Changing the World

Changing the WorldFamily Matters

It Was Her Eyes. Making a Difference For Hungry Kids #Toonies4Tummies

I’m hungry

We are all responsible to make sure our kid’s tummies are full.

It was her eyes.

That’s what I remember the most.

We were sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Buenos Aires, people streaming along the ramblas in front of us enjoying the 30+ heat and sunshine. As we people-watched, I noticed a number of children, dirty, no shoes, messy, tangled hair, carrying babies with diapers as their only coverage begging to those passing by, pleading for money to feed their family.

I know what you are going to say, it might have been a scam. A ruse to foil tourists into giving them money. Maybe. Quite possibly. But you can’t make someone’s eyes look the way hers did.

At one point, I looked over at a trash bin and saw a little girl wildly licking her fingers as she devoured the sauce left inside a styrofoam takeout container. We locked eyes and in that moment, I wanted to cry for her. The pain of hunger etched across her face. Her eyes, sunken and manic with a desperate need to eat something. She was full-on starving.

Her eyes are burned into my brain.

We spent 3 months travelling through some of the poorest countries in South America. The word “hustle” has a different meaning down there. Their hustle is for survival and it can be very difficult to see at times. Throughout our entire trip around the world, one of the biggest impacts for us was how often we would see more of those eyes. Countless examples of children in dire need of food.

Kids often get mistaken with behavioural issues when in reality, it is hunger leading the way

Fast forward to when we came home to Toronto and I was at my child’s school. I was walking down the hall and ran into a child with those same hungry eyes. She said her tummy hurt and again, I wanted to cry for another child going through pains that they shouldn’t have to suffer.

The issue of child hunger is still a big problem here in Canada. Over 1.1 Million children access student nutrition programs on a daily basis and 1 in 8 households in Canada are food insecure, meaning they struggle with getting food on the table.

We all know kids who eat breakfast do better in school, and missing meals can impair a student’s success. Behavioural & concentration issues can be a challenge in children who are hungry. It takes a village, as they say, to care for our children. In this case, our village is our local school community and the programs set in place to help kids thrive.

One of the main contributors to this community is the Grocery Foundation and their #Toonies4Tummies program. This is a program that brings a significant number of grocery retailers and product brands together to help raise funds for student nutrition and keep tummies full at school.

The beauty of it all?

The Grocery Foundation funds all of the expenses for the campaign which means 100% of the donations received go directly to serving local communities.

Over the course of January, February and March, #Toonies4Tummies are collecting toonies at the till in store to help towards their $1Million dollar goal this year.

Even better, you can donate right from home by going to the Grocery Foundation website and donating online TODAY.

All it takes is a toonie and you are helping be the change with children across Canada.

Teach your children the importance & impact of helping others by watching how far our toonies grow with the Toonie Tracker at

We are all in this together. It’s time to care for our village.

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Changing the WorldFamily MattersKids Corner

23 ways to Teach Your Kids Kindness This Holiday Season


We are our children’s biggest role models in how to grow up to be good humans. Yet in our running around, hectic scheduled mayhem that is so common today, we just might be teaching them the wrong set of values.

Teaching your kids how to be kind (now and in every day) is an important part of modelling as a parent. As the world shifts and changes, more than ever it is important to teach your kids kindness as a crucial part of their core set of values.

The holidays can be crazy for sure but it is also the most wonderful time of year. It is a time to be grateful, to spread joy, to embrace the holiday spirit and most importantly to be kind.

I know, I know, there is so much going on but TRUST ME, being kind is super easy.

This year we brainstormed WITH our kids on what we could do to be kind this holiday season and this is what they came up with.

 Teach Your Kids To Be Kind By Getting Them Involved

Handwrite a note

Take the time to tell someone how they have impacted your life, send a thank you note, or share a sweet sentiment to make someone’s day.

Save your pop can tops

Bless her heart, my grandmother would berate us if we didn’t take the pop can tops off for the countless years we were growing up. I actually didn’t think they still did this anymore but March of Dimes indeed does collect pop (& beer) can tops to purchase mobility items for those in need.

Donate money to the food bank

Did you know that food banks/soup kitchens are most often able to secure up to 4X the amount of food as you are purchasing from the grocery store? Many people will donate what they haven’t used in their cupboards. Canned goods (while still food), often lack the nutritional value a family needs to stay healthy. Consider what you donate. Giving money AND food is a great way to help provide fresh produce to families in need.

Make a friend

Friendship can be a difficult challenge for many kids growing up. Encouraging your kids to be fully aware of what is going on around them, to look out for kids who might be alone and actively seek out people to help or sit with can have an absolutely HUGE impact on another kid.

Listen to a friend

Social media is not your way of keeping in touch with important friends. That is and always will be the highlights of their lives. Check in, visit, and be present. Ask and truly listen to a friend who might need to talk a bit over the holidays.

You can make a friend anywhere you go, as long as you try.

Give money/Buy extra coffee/sandwiches and deliver them on the street

I have many friends who disagree with the belief in providing money and food to those in need. Yeah. No. No one, not one person, has ever asked for a fate of trying to stay warm out in the freezing cold without a roof over their heads or knowing where their next meal is coming from. No one ever. We have all taken wrong turns in our lives. For some that wrong turn has gone further down a path than others. For others, mental health issues have prevented them from maintaining a job or relationships or even providing the capacity to take care of themselves.  You never know anyone else’s story. Find the compassion in your heart to imagine how difficult this must be. Don’t judge. Just give.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen

We have been working with the kids on the concept of “jump to help”. Don’t wait to be told, offer up your help wherever possible. Spread joy & strike up conversations with patrons who are visiting this service. Nothing is more valuable than human connection.

The kids had the best time volunteering at a Mission and became fast friends with the people they were working with.

Hold the door open

Such an easy idea can really brighten someone’s day & in turn put them in a mindset to pay it forward as well.

Learn someone’s name

Whether its your barista, server, retail clerk or even the homeless person you meet on the street, dignity is everything. It’s such a simple thing but asking someone their name can often mean the world. It acknowledges them and shows them the respect they deserve.

Pay for someone’s coffee or meal

Next time you are at drive through, consider paying it forward by covering the order behind you. It is such a nice delight and usually starts a chain reaction of kindness.

Offer to help wrap presents

Older neighbours or friends who might feel challenges with arthritis or body pain might find it difficult to wrap gifts. Do it for them while having a visit and a cup of tea.

Hug someone

Hugs are the best. Seriously, if I could just offer free hugs at the mall to everyone (especially those who look Grinchy) I would. Hugs release oxytocin in a squeeze and have massive, awesome medical benefits. Not only does it help lower heart rates and reduce blood pressure, it also decreases stress hormones. Who doesn’t need a hug?

Bake or cook for your neighbours & friends

Sometimes putting time in to bring joy to others is the best kind of kindness you can share. Prepping a meal or providing baked goods to someone having visitors over the holidays is a great way to get your kids involved in considering the value of community.

Offer to take kids

I always say to our friends, more is actually easier. I love the bustle of kids running through the house and it allows us to have quality time with people we care about. Dropping off kids allows our kids to think of ways to entertain and allows our adult friends to go Christmas shopping or have a nice, quiet dinner out without concern of running home while the babysitter meter is ticking.

Fill the school library with books that support important dialogues

As the world is shifting, we still have so much to learn. Gifting a book to the library as part of your holiday plans helps to create dialogue on a number of important issues. Indigenous history & reconciliation, world religions, sexual identity, self-esteem, bullying and building respect are all topics that could use more accessible literature within our schools.

Get social in real life. Encourage kids to say Hi & smile.

Challenge your kids to meet someone new. I think in our over-concern of stranger danger, we have created a lot of nervousness in our kids. We have been focusing instead on being aware of your surroundings and trusting your gut. It is important for our kids to learn how to be social and a smile is one of the best kind of “viral” sensations you can create.

These lovely ladies were super awesome to volunteer beside and treated the kids with such kindness.

Stop by the fire, police or nurses station with baking or treats

Shift work is killer over the holidays. Many emergency/medical occupations miss out on their own family Christmas to provide care for others. Stopping by with kindness shows kids how we need each other in a community to function & flow. To show our gratitude & appreciation for those who watch over our world.

Clean someone’s driveway/Bring garbage cans up from the street

Especially as it gets colder, helping neighbours who could potentially slip and fall is an easy kindness to do every week. A wonderful task to get your kids involved in and seeing the importance of considering others in your every day.

Wash someone’s windows at the gas station

Its one of our son’s favourite things to do (& as long as he gets permission) he loves washing the windows around the gas station.

Stop by a seniors home

Often times seniors don’t have people coming to visit as much as they would like, need to get to appointments or would like to go to the store but don’t have the mobility to get there. A simple conversation and company can go a long way. A drive to somewhere they need to go could be an absolute dream.

Take a treat in to teacher/mechanic/hairstylist/doctor/dentist/service provider

A nice surprise that says “We appreciate you” will often make the team at any of these places smile.

Donate unexpected items to drop off at shelters

Consider donating products like diapers, new underwear, tampons, pads, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, even toilet paper can be welcome stock to share.

Spread Kindness & Joy

In any way you can.

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Changing the WorldReal Life

People Knew.

She is Fierce

Managing Memories & Moving Forward with #MeToo.

I did not want to get out of bed this morning, yet I haven’t slept for days.

I wade through memories, waking up my past to consciously review the countless times I would say Me Too. 

The list (as it is for so many of us) is far too long. Years of unwanted and unwelcome touches, advances or commentary to scroll through. I start to laugh.

I laugh because it’s all so ridiculous.

The boss who told me that sleeping with clients wasn’t in my job description but if I opted to do so, I wouldn’t get fired. The numerous managers and directors (including HR) whose discussions over the size, shape, and look of my breasts in a T-shirt apparently required weekly remarks. The boss who daily made reference to what I must be like in bed (or what he was like) while his wife worked in the next office.

I would say something on occasion but it was so common that it simply became part of the hazards of working in male-dominated industries.

We saw it daily. Every woman. We all knew it was wrong but standing up to it got so complicated.

Insane isn’t it?

And social media right now is like the mother of all triggers.

If you are an empath, today the world is screaming with heartache, frustration, (bubbling) anger and sadness. We feel it. All of it. Our hearts hurt hard. The “Me Too” movement overwhelmingly present and completely unsurprising.

Timing is everything.

I don’t need to debate the merits or downfall of when, where or how people made claims of sexual harassment. This is a really good thing. It has opened up more opportunity to talk.

Would this movement have happened even a year ago?

When I lent my voice to #BeenRapedNeverReported during the outing of Jian Ghomeshi, the deluge of comments and responses that came along with it shocked me. The amount of victim blaming and shaming rampant in the tide of that trial.

Are you ready for this?

I received 80 (yes, 80) private messages thanking me for having the courage to put it out there when 80 (yes, 80) other women did not feel brave or safe enough to put it out there themselves.

There is strength in numbers.

There is strength in every person who has managed to write “Me Too”.

There is strength in every person who has ever dealt with this.

How do you manage in the middle of this shit show?

It’s a fine line. All of this brings back all of that.

I will start with this.

Through You, Not Of You.

Self-care is essential. Know when things are too much and walk away. Breathe and take time to process.  One of the greatest pieces of advice I was ever given was to let information flow through you, but don’t let it take part of you with it. Let it flow and let it go.

Be Grateful.

I know it seems odd to ask you to think of gratitude in the face of all of this, but there are millions upon millions of women who live in countries right now where rape is commonplace and assumed; where human trafficking is still actively occurring and where the parity and equity equations have hardly even begun to exist.

We live in countries where the dialogue has begun. Where freedom of speech allows us to speak our mind and more than ever we must.

It’s been said out loud what we have always known. 

We are all responsible to figure out what to do with the knowledge that the mass majority of women (on earth) have been subjected to some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in her life.

This is everyone’s problem.

Change is Coming.

You never walk through the same river twice. What happened in the past, happened. You can do nothing to change that.

BUT you can do everything to change the future.

You can use this movement to recognize moving forward that you will never, ever let those moments of harassment go unchallenged.

You can use this movement to educate your children to be bold, to stand up for what is right, to stand against what is wrong and to know that they are in control of their own bodies.

We can use this movement to help shape our own, our children and societies core values so that this vicious cycle doesn’t continue momentum.

People knew. People know.

We can’t. We won’t let this happen anymore.

We are fierce.




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Changing the WorldTravel

Why We Are Visiting Places That Will Likely Disappear In Our Lifetime


The Many Faces of Travel

When we finally made the decision to take this trip around the world, a big part of the planning process became “where do we want to go?”

Each family member was given a choice of 3 priority destinations that would fulfill a lifelong dream of theirs.


If you could pick 3 places to travel in the world, where would you go?

Our loose, plan not to plan itinerary is to see the world in all its glory. Yet we realized that many of the places we wanted to see are also ones that are being threatened by over-tourism, climate change and the influence/intrusion of man.

The Giant Tortoises once ruled the Galapagos, until man brought invasive species along to the islands. In turn, the food & water resources were consumed by other animals greatly depreciating the tortoise population into endangered status
The Giant Tortoises once ruled the Galapagos, until man brought invasive species along to the islands. In turn, the food & water resources were consumed by other animals greatly depreciating the tortoise population into endangered status

We feel like we’re in a bit of a juxtaposition. Our goal was to intentionally visit sites that we believe might disappear in our lifetime. After seeing how tourism is affecting many of those areas, we are unsure if our attendance might be hastening their demise.

The pristine, hardly-touched beach of Tortuga Bay in Galapagos could change in a heart beat if the wrong people are supporting the tourism plan for the islands
The pristine, hardly-touched beach of Tortuga Bay in Galapagos could change in a heart beat if the wrong people are supporting the tourism plan for the islands

We have already witnessed it as we visited The Galapagos Islands and we have seen in again in Aguas Calientes, the base town for traveling Machu Picchu.

Being able to walk through lava tunnels gave us such an incredible perspective on how the Galapagos came about
Being able to walk through lava tunnels gave us such an incredible perspective on how the Galapagos came about

In the Galapagos, we opted to do a land-based visit to maintain our RTW budget and support local providers where possible. The concept of land vs cruise tours is still quite new in the Galapagos. It was very simple to book island tours for the next day, the competition becoming increasingly fierce for the tourist dollar. While the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and other government agencies are working hard on regulations around environmental considerations, amount of tourists and the way they tour, you can already see how more tourists in the Galapagos has the potential of messing with an already fragile eco-system.

We were able to come so close to the marine iguanas that you know they have become VERY familiar with tourists
We were able to come so close to the marine iguanas that you know they have become VERY familiar with tourists

A few things that really did impress me about The Galapagos:

  • Tour organizers like Galapagos Alternatives work very hard at designing a personal custom tour for you WHILE ensuring that where possible the eco-impact is considered.
  • The government has a limited allocation of taxis currently running with gas on the island. Any resident purchasing a car in the future on the island must purchase an electric car.
  • Seymour Airport on Baltra Island is the first Ecological airport, running entirely on renewable energy resources like solar power and wind. 

Machu Picchu is one of the most majestic places on earth. It truly does take your breath away when you turn the corner and see it for the first time. Unfortunately, parts of the ruins as well as the road on the way up are starting to deteriorate and the geological concerns are hitting a critical mass. Areas are starting to become off limits, walks to the Sun Gate are now restricted to 2 walks up per day and must be booked months in advance, the Intihuatana stone (The Hitching Post of the Sun) no longer allowed to be touched.

The Temple of the Condor in Machu Picchu was fascinating in their beliefs and rituals surrounding it, yet too much activity can start to cause damage.
The Temple of the Condor in Machu Picchu was fascinating in their beliefs and rituals surrounding it, yet too much activity can start to cause damage.

We were told that according to recent studies, the road has less than 17 months left before it will be impossible to drive up to the top. There has been consideration  for a cable car up to the top but the local economy is against it, bolstered largely through the employment offered from construction, tourism and buses driving up the mountain. For Aguas Calientes their sole economy is tourism. Without it, this town has no other resources to rely on. The push for an increase in tourism will continue but at what price?

The market in Aquas Calientes is so very full of the usual tourist chotchkes. We get it. It's the only source of economy in the town.
The market in Aquas Calientes is so very full of the usual tourist chotchkes. We get it. It’s the only source of economy in the town but it quickly changes the beauty and authenticity of the experience into feeling like a dollar sign. 

We are trying hard to be careful in how we are traveling. To support sustainable travel & local economies but without getting caught in the “vicious cycle” that plays out with popular tourist destinations where we can.

Lake Titicaca is so incredibly beautiful but it is said now that locals are putting on a “show” to appease expectations for tourists when its no longer real

We have a few other precious destinations on our list. Patagonia is seeing many of its glaciers retreating at an alarming rate, the Great Barrier Reef is dying, the Sumatran Orangutans are endangered, pushed out of their natural habitats due to deforestation, logging and poachers and the Maldives will likely be under water within the next few decades due to climate change.

This trip is a series of life lessons we are learning along the way. One which we hope will connect for us, for our kids and for our readers alike.

Machu Picchu is SUCH a sacred place but it feels very close to that sacred piece being hurt along the way
Machu Picchu is SUCH a sacred place but it feels very close to that sacred piece being hurt along the way.

Dad Says:

Ok, so did you get the T-Shirt?  That is the question that keeps circling as we make our way through South America.  Every stop has weavings, pictures, purses and ‘real’ Alpaca products for sale, all handmade if you believe the tales, and dyed in the time-honoured tradition of the region.  Or not.  There is way too much similarity to vouch for the claims, and you wonder if this schtick is as transparent to others as it is to us.  Sadly, I don’t think so, with the amount of offerings and marks milling through the markets.

This is the part of travel I don’t like.  The commercialization of these magical places, the continual drive to relieve me of some currency. No, I don’t want a: hat, blanket, hammock, or picture of you in your traditional regional garb.  I want to climb to the top of a mountain and imagine the footsteps of those who went before, take a picture to bolster my failing memory, and think of the journey over a glass.  No T-shirt required…


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Changing the WorldFamily MattersTravel

Why National Geographic Is To Blame For All Of This

Charles Darwin Science Station

& How we are using Nat Geo as our best tool on the road

One of the most vivid, core memories I have as a child is running down the hallway of my grandparents house. Their dark blue, psychedelic carpet and powder blue bathroom sink stamped forever in my brain.

As my cousins and I play hide and go seek, I head to my favourite place to hide. A waist-high closet you had to crawl up in to at the end of the hall.

As I pop open the closet door, a secret world reveals itself to me. Stacks upon stacks of yellow bordered magazines sit at the base of the closet and I suck in my breath out of sheer wonder of it all .

National Geographic.

I’m not sure if my grandparents realized the gift they bestowed on us. Years of a National Geographic magazine subscription opened so many doors to discovery. Different cultures, natural phenomenons, extraordinary animals and a global group of people & their ways of life kept me company for hours. I was hooked. Every time I stayed over at their house I would sit in the closet, eagerly devouring so many incredible stories of our world.

Our love as a family for National Geographic runs deep.

Turtle breeding centre Charles Darwin Science Station

For my husband and I, it feels as much a part of our youth as pet rocks and smelly stickers.

For our children, the legacy has continued both traditionally and in an entirely new way.

For them, this whole wealth of information was introduced through a series of National Geographic Kids books on everything from ocean life, blue whales, sea turtles and Weird but True facts. These books are phenomenal and I can’t express enough how good they are for learning with your kids. We weren’t able to take the books on the road (*ahem*: 2 backpacks people..2 backpacks only for 8 months) but when we do have wifi, we are in fact tuning in from the road to the National Geographic Weird But True TV series that recently launched as both kids continue to love these quirky facts & are making it a game in searching their own on the trip.

How often do you find a real shrunken head in a museum along with directions on how to shrink them? Found at Solar Intinan beside Mitad del Mundo

Why blame National Geographic?

A beautiful piece of Autism is to become so deeply enamoured with a subject matter that you can’t hardly talk about anything else. Through the years of managing Autism with our son, we have seen many an obsession. When he started exploring those National Geographic Kids books, it created a love so deep for our oceans, for Blue Whales and for those “cool facts”, it became his go-to topic of discussion. It was a phenomenon to witness and one that we were happy to support his exploration of.

DYK: The highest density of Blue Whales is off the coast of Sri Lanka?

Neither did we. Until we heard about it for many, many months.

When the dialogue started about this round the world trip, that fact, was one of the first parts of the conversation. “What if we could take Spence to Sri Lanka to SEE the Blue Whales first hand? Can you imagine?” “How can we utilize both kids love of animals as a way to connect and engage with them?” “What if ….”

And so it began.

Nothing better to talk through volcanos and tectonic plates than by trekking up one on horseback. 4100m on Pinchincha
Nothing better to talk through volcanos and tectonic plates than by trekking up one on horseback. 4100m on Pinchincha

The New Way

If you want to get creative and engage kids, I can’t recommend enough following National Geographic on Instagram and SnapChat. Living and working in social media, I have to say their social engagement is some of some of the most impressive brand work I have ever seen in the social stratosphere. I started showing our daughter the incredible imagery & stories they post daily. As a 9 year old who is nowhere close to having an Instagram account (but thinks it’s wicked cool), it has become a way for us to get her engaged and create meaningful dialogue on different elements of the world.

I was lucky to meet the team from National Geographic at the Mom 2.0 Summit conference last year. In sharing stories of our plan for this Global adventure, we had the incredible fortune of being named one of this year’s National Geographic Kids Ambassadors. This role is a cornerstone in our global adventure and in fact has made far more of an impact than we ever thought possible.

These lovely creatures are native to the Galapagos but are being watched do to invasive species affecting their mortality rates. It's been hard to know that we, as humans are directly responsible for the demise of so many incredible animals.
These lovely creatures are native to the Galapagos but are being watched do to invasive species affecting their mortality rates. It’s been hard to know that we, as humans are directly responsible for the demise of so many incredible animals.

We have already begun to change.

The only way I can describe it is noticing that everybody is pregnant when you become pregnant. I sense us already far more AWARE of the impact we as humans can have. Everything from how we travel, cultures, environment, climate, mother nature & more, we are discussing it often. Exciting and uncomfortable all at the same time, it feels like a necessary part of our journey to feel this discomfort in order to learn how we might be able to make a difference.

I jokingly blame National Geographic for all of this but I couldn’t be more grateful. Somehow connecting with them this early in the trip has opened our eyes to a more significant and deeper experience. So yeah, I blame you,  National Geographic and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.




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Changing the WorldTravel

Who ARE MomDadCuppaKids?

Who are Mom Dad Cuppa Kids

We can all agree there is so so much noise on the internet. For us, its really important that we don’t want this blog to add to the clutter. We want it to be fun, informative, open, and genuine.

As we get closer towards to leaving on our #CuppaRTW: Round The World Adventures, we’ve been thinking a lot on how to bring fresh & new ideas here.

Our hopes are that we can help inspire people one way or another and we do believe we can do it ways that will truly provide value.

But we realized first and foremost that you might not really know us that well.

To keep it simple, this is us.

We’re a bit goofy, awfully fun and a pretty easy-going family who like to dance and who want to live life to the fullest while we are here.

To decide if you would like to follow along on our journey, here are a few


  • Chris has a dry, sarcastic, witty sense of humour. Jenn is more silly, cheeky and out there raw.
  • We met at the airport, during an ice storm at which time Chris convinced the airline to fly me all the way across the country to turn around to get back to the middle as it was the only flight (his by the way) leaving that night.
  • We love the outdoors and grew up at the cottage. Water is our peace place.
  • We are the couple that gets put at the table to keep the conversation alive at a wedding or an event.
  • We truly are a team and have supported each other through careers, entrepreneurship, extensive travel, special needs and more. Family is key and our rule is don’t ever keep score.
  • We are warrior advocates for our special needs son who put far more emphasis on the “special” than the needs, working hard to make life more about managing through Autism than Autism leading the conga line.
  • Our kids have picked up our love of dancing, adventure, exploration and sarcasm.
  • We climbed Mt. Kilimajaro as a way to celebrate 2 milestones- Jenn’s 40th bday and our 10th Anniversary. It wasn’t as hard as we thought but man were we awfully smelly/put our marriage to the test in the long run.
  • We love hosting parties (Jenn & Lauren have a particular love of turning everything into a theme) and it would be normal to find people dancing in our living room at 2am.
  • We believe that we are all one. That one of the essential values to pass on to our kids is to give back & pay it forward wherever we can. To always stop if someone needs help. 

We have no idea where this part of our lives will take us next but we are hoping that by journaling this we can create something amazing & positive.

Please let us know what you would like to see so that we can make this the best blog it can be.

And if you have friends who you think would enjoy our energy & sense of humour, please pass us on!


Snapchat: JennPowellLive





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