Our Five Ring Circus

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The First Day of School - Going Back in Person!

The First Day of School

Last week, on Tuesday, September 8th, our kids headed back to school in person! If you read this post, you know the decision to send them was practically impossible to make, but we decided to give it a try. We are almost two weeks in, and so far so good. My kids were so excited to go back, and they actually enjoy going to school each day!

This year, we had two big changes. Dylan decided to go back to public school instead of continuing with cyber school. He missed high school a lot more than he expected he would! This is the first year that Lily and Liam are in the same building, and it won't happen again until Lily is in 11th grade and Liam is in 9th grade. Lily is so excited to be in the same school as her baby brother!

We're nearing the end of week two, and we're finally getting into a routine. It was a big adjustment after being home almost 24/7. I don't think any of us will ever take school for granted again. Dylan, Lexie, and Lily said it isn't even that bad wearing a mask all day. I think they're just really happy to get that small bit of normal back into their lives! (I absolutely agree!)

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Teaching Little Learners One Book At A Time

Raising Readers

I received these books for free from Moms Meet for my honest review. Compensation for this post was provided, and this post may contain affiliate links.

Coen has been in quarantine for 1/3 of his life. ONE THIRD. There are so many valuable learning experiences he missed out on over the past 6 months, like visits to the library, having hands-on experiences at museums, exploring favorite spots in our city, and discovering animals at the zoo. One thing he did not miss out on, however, was reading. At 17 months old, Coen absolutely loves books, and happily flips through books every single day!

During those 6 months of social distancing, Coen flipped through every children's book in our house (and we have a lot) from cover to cover. We read to him multiple times a day, but lately, it seemed like it was the same books on repeat. We also had to remove some books from his collection, because he was ripping the pages. It was time to update his bookshelf with some sturdy board books that would pique his interest!

The Priddy Books Early Learning Collection arrived at the perfect time! Priddy Books, who is currently celebrating their 20th anniversary, publishes unique books for babies, toddlers, and young children that help boost their development. We already own quite a few beloved titles from their Alphaprints series, Touch and Feel Series, and See Touch Feel series, so we were excited to add some new favorites to our collection!

Children's Books

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Impossible Back To School Decision

The Impossible Back To School Decision

2020 was a year of firsts for so many of us. It was a year full of making impossible decisions, and doing things we never imagined we would have to do. Like most parents, the back to school decision weighed heavily on our minds for so many months. Do we send our kids back to school, do we opt for virtual learning, do we enroll all of our kids in cyber school, or do we just start homeschooling?

It was truly an impossible decision to make. We weighed the pros and cons of every choice we were offered, and nothing seemed right. We changed our minds multiple times, and didn't really confirm our decision until a few weeks ago. The 2020-2021 school year is going to be even stranger than this past school year, but the impossible decision has been made. 

On Tuesday, our four older kids are going to be starting school in person, five days a week. It was not a decision that we made lightly, considering we have a child who has extra needs. We plan to reassess our decision at the end of each week, and we fully expect more curveballs to be thrown at us over the next 9 months. All we can do is mask up, continuously remind our crew of proper hygience during a pandemic, stop second guessing our decision, and prepare to face every possibility throughout the school year!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Happy "Lucky Seven" Liam!


Down syndrome blog

When Liam was born, he gave us the surprise of our lives! It's hard to believe 7 years have passed since that life-changing moment. The years flew by, and here we are celebrating our extra special son's 7th birthday!

As I searched through my blog to find pictures from each of Liam's birthdays, tears streamed down my cheeks. We have come so far since the moment Liam stared into my eyes and let me know that he had Down syndrome. We didn't celebrate his actual birth day, so we try to make each of his birthdays just a bit more special to make up for it!

Liam Dayne was born on August 18th, 2013, at 1:58 PM. He was 7 lbs 11 oz and 20 1/4 inches. He was rocking an extra chromosome that we didn't know about. His birth was unique, and incredibly emotional and unexpected. Liam is our light and our joy, and today, we celebrate 7 amazing years with him!

Monday, August 17, 2020

An Easy Way To Give Your Immune System a Natural Boost with Sambucol


Big Family Blog

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

If this was a typical year, we would be getting ready to head back to school, and starting to boost our immune systems for the influx of germs. But really, there's nothing typical about this year, is there? Instead, we're doing what we can to stay healthy, and preparing ourselves for the unexpected...because the unexpected just keeps hitting us in 2020!

Health and wellness has always been a part of my family's daily routine. We eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, exercise daily, and (try to) get enough sleep each night. We also take vitamins and supplements each day to fill in any gaps. 

We haven't changed much in our wellness regimen this year, but our lifestyle sure has changed! Remote learning, cleaning our home and washing our hands more often, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing...every morning I wake up and think, "Is this really happening?!?"  Unfortunately, it is, and it has made me more focused on maintaining my family's good health. Thankfully, there's an easy way to boost our immune systems!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Last Days of July

Large Family Blog

I can't believe July is over, and the first day of school is just weeks away! The pandemic might have put an end to all our usual fun Summer activities, but time isn't slowing down one bit. After 4 months of social distancing, we managed to cram some fun into the end of July!

During the last ten days of July, we spent a lot of time outdoors, celebrated a birthday, reinstated family hikes, and jumped back into a busy cheer schedule. With the exception of wearing a mask in public, life started to feel a bit more normal. It is such a welcome feeling!

July was a fun month! (It was definitely more exciting than the previous three months combined!) I shared the first half here, and here's how we spent the remainder of the month...

Friday, August 7, 2020

Fun Target Dollar Spot Finds For The Upcoming (Home)School Year


We are 3 1/2 weeks away from the first day of school, and we still haven't chosen a schooling option. It's a decision that has been taking over my thoughts every waking hour for months. Nothing feels right, and there are no good options for my family. I have absolutely no idea what to do, but that's another topic for another day!

This past school year taught me to expect ANYTHING to happen! I never expected to enroll a child in cyber school, and I never expected schools to close abruptly in March. There was no closure this past school year, and this upcoming school year is going to be unlike anything we've ever experienced. Whether we choose going to school 5 days a week, live streaming classes 5 days a week, cyber school, or homeschooling, I wanted to be prepared, so I stocked up on supplies at my go to - the Target Dollar Spot! 

I wouldn't be surprised if we all ended up learning from home again at some point this school year, but if that doesn't happen, I'll still support in-school curriculum with learning activities at home. Plus, I'll be working with Coen at home in the near future, and I use a lot of items for at home therapy with Liam, so nothing will go to waste. (Remember my Target Dollar Spot busy bags? They are one of my most popular posts on here and on Pinterest, and we still use them every week!) 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Lily's 9th Birthday Interview & Photoshoot

Birthday Interview

We are back from Lily's 9th Birthday celebration! We had a great time, and found a new favorite tradition to add to our list. I will be sharing our little adventure later this week, but first wanted to honor Lily's wish to share her birthday interview!

My kids love answering the questions for their birthday interview each year! It's fun to see how much their answers change from year to year, and compare their answers to their siblings' answers. I didn't realize how much Lexie and Lily had in common until I copied Lexie's 13th Birthday interview, and changed the answers for Lily!

Lily had a wonderful 9th Birthday despite the pandemic changing all of our original plans. She wanted to answer these questions the night of her birthday, but we were all exhausted. Instead, she answered them last night, and I promised I would share them today. So here is Lily at 9 years old...

Monday, August 3, 2020

Happy 9th Birthday, Liliana!

Parenting Blog

She arrived on a warm August morning, as the sun was rising over Pittsburgh. What I remember most about that day was how still, how silent, how calm, and how beautiful that morning was. Not a sound was heard in labor and delivery, as she took her first breath. Her arrival was peaceful, as if she had always been with us. 

As of 7:24 this morning, Liliana is 9 years old! I truly can't believe 9 years have gone by since her birth day. Lily is a beautiful, smart, loving, funny, strong, and confident kid. She is so sweet and unique, and has the ability to capture the heart of everyone she meets. 

Lily had her heart set on a party with her friends at a skating rink, followed by a big family party this year, but hello, pandemic. She was so bummed, so Grant and I worked extra hard to give her a socially distanced birthday celebration that she will always remember. We can't wait to celebrate our beautiful girl when she wakes up later this morning! For now, here's a look at Lily's birth day, followed by each birthday she celebrated. She grew TOO fast!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Just Another Pandemic Birthday

Big Family Blog

Since the pandemic started, both Grant and I have had birthdays. It's not really that big of a deal for us, because once you pass the age of 21, birthdays are just...meh. And we are CERTAINLY over the age of 21!

We haven't had much luck with birthdays and birthday parties for our kids, though. Lexie and Coen's birthdays were just before social distancing began, but their party for their 1st and 13th birthdays was planned for the week the stay at home order was issued. We hoped to have it later, but the pandemic and social distancing is still ongoing. Now Lily and Liam have birthdays in August, and it isn't looking promising for them, either! I just hope it's somewhat better in time

The latest birthday was Grant's 41st birthday on Friday! We didn't have our usual date night or big gathering, but he said it was still a great day. Plus, he got a 4 day weekend out of the deal...now that's an extended birthday celebration!