Our Acts Of Kindness Tour

Last week my family and I had the honor of partnering up with Hyundai USA to spread goodness. We spent a few days traveling around San Diego donating our food and toys to those in need. (and not just humans … animals too!) It was honestly one of the best experiences we’ve had together as a family and I’m thrilled to share it with you. The acts we did were actually pretty small in comparison to many acts of kindness people do, and I say that because that means that what we did … anyone and their family can do on their own time. There is something beautiful about people helping people. And being helpful doesn't always have to be a grand production.Being helpful on any level is what keeps this world going and I hope we can somehow inspire others to be helpful and kind daily. It can be easily done and you can even start now by offering a simple smile to strangers on the street. I encourage you to start and see just how much it will increase your happiness level! People say "Smile at strangers" all the time right?! It feels a bit awkward at first, but when my smile is met with one from a stranger I feel like I am floating!

One of things I found that helped me cope with grief was to help others. I think when things are thrown into perspective for us we are able to really appreciate the things and people we have in our lives. A lot of the time we feel alone and incapable. Those feelings can weigh us down and sometimes it is hard to find your way out of that dark cloud. Grief is a monster and one I have to fight daily. There are certain things I do to help fight that monster off and helping others in need definitely is a tactic I use. After losing my son Ryan I found that sharing my story was in fact helping others to see the light and live a more intentional life. I’ve also dedicated my online space to help raise money for various children based charities because as a mother I don’t just want greatness for my own children, I want greatness for all children. When I am down in the dumps about my personal situation of being forced to go through life with out my son, I turn to doing good for others to help me see the light. Plus, when you make someone else smile it does something magical to your heart. It puts a tiny pep in your step and sets off this chain reaction of greatness. (Do I sound like a crazy lady yet?)

Anyways, when Hyundai brought this idea of doing an ‘Acts of Better’ driving tour I literally jumped at the chance. What I loved most is the fact that we were able to bring Mila along. Showing your children the ins and outs of doing good for others is what parenting is truly all about! Our children are our future (wow I am just hitting you with a ton of cliches today aren't I?!) and teaching them to be kind and selfless is necessary. Just because Mila is only 18 months doesn’t mean things don’t resonate with her, starting to plant these notions in her tiny mind now means they can only grow stronger from here.

So we jumped into the new Hyundai Sonata and took it around to deliver pet food to a local animal shelter first. We were able to play with the rescued puppies and I’ve said this about five times already, but we fell in love with this pup named Brianna. She was so calm and endearingly scruffy. I wish so badly we could have taken her home, but our apartment doesn’t allow pets. Next we gathered a bunch of toys ranging from various age groups and delivered them to Rady Children’s Hospital. This was my favorite stop only because the children in there deserve nothing but the best while they face the horrible situations. To see a child suffering is downright the worst and even if the toys delivered only offered a slight smile for a minute then it was one minute that took their little minds off the nightmare they must brave. A lot of you asked how you could donate to children's hospitals when I shared this initially on my Instagram story. Most children’s hospitals have a website dedicated to how people can help out. I’d recommend starting there, they are usually ways you can get involved pretty easily. (Especially with the holidays coming up, they are always looking for extra hands etc.)

The last stop of our tour landed us at a Starbucks drive-thru paying it forward as we paid the bill on peoples coffee orders. Which may seem like nothing, but it can be everything! During the week I usually frequent the Starbucks drive-thru when Mila is so grumpy she needs to just take car snooze. We drive around a bit and I always drive to get a little coffee for myself. A mid day pick me up. If someone secretly paid for my coffee it would make me tear up! Small acts of kindness like that just set us all up for success.

I’ve attached my Instagram stories from that day of driving around doing acts of kindness if you missed it, plus a few photos from our time spent with Hyundai. We had the best time and are already planning a few ways we can implement some small acts of kindness in our daily life. Now, I am not trying to sell you a car here. But what I will say is I have been blown away by Hyundai and their sincere drive to make the world a better place. They didn't ask me to post this blog, I just figured I'd share a little more detail and reasoning behind why we partnered up with them. I honestly love doing good things and using my platform to showcase that in hopes of inspiring you all to do the same. Our world definitely needs more kindness so spread what you have like confetti!

Photos by Jenna Kutcher

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My Summer Kickoff Charity Event - Benefiting The Dodger Foundation

Last Summer I hosted a Summer kickoff party where families got together to make crafts, enjoy Summer themed treats and over all have a great time! The thought behind it was to gather families from my social community together for the sole purpose of getting to know one another and to have fun. This year I wanted to do the same, but tie in a charity element as well. Wherein my friends and family could come together to have fun while also giving back to a great cause. I teamed up with my friends at Steelcraft and The Fresh Shave in Long Beach to see if they would be interested to what I was calling “a giant family party for charity”. They jumped at the idea and within two months we pulled together what I am now referring to as “the greatest family party ever!

All the brands and businesses involved with making this event fantastic donated their time and products. I could not be more grateful for their willingness to donate and because of their generosity the families had a memorable time. The venue was at Steelcraft which is an outside space surrounded by good eats, one of which is The Fresh Shave. (Along with The Fresh Shave, my favorite was Waffle Love!) Families were able to grab large tables, enjoy great food and free shave ice compliments of The Fresh Shave. Seedling donated various crafting kits for the children to enjoy while parents conversed with each other and ate! A favorite for me for sure, was seeing all the kids hard at work on their crafts while parents just breathed easy and throughly enjoyed themselves. Seedling is the cutest company who creates crafting kits for children! It was honestly the best idea to have them on each table for families to enjoy. Mila crafted her own mermaid tail! Others painted bird houses and fun jungle masks. 

Tickets to the BBB Summer Kickoff were donation based. So families were able to donate as much or as little as they wanted to the Dodger Foundation - RBI Program. I was blown away by the response as the event filled up within hours of my posting the invite on Instagram! It was quite an incredible feeling to know that families were willing to come together for a greater cause. I was offering them nothing other than a great time. It truly is a testament to how giving people can be and watching 75+ families who came together at my BBB Summer Kickoff was a humbling experience. 

I can’t wait to do it all again next year! 

Together we were able to raise $700+ for the Dodger Foundation - RBI Program! Which for me is an astonishing amount considering it was an event pulled together by friends in such a short time. Again, my social community is nothing short of amazing! I decided to benefit the Dodger Foundation - RBI Program because to me Summer is all about baseball. I love the work this organization does for children in need within Southern California. I also love the fact that the Dodger RBI Program is dedicated to using baseball as a way to engage and increase access to education, health, wellness and recreational resources to underserved communities. To learn more about their efforts and how you can get involved, go HERE

You can check the hashtag #BBBSummerKickoff to see the fun. Below are a few photos of my family enjoying time together and kicking off Summer in the best way possible!

Photos By - Annie Vovan Photography & Rebecca Walker

 

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My Mother's Day Brunch For No Kid Hungry

There is something to be said about a group of mothers who come together for a good cause. I am a firm believer of magic sparking when mothers support one another. Recently, at my brunch celebrating my Mother’s Day gift boxes benefiting No Kid Hungry, I physically saw the magic sparks. I am honored to share that beautiful day with you all. I am also thrilled to announce that my Mother’s Day gift boxes are now sold out and in turn we’ll be able to donate 8 thousand meals to No Kid Hungry. Honestly, it just doesn’t get much better than that!

Last week I shared exactly what my Mother’s Day gift box was and what was inside it. I worked together with two of my favorite mamas to create something beautiful and pampering for all mothers. I curated my gift box for Gratitude Collaborative, which is a gift company that gives back with every gift they give. My friend Joy Cho of Oh Joy! designed my gift box. You can take a closer look at the gift here. (Hopefully we can bring it back next year ;)

I wanted to share this beautiful brunch with you all. Some how posting it here will help me remember the beauty of that afternoon and the magical feeling. Special thanks to Starling, Gratitude Collaborative and Au Fudge for making this incredible event happen!

Photos by - Billye Donya Photography

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Baby Shower Event For Baby2Baby

Last month I threw my second charity event and it was the biggest one yet! (You can read about my first charity event I did for my son's preschool here.) Since my husband Dan and I announced we were expecting our second child we received so many well wishes and inquiries about how people could send us gifts for the baby. We were overwhelmed and so grateful for the love, but we decided to channel our community's want to give into something really special. I decided to throw myself a baby shower where instead of guests purchasing gifts for me, they purchased them for a local Los Angeles charity called Baby2Baby. Baby2Baby is a local charity that gives mothers in need basic necessities for their children to thrive. I partnered with Baby2Baby and we curated a baby shower registry that listed all of their most needed items. Once I had the charity and registry nailed down, I enlisted in some major help from my friend Megan and we set to work on planning the best baby shower in history. It really was the best baby shower . . .

I partnered up with Munchkin Inc. to help sponsor event details and the baby shower took on a real party feel with a generous undertone. Every guest who came was such a delight and enjoyed all the event activities. I still love looking through all the photos guests uploaded onto Instagram using #bbbshower. You can take a look and see just how much fun we had. Sadly, and I mean really sad. As in it took me a week to get over it, the photographer lost all the photos she took of the event so I can't show you all the wonderful decor and candid shots of everyone. However, I know for a fact that each and every person who came enjoyed themselves. Plus, the reason for the baby shower was to collect donations for Baby2Baby and we hit that out of the park! Overall the entire experience was incredible.

It was absolutely amazing to see my community come together and give back to such a great organization. Over 100 guests came to the event and people who couldn't come to the event sent in gifts for Baby2Baby! I feel as though everyone jumped at the chance to give and together we were able to help so many mothers in need. Below is a recap of what we gathered together;

Clothing 4625

Bottles 45

Wipes 368

Books 145

Shoes 12

Swaddles/Blankets 66

Diapers 16 boxes

Food/Formula/Feeding Supplies 26

Robes/Washcloths 33

Bottle Supplies 13

Strollers 4

Playpen 2

Toys 114

Health/Hygiene 104

I am so proud of this event! I can't thank everyone who came and donated enough! We were really able to do such great things. I do want to thank the baby brands who donated to the cause; ErgoBaby, OrbitBaby, Baby Lit, 4Moms, Puj, Solly Baby Wrap, Petunia Pickle Bottom, Modern Burlap, StorQ, Tubby Todd, James Fox Co., plus so many more incredible companies that donated their time and products for gift bags. (Again, I wish I had the photos we took of it all to show you. It is killing me that I don't)

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Dressing For A Good Cause With Sonnet James

It always feels really, really good to give back. On all levels. Giving back to me can mean something as small as offering a helping hand or even a generous smile to a stranger. Or it can obviously mean donating your time and resources to people/organizations in need of support. Both are equally fulfilling and it has become a secret weapon of mine. I have found that giving back helps fill the harsh void in my heart from losing my son. Giving back and helping child charities makes me feel warm and happy. It makes me feel whole for a moment. I imagine a small, shining, sliver of Ryan's spirit is laced within my acts of giving back. I wish I could help every single organization out there. With that said, giving back to those in need, especially children, has become quite a passion of mine.

Lately, I've been trying to find creative ways to honor my son as well as find opportunities to give back to children charities. Also, I'm trying to do as much work as I can before this baby girl graces us with her presence! When Sonnet James reached out to me about helping them launch a dress where a portion of the proceeds go towards a charity of my choice, I jumped at the chance. As you know I am whole heartedly dedicated to living life loud and wild alongside your children and Sonnet James captures that beautifully. Sonnet James create incredible 'play dresses for playful moms'. Meaning their dresses are made to have mothers look put together and chic while still having room to get down and dirty during their children's play time. You can take a look at their newest line of dresses here. I chose the 'Grey Reese Dress' from their new holiday line to style myself and my bump in. The best part is that $3 dollars from each of this dress sold will go towards the wonderful charity Splash. Splash dedicates their time to source safe, clean drinking water for children all around the world. You can learn more about them here.

It might be a small way to give back, but it was such an honor to have the chance to do so. I had the best time styling this dress and recently purchased an extra one in a different color because they are so comfortable. Thank you again for walking this journey with me. I am excited to show you companies that I am passionate about that also give us the opportunity to give back! I love doing good with you all . . .

- - -

If you head over to the Sonnet James site you'll see a few other beautiful bloggers who styled other dresses for charities of their choice. All their photos feature them alongside their children. Of course that makes me feel sad as I so wish I could capture Ryan's smile and wildly bright red hair. Although my baby bump is featured in my photos I wanted to have the photos taken at a place that was special to my son Ryan and I. So he can be 'present' just like everyone else's children. Ryan and I used to go to our local farmers market every Thursday evening. We would always bring enough cash for vegetables, kettle corn, corn on the cob and ice cream. We'd also buy a small bin of berries to eat while we walked around. I used to take him in his stroller up until recently he was determined to walk with me. I like to think Ryan is my photos. You can see him in my smile and the warm Fall colors. I bought some ice cream for us too. I bought ice cream for all three of us really. So while I am showing you this dress, I'm also sharing with you a special place where my son and I used to run around eating everything in sight. I also tried juggling apples which didn't end well, but it was fun in the moment and probably made Ryan laugh. :)

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Soul Cycle Charity Event For Ryan's Preschool

When you find something that helps with handling such terrible grief you tell everyone you can. When you find something you love you scream it from the mountain top, right? You try to get everyone on board, because "You guys! I found this amazing thing and I'm telling you it is more than just what it seems...it is a million times more." That is how I felt after my first Soul Cycle class. It was about 4 weeks after I lost my son and my friend Elizabeth was inviting everyone to try Soul Cycle with her. I thought to myself, why not. It might make me tired enough to where I can actually fall asleep tonight. I remember thinking something about endorphins and endorphins are supposed to make you happy...I was desperate to feel anything but what I was feeling. And so I signed up.

I fell in love.

Soul Cycle is not a cure. Most definitely not. But what it does, is forces you to clear your mind and free anything that is weighing you down. It brings out so many emotions for me. I let myself feel everything, I keep all the good and toss all the negative aside. I cycle myself to a better me and for forty five minutes I can throw my entire being in that damn bike. I can be angry and take it out on the bike. I can be happy and dance on the bike. I can be sad, cry and scream on the bike.

At the end I feel refreshed. I no longer feel defeated. My soul feels strong and for a few hours after I feel happy and OK with how my life is at this moment.

When the Soul Cycle in Pasadena reached out to me and asked if I would like to host a ride for family and friends I jumped at the chance. You don't have to be going through something terrible to enjoy Soul Cycle. You can be the happiest and still benefit from this class. Anything you feel you take to Soul Cycle and you let it turn you into a better person. I wanted to share that with everyone. I wanted to share how amazing this work out can really be. It can be different for each and every one of us. So, I extended the invite to all my lovely Instagram friends too. We were blown away by the response!

The night was something else. It was all things amazing and incredible to meet so many new people who have had our son on their hearts. The entire time my husband and I felt so blessed and we really did feel Ryan amongst us. All of it was beautiful and I hope to do it again in the future.

Huge HUGE thank you to these girls. Everyone who works at Soul Cycle Pasadena is beyond nice.

They made the event seamless and I love them.

I guess endorphins really do make you happy...

We also had the best after work out treat on the planet. Thank you to Sweet Clementine's Popsicles for making us delicious Lemon Buttermilk popsicles to enjoy after working our butts off.

I hope everyone loved them. Also I wish I could always have one after working out!

Dan and I wouldn't be where we are right now with our incredible family. We are thank God everyday for blessing us with such strong support. For our family we are grateful.

Thank you to all the sweet souls who came to the event. Thank you for coming and thank you for becoming our friends through this pain we are experiencing. We are grateful and so happy to have shared this wonderful night with you all.

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