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If you follow me on Twitter (@kalynkinomoto) or are a friend of mine on Facebook or real life, you probably know how much I love the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska & Washington! People ask me why I love it so much, and I honestly can’t give an answer other than 1) I love kids, 2) the mission is so simple and 3) they really impact kids’ lives.

The month of June will mark one year that I’ve volunteered for Make-A-Wish and I am SO glad I made this decision. It has changed my life in so many ways. I was honored to be the organization’s volunteer spotlight for the January e-newsletter (here).

Last night was a tremendous evening. I volunteered at the annual Wish Night auction and gala. It’s the “big event” for Make-A-Wish. It’s a time when former and present Wish Families, sponsors, volunteers, celebrities and community members come together for one huge night to raise money to grant wishes. I was the lead volunteer for the registration area and got to meet lots of people whom I’ve only met and interacted with online (before you jump to any conclusions, I mean via Twitter), as well as other volunteers whom I’ve heard about from other wishes and events.

I came *this close* (really, like practically standing next to) several of the Seattle Sounders FC players who came to support the cause. If I had my phone with me, I would’ve taken a picture with them! So cute, so generous and so cute. That is my only regret of the night … not taking a picture with Brad Evans or Roger Levesque. Sigh.

This year’s theme was “Mission Incredible” and incredible it was! My first volunteer event was helping out at Colby’s lair party for his wish, which happened this past summer. His wish was to be a secret agent and it was one of those wishes that was so imaginative and creative. Colby was at Wish Night and throughout the evening, so were his nemeses. Lots of fun the entire night (including, but not limited to circus school kids unicycling on the escalators, sneaky kids spying on the events of the night, interruptions in the main program from Rex Velvet, etc.).

The energy in the room was so awesome! So many people come super excited to give thousands of dollars to change kids’ lives. I stayed in the volunteer hangout room for most of the main event time and watched the live feed of the auction. There were so many generous givers.

At the end of the night, more than $1.25 million was raised! That’s incredible! So many wishes can come true with that money.

I’m thrilled to be part of such an incredible organization. If you have any inklings of volunteering for a great cause, please, contact Make-A-Wish! You will not regret it, I promise.

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Here’s another Auntie Approved post! My niece was outgrowing her infant car seat and so we decided to purchase a new convertible car seat for her to use when she comes to visit us in Seattle.

boobear

One of my biggest pet peeves is when car seats are installed incorrectly or when the buckles aren’t tight enough. I guess this comes from my many years of babysitting and nannying … being responsible for someone else’s child(ren) has made me super cautious about safety, especially when traveling in the car.

Before my niece and sister came out to visit (they live across the country), I did a lot of research on which car seat to purchase. I really love the Britax line of car seats, but as infrequently as my niece visits, it didn’t seem worth the extreme prices of that brand. I opted for this car seat: Graco’s My Ride 65 Safety Surround.

Graco My Ride 65 Safety Surround in Capri

Here are some of the reasons why it’s one of my Auntie Approved products:

  • It has lots of cushy padding in the seats. So many car seats lack this and it’s hard to think of a kid having to sit in a plastic shell for extended amounts of time. This seat features body pillows and head cushions, which can easily be removed as the child gets older and bigger.
  • It fits in the car, both in rear-facing and front-facing modes. We drive a standard size SUV and it’s incredible how hard it can be to get a car seat to fit properly, even with a “big” car!
  • The buckles and straps adjust easily. Of course we haven’t used this on a daily basis, but we haven’t run into any problems with the straps twisting or buckles jamming.
  • It accommodates kids for a long time. My niece is just over 20 pounds right now, but this will fit her until she reaches 65 pounds, which is typically (here comes my nanny knowledge again!) when kids can use a booster. Why buy more car seats than you need to?!

Some things I wish this car seat had:

  • Better LATCH installation attachments (like this); these work, but it’s difficult to remove the car seat from the car once it’s installed. These ones work more like a carabiner vs. the ones (that I like) that work like a seatbelt. 
  • No-thread harness straps (like this); again, not a big deal since we don’t use this all the time, but if it were for my own child, I’d probably want something that I don’t have to re-thread as the child gets taller.
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