Our Five Ring Circus

Thursday, August 15, 2019



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.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Ocean Sensory Bin

Ocean Sensory Bin

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!

Everybody seems to love Shark Week! Liam definitely loves sharks, so I put together this easy Ocean Sensory Bin for my littles to enjoy last week. It was a very busy week, so I didn't put as much detail into it as I usually do, but sometimes simple is plenty enough!

Liam happily scooped an poured for hours, and Lily even joined in! Baby Coen is starting to put everything in his mouth, so he had to skip this one. We put him in his UpSeat, sat him beside the bin, and gave him a baby-safe shark to teethe on!

The Ocean Sensory Bin was a big hit, and was so easy to prepare! (Spoiler Alert: I bought a kit on Amazon Prime for this one!) Although I will eventually have to throw away the water beads, we can keep the ocean animals for later use!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Happy 8th Birthday, Lily!

8th Birthday

On Saturday, August 3rd, Lily celebrated her 8th Birthday! It's so hard to believe my baby girl is 8 years old. I swear, I just had her, but she grew up far too quickly. I just want her to stay little, sweet, and innocent for as long as possible!

Lily's Birthday was a busy one, and she had to share her special day with a family event. My family reunion is always the first Saturday in August, so every few years, Lily's birthday is the same day as the reunion. She didn't seem to mind one bit. She celebrated her birthday with some of the people she loves most, and had the loudest happy birthday song! She said her birthday was so much fun!

One of our birthday traditions is to have a mini photoshoot, and answer questions in a yearly birthday interview. I love seeing how their answers change from year to year, and I love watching them grow! Motherhood truly is bittersweet - you want to watch your children grow, but you also want them to stay little. I honestly love my kids' birthdays so much more than my own, so we make birthdays a BIG deal around here!

Here's how we celebrated Lily's 8th Birthday...

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Coen's Birth Story - The Labor

Coen's Birth Story - The Labor

It has been 4 1/2 months since Coen was born, and I'm finally sitting down to write his birth story! All five of my labors and deliveries have been eventful - some more than others, and each one so different. This is the first part of the story of how I delivered my HUGE 5th baby naturally.

They say that the pain of childbirth fades over time. I'm not completely convinced. Every time I started to write this birth story, the memories of that day come flooding back, and I cringe. Coen is ABSOLUTELY worth it, but I think if this had been my first delivery, Coen would have been an only child!

The last few weeks of my pregnancy were very difficult. Just like with all of my other pregnancies, I was sick until the day I delivered. This time, I also had horrible heartburn and indigestion that wouldn't ease, and I was so uncomfortable. Braxton Hicks contractions started before 20 weeks again, and kept increasing until I had quite a few labor "scares." My baby bump was bigger than it had ever been before, and although the growth ultrasound predicted an 8 - 8 1/2 lb baby at birth, I felt like I was carrying a giant.

You'll never guess what I was doing when I went into real labor...

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Our Five Ring Circus Takes On The Water Steps

The Water Steps in Pittsburgh

On Friday, we headed back into Pittsburgh for another afternoon of fun! We originally planned to visit the Carnegie Museum or Carnegie Science Center, but it was such a beautiful day, that we wanted to spend it outdoors. Grant has never been able to join us at The Water Steps at the North Shore Riverfront Park, so we decided that would be a great family outing for the day!

The Water Steps look like a beautiful piece of natural art, but it's actually a popular spot in the Summer. It's like a huge, interactive fountain! This multi-tier wading spot is a combination of waterfalls cascading over the rocks, and shallow wading pools on each level. Kids can cool down by wading through the water, and even adults and dogs, who are walking or biking along the Riverfront trail, take advantage of this fun, free spot!

I always tell people that the Water Steps are a hidden gem in Pittsburgh. My kids can easily spend hours playing on them, and they are always so excited when I tell them we will be spending the day there. This time, we were so excited to have Grant with us on our mini Pittsburgh staycation!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Our Five Ring Circus Explores The National Aviary

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh

Last week, during Grant's birthday week, our family enjoyed a mini staycation. Grant took three days off, and we decided to take advantage of all the fun things Pittsburgh has to offer! One of the things on our agenda was to visit The National Aviary!

I think the last time we visited The National Aviary was when Dylan was the same age as Coen! Our family has a lot going on with a teenager, tween, (almost) 8 year old, a child who has Down syndrome, and a new baby, but it doesn't stop us from going places and having fun. We just learned to avoid jam-packed itineraries, and stick with short trips. It keeps everyone happy, and we're able to (mostly) avoide meltdowns! The Aviary is one of Pittsburgh's gems, and it's perfect for a short family visit!

The National Aviary houses 500+ birds of many different species from around the world. The live exhibits are beautiful, and there is an abundance of information to explore. They also have fun shows to see, and a variety of bird feedings. Grant and I decided we could easily spend an entire day visiting the Aviary on our own, but there was still plenty for our kids to see and do! We had a fun afternoon getting up close and personal with over 150 unique species of birds!

The National Aviary

Friday, July 26, 2019

40 Things About Grant on His 40th Birthday

40th Birthday

On Wednesday, Grant celebrated his 40th Birthday! We have been together since we were kids ourselves; not much older than our oldest child is now. Grant doesn't like to be a focus on my blog, but since it's such a big birthday, I thought it would be fun to share 40 things about him!

I keep teasing him about turning 40, but I know that someday it will be my turn. I had my fun, so now it's time to be nice! I wrote most of the list myself, then consulted with him on a few. We shared a lot of laughs as we read through the final list!

Here are 40 things about the man behind the blog: