REVIEW | Monster Jam Pittsburgh 2020

This post is a review of Monster Jam which our family attended the Pittsburgh opening night of. Thank you to Feld Entertainment for the tickets in exchange for this post.

Our night at Monster Jam Triple Threat (which is in Pittsburgh until Sunday, February 9) was full of HIGH OCTANE FUN. With six competitions full of surprises, our whole family found something to cheer about. 

This year’s tour is titled “Triple Threat” because it includes stunts by the drivers with monster trucks, ATVs, and speedsters. Our favorites are the monster trucks, but the ATVs and speedsters break up the competition (and give our lungs a break from the heavy dust). Compeitions on the monster trucks included a race, 2-wheel stunts, donuts, and freestyle.

What surprised us? 

Even though Megalodon lost the nose of his truck during the 2-wheel competition, he won 4 of the 6 competitions and was able to complete all six…then win the entire event. We are pretty sure his backflip (a first in the Pittsburgh arena!) is what won it.

El Toro Loco came from behind in his first round of speedster racing and cut off Pirates Curse for a spot in the semifinals (but went on to lose in the semifinals to Megalodon). 

The four tires on a monster truck weigh about 645 pounds combined!

Our row made it on the jumbotron between the 5th and 6th competitions.

Some of the judges zone scores were lower than we expected. Judges Zone is an online voting for the fans to score 1 to 10 how we felt the trucks performed.

 A Family Tradition

Monster Jam has become a family tradition for us. We look forward to our night at the indoor dirt track! What is a family tradition that your family looks forward to each year?

If you’re interested in going, there is one show left on Sunday 2/9, 2020. Read our first post to get all the details + tickets!

Megalodon, the winner!

Make a Difference

Support the St. Jude mission: Finding cures. Saving children.®  Text MJAT3 to 78533 to donate to Monster Jam’s support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospial and make a difference in the lives of kids with cancer. Love the “This Shirt Saves Lives” shirt that the drivers wear under their gear? Texting and donating is the way to get it! 

Missed the Pittsburgh event? 

The Tampa event will be airing on NBC-SN on February 11, 2020 and there are more nationwide events including the May 2-3 championship. 

A Look Back at 2019 – Your Favorites

This post contains affiliate links. That means that when you shop through links we suggest, we receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. To be 100% transparent, 2019 was a tough year for our family. I (Mom) blogged about it over on my newish personal space and we’re moving forward with strength in 2020! That tough year even presented itself here on the blog – it was our quietest year (in number of posts, visits, comments, and shares) ever and we’ve been around since 2012 at this site address and 2010 at our old “.org” site. Wowza. But nonetheless, you continued to visit – especially in December – and keep things happening for us here at ‘lil Burghers. THANK YOU!

Taking a Look Back at 2019 Top Posts

While we try to focus on highlighting our favorite Pittsburgh-area activities, you readers are still coming here for the holiday ideas, the family memories, and more. This helps us understand what to “stop, start, and continue” for 2020 but is also really fun to look into. Let’s start with a run-down of the top five visited posts in 2019:

Elf Pets: A New Tradition – this post first showed up in the blog during that era of time before the Twins were born! It continues to be a top post year after year, and Lily and Olaf continue to bring joy to our family’s Christmas traditions. Have you adopted an Elf Pet along with (or even instead of) your Elf tradition?

A Winter Break: Castaway Bay – Our family took two trips to Sandusky, Ohio in 2019 and absolutely fell in love. The first one, which we blogged about here, was a mid-winter trip to Castaway Bay, an indoor waterpark where it is always 82-degrees. As I’m writing this wrap-up, it’s a rainy day in Pittsburgh and all I can think about is how great of a weekend it would be there instead.

Whole30 MistakesAnother slightly older post but it is still helpful as I’m sure plenty of you will be headed down a path of making healthy changes in 2020. While I don’t follow the Whole30 Lifestyle, it is really good for resetting your body and finding out what works and doesn’t work for you. But goodness do I miss the potatoes I ate on that plan!

Essential Eyebrow Solution – Do yinz like my eyes or something? Blushes, but realizes that another older post has yet again taken the top of the year! The theme here is helpful information brings reads, I guess. This is a product I used in 2017 and haven’t used since I ran out of it, but eyebrow hair isn’t a mystery to me anymore – have you read my post “Torn Down”?

The Struggle: Finding Therapists – As I said when I started this post – 2019 was a true rough one for us. It involved Greg (Dad) and me finding a therapist to help rebuild our marriage and it was not as easy as we thought it was going to be. Thank you for listening to that part of our story!

2019 Top Products

As you know, this site is an affiliate of Amazon and often suggests products you might love. Have a look at the products you bought most of in 2019 (click on the images to check them out and/or purchase).

Purple Paper – we love having some colored paper around for craft projects and this paper is a great bright one!

Spray Bottle – Ava’s can’t live without hair product requires that she start her day with damp hair. This spray bottle is so helpful with that task!

Waterproof Phone Pouch – these were a must for our trip to Hawaii and allowed us to capture some pretty great photos underwater.

Cereal Dispensers – Isla just loves staying at hotels and having cereal come out of these dispensers would probably be simply dreamy for her. How fun!

Bocce Ball Set – Camping continues to be a family tradition that we love to do and write about. Having games like Bocce Ball make the time even more memorable.

2019 Top Nine on Instagram

To finish out our journey looking back at 2019, check out our Top Nine Photos from Instagram and make sure you’re following us there, too!

Did you have a favorite 2019 moment that you’d love to share? Comment below!

Get MOVING with Kids Of Steel (March 2)

The post below is part of a series of posts about the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events for which I have been selected to be a 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon official blogger. I’ve received my race registration fee in exchange for promotion of the event. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Are your kiddos ready to run in the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon’s Chick-fil-A Kids’ Marathon? The ‘lil Burghers are excited to start hitting the trail to get their “official” training going, but first we’ll be checking out this event on March 2:

Join the Kids of Steel team from 9 AM to 12 PM on Saturday, March 2 at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex to kick off training season and get race day ready! There will be a selfie station, nutrition lessons from Let’s Move Pittsburgh, runs on the indoor track and several family-friendly training activities led by local fitness experts.

Source: P3R Events

Check out the full schedule of events and then RSVP here today!

PSST! If you still need to sign up for the Marathon or Half, make sure you do and let them know I sent you by using WILLISDSGPM19 as your code when you sign up. You’ll save $10 when you do! Register here.

Monster Jam Pittsburgh Wrap-Up

My eyes are burning from the dust and I might not have a voice tomorrow, but getting the opportunity to take all four kids to Monster Jam tonight was INCREDIBLE. We are thankful for our partnership with Feld that makes this possible and as always bring you our honest opinions.

Monster Jam Pittsburgh Wrap-Up

Triple Threat is in town for the weekend, bringing thrills in the form of Monster Trucks,  ATVs, and speedsters. With races, freestyle and donut competitions, the drivers behind Monster Jam rock the arena for two and a half hours!

The Bigs and Twins had an enjoyable time cheering on their favorites including a Pittsburgh local (Special Operations Black Ops), Monster Jam women Scoopy Doo and El Toro Loco, Zombie (Ava’s CLEAR favorite), and the legendary Grave Digger.

We covered most of our moments over on Instagram, but saved a few for you here. Read our original post to see how you can get tickets for the remaining Pittsburgh shows tomorrow and Sunday.

Another December

It’s hard to believe that another December has come around. They warned me when I became a mom that time would fly, but I had no idea it would happen so fast.

This month, I’m trying to make it not just another December, but one full of giving and mindfulness and love. I pray to remain centered on what matters the most, not just in this season but all year-round.

Because the thing is, soon I’ll be a mom waiting for my kids to come home for Christmas break, then a grandma waiting to travel to see my grands open their gifts. At least that’s my prayer. But I realize as another December rolls around that life is so precious and that God’s plan could change all this in a moment.

So as we enter another December, I ask you to stop and take some time to think about the ways you’re spending your days and moments. Can the laundry wait? (The answer’s yes, even though I know from experience folding three weeks of six people’s clothing is not fun.) Do the cupboards need scrubbed? (Nope, and I wasn’t planning on looking, friend, and I still won’t!) Do the books need read? (Yes, by the light of the tree or a fireplace.) Do the hugs need to last so long? (Yes. Always.)

May your December be off to a great and beautiful start. xoxo

(Taking a moment to just breathe and enjoy our city!)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 10

Follow along with me as I share my half marathon journey – I’ll be running my second half in Pittsburgh on SUNDAY! (*articles may contain affiliate links*)

half marathon journey


If I had a penny for every time I’ve squealed that “It’s Marathon Week”, I’d be a rich woman.

You guys. It’s Marathon Week (squeal!).

This journey has been a good one. It’s been mentally and physically tough and rewarding, as a run like this should be. It’s brought me to tears of pain and tears of joy. It’s shown me just how much love abounds in my life. And it’s got me back on track to be a healthy mama to my kids (again).

Sunday is about more than the run. It’s about believing in myself and knowing that I didn’t do this alone. It is totally a God thing.

Training Plan Status

Sunday 4/30: Rest, which meant lots of time in the hammock and listening to the rain (later in the day).

Monday 5/1: What things are ahead for me must be amazing. The heat was there, I mean THERE. It had to have been mid-70s and I just couldn’t breathe, but dang did I run. I didn’t believe my MapMyRun or my FitBit, but both matched and this run had me feeling all the things great about Pittsburgh running. Distance: 3 miles Pace: 12’25” per mile

Tuesday 5/2: Tapering is no fun but NEEDED. I did a 5-4-3-2-1 HITT with Arianna and felt so lame. But right. Can that make sense?

Wednesday 5/3: Another Wednesday run that proves all the other runs wrong. The temperature was perfect for my asthma. I felt like I was just out for a casual stroll, not even a jog. Just before mile one (at 30th street), I looked up and saw a Pittsburgh Marathon van driving “the course”. I got giddy, thinking maybe they were invading my run, asking me to be an official blogger for the Pittsburgh Marathon for 2018, or maybe asking me to share my running story with them on the highlights with UPMC. When they kept going, I sighed a small bit of relief because while being one of their official bloggers is a goal for me, busting my butt to decrease my pace was a goal, too! Then my phone said “1 mile complete. Time, 11’22 per mile” and I about fell over. No way. Yes way. AHHHH! The amazingness of this run continued, even with an increase in pace as my path went through the Strip district and I had to wait for cars and other pedestrians. In the end, it was my best training run. Distance: 3 miles Pace: 11’55” per mile

Thursday 5/4: Again, tapering, so no YFit. I went to the Y and did 10 minutes on the treadmill at a slow walk with a 45-second 10’54” run every 2 minutes. Next, I did some YFit moves with really super light weights. When Greg got back from his last run before he does the Relay, I called my gym time done.

Friday 5/5: Here we are. The end of my training. I did a shakeout run this morning in the rain. I felt like a slow motion running scene in a movie, ridiculous but what I needed. It was slow, but the pace I need to be at or under on Sunday. Distance: 1.31 miles Pace: 13’12” per mile

Current Progress

February Miles (follow me on Nike+): 35.91
February Average Pace: 13’32”

March Miles: 60.05
March Average Pace: 13’21”

April Miles: 60.12
April Average Pace: 13’15”

May Miles: 7.33
May Average Pace: 12’29”

Current Projected Finish Time at May Pace: 2:43 (-10 minutes from my 2013 pace of 13:13 / 2:53)
Current Projected Finish Time average of all training (13’10”): 2:52’48” (-12 seconds from my 2013 pace of 13:13 / 2:53)

What’s coming up next? Packet pickup and Expo, resting tomorrow/work Marathon dinner, then THE BIG DAY.


If you’re running in the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon events, let me know. Be sure to follow along on my social media – I’ll be using #fitmomintheremaking #pghmarathon and #runpgh with my shares!

Read the rest of this series:

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 1 (March 3)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 2 (March 10)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 3 (March 17)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 4 and 5 (March 31)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 6 (April 7)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 7 (April 14)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 8 (April 21)

My Half Marathon Journey: Part 9 (April 29)

Read other Pittsburgh Running Blogs through Steff’s linkup: Run Steff Run

Coffee Date

coffee date

Yesterday, thanks to a flub at Dunkin, I got to spend some time with my girl on a coffee date. We sat and talked for almost an hour, sipping our coffees. 

These precious moments brought up things like her plans to play softball this spring and her current “when I grow up” (state trooper). 

It’s still hard to believe that 9 years ago I had no clue how the baby that made me crave coffee would change my world. 

Thriving: My 2016 Word of the Year

Back in January, I set my intentions. I wanted to focus on thriving, to become a better version of me. There were goals around family, faith, fun, fitness, and food. Now is the time to talk about how that went…right?

The year was pretty eventful in our house and family. Heck. This month has been pretty eventful for us. If you read my list of things I “googled” this year that I didn’t think I would, you know some of these things. At this point, we’ve had almost every appliance that came with the house fail (three remain, one could have been deadly). We watched all four kids grow by leaps and bounds. Greg and I both changed jobs, learning to navigate this new way of life, together. My blog and small business grew, but nowhere near the goals I had set for myself. Through the highs and lows, we’ve stuck together. Sure, there was some yelling and some craziness, but we are stronger together and thriving.

When it comes to faith, I can honestly say I’ve never felt more faithful, even in these recent times of hectic life. We’ve prayed harder than ever and been blessed (in both tests and triumphs). We’ve gained family in our church friends. Evan joined Rangers and we joined a home group, studying relationships. I dug more into my journaling bible and picked up a guitar to try to worship more. This was definitely a plus one in the thriving category.

There was lots of fun to be had, between trips as a family (NYC and Wisconsin) and me for business (San Francisco and Orlando) and the daily routines of imaginative play and Sesame Street watching. The fun factor was definitely a thriving area.

The first parts of the year in the way of fitness were rough to say the least. I was training for the Y’s April 5k, only to wake up the morning of to two inches of snow. My brain said pull the covers back up and I did so for almost six months. Finally, in August I ran my first 5k post-partum and took first place in my age division (cough cough). Next came YFit and the decision to start training for the 2017 Pittsburgh Half (and now my first public admission that I can’t wait to follow me there again). Frankly, I started and ended the year weighing the same, wearing the same clothes (ugh). We’ll go with fitness being a work in progress but thriving nonetheless.

And food. See above, eh? I tried, but even with Greg’s Garden, I just couldn’t get the food thing right. Over the next few days, I plan on reading a book about relationships with food and perhaps following a refresh up with an updated way of eating, too. Other than the awesomeness that was the garden, the thriving could have been better here.

All in all, tests and everything, tonight I look back at 2016 and am glad for the lessons learned and memories made. It was truly a great year of thriving.


Bonus: Here is my 2016 Best Nine from Instagram. Want to get your’s? Go to and connect your Instagram. Be sure to follow me there, too!

2016 best nine