Malala and Chat 2.0 with Hallmark

Chat 2.0 : Malala Yousafzai

This past Tuesday evening I was incredibly honored and grateful to be invited to hear the incredible Malala Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, speak about continuing the world-wide fight for education for all children. I’ve long been an admirer of Malala, since her horrific story hit the news in 2012. Two summers ago her book, I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban, was one of my favorite reads. When I saw she was coming to Kansas City to speak, I knew I wanted to take my daughter. Malala was only 11 (a year older than Lucy) when she began writing her BBC blog, documenting life under the Taliban regime, and I really wanted my daughter to experience getting to hear someone speak who stood up against oppression at such a young age.

Malala Chat 2.0 with Hallmark

Having the opportunity to take Lucy to this event was a huge gift to both of us. Malala’s message is one of empowerment, and she talked in detail about how education can enable girls to be change-makers in their communities. Before the event started, the host asked all the people in the audience under 20-years-old to stand up and be recognized…and I won’t lie. When Lucy stood up, and the people around us started cheering for her, I totally started crying. I’m so proud of the young lady she is becoming, and I know she’s going to change the world in big ways!

First we heard from Malala’s father, Ziauddin, who was so inspiring to me as a parent. He spoke about coming from a place where women were not valued in the same way as men, and how he had five sisters, but no one ever thought to send them to school. Ziauddin is an educator himself, and when he was blessed with a daughter, he knew he needed to create his own school to ensure she could attend. He said, “My biggest achievement in my life is being the father to a daughter.” He encouraged us to stand up against oppression and inequality, and reminded us that the biggest capitol we have in our communities is US!

“Your own voice is the most powerful voice…raise it!” – Ziauddin Yousafzai

Malala Chat 2.0 with Hallmark

Then Malala came on stage and told her story. When she was 11-years-old, the Taliban came to her community and banned all the girls from attending school. She continued to attend, at much risk to herself and her family, and her father continued to teach girls, even though many schools were being bombed. She then began blogging for the BBC, sharing with the western world what it was like to be growing up female in Pakistan with the Taliban in control. In 2012, when she was 15-years-old, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban as she rode home on the bus after school. She was deliberately attacked because she had spoken out regarding education for girls. Amazingly, she survived and continues to speak worldwide about the issue of education for all people.

“I was shot to be silenced, but the opposite happened and my voice is louder than before.” – Malala Yousafzai

The question and answer section of the event was my favorite part, because hearing the candid and strong answers from Malala and her father was incredibly inspiring. Much of the conversation revolved around lack of funding for education around the world and the effect of poverty on education. Both Malala and her father stressed that the problem isn’t “lack of funds,” but instead the allocation of funds. Malala said the most surprising thing she’s seen in her travels is the lack of investment in education. She said if military entities worldwide stopped their spending for only eight days, we would be able to educate all of the children across the earth that are currently NOT attending school.

“More guns and bombs will never protect you. Educated children do not need to pick up guns.” – Malala Yousafzai

When I asked Lucy her favorite part of the event, she said it was when a child in the audience asked Malala what still scares her….her answer? Balloons! I loved that, because it helped show Lucy that even though Malala is an extraordinary person, she is still just a regular girl. Albeit, a girl who has won the Nobel Peace Prize!

Malala Chat 2.0 with Hallmark

Malala also told the crowd that the reason she always felt she could speak up, was because her father ALWAYS listened to her and her siblings. Even if they just wanted to talk about something silly, she said he would stop what he was doing and really listen to them. This was a huge wake up call for me as a parent. There are definitely times when I dismiss what my kids are saying, or shush them because I’m too “busy” with my own stuff, and that is something I plan on working on. I want my daughter to know her voice matters, and that begins at home.

I have to give HUGE thanks to Hallmark, who along with sponsoring Chat 2.0, gave Lucy and I the opportunity to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event. Hallmark Cards has a mission to help create communities where all children have the chance to grow up as healthy, productive and caring persons and vibrant arts and cultural experiences enrich the lives of all citizens. I so admire Hallmark’s dedication to gender diversity, especially in the STEM fields. Lucy really enjoyed seeing the Hallmark engineers before the event, and learning how they use math, science, engineering and technology to create so many incredible products. Lucy loves art AND science, and she loved seeing how the two can work together to make beautiful things!

“You young people…you need to speak out. I didn’t wait for someone older to come speak for me. Believe in your voice. Believe in yourself.” – Malala Yousafzai

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Hallmark, However, the written remarks and opinions are entirely my own.

Yount Photography Teen Fashion Show

AYP Teen Fashion Show!

One of the best parts of my creative journey over the past year has been the opportunity to work with so many talented photographers and artists from my area. I think being a creative entrepreneur can be a lonely experience, even for an introvert like myself, so making these connections with other makers, creators and artists has been paramount to keep me on the right path. And every day I’m inspired by the work these artists are doing in our own community, to continue making it a better place to live, learn and work.

One of these women that I’ve been lucky to meet this past year is Amanda Yount, of Amanda Yount Photography (AYP). Amanda is one of those people who is so giving with her talents, reaching out and being open and authentic with not only myself, but tons of other photographers as we grow our own businesses. Amanda’s primary clientele is high school seniors, so this year she decided to put together an INCREDIBLE opportunity for her Senior Elite Models and for our entire community!

Yount Photography Teen Fashion Show
I am thrilled to announce Amanda Yount Photography, the premiere photography studio for Kansas City-area seniors, is hosting a Teen Fashion Show on Sunday, April 10, 2016 at the The Pavillion at Logan Woods starting at 4pm. Proceeds will benefit Higher M-Pact, a 501c3 organization dedicated to empowering high-risk urban youth.

As a fashion-forward, high school senior portrait photographer, Amanda is passionate about creating a positive and empowering experience for my teen clients, while also giving back to other youth throughout Kansas City. Amanda Yount Photography will feature both our Senior Elite Models and Higher M-Pact youth in this unique and exclusive runway show. The following high schools will be represented: The Barstow School, St. Thomas Aquinas, Concordia High School, Santa Fe High School and Higginsville High School.

Higher M-Pact’s focus is to mentor, develop and restore hope in high-risk urban youth and high-risk communities, by turning obstacles into opportunities. Their “Leaders of Tomorrow” mentor program offers intense, long-term mentoring for a select group of high-risk urban adolescents aged 11 and up. Higher M-Pact also provides life and social skills training, spiritual development, education, job training, guidance counseling, recreational service and teaches youth how to give back to the community. Higher M-Pact’s Project Restoring Hope features beyond school programs which promote structure and provide positive activities for youth in high-risk communities. Project Restoring Hope also includes annual events, activities and programs that focus on building relationships. Go to their website to learn more about their wonderful organization and how you can get involved.

Tickets for the Teen Fashion Show can be purchased either online by clicking here or at the box office. All proceeds benefit Higher M-Pact. I would love to see some of your smiling faces there!

Eat Drink Stitch

Eat Drink Stitch!

Eat Drink Stitch

Kansas City is such a fun place to be a creative. Now, mind you, I never, EVER thought I’d be a part of the creative community here, but now that I am, I’m constantly amazed by the cool work everyone is doing. I especially love watching people I’ve known for a while grow their creative endevours and become incredibly successful. This is definitely the case when it comes to Kristen Shuler of Hey Paul Studios!

Eat Drink Stitch

You might remember Kristen from when she guest posted here on the blog waaaaayyyy back in the day (click here to read). Kristen and I met through mutual friends, and I think she’s such a kind, smart, crafty lady. We have both been working our butts off the past few years, and haven’t had as much time to connect, but I’ve been watching her adventures via social media. A few years ago, she started Eat Drink Stitch, a monthly series of embroidery happy hours, workshops and crafty events that rotate around various bars and restaurants in the Kansas City metro. Guest stitchers can choose between one of two embroidery designs that have been transferred onto fabric. Each unique pattern is created especially for the event.

Eat Drink Stitch

I was so pumped to be the Guest Blogger at a recent Eat Drink Stitch event held at the Westport Flea Market. As a first time stitcher (and long time horrible crafter) I was a little nervous, but Kristen immediately put me at ease. Many of the guests in attendance were first timers, and Kristen wandered the room, helping get people started and helping them through rough spots.

Eat Drink Stitch

The stitchers were able to choose from five different patterns, and each person received a mini stitch kit with everything they needed to complete their project. I sat at a super fun table with a few of Kristen’s old work colleagues, many of whom had never stitched before either! The Kansas City-themed pattern I chose was way more simple than it looked, and I was finished in about an hour. Stitchers can take as much or as little time to finish their projects, with most people finishing between one and two hours (while munching on snacks from the Flea Market, of course!).

All in all, I had a great time, and I am already planning attending another Eat Drink Stitch event soon with my book club! When my friends saw my photos on social media, they all wanted to know when we were going together!

For more information on the next Eat Drink Stitch event near you, visit their website at!

MLK Darkness and Stars

Darkness and Stars : Ways to Serve With Kids

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about service and how to be a helper in your community. We love spending our day off doing what we can to help others, no matter how old or young we are. Here are a few ways we like to serve others on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and every other day of the year!

MLK Darkness and Stars

1. Clean Up the Local School Playground –
Grab some trash bags and gloves and spend 30 minutes to an hour picking up any loose trash that might be laying around. Make a game out of it and see who can pick up the most!

2. Go Through Your Gently Used Winter Coats, Boots and Gear and Gather Items to Donate – We like to give ours to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City or to the Willow Domestic Violence Center.

3. Volunteer Together – Some of our favorite places to volunteer as a family are Harvesters of Kansas City and the KC Pet Project!

4. Take Dinner to Someone in Need –
Do you have a friend who has a new baby? Or maybe an elderly family member who is a bit lonely? Have your kids help make a nice dinner and drop it off together. I also like to have my kids draw pictures as gifts to go along with the meal.

5. Happy Chalk – When the weather is a bit warmer, we like to take sidewalk chalk and decorate the neighborhood with kind words of encouragement. Imagine being on a walk and looking down to see a happy note saying, “You are loved!” staring back at you. It’s pretty fun!

How do you serve your community as a family? I’d love to hear your ideas and add some new acts of kindness to our repertoire.

Kansas City Royals

We Love the Kansas City Royals!

Kansas City Royals

It’s a fun time to be living in Kansas City! While I didn’t grow up here, I am a Kansan by birth and that means I am, of course, a big Kansas City Royals fan. I’ve written about the Royals a few times on this blog, even sharing tips for a good time at the stadium when they weren’t a very good team! It’s been pretty incredible to watch our whole area come together around this group of fun, passionate guys who love the game they get to play under the stadium lights. I’m also excited to be seeing our city so prominently featured in national news, with most of it focusing on how awesome this place is and how lovely the people are who live here. Sometimes I can get a hankering to live somewhere else…somewhere more trendy and exciting. But I always end up back here. It’s home. I moved here when I was 21-years-old, fresh out of college. I had my babies here and I married my husband here. I bought my first home here. I started this blog here.

Kansas City is like that cool friend you met when you were younger. It’s flashy at first, especially for someone who had never lived in a big city. But as time goes on, you start to think maybe there is something bigger and better out there. You stray and make new friends, but something about the old ones always draw you back in. And Kansas City is the old friend, who you maybe haven’t called in a while, but when you get together for coffee, you laugh more than you have in weeks. It’s comfortable, it’s friendly, it’s fiesty…it’s home.

Watching our hometown team win the World Series has been such a great thing for our community. On Halloween (photos coming soon, I promise!) we walked from door-to-door, and it was incredible to see so many people outside watching Game 4 in their driveways on big screens. Everyone was happy and having an awesome time. Even though the Royals were losing most of that game, there were smiles on everyone’s faces. This team is the embodiment of everything I love about the people of Kansas City…they have fun, they never give up, and they are good sportsman. And those traits are contagious! There is something incredible about watching your kids look up to a group of athletes with these qualities and know they are taking that in and will remember it for the rest of their lives. It’s such a fun time to be a kid in Kansas City. I’m grateful my two are getting to experience this and it will be a vivid memory from their childhoods.

Kansas City Royals

Thank you Kansas City Royals, for reminding me of why I love this place. Thank you for bringing us together to cheer and laugh and cry and scream together. Thank you for not giving up. We are so lucky to have you as the ambassadors of our little city!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...