It’s day 3 of 30 days of thankful. As I sat with Greg last night (watching game 7 of the World Series), I scrolled mindlessly through my Facebook feed and phone photos. I had a few “memory moments” as I did, and for these today I am thankful. Greg and I met 9 years ago yesterday, at (a failed attempt at) a bonfire with Diet Coke and Mentos rockets. Back then, Nurin had long hair and I drove a convertible.
I ran into Canadian guys in an elevator in NOLA last year. They knew George. It was a good reminder of his impact and legacy. Reading it made me miss our First Mate.
Speaking of missing people, I was doing good at Apple Butter this year until Uncle Dave brought the silver out of the kettle. That’s when I could feel Grandma there with us and tears hit my eyes. Some big, some small, but all impactful and things I am thankful for today. These memory moments.
For the past four years, we’ve made a Christmas Eve tradition to have lunch with my best friend and her husband, aka Aunt Missy and Uncle Tom (slash forever friends of ours).
This year was no different…except that we went from a party of 6 to a party of 8. And we captured proof in an Usie.
When God puts someone in your life not once but twice, it’s quite the blessing. We tend to celebrate those kinds of things around here, you know?
Love, laughs, loads of ketchup, and life were shared around the table at our favorite BBQ place (Tuffs Smokin Grill) that just so happened to be the halfway point between our houses and became our place to lunch.
These are the moments I work so hard for. These are the moments and friendships I am praying that our children will have. These are the people that make me whole.
What traditions do you have that complete YOU? Share…or better yet…let that people involved know how much it means to you. Xoxo
This year’s Pittsburgh Pride theme is “Be Brave”. The company I work for has embraced the “Be Kind” Core Value to embrace differences through our “Proud” organization. Evan is always urging us to “Be Fabulous”.
These three ways to “Be” are perfect for describing our experience at the 2014 Pittsburgh Pride parade.
We want the kids to know that they should not be afraid to be themselves. Whatever that might be. We want them to know that we should always be kind and caring toward others. And through it all, to be fabulous.
Our kids will not that love wins. We have chosen to teach our kids that hate will not be part of their lives. That they will always stand up for diversity and difference. That they will simply love.
And that, my friends, is why they were brave, kind, and fabulous at Pittsburgh Pride Parade 2014 (and will continue to represent as allies for love).
Disclaimer: I won a fellow blogger’s giveaway and got to meet Robert Armstrong for a photo shoot. The images below were presented to us as our winnings. Although his services were free of charge, I wanted to share his talents and recommend you check him out. We loved how Robert connected with our kiddos. He is a wedding photographer, but also captures special moments. Feel free to check him out at robertarmstrongphoto.com. Thank you, Robert, for the beautiful photos!
This past weekend, the ‘lil Burghers headed to Cortland, New York for a wedding (more to come on that). One of the most tear jerking moments of the day was when our friend Ash gave a toast and noted that when She spoke with Olivia (a bride/good friend) about the concept of pre-nups, she didn’t believe in them. She, like Greg, believes that when you find the one, they aren’t needed…
…because when you go, you go all in.
I happen to know someone else who believes in that.
Someone who five years ago was packing up his life to give all his chips to a bet on a girl from Pittsburgh.
And her sweet ‘lil girl.
So that they could start a fresh life. all in.
For better, for worse.
For richer, for poorer.
In sickness…yes, even the man cold. In health.
He was all in, and he taught me that was the most important thing. What resulted was our happily ever after.
Last week, I got the chance to bring my best friend to the Resting Place to join me for Girls Week 2014. Our time was all too short, so now I am going to whine a bit. You know how I do.
Missy and I left her house at 6:00 PM last Friday after I pulled out of work at 4. We had a full tank of gas, cds that were with us in high school, and high energy. We were trying really hard to beat the snow to Holidaysburg, a crazy hilly area in PA. At the outskirts of Indiana, it was clear it wasn’t happening.
Snow kept us on the road and in PA much longer than we should have been. Five and a half hours later, we got to the Maryland border. 12 hours later, we were 141 miles away from South Carolina and had nothing left in the gas tank or us. It was time to get a hotel and nap. But nap we really couldn’t. We left a little after 10, amped on bad hotel coffee, and had high hopes of getting to the Resting Place at 1:00. My turn signal had other plans.
And the mass-merchandiser where we stopped to get help made 30 minutes turn into an hour and a half. I was exhausted, irritated, and in desperate need of CUSTOMER SERVICE. They were not giving.
24 hours after leaving my office, we rolled into Conway and grabbed a car wash. I wanted to run, but thought I lost my inhaler. I was not so happy and ended up crying in the Walgreens wine aisle 45 minutes later. Armed with frozen beverages and photos, we pulled into the beach house 25 hours after I left Pittsburgh.
The “weekend” involved a few fun games of Quelf, Suzie’s Thirty-One party (thank you!), and the Favorite Things shared between us (another post — I’ve never cried like I did over amazing people I met). Missy and I met Dustin for a tear filled church service (Christ UMC in Myrtle is WHERE IT IS AT). On Monday, I got to do yoga then join my cousins and Missy for a day at Barefoot Landing.
When we got home and grabbed a snack, I digested Greg’s text that essentially said, “DC is going to SUCK to drive through” and we opted to hit the road and get home. 14 hours and very tired eyes later, we made it back to my house.
The trip was all too quick, but it reminded me of one of those youth group retreat weekends. Faith, fellowship, good food, activities. And even better? Amazing women to have shared it with. I have to say – these ladies saw me at the tiredest I’ve probably ever been, and still heart me. For that, I am thankful.
And Missy, I can’t wait for you to join us again. No is not an option.
I wish I could tell you all every single moment of today’s Heart Walk, but I don’t know that there’s the time or space. To be honest, the day was overwhelming for my emotions and I am thankful that the kids are down for chilling at the house.
You see, I opted to go it alone (without the help of another adult) and attempt to complete the 5k walk with the kids. I’ve already said that I’m not cut out for caring for the kids 24/7, but thought it would be an okay thing to try. And it might have been.
It all started when I got a call from my boss on my walk through the parking lot (as we were missing the Company photo – I am so bummed out about missing it thanks to crazy traffic around Heinz Field). Actually, correction. First I got a call from the desk, making me think there was an issue with today’s coverage schedule or a major outage. That’s the call that alerted me that my boss was looking for me.
And he wanted me to meet him at the main stage of the Heart Walk.
Because I had been awarded the Pittsburgh American Heart Association’s Lifestyle Change Award (but didn’t know it yet). Perhaps the photos with the Heart Walk Chair (also from my Company) and Iceburgh were a tip off. Or…the film crew that asked if they could follow the kids and I as we walked today. I started to feel overwhelmed (with happiness and surprise), but tried my best to keep my cool.
After the National Anthem was sung, my award was announced. I still haven’t taken it all in, but feel blessed to be recognized for my efforts to change my habits to live a healthier life, and even more so, to know others are proud of and inspired by that.
The Walk began, and Arianna (in her typical “Daddy’s out of town” style) demanded to do all of the bounce house runs instead of the Walk. The folks with us were kind enough to let her do so and even helped me out with the stroller. (I really don’t know what I was thinking, trying to make a 5-year-old stay entertained for a 5k.)
Eventually, after most of the walkers had started the course, we brought up the end. We stopped for an interview, and I decided to just meet up with some friends versus trying to do the whole course. (Arianna wanted to sit in the stroller and Evan in my arms – I bet the footage is a lot of me huffing and puffing to even make it since I’m still not feeling 100%.)
The whole day was exciting on so many levels. It’s incredible to see 15,000-ish people from our city come out in support of putting a stop to Heart Disease. After losing my grandfather 26 years ago and watching so many others I love be impacted by the disease, I hope that our efforts can bring a cure. I’ve been able to see the impact of simple changes in my life and how that’s helped my heart be healthier so I can be around for my family. Perhaps even just to take the steps of the walk today will inspire others to make changes, too.
And thanks to the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk fundraising efforts, they’ll be able to support projects like:
Putting up-to-the-minute research into doctors’ hands so they can better prevent and treat heart disease among patients.
Groundbreaking pediatric heart and stroke research.About 36,000 babies are born with heart defects each year —research is the key to saving babies’ lives.
Getting life-saving information to those who need it most – information that can save a life, like how to eat better, how to recognize the warning signs of heart attack, and how to talk to a doctor about critical health choices.
The other night, my family got to talking about family memories, specifically vacations on a frugal budget. While the stories were mostly memories about how my Grandma made vacations (and life) special on essentially one income to raise seven kids, I have to say that my Mom and Dad made some amazing memory magic of their own, too. You see, my dad is a pastor. Not sure if you know, but that’s not up there with the income of a doctor or lawyer…or most other folks. We had some amazing times, though, and I figured I’d share five of my favorite moments vacationing while growing up.
1. Disney World – Other than the fact that my dad was gifted a week at a parishoner’s timeshare in Orlando, I have no idea how we swung this trip. The four of us (plus Aunt Wink’s family) flew to Florida to enjoy not only Disney but also Kennedy Space Center. I remember that we packed our snacks and lunches, and returned to the condo to eat dinner at home. We visited all three parks (at the time, that was Disney World, MGM, and Epcot) on a hopper pass, and the parents split us all up to do the things we wanted to do. Dad and I went off to Epcot to feed my inner nerd in the “Worlds” (just look at me, if you can’t tell, I am on the left). Jack and Russ enjoyed fast rides, and Sally, always the ‘lil one getting left behind by the big kids, got to enjoy time on smaller rides. We even got “the hats”–mine was the Minnie head–and I still have it (and, as a frugal mom, plan on giving it to Arianna when we go next year).
2. African Safari Wildlife Park – During one (of many) conferences that my dad attended, we took a trip to Port Clinton, Ohio’s drive-thru safari. Although I don’t have a photo of this, I would be willing to bet that somewhere there’s a video of it. As a kid who loved animals, it was pretty cool to drive through an area where giraffes and zebras roamed. A bit scary, a bit crazy, but 100% fun. I look at the prices, and again, I am not sure how we did it, but we did.
3. Camping at Pymatuming Lake – My family has had lots of experiences camping, but the best has to be when my family took a weekend and (most of us) headed up to Pymatuming Lake. Uncle Matt was still alive, and he and mom spearheaded tent setup. Monica and I rode our bikes all over that park, and even taunted our (older) teenage cousin who was there with her boyfriend. Stale bread was bought, carps and ducks were fed. We rented two (what I recall rickety) plontoon boats. One was for fishers, the other for those who wanted sun. Hilarious stories were shared around the campfire. As we cleaned up the campsite, I recall lightning tearing through the park and Jack and I hitting the floor in the laundry room for fear of being struck. I vote for another family camping outing, stat.
4. Myrtle Beach – My heart belongs in Myrtle, I tell you. Since Grandma and Pappy lived there, there was no cost for staying. For the most part, my family vacationed there in December, just after Christmas. My memories are not of going to the beach to swim or enjoying the water parks or eating at one of the many restaurants there. They are of late nights playing scrabble, waking up to the smell of coffee and danishes, reading the Sun News (perhaps including articles written by my future father-in-law), playing Bingo at the Oceanside Village clubhouse, and peering in at Pappy watching sports. These trips pretty much just cost my parents gas and some food, if I were to guess.
5. Christmas Cabins – When we were not traveling to Myrtle Beach, we were renting a state park cabin the week after Christmas. Again, a simple yet memorable trip. (One stands out because Jack had just fallen down the stairs and had a black eye the entire week.) We would sled ride, play Pass the Pigs, enjoy fireside chats. There is something magical about spending Christmas in a cabin, surrounded by pines and eating holiday leftovers.
These are just five of my favorite vacation memories while growing up. Now it’s your turn! Comment below — What is your favorite childhood vacation memory?
For my final post on our camping trip, I bring you the Cook Forest Fire Tower.
This tower, no longer in use, gives climbers a gorgeous view of the forest. We cannot wait to experience it (hopefully with the kids) this fall.
There are a ton more pictures of our adventures over on my Flickr page, including photos of “Ranger Greg” catching a snake, eek!
Hey kids! Wondering why you weren’t involved in this trip? Well, if you know anything about your mom and dad, you’ll know that one of us is uptight, the other super laid back. (Can you guess who is who?) Because of this, we decided we had to survive a trip camping by ourselves, first. You’ll go soon, promise.
There is just something about sharing a beautiful moment with people you love. During our camping trip to Cook Forest State Park, we enjoyed a stop at Seneca Point. Here are some of our photo memories.