Our Five Ring Circus

Monday, November 11, 2019

Fall Favorites

Parenting Blog

It's nearing the middle of November, and while everyone else seems to have decorated for Christmas already, I'm still fully embracing Fall! If there's anything having five children has taught me, it's to quit rushing things, and enjoy the moment. I love everything about the holiday season, from Halloween to New Year's Day, but I'm still enjoying pumpkins, Fall decor, and our Thankful Tree! And on Thanksgiving night, you will find all of us in Christmas pajamas!

If you read my last post from last month, you already know that life has been very chaotic around here. I just haven't had time to blog, and I had to fight through the guilt and realize that I would get back to it when I had a chance. Life has changed even more since I wrote that post three weeks ago. I now have a teenager at home with me every single day, doing cyber school. I'll share more details on the why and how soon. It's still very new to us!

Currently, my nap-protester is actually sleeping, my sick self is stuck on the couch trying to get rest, and my kids are off school for the next two days. It's surprisingly calm in my home for 8 PM on a Sunday night. It's the perfect time to share a few of my favorite things this Fall!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Back To School & Big Changes

Big Family Blog

Over the past 6 weeks, life has been a whirlwind. The back to school season is always incredibly busy, but it's even more chaotic with four kids in four different schools AND a baby. I attempted to stay current with blogging, but failed miserably, and that's okay. I needed a break, and my one week break turned into three!

Life is finally calming down (a bit), so I figured it was time to get back to writing. I have so many updates to share, so I figured I would put them all in one post before moving on. Life has been very busy for my big family, and I haven't really had a moment to breathe!

Here's life in a nutshell over the past 6 weeks:

  • My kids went back to school, and there were big changes this year!
  • Lily became a cheerleader, and gave up dance for tumbling. She loves it!
  • Coen is growing at an alarming rate. This last first year with my last bonus baby is going entirely too quickly.
  • It's Down syndrome awareness month, and I haven't shared a single post. I do have a big one coming up!
  • I started working out again - REALLY working out, and I'm finally getting my pre-baby body back. I'm also getting back into photography, and have SO many pictures to share.
  • My parents had some health scares. My dad had a mini stroke, and my mom had a seizure. They are doing well now, but it was scary and stressful. 
  • Life with 5 kids is just busy. Really busy.
Keep reading, and I'll fill you in on life lately!

Monday, October 14, 2019

How To Set Up A Shared Bedroom For A New Baby And Their Older Sibling

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StayConnectedwithVTech #CollectiveBias

Parenting Blog

When we found out our fifth baby was on the way, it was a huge surprise! With 6 people living in a 3 bedroom home, room sharing was a given, and we knew we had to rearrange our room configuration to include a 7th family member. We ended up adding a bedroom to our basement, letting our teenager move into that room, and turning his former bedroom into a shared bedroom for our new baby and our 5 year old!

Although our newborn would be sleeping in a bassinet in our bedroom for the first 6 months, just like our other children did, we still needed to set up a safe space for diaper changes, clothing changes, playtime, and daytime naps. We put a lot of thought into our two youngest boys' shared bedroom, and it worked out well! Our baby has slept in his crib a few times at night, but we're getting ready to transition him to the room full time very soon.

While we were setting up a shared bedroom for our boys, we focused on three key factors: safety, comfort, and function. There were 5 1/2 years between our baby and his older brother, so we had to make sure our 5 year old still felt special, and our newborn was completely safe. With the help of fun multi-age toys, comfortable play areas, safe beds, and a video baby monitor, we're able to ensure that the transition to full-time room sharing is as easy as possible!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Homemade Peanut Banana Oatmeal Baby Food + The New Guidelines For Introducing Allergens

Introducing peanuts to babies

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

When Coen was born, I told myself to savor every moment, because babies don't keep. An entire year of infancy stretched out ahead of us, but I blinked and half a year was already gone. Coen is now 6 months old, and he's nothing like the helpless newborn he was just a short while ago. He's rolling, sitting, standing with support, trying to crawl, getting teeth, eating baby food, and sipping from a straw cup!

Gone are the hours upon hours I spent breastfeeding him. Now some of those nursing sessions are supplemented by solid feedings. Instead of pulling out my breast pump, I'm pulling out the blender to make homemade baby purees. So many changes happen within that first year of life. It's exciting and bittersweet at the same time!

Speaking of changes, a lot of changes have occurred since my four older kids were babies. Start solids at 4 months, start solids at 6 months, start solids between 4-6 months, skip purees and do baby led weaning, don't give eggs or peanut butter until 12 months...it's hard to keep up! Coen's wonderful pediatrician recommended starting solids at 4 months (we did) and slowly introducing foods, then adding eggs and peanut butter to his diet at 6 months old. Research shows that feeding peanuts between 4-6 months could prevent babies from developing a peanut allergy. We followed the recommendation, and it was so easy to do!

Pittsburgh Blog

Friday, September 20, 2019

Family Fun & STEAM in Pittsburgh at MuseumLab


This post is brought to you by The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

When I was a child, my dad used to take me to The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. I LOVED visiting a museum that felt like it was built just for me! Years after I grew up, I visited my favorite museum with my first baby. I vividly remember the excitement I felt when I took him there for the first time. It was as if I was sharing a piece of my history with him. There have been four more first visits since then, but it never gets old!

My first baby is nearly 15 years old, my last baby is 6 months old, and we have a tween, an 8 year old, and a 6 year old, who has a developmental delay, in between. We have kids in every stage of development, and it's difficult to find a place to visit that they all enjoy. Thanks to a great new addition to The Children's Museum, it's now a perfect spot for my entire family!

In April of this year, The Children's Museum added MuseumLab, which is located next door. It was created to grow along with families, and is specifically geared toward kids over the age of 10 and adults, but is great for multi-age families like mine. It is a STEAM-lover's dream spot, and inspires kids to use their minds and be creative while having a LOT of fun! 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

7 Easy Ways To Stay Energized Through The Day

Parenting Blog

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

Mornings. You either love them or you hate them! I wouldn't really consider myself a morning person just yet, but I'm slowly becoming one. I have to wake up really early, so I rely on a regular morning routine to stay energized through the day!

My days are busy from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. I need lots of energy to keep up with my five energetic kids! I'm not going to lie - I rely on a cup of coffee to start my day, and occasionally have one in the afternoon if I need a little boost. 

Although I definitely have off days when I'm sick or staying in all day, I try to follow the same routine every morning. I actually notice a drop in energy if I don't follow my regular routine! Here's what I do each morning to keep my energy level up:

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.


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.