Are You #Brave Enough to Help Out and Fight Hunger?

This weekend, the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will be hosting a tote/food drive at the premiere of “Brave” in the South Side. If you are a Burgher and can make it out, you definitely should. The ‘lil Burghers just might even be there (we’re still working out details).

Here is the press release, or you can check out the blog post on the Tote Bag Project’s page.

School’s Out – Watch Out for Hungry Kids!
Food Bank and Pittsburgh Totebag Project Plan Drive at Movie Premiere

Pittsburgh, PA (June 19, 2012) Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and The Pittsburgh Totebag Project will hold a food and totebag drive called “School’s Out – Watch for Hungry Kids.” The drive will take place this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (June 22-24, times below) at the opening of Disney’s new movie Brave at South Side Works Cinema.

Summer means fun for most children – vacations, camp, or just playing all day. But for children who depend on school breakfast or lunch for the most nutritious meal of the day, and for their parents who have to find ways to put more food on the table, summer can be a trying time.

Sue Kerr, Founder and Co-Chair of the Pittsburgh Totebag Project saw a connection between kids going hungry and Brave, and initiated this drive with assistance from the Food Bank. “Adding tote bags and backpacks to the drives to fight child hunger gives all children a chance to help by donating their gently used backpacks. It adds dignity to the process of giving and to the experience of families receiving help.”

Collections will take place on Friday (June 22) from 6:00-9:00 pm, and Saturday and Sunday (June 23 & 24) from noon till 8:00 pm, only at the South Side Works Cinema. People are asked to donate a bag of nonperishable items, packed in a reusable grocery “totebag” or backpack if possible. The first 50 families that make a donation will receive a family pass to the ToonSeum, downtown Pittsburgh’s museum devoted to cartoons. Popcorn vouchers will also be available.

The title of the drive is a takeoff on the old public safety campaign that said, “School’s Out! Watch Out for Kids!”? It meant drive more carefully because more kids would be out playing outside in the summer. In the same way more children are at risk of hunger in the summer as well.


Last weekend, the ‘lil Burghers family got to march in the Pittsburgh Pride parade with my work. We marched behind a color guard who was playing Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”. I don’t know if it was the music, the heat, the people who came out in support, or what, but I had tears in my eyes the whole parade.

We are proud to be supporters of our friends and family on so many levels, and this was just one chance for us to show our love and support.

Power…of Simple Things

Thanks to Pittsburgh Cares and the Tote Bag Project, we got to attend our first Pittsburgh Power game.  Plus, my brother and cousin were there as VIP, seated in the first row of the end zone. Jack got a ball after a kickoff, and he made this ‘lil girl’s night. (Ok, that and the monkeys riding dogs and dancing on the jumbotron, but having a real game ball wins!)


Somehow, I got it out of her hands before a very late bedtime…but she has big plans to play in the yard first thing in the morning!

Kennywood 2012

Sunday seemed like the perfect day for a trip to Kennywood, so off we went! The day was spent in Kiddieland, and we were surprised how ‘lil Man wasn’t as into it as we expected. A had an amazing time, but ‘lil Man was a bit scared to leave our side.

Take the Whip for instance. He was great when it whipped toward us, but started bawling as the Whip went away. It was a complete coaster of emotions for ‘lil Man.

And the Mouse Pounce and Crazy Trolley (which we rode with them) had him clinging to the bar for dear life.

Of course, he really liked playing with the ducks (until we had to walk away).

A was a ham, riding rides with no care in the world. One of her favorites was the motorcycles.

And who doesn’t like the carousel?

7 Miles / Mud, Sweat, Tears

You already know we did it, Mud on the Mountain at Seven Springs. Not only did we do it, but we crushed our fears and came out smiling.


On May 12, Greg and I put on our old shoes, PodCamp shirts, and ate a big breakfast before embarking on our adventure. We met up with some of my work friends and made it to the Start line just before it was time to hit the hills.

A quick huddle, a countdown, and off we went. Everyone left the gate running, but we quickly had to go it slow up the first of three big hills (ski slopes). Not going to lie, I walked most of that hill. My knee kept slipping and I definitely shed a few tears. I was next to last to get to the top and HATED that I was holding everyone else up, but was so proud I made it up without turning around.

(Note, the following four photos are proofs from the Mud on the Mountain official photos. I did not have a camera with me, so these have to do!)


The first obstacle was waiting for us, the Spider’s Nest (a big cargo net to climb up and over). I got two rungs up and the knee. THE KNEE. Ugh. A co-worker said it was ok, go around, and I did. But I looked back and saw the guy who was behind me coming up the hill struggling with “to go on or not to go on”. There was no way we were letting him quit, even though he was a complete stranger. Greg talked to him and convinced him to go on with us. Our group broke up at that point, but we were ok with that. It was Greg, S, P, and myself against the mud and the mountain.

Over the next four hours (hey, next year we’ll be cutting a good amount of time off that, trust us!), we went through 19 other obstacles, climbed several small hills and two much larger, steeper ones. We didn’t get as muddy as we expected, but it was still fun to get a little bit dirty.

Although I was slightly scared of the “Cheese Grater” (appropriately named, there were rocks under the “waterslide”), but P took that slide like a champ, so there was no fear to be had here. The funniest part of the day is when S and I got to the end, we didn’t slid down the small hill to get off the slide and ran into each other, collapsing in giggles.

We climbed a hill, then just when we thought we were at the top, we hit the “Baby Crawl”, a very steep incline to climb up. I gloated, climbing the whole thing without using my hands…until I got to the last 6 feet of it and hit a mud spot. BAM! Down on all fours and had no clue how to get up. The great thing about endurance runs? Everyone is helpful. A kind stranger reached out his hand and helped pull me up. Phew!

One of my favorite obstacles was next, a belly crawl through mud. I did “reverse” snow angels in the mud, saying, “Who needs the spa when you have this?”! Next was a water obstacle, “Dunk, Dunk, Goose”. We had to go under three barrels that were floating in about 3 feet of (frigid) water. I had severe ice cream headache and charged out of there when the photographer caught this one:


Next was one of our least favorite obstacles, basically a log jump and duck…but with mud and spraying water. Greg was a trooper, helping all of us over and under and he got water straight in the eyes several times. Boo!


Several other obstacles including a boulder climb (I took the HERO path over the ZERO), tires, a wormhole (this one tore up the elbows!), water, and a muddy downhill slope faced us. I hated that slope–it scared me because I didn’t want to slip! We made it to the trout line and had to cross 12 feet deep water stretched out like meat left to dry on two ropes. The problem was that Greg happens to be pretty tall, so he pulled the rope a bit more stretched than I did, but my body had to account for his. I wore a lifejacket because I didn’t want to get a charlie horse while crossing that water, and although I felt like a dork, I was glad for safety first.

We climbed the largest, steepest hill of them all, then ran through wet, soapy trailers, over 8 foot walls (ok, not me, but you should have seen Greg jump it!), over a hay bale, and into a dumpster of ice water. The final quarter mile was down hill…this girl sat on her butt and slid so that I didn’t bust a leg that close to the end.

Ok, maybe the last obstacle was my least favorite. We had to climb a 30-foot mound of snow, and I just really wanted to give up and go around it. Greg pushed, I pulled, I crawled. We posed. Then I froze up.


I was at the top, but I had NO desire to get down. Bring in the helicopter! Nope. Not an option. I cried a little bit, but Greg promised to slide down the hill ahead of me and help control my speed. It was scary (I try to stand up on roller coasters, so you have to imagine I was scared of this icy slide), but I did it! We crossed the finish line with smiles, grabbed our medals, and started cranking the Gatorade.

It was a beautiful day, a great adventure, and we will definitely do it again! It’s great to think about where I was before my whole journey to better health began, and I never would have imagined doing this event (or running a 5k the next weekend!). What a blessing it was to have this experience and have a great team by my side to complete it! Thanks Greg and S, and we’re so proud of you, P!


Goodbye, shoes!


Our shirts, bibs, and medals…well earned!

A Beautiful Day for a Venture Outdoors

On Saturday, Greg and I ran a 5k then headed into downtown for the Venture Outdoors Festival and a chance to see our friends at WRRYFree Skin Care (by the way, have you entered our giveaway that ends tonight???). After a nice walk around the Point and learning about some of the great ways to enjoy the outdoors in Pittsburgh, we took our own ‘lil adventure through Gateway Center and discovered a bunch of cool statues.

Here are some of our favorite photos from the day!

Team Tote Bag

Greg and I have made the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project and food banks (such as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank) as our main community organizations to support. Yesterday, we had the chance to walk in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community as Team Tote Bag, raising money for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and spreading awareness of the Tote Bag Project. Greg even got Highmark to donate a box of totes!


This was supposed to be a walk, but we had a few traffic issues. Coming from 28 in the North, we couldn’t get to the North Shore via 28, so we had to detour downtown. Another event (which we’ll write about later) had roads blocked and we couldn’t get to the ideal garage downtown, resulting in a detour back to 279, luckily toward the North Shore. By the time we parked, we had to start the 5k walk with the people doing the 1 mile fun walk. After about 5 minutes of walking, Greg asked if I would be ok running to catch up with everyone else who was walking. I agreed, and next thing I knew, we ran 95% of the event. The only unfortunate thing is that I forgot to track the entire run on Runtastic…but what I did learn from results of the run is that I ran the fastest miles EVER (14:54…shhhh, I know that’s SLOW but at least I am running) AND that I ran the furthest from start to finish that I’ve ran since spraining my MCL. Victory!


Are we Crazy?

Perhaps a little.

Last week, my cousin J told me that the managers of the team we’re part of had been invited to do team building at Mud on the Mountain, a 7-mile run through Seven Springs. A what? A 7-mile run. We laughed a bit, and I have to admit, I know it’s not something I would see myself doing, but I was a bit jealous. Of course, this mama wasn’t going to spend the registration fee to have her butt kicked, so I didn’t volunteer to join in the “fun”.

Then I saw a tweet from the Pittsburgh Marathon asking for people interested in taking part in the “Biggest Winner” challenge, culminating with a 5K on May 5th. There were a few things that stopped me–a friend’s wedding (where I’ll be taking photos) and the fact that I’d need to commit two days a week in an already crazy schedule. My application got no further than reading the fine details. I was resigned to the fact that I’d just keep on with my current patterns and throw everything I had into work’s Live Healthy Challenge starting at the end of the month.

Today, everything changed. I got an IM from Cousin J saying, “I’m sorry”…and I had a good idea what she was about to tell me…”you can’t have team building without the whole team”. I was in (that’s what happens when you are fresh to a team yet still transitioning from another…). And the thing is? I got excited! I immediately started thinking I was getting off my butt and doing the Couch to 5K thing again (and sticking with it). A brief description to Mr. Burgher, and he wanted to sign up, too.

So, here it is. I’ll be attempting a 7-mile “run” up the mountains with my team. I have 91 days to get prepared, so expect some major changes over my way. This girl is in training! (Wish me luck after you stop laughing.)

May 12, here I come.

Mama Burgher