Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain #TeachersChangeLives

"Oh Captain, My Captain!"
I remember watching Dead Poet's Society and thinking, "Yes! I had that teacher!"  

You know, the one who made me believe I could do anything and inspired me to truly want to become a teacher.  

Even twenty-five plus years later, I can still remember how my 9th grade English teacher made me feel. Truly feel.  I learned to love works like Romeo & Juliet and Flowers for Algernon while learning how to write 5-paragraph-essays and making them exciting! I was fortunate enough to have many phenomenal teachers throughout my life. She was simply one who made the biggest impact in my life.  

When I decided I wanted to become a teacher, I hoped to inspire kids or even just one kid in that same way my English teacher inspired me.

I taught kindergarten in a lower-income area of my choice.

I wanted my students, who often had a parent in jail, worried about where their next meal would come from, lived in a too-small apartment for the number of family members living with them, to come into my classroom and simply feel safe.  Feel happy.  To be able to leave the very real struggles of their young 5 year old lives, outside of our school family door.  I knew that these young faces would be looking to me for hope.  I took that responsibility very seriously. I wanted them to come into my classroom and love school! With all the cards potentially stacked against them, I believed that if they didn't begin their love of school in my kindergarten classroom, it would be that much more difficult to help them to love school later. 

Classroom supplies were at a minimum.  I dug into my own pockets to make sure my students had the supplies to be able to foster this love of learning I so very much wished to instill in them and make the lessons relevant and meaningful to them, as their childhoods looked so very different from my own. 

With increasing demands in education and a struggling economy, teachers are reaching even further into their pockets to fund what they need to make their classrooms innovative and effective.  

Please consider donating to a teacher in your community!

If you've ever questioned a teacher's ability to make a difference, watch this video of students...

Office Depot and Adopt-A-Classroom have partnered together to help teachers change lives! 
{Adopt-A-Classroom is a nonprofit organization that helps connect donors with teachers to enhance the learning environment for students.}

  • How to Register Your Classroom as a Teacher
    1. Go to Teachers Change Lives website (
    2. Click on the red box that says "Register Your Classroom," which will take you to the Adopt-A-Classroom website
    3. Follow the corresponding steps from there

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Easter Bunny

I love all the firsts that happen after a baby comes along.  Some are simple, some are huge milestones, and some are all about the parents.  Visiting the Easter bunny is all me.  I know this.  But it's something that is important to me.

Lily isn't one who loves anything in a character costume right now, so we talked it up with her, but knew only getting a Violet picture was entirely possible.

While we waited in line, Lily and Daddy had a snack and walked around a little bit to keep her occupied until it was our turn.  

Our wait wasn't too terribly long, thankfully! We had Violet up first and we got her to smile right away for a quick, easy picture. Perfect for her 1st Easter!  

Next it was time to add Lily. She was not excited. At all.  

I asked her to sit right next to Violet and told her she didn't even have to touch the bunny. She was agreeable to that.  She made certain to keep her hands in her lap, so she wasn't even slightly touching the bunny haha! 

I asked Lily to smile and she said through clenched teeth, "I am."   She's the best! hahahhaha

My only complaint  about it was that since the bunny was in the sun of skylights, they had a helper holding a big piece of cardboard up to block the sun and you can see it in the pictures even though they brightened everything before they printed.  All the ones I took with my own camera are terribly shadowed and have to have a ton of editing to even see the girls. Not a fan. 

I love to see side-by-sides of my girls, so here's one of both girls' first Easter bunny visits. Same bunny, same dress, same hairbow.  Lily was almost 9 months and Violet almost 6 months.

After the bunny, we tried to make it to another egg hunt with Stef's and Tracy's families, but it was over when we got there.  It wasn't a wasted trip though because anytime hanging out with our friends is a good time!  We stayed at the park for quite awhile and the kids played.  I think we were all so excited about having a sunny, warm day after being cooped up so long in the winter and a perfect addition in our Easter celebrations this year. 

I snapped a quick picture with Violet with the park Easter bunny too. :)

I love these kids! 

party of four  ♥

{Daddy promised Lily that pink sparkly Pirates hat if she'd sit with the Easter bunny at the mall after she saw it.  She did her part and he did his.}

Monday, April 28, 2014

Did Somebody Say Party? Easter Party!

Late Saturday afternoon after our egg hunt, we headed over to our friend's house for our annual Easter party with friends.  After perpetual winter, it was a perfect Spring day to hang out with friends, get some outside time and celebrate another holiday season together.

We all filled eggs and brought them to hide and the dads hid them.  We have to separate the bigger kids and the little kids because our bigger kids will mow over the little ones. ;)

The little girls were first for the egg hunt.  The Lilys actually were egg-cited despite this picture.  Charlie and Victoria were much more cooperative for the picture.

 Aaaaaaand they were off!  Running is something these girls love to do!

 Lexie {the other Lily's big sis} is great with the little ones and the Lilys wanted her help after a little bit.

Amy and I tried to get a picture of Lily and Victoria together and they were far from interested.  Lily wanted to wear her basket like a purse and Victoria was excited about her marshmallows.  

This picture literally makes me laugh everytime I look at it! 

 Next it was time for new eggs to be hidden and the bigger kids to have their turn. You can see they're pretty intense.
{Stef's pic}

 Never too old for an egg hunt. :)

Violet just watched this year. 
The other two babies, Liam and Amelia were adorable in a sweet little photo shoot that Violet wanted no part of.
{Stef's pics}

We had an easy supper and hung out the rest of evening with our best friends.   The kids colored eggs, played outside, played video games, played a board game for a really long time. There were no casualties. With 14 kids, that a feat.

My girls crashed pretty early {relatively} but were content sleeping on the couch while the bigger kids continued to play and the adults chatted. 

Sweet Liam wanted no part in going to sleep.  He hung in there with the adults for the duration.
{He and Violet have the same bunny jammies, but she simply wasn't cooperative that day for a picture together.}

We really love these times with our friends that are family and look forward to it every year! We need to be better about taking pictures of the grown ups, I've decided. :)

Friday, April 25, 2014

My Consignment Finds! #JBFPGH

Well, you've heard me talk about it all week and yesterday the day finally arrived!


The Just Between Friends of Pittsburgh sale has begun!

I went during the presale, so I hit the dome at 10:00am sharp! My goal was to find Lily clothes for the spring and summer.  Dresses mostly. I had a couple of things on "just check it out" list, but clothes for my big girl were the priority.  Violet is lucky enough to get all Lily's hand-me-downs, so with the exception of finding and/or choosing a few things here and there for her, she is set.

This was the front row of clothing and about 2 aisles are missing on the right in my picture. TONS of clothing!

Allllllllll the way in the back...a bunch of play kitchens, grills, a sweet little grocery store set up (that was only $17), little outdoor climbers and slides!

This was my view as I waited a few minutes to go inside and literally does not do this facility and the amount of items justice.  It's just one little piece!!  Next time I'm remembering to do the panoramic shot!

From the back by the wagons, cozy coupes, push cars, play mats, exersaucers...

Overflowing tables of toys that are separated, so you have a starting point when you go in to find what you're looking for!

This was just a shot from about mid-dome over towards the clothing to give perspective on how far these amazing bargains reach!

 This is a picture of my consignment sale shopping buddy, Amy and doesn't even do justice to all that we found, actually!

Violet's sweet little finds:  {See that old school Pittsburgh Penguins onesie?  Yeah, that was for her Daddy! And only $4.}

Big sis hit the motherload! You can't even see it all actually, but loads of dresses, a pair of jeans I loved with apples on them, name brand pajammies in excellent condition. All her clothes are actually name brands and in excellent condition and not one single item was more than $5.

I also scored 5 pair of shoes in excellent condition, including 2 pair of Crocs.  Lily also loves rainboots and I had lots to choose from--even with her big shoe size!  I picked up several other items including some bath toys and a bicycle helmet.  And the best part is, there are a ton to choose from I am able to carefully look over and choose what's best for me.

There is still a bunch to be found!! And a lot of time to shop!! All day Saturday from 8am-5pm and then Sunday is the extra bargains on already bargain prices--50% off day!  New merchandise comes out on Saturday too, so if you've already shopped, you can head back to see if that item you were looking for, but couldn't find is there!

Just Between Friends is the mother of all consignment sales and I cannot wait until the Fall sale and the Spring hasn't even ended!  Get there!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Sunday ~ Violet's 1st Easter

This year for Easter, we spent the morning at home, George's parents came over for breakfast, and then we went to one of our best friends' house for Easter dinner. This was new for this year for all of us and it couldn't have turned out better!

Lily woke up first after Violet had gone back to sleep when she was through nursing early morning.  Lily came running in our bedroom holding a pair of bunny glasses that were in Violet's Easter basket.

Andrew got up and it took him a little while to find his basket.  The Easter Bunny still hides them, no matter how old you are.  Lily looked all over and still couldn't find hers and finally sat down on the couch, crying, saying, "The Easter Bunny came in to our house and took my basket!"   I asked her where she always hides when she plays hide and seek and off she went...there it was!

Aunt Pam the Great sent the kids an Easter treat from the Popcorn Factory--they look forward to it every year! Andrew and Lily decided that since it was Violet's first Easter, she should get the little stuffed chick inside.  Sweet kids.

Violet loved her new o-ball the Easter bunny brought!

Andrew's favorite chocolate bunny ever!

Violet sat on the table in her bumbo while we had breakfast. It took her a little bit to get used to George's mom without crying. 6 months was tough for her in that.  She actually started that stranger awareness around 4 months, but it was full on by 6 months for sure.  Eventually, Violet was ok and able to sit with his mom after Daddy held her while sitting next to her first.

Nothing like having a billion things crammed in before Easter and having to dye eggs on Easter morning. ;)  Lily loved doing this, so I'm glad we fit it in anyway! I love hardboiled eggs, so I didn't mind having them either.

Clearly, the 10 year old is the one who needs help. *eyeroll* {I don't have any other pictures of Reagan dyeing them without help.} 

Trying to get a picture of my husband's parents with their grandchildren was entertaining to say the least.  When I got the girls to cooperate, his parents were looking randomly wherever.  Lily finally had enough. 

George's parents left soon after and we got ready to go to some of our best friends' house for supper.  This was their first year hosting at their house and we're so happy they included us!  We are so blessed that we have great friends with great kids and everyone gets along.  The adults sat at the table and ate together {we had the babies, of course} while the kids ate in the livingroom.  It was nice to sit as couples and have conversation while we ate!  

More friends came by after their respective family suppers to join us all for dessert which rounded out a wonderful day!  

Between Stef and I, we surprisingly didn't take many pictures that day.  The Lilys had little balls of styrofoam  ALL over them from something they got into and Stef had to vacuum them picture, but I certainly don't want to forget it! We were cracking up!  The kids played outside for awhile and the husbands retreated to the man cave.

We did manage to get a picture of our family that day.  The very first one with all 6 of us. 

Stef and I finally took some pictures of Liam and Violet in their matching bunny jammies which turned out pretty hilarious in the way they kept rolling and grabbing.  She has a whole post of just these you can see here: Baby Bunnies  I love that these babies share all their firsts!  Happy 1st Easter to them!

It was a wonderful Easter and we can't wait to do it again next year!