Celebration of #SisterSupplies

Remember how The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project was collecting supplies for Women’s History Month and I posted a challenge to gather some supplies? Well, I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed that Mr. Burgher was the only one to pull in supplies in my effort to fill up the car, but I was super excited that he gathered up 250 supplies (filling 5 tote bags) for us to take to the end of the month celebration at our favorite restaurant, Las Velas.

But, those totes added to others who took on the challenge, and celebrate we did! There were cookies, totes, authentic Mexican dishes, raffles, and of course, Sister Supplies! The kids were a fun time, ‘lil Man dancing from the moment we stepped in the door (and only stopping when he was eating some chips and salsa) and A drawing the raffle tickets. Both highly enjoyed Burgh Baby’s (not) Eat n’ Park Cookies, each eating at least 3, then screaming in laughter all the way home.

All in all, it was a successful evening for The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project and On the Spot, as well as a fun time for our family. It’s one of the ways we “minister” to our community, our “Unless”.


Friday Things

As you know, we’ve been pretty busy here, so busy to the point Mama even wanted to hide at one point. At the end of a long week, there are a few things worth noting here.

1. Today, I earned my 25 pound club badge over at LoseIt!. It’s taken me three months, but it is off. In all, since having Evan, I am down 43.5, so worth celebrating. The road has been long, but I am comfortable with the way I am doing it and thankful for the support I’ve been given.

2. Mr. Burgher and I are sitting here enjoying some soup we got on a deal we found over at Lady Savings. Yes, we know it is the middle of the night, but soup = veggies = fullness. It could be worse. We I could be snacking on numerous snacks he got on a find over here.

3. We did have some of those snacks (thank goodness for a stockpile) on Tuesday when Mr. Burgher and the ‘lil Burghers picked cousin J and I up from the airport and it took us over an hour to pass the Heinz Plant. Yikes.

4. ‘lil Miss A and ‘lil Man are having a sleepover in-house tonight with my parents. A demanded to sleep with Grammie in what will soon be ‘lil Man’s room (as soon as we can figure out what to do with the stockpile and coupon stash)…but only after staying up past her bedtime.

5. Four nights ago, I tweeted about hearing the waves crashing. Tonight I am listening to heat blowing and snow plows. Isn’t travel (and weather) a good thing?

6. I am saying some extra prayers for a good person and her family. She’d do the same for any of us, so you should do it too.

7. Tomorrow is our (sort of) monthly day with my dad’s family which means shopping and dinner. We’re also getting family pictures of the ‘lil Burghers taken (we didn’t know about the get together and already had these scheduled). Mr. Burgher is sporting the start of a ‘fro, but it’s better than his playoff beard. 😉

8. We’re behind on pictures. We have them. They are just living on the cameras. Stay tuned.

Loyal Fans

I am opening up a whole can of worms here, but forgive me. You see, our house has suffered several big losses this week when it comes to our sports teams, especially for the Clemson Tigers and Pittsburgh Steelers. It has not been easy to swallow, and it sure as heck would be easy to jump on some bandwagon now through the playoffs, but it is not going to happen.

You see, we are loyal fans who love our teams and players regardless. There were mistakes, bad calls, injuries, good plays by the other teams. But we are teaching our children the right way to be a fan–to be loyal regardless of the outcome. It is good sportsmanship, right? We will hold our heads high (even though August is so far away) and stay dedicated to the Black and Gold, Orange and Purple.

We don’t jump ship when the going gets tough. We don’t run to another team when ours is out. We were born loyal and will die loyal. Let our haters be our motivators, cause haters gonna hate.


Forever Fans

The Rainbows and Clouds: A Look Back at 2011

It is hard to believe that another year is about to come to a close, that this is the not the first year end for me, but number 29 while ‘lil Man is only experiencing number 2. When we sent out our Christmas card (on time this year, go us), we noted that if you missed our letter to come here to the blog and follow our daily adventures. Today’s post is going to serve as the typical letter, the look back at the year and everything that we have accomplished or failed at.

First, the hobby that ties us all together has really ramped up this year—couponing. We’ve been at this since moving back to PA, but things really took off when we realized that Mr. Burgher could do amazing things with his skills. Sure, there are times when we all are stressed because of the hobby, but moments like taking about $500 worth of Steelers toys and various board games to Stuff a Bus or giving cases of formula to My Choice are all worth it. Hearing our daughter beg to gather up tote bags full of pineapple to take to Miss Ivy at the Food Bank. Getting hugs from the ladies and men who run the pantries our family is involved in—they are thank you’s enough. Couponing gives Mr. Burgher and ‘lil Man something to do when ‘lil Miss A is in school and I am at work…and it goes without saying that it has added an amazing amount of blessings to our ‘lil family. We don’t do it for the glory (I honestly even feel selfish mentioning this here among friends!), but we do it for the right reasons.

Second, we have watched our children blossom so much over the past year.

‘lil Miss A? She got hair (finally!), started pre-school (and can say The Pledge of Allegiance pretty darn well), and started to enjoy the pool. Every time she goes to visit with her grandparents, I swear she comes home 3 inches taller. She’s got herself not one but two imaginary friends and is pretty good about telling us when they make her do something to go to time-out (uh, yeah). She loves to read books and playing mother to her babies and showing ‘lil Man how to grow.

‘lil Man started the year as a baby who liked to suck on two fingers and is now a toddling ‘lil Man who says words (like yeah, and Dada, and Mama) in between sucks on those fingers. He stumbles around, running in his walker, and creeping between the couch and coffee table, catching a few independent stands here and there (coupled with complete scared meltdowns). He still demands to sleep with his best friend and drinks from Sissy’s big girl sippy cups.

The year would not have been the same without our family. We are blessed to live so close to my extended family, and to have been able to take a vacation to see Mr. Burgher’s family as well as travel to Williamsburg with my parents. Our kids are lucky to have this experience. ‘lil Miss A takes full advantage of the fact that my parents fell deeply in love with her at birth and often spends weekends with them. It helps us with our faith, too, as ‘lil Man, Mr. Burgher and I usually end up picking her up after attending Dad’s church as a family. We’ve been known to enjoy many laughs with aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandma on Friday nights for our family dinners. We love getting to see my dad’s side of the family once a month–I have to be honest, it reminds me a lot of being with my Pappy P as a kid, and that’s a good feeling. We spend lazy afternoons on the Allegheny, enjoying my dad’s boat or a good campfire. Both Mr. Burgher and I have some pretty awesome siblings, you know, the cool Unca who holds the kids up above everything else in the world, our older sister who loves to read, swim, and play iPhone games with the kids, and our younger sister who tries hard to turn our Clemson/Duke babies into lovers of the baby blue and is so proud of being an aunt.

And then there are our friends who have been there with us for a lot. While we may not get to be with our friends very often, they are dear to us. We love playing games until early dawn, interacting with our friends children, experiencing great things like PodCamp with them. The friends who are nearby and those that are faraway. It means alot knowing that we can call certain friends any time of the day and expect them to set us straight (or for us to do the same–you know who you are, dear!). That we can pick up where we last left off, even if it’s been months. Thank you, friends (even if I couldn’t tag you)!

And we’ve gone through a lot of other things together–like A’s adoption, a few months of me dealing with my past and being a survivor, crazy vertigo that still randomly hits me, a few bouts of sadness as I remembered my dear friend Wendy and learned of my cousin T’s fight. We struggled to make ends meet some months as we worked to pay off my debt (and are proud to say that that last payment went through today!). Traveling to Las Vegas, San Antonio, Myrtle Beach, Denver, and Williamsburg allowed us to step away from reality for a little bit and remember that we are allowed to have fun and enjoy ourselves, too.

All in all, this has been an amazing year. Thank you for following us and listening to our ‘lil stories. We wish you all a blessed 2012 and happy memories of 2011!

The ‘lil Burghers

The Gift of Giving

This Christmas, our house will be full of love and laughter. There will be toys under the tree and food on the table. What is even better is that I know we’ve given the same gifts to many other families here locally. There was Stuff-A-Bus, Burgh Baby’s Christmas Crazy (uh, can’t we all be like Benjamin?), the box for our soldier, and the AIDS angel. Oh, and the Food Bank–‘lil Miss A still reminds us that we need to make bags of food for the Food Bank (how awesome)!

We truly are thankful that we are able to help others this holiday season (and all year long thanks to Mr. Burgher’s mad coupon skills), but I can’t help but wish we could do more. In the meantime, we’ll be praying for love and peace for others. May this Holiday season be merry and bright for you and yours!

For the Love of Xavier

I was born lucky. He was born lucky. They were born lucky.

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Xavier was born lucky. The day he left the Cabbage Patch and became mine, I realized what my parents meant when they talked about loving regardless. I loved my [black] baby doll with all my heart, no less (and yet no more) than his [white] sister Kimberly. As a kid, it never occurred to me that people would look down on you or love you less because of who you loved. I sang my heart out to “Jesus loves the little children / all the children of the world / red and yellow black and white / they are precious in His sight…”. And I loved my Xavier.

My parents taught me to love regardless…and that they would love me regardless. Regardless of age, gender, color, history, or number of appendages (and a multiple of other “regardlesses”). They did warn me that sometimes life wouldn’t be easy if I chose to love someone that was “different” than I was, but that they would have my back and my heart. I told you I was born lucky.

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While pregnant with ‘lil Miss A, I found Xavier and it reminded me of the comfort I felt knowing I was loved regardless. I couldn’t wait to pass him on to her, and to pass on the love and learning I was given as a child. During those stressful months, I had been seeing a man (who happened to be African American), and I had to turn to Xavier for comfort. People said and did hurtful things. The words of my parents (“it won’t always be easy”) rung loud and clear in my ears. I couldn’t believe that people who grew up in racially diverse schools and fellowshipped each Sunday could be so mean and ill. I looked at my group of friends and realized how diverse and beautiful we were. I would look at Xavier sitting on A’s rocking chair and think about how I hoped I really could raise her better.

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Things didn’t change much when I started to see Mr. Burgher. When we would go out to our old “haunts” together as a couple, we got looked at quite differently than we had as a pair of friends. There were awkward stares, but it could have been worse. We were born lucky, in an age where people still say and do mean things, but we don’t even know the half of how it could be.

One time, we were crossing the street and a car revved its engine and almost hit A and I. Mr. Burgher jumped in the way to protect us and angry, evil words were said. I had to remind myself that my parents told me it wouldn’t always be easy…this was one of those moments.

Even today, people have their words and stares. Yes, we are different. Does that mean you need to call it out? Or is it a joke that I can’t see past? To me, words add up, and I still struggle with that “it won’t always be easy”, but then I take one look into my husband’s deep, loving eyes and know it will all be ok. I do it for the love of Xavier. For the love of Lil Miss A. For the love of Lil Man. For the love of myself.

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Last Christmas, ‘lil Miss A got two baby dolls that were African American. She loves them both to pieces, and no one has ever challenged her for having them. One day, she will be given Xavier, and show him love, too.

She’s living in a house full of love that sees past the “he’s tall and thin, she’s short and chunky”, past the “He is mixed, she is white”, past the “He stays at home, she works”, past all of it. She’s got a little brother who gets to experience all this, too. A little brother who looks like his mom and looks like his dad but yet looks just like ‘Lil Man. They are lucky to have this love that sees past differences.

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“Mr. Burgher, do you know what you are?” asked Miss E.

“No…” wondered Mr. Burgher.

“You are a caramel. That means you have a white mom and a black dad. That’s cool,” she replied.

Miss E, a gorgeous mix of Korean and the Mama Burgher’s Mama’s side of the family, didn’t know how much that meant to me. She didn’t mean it to be mean or hurtful in anyway. Sure, her words if used in a negative manner could have hurt, but because she recognized that Mr. Burgher is different in a good way, it’s ok. For a small child to recognize differences and be able to explain it, means the world. She sees that he is different, but doesn’t love him any differently. She, too, is lucky.

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Occasionally, we still hear words about how we are different. It definitely is not always easy, but it is also something that I don’t want my children to be exposed to. What is the right answer? Is it sitting in silence, being hurt, or speaking your mind? I struggle to find the right balance sometimes.

But most days, I love that I feel my family is unique yet included. We have surrounded ourselves with people who love us, regardless of how we look, talk, pray, or eat. It’s the regardless that makes it all worth it. Knowing that people can see through the outside in. Knowing that your children will know love and know how to love others, regardless. That is how I want to live my life—how about you?

This month is National Diversity Awareness Month. I felt like I needed to pour my heart out and let you see a side of us we don’t talk about often. Words can hurt, even if they are not intentional. I ask that you take a moment and think about who you love, regardless, and how their unique differences bring joy to your life. That, my friend, is diversity in action.

Tales of Traveling with ‘lil Burghers: Part One

Today’s post is the first in a series I will be writing about traveling with children. We have a baby and a toddler, so it always makes for an event when we travel, even right down the road! Feel free to chime in and keep watching for future posts.

Part One: What to Pack a.k.a. Who Grabbed the Kitchen Sink?

Prior to this summer, our ‘lil Burgher family has gone on only a handful of vacations. Since we are a single income crew, we typically travel places where we can stay with family or friends if possible (saving $100s). . . and that usually means driving wherever we go. Flights are getting way too expensive, and besides, we can’t bring the kitchen sink along.

Back when A was just three months old, something told me to buy a big SUV, so I sprung for a roomy Durango. Less than 5 months later, A and I expanded our family to include Mr. Burgher and Rowdy, and the adventures of traveling began. And by traveling, I mean packing the Durango up to the “I can’t see out the back window” brim and hitting the road.

(Have I mentioned all my worldly possessions barely fit in a 26′ truck when moving home from SC? It’s in my blood, and it carries over to even short trips as you’ll soon see.)

Our first trip as a family was our honeymoon/fishing trip with my family. Luckily, A traveled in my dad’s truck, so we really had no clue how much stuff she had. Sure, there were the certain blankets, Ellie, and a pack n’ play, but we didn’t have to lug it all ourselves. We felt so in control, but we really had no clue.

Fast forward a few months and we took our first family trip on a plane to Myrtle Beach. It seemed pretty flawless as A had recently turned one and was pretty independent. We had a carseat waiting our arrival, so we just used an umbrella stroller, a small rolling suitcase, one checked bag, and a diaper bag. When we got to town, G’s mom had bought Silk and diapers, so we were set with the supplies. This trip was a little bulky, but we still had no clue what traveling with a lil one was really like.

And then last summer, it really began. While packing for our fishing trip, Mr. Burgher and I were arguing about how to shove the last flip flop in the truck. Our neighbor came out to ask if we’d remembered the kitchen sink. She wasn’t kidding. A’s carseat was barely visible among all of the “stuff” we felt it took to travel with a toddler. There were DVDs, a cooler, G’s computer, three suitcases, a pack n’ play, a stroller, diapers, wipes, lifejackets, watershoes, blankets, pillows, towels, sheets, Ellie, Baby, 4 pairs of shoes for A, 5 pairs of shoes for me, and 6 pairs of shoes for G (just kidding). Some pregger lady just HAD to stuff in a full body support pillow ::ahem:: and a tote of toys. There were presents for friends with newborns, camera, camcorder, and a bag of snacks. I think somewhere in there, we really did have the kitchen sink.

here's what we take just for an overnight with at my parents'!

But did we use half of that stuff? Of course not! In preparing for our first trips with A and E (a 2-and-a-half year old and a 6 month old), we sure don’t want to pack as heavy, but we just don’t know how we’ll get around it. I mean, for an overnight trip to my parents, we notoriously take 4-5 eco bags plus a duffel and pillows. Is any of it necessary? No!

I think it’s time to call in the experts. What MUST we bring with us and what’s ok to leave behind? How do you travel with a toddler and a baby without looking like gypsies? Is it possible?

Packing isn’t all there is to traveling with toddlers. More thoughts on this will be forthcoming here at lilburghers.wordpress.com!