“They inspire me to be my very best”

new mommy baby love show

Q&A with Kristal Ronnebaum

I’ve never been one to believe in soulmates. I believe that relationships take two people actively choosing to love one another, even on the bad days.

Yet when I met Kristal Ronnebaum for the first time I instantly knew that we were soul sisters. We caught up over lunch and by the end practically finished each other’s sentences between laughing and crying with one another while sharing our personal and professional highs and lows.

And, not unlike that initial lunch together, Kristal’s interview isn’t brief, but it is chock full of love and wisdom. My soul sister bares it all to you in this week’s Working Mom Wednesday.


Self-promo time. Tell me what you do.

I am the proud Sales and Marketing Manager for a Veterinary Pharmaceutical Manufacturer in Lenexa and am also Kansas City’s Marketing Lead for Baby Love, KC’s Only Baby Fair. We will host twice this year on June 12 and November 13 at the Overland Park Convention Center.

What can mamas expect at Baby Love?

Baby Love, KC’s Only Baby Fair is a day of celebration, pampering and education for Kansas City’s new and expecting families. We feature this city’s finest resources in baby products, services and education all in one convenient place. The skills they will acquire are designed to give them a head start in their exciting new journey of parenthood. If you’re already a mommy, I’m very confident we’ve got plenty of new tips and tricks for you too!

Where did you come up with the idea?

As you know as a new mommy, there are plenty of late night/early morning moments with just you and your bundle of joy. It’s also a time of great self-reflection and a moment or two when you think to yourself, “Oh My God, What am I DOING?” It was one of those nights as I was nursing Connor and thought, “why in the world is there no event that gives us all the sweet loving we need as new parents, but also help for the things we never thought we needed to know?”

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened during a show?

I love that you asked this! At our very first event last August, one of our most exciting activities was a LIVE Gender Reveal for one lucky family on stage! The couple invited all of their family to be there and even perfect strangers at the show were on pins and needles to see if this baby was a BOY or GIRL! We scored this giant 36’ balloon filled with the corresponding pink or blue color of confetti and they would pop the balloon on stage at the end of the countdown for all to see. It was going to be EPIC! The night before the show, we took the balloon to a local {not to be mentioned} party store to fill it with helium and on the way back to the convention center it exploded. PINK confetti everywhere! Praise Carey Wickersham, our local Kansas City author of The Wonder Within You and her amazing husband for saving the day. They raced to a local home store, snagged a huge box, filled it with pink balloons tied to the inside, decorated the outside of the box with wrapping paper and created the most amazing solution for us. You can read all about it on her blog, but the moral of the story: EVERYTHING is figure-out-able!

 

baby love baby expo
Read on to find out how to enter to win!

How has your business changed since you first envisioned it?

How long do I have? 🙂 The beginning of this lightning moment started as a boutique-style event and was held at the Deer Creek Golf Club just 7 months after Connor was born. By our second year, we welcomed over 300 guests and 60 community partners to the Honey Dews Baby Expo.

Funny thing about life, it throws you curve balls and the true test of your character is how you handle them and respond when it does. We very surprisingly learned I got pregnant THE week of the Honey Dews Baby Expo in April 2014. {Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can’t get pregnant when you’re stressed! HA!}  Sadly we lost that baby in early June and I hit rock bottom. We had suffered two other losses, but this one was above all the most paralyzing. Moving forward, I knew things needed to look differently and as more and more of our proud supporters would ask me when the next event date was and tell me I should host twice a year, what once burst my heart wide open in the most glorious ways now caused me pangs of anxiety.

Then in October 2014, one of our sponsors called to say the girls of Baby Love, Omaha’s Only Baby Fair were planning to bring their event to Kansas City and that I should reach out to them. So Kristi Wilson {the Founder} and I had lunch. We cried through much of it as we realized we shared the exact same heart and vision only THIS chick was an overwhelming success in Omaha! Her events draw 3,000-5,000 guests each time she hosts. It was the perfect fit. I already knew what wonderful resources we had to offer here and had created fantastic relationships with our supporters and she had the business model to draw the masses. We knew we would be better together. Honey Dews Baby Expo joined the ranks of Baby Love, KC’s Only Baby Fair and well, the rest is history!

We launched our first event together in August 2015 and welcomed over 6,000 guests to the Overland Park Convention Center! And the cherry on top? I got pregnant again in September and Miss Jordyn just celebrated her First birthday on Tuesday, May 17!

Any advice for someone with an itch to pursue a passion project?

Many people live their entire lives not experiencing that Lightning Moment. If you are one of the lucky few that it strikes, please I’m begging you…don’t ignore it. It’s not your job to figure out how to do it but to simply begin. Trust me, what you original thought it would be will probably look quite different by the time it’s all said and done. Find yourself an accountabilibuddy. This “buddy” will hold you accountable for all you are capable of being. They know your dreams and your visions and keep you on track when the going gets tough. And finally, say it out loud and write it down. Your chances of it happening go up exponentially!

What is a typical day like for you?

Up at 6 a.m. and into the office by 8 am…okay maybe closer to 8:13 a.m. It amazes me that it really takes every second in between to get us out the door. That is really the only “typical” part of any day and I prefer it that way.

Sure I have my to-do lists {I should own stock in Post-It} but that’s what I love about what I do both full-time and for Baby Love. I save my lunch hours for meetings with Baby Love partners and hit the gym on the weekends and right after work 2-3 days a week before I pick up the children from school. Taking care of myself is non-negotiable on the list. I can feel myself slipping when I don’t and that isn’t fair to anyone. I’m pretty loyal to my facials, massages and pedicures too. When I feel great, I find myself a better wife, mother, friend and everything in between.

One of my favorite tips as a working mom is to come home after school and before we do anything else, sit down with them for 15 minutes and play whatever they want. It seems like such a small amount of time but it allows me to really be present with them and watch their little innocent souls get lost in creativity. Dinner, the dishes, laundry, etc. it can all wait!

What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?

I’m more mindful and present in everything I do with them and for them. I know they are watching my every move and they inspire me to be my very best. The nice part about life is that there’s always tomorrow. If we had a rough day, we get to go to bed and “try harder next time.”

Your babies didn’t come easily for you. What would you tell a friend struggling to start a family of her own?

First of all, there is nothing you can tell a friend that will make it better. Your only job is to SHOW UP. Coffee, Wine or just a good ole cry in the Target parking lot. Just listen and hug and listen some more. Please don’t keep it locked inside. I think it’s tragic that the struggle with loss like this is so taboo to talk about. Not that it makes me feel better to know so many others suffered too, but just that I’m not alone. Now I’m going to get really real. Hold on to your husband/partner tight. I mean REALLY tight. Tighter than you’ve ever held on to anything in your entire life. I remember so vividly the look of complete despair in his face not just when it happened but all the days {some better than others} leading up to getting pregnant again. I felt so helpless and I knew he was hurting too. He and I have always been able to “fix it” for each other. We never did find out what caused those miscarriages exactly. That’s the worst part. You want answers but sometimes there’s just nothing. I look at him now and think of all we have overcome to be here in this moment and am completely overwhelmed with love and admiration for this man. I’m sad it takes such challenges and despair to see it sometimes, but nevertheless I am beyond grateful.

What are the highs and lows of being a working mom?

The highs are this absolutely indescribable love that beams out of me every day. I still have to pinch myself that they are mine. It’s so fun to see a little bit of me and Joe and our personalities in both of them. They are absolutely hilarious! Connor says when I’m nursing Jordyn that she’s getting “skin milk.” They dance and they sing and they are pure joy. Oh sure we struggle big time some days but of course we do. That’s what makes it all real and helps us not to take anything for granted. The lows of being a mom will always be that little ping of mommy guilt that sneaks up on me sometimes especially when I just want to stay home and snuggle them all day long. But then I remember those skills and talents God gave just to me and I head back into the world to share them. Deep down I know the incredible skills my babies are acquiring in their school too and those are lessons that can only be taught in that environment. Joe and I want to be an example for our children that when you dig in deep and give the world all your hustle and grind, anything can be yours.

Finish this sentence. If I could go back and do it all again, I wish someone would have told me that…

I should stop building dams and throwing rocks into the river of life and forcing it to go the direction I choose. Stop worrying and have faith that the Universe has my back so long as I am true to myself. God made each of us with our own special set of skills and talents. I owe it to the world to show up and share them. Trust that the river will do its job and will take me exactly where I am meant to go. Often times it will take me to places more beautiful and rewarding that I could have ever imagined on my own.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

To me, having it all takes a lifetime. That’s really what the journey is all about. I’ll always be looking for ways to be better and do more because that wheel never really stops spinning when you see the world like I do. The moment you are grateful for all that you have in your life, confirming that you have it all is really the most positive affirmation out there. So relatively speaking yes, I do have it all and am beyond grateful for all that is now and what will be in the future. I’m most importantly grateful for every step it took me to get here.


Don’t forget to enter to win two (2) tickets to Baby Love, KC’s Only Baby Fair on Sunday, June 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Overland Park Convention Center. Simply leave a comment below or on Facebook or Instagram and share what makes you most excited about becoming a mommy OR if you are already a mommy, what gives you the greatest joy? Winner will be announced Friday, May 27.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $12 at the door. Once you are inside the event, ALL activities are FREE! Learn infant CPR, infant massage, how to create a safe nursery, childproof your home, install your car seat, and so much more! Join us in the Mommy Pampering Station for a free massage, too! Over $20,000 in prizes will be given away that day!

For all the juicy event details, please visit www.kcbabyfair.com. Additional questions? Kristal wants you to reach out to her directly via email. See you at the show, mamas!

“Be present as these moments go by fast”

support women entrepreneurs

Q&A with Violette de Ayala

Today’s a big day! Femfessionals Kansas City is celebrating it’s one year anniversary. While I couldn’t be more excited to recognize the amazing women {like her and her and her} who make our community great, it will also be bittersweet as I pass on the presidency in preparation for my upcoming move.

My year launching Femfessionals in Kansas City wouldn’t even have been possible without the woman behind it all. While I’ve never met Violette de Ayala in person, I’ve shared countless conversations with her by phone, email and social platforms.

Not only did Violette teach me the profound impact we can have on one another {often without even knowing one another in the tradition sense}, but she’s showed me {and thousands of others} that we become our best, most successful selves when we lift up one another.


Self-promo time. What do you do?

I am the Founder and CEO of Femfessionals and committed to helping millions of women grow business together, in positivity and in harmony according to their vision.

If that wasn’t your gig, what do you think you’d be doing?

I would be an Angel Investor helping women entrepreneurs grow business! Same thing, but from another perspective.

What on your resume led you here?

I launched my first business at the age of 22 and haven’t stopped launching businesses. I have owned companies in personal training, Pilates, marketing and PR industries. All of my past experience helps me serve women globally from the understanding of knowing how to create a business from scrap funding and limited time. I personally know the real struggle of launching businesses while raising a family and juggling life and work and all the other stuff in between.

It sounds like you’re paying it forward!

The number one question I get is “how do you do it?” As a result, I teach many classes sharing my method of duplicating your productivity in half the time of the norm.

What has been your own biggest setback?

The hardest challenge has been what many women entrepreneurs experience themselves: a lack of funding. More and more companies share through the arms of advertisement how they invest in women and their businesses. Yet still, its incredibly difficult for women to find outside funding. We didn’t have the financial funding/support like some of the other organizations. We had to wear many hats and work 75-hour work weeks and make less then minimum wage a few times. We are not alone in that scenario. I hope to personally change this in the future.

What keeps you motivated?

Hearing the ways our organization has changed the lives of thousands of women. They have grown businesses together, shifted their lives to walk in their purpose and become friends along the way. That’s the best! I love to see our FEMS connect on social media and work together to lift one another up.

Finish this sentence. If I could go back and do it all again, I wish someone would have told me that…

…it will all work out and stop the stressing.

support women entrepreneurs

 

What is a typical day like for you?

My typical day is a sitcom on Comedy Central! The standard is 6 am wake up with some email responses. 7 am out the door with the two girls {one on a bus stop and the other directly to school}. I hit Equinox to work out because it makes me a better human. I work back to back until 3 pm carpool. Then 4 pm carpool. Then the pick ups between girl scouts, volleyball and all the other playdates and activities. After dinner and homework time, I connect back at work from 7-9 and then work again from 9:45-10:30. I work on Sunday’s a bit to prepare for the week and that is my golden hour.

They say it takes a village. Who helps you with your kiddos?

It takes a planet!!! My village {aka. my planet} is composed of my neighbors, my girlfriends and other mommies. Steve is a great dad and works a lot of hours during the week. On the weekends he helps out and takes the kids out so I have some downtime. I have a great support system.

What’s the best part about being a mom?

The best part of being a mom is witnessing three humans change the world through their kindness and service to others. All three of our little ones, in their own way, are authentic in their connection of how they want to leave their legacy. It’s beautiful to know the world is a better place because of these kiddos.

Any advice for working moms?

Create a network with other moms to help you and be sure to dedicate quality time to your kids. Schedule off work hours/no wifi connectivity time. Be present as these moments go by fast. The worst regret is not being there for those moments that seem ordinary but turn out to be filled of lifetime highlights. Be. Present.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

We all have our own personalized visions, our own desires and goals. “Having it all” {as I define it} is a fluid state of mind that continues from one platform to another one. We never arrive at the state of perfection but instead flow continuously within harmony to our next great milestone. Everything in life is compromise and balance, and between those lines is the sweet spot of having it all. To discover that delicate balance is indeed the gold of the topic.


I always ask my mamas if there is anything else they want to share at the end of their interview. Violette ended with these words: support other women by purchasing from their stores, using their services, recommending them to others and being there to lift others up when needed.

Amen.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

Turning Thirty

turning 30

I spent the first summer after my freshman year at the University of San Diego in my college town instead of heading home for the break. My best friend from high school was supposed to come too, but got mono and had to head home earlier than expected. I spent several weeks alone before my college friends came back for the fall semester.

Most of the time I was fine. I hit my apartment’s gym and pool up whenever I wasn’t working. But one day I decided I needed to live off of more than cereal and mac & cheese, so I headed to a restaurant inside a big outdoor mall nearby.

“Just you?” the hostess asked.

I was mortified.

Everyone in the restaurant was surely staring as she walked me to a table on the patio where I would pathetically sit by myself. I lasted about 45 seconds before I got out my cell phone and called my mom and begged her to talk to me while waited for my food.

After I ate and paid, I rushed out without making eye contact with anyone and vowed that I was never going to eat at a restaurant by myself again.

Flash forward a decade.

Last week a photographer came over to shoot pictures of our house for its listing. She prefers that the client not be home so that she can do her thing, so I gathered my work and scooted out the door. I really only had one errand to run and it was after 11 a.m. so I decided to head to a nearby sushi restaurant.

When I got there the place was pretty empty, so the hostess offered me a table near the window in the front. Pretty soon a couple came in, followed by a father and son, and what appeared to be several business meetings.

I kept to myself while I ate. {Confession: I did have my laptop with me since it was one of my no-kids work days.}

Do you know what I was thinking about in between bites of my Philly roll? Wow, it feels amazing to be eating out by myself!

Was it the fact that I eat most of my meals either standing up or with our 2 year old trying to crawl into my lap from across the table that had changed my outlook on dining solo?

It’s possible, but I think it has more to do with the way the experiences I’ve had in my twenties have helped me grow into the person I am today.

I traveled. In my early twenties, I spent a semester in Europe. I went out weeks before my study abroad program began to travel around with a friend and even by myself for a week. I experienced unforgettable places and was pushed outside of my comfort zone countless times, yet the thing I remember most from the trip is the lesson that came from the airline loosing all of my belongings on the way overseas: things are just that – things. Stuff is replaceable.

I graduated. I also got my first “adult” job with Teach for America. After moving across the country, I entered their training program where I quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be a good fit. I quit my first job before it had even started. I felt like a complete failure and incredibly selfish for putting my own needs over those of my potential students. It took several months {okay, years} for me to really get over it, but now I look back without any regret and am proud of myself for following my instincts.

I partied. I drank for fun {sometimes to the point of it not being fun anymore} and stayed up late with friends. I attended social events in Las Vegas, went to costume parties on the beach, and sipped cocktails on Manhattan rooftops. Most impressively, I would even wake up the next morning and function like a fairly normal human being.

I moved. San Diego, New York {where I met my husband}, Phoenix and Kansas City {where we got married}. We tested the strength of our relationship with each move {something I highly recommend doing with a loved one before you put a ring on it}. It was stressful, but so is real life. Once landing in KC we bought our first house. I learned that owning a home is demanding and expensive, but all of that maintenance and afternoons mowing the lawn sure make you take pride in the place.

I became a mom. In my mid-twenties, my husband and I had our first child. Two years later we welcomed one more and then lost another. Morning sickness isn’t something I would wish upon my worst enemy, but it’s amazing to see what a body can go through in order to create another life. Fortunately, after many months of vomiting, I was one of the lucky ones who was able to lose weight fairly easily and nurse without any many complications {we all have our tradeoffs, right?}. I remember being moved to tears when I would look down at each of my babies because I was so full of love and gratitude…and hormones. Motherhood is a journey that every mom will experience in her own way, and our decisions are personal and guided by love.

I met new people. A handful have become dear friends. Some of them moved away and now I will be moving away from many myself. I attended countless weddings and was honored to be in a few {I give one heck of a toast}. I walked away from friendships that weren’t good for me. I’ve lost friends who were taken way too soon, and realized that while funerals certainly aren’t something I look forward to they can bring people together in strange, incredible ways.

I became an adult. I dropped many of the Mr. and Mrs.’s from my childhood {with permission, of course}. I began seeing former teachers as peers and even friends. I decided that I really like my parents as more than just my mom and dad, but as people. I stopped being intimidated in the workplace by those who were older and seemingly more experienced and realized my own potential and worth.

I adjusted my priorities. By my late twenties, I realized that my new version of “going out” was walking over to my neighbors house with a glass of wine while our kids played in the driveway. I still go to parties {at my daughter’s school}, but I’m always in bed by nine. I can no longer wake up the next morning and function if I consume alcohol, which is a bummer since our two children won’t sleep past 7 a.m.

I became older than all of the contestants on The Bachelor {not sure when that happened}.

I got involved. I networked more often, launched a women’s organization and joined various boards. I voted in elections and gave back to my community. I learned that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes, too.

I worked hard. I changed jobs, got a promotion and a few raises. I watched my husband leave his comfy 9-5 to work for himself, and eventually took the risk to leave the workplace to start my own business, too. I also got up the courage to write about it all here.

And somewhere between twenty and thirty, without me even realizing it, I grew comfortable in my own skin. So much so that I am able to eat by myself in a restaurant.

“Helping everyone get smart on leave is our passion”

maternity leave policy

Q&A with the founders of List Your Leave

If you’ve been anywhere near a computer or smart phone this last week, you’ve like already read about the woman coining the phrase “meternity”  leave. {I know, eye roll.}

One thing all working moms can agree on is that maternity leave is hardly “me time.” Us mamas are bonded by the endless diaper changes, sore breasts and sleepless nights.

Yet the details surrounding our leave policies are as diverse as our babies themselves.

Enter List Your Leave, a new website that’s on a mission to get women – and men – smart about maternity leave policies before they even need them.


What is List Your Leave?

List Your Leave rel=”no follow” is a free database of maternity and paternity leave policies by company or organization in the U.S., created to be a resource for all working families. It provides policy information and anonymous reviews and company culture ratings so all working families can get smart on leave.

It sounds like working moms are behind the scenes.

We come from a variety of different industries and backgrounds. Most of us are moms and dads, but some of us are just interested in improving the balance between career and family for our friends, families and coworkers. So while we might have other gigs, List Your Leave and helping everyone get smart on leave is our passion project.

Which came first, the positive pregnancy test or the interest in maternity leave?

Most women {and men} are uninformed about their family leave policy before they need it. Which means of course that for most women, including the founders of List Your Leave, the positive pregnancy test comes before the interest in maternity leave policies – but in order to make career and family work, we should all be thinking about family leave well before we have a family.

What’s the number one question you’re asked?

The biggest question for List Your Leave is what is my maternity/paternity leave policy? Many think FMLA is paid leave, and many assume when co workers and friends take leave that its paid in some way. But in reality, even if you got a check during your maternity leave, you may not have gotten paid leave. We hope to answer all your maternity leave questions through our database and blog.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Specifically for List Your Leave, our biggest challenge was probably finding the time to start a project like this while working and managing families. Everyone knows that balance can be hard, but the founders of List Your Leave feel the cause of transparency around family leave policies is important enough to commit time and energy to. We have regular catch up calls, strategy calls and each devote specific time set aside for List Your Leave every week. In addition, we stay in touch through texts and chat, because every working mom knows how hard it is to find actual phone time! And the response to List Your Leave has been fantastic – thankfully it is not a challenge to get new parents to understand how much better prepared they would have been for a family leave if they had all the information, and now they can help out other new parents by leaving reviews of their own experience at their company or organization.

Finish this sentence. If I could go back and do it all again, I wish someone would have told me that…

I should have looked at the maternity leave policy for my company before I took the job. For many working mothers, maternity leave is their biggest professional challenge AND setback. Unpaid leave costs new mothers 25-30% of their annual salary. In addition, taking leave can keep women {and men} from receiving annual bonuses and promotions and permanently alter a career trajectory. Knowing a company’s policy before taking a job, or before negotiating your leave with your boss, can make a huge difference in your annual and future salary as well as where you go within your company and career.

What’s the best part about being a mom?

The smiles! Our kiddos are all so excited every time we walk through the door, whether it be to get them up in the morning or when each of us gets home from work, and it is so rewarding to see their faces light up just knowing we get to hang out together. Being a mom is a hard job, but it’s a fun job too. And working moms know time together with their little ones is precious, so we all try to enjoy it every chance we get.

It’s no secret that women are better together. How can moms on List Your Leave support each other?

List Your Leave is providing a platform to help all working moms share their experiences anonymously and help out other moms going through the same confusing process known as maternity leave. And make sure to add a review of your maternity leave experience on List Your Leave so you help other working moms out, and help companies understand we care about leave. Because if employees care about leave, companies will too!

What’s your best piece of advice for women in the workplace who are thinking about starting a family?

Get smart on leave! Do the research and then talk to your employer. List Your Leave can help you understand your benefits and the benefits of other companies in your industry, city or state. Use this as a starting point to talk to your company or in finding a company willing to help you balance a successful career with your family life.

Any tips for businesses?

When companies support their workers in creating both a successful career and a rewarding family life, both benefit tremendously. Data supports this, and List Your Leave believes the way to achieve this for all American workers is through transparency.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you all think you have it all?

Having it all is certainly different for everyone. We think we have it all because we have great jobs, great families, and an opportunity to help other working parents have the same. However, since having it all means something different to everyone we want to make sure your voice is included. Email us at hello@listyourleave.com to tell us what you want to see in a database designed to help you get smarter on the right company/career/path for you!


Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.