Back to School 2016

No idea how this happened, but the Bigs have made it through eight days of school already. Before things become like Ari’s last day of first grade, we present the official back to school 2016 photos!

back to school 2016

Okay, who stole our babies and told them it was okay to grow up and into a Kindergartner and Second Grader? I mean seriously. Thank goodness they think this is funny.

Arianna will be taking on the last grade that I taught this year. Let that one sink in. She is in the grade that I was teaching when she was born.

second grade

And in ten years, back to school will be her senior year and this shirt will fit her. Sigh.

river hawks

And then there is Evan. He was so excited for full day Kindergarten + free breakfast and lunch this year (what a great score for our district!). Although he was nervous that his bff from Pre-K Counts wouldn’t be in his class (he’s not), he was still ready to give it a try.

BackToSchoolEvan

And the Armstrong River Hawks Class of 2029 is sure blessed to have him as part of their own, aren’t they?

Riverhawks2016E

We are so proud of you, Bigs!

BackToSchoolSigns

+

And an even bigger shout out to Greg who took this task on all by himself. I was away for work and got to join in via Skype, but he took care of all the details and photos. Thank you for making their days so special! xoxo

Arianna’s Last Day of First Grade

Confession Time. While all of you with it parents were posting photos of the first day of school, I’ve been carrying the weight that I never posted Arianna’s last day of First Grade photo. Because who has time to get photos of their nice camera anyways?

Baby girl, Mama is sorry life gets so busy. You did amazing in First Grade and we already see great things happening in second. Love you lots, girl! xoxo

AriannaLastDayFirstGrade

Once I Was Seven Years

It’s hard to believe that eight years ago this gorgeous being was tucked away nicely in my belly. Or that I’m *old enough* to have a seven-year-old. Isn’t that me in the dress?

13568956_663645144072_8668453806126912569_o

Ever my mini-me, Arianna. She’s growing so fast, isn’t she?

Things like her helping with dinner and the babies have made Greg and I realize we don’t have four babies on our hands anymore. We have a child who is closer to being a teenager than she is a baby.

She might be scared of all the learning to come in second grade, but we know that she’ll shoot for the moon and pass it right on by. Just like she has ever since she became the center of our worlds.

Transformation Tuesday: The Zoo

When we realized that there was a photo of Greg and Arianna from July 2, 2010 that looked exactly like what a photo of Greg and Isla would look like, we decided to go to the zoo and grab another photo.

zoocollage

One, hasn’t Arianna grown up so (way too) much?

Two, I think that Isla and Arianna are the twins, just six and a half years apart, right?

Three, don’t we all wish we could age like Greg?

Sigh.

My Choice

Today, the kids and I spent our second to last “just us” Sunday (SQUEE!) walking in the Walk Strong (Walk for Life) for our local ministry dedicated to offering support and education for women (and men) in difficult pregnancy situations. It was a very special day for me because a little over 7 years ago, I made my choice to have a very special ‘lil lady come into my life.

my choice

I made my choice that she wouldn’t be a statistic, “just another” one baby lost among 58 million aborted since 1973. I made my choice that I’d raise this ‘lil girl to become a woman who understood right from wrong. I made my choice to love her unconditionally. I am so glad I did. 

Even more…today was ten years to the day that my world completely changed. The day that I realized men wouldn’t always be loving and kind. The day that physically changed me. I can’t say today was an easy day knowing this, but that means oh so very much. It’s been over 7 years since I freed myself of those chains. It’s been 10 years since I can call myself a survivor. I don’t mention this to stir up emotions, but to remind myself of my strength, the strength given to me when I was weak because God is strong. It meant a lot to walk strong today.

If you’d like to hear more about the organization that we walked for today, check out Life Choices. They’ve been a changer in lives of many people in my area, including mine. I can honestly say without the knowledge of this organization (through my dad), I am not 100% sure my choice would have been the same back in 2008. For this, I am so very, very thankful.

She Walked

You thought this post, she walked, was going to be about one of the twins, huh? Well, that post is coming some day here soon (like when I put the video up), but not today. This is about our oldest, and something big she did today.

Nope, it’s not that it was her last day of First Grade (that post will come another day, too, a day when my tears have dried and I can look at the big girl camera photos). That was big, but not this.

Tonight, she walked (with a friend) to the friend’s house. It’s only a little more than a block away, but this seems pretty big and grown, right? Interestingly enough, Greg and I were just saying last night that that’s how things were when we were kids. And that’s how they are now, our new reality.

She walked, just like I would have at her age, without mom or dad or a cell phone. She walked, and my heart beat so very fast (it had to have been beating outside my chest) until I got the text from the other mom that they had arrived.

But she did it. She proved to me that she can do big girl things and that I will survive. And for this, I am so very proud.

20160603_195945
…and then she and her Bubby got glitter tattoos…

Super Seller

It’s her first year of Girl Scouts and our big girl is loving it. She rocked at selling cookies and got to go on a Gateway Clipper cruise on Sunday for being a super seller.

AriannaSuperSeller

Arianna, we are so proud of you. You are growing into an independent young lady. We can’t believe that soon you’ll be on to second grade (Mama’s FAVORITE grade!) and bridging to Brownies.

Keep making us proud, baby girl!

Baptism

Sunday (aside from being Mother’s Day) included church, as our Sundays do. As usual, I found myself with tears streaming down my face following worship, not wanting it to end, needing it not to end. The message was an explanation of the kinds of baptism.

I won’t go into all the details – but there are three kinds of baptism, two of them being spiritual and the other the physical baptism. The church we attend dedicates babies and baptizes, in a tank, the teens and adults when they are ready to “take the plunge” and symbolize the old life turning to the new. 

These types of messages always get me thinking, comparing the differences between the church I was raised in and the church we are attending these days. Honestly, I don’t have a strong opinion on what is right or wrong about either – both make sense to me. (And coincidentally, my dad posted a photo on Facebook the night before, comparing baptisms with donuts – my UMC roots are “sprinkles”!)

What I do know is that I’ve always understood my baptism, probably because I grew up in a church and was literally raised by it. I thought my baptism anniversary date was today (May 9), however, I must have things wrong because the Sundays in that year were the 8th and 15th. Time to find that baby book (because I’ve been living as though that’s been the date for YEARS). But anyways.

For me, my baptism was a sign of a dedication from my parents to bring me up in the church (little did they know that my dad would become a pastor a few years later), a deal I sealed when I was 13 and became a Christian. And since then, I’ve remembered it, renewing my faith during each baptism I’ve attended; remembering in services like the time my dad did a “bubble” service at a youth retreat (really cool moment – right after Wendy passed). And I’m not going to lie…I’ve even been mulling over a new baptism, one to symbolize the new me as an adult.

So it got me thinking…and confirmed…I’ve not shared the kids’ baptism photos here on the blog! Now, they might not remember these dates like I do, but I’ll be sure to remember. Maybe they’ll see this as their dedication and then in a few years decide to “get pickled” (if you go to NLC you know what I am talking about!) and let go of the old life for the new. Regardless, these were important days for me, symbols of our faith commitment, so worth sharing (especially as the girls’ one year is today).

Arianna – December 21, 2008 – Ford Memorial UMC

baptism

What a ‘lil sweetie. She was dressed in a beautiful gown the my mom made out of her wedding dress, but in typical Pappy-baptism style, sweetie got soaked and changed into her Steelers onesie (like we Burghers do).

I was so glad that my best friend (Missy) and my brother (Jack) could stand with me. This was a tough time in my life, but you’d have no idea when you look at that smile. I was smiling so big because my family is so amazing to me and had me so supported that day. I knew that I’d made the right choices to raise my baby girl and that God had a plan. And woo-boy does He have one for me and that ‘lil lady. Things were (and DID) going to work out.

Evan – December 24, 2010 – Manorville UMC

evansbaptism

I’m not sure why we look so ’90s in this photo (hellllllooooo flash?!?!), but another amazing memory for us. Arianna and I had found our forever, Greg, and welcomed a baby brother a few years later. My cousins Jess and Dan, also with us through it all, stood with us on Christmas Eve. Evan was a week old.

That ‘lil snoozing baby boy has grown into my ‘lil prayer warrior, ensuring we pray before road trips and when we’re not feeling well.

Ava and Isla – May 10, 2015 – East Brady UMC

avaislabaptism

Pappy may have got their names a wee-bit mixed up that day, but he got the main points right – asking Greg and I to raise these two ‘lil ladies up in faith and love. It may have taken us a few more months to find our current faith home, but they have always been covered in prayer since we saw those two pink lines (just like with their sister and brother).

avaislabaptism2

Each ones’ faith journey, like mine and Greg’s too, will be their own; however, these kids are definitely aware of God’s hand in their lives. And that? That’s worth remembering year after year.

 

 

First Friday

Tonight started a new summertime tradition for the kids and me – First Friday. It’s an event local to us up here in Armstrong County, a food truck roundup on the first Friday of every month in the summer.

First Friday

We’re pretty lucky to have some really motivated business people in our area. The event was brought together by some of our favorite food truck owners in hopes to bring the community out and supporting local small businesses.

Even though it was raining, plenty of people came out to Ford City and indulged in everything from gyros to tacos to lemonade to bbq to monte cristos to cupcakes to crepes. Phew. It was amazing.

But even better for me, my kids were daring. They made a plan to see every single truck and have me tell them what they offered before deciding. After a hot dog, they also wanted pulled pork and cole slaw. They picked out their favorite cupcakes to take home and then asked for a crepe before we left the park. The choice was easy – s’mores with Nutella. Even the ‘lil girls enjoyed that treat.

As we were packing up and pulling away, Evan burped. “I’m not even going to say excuse me. That burp tasted like pulled pork and crepes. That’s a good thing, Mama. They were my FAVORITE THINGS EVER,” he screamed. I’ll let it slide. That smile is so worth a silly burp, right?

They’re already looking forward to the next event when the trucks come over to our ‘lil neck of the woods, Kittanning. “We can walk there and run and play and eat and eat and eat,” Arianna informed me.

You better believe I’m going to make sure these kids understand how awesome they’ve got it. Thank goodness for First Friday and food trucks!

Want to find out more? Follow our local taco truck, LA Taco, for more events like this!