Tiny Dancers

When Isla was a baby, one of the only things that would soothe her to sleep was Elton John’s song, “Tiny Dancer”. It was no surprise that this twirling, pink-loving girly-girl would be begging to be in dance class when she reached the age to get started.

Becoming Dancers

Unfortunately, Mama missed sign-ups when “Beatsy” (Isla’s nickname because she’s always moving to a beat) was three and four. Whomp. Then when the time came for enrolling a five-year-old, Mama paused and remembered how things went with Arianna in gymnastics at that age (not so awesome for both kiddo and parents). Isla promised that she would stay in dance and that she’d love it, so she was enrolled in a class with a friend from church – a motivator to make sure she was ready to go every week for rehearsal.

If there was something good about COVID and the restrictions, Mama is not afraid to admit that the fact that our dance studio didn’t allow parents in during classes was a BLESSING. Isla was very happy to keep her dance moves secret and have an hour of “independence” each week.

After the fall soccer season, Ava felt like she was missing out on being involved in “stuff” and asked if she could dance with Isla. Again, a kiddo promised to give it her all and catch up with the routines. Thanks to a discount at the dance studio, Mama willingly said sure and the twinnies were officially all in.

Our dancers loved their Danskin Now leotards for rehearsals. Their ballet shoes were extremely cheap and wore throughout the season but at $9 a pair, they felt like a steal! Tap shoes were another must have and while we had a tough time matching their shoe sizes, the twins ended up with these shoes for jazz. We did give these ones from Amazon a try, but they literally fell apart at Isla’s first rehearsal!

Spring Recital Day

The twins kept their tiny dancer moves a secret until recital day – not even letting anyone “spy” on them when classes had to go virtual for a few weeks. Even on photo day they weren’t so happy to show us their outfits, but did pause for a cute photo for Dad before hamming it up with their dance team.

Recital day was one of the most exciting days for these two. They had three songs to perform and were all about it. Ava was a little nervous but Mama and the Bigs assured her that it would be all good. We teased her that if all else failed just “shake ya booty” but she said everyone would be watching and laugh. We tried to tell her that was the point, to make it fun, but she said NO WAY and kept the booty shaking to bouts at home (ha!).

Due to the pandemic restrictions, their recital was outdoors and nicely done by the dance studio. The twins stayed in place under their group tent and danced their hearts out when the music came on. Their smiles were HUGE and they have been talking about the evening for days.

Our family is so grateful that we gave these girlies a shot at finding something they love. Looking forward to fall classes already.

Mommmmmm! The sun!
Hamming it up with Bubby after getting their dance on
Big Big is crazy proud of them!

While Mama gave dance a few seasons as a kid, these two just might be dancers for life like their Daddy. Bring on the glitters and feathers everywhere, right?

Tell us: What is your favorite way to keep your body moving?

The Struggle: Finding Therapists

Disclaimer: I am partnering with BetterHelp, the world’s largest e-counseling platform – helping people with finding therapists where they are needed – to share information about their services in this blog post. All opinions are 100% my own. (TW: Suicide / Mental Health)

If you follow me on my more personal blog, you might remember how 2019 is my year of courage. This one is really playing out as I eluded to when I told you that I was having some physical struggles back in June.  In that post, I also shared that there was a mental/emotional side to it, too. Boy, at that time I had no clue how much more was coming my way, but I’m happy to say that the tides that were rising are starting to recede and I’m working on getting the help I need.


Needing help? That’s not what a strong person does, is it? To be honest, admitting help is needed is exactly what I didn’t want to do. It made me feel so weak and vulnerable, but this summer it became so clear that getting help was what was necessary.

So yes, you heard me right. I’ve been hiding that all is okay and it’s not really okay around here but I am working on that, we are working on that to be fair (it’s not just my battle).

Those of you close to me know that on June 7, 2019, my 17-year-old cousin Emily died by suicide. Emily’s struggle is not something unfamiliar to our family – my side and Greg’s – or to me. She was struggling with mental health, something I did not realize was so hard to get help for. Even though I majored in Psychology as an undergrad, I had no clue that there weren’t enough people in the profession able to fill all of the needs…until I found myself desperately needing it.

Getting Help/Finding a Therapist

Later in June, the need for a therapist for myself and Greg went from a “this is something we should do because we know it is good” to a must do (unrelated to losing Emily, but all still so raw and real).

My world crashed greater than I thought it could (please respect that I’m going to keep details private for now – it is not for secrecy but for healing). With what I feel is really good insurance (and an out of pocket max met thanks to my health issues), we tried for ten weeks to get a counselor and finally last week were able to make it happen.

TEN weeks. Ten weeks is a lifetime when you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, when you feel alone and ugly, when you feel desperate for the pain to just go away. This part of my story is that ten week is far too freaking long for someone to get licensed help and it is no surprise to me that our mental health issues are climbing, suicide is far too familiar, and the divorce rate is so high.

But ten weeks is what it took us to find a therapist and even then actually going to my first appointment took all I had. This shakes me and breaks me and makes me so sad for my young cousin (who I know was trying to get help), her family, our extended family, myself, and our world as a whole. Mental health help should not be so hard to come by!

Is there Better Help Out There?

So that brings me to BetterHelp, the partner for this post. Goodness, I wish that I’d heard about them sooner in my journey to find a therapist. They can help by offering a list of potential matching therapists based on your location, need, and preferences. Even more awesome, they are avaiable for in-person or online visits, taking down one of the huge barriers that I was facing in getting help.

Note: At the time of this post, my therapist is not one suggested by their service; however, because therapy needs to work for you in a way that is convenient and helpful, I will be using them should my needs or comfort with my counselor changes. 


BetterHealth can help you find a therapist based on your location, need, and preferences. They are avaiable for in-person or online visits, taking down one of the huge barriers that I was facing in getting help. Find out more by visiting their therapist search site, https://www.betterhelp.com/therapists/

Is therapy right for you? 

One of the rewarding aspects of working with a therapist is that they are listening to your feelings. Our friends and loved ones often hear us, but they may have a hard time providing objective guidance in the way a therapist can. A therapist wants to support you toward a healthier emotional state. In addition to developing healthier emotions, another benefit of therapy is you have a safe space to discuss problems that you may be hesitant to talk about with people in your everyday life. Source: BetterHealth

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

2019 Challenger International Soccer Camp

Review Disclaimer: We have a partnership with US Family Guide – they provide opportunities such as Challenger International Soccer Camp in exchange for reviews on this blog and our social media. All opinions are 100% our own.

A few weeks ago, Evan took on another year of Challenger International Soccer Camp. This fun-filled week with coaches Joe and Andrew from Wales challenged and exhausted him. It was an opportunity to work on his game (especially passing) and fall deeper in love with soccer. The kids held a World Cup event, representing countries from around the world in their daily scrimmages.

We wish this camp could be every day all summer long (with a location slightly closer to home – our nearest option is about 40 minutes away but worth it). Evan jumps out of bed when it is soccer camp week, barely touches his iPod, and goes to bed on time. There’s even rumor that he packed his own healthy lunch to take with him and drank all the water every day. Who is this boy-man?!?!?

Don’t worry! He DID wear spikes but those flats have been his summer go-to.

Special thanks to Pappy & Grammie for making sure Evan got to and from camp and to US Family Guide for making this possible.

Challenger International Soccer Camp

If you’d like more information on camps that remain this summer or to be sure you’re getting all the details on 2020 camps, Search for the International Soccer Camp closest to you and then register.

Challenge Accepted: 2018 British Soccer Camp

This post is brought to you through our partnership with US Family Guide who made it possible for Evan to attend British Soccer Camp in exchange for our review and honest opinions. All opinions are 100% our own. 

Summer is almost in the books, can you believe it? Evan spent a week at British Soccer Camp honing in on his soccer skills as he prepares for the YMCA’s Fall Soccer program. While we’re still not clear which position he loves to play (because he seems to like them all), we are clear that he really loves soccer thanks to this program.

2018 British Soccer Camp in Pittsburgh

This year was a ‘lil special for the Bigs in a few ways. First, Evan was old enough to be at camp for the full day program, meaning Pappy took him at 9 and picked him back up at 4. He was also responsible for putting on his own sunscreen and eating his lunch – both of which he took seriously!

Next, you’ll notice I said the Bigs! Arianna went with Evan on day one for the “Bring a Buddy” day. While she still loves her softball, she’s fallen back in love with soccer thanks to camp and will also be playing this fall!

While Mama & Daddy didn’t do the pick-up or drop-off, Pappy gave us the details. This year, the camp was at Denny Field in Shaler and it was five days of playing outside. There was a picnic shelter and the Soccer Club opened the concession stand, too. The coaches (from around the globe) were friendly and young, definitely committed to teaching the kids soccer skills!

I stopped in to see the last day’s World Cup game, but I missed it. They played a few World Cup games each day and on the last day represented their countries. Evan loved this. And just like we shared in our intro post about the camp, he got his jersey, t-shirt, and ball in addition to the skills and character building. We’re so proud of him (and Arianna)!

British Soccer Camp

About British Soccer Camp

British Soccer Camps are the most popular soccer camp in the US. With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed and confidence in players ages 3-18, The British Soccer Camp provide boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international expert’s right in the heart of their own community.

In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and is the most fun your child can have learning the sport they love!

-Source: US Family Guide

If you’d like to learn more about British Soccer Camp and save on registration in your local area, use code BSC18 on the Challenger Sports website.

The Twins are THREE

How can it be? Today is a big day for two ‘lil girls, our twins are three!

These girls have truly changed our lives, keeping us on our toes ever since the day they were born. Both bring so much love and joy to our family, it’s hard to imagine that three years ago we had no idea what we were in for.

Ava and Isla, you are one in a million and so loved! Happy Birthday!

(our annual photo of the night before their birthday – so much has changed since this one!)

Welcome to 2018

Welcome 2018! We are excited to have you here. There are a few changes coming to our blog, so be sure to read to the end of this one!

Our 2017 Family Christmas Photo

Can you believe it, today we welcome a new year! A fresh slate, an open book. Time to start fresh.

Speaking of starting fresh, Mama Burgher is starting a few new projects this year, the first of which launched today! A new blog, focused mostly on mom life things (things I didn’t really feel “fit” here) and another space for creativity.

In 2018, you’ll see this blog still have tidbits about our lives, but it is mostly going to be Pittsburgh events and experiences as well as toy reviews (more to come from the Bigs and their YouTube channel – which also will be getting a facelift this year). It’s been fun to share things with you here, but it’s also time to start focusing!

What are you going to do to make 2018 a great year?

2017 Word of the Year Wrapped: Faithful

2017 is about to be wrapped, so it’s time to take a look back at how I did as I set my intentions with my word of the year, faithful, back in January.


My goals were around ways to be faithful in several areas of my life – let’s see how this turned out! (You can read my original post about this here.)

  1. Faith. God showed our family some pretty powerful things in 2017. It all started as 2016 ended with the boiler (1/3 of our home heat) dying, the Durango engine dying, and the hot water heater bursting days after Christmas. I’d love to say that things got better, but they frankly didn’t. The day we were going to do our taxes (to get our refund and perhaps pay for a new engine for the Durango), our van transmission went. We heard you, God. It was a tough start to the year that truly tested our faith. I prayed more, didn’t learn the guitar, did a daily devotional, spoke at Women’s Ministries (with a bigger “gig” coming up in 2018), and did less journaling than I’d hoped. But God spoke to us and has shown us that it is well and His plan is bigger than our own.
  2. Family. The past twelve months of ups and downs really brought light to this one. We stayed in more often. We borrowed Greg’s parents’ vehicle for 10 months. We got adjusted to my parents’ retirement. I vowed when my cousin Tracy passed away that we’d do better about spending time with cousins. But the sad truth is that I feel like we are more distant from our extended family than usual. And maybe that’s because we really focused on the six of us? To be honest, it hurts but I keep praying that we’ll be better about time with both sides of our family in 2018.
  3. Food. Oh, buddy! I never had a thing with drinking pop, but I’d love it here or there with pizza or cake. December 31 I said goodbye to it and I am happy to report I’m 364 days without a sip of pop. High five! And after my 3-day Refresh, I did Whole30 twice which was a HUGE success (I’ll admit, I made some “mistakes“). I found out that gluten and I are not friends, so I’ve been off gluten since February, too. Then in September, I started Ketosis, which while it isn’t great for everyone, it’s proven to be good for me. I eat high protein and fat, and very low carbs – no sugar! I broke my bad habits and paired with my fourth focus area dropped 51 pounds in 2017!
  4. Fitness. I owe so much to my FitFam at the YMCA. You all pushed me and made me focus and believe again. Thanks to CrossFit, running the Half Marathon (even if I didn’t PR) and the 10-miler, I truly believe in myself again. This was definitely an area where I was faithful, maybe to a fault (like running while sick), but it paid off (see my loss in number 3).
  5. Fun. Even with things being tight, we still had a lot of fun this year. Part of our debt is our timeshare – something I will not give up as it gives us a break 2-3 times a year – so we got to travel to Wisconsin and Myrtle Beach. I also got in a NYC trip and Columbus (for business but fun). The kids joined soccer and softball and all four have so much fun with our church. We definitely did well with this one!

Well, now that 2017 is coming to a close, it’s time to set new intentions and see what 2018 will bring. For that…you’re going to have to make sure you are staying tuned to mrsgregwillis.com for more!!! =) (Who is excited?!?!?Make sure you still follow along here and on our lilburghers Facebook and Twitter, too! We’re not going anywhere! xoxo

2017 Christmas Letter

Our Christmas Letter is going digital! And in true Willis style, it’s a few days late but better late than never, right?

Merry Christmas!

2017 has almost come to a close, meaning it is time for our annual Christmas letter. Admittedly, as parents of four kids, the year flew by. All of the kids have grown so much since last Christmas and it’s amazing to watch.

Arianna is in third grade and turned nine in October. In the spring, she finally got to play on the Kittanning Little League’s 7/8 Softball team (and she can’t wait to get started again). She had her last year as a Girl Scout and then joined our church’s M-Pact Girls in the fall. Arianna loves being a big sister, drawing, playing softball, cooking (and watching Top Chef Junior), and reading. She got a guitar for Christmas and hopes to learn how to play it soon!

Evan is in first grade and turned seven in December. He continues to love playing soccer as part of the YMCA’s sports program and also went to a soccer camp over the summer. He is still part of the Royal Rangers at church and is helping raise money to open an Outpost in Kenya. (This boy has a soul on fire!) He loves being the only boy, watching YouTube kids, adventuring with Daddy, and drawing.

Ava turned two in April. She is our wild one, don’t let her sweet looks fool you! We have to keep our eyes on her at all times as she is mischevious and daring, thinking she can hang with the Bigs. Playpens don’t work with her anymore, she knows how to escape! She loves being read to and hates bathtime.

Isla also turned two in April. She has been known to stare at the pretty girl in the mirror and has a certain way she likes to wear her hair clips. Isla thrives as the baby of the family and often acts like she’s the only kiddo. She loves to laugh and draw, sometimes on the couch (oops!).

We still have our two dogs, they’re aging but still playful when they want to be.

Greg starting working for a pharmacy delivery service in July and continues to drive Uber. He stays home with the twins during the day then swaps parenting duties off for the evening. He ran in the Marathon Relay in May and started a new blog series about his adventures exploring nature with the kids, “Wildlife Wednesdays“.

Becky continues to work as a Salesforce Admin for Excel4apps and has the blog, Thirty-One, Monat, and doTerra to keep her extra busy. She continues to do CrossFit at the Y and has some more distance running under her belt (Half Marathon and 10-Miler).

As a family we love going to our church, taking walks on the Rails to Trails (behind our house), and traveling. This year took us back to Wisconsin and Myrtle Beach.

We hope this letter finds you all well and full of health and happiness. Keep up with us here on the blog to see more of what’s going on in our lives.

Merry Christmas!


The Willis Family (aka ‘lil Burghers)

Evan’s Seven

Today’s the day! Evan’s seven! We celebrated our boy today with some of his favorites – pizza, cake, and a family board game.

Even though we’d celebrated with family and friends back in November, we made sure to make today special for him, too.



You’ve grown not just in height but in smarts and confidence in this past year.

You’re a great little and big brother, caring for your sisters (and giving them all just enough torture to keep things interesting).

You love playing soccer, being part of the Royal Rangers, and trying your best to be a YouTube kid.

You’re full of the Holy Spirit – singing and dancing to praise music at any chance you get.

You love adventures outdoors with Dad – you’re so good at spotting animals!

May your birthday and the next year be so full of the love and light you bring our way.

Happy Birthday!

xoxo, Mama

A Very Happy Birthday (Party)

Today, we had a very happy birthday party for the Bigs. When you have four kids, four parties are a lot (not just on Mom and Dad’s budget, but also on the guests who get invited). While the Twins are built-in party sharers, we’ve gotten creative with having the Bigs share their days by celebrating both midway between their days – in November. Today was their big day!

We welcomed family and friends into our house and kept it simple this year. Between being busy and trying to lead a debt-free life, simple just made sense. There was no theme, no fancy cake, and not a ton of fussing to get things set up. It just was fun. It felt like I was back to the basics of parties when I was growing up, and frankly felt just right.

Thank you to everyone who came and celebrated Arianna’s 9th and Evan’s 7th birthdays today. We feel so blessed to have had a very happy birthday party and a home full of love and laughs (many that made us laugh ’til we cried!). xoxo