Our Five Ring Circus: July 2019

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:

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Cheesy Potato Casserole Recipe

Cheesy Potato Casserole Recipe - An easy, budget-friendly, gluten-free dinner

With five kids, we don't go out to dinner much! I'm sure you can imagine just how expensive our bill is when we do, so we stick to birthdays and big occasions. Eating dinner at home together is just a way of life for our big family. I don't LOVE to cook, but I do enjoy trying new recipes, and making delicious meals!

When it comes to finding recipes my family will love, it's all a matter of trial and error. Each of us have unique preferences and tastes, so I have to keep recipe ingredients simple. I try to make the recipe gluten-free for Liam, so I don't have to cook two meals each night. I also try to make the recipe budget-friendly, because our grocery shopping bill each week is hefty!

I don't consider myself a food blogger, but I decided to start sharing a favorite family recipe each month! Cheesy ham and potatoes has been a longtime favorite meal of ours, but eventually our favorite recipes get boring, so I decided to spruce it up a bit. This hearty Cheesy Potato Casserole recipe is gluten-free, full of some of our most favorite ingredients, and absolutely delicious! When my family goes back for seconds - or thirds - it's a keeper!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Summer Survival Necessities for Moms

Summer Survival with kids

Summer is in full swing, and moms are officially in survival mode! I love having my kids home for the Summer, but there are definitely days that are very long. We are having fun and making memories, but my plate is very full right now. Some days are a win, some days I'm treading water, and some days I can barely stay afloat!

Surviving each day with minimal stress is always my goal! Every single outing takes a lot of preparation, and my house has to be stocked with snacks for those rainy days when we're trapped inside. With five busy kids, there are a lot of bumps and bruises along the way, and some headaches (for me) at the end of the day!

CVS sent me a box full of their favorite products for Summer. Even though I was instructed to treat myself, I did end up sharing with my husband and kids! We found a few new favorites along the way!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Myrtle Beach Family Vacation - Reminiscing About The Last Day

Myrtle Beach Family Vacation

It has been almost one full year since our last family vacation. If you have been following along for a while, you already know it was a big one. While we were in Myrtle Beach, we found out we were expecting baby #5! And the rest is history...

My final Myrtle Beach family vacation recap got lost in my drafts folder during those 9 very long months of morning sickness, and those exhausting early days with a newborn. Because I tend to be very particular about some things, I can't just leave it hanging around in there. I have to finish my recap, or else it will bug me until I do!

Right now seemed like a good time to recap, and I found myself reminiscing as I finished writing this post. Sadly, we're not going to the beach this year, and it's my happy place. I'm very bummed (my husband and kids are, too), but traveling that far this year was going to be very tough. It's a combination of adulting, and having a new baby who DESPISES the car.

Every so often I want to say let's just do it, then I imagine being tethered by a breastfed baby who likes to eat all the time, while my 5 year old runs in the opposite direction toward danger, and I change my mind. Plus, 8-12 hours each way of Coen screaming would be rough. But I want to - I really want to - and if we didn't have to get a new SUV or pay for some home repairs, I would go anyway. So I'm just going to look through all of these pictures when I feel a longing for the beach, and count down the time until we can go back. (But not too fast, because my kids need to slow their grow!)

Here's what we did on the last day of our Myrtle Beach vacation, and on our trip home...

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

What I Bought on Amazon + An Awesome Amazon Tip

What I Bought on Amazon + An Awesome Amazon Tip

Oh, Amazon Prime! It's no wonder so many people are fans. Their selection, pricing, and super fast shipping speed can't be beat! Amazon took over my household, and they're pretty much taking over the world!

We're big Amazon Prime fans! We buy so much from them on a monthly basis - gifts and necessities. I even use Amazon as my "store" of choice when I'm running low on a household item and don't want to drag 5 kids to an actual store!

We bought 21 things from Amazon in June, but I'm not going to list them all. Some of them were wedding gifts off of an Amazon registry, some of them were gifts for friends and family, and I have no business or interest in discussing the blade attachment my husband bought for our weed wacker! (Just keeping it real.)

Check out the Amazon Prime purchases I made in June, and keep reading to find out an awesome way to save if you are a special needs family...

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Life Lately

Big Family Life

Life with five littles is busy - so busy! I'm barely sleeping, we're always on the go, my to do list is ridiculously long, and there's NEVER enough time. This isn't a complaint. It's just a fact. I absolutely love having a big family, but it is a lot of work!

I could easily write a blog post about each day of parenthood. There's never a dull moment, and there are plenty of stories (and pictures) to share! Considering I barely have time to breathe, that just isn't going to happen, so I'm going to sum up life lately in one post.

Here's a glimpse at life with my crew over the past few weeks...

Monday, July 15, 2019

Diapering Essentials For At Home and On The Go

Diapering Essentials For At Home and On The Go

I received some of the items below as a complimentary gift. As always, I only share the items I truly love!

During the first year of your baby's life, you're going to be changing a LOT of diapers! Stocking up on diapering essentials can be overwhelming at first because there are so many brands and so many types of products. There are many products you won't need, but also quite a few products that will make this messy job quick and easy to do!

I have five children, and my diapering essentials list changed with each baby. Some products were simply a waste of money, and I never bought them again. I also discovered new products over the course of 14 1/2 years of parenthood. If you have the basics - diapers and wipes - you're set, but some extras just make the job easier!

Stock your changing area with these must have diapering essentials:

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

How My Family Scared Off A Police Officer

Big Family Blogs

Every family has a funny story to tell. It's the kind of story that gets told over and over again. It's the kind of story that will never be forgotten. It is so good that it quickly becomes THE family story. Our family story involves a pregnant mama, a car full of kids, and one completely overwhelmed police officer. 

As I was going through the list of blog posts that I still have to publish (the list is SO long), I realized that I hadn't shared this story yet! Actually, in the midst of a tough pregnancy and the exhausting days with a newborn, we didn't even share it with many people. But those who heard it laughed right along with us!  It's certainly a moment Grant, Dylan, Lexie, Lily, Liam, and I will never forget!

Let me set the scene: picture an overwhelmed husband, a sick wife, a newly discovered surprise pregnancy, a car jam-packed full of kids and luggage, and 611 miles to drive home...