Let’s Share Our Strength with Denny’s and No Kid Hungry

Let’s Share Our Strength with Denny’s and No Kid Hungry

Throughout life there are times where we sit back and reflect on what we have, the privileges afforded to us, and blessings received. As I have partnered with Denny’s recently, one of the organizations that they are connected to is No Kid Hungry. When I was asked to participate in this awareness campaign, I knew it would be one that I’d be proud of. The numbers don’t lie. In fact it’s unsettling when you realize just how many kids are going without food in America.

photo courtesy No Kid Hungry

photo courtesy No Kid Hungry

Did you know that 1 in 5 kids will face hunger this year? Here –yes, in America. I know that we know there are poverty-stricken areas, but even the middle class is hit with these scenarios. If we get a little more detailed, here in California, 1 in 4 kids will struggle or have struggled this year. Only 53% of kids that qualify or free/reduced lunch also get school breakfast. Sadly, only 20% of kids that qualify for free/reduced lunches will have summer meals. 

In our local school district, all kids are able to get free breakfast, and over the summer, they did free breakfast and lunch for any child under 18. Man, that’s a lot of kids without basic meals. Having a system in place like this allows for every child to get extra nutrients before putting their little minds to work.

Learning and growing is dependent on nutrition, and when a person (myself included) is hungry, we know it is hard to focus and concentrate. I appreciate the many teachers and administrators that notice this and help those children in need, sometimes even out of their own pockets! I’ve heard countless stories of children not having enough food, and it affects their education, on top of everything else.

photo courtesy No Kid Hungry

photo courtesy No Kid Hungry

I can’t imagine the thought of my children having to miss meals due to lack of food. But that is the reality for many families. We do our best to teach our children to be grateful, and appreciative of all that they have; to learn to eat food, even if it isn’t their favorite, and to not waste food that they are given. We teach our children to give, and the help others.

While I am a paid member of Denny’s Diner Ambassador Council, I am so proud to be part of the No Kid Hungry campaign. I would love for you to please help me and our Ambassador team as we raise funds for this important cause.

Please check out my fundraising page – all proceeds will go directly to No Kid Hungry.

About No Kid Hungry

A non-profit organization dedicated to helping to feed children across America. The campaign itself connects kids with nutritious foods, and teaches their families how to cook healthy meals. For more information on the No Kid Hungry campaign initiative visit their website.

I’m grateful for each and every one of you that took the time to read, those that will donate, and if you feel inclined, please share this message!  

Disclaimer: I am a member of Denny’s Ambassador Council, and while this post has been sponsored, all thoughts and opinions are mine. 

What’s Your Legacy? Walt Disney Records and H2OPlus #ShareYourLegacy Sweepstakes!

What’s Your Legacy? Walt Disney Records and H2OPlus #ShareYourLegacy Sweepstakes!

I was originally introduced to the H2O+ amenity line as a guest at the Disneyland Resort. They are the exclusive worldwide provider for in-room amenities of the Disney Resorts, and I have to say their products are AMAZING.

H2O+ helps women achieve healthy, hydrated skin through advanced water-baed formulas and innovative skincare technology. 

Guess what?! H2O+ is teaming up with Walt Disney Records to celebrate The Legacy Collection, which commemorates the rich heritage of classic Disney films and soundtracks. Remember my previous post about The Little Mermaid Legacy Collection? I seriously love the Legacy Collection and the next one on my list is “Disneyland.”

WHAT IS YOUR LEGACY?

Have you considered what are you leaving behind as you travel through life? As a busy mom of five, attempting to navigate through life working both in and out of the home, tending to the family, being a daughter, sister, friend, and making sure that I MAKE time for myself, I can say my legacy today is hard work, determination, faith, and positivity. 

What will it be when I am gone? Well, I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, so I know there will be more adventure, triumph and even trials ahead that I will learn and grow from. It think my legacy will evolve a little with each new experience. 

That being said, I want to leave a life legacy of full of love, magic, integrity, passion, perseverance, kindness, and hard work. I want my kids to realize and understand that life comes around only once, and if they have a dream, to set goals and take steps towards living that dream. Life is taken way too seriously and a lot of stress comes from not being happy in where you are, simply because you are focused on where you want to be. I think that we can enjoy the present, even if it is not ideal, but we should also take steps to make changes that we can. 

I want to encourage a life of passion, kindness, and faith in my kids. I want them to believe in themselves, and be confident in their skills, and their skin. I want them to see me love others and know that we should be kind. I want them to work hard. They see their Daddy and I work really hard, and they’ve already begun to follow suite. I’m proud of them and I hope they are proud of me and the legacy I will leave behind. It begins now.

photo © HowAboutNow Creative Co.

photo © HowAboutNow Creative Co.

I invite you to #ShareYourLegacy because we all have a story and all stories lead to a legacy.

Enter now for a chance to add an exciting Broadway story to your legacy. Grand Prize Winner and a guest will be whisked away to New York City for a once in a lifetime Broadway experience. Find out more at: www.h2oplus.com/legacy and #ShareYourLegacy with us!


About the sweepstakes:

  • US Only – 18+; Participants do NOT have to post #ShareYourLegacy to enter the sweeps.

Prizes are:

  • Round-trip airfare for two to NY
  • Two night hotel stay
  • Two tickets to The Lion King and exclusive behind the scenes tour
  • H2O+ Skin & Bodycare Beauty Basket ($500 retail) full of bestsellers for healthy, glowing skin for your big night on the town.

Disclaimer: I am participating in this campaign as a member of Entertainment New Media Network. Although this is not a paid post, I was sent a small thank you gift for my participation. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Another First Day.

Another First Day.

It’s barely 9 am and today has already been emotional. 

No, we didn’t have any fights or frustrations; this morning went very well. If you have kids, you know that what might seem as a simple act of walking out the door, ON TIME, with kids in tow, really is an accomplishment. 

With our five kids, someone is bound to be in tears over the last bowl of cereal being eaten, forgetting to put their shirt in the dryer, or fighting over the bathroom, hair brushes, or socks!

I know that as the nervousness of a new environment fades, and they become more comfortable with their new school schedule, we might see a more typical morning at home – madness. Ha ha!

I loved seeing them walk together, help each other find things so they weren’t late, and I’m grateful to have been here with them this morning to not only witness the angelic behavior, but to love on them and usher them into their newest journey.

I began the school drop offs at 7 am and was home by 8:15 am. Three schools later, and hugs with my five babies, I went back to my car with a sense of relief. I have been counting down to them going back to school, tired of hearing the “I’m boooooored” chant for days on end. But, even after all of that, in that moment alone, as I began to drive away, I let out a huge sigh and began to cry.

Talk about emo. 🙂

Today is a day of firsts; we now have a freshman in high school. We also have two 7th graders, and both of our boys are now “uppers” at the elementary school. As we move forward in life, we always have firsts and I want them to know it’s okay to be nervous, but they should be excited to learn new things, grow in new ways and experience life with a new perspective.

It’s so weird hearing my 7th grade baby girl  talk about her extracurricular activities for her college applications; she wants to go to Stanford or UCLA, so she’s diving in and signing up for Science Olympiad and deciding what else she will pursue. Sometimes I want to say “STOP GROWING UP!” But, I know, this isn’t Neverland.

I guess to keep it short and sweet, I am making it a point to remind myself that they will grow up. But as they do, I will keep stashing these memories like today away. When I’m feeling frustrated or stressed, I will pull these memories out and remember that I am not promised to have them tomorrow, and pretty soon, I will have my last “first” with them.

Have your kids gone back to school? Please tell me I am not the only crying mother. 🙂 

Fifteen Years of Bliss

Fifteen Years of Bliss

On June 10th, Jeff and I celebrated our FIFTEENTH (15th) wedding anniversary. When you consider how long that really is, especially when you hit that milestone before you’re even 35 and feeling “old,” it’s actually quite amazing. Not to mention this is year was his 15th Father’s day and it’s kind of awesome. It’s been a sweet blessing to watch him grow as a Daddy over the years. I love hearing the conversations he has with them or watching him play games and be silly. The kids have a special treasure in their Daddy. While he’s definitely not a bubbly person, in fact, he reminds us at times of Snow White’s Grumpy, he’s got the heart of a hero. And I love him.

Our Story in a Really Small Nutshell

I am pretty sure most people see our pictures and just think “what a smoking hot couple” – or at least that’s what I think. 🙂 Wishful thinking? Whatever. Doesn’t matter. What’s important is that mentality has been with me since the first day I met Jeff. I couldn’t help but feel drawn to him, initially just as a friend, but I always thought he was a cutie. We were destined to be in each others’ lives. Spending time with him was always a treat then and I cherish every moment even now. 

After about a year of friendship and courting – we didn’t date, it wasn’t “allowed” – we got married. I’ll spare you the details, but I was married at 18, just a few months after finding out we would be parents. I say it in real life often and I’ll say it here, too. I don’t believe that just because you have a child you are meant to be together or even should marry. Jeff and I are lucky to have found what we did in each other, and that was way before I was pregnant. We were best friends then and even closer now. You’d think we’d be tired of each other, especially now that I’m working from home! But, nope. 

My 18th birthday

My 18th birthday

The more connections you and your lover make, not just between your bodies, but between your minds, your hearts, and your souls, the more you will strengthen the fabric of your relationship, and the more real moments you will experience together.

— Barbara de Angelis

I am writing this post because I don’t think I give him enough credit when it comes to WHO he is in my life. He really is more than just a husband, or the kids’ daddy. I’m seriously blessed to tout him as my best friend, the love of my life, and he makes me happy, even through the ups and downs; he’s the one I want to go through all of the crazy with in life. I love all of our real moments. 

Jeff is one of the hardest workers that I know.

After fifteen years, when I think of the various jobs he’s held to take care of his family, the crap he has had to deal with when I began to work outside the home, and just the everyday life of being married to me and having five kids – We are A LOT – my heart is overjoyed that he does it all for us. I’m sure we overwhelm him to no end since most of us are extroverted, have ADD, are loud, and can be pretty crazy and very talkative. He’s my shy guy and is probably going to freak out when he finds out that I dedicated an entire post just to gush about him. But, he comes home from a long day at work, sits on the couch and the kids swarm him to tell him about their day. He listens and looks at their pictures, schoolwork or new toys, and let’s them share their thoughts. There are days where he’s so exhausted we try to just let him be, but it’s really hard because we missed him all day, haha.

When I think of all the ups and downs, the celebrations, the tears, the frustration and sheer joy that we’ve experienced the past 15 years, I can’t imagine it being spent with anyone else. While he’s at work, I can’t wait for 11:35 AM because it’s his lunch break!! That means we get to text for about 20 minutes or so. He leaves in the morning before I am wide awake, and when he gets home, he’s pretty exhausted. Once he’s in bed, I’m working on the computer on homework or design/blog stuff, in the quiet of the night. I live for the few minutes we get to “chat” via text during his work week. It might sound corny, but it’s my life. 

Well, we started our own business last year, and it’s been really cool to work together on various projects and I especially enjoy watching him work at what he loves – photography  & design. So on his days off, he spends it with us, but also working for ME (insert evil laugh). He’s super talented and I am so proud of him. I know it hasn’t been easy for him to come out of his shell and take steps towards fulfilling his dream of being a full-time creative, but he’s heading in the right direction. I can’t wait for him to be fully submerged in his craft and share that with the world! In fact, he is the one that came up with our business name – How About Now Creative Co., it was a question that we always posed to each other – “sooooo, how about now?” haha. “Okay, honey, are you ready now” “Let’s do this business. Wait. Ok. How about now?” So it stuck, and that is what we ask our clients. Tomorrow isn’t promised, and we should revel in today. 

Wanna know our secret?

We have none. He satisfies my soul and doesn’t clip my fairy wings. He encourages me to dream and fly higher. He’s there when I feel like I’ve fallen or lost my way. Likewise, I help him push his boundaries, encourage him to not only dream but take action on those dreams. He makes me laugh and we can just sit together and be in absolute silence, but in full comfort by each other’s side. We are total opposites, but we compliment each other in personality and even creativity. I love him with every fiber of my being and I know that he loves me just the same. We’ve learned to give and take over the years, complimenting, compromising and doing for each other. Over the years, I learned to let things go… if only I had Elsa around back then, haha. Marriage cannot be selfish and we must know each other’s ways of showing love. We aren’t perfect and never will be, and that means we have a lifetime to grow together. I wouldn’t have it any other way! 

We’ve Got Love

Sometimes they say “Love isn’t enough.” I beg to differ. Where there is love, there is a reason to keep moving forward and to hold on no matter what. We are not rich with money, but we are rich in love. We are choosing to use love the foundation for everything we do, not just our marriage. If you ask our kids if we love each other, they’ll probably make googly faces in disgust and answer with a resounding “yes – they’re in love, gross.” Haha. But they’re glad, and so are we. 

When I was living in LA part-time working for Disney Baby, Jeff made me a CD mix of songs for my drive and to think of him and our love. One of my favorites is Marvin Gaye’s “We Can Make it Baby.” I thought I’d share a link to it here. 🙂 

Jeffrey – Happy Anniversary, My Love.

To infinity and beyond. Always and forever. I love you.

Have you celebrated a milestone recently? Wedding or otherwise? What’s your favorite thing about your significant other?

Getting Fit with Gabby Reece and 24 Hour Fitness

Getting Fit with Gabby Reece and 24 Hour Fitness

I had the pleasure of not only meeting Gabrielle Reece this past weekend, but had the opportunity to just sit and chat with her as a mom and woman about fitness, life and self health. And after that, she taught a HIGHX class that my daughter & I, along with about 35 others, took and we WORKED IT! It was amazing, it was hard, but it was SO worth it.

*Special thanks to my friend Amanda Zimmerman for all of the photos for this post! 

Before I get into my experience, I have to say that Gabby is an extraordinary woman. She is beautiful from the inside out, and it was such a joy to have a chance to just talk and listen. I shared with Gabby my recent revelation on taking care of myself and I really was interested in hearing her thoughts on getting back into fitness as a busy mom. I was starstruck since I grew up watching her career, her appearances in magazines and just being an amazing role model.

Any nervousness with my first in-person “interview” quickly subsided as I was introduced to Gabby and she asked me if I’d like to chat with her; we just sat and chatted as if we were friends. I was at ease and excited to be reaffirmed in my thoughts about health and fitness, and she reminded me of a few things too! She’s extremely conversational, personable and fun!

We have to be selfish with our workouts and taking care of our health.

It seems pretty simple when you think about it, take care of yourself so you can take care of others. But there can sometimes be this underlying and subconscious guilt that we have. Like we have to apologize for spending an hour away from the family to work out. Don’t feel guilty. Establish with your family that not taking care of yourself can be detrimental to the family’s health as a whole. 

Don’t be afraid to work with others.

I definitely feel like working alongside others has been beneficial. I feel confident that I can participate and if I even slightly think I will struggle, my awesome workout teammates encourage me to keep going. We get to cheer each other on and share in the accomplishment of our session! Not only is it fun, but it keeps us accountable as we get fit. For HIGHX at 24 Hour, I was so happy that my daughter was able to join me. She’s preparing for her first season of high school (yeah, I’m old!) track next year, and wanted to get started on training. She did absolutely amazing. I’m excited to have a little workout partner in my corner. She’s also a great encourager for me. 

HIGHX

The workout flew by! We focused on our entire bodies, getting cardio, strength training, stretching, plyometrics, the works! It was fun and got me pumped for the rest of the day! We rotated through about 14 or so stations within 50 minutes and each movement was broken up within 30 second increments. It was fast-paced and high intensity. There were a few times that it took me a minute to figure out what moves we were doing, but Gabby and her trainer were there to show me and it kept me moving through! 

I definitely am excited to check out our local 24 hour to see when this program launches. The HIGHX program is high intensity but for all skill levels. We work at our own pace, and are encouraged to listen to our bodies. I think anyone can do this program and there are modifications for most of the exercises if needed. 

I think having a program in place that allows me to get in and get out of the gym is wonderful. Not only that, but making new friends along the way is a cherry on top! 

You can read more about Gabby & HIGHX on her website

Call your local 24 Hour Fitness and find out when HIGHX will launch at your location!

We did it! The

We did it! The “After” shot. 🙂 

I was invited to meet and workout with Gabby Reece as a member of the media. There was no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% mine and always magical. And the sweat involved was not “Photoshopped.”

Have you found a workout that you love? Do you enjoy working out in a group? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Raising Our Boys to Respect Women

Raising Our Boys to Respect Women

My husband and I are blessed with two handsome sons. They’re the youngest of our group of five kids, and are full of life, energy, humor, and love. With the continuous stories in media of men abusing women, it is only natural for our family to have full on discussions about these situations.

While we talk to our daughters about how they carry themselves and what they wear to a certain degree, we emphasize our training towards our boys. Yes, we teach our daughters the same values of being respectful, keeping their hands to themselves, etc. However, most of the time we see the strength of grown men compared to some and the havoc that can be caused when they cross a line. Men are just naturally bigger and scarier when they get angry. They tend to be stronger in situations that can scare women. However, growing up Christian, the emphasis has ALWAYS been on women being the enticers because men can’t control themselves. We are the reason they get irritated. We tempt them. Heaven forbid men learn the word “no” and not go crazy. We were taught to be modest in dress so we don’t get raped or molested. We are told not to hang out with boys because we can’t trust them since “you never know” as they are just perverse. 

What if we as a society taught our boys that they are not all perverse and that they, just like women are wonderfully made and need to be responsible for protecting others. What if instead of shaming our daughters we build up our sons to be respectful and kind. What if we told them “no” with the idea that their understanding of this word can carry them through life and perhaps save them from self-destruction?

No means STOP.

I take it as my duty as a loving mother to teach my children the word “no” in EVERY aspect, which includes anger and eventually sex. Our boys are only 10 and 8, but we feel it is important to teach them at a young age how to socialize and treat others, and we do our best to teach them to communicate, understand their feelings and figure out how to cope with them. We are to teach our children to be and feel empowered, that they have the right to say no and speak up if they are wronged in any way. Our daughters learn the same things, but given the state of society, we see how important it is for our boys to understand this.

Having three older sisters gives our boys a lot of practice on being respectful and showing physical self control with girls. They both are pretty small compared to their sisters, so handling arguments and physical “tussles” as my son calls it is fairly easy. The typical sibling wresting match that begins innocently ends up being that someone hit too hard or didn’t stop when the other person asked. They do have a sister that can whoop them all and she’s super strong, but that doesn’t mean they should be hitting her either. She is learning that her strength can damage and self control is something that she is working on, too. 

Even in the tussles, we teach them all that “No” means STOP. Stop means stop. At this stage in their lives, it revolves around simple playing and banter. If they are playing with someone and the other person says “no” or “stop,” you do just that. It means you are about to cross a line if you keep going. That means, you have now disrespected that person’s wishes and if they don’t understand that at an early age, it can set them up for disaster when they are older. 

Daily Teaching

Our sons will grow up stronger each day; they will still get angry, they will get excited, they will lust. We stress with them the importance of learning and having self control because laying a hand on another person without his or her consent is never allowed. It is a constant conversation. Touching someone inappropriately is not okay. They are not scared to touch people, they are very loving, enjoy hugs and like to have fun. But they understand there is a line and that it shouldn’t be crossed.

While they are in our house it will be taught, reminded, stressed. It does help that they have an amazing example of a man in their father. I say the darnedest things sometimes but Jeff treats me like a queen and in the moments that we are frustrated, he never yells at me and never lays a hand on me. This alone speaks to our children even when words do not. I am a strong woman, and my boys know that. They also know that I am full of emotion and love, that while I am a dominant personality, I still love that their Daddy treats me delicately. 

Open Communication

We teach the boys that women are special. It’s important for them to hear from a woman, from their mommy, on how it makes her feel to be treated with love. We are preparing to give “the talk” to our 10 year old and I will be there. We want them to hear from both of us. Sex isn’t one sided and it should NEVER be one sided. It involves the act of two people, so it only makes sense that we discuss it together. Some might frown on that decision and others have said it is too gross to talk about that with their sons. Well, we want our children to know that they can come to either of us with questions, concerns or anything at all.  If we teach our kids to love and respect their bodies and others’ bodies, giving them the tools to make decisions on their own instead of just forcing them to make them, we will see them grow up and flourish as independent and responsible human beings.

Responsibility 

With all things in life comes responsibility, especially with how we treat others. Teaching our kids to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions is important. We focus on the fact that they cannot control other people. Our daughters being older have had more discussion on the subject of sex than our boys, but they know that they should be aware and understand the dangers. However, we also want to empower them to be comfortable in who they are, be comfortable in their dress and feel open to asking questions when they are unsure. We’ve gone over scenarios with all of the kids, heaven forbid something happen and that there is NO shame on them. That they will never be blamed for someone being inappropriate because that is not their fault, this goes for the girls and boys. That Mommy and Daddy do not care about what people think of them or us. That we are a team and we will always love and protect them to the best of our ability. We are grateful that they are surrounded by people and friends that respect them and their bodies. So help me God and any offender, if that ever proves to not be the case.

It is our goal is to teach them to know their bodies and to know that they have the choice to cross a line or not. They will be become strong men one day and they need to be responsible for their actions. They know that there is a line and that giving into impulsive and inappropriate behavior is not tolerated in our home or in society. They are responsible for their actions and that they will be reprimanded should they cross a line. Self-defense in a physical fight is one thing; Taking advantage of another is totally different and very wrong. They have to learn that there are consequences for negative actions.

"Each child is an adventure into a better life – an opportunity to change the old pattern and make it new." Hubert H. Humphrey

A photo posted by JΞFFRΞY §TΞ▽ΞN (@jeffrey_steven) on

Only for a Time

If you consider that you have 18-21 years with your child to raise them before sending them off into society, that’s not a lot of time! We want to be proactive in raising and teaching them, not wait until a situation happens. We are so proud of the little men that our boys are becoming. We are equally happy to see our daughters rise up as empowered young women, independent and champions for social justice and change. We hope that when we send them out into the world on their own they have taken to heart what we share and discuss. Enjoy your babies, show them love, teach them love. Then when its time to let them fly, they have a great foundation to move forward in life. We can’t protect them forever, and we can’t make choices for them. But, we can give them the tools, knowledge and then let them grow up and make their own paths.