Our Five Ring Circus: Back To School & Big Changes

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Back To School & Big Changes

Big Family Blog

Over the past 6 weeks, life has been a whirlwind. The back to school season is always incredibly busy, but it's even more chaotic with four kids in four different schools AND a baby. I attempted to stay current with blogging, but failed miserably, and that's okay. I needed a break, and my one week break turned into three!

Life is finally calming down (a bit), so I figured it was time to get back to writing. I have so many updates to share, so I figured I would put them all in one post before moving on. Life has been very busy for my big family, and I haven't really had a moment to breathe!

Here's life in a nutshell over the past 6 weeks:

  • My kids went back to school, and there were big changes this year!
  • Lily became a cheerleader, and gave up dance for tumbling. She loves it!
  • Coen is growing at an alarming rate. This last first year with my last bonus baby is going entirely too quickly.
  • It's Down syndrome awareness month, and I haven't shared a single post. I do have a big one coming up!
  • I started working out again - REALLY working out, and I'm finally getting my pre-baby body back. I'm also getting back into photography, and have SO many pictures to share.
  • My parents had some health scares. My dad had a mini stroke, and my mom had a seizure. They are doing well now, but it was scary and stressful. 
  • Life with 5 kids is just busy. Really busy.
Keep reading, and I'll fill you in on life lately!


Parenting Blog

The first day of school this year was on September 9th (also our wedding anniversary). It was late this year! Typically, the first day of school is the last week of August, but renovations on the middle school pushed it back.

This year, we have a 9th grader, 7th grader, 3rd grader, and 1st grader. 3 of my 4 school-aged kids had big changes this school year. Dylan started high school, Lexie started middle school, and Liam started full days at school. It was a big transition for all of us!

Dylan is still adjusting to high school. He started the year strong, and loved the freedom, but soon realized his schedule was packed and had trouble keeping track of everything. We said no to study hall, because he wasn't using it as intended in middle school, and told him to take classes that will help prepare him for college. He decided on graphic design, art, and Spanish, but it means he has a LOT of work. We're currently trying to teach him how to stay organized. He learned a tough - although RIDICULOUS - lesson last week. (I'm debating it, but I think I will share that story at some point.) He also has a new girlfriend who is very sweet. I'm not ready for this stage of parenthood, and I'm not quite sure I like high school.

First Day of School

first day of high school

Lexie is in middle school, and she loves it! She is doing very well in all of her classes. She has the same after school homework rules as Dylan, but she is incredibly responsible and rarely forgets anything. She has almost all of the same teachers Dylan had in 7th grade, so we know what to expect. She signed up for an activity period instead of study hall, which they do every other Thursday. I laughed when she told me what she chose - yoga, meditation, and Bob Ross painting. That is SO Lexie! She's also currently in training to become certified in first aid and emergency response. It's something she does with her Papa, but it's helpful at home, too. I have a feeling she will be babysitting for kids other than ours very soon!

Back to school

First Day of Middle School

First Day of school ideas

Lily is in third grade, which is in the same building she was in last year. The only change this year was her teacher (who is WONDERFUL) - even her BFF Charlie is in her class again! Despite being one of the youngest kids in her grade, Lily is very smart, independent, responsible, and motivated. She loves school!

3rd Grade

Pittsburgh Blog

Back To School Photo Ideas

Liam is in first grade, which means he is finally in school for full days! It was a big transition for him, and he was very sleepy after school the first two weeks, but he quickly adjusted. Just like last year, we had some drama a few days before school started, but it all worked out. We were upset to find out his amazing special ed team would not be returning to school this year, but his new teacher is wonderful, and his aide is perfect. She's really young, but she's wonderful with him. He loves her so much, and greets her with a big hug every morning. Just like last year, he splits his time between an inclusive general ed classroom, and life skills, and the year is off to a great start for him. In addition to the speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy he gets at school, we finally started private speech therapy. His speech is finally starting to progress more!

First Day of first grade

Down syndrome

Down syndrome blog

special needs blog


first day of school photography

We are five weeks into the school year, and there have been a few bumps along the way, but we're all adjusting! When you have four kids in four different schools, the beginning of the year is overwhelming and expensive! During the first two weeks of school, we had 2 school visitations, 4 orientations, 2 curriculum nights, 4 school picture days, 2 fundraisers, 2 $40 class fees, and we had to buy school supplies, including a laptop. PHEW! We're just happy to have it all behind us!


youth cheerleading

Lily is cheering for her school's youth football team this year, and she LOVES it! Honestly, I love it, too. I'm one of the squad photographers, so I take pictures at each game/event. It started in July with practices Monday-Thursday evenings, and they just had their last regular season game on Saturday. The girls amaze me. They are only in second and third grade, and they are already doing stunts. Lily is a base, but hopes to be a flyer when she moves up to the older squad.

I plan to do a quick recap of her season soon. It was a lot of fun, and she wants to do it again next year. In the meantime, she swapped dance classes for a weekly private tumbling class with her best friend, Charlie, and the girls are learning so much. We're going to continue tumbling throughout the year, so she's ready to do flips next season!

The football team made playoffs, so we'll be at the field for the first round of playoffs on Saturday!


Mom Blog

Oh, the poor fifth baby. I did weekly and monthly blog recaps with Lily and Liam, but none with Coen. I do share a monthly update and weekly pictures on Instagram, so at least there's that! 

It's hard to believe, but Coen just turned 7 months old! He has two bottom teeth, can sit on his own, can roll both ways, can stand with support, can take steps with support, eats everything, including small pieces of real food, is very vocal, is starting to sit up from laying down, and is thisclose to crawling. I just want him to slow his grow. It's a gift to experience all these firsts one last time, but I'm trying to savor them, and they are slipping out of my grasp!


Down syndrome awareness month

It's Down syndrome awareness month! My heart just isn't in it this year, but I think it's because Down syndrome just feels so normal to us now. I've shared a few posts on Instagram, but haven't shared any blog posts yet. I am working on one, and hopefully I will get to a second post before the month is up. 


As you can imagine, life is busy, and the kids take up most of my time. Liam is very hands on, and Coen wants to be held ALL THE TIME. Trying to keep up with kids, our home, school stuff, and activities is a bit overwhelming at times. (Exactly why I took a three week break from blogging!) In addition to running the Instagram account for the DSDN and being the squad photographer, I'm also a contact parent for Liam's general ed class, and a parent volunteer for Lily's class Halloween party. Although I would love to volunteer more at the school, it just isn't possible right now.

When the kids went back to school, I made getting back into shape a priority. I drive Liam to and from school each day, and I pass a walking/running path, so I have NO excuse. Morning runs 4-5 days a week became my new routine, and I do have the cutest running buddy, who naps through my 45 minute workout. I'm finally seeing results, so I'm feeling motivated!

Fitness Blog - Exercise with baby - Postpartum workout

In addition to all of the above, I'm working on photography. I would love to make it a part time business one day when I have more time. I still take daily lifestyle pictures, which I absolutely love, but I'm trying to set up more photo shoots, too. I have SO many pictures of Coen since he's a willing subject!

Down syndrome blogs

baby photography ideas


I mentioned above that my parents had some health scares. Within a two week period, they went from having no health issues, to scaring the crap out of us! I got the phone call that my dad had a stroke while I was taking pictures at one of the football games. We left Lily cheering on the field, and rushed to the hospital. Thankfully, it was just a small stroke, and he was able to go home after a short hospital stay. He's doing very well now.

Less than two weeks after my dad's incident, my mom had a major seizure. I was actually there to witness it, and I honestly thought she was dying. Just me, Coen, and my oldest sister were there, but thank God we were, or else I might be typing a different kind of post. She was perfectly fine while we were visiting, but got lightheaded. We told her to sit down, and she did, but then she stood up and told us she had to lay down. I was nursing Coen when I heard the loud crash. She fainted, and hit her head off the door frame. I threw my poor baby on the floor and my sister and I ran to her side. She was shaking violently, started to snore with her eyes open, started making the strangest sounds, then passed out again, and threw up. We turned her to her side, and she went completely limp. Her breathing was very slow and shallow, and I thought we were watching her die. I called 911, and while I was speaking to them, she stood up, and was perfectly fine. She went to the doctor, who agreed it was a seizure. All her vitals were perfectly fine, so she got some lab work, and has to have a CT scan. 

It literally took me hours to calm down after witnessing that. After dealing with two incidents involving my parents, my nerves are shot. I'm not ready to deal with losing them just yet!

If you made it this far, I'm impressed! It was a long update, filled with a lot of life lately. Big family life is incredibly busy, but I'm hoping to get back into blogging after my much needed break, and share it all with you!

Big Family

Back to school

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Parenting Blog


  1. It was great to read an update post from you. It sounds like school is mostly going well for everyone, so that's great! I hope your parents are both ok. My dad is having a health thing at the moment too, which I haven't shared on my blog, but definitely keeps me worrying about him.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your parents. How scary! I'm so glad that they are both doing better!

  3. Oh wow, I'm so glad your parents are okay, but that had to have been scary news!! I love your photos and doing it part-time in the future would be a great job, I'm sure, since you love it so much. I'm glad school is going well for everyone - it takes awhile to adjust I'm sure!


  4. Oh man, life has been busy for you! Thank goodness your parents are okay, that would scare the crap out of anyone! Your girls are beautiful and all your kiddos are getting so big. I have 3 different schools and I swear I feel like I could loose it at any moment, so you're not alone in this crazy mom life. LOL.

  5. Wow, I'm tired after reading all that! I don't know how you manage. I'm worn out with 3 kids in 2 different schools lol! So glad your parents are doing okay after their health scares.


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