Our Five Ring Circus: April 2020

Thursday, April 30, 2020

How To Set Up a Simple & Fun Homeschooling Corner

Homeschooling space

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We are on week five of remote learning, and we've finally found our groove! Just kidding...every day is a new adventure around here. Some days are really good, and some days are REALLY bad. (I didn't sign up for this!!!) The homeschooling corner, however, is my A+ project!

BSC (Before Social Distancing), I was a homeschooling mom to a 15 year old, and I didn't have much to do other than to oversee his education. Now, I'm overseeing four educations, actively assisting my 8 year old, fully supporting my 6 year old, who has Down syndrome, and "attending" daily circle time, and 5 additional teletherapies a week for him...all with a needy baby on my hip. The terms OCI, remote learning, Zoom meetings, and teletherapy are a part of my daily lingo.  (I repeat...I didn't sign up for this!) 

After the first few weeks of trial and error, it became apparent that we needed a homeschooling space. 3 of my 4 school-age kids will be returning to school in the Fall (PLEASE!), and Dylan only needs a laptop and a shelf for supplies, so I didn't want to do anything major. A homeschooling corner was the solution, and guess what? I think we'll keep it!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Celebrating the LAST First Birthday

Baby's First Birthday

On Sunday, March 8th, our last baby celebrated his first birthday! It was just days before life as we knew it came to a halt. Although we had to cancel his first birthday party due to coronavirus and social distancing, we were able to celebrate his actual birthday with our parents. It was a special day!

Coen's first birthday was probably the most bittersweet one we've ever celebrated. He is our last baby, so it was in our minds all day that this was the last time ever that we would be celebrating a first birthday for one of our children. That first year goes faster with each child that we add to our family, so we were reeling from the shock of having a 1 year old ALREADY!

That day, we introduced Coen to our favorite birthday traditions, and made sure he was properly spoiled. He was showered with attention and love, which is what makes birthdays so special. There is no doubt that our beautiful bonus baby is loved beyond measure!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

How We Teach Our Kids To Love and Respect the Earth

Big Family Blog

I think this year, on Earth Day, we're all appreciating our planet just a bit more! With nowhere to go, many of us are relying on the great outdoors to keep us busy. Sometimes I feel like this was Earth's way of saying, "I need a break!!!"

As a mom, I want my children to succeed and do big things. More importantly, I want them to be kind and respectful, to love equally, and realize they CAN make a difference. Kindness is not just for our fellow human beings. It also should be directed at the world we live in!

It's our job to teach our kids to love and respect our planet. We started teaching our kids early, but there is always work to do. As adults, WE are still learning, so we're in this together!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Currently...in Quarantine

Parenting Blog - Currently in Quarantine

We just began our sixth week of social distancing, and our fourth week of online learning! When this all began, I thought for sure we would be back to normal life within 2-3 weeks, and definitely 6 weeks tops, but as the days went by, I began to suspect that it would be much longer. Now, I'm starting to worry this is going to extend through Summer. 

Life sure is different now. We don't go anywhere, but our days are long and busy! Some days it feels like we've got this, and other days our emotions are all over the place. I'm beginning to think we could have our own reality show at this point: Quarantine with 5 Crazy Kids!

I have been sharing snippets of our everyday lives on social media, and so many people have told me that it either makes them laugh, or that they can relate so much. Yes, we have "normal" days and incredible moments with our sweet kids, but when you put 7 people together in a 4 bedroom house, things can escalate QUICKLY!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Lexie's a Teenager! (13th Birthday Interview & Photoshoot}

13th Birthday Photoshoot and Interview

She was born on February 22, 2007 at 4:16 PM. She entered the world with just a few quick pushes, and when everyone in the room screamed, "It's a GIRL!" the tears streamed down my cheeks. She was exactly the baby I had been praying for to complete our little family. 

13 years went by far too quickly, and our baby girl filled our lives with so much love. With each passing year, I anticipated her to pull away from us more and more, as many kids naturally do, but her love for her family is fierce. She is still as close to us as ever, and our love for her is immeasurable.

Lexie is a rare gem. She is beautiful on the inside and out. She is incredibly mature, responsible, and smart, and is one of the kindest, most compassionate human beings I've ever met. She is truly an amazing person, and I have no doubt she's going to do great things. At 4:16 PM on February 22, 2020, Lexie officially became a teenager, and the next stage of her childhood began!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Why We Started Homeschooling Our Teenager

Why I Started Homeschooling My Teenager

Although I'm now homeschooling four kids, homeschooling is not a new concept to me. This past Fall, we pulled our then 14 year old son out of the public school he had been attending since Kindergarten, and enrolled him in Cyber School.  It was a bit of an adjustment for us, but it's a method that works well for him at this time. 

I wasn't quite ready to take full responsibility for educating a teenager, so we opted to have him do online schooling after doing our research and reaching out to other parents. Managing his education, making sure he gets PE and outside learning experiences, encouraging hobbies, and allowing him to lead a normal social life (until social distancing happened) is my responsibility. It wasn't a decision we made lightly. We really wished he could continue in our school district, but it just wasn't working for him, and we knew in our hearts that we had to make changes.

There are many factors that led us to this decision, which I will finally share with you. After several months, we are starting to see little steps in the right direction, so we know we made the right decision. Little did we know when we embarked on this path that we would have 3 other kids joining him at home months later!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The 10 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Easter in Quarantine

Big Family Blog

Easter Sunday was definitely a lot different this year! Although we missed hugging our family, getting back to the basics in quarantine actually turned out to be a positive experience. I love Easter, but I wasn't expecting much this year. Surprisingly, though, it turned out to be one of my favorite Easters, and it will certainly be a memorable one!

I think the biggest difference this year was TIME. We had time to enjoy our family traditions, time to enjoy the holiday, and time to focus on the important things. Despite not spending the morning at church, I feel like this Easter was the most meaningful Easter we've ever had as a family.

Easter activities might have been canceled, but Easter was still very much here! Easter is about celebrating the fact that He is Risen, and that can be done anywhere. When we took away our usual Easter hustle and chaos, we were able to focus on what we were truly celebrating, and spend time together as a family!

Friday, April 3, 2020

My Birthday in Quarantine During a Pandemic

My Birthday in Quarantine During a Pandemic

Today was my birthday. When I envisioned this birthday, I imagined it would be my usual day of driving my kids around, breakfast or lunch with a sibling or friend, going out for dinner with my husband, and a little party with my family in the evening. In reality, my birthday was much different. I never imagined I would be celebrating it in quarantine, during the coronavirus pandemic!

I would say that my birthday felt just like any other day, but that isn't quite accurate. Nothing is ordinary right now! Instead, it was just like every other day we spent social distancing. It was a bizarre birthday, but definitely one I will never forget!

There wasn't a doughnut breakfast, I didn't have to drive kids to school, I didn't meet a friend or sister for lunch, my husband and I didn't have date night, the presents came from my Amazon wishlist, and there wasn't a party. This was the first time I didn't get to see my mom on my birthday. Heck, I didn't even leave the house except to get the mail! Birthdays in quarantine, during a pandemic, are definitely out of the ordinary! Despite the circumstances, I still felt the love!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Snack and Play Edible Rainbow Sensory Bin

Snack and Play Edible Rainbow Sensory Bin

As we headed into week two of social distancing, my kids were bored, lonely, and snacking non-stop. I am so thankful that we have books, streaming services, and FaceTime, but this situation that we're facing is scary and uncertain, and it just plain sucks! My older kids can usually find something to do, but my youngest two needed something to capture their attention - enter the "Snack 'n Play" Edible Rainbow Sensory Bin!

Sensory play is a big part of our lives. I believe my kids should be given opportunities to explore, so I'm always coming up with new ideas for them. They love sensory bins, so I always try to create 1-2 new sensory bins each month for them. Now that we're stuck at home, I'm changing them up weekly. We have done edible sensory bins before, but it has been a while. Last week was the PERFECT time to set one up and introduce Coen to edible sensory bin fillers!

Needless to say, it was an instant hit! The kids had fun playing, snacking, scooping, and color sorting. Sensory Bins do not have to be complex. It really can be as simple as throwing in dry cereal and marshmallows, and giving them tools so they can play. Just doing something out of the ordinary can make it extra fun! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The First Official Day of Quarantine Homeschool


When my four older kids went back to school in September, I never would have guessed that I would be homeschooling one - let alone FOUR - kids by April! One child is homeschooled by choice, and the other three are now homeschooled by necessity. It's definitely a huge adjustment for all of us!

I started homeschooling Dylan in November. To be fair, he is a teenager, and he does Cyber School, so I'm not really teaching him. It's just my job to oversee his education, make sure he gets exercise, give him additional educational experiences, encourage a healthy social life, and make sure he reads and is exposed to the arts. (He is a talented artist, so no problems there!) I still have to share the reasons why we chose this for Dylan, but it has been a positive experience for him and for me!

Homeschooling is definitely not for everyone. While it works well for Dylan, it isn't the best option for Lexie, Lily, and Liam, who thrive in a public school setting. Lily and Lexie are very smart, and they are very involved in school activities. Liam has Down syndrome, which means he has an IEP. He has a wonderful team working to help him thrive - a general ed teacher, a special ed teacher, a para, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, and a social worker. He receives all therapy at school, and has so much support. The three of them LOVE school, which is why this new homeschooling adventure is difficult for all of us. But with schools now closed indefinitely, it's now our new normal...