Our Five Ring Circus

Monday, September 9, 2019

How To Create A Portable Homework Caddy + Homework Tips

Back To School Organization Ideas

Today, my crew headed back to school! Life is already busy enough, but soon, we'll be adding school activities and homework to our to do list. I'm reluctant to leave Summer behind, but I already prepared for the upcoming year! 


One my favorite organization tips for the school year is to create a homework caddy. I put one together back in 2015, and it became a permanent staple on our kitchen counter. All of my kids use it year-round. I loved our original homework caddy, but over the years, I tested different setups, and found one that works really well for us!

Last week, I cleaned out our portable homework caddy, and restocked it with new supplies for the upcoming school year. It's currently sitting on our counter, ready to go. Honestly? It's the ONLY thing ready for back to school! (Long live Summer!!!)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Amazon Finds July & August

Amazon Finds July & August


This post contains affiliate links. If you click through, and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. Everything I recommend has been tested by me or my family!



It took me a while to fully embrace Amazon Prime, but now I buy as much as possible from them! If it saves me a trip to the store with five kids, it's worth it. Plus, I can pretty much find everything I'm looking for, order straight from the app on my phone, and get it within 1-3 days. That's a definite win!


July and August were full of birthdays in our immediate family, so lots of gifts were purchased. Grant turned 40, Lily turned 8, and Liam turned 6! We also started to shop for Fall clothing and back to school items. I got sucked into the Amazon Fashion hole for the first time ever, and never looked back!

My Amazon finds for the past two months include baby clothing, first day of school outfits, jewelry, fashion accessories, bags, toys, books, storage boxes, and electronics accessories. I'm sharing my honest thoughts on everything I bought! (Spoiler Alert - Most were hits!)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

I Am Loved - Our Love Story

I Am Loved


This post is sponsored by Helzberg Diamonds but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

I AM LOVED. 


We met in the Garden of Eden. He was Adam, and I was Eve. We were just teenagers, but that was the beginning of our love story, which has already spanned 20 years!

Grant and I were still kids when we were cast as the leads in The Apple Tree. We started dating while we were rehearsing the musical, and we fell in love. We married young, and many people thought it was just a fling. I'm absolutely certain that some of the people who loved us had their doubts, and thought we would fail.

A year of marriage turned into two...then three...then four. Shortly after our 4th wedding anniversary, we bought our first house and had our first child. While all of our friends were going to college and starting their careers, we were new parents, who were creating a home for our little family.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Every Baby Is Different - Coen's Story

Breastfeeding Stories


This post is sponsored by Evivo but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Our fifth baby was a BIG surprise! My husband and I adjusted quickly to the news, and figured what’s one more when we already had four?!?  Our kids ranged in age from 5 through 14, and had been through it all, including a very surprising post-birth diagnosis of Down syndrome. We were experienced parents, and nothing could throw us off our parenting game. Of course we had this under control! 


Or so we thought. Everybody assured us that baby #5 would be the easiest one, but they were wrong. Baby #5 turned out to be a very fussy baby who had feeding issues. It was our first unhappy baby, and we were feeling very stressed. He cried for hours each day, and nothing we did helped. For the first time ever, I was an exhausted new mom, and I felt a tinge of postpartum depression sneaking in. 

Sometimes as a parent, you just have to follow your gut. I KNEW there was something wrong with my sweet baby. I successfully breastfed three other babies, including one that I was told couldn’t breastfeed because of his diagnosis. I was an experienced breastfeeder, and I wasn’t doing anything different. It was up to me to figure out what was going on.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Happy 6th Birthday, Liam!

Down syndrome

On Sunday, our sweet boy celebrated his 6th Birthday! It's easy to forget just how old Liam is, because he's so tiny, and has a speech delay. But my boy, who was the baby of the family for 5 1/2 years, is now 6 years old and headed to first grade! It's so hard to believe!


We have to alter our usual birthday traditions a bit for Liam. He has celiac disease, which means we can't do the usual Happy Birthday Donut Breakfast, and we don't go out to eat since there isn't a good restaurant that he likes that meets his diet restrictions. Our plan for his big day was to hang out at home, invite some of his favorite people over, eat his favorite dinner, and play outside.

Last year, we spent Liam's birthday driving 12 hours to the beach. We'll definitely always remember that one, but sometimes celebrating simply can be just as good. Liam had a GREAT birthday, and was so excited about it!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

What We're Loving Lately

What We're Loving Lately

I received some of the items below free for review. I only share my genuine favorites on my blog. 

With 7 people living in our home, we try a lot of new products! Some things are just okay, and some things end up on our favorites list. Every so often, I share a roundup of the things my family is loving lately!

On our list is a functional item, a must have baby item, a new shampoo that I'm currently using, a new TV show for young kids, and wellness and self-care products. I try to include something for everyone! Here's what we're loving lately...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

4 UNIQUE WAYS TO USE POST-ITS DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR

4 UNIQUE WAYS TO USE POST-ITS DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR

This post is sponsored by 3M but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Summer Break flew by, and it’s almost time to send the kids back to school! We’re enjoying the last few weeks of Summer Break, but we’re also starting to shop for the upcoming school year. With four kids heading back to school, we have a lot to buy - clothing, shoes, gym clothes, backpacks, lunchboxes, school supplies, and more!



The beginning of the school year can be so exciting, but then reality hits. We’re incredibly busy from September through June, so I’m definitely a much bigger fan of our more peaceful Summers, and the time spent with my kids. But as much as I’m in denial, the countdown to the first day of school is on!

Shopping for back to school can be an undertaking with 5 kids, but it helps to make a list and get it done early. Staying organized, and having a stash of school supplies for home use is the key to my sanity during the school year!


Find out which item tops my list of school supplies for home use, the five unique ways to use them, and how you can get a night out at the movies just from purchasing school supplies!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Coen's Birth Story - The Delivery

Coen's Birth Story - The Delivery

Time goes by so quickly when you have kids! It goes by even faster with each child that you add to your family. It seems like we were just anxiously waiting for our fifth baby to be born, and now he's 5 months old. I wish time would slow down! I already shared the first part of Coen's birth story - the labor. Now it's time for the delivery!


I haven't shared the details of the delivery with many people, other than to say that it was brutal! It took months to recover, and I'm still dealing with nerve pain. Let me just say that if Coen was my first child, he would be an ONLY child!

Here's where we left off:  Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to get that epidural running again, so for the first time ever, I would get to experience a natural delivery. It wasn't what I wanted, and I was already in enough pain, but there was no turning back. Our baby was coming - NOW - whether we were ready or not! And soon, everyone in the room was going to be very surprised by what came next...

Monday, August 12, 2019

Sparkling Black Raspberry Float

Sparkling Black Raspberry Float

This post is sponsored by Sparkling ICE but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

In a few short weeks, my crew is going to be heading back to school! My kids are starving when they get home, and don't always make the healthiest choices, so I try to plan a few snacks each week. A Sparking Black Raspberry Float is a tasty, low calorie treat that they will love!


I absolutely love raspberries, so I'm a big fan of anything raspberry-flavored, and my kids agree! This refreshing, 4-ingredient float is made with delicious frozen yogurt and Sparkling Ice Black Raspberry. Although parents would love it, too, they just might want to opt for an extra boost of energy instead. The beginning of the school year is draining for kids, teachers, and mom and dad!

I'm not quite ready to trade our (somewhat) calm Summer days for the chaos of the school year, but it's time to start planning those afterschool snacks. I will definitely be adding this treat to the afterschool snack rotation. The Sparkling Black Raspberry Float has so much going for it - it's quick and easy to make, it's inexpensive, it's refreshing, and it's absolutely delicious!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh - MAKESHOP

HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh - MAKESHOP


This post was written in partnership with The Motherhood and sponsored by The Grable Foundation. Photos courtesy of Remake Learning and Ben Filio. 


Do you love where you live? I definitely do! Pittsburgh is a wonderful place to raise a family! Did you know Pittsburgh is a world leader in learning and education innovation?

We might not have the best weather in the world, but there are so many amazing things that makes Pittsburgh an ideal place to raise children. Pittsburgh has some of the best museums, hospitals, universities, libraries, and schools. In fact, Pittsburgh had the honor of being selected for HundreED's first spotlight in North America! 

HundrED is a global orgnization, which is based in Finland, that aims to research and share education innovations around the world. This year, HundrED has been collaborating with The Grable Foundation and Remake Learning to highlight the unique educational innovations coming out of the Pittsburgh region. Pittsburgh was selected because of the education innovation happening here. HundrED selected 12 Pittsburgh area programs to spotlight, and will be sharing the most inspiring models and ideas in K-12 education with their international audience.