Our Five Ring Circus: October 2017

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Weekend Happenings


As the weekend comes to a close, I find myself wishing we had one more day off! Can we just make three days weekends a regular thing?!? We had a busy weekend, but it didn't exactly turn out as expected. 

This weekend was supposed to be full of Halloween activities, on top of all the events that were already scheduled. A family emergency on Saturday changed everything. Now we're just exhausted mentally AND physically, and we were unable to check some things off of our Halloween list. But none of that matters. All that matters is the fact that everything is okay now.

Friday, October 27, 2017

4 Steps Mothers & Daughters Can Take To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

4 Steps Mothers & Daughters Can Take Together To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk {sponsored} #BCERP #MotherDaughter #BreastCancerRisk #BreastCancerAwareness

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program.

Do you have a person in your life who is so important to you that the mere thought of losing them takes your breath away? For me, that person was my grandma. She lost her battle to breast cancer many years ago, and not a day goes by when I don't think about her and miss her.  

As October draws to a close, it's important to shift my focus away from Down syndrome awareness for a bit to something that affects millions of women. It's also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is every bit as important. It's estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during the course of their lifetime. As a mom to four children, two of whom are daughters, this statistic terrifies me!

4 Steps Mothers & Daughters Can Take Together To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk {sponsored} #BCERP #MotherDaughter #BreastCancerRisk #BreastCancerAwareness

I'm willing to bet that most people personally know a woman who was or currently is affected by breast cancer. That's why it's crucial to continue to bring awareness to this topic. I don't believe in focusing on regrets in life, but I can't help but wonder what if when I think about my grandma.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Down syndrome Blogs that are Inspirational, Real and Downright Beautiful

Down syndrome Blogs that are Inspirational, Real and Downright Beautiful! #downsyndrome

Four years ago, I found myself in a dark hospital room, lonely and grief-stricken. As my youngest son was whisked away for even more testing and my husband dealt with phone calls, I turned to the internet for help. A simple search for Down syndrome yielded both scary information and a list of Down syndrome blogs to read. 

I quickly immersed myself into reading blog post after blog post. Some were inspiring and brought me much needed relief, so I felt compelled to reach out to those bloggers and thank them for showing me light in a time of darkness, and ask them if they had any tips or information on where I should turn. Imagine my disappointment when I was met with crickets. 

Upon returning home with our baby who might have Down syndrome, I continued to research, and read these popular blog posts. I reached out yet again, and never received a reply from any of the bloggers. It was very disheartening! I later found out that it was the norm when it came to these Down syndrome bloggers, which made me think they weren't the best source of information about Down syndrome. How can you possibly relate to somebody who can't find time to support the Down syndrome community, when that is their main focus?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Spooky Black Glitter Putty {A Year of Color}

Spooky Black Glitter Putty - Easy to make, hours of fun! #sensoryplay #putty #halloween

If your kids are anything like mine, they probably love to make slime, putty and play dough! My crew is always adding glue, borax, cornstarch and flour to my grocery list, and sometimes I think it would be best to just buy it in bulk. I try not to complain too much, because at least they love science and experiments! We had yet to do a Halloween craft or activity this year, so the timing was perfect for this month's theme for A Year of Color!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mom Life Must Haves: Things I'm Currently Loving

Mom Life Must Haves: Things I'm Currently Loving! #momlife #motherhood #momblogger

DISCLOSURE: A few of the featured items were sent to me free for review. I only share the things I truly love!

Happy Thursday, my friends! I can't believe we are over halfway through October, and that Halloween is less than 2 weeks away. This year flew by faster than ever before! It has been a few weeks since I last shared the things that I'm currently loving, so I figured I would put together a Mom Life Must Have list!

Life with four kids is non-stop, and I feel like we completely missed out on Fall fun due to our busyness and, well, the lack of Fall weather. Other than a few chilly mornings, it still doesn't feel much like Fall here. We've even had a few 90 degree days this month, which is unheard of for Pittsburgh this time of year. It feels more like late Spring than Fall. Most of the leaves fell off the trees weeks ago, due to lack of rain, so one of my favorite things about Fall never really happened. If you can't tell, I'm kind of bummed about this!

As every mom knows, motherhood isn't always cupcakes and rainbows. Sometimes it's just plain tough! Sometimes you just need to escape or spoil yourself with something that helps you feel like a normal human being again. (I've been there...often.) And sometimes, you just need something to keep your little ones busy so you can breathe! I put together a fun list of the things that help make mom life just a bit easier! And if you're NOT a mom, there are still a few things on here that you might like. Clothes and books, anyone?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

6 Adorably Spooky Halloween Hairstyles for Girls

6 Adorably Spooky Hairstyles for Girls - How To Guide #hairstyles #girls #halloween

It's almost Halloween, and my kids are so excited! We consider Halloween the start of the holiday season, so my kids are completely in the spirit. Their costumes are chosen, their clothing consists of a lot of orange and black right now, and the decorations are still coming out. Halloween is so close that the girls started requesting their favorite spooky hairstyles today!

Rather than wait until after the holiday to share their adorable Halloween hairstyles as they wear them, the girls and I worked together to create this quick guide for six of their favorite looks. We have attempted much more difficult styles, but easy is so much better! These six hairstyles only take a few minutes to do, and your daughters are sure to love them!

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Story in which Lily Cuts Off Her Fingertip

The Story In Which Lily Cuts Off Her Fingertip

There's not enough time these days. Not enough time to write, not enough time to read, not enough time to exercise, not enough time to clean, not enough time for ANYTHING... An entire season passes by in a blur, and I'm left whirling from constant busyness. Before I know it, months have gone by, and I haven't had the chance to blog about an event or story, so I just give up. But I don't want all those stories to just go by unwritten. That's why I started this blog in the first place - to chronicle life with my family! 

I decided I'm going to play a little bit of catch-up. One story each week until I'm caught up. Today, I'm taking it back to July 12th, when Lily had an unfortunate accident. Thankfully, we can laugh about it now!

Most kids are naturally accident-prone. And when you have four of them, those accidents just seem to happen ALL the time! This doesn't bode well for a mom who gets queasy and light-headed at the mere sight of blood!

This story begins on a hot, sunny Summer day. As you know from reading this blog, the kids and I work on a lot of crafts and activities together. On this particular day, we decided to go outside to work on a project. All four kids gathered up the supplies, sat together on a big picnic blanket, and got to work. I sat with them to supervise. Everybody was getting along and working together.

As every parent knows, everything can change in literally an instant. That instant happened when Liam stood up suddenly, lost his balance, and fell directly onto Lily, despite my efforts to steady him...and Lily just happened to be cutting with scissors at the time.  I'm sure you can imagine what happened next.

All I remember is the unified, blood-curdling screams from three kids, blood spurting everywhere, and cars slowing down to see what was wrong. I immediately went into emergency mom mode, and was able to solely focus on fixing the situation.

I raced inside with Liam so he stayed safe, and grabbed a few towels. I raced back outside and wrapped a towel around Lily's hand, trying my hardest to avoid looking at the large amount of blood that surrounded her. Everybody was still screaming, and the only time I almost lost it was when I spotted the unusually large chunk of skin on the blanket.

In a matter of just a few minutes, Lily was strapped into her car seat with Lexie at her side, and we quickly made the drive to our local hospital. Thankfully, I had rush hour traffic to keep my mind off the blood and the current state of Lily's finger. Grant, unfortunately, was still at his office, which was 45 minutes away, but my parents were on their way to my house to stay with the boys.

By the time we arrived at the emergency room, Lexie had managed to calm Lily down. The staff got us back to a room quickly, and the nurses assessed the damage. Thankfully, Lily had just "amputated her fingertip and part of her fingernail" without causing much damage. And to our astonishment, we learned that fingertips grow back!

Fingertip amputation

The worst part of the ordeal was when they had to clean the wound. Lily started crying again, and I finally got a glimpse of her injured finger. I did NOT take a picture of that, but let me just say that it looked like a finger with a big chunk missing out of it. Instead of a rounded fingertip, it was flat and noticeably shorter than the rest, and the towel was soaked with Lily's blood. The adrenaline that had kept me going came to a crashing halt, and I had to fight against the nausea and dizziness that threatened to make me faint.

To add to the gross factor, Dylan texted me a picture of Lily's fingertip in a sandwich bag, and asked if the hospital needed to sew it back on. (They did not.) Some things can never be unseen. Trust me. I told him to toss it into the garbage, but I did save the photo for some odd reason. I mean, who actually cuts off their fingertip with a pair of scissors?!?

With the worst part finally over, the doctor came in to take a look. He did confirm that no stitching would be needed, and the fingertip would grow back. The only concern was possible infection and probable nerve damage which would just cause certain areas of her fingertips to feel numb. He wrapped up her finger and put a splint on it to keep it protected, and sent us on our way home with instructions on how to care for a fingertip amputation. (Yes, that is exactly what the medical term for her injury was!)


Lily's finger healed really well and surprisingly quick. The pain went away after a few days, and within a few weeks the fingertip really had grown back! Three months later, only a tiny scar remains. Although she doesn't have much feeling in that fingertip, it doesn't even look like anything ever happened to it!

Lily declared she would never use another pair of scissors as long as she lives, but of course, was back to crafting with scissors the following day. And when she returned to school and was asked what she did over the Summer, she told everyone that she cut off her fingertip! I guess it really is a memorable story! (A story I hope I never have to relive again.)

Fingertip amputation

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

10 Things I've Already Learned About a Gluten-free Diet

10 Things I've Already Learned About A Gluten-free Diet #glutenfree #celiacdisease #downsyndrome

On Friday night, we received news that completely changed our lifestyle. I think I already knew before we received the phone call, but hearing it still felt like a punch in the stomach. After some testing, we found out that Liam has Celiac Disease. 

10 Things I've Already Learned About a Gluten-free Diet

We have been incredibly blessed, because prior to this,  Liam didn't have any health issues associated with Down syndrome. Up until now, his most serious medical issue was a nose injury from a fall that landed him in the hospital with cellulitis. I know we are incredibly lucky, but hearing that his diet would have to change forever was very overwhelming.

Liam does have a close relative who can't eat gluten, and Celiac Disease is hereditary. Digestive issues seem to be more common in people who have Down syndrome, although this is the first time anything has been wrong. It definitely seems like more people have diet restrictions than not, so it isn't like this is something unusual, but it still doesn't make it any easier to process.

What IS Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects approximately 1 out of every 100 people. Eating gluten causes damage to the small intestine. The symptoms vary in each person, but continuing to eat gluten will put that person at risk for long-term, and often serious health problems. The only way to treat it is with a gluten-free diet. It's estimated that 2.5 MILLION Americans are undiagnosed!

What were Liam's symptoms?

In August, we had to stop potty training, even though Liam was almost completely day trained, because he was having severe diarrhea. We thought he had a virus, but that virus never went away. At his 4 year well check, the pediatrician prescribed a probiotic for one month to see if it would get his digestive system back on track. 

When Liam woke up last week, covered head to toe in a blow out, I knew it was something more. That same day, he underwent a lot of testing, and I just had a feeling that gluten would be the problem.

Prior to the start of diarrhea, Liam never had a single symptom. There wasn't any indication that anything was wrong!

What happens next?

Based on Liam's test results, we were told to stop feeding him anything with gluten immediately, and that he would have to eat a gluten-free diet for the rest of his life. This isn't something that will go away, or that he will grow out of.  

Because we just received the results, his appointments with gastroenterology and the dietitian are still a few weeks away. It will take a few months of avoiding gluten before his body begins to heal and his digestive system gets back on track.  In about 3 months, he will have blood drawn again, and they will check to see if his levels have improved.  He will have annual appointments with gastroenterology, and a celiac panel will be added to his already annual lab work. 

I just feel bad, because he won't understand why he can't eat cake at a friend's birthday party or have what everybody else is eating or snacking on at dinners, playdates and parties. We are going to have to take his own snacks everywhere we go, and bring a gluten-free treat to every party. And going out to dinner just got a lot more complicated!

We know a surprising amount of people who are on gluten-free diets, so they have been a great resource for us. We spent the weekend talking to friends, asking questions, researching online, and shopping for new food. And although it's still overwhelming, and WILL be a complete lifestyle change for Liam, I have a better grip on the situation! 

10 Things I've Already Learned About Switching To A Gluten-Free Diet

Eating a Gluten-free diet is expensive!

After a trip to the grocery story, I suffered from serious sticker shock. As everybody knows, it's more expensive to eat healthy whole foods, which are the main components of Liam's diet. But all of the gluten-free alternatives are incredibly expensive, too. 

I went grocery shopping for just Liam on Saturday night. I spent $84 for one week's worth of food for him. That's a whole lot of money for groceries for a tiny, 30 pound, 4 year old!

Liam loves cereal bars and chicken noodle soup, and he can no longer eat those foods. It was $6.99 for a box of 5 tiny gluten-free cereal bars and $3 for a small can of soup.  I know I'm going to have to search to find a cheaper brand of cereal bars that he will like, and learn how to make my own chicken noodle soup for Liam.

Aldi will apparently be my new best friend.

I have a confession. I have NEVER shopped at Aldi before. And apparently, that was my first mistake. According to all the gluten-free gurus on Facebook, Aldi is the best place to shop for gluten-free food. I will be heading there next weekend, in the hopes of finding cheaper gluten-free alternatives!

You have to read EVERY single label. 

Although most major brands do a great job of putting gluten-free clearly on the label, there are just as many who hide it in small print below the ingredients, or don't include it at all. I had to research exactly what to avoid, then read every single label at the grocery store. My grocery shopping over the weekend took a lot longer than usual! I'm sure this will become second nature to me, but for now, google is my shopping sidekick!

Gluten is hidden in foods you wouldn't even think about.

Breads, cereal, crackers and pasta are the obvious culprits, but gluten is used as a filler in so many foods! I was very surprised to see it in some of our favorite brands, and had to make the switch to other brands. I can't wait to receive the brand-specific list that I was promised by the dietitian! 

Gluten can also be found in vitamins, dental products, and medications. 

There are plenty of gluten-free alternatives.

Even though it seems daunting, eating gluten-free isn't terribly difficult. Liam's diet already consisted mostly of whole foods, and he didn't like many processed foods like bread, crackers, cookies and cereal. He did have a few favorite foods that were full of gluten, so we had to look for alternatives. 

As of right now, we are sticking mostly to his whole foods diet and gradually introducing gluten-free alternatives. Gluten-free pasta is a bit more expensive than regular pasta, but Liam didn't even notice the change, and gobbled up his favorite meal. We all tried his pasta and thought it tasted a lot like our regular brand!

There are also plenty of whole grains that are naturally gluten free. We will be adding a lot of quinoa and rice to our meals! Plus corn, beans, and potatoes are all great alternatives!

Baked goods are a bit more difficult. There are gluten-free cake and cookie mixes available, as well as gluten-free flour, but they don't tend to taste as good, and have to be loaded up with sugar to make them resemble regular baked goods. That isn't exactly healthy, so we were told to avoid baked goods unless it's for a special occasion.

We will not be making the switch to a gluten-free family.

Many people I spoke with told me their entire family went gluten-free, and feel much better because of it. I, however, do not feel like it's fair to expect Dylan, Lexie, Lily, Grant (or myself) to unnecessarily change our diets. It would also be way too expensive for a family of 6!

We will be adding more foods that Liam can eat to our meals, such as rice, beans and potatoes, and be eating more of a whole foods diet, specifically when it comes to snacks. If we keep a lot of processed snacks out of our home, Liam will never realize he is missing anything! But for the most part, I will continue to cook our meals as I usually do, but make Liam his own gluten-free side, if the recipe doesn't include naturally gluten-free foods. 

Meal prep is necessary.

Liam loves pasta, soup, and macaroni and cheese. Rather than cooking his own separate lunch each day, I decided to do some meal prep over the weekend. I cooked a box of gluten-free pasta, and put it in individual serving containers, and prepared gluten-free spaghetti sauce, cheese sauce, and chicken broth to freeze until needed. That way, I can whip up a lunch or a side for dinner quickly each day.

I also set up a drawer just for Liam, filled with gluten-free snacks. Anything that came in a large bag was separated into small resealable bags for easy portability. He can choose whatever he wants out of that drawer at snack time, and I can easily grab a few gluten-free snacks on my way out the door. 

We have to worry about cross contamination. 

This is something I didn't even think about! If we are eating any food that contains gluten, Liam's food will have to be prepared separately, using separate cooking utensils. I can't use wooden cutting boards or spoons to prepare his food, and if the time comes when he actually likes bread, he will need his own toaster. I'm certain that list is more expansive, but those are the basics that I have learned so far!

There's an app for that.

There really is! I was told (by several people) about an app called Find Me Gluten Free, and while I was searching for it, I found a lot more! There are also apps for gluten-free recipes, gluten-free food finders, gluten-free diet guides, and gluten-free scanners. 

A gluten-free diet is very healthy.

A gluten-free diet consists mainly of whole foods and naturally gluten-free grains. Because many processed foods and baked goods contain gluten, they have to be avoided. Liam's new diet is mostly fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, and nuts and seeds.

Liam is very high energy and has always eaten mostly whole, healthy foods, so he doesn't gain weight very easily. He just reached 30 pounds shortly after turning 4 year old, and I am a bit concerned that gaining weight is going to be more difficult. This is a necessary change, so we will make it work. Hopefully the dietitian will have some good ideas for us!

I had something completely different planned for today's post, but sometimes life gets in the way! Instead, I opted to share about our new journey. I'm sure I'm going to learn a lot about Celiac Disease and a gluten-free diet along the way, and eventually be able to help others who are just starting out on this journey, too! All I know is that I love my sweet boy with all of my might, and I will do anything I possibly can to keep him healthy and happy!

10 Things I've Already Learned About a Gluten-free Diet

10 Things I've Already Learned About A Gluten-free Diet #glutenfree #celiacdisease #downsyndrome


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Tuesday Talk

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Dreaded Childhood Stage: Finding Successful Ways to Discipline a Teenager

Finding Successful Ways to Discipline a Teenager #ParentingWin {Boys Town Partner}

I have a confession: Motherhood has always been easy for me. That is, until now. We are just weeks away from the teenage years, and I am struggling! There have been more tears and stressful moments over the past few weeks than there have been in the past 13 years. As a mom, I'm feeling lost and overwhelmed

Finding Successful Ways to Discipline a Teenager

Just as it is with any stage in childhood, I have to learn to adjust to the new normal. It's just that unlike the other stages, this phase is taking a long time to get used to. My previous parenting methods are no longer working, and I feel like I'm constantly battling a young adult who thinks that he's the only one who is right.

Raising teens is HARD. I can easily count off a hundred other things I would rather be doing, but unfortunately, I can't avoid this responsibility. Suddenly, my adorable, tiny human who once thought the world of me now thinks I'm the enemy. And if I'm going to be 100% honest, there are some days when I just don't like him.

If your jaw dropped at that statement, stick with me for a moment. Perhaps you can't imagine EVER feeling that way about your child. I once felt the same way, even though dozens of seasoned moms informed me otherwise. But you can't truly understand something until you experience it. And although I love Dylan with all of my might, and would do anything to give him a happy, healthy life, there are times when I just don't like the person he becomes when the hormones take over.

I miss the days of playground drama. The arrival of the teenage years brings a bunch of new issues along with it. These days, mood swings aren't the only thing to worry about. There are much scarier problems that cause me to lose sleep at night because I spend too much time worrying about the what ifs: drugs, smoking, drinking, bullying, relationships (if you catch my drift), depression and suicide. Nothing is easy anymore! I just keep asking my husband two questions: How are we going to keep him safe and on the right path in life and HOW are we going to survive the teenage years?

Finding Successful Ways to Discipline a Teenager

Suddenly, Grant and I are dealing with a kid who just wants to spend time with his new girlfriend, focuses mainly on his social life, and is not turning in homework. The mood swings cause him to be his super sweet self one moment, then turn into a little monster the next.  He loses his temper over the littlest things, yells at us, and always has to be the one to have the last word. He wants his independence, but isn't quite ready to have it all the time. He doesn't understand why he can't do adult things all the time, and sometimes he just isn't a nice person.

As you can imagine (or can understand if you have a teenager), it truly is infuriating. I just want my loving, sweet boy back 24/7. That isn't going to happen anytime soon, so I have to find other ways to deal. Repeatedly taking away electronics, and bribing him with his first cell phone sitting within sight isn't working anymore. That's why I turned to Boys Town.

Boys Town offers a Parenting Email Series, giving advice on parenting challenges you might be experiencing.  This free email series consists of 4-6 weekly emails that help you face these challenges, and often offer a teaching activity. Now that's an easy #ParentingWin!  

Boys Town's popular email series includes:

  • Parenting Principles
  • Success in School
  • Potty Training
  • Teen Discipline 
  • Toddler Tantrums
  • Sleep Issues
  • Kids and Technology
  • Today's Teen
  • Tween Discipline
  • Anti-Bullying
Visit HERE to sign up for the weekly Parenting Email Series of your choice (or all of them)!

So why choose Boys Town? Boys Town is backed by 100 years of research and experience. The content is developed by psychologists, psychiatrists and parenting experts, so you know you will be getting good parenting advice!

As for us, I obviously opted to sign up for the Parenting Email Series on teen discipline. I needed all the help I could get! (As I write this post, my son is stomping through the house because I told him not to eat a bowl of cereal just before dinner. Oh, the nerve!)

Finding Successful Ways to Discipline a Teenager

The first issue discusses dealing with frustration, which is one of Dylan's biggest problems. He just needed to find a way to deal with his emotions when he gets frustrated. We taught him to identify these feelings as they arise, determine where those feelings are coming from, breathe deeply to relax, discuss frustrations with a neutral party, and find other activities that make him feel good. While this is still a work in progress since we just started, the reminder to breathe really seems to help! 

I'm hopeful that by the end of this email series, I will have a better grasp on our new reality of parenting a teen. And hopefully, we will all survive the teenage years, and come out on the other side unscathed. Of course, only to repeat it in 2 years...and 7 years...and 9 years. WHAT were we thinking?!?

Finding Successful Ways to Discipline a Teenager

If you, too, are experience a parenting challenge, find out more information about the helpful Boys Town Parenting Email Series

Finding Successful Ways to Discipline a Teenager #ParentingWin {Boys Town Partner} #teens #teenagers #parenting #discipline

Friday, October 6, 2017

Why I'm Not A Down Syndrome Blogger

Why I'm Not A Down syndrome Blogger #Downsyndrome

Four years ago, we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our fourth and final child. Visions of a perfect, happy life with our four beautiful children filled my head. And when our fourth child finally entered the world, our lives were turned upside down as we struggled to digest the news that he might have Down syndrome.

Down syndrome test results usually come in within 48 hours, but for us, we were in limbo for several weeks. Each day I called the lab, and each day I was told that they were having difficulty getting accurate results. We finally made the decision to share what was going on, and that post was the most difficult thing I have ever had to write.

As you all know, Liam did, indeed, have Down syndrome. We probably would have waited even longer if it hadn't been for his pediatrician who called the lab and demanded a yes or no answer within the hour. Liam's test results were a bit unusual, and we will probably never know for sure exactly what percentage of his cells are affected. But it truly doesn't matter. Down syndrome is Down syndrome no matter what form it comes in.

Liam changed us, but not in the ways we expected. We quickly adjusted to our new normal, and started to learn what life with Down syndrome is really like. And that life is truly a beautiful thing. With that, a new topic became a focus on my blog!

Down syndrome

Many of you have been around since the very beginning of this blog or shortly thereafter. You were there when we announced our 3rd and 4th pregnancies, and you were there when our babies were born. You cried with us, prayed with us and supported us as we adjusted to the initially devastating news that our baby wasn't the perfect baby we were expecting. That love and support has never been forgotten, and this community is what I love most about blogging!

I'm often asked why this isn't more of a Down syndrome blog since we have a child who has Down syndrome, or why I don't start another blog just about Down syndrome. The answer is simple. There was no reason for my blog to change. Liam's story just became a piece of our puzzle!

I began blogging way back in August 2008. At the time, we only had Dylan and Lexie, who were 3 1/2 and 1 1/2. For those of you who have been blogging (or reading blogs) as long as I have, you know that blogging was a LOT different back then. It was more of a sense of community and a way to just share your life with others. It wasn't about sharing ideas or DIY projects, and sponsored content wasn't even a thing just yet.

Over the past 9 years, I built this blog from a hobby that only had 3 followers on the first day to something I enjoy that earns a small income. And although my time to connect with the blogging community is much more limited these days, it's still my favorite thing about blogging! I've had the pleasure of making close friends whom I never would have met if it wasn't for blogging, and watching some of my favorite online families grow. Plus, I learn from all of you!

Focusing just on Liam wouldn't be fair to my other children. They are all equally important and they need to know that. I wasn't going to give up on something I worked so hard to build, and I definitely didn't have the time to maintain two blogs, so my decision was to show how all of our stories seamlessly intertwine into one.

The Lucky Few

I AM a Down syndrome mom. But I'm also a soccer mom, a dance mom, a basketball mom, a band mom, a wife, a friend, a mom taxi driver, a reader, a volunteer, an animal lover, a runner, a DIY-er, a mom-tog, AND a blogger. Showing how Down syndrome fits into all of that can be every bit as inspiring and educational as a blog that solely focuses on Down syndrome. I receive emails each week from readers who are new on this journey to thank me for showing them just how normal life with Down syndrome can be, and that's such a rewarding feeling. That's exactly what I hope to accomplish, because once upon a time, I didn't think it was possible!

During the first two years after our post-birth diagnosis, there was so much to talk about. But there are only so many posts I can write about how awesome my child who has Down syndrome is before they all starting sounding the same. (Just for the record, he IS awesome!) At first it was a new journey and I had a point to prove. I had to be Liam's advocate. But as the years passed, life with Down syndrome became very normal and ordinary for us, and I no longer had a point to prove. Liam took over showing the world what he COULD do.

As his mom and a blogger, I prefer to showcase how normal life with Down syndrome can really be through my parenting and lifestyle posts. That's the best way to show how he really is more alike than different, because my posts feature all the ways he is living life just like any other human being! It's my belief that it's the best way to educate others about what Down syndrome REALLY is!

I suppose I am, in a sense, a Down syndrome blogger. But I'm also a mom blogger, a food blogger, a lifestyle blogger and a fashion blogger. Since this blog isn't Down syndrome-specific, I identify more with the parenting/lifestyle niche than the Down syndrome niche. As for now, I like the way I share this journey!

The misconceptions are still going strong about Down syndrome, and there are some ugly people in the world. Although I don't discuss Down syndrome in depth as often on my blog anymore, it is Down syndrome Awareness Month, and with that, I'm spending the month educating others on social media.

I will always share our story and advocate for Liam, in the hopes that this world will become a better, more accepting place for him.  No parent should ever have to defend their child's right to exist, but that's a battle that many parents must fight. Sharing Liam, and showing what our life with Down syndrome is really like, is my way to fight that battle and educate others on the real facts.

Down syndrome

Down syndrome is a big part of our lives, but it's only a small piece of our story. Liam is more than Down syndrome, so his story should expand beyond that topic. He fits into this little space every bit as much as the rest of us, and I will continue to share our lives and our  story for as long as I possibly can! Thank you for joining us on this journey!

Down syndrome 

Follow along with our daily Down syndrome posts on Instagram and Facebook!

Why I'm Not A Down syndrome Blogger #downsyndrome

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

One of the fun things about having little girls is being able to style their hair! Although both of my girls love to wear their long hair down, it isn't always practical for soccer, dance, or a long day at school. Wearing a ponytail each day gets boring, so we have a few favorite hairstyles that we alternate through each month! 

Sharing 30+ styles at once can be overwhelming for both me and the reader, so I'm going to break it down into ten at a time! A few of our favorites involve french braiding, so if you haven't mastered that skill yet, I highly recommend learning. My sister taught me how to french braid, but I have several friends who learned by watching YouTube videos. Once you get the hang of it, it's really easy!

Before I begin, I'm going to share a few things that we have in our arsenal of styling supplies that we use frequently. (I'm not going to mention exactly HOW many bows and headbands we own. Let me just say that with two girls, it quickly got out of hand!)

  • Wet Brush (Throw all your brushes away and buy this one. BEST BRUSH EVER.)
  • Hair Detangler Spray (Also works to smooth flyaway strands. This one smells amazing!)
  • Hairspray
  • Clear rubber bands
  • Rubber bands that match hair color
  • Hair ties
  • Sets of bows
  • Headbands 
  • Bobby Pins
  • Fine tooth comb for parting hair
Now that I've shared a few of our favorites, I'm going to show you the ten hairstyles Lily requests the most! With a little bit of practice, even the braided styles can be done in just a few minutes. We don't have time for anything too complicated before we run out the door!


Double Top Knots

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

This style is super easy to do! 
  1. Part hair in the middle, create two pigtails, and secure with non-slip hair elastics.
  2. Loosely wind each pigtail into a messy bun and secure each bun with another hair elastic.
  3. Accessorize with bows or a cute headband!
10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

{headband - H&M}

French-Braided Side Ponytail

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

Here's where french braiding skills come in handy, but you could also just make a regular braid with the strand of hair behind one ear and secure it into a side ponytail. When I french braid, I prefer to do an inside out french braid, which just means I weave the strands of hair UNDER instead of over while braiding. It makes the braid stand out more!
  1. Brush hair so it's smooth.
  2. Grab one chunk of hair behind one ear, and begin french braiding along the hairline until you reach just below the other ear. 
  3. Join the rest of the hair with the braid and secure hair in a side ponytail below the opposite ear of where your started braiding.
  4. Accessorize the braid with a big bow!
10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

{Hair Bow - The Hair Bow Company}

Pinned Back Bangs

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

Technically, my girls don't have bangs, but you get the picture. Pull back the front of the hair where the bangs would be!
  1. Grab the thin piece of hair that would be bangs, and brush it straight back. 
  2. Pin with bobby pins or secure loosely with a rubber band.
  3. Put in a bow to cover up the pins or hair tie.
10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

Bubble Braid

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

This is a hairstyle I used to do myself when I was a teenager, so I think it's funny that it's back in style again!
  1. Brush back the front section of the hair, and secure with a hair elastic.
  2. Grab a small piece of hair on either side of that ponytail and join those strands with the ponytail. Secure it 1-2 inches down from the first ponytail.
  3. Repeat that step until you reach the bottom of the head and secure with an elastic.
  4. Gently pull apart each section a little bit to make the hair "bubble" out!
10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

Bow-Adorned Pigtails

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

This classic hairstyle is still one of Lily's favorites! She loves to accessorize it her pigtails with big bows that match her outfit!

Khaleesi Braids

khaleesi braids

Anybody who watches Game of Thrones knows exactly what I'm talking about! This hairstyle is a simplified version, but it's super cute!
  1. Part hair in the middle.
  2. Begin french braiding (I chose the inside out french braid) the right section from the front, only weaving in very thin sections of hair along the way. Stop the braid at the middle of the head and secure with an elastic. 
  3. Repeat on the left side.
  4. Join the braids together, secure with an elastic, then remove the additional elastics from the original braids.
  5. Accessorize with a metallic headband. 
10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

Side-swept Bangs

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

This is a quick hairstyle for rushed mornings! It literally can be done in seconds!
  1. Brush the front section of the hair to one side.
  2. Pin with bobby pins or secure loosely with a hair tie.
  3. Add a big bow!
10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

Heidi Braids

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

This hairstyle got a bit messy while Lily was at school, but it's really cute! Moral of the story? Take a picture BEFORE she leaves for the day!  This style is very much like Khaleesi Braids, but you braid to the bottom of the head, and then coil the two braids together into a low bun.
  1. Part hair in the middle.
  2. Beginning on one side, make a french braid (or inside out french braid) to the bottom of the head, and secure with an elastic.
  3. Repeat on the other side. 
  4. Join the braids together in the middle, and secure with another elastic.
  5. Coil the braided ponytail into a low bun, secure, and clip a bow into the middle of the bun!
10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

Messy Top Knot

10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls

This is another cute hairstyle that can be done quickly! I love it because Lily plays hard, and the style just gets cuter the messier it gets!
  1. Brush hair into a high ponytail, allowing wisps to fall out along the way, and secure with a non-slip hair elastic.
  2. Loosely coil the ponytail around the base and secure with another non-slip hair elastic.
  3. Tug on the bun a bit to loosen.
  4. Accessorize with a bow!

Inside Out French Braid

Inside Out French Braid

I'm going to be honest. I rarely french braid the traditional way! I prefer the inside out version because it stands out so much more!
  1. Start at the very top of the hair to begin the french braid. 
  2. Instead of weaving the strands of hair OVER the braid, weave them UNDER. This makes the braid stand out instead of lying flat against the head.
  3. Continue to the bottom and add a bow for good measure!
Inside Out French Braid

Those are the ten most requested hairstyles in my home! Some may look complicated, but if you know how to french braid, they are so easy to do. Stay tuned for 10 MORE adorable hairstyles for little girls!

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10 Adorable Hairstyles for Little Girls


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