Our Five Ring Circus

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!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Learn at Home with My Pre-K Box

Down syndrome

We are in the middle of Summer Break, and enjoying a more relaxed routine! We're still making time for learning activities, though. We're just learning at home, whenever we want...no pressure whatsoever!

I'm always trying to find ways for Liam and Coen to learn together. Liam is 8, and has Down syndrome, and Coen is 2, so it can be tough to bridge that gap. I love it when I can adapt the same activity to meet both of their levels of learning!

We love subscription boxes, and My Pre-K Box is one of the best! These monthly themed preschool learning boxes are filled with fun learning activities, games and crafts. It is geared toward preschoolers aged 3-5, but it works so well for our two youngest boys!

Monday, July 19, 2021

Create a Personalized Children's Book - In The Book Review

Personalized Children's Book

*I received this product free for review.

Reading is a BIG part of our lives! We read every single day, and fill our home library with books for adults and children. Our four older kids have personalized books, so it was time for Coen to get one of his own!

Although we have plenty of great books to read, there's just something so exciting about seeing their name throughout a book. Even better if it contains a personalized message, and a picture. In a big family, kids get used to sharing and hand-me-downs, but with a personalized book, it is something just for them!

There are so many options out there for personalized books, so it can be tough to decide which one to choose. In The Book offers personalized books that are great for people of any gender or age. The books are such a unique keepsake gift, and the possibilities are endless! It was so hard to choose the perfect book for Coen, but I think we succeeded! 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Liam's Rockin' Pandemic 7th Birthday

Down syndrome

Spoiler Alert: We are just over one month until Liam's EIGHTH Birthday, but I didn't realize I didn't post Liam's 7th Birthday recap during my semi-blog-hiatus! Better late than never...it was time to finish what I started. Liam's 7th Birthday fell during the pandemic, so he didn't have a big party in 2020, but his birthday was a lot of fun! 

Despite the "quiet" birthday, Liam had a great day! We went swimming, we ate a favorite meal, his grandparents stopped by, and he loved his presents. I don't think Liam even cared about the fact that he didn't have a big party!

Just like every other year, we managed to tackle all of our favorite birthday traditions. His day started out with a room filled with balloons, we had donuts and sang the Happy Birthday song, he got a new outfit, we had a mini birthday photoshoot, he picked a favorite meal, he got presents from all of his siblings (and mom and dad), we had cake, and he got new pajamas. Honestly, his smile said it ALL!

Monday, July 12, 2021

A Few of My Favorite Things

Big Family Blog

Happy Monday! Can you believe we're already almost two weeks into July? Every year, time goes by more quickly! It has been a while since I shared a few of my favorite things, so I figured it was time to jump back in!

We are over one month into summer break, and thoroughly enjoying a more relaxed routine. Don't get me wrong - my kids still want driven everywhere, Liam had a week of summer school, Lily has tumbling, and Liam is taking swim lessons. BUT...we are staying up late and sleeping in most days, which is awesome after 9 months of really early wakeups, and constantly being on the go. Summer is DEFINITELY one of my favorite things!

Over the past few weeks, I discovered a few items to add to my rapidly growing list of favorite things. From apps to travel blankets to everything in between, I've got it covered! Here's what made my Love List in June...

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Our Fun-Filled 4th of July Celebration

Big Family Blog

The 4th of July has been one of my favorite holidays for years. It never used to be that way, but my husband and his family converted me! Now I love it, and we are passing on all of our favorite 4th of July traditions to our kids!

This year, the 4th of July was almost perfect. We spent the day with family and friends, from start to finish. We kicked it off with the town parade, spent the afternoon and evening at a pool party/picnic with friends, watched fireworks with friends and family, then headed back to a friend's house to continue the fun! 

The only thing missing was Dylan. Having older teenagers is tough, but we eventually learned to compromise. Some holidays and events are non-negotiable, but we do understand that some things are more fun with friends. He just wanted to go to the parade and the fireworks with his best friends. We missed him, but talked to him at the end of the day! But other than that little downer, we had a great day!

Monday, June 28, 2021

A Dino-mite Jurassic Quest Drive Thru

Jurassic Quest Drive Thru

When we found out the Jurassic Quest Drive Thru was in Pittsburgh, we knew we had to go! Our 2 year old, Coen, LOVES dinosaurs, and we had a feeling our older kids would enjoy it, too. So last Thursday, we piled into our SUV, and made the 45 minute drive to the Jurassic Quest location.

Jurassic Quest has over 100 animatronic, life size dinosaurs to experience. They do have an indoor event, where you can get up close and personal with the dinosaurs, which I know my kids would have loved. This time, however, it was a drive thru. 

Although I think the indoor event would have been a bit more interactive, the drive thru was still a fun experience. We drove through the Cretaceous, Jurassic, and Triassic periods, learning about each dinosaur or prehistoric creature along the way via the digital audio tour. Coen was mesmerized by all the 'saurs that he loves so much, and Liam was grinning the entire time. It was definitely a fun adventure my family will always remember!

Friday, June 11, 2021

The End of the 2020-2021 Pandemic School Year

Big family blog

We are one week into Summer Break, and the last day of the 2020-2021 school year is behind us! It was a year unlike any other, but we are thankful that our kids stayed in school in person for the majority of the school year. It was, however, a year full of wearing masks to school, social distancing, and very few school events.

This year, Dylan was in 10th grade, Lexie was in 8th grade, Lily was in 4th grade, and Liam was in 2nd grade. It was Lexie's last year in middle school, and Lily's last year in the elementary school. Next year will be so different for all of them! Dylan and Lexie will be in high school together, Lily is moving up to the 5th/6th grade building, and Liam will be all by himself at the elementary school. Although we're glad the year is over, the end of the year is always bittersweet, because our kids are growing up so fast!

Despite the circumstances, it was a fairly good year for our kids. They had great teachers, and they thrived. We are very hopeful that the upcoming school year will be much different - normal perhaps. It's not time to thank about that just yet...we have almost 3 months of Summer fun ahead of us!

Sunday, June 6, 2021

8 Tips to Help Your Child Sleep Better with Pact Dream Big Pajamas

Pact Dream Big Pajamas

I received Pact Dream Big Pajamas for free from Moms Meet to review. Compensation for this post was provided, and this post may contain affiliate links.

Whether you have 1 child or 10 children, I'm sure you probably have times when you are absolutely exhausted. Raising kids can be tiring, and it seems like sleep struggles are the cause of most of that exhaustion! So many factors have to work together in order to help kids sleep well, including plenty of fresh air, a consistent bedtime routine, and comfortable pajamas.

4 of my 5 kids have always been great sleepers, but my 5th child is not. I'm just so tired, that I cave into things like letting him sleep in our bed so *I* can get some sleep. I know it's time to sleep train him, so he can establish healthy sleep habits on his own.

Several things have worked wonders with our 4 older kids, so I know it's time to utilize these methods! He has a comfortable crib and a cozy room, he naps early, he doesn't get caffeine, he gets plenty of exercise, he has the comfiest pajamas, so NOW it's time to start a bedtime routine. It's best for all of us in the long run!