Our Five Ring Circus

Friday, October 29, 2021

Completing Phase Three: The Final Pregnancy Chapter with a TWIST

Pregnancy Announcement

My husband and I started our parenting years when we were young. While everyone else we knew was in college or starting their careers, we were buying a house and having a baby. Two years later, we added another child to our family. Grant said he wanted one, maybe two, kids, so we thought that was it for us.

4 1/2 years later, we changed our minds. Lily was born, and a few days after she turned two, Liam joined our family. At that point we started referring to our kids as Phase One and Phase Two. We always said there would NEVER be a Phase Three!

Well, we all know how that turned out! Coen was our BIG surprise, coming into our lives after we donated most of our baby items. We were done. Phase Three would just be Coen, and we would move forward on our parenting journey. It turns out this chapter in our lives hadn't ended just yet...

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta Easy Dinner Recipe


Easy Pasta Recipe

*I received this product for free from Moms Meet for review. Compensation for this post was provided and this post may contain affiliate links.

Meal Planning for 5 family dinners a week is no easy task! My husband and 5 kids have their favorites, and it seems like we fall into a dinner rut at times. I love adding new easy dinner recipes to the rotation!

My kids love pasta dinners. Liam could EASILY eat gluten free pasta with traditional sauce every single day - and often does! There's no doubt pasta dishes are easy to make, and seem to be a favorite for many. There are so many options, but we don't venture away from traditional red sauce very often. It was definitely time to try something different! 

I like pesto, but most of my family never tried it. I decided to switch our usual pasta dish up with grilled chicken, tomatoes, bacon, mozzarella, and Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto. Guess what? They LOVED it! We now have a new easy pasta recipe to add to our meal planning rotation!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Back To School with Monster Pop


Back To School Snacks

*I received this product for free from Moms Meet for review. Compensation for this post was provided, and this post may contain affiliate links.

This week, my kids headed back to school! Gone are the lazy days of Summer. Now we have a structured schedule, sports practices, and game days. Our nights are filled with setting out school outfits, checking backpacks, and packing lunch boxes. Our days are spent in the car, running to and from school, sports, and activities, and snacking on the go. Monster Pop is there with us every step of the way!

My 5 kids are constantly asking for snacks, so I'm always looking for new, healthy snacks that they will love. When choosing snacks, I look for foods that can easily (and neatly) be eaten on the go. Bonus points if they are gluten free, so Liam, who has Celiac Disease, can eat them, too! Versatility is an important factor. Can they be added to lunch boxes? Can they snack on them at home? Do they come in different size bags and flavors?

My 4 older kids love popcorn, so we were excited to try Monster Pop. Sometimes they aren't big fans of the flavors of healthier alternatives, but it was an instant hit. It tastes JUST like movie theater popcorn without all the grease! Here's why Monster Pop is now a part of of our snack rotation...

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Myrtle Beach Pandemic Vacation - Day 4

Family Travel Blog

Day 4 of our September 2020 Myrtle Beach Vacation looked a lot like the previous days! Slow mornings, lots of relaxing, and spending the day swimming and sitting on the beach. We are beach people, so those long days on the oceanfront suit us perfectly!

We have always gone to Myrtle Beach in August, so we are used to the hot Summer days. This was a rapidly planned vacation during the off season. We couldn't pass up an end of September trip for the ridiculously cheap price of $1200 for the week!

While we were at the beach, we were able to celebrate the first day of Fall. It was different being there when the weather was cooler, but we still enjoyed ourselves. It was warm during the day, and cool at night, so there were lots of hoodies involved! We all thought it was cool that we experienced two seasons on our beach vacation!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Myrtle Beach Pandemic Vacation - Day 3


Travel with kids

Day 3 of our Myrtle Beach "Pandemic" Vacation was a relaxing one! Life is always GO GO GO for us at home, so we try to take it easy on vacation. In September, we took advantage of all the restrictions still in place, and just did our own thing at the beach. It ended up being one of our best beach vacations!

It was perfect, because we started each day slowly, spent our afternoons at the pool and the beach, ate dinner together as a family, took walks on the beach, and enjoyed late night swims. Although a few days were a bit more adventurous, day 3 was all about relaxing and just enjoying being at the beach. It truly is our happy place! 

I'm not quite sure what this month's vacation to the beach is going to be like, but we will definitely be adopting a few of those lazy days strategies. Slow mornings were new to us on this vacation, and we all agreed that it was exactly what we needed. Recapping this last trip from September is making us feel so excited for our upcoming family vacation!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Life with Down syndrome: Dream Night At The Zoo Drive Thru


Down syndrome blog

On May 2nd, our entire family headed to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium for Dream Night at the Zoo. We have been attending this awesome event for years with our sweet Liam, and it's one of our favorite ways to meet up with our Down syndrome community! They didn't have it last year due to the shutdown, but this year, they had a drive thru.

Although we definitely prefer the in-person event, we still had a great time! They made it so special for all of the amazing kids, and there were so many animals to see. Our kids had so much fun, and their only complaint was that it didn't last longer!

Coen had only been to the zoo once before he turned a year old, and he slept through it, and then the world shut down. We went to the Christmas Lights Drive Thru at the zoo, but he didn't really see any animals. This time he was mesmerized by all of the animals! It was his first real zoo experience that he was awake for, and we can't wait to take him back to see everything. As for Liam? He was grinning the ENTIRE time!

Monday, August 9, 2021

Myrtle Beach Pandemic Vacation - Day 2

Family Travel Blog

Our first full day at the Myrtle Beach was perfectly relaxing! We were just so thrilled to be back at our happy place, despite all the restrictions due to the pandemic. We weren't quite sure this trip was going to happen, and we were so grateful we were able to pull it together with just one month of planning!

Life is so busy with 5 kids, so when we go to the beach, we keep things low-key. We focus on simply relaxing, and spending uninterrupted time together as a family. We all love the beach, so just being there is enough for us!

Our trip involves slow mornings, hours spent at the beach and the pool, family dinners with the balcony doors open, evening strolls on the boardwalk, night walks on the beach, shell collecting, late night swims, sunrises, and relaxing on the balcony overlooking the beach. We try to plan one or two small outings or dinners, but we mostly love our beach days. Someday - someday - we will move there, or at least get a timeshare!

Friday, August 6, 2021

Liliana's 10th Birthday Celebration & Birthday Interview

10th Birthday Ideas

I truly can't believe it, but our third child hit double digits this week! Lily is such a sweet, smart, and funny girl, and we love her so very much. Turning a decade old is a big milestone, and we had so much fun celebrating her 10th Birthday!

We filled Lily's birthday with favorite traditions, favorite people, and favorite things. She started celebrating at midnight, took a small break to sleep, then was back at it at 7 AM. She didn't stop celebrating until her birthday was officially over, and then she simply crashed from exhaustion!

Every year, Lily claims it was the best birthday ever, and that says so much about her. Grant and I believe that because childhood is fleeting, birthdays should be magical. We make it a point to celebrate each child to the fullest on their big day, and they are always so grateful. Turning ten is a big deal, and we loved celebrating one of our most favorite people in the world!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Big Family Life - What It's REALLY Like


Down syndrome blogs

I grew up in a big family. It wasn't a traditional big family - my mom had 4 kids, my dad had 3 kids, then they got married and had me. Technically, I have half siblings, but I prefer to drop the half, and just call them my siblings. I grew up in a family with 8 children, but because I was so much younger, I also got to experience life as an "only" child when I was a teenager. It definitely gave me a unique perspective!

I always wanted to have 4 kids, but didn't expect that to happen, so I am definitely surprised that we have more. I know we are considered a big family, but truthfully, it doesn't feel that way. When you grow up with 7 older siblings, a family with 5 kids doesn't seem THAT big. Where we live, however, our family is unusual. 2 or 3 kids is the norm here, and it's hard to find young families nearby with more than 3 children.

We get a lot of questions and comments about our family, in real life and online, so I figured I would give the inside scoop! If you are a long time reader, you were able to watch us go from a family with just two kids and no plans to have anymore to a family with five kids, including one who has Down syndrome. Yes, they are all ours, yes, they are spaced out in age, yes, we know how it happens, and yes, we LOVE our big family. So if you're wondering what big family life is really like, here goes...

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Traveling During a Pandemic: Our Family Road Trip to Myrtle Beach

New River Gorge

2020 was a year unlike any other. There was so much we couldn't do during the pandemic, including going on our usual Summer vacation to the beach. It turned out that we just needed to rethink our travel plans!

Like so many other families, we were being careful, and avoiding travel, especially to hotspots. As Summer neared an end, we decided we would look for a condo at a beach, since Fall isn't a peak time for beach travel. We knew we were going to have to wear masks, and we knew the weather was going to be cooler, but we just wanted to get away after the craziness of the year. 

We ended up finding a big condo in Myrtle Beach, for an INCREDIBLE deal, at the end of September. We immediately booked it, then invited my dad to join us. We had never taken anyone on our family vacation, and we had never gone during the school year, so we were excited to try something different! It ended up being a great vacation full of fun memories. We are officially less than a month away from our 2021 beach vacation, so I figured I would do a quick recap of our pandemic vacation before I start packing for our next trip!