Our Five Ring Circus: Just the 8 of Us - Family Updates

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Just the 8 of Us - Family Updates

Big Family Blog

Adjusting to life as a family of 8 has been a wild ride, but we're getting there! So much has changed in 5 REALLY fast months for all of us. Life has gotten so much busier than it already was, but I wouldn't change anything...well, except for maybe adding a few more hours each day to get stuff done!

There is so much going on right now, and I'm going to try my hardest to stay up to date with everything that's happening. I still have so many big life events to share - our surprise pregnancy, how we found out about Hayden's heart defect, Hayden's birth, our NICU stay, birthdays, vacations, holidays, baptisms, and more. Some BIG things are happening over the next few weeks, and writing is therapeutic for me, so I'm just going to jump back into blogging. 

There's no doubt that social media has taken over blogging, as it has many others, but I still have big plans to update this space. As I begin ease back into writing, I figured now would be a good time for a family update. If you follow us on social media, you do see little snippets of our lives, but never the whole picture. There's a lot going on with 8 people under one roof! Plus, I need something to keep my mind occupied right now...


The newest member of our family is our biggest focus right now. We are all smitten with him, but it's more than just the usual newborn attention. Hayden was born with a transitional AVSD, which means he has 2 holes between the top two chambers of his heart and a small hole between the bottom two chambers. They obviously need to be patched, but he also needs work done on his valve. 

We knew Open Heart Surgery would happen sometime this year, but he hasn't gone into heart failure, so they were thinking it could be done when he was closer to a year old. The last time the surgeons and cardiologists met, they decided it would be beneficial to do it sooner rather than later, for multiple reasons. That was at the end of March. We assumed he would have it in May, or maybe June, but were shocked to find out he was scheduled for April 18th! Now we're scrambling to prepare for one of the scariest things we have ever faced as parents. We were able to have him baptized on Palm Sunday, so that was a big relief.

Down syndrome blog


Coen recently turned 3. He is sweet, funny, and SO smart, but he is a handful! Most of my time is spent chasing after him, and correcting behaviors, but I just adore that boy. He already has the vocabulary of a grown child, and it's easy to forget that he's only 3 when you talk to him. Coen is very creative, and loves drawing and crafts, and he actively plays all day long. 

When he is alone, he is the best kid ever. But when you pair him with Liam, all bets are off. (The same goes for Liam!) Two years ago, he was having those fainting spells, and the neurologists weren't sure if it was real seizure activity or just Vasovagal Syncope, but he hasn't had one in months. We're really hoping he outgrew it!

Large Family Blog


Our sweet Liam is in third grade now! He has matured so much, but expressive communication is still his weakness. After we get Hayden through surgery, Liam needs to have his yearly roundup of appointments, an IEP meeting, and he needs to be evaluated for private speech therapy and occupational therapy. Liam does have some sensory issues, and although the doctor thinks it's something that will get easier as he grows, we do want to see if some extra occupational therapy will help. 

We want to sign him up for baseball again, but that depends on how long it takes Hayden to recover. Playing outdoors is still Liam's favorite thing to do, followed closely by watching Toy Story or Bao! Liam just had cellulitis following an eye injury, but he is feeling much better!

Down syndrome


Lily's 5th grade year is nearing an end, and she is most definitely a tween now. Lily has a great group of friends, and most weekends, she is busy. Her BFF since birth will always be her person, though. I am truly jealous of their fierce friendship! 

Lily is signed up for another year of cheerleading, and will be taking tumbling classes with her BFF again this summer, and probably easing into competitive cheer in the fall. Lily still plays the flute, but I don't really think it's her thing. 

Out of all of our kids, Lily continues to be the most independent! She rarely asks for anything, and she keeps herself busy at home with all kinds of creative activities. She is super smart and artistic, and loves to make people laugh!

Parenting Blog


Ahh, our sweet Lexie is growing up so fast! She celebrated her 15th birthday in February, and she absolutely LOVES high school. She is very involved at school, loves chorus, and is so excited for the end of the year cabaret. 

She started her first job at a pizza shop with Dylan. They honestly have an awesome boss, so their first real job experience is a great one! She only works one day a week, because she helps my dad at work once a week, too. 

Last Monday, Lexie became certified in adult, child, and infant CPR, AED, and First Aid. Lexie is so loyal to her family and friends, and is completely focused on preparing for her future. She wants to go into political science and TV journalism, which is a PERFECT job for her. I say it so often, but Lexie is a gem!

Parenting Blog


Our firstborn is about a half year away from officially becoming an adult! I honestly can't believe it! Dylan may not be on the path that I expected, but he knows exactly what he wants to do after high school, which is admirable. Dylan is a GOOD human being with a strong work ethic. He goes to school, then comes home and goes to work 3-4 days a week for a few hours each day. He and his girlfriend, Liv, have been together for nearly two years. They have such a sweet relationship, and we absolutely love her. Dylan is going to be starting some driving lessons to better prepare him for driving safely and responsibly.

Dylan is a very talented artist, and he got into boxing this year. While Lexie is filling up her schedule with classes that will benefit her in college, Dylan is filling up his senior year with practical classes - lots of art classes, cooking classes, and personal finance/business classes. Although he would love to be a UFC fighter, which makes this mama very nervous, his ultimate goal is to own his own tattoo shop. Dylan is the perfect example of why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. On the outside, he has colorful hair, wears earrings and a nose ring, and likes to wear all dark clothing, but what you don't expect is one of the sweetest, kindest teenagers who works hard, respects his elders, and adores his family. 

When he isn't at school or work, Dylan can often be found cooking something unique in the kitchen, making smoothies, boxing in the basement, hanging out with his girlfriend at our house, and snuggling his baby brothers.

Raising teenagers


What can I say other than I'm busy, and life never slows down? There are many reasons why this blog is neglected, but mainly, lack of time! Raising 6 busy kids, juggling all the extra appointments, pumping exclusively around the clock for 4 hours a day, tackling all the house duties and errands, volunteering for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, and making a small income on social media keeps me from having any extra time. As usual, I have a dozen projects in progress at once!

Life is good, and we're all happy, but we're very stressed about this upcoming surgery. Honestly, it's consuming all my thoughts right now, and I know Grant and our older kids feel the same way. On one hand, we're dreading it, but on the other hand, we're looking forward to having it over, so we can move on, and fully enjoy our big family! 

I will share more details this week, but we're currently trying to get everything in order for our hospital stay next week. Some kids who have this open heart surgery are able to come home in just a few days, while others have complications, and end up staying longer. The surgeon told us to expect to stay a full week, maybe a bit less, maybe a bit more, so we have to prepare for the unknown. We are all very scared and nervous, plain and simple. Knowing that your tiny baby will be put on bypass is a hard concept to come to terms with, but we are lucky that we live close to one of the best hospitals in the nation.

Mom Blogger


Grant has been working from home since the pandemic shutdown in 2020. He had 3 weeks of paternity leave when Hayden was born, and now he is getting everything in order today and tomorrow with work, because he will have at least 3 weeks of paid FMLA. Because he works from home, he has the flexibility to drive Liam to school each morning. I have driven him to school a few times, and let me just say, it's TOUGH getting out the door with a new baby who wants to eat, a toddler who isn't ready to wake up, and an 8 year old still in a car seat! I am very grateful! 

Outside of work, Grant and I usually hang out with friends on Friday and Saturday nights (with kids, of course), and Grant takes one of our kids on a Saturday AM drive and shopping trip each week. Grant's vinyl collection, toy collection, and baseball card collection seem to get bigger each day, but it's the little things in life, right? 

The Lucky Few


I can't give a family update without including our furry family members! It is national pet day after all! 

Ella, our English Mastiff, is now 4. She is lazier than ever!

Beyonce, our Shorkie puppy, turned 1 just after Ella. We still love having a little dog again. She got her first official grooming today, and looks like a different dog!

Lexie's cat, Sadie, is still an a$$hole. Just keeping it real! 

Our indoor rabbit, Bernie, is still going strong! He is 5 years old, really big, and really sweet. Now that the weather is warming up, he will be able to spend some time outside during the day again!

Oh, and we have one lone snail. I have nothing to do with its minimal care, and I have never held it, but the kids think it's cool!

Pet Blog

Next up for our family:

  • Hayden has a pre-op appointment at the hospital on Wednesday. We should be there for several hours preparing for his upcoming surgery.
  • We are going to try to have as normal of an Easter as possible, just without church or a big family dinner.
  • Open Heart Surgery is on Monday.
  • Although I can't really think that far ahead yet, May is going to be a busy month! We have two chorus concerts, a Cabaret night, two field days, two field trips, and the last day of school is at the end of the month.

Now that we're mostly caught up, I'm going to jump into sharing some big events from the past few months, as well as Hayden's upcoming surgery and recovery.  I want to share US again, before I begin to share some new content on this little blog of mine. Thank you for your love and support over the years!

Pittsburgh Blog

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love hearing from you! Let's chat!!!