Our Five Ring Circus

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Reason Behind My Absence

Down syndrome

I've been MIA. For a while, actually. First it was extreme morning sickness that took over my life, followed by a needy new baby and juggling five kids, then Covid, and now we're facing a scary medical issue with Liam. I keep hoping life will calm down enough to let me focus on my blog again, but family comes first. Always.

I thought waiting for the test results after Liam was born was the most difficult thing we've gone through as parents. That really isn't true though. See, in my heart, I already knew he had Down syndrome, so the results of that test weren't really a big surprise. The waiting now is agonizing.

We have been so lucky with Liam's good health. Other than Celiac Disease, which runs in Grant's family, Liam doesn't have any of the common conditions associated with Down syndrome. He rarely gets sick, he has only had a few ear infections, he doesn't need glasses, he never needed tubes in his ears, he doesn't have low tone, he doesn't have sleep apnea, and he doesn't have a heart condition, thyroid disorder, or stomach issues. Liam has only had a few respiratory illnesses that required breathing treatments, only two medical procedures (scopes under anesthesia), and only two hospital stays to see why he wasn't gaining weight (everything was normal) and when he had cellulitis following a minor nose injury. Liam is healthy, and incredibly energetic and strong. In the grand scheme of things, we really have been lucky...until now.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

A Week In Mom Life - The First Week of 2021

A Week In Mom Life - The First Week of 2021

The first week of January has passed, the Christmas season is officially over, and we have returned to reality! In one short week, we went from holiday break to back to work/school/remote learning. We ended this first week of January by finding out that the rest of our kids can join Liam in going to school in person again!

Life lately has been a bit tough, but we're taking it one day at a time. Lexie is dealing with a terrible loss right now, and we can't do anything but help her through it. Liam is going through a scary health issue, and will be having surgery next week. We're hoping it's just a glitch in his otherwise excellent health history, but we are nervous about him going under general anesthesia, the doctors cutting into his neck, and receiving the biopsy results. 

Luckily, the busyness of big family life keeps us from overthinking things - it's those quiet moments that get us down. We do have some exciting things coming up, though! We're REALLY looking forward to some good!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Deliciously Easy Cheesy Baked Spaghetti

National Spaghetti Day

Did you know it's National Spaghetti Day? I didn't even know it was a thing until it showed up on my calendar! My family LOVES spaghetti...heck, Liam eats gluten free spaghetti almost every morning for breakfast!

In honor of National Spaghetti Day, I wanted to share one of my favorite spaghetti recipes. It's easy to make, it can be customized in so many ways, and it only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. Although the recipe I'm sharing is vegetarian, you can add ground beef, turkey, or sausage, and you can make it gluten free by swapping out the regular spaghetti for a gluten free version.

My kids can be picky at times, but one thing I know they will always eat is spaghetti. They all love this cheesy baked spaghetti, and they don't even complain that there isn't any meat in it. When I can find something that everyone in my family will eat, I'm thankful!

Togetherness: The Word of The Year for 2021

Big Family Blog

Happy 2021! I'm not one to wish away time, but I do hope 2021 is an improvement over 2020. I'm realistic enough to know that change won't happen immediately, but I do hope we return to some sort of normal this year!

2020 wasn't an awful year. It was just different, and it had its good moments and bad moments. One of the best parts of 2020 was all the time we were able to spend together as a family. That is exactly what made me start thinking about togetherness for my word of the year. 

The holiday season was great, but 2020 did not end well. Lexie was with her best friend's family when they experienced a tragic loss. We spent the past week praying and crying, and we're absolutely heartbroken for their family. We are reminded that time spent with family and friends is a precious gift that should be treasured and made a priority. If this year taught me anything, it’s that loved ones are EVERYTHING, which is why togetherness became my word for 2021.

Monday, December 7, 2020

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Big Family Blog

One week of December is already behind us, and we have been busy! We decorated every nook and cranny for Christmas, we welcomed our elf back into our home, and we went to see zoo lights. Every December weekend ahead of us is full of Christmas fun, and we are thoroughly enjoying this season!

Each year, we try to put up our main Christmas tree on Black Friday, then decorate it within the next few days. Some years, real life gets in the way, and it gets put off a bit longer, but we managed to stick with our plan this year. The tree was up on Black Friday, fully lit on Saturday after fixing some light issues (I will never buy prelit again), and decorated on Sunday!

Decorating our tree is one of our favorite family Christmas traditions. We always work together to get it done, then get to enjoy our hard work for the next month and a half. There is nothing like the glow of a Christmas Tree to make our home feel happier and cozier. That's probably why we have one in every room!

Monday, November 30, 2020

The End of the Fall-idays

The Lucky Few

2020 is most certainly a challenging year, but we had one of our best Thanksgiving breaks ever! I know it's contradictive, but this is the most relaxed AND productive I have felt in months. We spent 4 great days together as a family, and I'm not even bummed about it coming to an end on Tuesday morning, because we are all so excited to celebrate the Christmas season together!

Despite being an unprecidented year full of things we never expected to face, this year went surprisingly fast. Spring in quarantine quickly turned into a Summer at home, then my kids went back to school, cheerleading/football began, and Fall arrived. The busyness of (somewhat but not really) normal life took over, and before we knew it, Halloween passed and November was here. 

Before moving on to all things Christmas, I wanted to share my last Fall post. I figured it was easiest to lump the rest of the Fall-idays together. Here are the pictures from our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, and the quickest Thanksgiving recap ever!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Dylan's Sweet Sixteen Pandemic Birthday

Sweet Sixteen Pandemic Birthday

It seems like just yesterday that I was staring down at my firstborn child, who had just arrived in our lives, making us a family of three. I blinked, and sixteen years passed by. Now I'm staring UP at my son, and wondering when he slipped through my fingers and who, exactly, this young man is! I desperately tried to slow down time, but today, he celebrated his SIXTEENTH Birthday!

When I started this blog, Dylan was 3 and Lexie was 1. Now they are both teenagers, and we have three more children. Sometimes it's really hard to wrap my mind around that! It's even more difficult to accept the fact that my first two babies are not babies anymore, and are just a few years away from leaving home. That's the point of raising children, but I don't have to like it one bit!

2020 was a rough year for everyone. We try to make birthdays a big deal in our home, but this year we had 4 major milestone birthdays, and we weren't able to celebrate with parties. Sweet Sixteen is supposed to be a big deal, and we had big plans at the start of the year. Unfortunately, we weren't able to follow through with those big plans, but we made the day as special as we could for Dylan. It may not have been exactly what he expected, but he had a great 16th Birthday!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Ten Adorably Festive & Inexpensive Christmas Decor Target Finds


Ten Adorably Festive & Inexpensive Christmas Decor Target Finds

I usually have a firm rule of No Christmas Before Thanksgiving. This year is a different story! All the stress caused by 2020 is making me to get into the Christmas spirit early this year. Christmas music is already being played, the Christmas clothing is coming out, and Christmas decor is starting to show up in my home!

Over the past week, I picked up a few new Christmas home decor additions from Target. If you couldn't tell, I LOVE Target! My savings account - and my husband - doesn't love Target, but I'm very thankful for all the options Target has for a big family on a budget!

All of my finds are $5 and under because I love a good deal! Most are from the Target Dollar Spot, and can be used throughout Winter, too. If it's inexpensive, cute, and versatile, it somehow ends up in my cart. I'm not quite sure how that happens, but I sure do love what I brought home!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Week In The Life - Halloween Edition

Big Family Blog

For as crappy as 2020 has been, it has gone by surprisingly fast! It's hard to believe that October is already over, and we're in the midst of the holiday season. I absolutely love this time of year, and I'm not going to let the pandemic stop me from enjoying it!

We filled the last week of October with some fun Halloween activities. We went to the pumpkin farm (post coming), carved pumpkins, went Trick or Treating with friends, and went to a small party. A few of our regular traditions had to be canceled, but I'm very thankful for a fairly normal Halloween week!

Now that Halloween is behind us, we're focusing on Dylan's 16th Birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. November is going by so fast! We're just trying to slow down enough to fully enjoy the holiday season!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

What We REALLY Want You To Know About Down Syndrome

Down syndrome

Down Syndrome Awareness Month has come to an end. Most people are aware of Down syndrome, but the majority of people don't understand exactly what it is. So many people still view it as a tragedy or something to fear. What they can't allow themselves to see is that a person with Down syndrome does have differences - just like any other person - but they truly are like every other person on this planet...just with an extra chromosome!

I advocate for Liam and his peers through inclusion. I share about life with Down syndrome by simply sharing our family. Liam does what we do, goes where we go, and is very much an intricate part of our family unit and our community. Down syndrome is a part of him, just like his big blue eyes that are flecked with Brushfield spots or his joyful smile, but we refuse to let it define him.  

I spent the month of October advocating for Liam by sharing how he has impacted the lives of those around him. I have been advocating for over 7 years, but my ways have definitely changed. I used to share facts, but now I just let Liam and our experiences lead the way. I always share from my heart, so I will let Liam's siblings and grandparents tell you all about life with Down syndrome, before wrapping it up with a few things I really want you to know about Down syndrome.