Our Five Ring Circus: March 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

From Child To Champion: Empowering Your Children

DISCLOSURE: I'm a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, and I receive service and promotional products. All opinions are 100% my own.

On  March 8th,  the world celebrated International Women’s Day. Women all over were spreading the message to be bold and to be the change. Powerful, accomplished women were the focus of the day. Meanwhile, I was at home, NOT celebrating, because I was too busy being a mom.


I didn’t go big that day. I drove kids around and logged in more time IN my SUV than out of it. I took pictures for blog posts, negotiated a few blog contracts and tried desperately to work amidst the chaos. I attempted to potty train a toddler who has special needs. I taught sight words to Lily and worked on speech flashcards with Liam. I helped Dylan and Lexie with homework and played with my little ones. I gave hugs and kisses, and chatted with my kids about their day. I went for a very quick run and read a chapter in my book. I did housework, cooked dinner, read books to my kids and tucked them into bed, and spent time with my husband. And at the end of the day, I was too exhausted to even remember what day it was.

When I logged into Instagram that night, I immediately felt ashamed that I had forgotten all about such an important day and didn’t do anything to celebrate. The guilt was quickly replaced by the realization that I had done enough. I didn’t celebrate because I was too busy being a mom, a wife and a friend. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I truly believe than change begins in the home.

More than anything, I hope to inspire my children. I’m teaching them that it is possible to juggle an overwhelming amount of responsibilities. I’m teaching them that anything (like a surprise Down syndrome diagnosis) can be overcome. I’m teaching them that we all have worth. I hope they are inspired to fight for human rights, and to be an advocate and an ally for those who are considered to be lesser than.

I’m teaching my daughters AND my sons to change diapers, cook, clean, do laundry, take out the garbage, fix things and do yardwork. I’m showing them that gender stereotypes don’t exist in our home. I’m teaching them that working together as a family and contributing to the household is a vital life skill. I’m teaching them to love and respect all human beings regardless of gender, skin color, religion, political affiliation, ability or sexuality. I’m teaching them to celebrate who they are.

To some I may be just a mom, but I’m actually doing some powerful work. I’m working hard to be a good role model while raising my children and I’m showing them each and every day that THEY MATTER.

I take my job seriously. It’s not big. It’s not bold. It’s not in the spotlight. But it is important. If I send four human beings out into the world who have open minds and big hearts, then I WAS part of the change. I was enough. And I certainly mattered.

To my daughters AND my sons,

You can do ANYTHING. You are strong and smart. Your life matters. YOU matter. You have worth and you are SO loved. You can be the change and do important things. Aim high, dream big, love fiercely and work hard. But if you only end up being just a mom or just a dad, that’s okay, too, because raising good human beings is one of the most difficult jobs in the entire world. Change begins at home and it's up to you to inspire. As long as you are loving and compassionate, whatever you do, and whoever you become, MATTERS. You are champions!

With Love, 

Your dedicated mom who is MORE than just a mom

Family Photography Ideas

Netflix Stream Team

I may be hard at work raising empowered children, but I am a REAL mom. Sometimes, I rely on TV to get us through rough patches.When I do, I always encourage my children to choose Netflix over regular TV!

Not only is Netflix commercial free, which eliminates the "I wants" but Netflix also offers an abundance of quality programming. And just FYI, you can download some Netflix content now and watch it without using WiFi!!! That's seriously a game changer for long car rides and appointments!

Here are the quality Netflix shows my kids are watching right now that just might teach a lesson or two:

Liam's Pick:

Super Why!

Lily's Pick:

Home on Netflix


Lexie's Pick: 

Project Mc2 on Netflix

Dylan's Pick:

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix

New on Netflix: Our music, dance and theater loving family highly recommends Julie's Greenroom! Thanks to the adorable puppets, even Liam is entertained!

Julie's Greenroom

We were so inspired by Julie's Greenroom, that we even got a little creative ourselves. Netflix sent us a fun little kit that Lexie and Lily absolutely loved! It definitely sparked their creativity!


Lexie and Lily quickly got to work making their sock puppets and writing their play. "The Girl Who Broke Her Arm" seemed like a very appropriate title considering recent circumstances!


The play was a big success! And only took 257 takes for scene 1...


What are your favorite shows for kids on Netflix?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Covestro with The Motherhood - #CovestroSciFair

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post in partnership with The Motherhood on behalf of Covestro.

“Tell them every day they can do it.

It seems like simple advice – be sure to tell your kids “they can do it!”  -- but when Paige Kassalen says it, if feels powerful. It feels meaningful and full of drive. As a parent myself, her simple advice to be proactive and consistent with encouragement feels profound and filled with purpose.

5 Photo credit Jean Revillard

If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Paige, let me introduce her:

7 Photo credit Jean Revillard

Paige is the role model we’ve all been looking for, especially for our young girls. She’s a Pittsburgh native, electrical engineer by training and a market analyst that supported Solar Impulse, a Swiss-based venture that became the first plane to circle the globe powered only by the sun. She’s been featured in Glamour and Teen Vogue, called out as a millennial paving the way and honored by Forbes in their 30 under 30.

Since 2010, Covestro, a developer of raw materials for plastics, foams, coatings and adhesives, has been a partner of Solar Impulse. Covestro provided key materials and its expertise for several Solar Impulse applications, including the plane’s silver coating, door, cockpit window and insulation. While the Covestro materials support the plane in the air, Paige provided support on the ground as the only U.S. female engineer, and youngest member, on the ground crew.

Covestro Logo

On April 1, Paige will be the keynote speaker at Carnegie Science Center’s 2017 Covestro Pittsburgh Regional Science & Engineering Fair (Covestro PRSEF). She will be sharing her experience as a member of the Solar Impulse ground crew and demonstrating that a career in STEM creates endless opportunities. The science fair will kick off on March 31st (competition day) and wrap up on April 1st (awards ceremony) at Heinz Field. This Pittsburgh tradition has been taking place since 1940 and is the third-oldest science fair in the United States! Just when you think Pittsburgh couldn’t get any cooler! 

Exhibit Floor

In fact, there’s a lot of history around this event and the sponsoring organizations. For nearly 60 years, Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience) has called Pittsburgh home. Covestro is a sponsor of Carnegie Science Center and the title sponsor of the science fair. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Carnegie Science Center, it is one of our very favorite places that is perfect for kids of every age! The exhibits are very interactive and offer hands-on experiences based in science and technology. Like Paige and Covestro, Carnegie Science Center also has a very serious mission to excite and inspire young people to explore careers in STEM. Fun and educational: what’s not to love?

Basic CMYK

Paige truly embodies everything we hope for our young children as we encourage them to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). As Paige suggested during our recent Q&A, it’s easier to picture yourself in a role when you see someone relatable already in that role. How cool for my sweet daughters (and sons!) to have her as a reference and a role model! It’s empowering for all of the “young creative problem solvers!”

6 Photo credit Jean Revillard

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Girl Mom Box Swap

As a mom of two girls and two boys, I get to experience the best of both worlds! I can relate to girl moms AND boy moms.  But most of all, I can relate to ANY mom because we're all in this together! 

One of my most favorite things about blogging is the connection with other bloggers! I was excited to sign up for the Girl Mom Box Swap, and even more excited when I was matched with one of my favorite bloggers: Beth from Our Pretty Little Girls. I've always felt like I have a lot in common with this incredibly sweet mama, and our girls are very similar!

Girl Mom Box Swap

When the girls and I headed out to shop for Beth, Marissa and Emily, we had NO problem filling our cart, and it just reiterated the fact that we're a lot alike! And when the box arrived from Beth and her girls, I couldn't help but laugh. The gift she sent me was just like the gift I sent her...right down to the lip balm in the coffee mug!

It was so nice to get spoiled for once, and I know my girls felt the same way. In a family of 6, you don't always get to feel special, but this swap was all about the girls in our family!


Here's what Beth, Marissa and Emily sent to us for the Girl Mom Box Swap:

Girl Mom Box Swap


Lexie was the main focus of the Girl Mom Box Swap! She doesn't get as many things through blogging as Lily and Liam, and I wanted her to feel special. The timing was perfect, because the poor kid just broke her wrist!

The safety pin bracelet kit was PERFECT for my craft-loving daughter, the nail polish is her favorite color and the Tsum Tsum pen immediately went into her backpack. She doesn't play with many toys these days, but she does collect Tsum Tsums!

Girl Mom Box Swap


Beth and her girls were kind enough to include Lily in the Girl Mom Box Swap, too! I couldn't help but smile when I saw her Shrink Art Kit. I used to love making those when I was a little girl!

Girl Mom Box Swap

Both of the my girls loved what they received from Beth, Marissa and Emily, and they wanted to hear all about the friends from far away that they have never met!


My Gift

Every mom deserves a little pampering from time to time and Beth found the perfect gift for me! I now have a pretty new mug for my collection and a new lip balm, which I've been using all day, every day. Her note was super sweet, and I can tell that we shop at the same places, because I have those notecards, too!

Coffee Mug

One Last Thing

Beth, Marissa and Emily sent an extra treat for the GIRLS ONLY! I'm not sure how she knew, because I never mentioned it in our conversation, but sour candy is our favorite. I confess, though, that we did share a few pieces with the boys!

Girl Mom Box Swap

Thank you for the sweet and thoughtful gifts, Beth, Marissa and Emily! We love everything and we really wish we could say thank you in person! 


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

9 Awesome Playtime Ideas for Kids of All Ages with EZPZ {Featuring The Baby Cubby}

DISCLOSURE: I received some of the products below from The Baby Cubby in exchange for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

We are so excited that Spring has arrived! The longer, warmer, sunnier days are amazing, but it's also the start of our rainy season. While a little bit of rain doesn't chase us indoors, there are days that trap us inside all day long. This time of year, I always find myself searching for new playtime ideas to keep my crew busy on rainy days!


I always encourage crafting, creating, building, sensory play, baking and perfecting fine motor skills. I love it when my kids can entertain themselves creatively, and I found the perfect item that helps promote independent play: the EZPZ Flower Play Mat! I found it while browsing the awesome selection of toys at The Baby Cubby. It's a new addition in our home and it's simply amazing!

Liam, Lily and Lexie use this 100% silicone suction play mat every single day, and they love coming up with new ways to play!

Here are a few of our favorite playtime ideas:

9 Awesome Playtime Ideas for Kids of All Ages


Sensory Play is so important for all kids, but it's especially helpful for Liam. Squeezing the play dough strengthens his hands, and using the play dough tools helps build his fine motor skills. I love to give him straws to stick in the play dough, too. It's a great fine motor activity!



Liam does a lot of casual therapy at home. Fine motor play is part of his daily repertoire and we have a bunch of items in our rotation to keep him from getting bored. Dropping pieces of drinking straws into a small container with a hole in the lid is a great at-home fine-motor activity! You can see more homemade ideas HERE



My kids love playing with Lego sets, but the truth is, the pieces scatter everywhere and get lost, and my kids get frustrated. The non-slip EZPZ Play Mat is a game changer for this activity. Not only does it offer a great building surface, but the compartments in the flower separate the Lego pieces perfectly!



Lexie loves to bake! Decorating cupcakes and cookies is one of her favorite activities, and using this mat for this purpose is genius. All of the items she needs to decorate her cupcakes are within easy reach, and the BPA/BPS/PVC/Phthalate Free mat is safe for food. It gets bonus points for easy cleanup. Instead of washing a bunch of bowls that hold her decorating supplies, there's just one item to wash!



Block Play is a great activity that most kids enjoy! It also helps to build those vital fine motor skills. Magnetic Blocks are the perfect choice for younger kids like Liam. It's easy for him to get frustrated when his creations keep falling down, but the magnetic blocks keep their form, even if they tip over! (The Tegu 8-Piece Pocket Pouch is a great choice, and it's perfect to slip into your bag for on the go use. These blocks recently kept Liam entertained at parent teacher conferences!)


See...no tears, even when your pet bunny interrupts playtime!



Lily and Lexie love to paint! The flower on this play mat holds 5 different colors of paint and water for rinsing the brushes, and the mat fits a standard piece of paper. It's such a great tool to use while they create their masterpieces!



Coloring is something kids of all ages love to do! A few crayons and pieces of paper can spark hours of creativity!



My girls love to make bracelets using beads! This mat holds the string in place as my girls thread the beads. Chunkier beads threaded onto pipe cleaners is a great alternative for Liam, and picking up the beads helps strengthen his pincer grasp!



What is it about suction toys that captivates kids? Squigz are such a fun choice for fine motor and building play. All four of my kids, from age 3 to age 12, love them!


It's so easy to work up a big appetite during playtime! There's nothing better than a great snack after all that hard play!

The EZPZ Mini Mat is the perfect addition to snack time at home. This compartment suction tray sticks to the table and prevents Liam from tossing his plate when he's finished eating. And thanks to the awesome travel bag, it's perfect for on the go, too!


Hours of playtime paired with delicious food is the perfect combination for a fun day indoors!


This year, I visited The Baby Cubby for our new playtime items! All of the items available at The Baby Cubby are thoroughly researched. These items are the highest rated and reviewed items out there, so it takes all the guess work out of choosing a quality product for your child.

The Baby Cubby has a retail location in Lindon, Utah, but their great selection of quality items in every department is available online, too. Although I would love to have the store nearby, their online retail site is a great alternative. Ordering is easy, and the items ship quickly!

 I had no difficulty finding a few fun items that I knew my kids would love, and those items did not disappoint in any way. They have already provided hours of fun for my kids!

The Baby Cubby

You can see all of the "Cubby Picks" HERE, but you can also connect with The Baby Cubby on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest


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