office did another sonogram with their equipment. Again, they didn't find anything out of the ordinary and the baby looked great. Actually, the baby looked like a baby this time! It is amazing how much it grew in just a months time. I had a bit of sugar for breakfast so the tech had a bit of trouble getting a picture. The baby was flipping and swimming around. It was so cool to see that!

They aren't sure what caused the bleeding but did say that it was not something that was normal but could have been a fluke.

I've been told to take it easy for the next few weeks and that is exactly what I am going to do. Hopefully we won't have anymore visits to the ER.

We are so excited about this baby. We can't wait to bring a new life into this world. Thank you, everyone for your kind words!

Keep It Real
iEllie


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ocular Melanoma

In March, I received a text message from my Dad asking Grant and I to call into a conference number. It was the week before Spring Break so I figured it was about my Mom going up to Philly to visit family.

When I got home I called the number and put my phone on speaker so Grant could hear as well. My Dad, Mom and brothers all beeped in. My Dad then explained that my Mom had something to tell us.

"I am leaving for Philadelphia this weekend, however this time I am not going up to visit with family. I have been diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma. It is a very rare kind of eye cancer that only effects 2,000 people a year..." my Mom continued to explain the seriousness of her situation. This particular cancer does not have a high survival rate with the cancer normally metastasizing to the liver.

If you don't know what Ocular Melanoma is I encourage you to look it up. Unfortunately, there is not much literature or research about this particular type of cancer. A few centers in the country are working on treatment and ways of find a cure. Philadelphia, PA just happens to have one of these hospitals/research facilities, The Willis Eye Institue.

As I said earlier my Mom travels to Philadelphia, PA during the holidays to visit with her parents. Actually, a few visits ago my Mom took my Grandparents to church. When they walked into the church a large family had taken the pew that my Grandfather liked to sit in (he said it was "his" pew). He apparently made a fuss and then gave the family the death glare during Mass. My Mom was mortified and hoped she would never run into that family again.

It just so happens that the doctor in Philadelphia, PA that is an expert on Ocular Melanoma, was sitting in that pew. God has a way of bringing people into our lives just when we need them. Of course my Mom was a little embarrassed during her first visit but the doctor and his wife did not even remember the incident.

I don't believe that to be a chance meeting. I believe God was looking out for my Mom and this doctor was an answer to her prayers.

There have been lots of tests, treatments and doctor visits since March. My Mom has gone through surgery and is still going through treatment. We did hear good news that the type of Ocular Melanoma that she has only has a 10% chance of metastasizing. My Mom's chances of living a long life are very good. While this is great news, I still ask for your prayers. Since there is not much research on this kind of cancer, we are in a fluid state of information.

Thank you, to those who have been there for me and my family these last few months. I did not post this earlier because I was not ready to talk about it. I also did not feel right discussing this while my family was going through so much.

I hope you will take the time to look up more information about Ocular Melanoma. I recommend that you get a yearly eye exam (mine is tomorrow).

Keep it Real
iEllie

More: Check out this article on my Mom's doctor:

Wills doctor's 'lucky' path has been patients' luck, too


Monday, May 27, 2013

Golf

Grant and I recently took up golfing. I never thought this would be a sport I would get into. It seemed like such an uppity sport for people that were way to into themselves. Not to mention a "man's sport."

When I was a teenager my Mom encouraged me to take up golf. It didn't sound like fun to me so I never tried it out. It wasn't until Grant and I went out to the driving range that I really understood why people golf. Hitting a ball as hard as you can with a stick is a fantastic feeling. Not to mention, there is a true science to golfing. It's the perfect sport for a nerd. 

I've never really been a fan of watching golf, now I occasionally turn on the Golf Channel. I'm completely obsessed!

I've also discovered the world of golf fashion. LOVE IT! Yes, there are some extremely hideous golf outfits out there but there are also some really cute ones. If you follow me on Pinterest you probably already know this. 

Are you a golfer? Or is there a sport that you hated as a child but now love as an adult?