I can’t explain it, but there is some innate, motherly, compulsion,need, desire to force my kids to pose nicely in their Easter clothes.  More often than not, this event results in a very patient dad who kindly obliges his wife and tortures his kids, 3 restless and bored children and ultimately a disappointed mom who is stuck with 30 pictures of her kids in their clothes, and yet not one where they are all smiling.  To top it off, we are then late for church…

This year I decided to try something different. IMG_7138

I asked Scott if he would mind setting aside some time earlier in the week so we could dress the kids in their outfits and take pictures at the park… I was hoping that by doing it earlier in the week we could remove some of the stress from Easter morning and also perhaps in a relaxed and fun setting, we just might capture a few good pictures in the process.

I couldn’t be happier with the results. 


We got a shot of all three of my children smiling! 

But wait, that’s not all… we even got some individual shots of each kid.  IMG_7070



And if that wasn’t more than a mom could every hope for… we even got a few, fun candid/artsy shots as well.




Seriously, I couldn’t ask for more…took almost 3 years, but I finally got the shots of my three children that I’ve been hoping for.


It’s been 2 years since I began writing “Life At The Circus.”

2 years and 654 posts

2 years, can you believe it?  

I can’t.

When I look back at my first posts, I laugh at how much my life has changed… and how much it hasn’t. 

It’s the end of the month and I gotta tell you, my fridge looks pretty much exactly the same as it did here two years ago. 

And sorry to say, my gardening habits haven’t improved much either.  My plants are better off taking a dive off the back deck then testing their luck with me as their care taker. 

What has changed?

  • Well, my kids have grown.  Goodness, sometimes you don’t realize it when you look at them day in and day out, but wow… have they grown over the past 2 years, or what?  This picture was taken 2 yrs ago this week…I think the girls demonstrate the most dramatic change of the 3.  


  • And now we’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of the newest circus cast.  Folks, today marks 31 weeks!!  That’s right…9 weeks left till baby number four officially enters the circus. 
  • My readers have increased.  It’s funny… those of you that blog, will I am sure be able to relate, but numbers are a funny thing.  Sad to say bloggers often find their worth and their purpose in numbers.. as in stat counters (of number of people that visit your site daily) or number of people who subscribe to your posts via some sort of reader, or probably the most important number to bloggers… the number of comments received.  This number gives a blogger great joy or great discouragement on any given day.  I am happy to say that since my debut, I now have more people reading my blog and commenting on a regular basis.  To those of you who took the time to not only read, but to respond via a comment over the past two years, THANK YOU!  You have no idea how your words have lifted my spirits and brightened my day. 

But, one thing I have learned over the past two years, is that I don’t blog for the numbers.  I am fairly certain Life At The Circus is not going to top the charts in the blogging world.  I will not be quitting my day job to publish a book and people aren’t flocking to me begging to pay for advertising space on my side bar.   In a lot of ways, I am just another mommy blogger sharing her life on the world wide web. 

So, why do I blog?  Why do I spend time almost daily writing my thoughts and anecdotes and posting them for others to see?  Why do I spend a precious portion of each days nap time visiting the blogs of people I’ve never met to read their thoughts and anecdotes and to respond by commenting? 

The short answer?  Because I enjoy it.

Those who have gone before me, have said these years are fleeting.  Look at how my family has changed in just 2 years.  It seems like just yesterday I had 3 under 3… now, I have 3 potty trained children!!  I know that when my kids are old and grown, I will not say, “Gosh, I wish I had spent more time scrubbing the bath tub when the kids were little… man looking back, it was really grimy and if only I could get those days back…”  So, as I capture the mess and the fun, the mundane and the silly of this stage of life,  blogging helps me to focus on the joys of each day, on the moments I want to savor and hold onto and treasure. 

I think so often the world sees Christians as being perfect or as having to appear to be perfect.  And it is my goal to present to you, the real deal, with no facades.  I hope that when you come to the circus, you see the real me.. in her Indian head dress tee shirt with her trashed van and her dusty screens.    And as you see me and my many imperfections, I hope you see that despite the fact that I do not have it all together, I am very, very content with my life.   In fact, truth be told, I love it!  I love the mess, the noise, the chaos, I love it all.  (Ok, truthfully, the mess does get under my skin and I have been known to snap at my kids to pick up their junk again before I throw those toys away)….  but I really do love my life at the circus.

Thank you dear readers, for sharing this journey with me.  Thank you for your words of encouragement.  Thanks for letting me know I am not alone in my struggles.  I am so thankful for those of you I have gotten to know through blogging… some are people I kind of know in real life, but whose friendship has deepened b/c you take the time to read and respond to my thoughts… some of you I never knew before blogging and now I count you as some of my dearest friends, some of you I knew “in a past life” and thanks to face book, we’ve stumbled across each other and our blogs and our friendships have reconnected, and some of you are dear family who stop by to catch a glimpse of your grand kids or great grand kids or nieces and nephew… each of you are precious to me. 

If you haven’t added me to your reader yet, what better way to say happy blogaversary, than by doing so now

On Friday night we took advantage of the aquarium’s last discount priced Friday night of the season and enjoyed some family fun.


We took 293 pictures during our 3 hours at the aquarium.  From those we narrowed down 42 keepers.  IMG_6742

And from those, I have the difficult task of dwindling down some for the blog. IMG_6877

The kids favorite part of the evening was the dolphin show. IMG_6853

Scott and I were mesmerized by the new Jellyfish exhibit. 



I easily could have spent more time watching them. 


According to my son, there were 2 types of fish we saw that night.



Not Keepers

Every time we saw a little fish he’d say, “That’s not a keeper!”  And anytime we saw a big fish, he’d get so excited and say, “There’s a keeper for sure!”

IMG_6918 Good thing there was a thick wall of glass between us and the python.


Big brother provides a help up for a better view!IMG_6808

I think the sharks were everyone’s second favorite attraction.  We truly enjoyed standing and watching them swim by.  Again… so thankful for that glass!


And the now traditional, classic aquarium family shot.


Notice any change from our visit 2 years ago?SHARK!!

I am linking this post up to the Wordful and Wordless Wednesday carnivals.

Ever since my son dawned his shin guards and cleats for the first time, his little sister has been eagerly awaiting her opportunity.  She’s watched longingly from the sidelines, eagerly taking the field during half time, yearning for her chance to tear up the field. 

Last fall during his practices, she would call me coach and ask me to assign her drills.  I’d have her dribble the ball up and down the field, shooting under a bench as her imaginary goal. 

Unlike her mother, athletics come natural to her, and she seems to have been born with an innate competitive spirit.  During her gymnastics class, she would race through the circuit, literally passing kids on the balance beam always assuming her job was to beat the person in front of her.  I had to explain to her about waiting and taking her turn.  I knew that she would tear it up on the soccer field when she had her chance.  She was destined for greatness. 

Today at 12:30 was her first soccer game.  

Since we had church in the morning, we knew we’d be cutting it close for game time, but we made it right at the start of the game. 

Wahoo!!  I was so excited to watch my girl tear it up on the soccer field.

IMG_7018 Apparently, warm ups are critical for 4 year olds.  Ya know to mentally prepare…. b/c she was not ready when we, ahem, threw her out on the field. 

And so, she stood there.   With her fingers in her mouth.  And a few tears.

IMG_7012 Daddy went out onto the field and tried to give her a pep talk, while the game was literally going on beside them.


He even tried running around the soccer field, getting her to chase him, thinking maybe if she warmed up a bit, she’d be ready to go after the ball. 


Seriously, does he deserve the role of Dad of the Year or what?

Of course as soon as he was back on the sidelines and the game was in play, she was back to standing and sulking.


But, he made progress.  He got her to look at the ball at least.


And after doing that for awhile, he convinced her to walk toward the ball.  IMG_6995

We couldn’t however convince her to run.  Have I mentioned my daughter is slightly strong willed?  Once she has set her mind one way, there really is no deterring her.  And she had decided she was not playing soccer today.

And no amount of pleading, cheering or cajoling on the sidelines could convince her otherwise.

She did kick it in twice though (when the coach gave her the free kick).IMG_6998 As a parent it was a bit frustrating to watch.  Because I know how much she’s been wanting to play and I know how capable she is.  But there was literally nothing I could do.  The ball hit her leg twice and bounced off while she stood and pouted.   I couldn’t make her play.    

IMG_7017 Thankfully the next game is later in the afternoon so we won’t be rushing from church, changing in the van, and scurrying onto the field.  I think that will help a lot.   Despite, the disappointing start, I have to say, I love my girl bunches.  And, hey, we can’t go anywhere but up from here, right? 

There is a huge pile of bamboo in our backyard waiting for a run to the dump on Saturday.  Until then, it provided the perfect landscape for my son to build a fort and play war.  He stayed out there for hours and was so proud of his camouflage. 


Unfortunatly, his gun kinda gives him away.

When I showed this picture to my husband I said it should be called,

“Be be vewy vewy qwiet, I’m Huntin’ Wabbits!


But my son piped up, I was not hunting rabbits Mom, I was warring.  (who knew war could be a verb)?

This just might be my fav of the afternoon spent in the bamboo pile.  Every soldier needs a good buddy. 


My daughter keeps asking me almost every day, “When are we going camping again?”  Our family loves to camp.  We enjoy it for many reasons… the dirt, the food, the family time away from home, and a cheap place to sleep while visiting our beloved National Parks

Scott and I have gone camping every year since we’ve been married, with the exception of one… the year 2004…when our first child was born.  We thought the idea of camping with a baby was insane.   Then in 2005 we went to Acadia, but were still nervous about the thought of tent camping with a toddler, so we got a cabin.  By 2006, when we welcomed baby number 2, we realized that we didn’t want to wait till all of our children were older to enjoy one of our favorite past times.

So, off we went on a camping adventure with our 2 year old and 6 mth old.


The next year we went with our 3yr old, 20 mth old, and 3 mth old.  We’ve discovered, camping can be done with small children and believe it or not, we actually enjoy it.

IMG_5850 (4x6)

not every moment was happyHere’s a few tricks of the trade we’ve picked up along the way.  I am not going to claim we’ve got it all figured out, b/c we don’t.  But I will say that despite a few set backs and minor fiascos, we’ve made some great memories and we keep planning more trips, so it must be working for us!

  • When we camp with small infants, we tend to let them sleep in their infant seats.   It keeps them warm and snug and they tend to sleep better.


  • Once they are too old for the infant seat, we bring the pack-n-play.Singing my baby sister to sleep

Disclosure:  I’ll just go out and say this right now, we aren’t minimalists when we go camping as a family.  We aren’t out to prove how rough and rustic we are.  We are out to have a good time as a family.  And that generally means you gotta have a good night’s sleep.  So, we pack any and everything that helps with that endeavor.

camping and WV 049

That’s right we bring the pack-n-play (or plays), air mattresses, radio and batteries with lullaby music, favorite stuffed animals and beloved blankies… all the comforts of home to make them feel safe and secure.

Gone are the days of minimalist packing.  This is survival folks!

  • I have found those little glow sticks to be a huge asset while camping.  You can get them at the dollar store.  I get one for each kid for each night and throw in a few extras in case you get a dud or two.  These work great as night lights.  The kids get pretty psyched about them, so I have also learned, the hard way, to give them to them a little before you tuck them in bed.  Otherwise, you’re tucking them in bed and then giving them a toy, which basically totally back fires.

  • Pack lots of layers, even in the summer.  It gets cold at night.  It’s always colder than  it is at home because at home your not sleeping outside on the ground.  At least I don’t think you are.  Pack winter hats for their heads, 2 layers of pjs, those footie pjs… especially if you are going in fall or spring.  If it’s July in MD, you can skip the hat… but seriously, bring a sweatshirt for the morning… trust me, it gets chilly. And cold sleepers are fussy sleepers and fussy sleepers equals a grouchy family.  Those sleep sacks work great for babies… they really keep them warm… Put a sleeper on underneath and a hat on top and you’re sure to have a warm and happy baby.

  • Be prepared… it’s the Girl Scouts way, right?  Bring the thermometer,camping and WV 019 and motrin, and for us, we always, always have to leave home with our nebulizer and meds… b/c it never fails, no matter how healthy we were before we left, someone almost always gets sick.  Can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to do nebulizer treatments in the van in the middle of the night.  (we have one of those ac/dc adapters… works wonderful for this… if you don’t have a kid with asthma, this isn’t a necessity… if you do, it is a MUST).

  • With toddlers, I have found the portable potty seat to be a huge help,  b/c sometimes you can’t make the walk to the bathroom fast enough.

  • Pack lots of baby wipes and bags (trash bags, grocery store bags, sandwich bags… really you can’t have enough little baggies) oh and paper towels.

  • Build a camp fire.  Loads of good memories are made around a camp fire.  Click here for a yummy dessert recipe you can make around the fire, in addition to the classic Smores.  IMG_6120

Making Pancakes Little breakfast tip… we have found those already cooked sausage links are awesome for camping.  I love the smell and taste of bacon as much as the next gal, but bacon takes forever to cook and is a mess to clean up.  Those little sausage links are so great, you just have to heat them, no worries about whether or not they are cooked enough.  And pancake mix is another great hit… the kind where you just add water, easy and yummy.  Mmm… perfect camping bkfst….. pancakes and sausage….

  • I think the number one rule I have found for camping is be flexible.  You are not at home and things aren’t going to go like at home.  Your schedules will be off.  I have found we always get back on track once we are home though, so don’t sweat it.  Your not going to eat and sleep at your normal times.  Nap time may occur in the car or in the backpack carrier.  Dinner will take longer and you’ll get dirty.   But for us, that’s all part of the fun.

IMG_5759Man, all this talk about camping makes me really wanna go… it’s not quite warm enough here yet though and I’m not so sure about sleeping on the ground (even if it is on an air mattress) when I’m 7 mth preggo… so perhaps we’ll hold off until summer.  Hopefully we get at least one night away over the summer before our trip this fall.

IMG_6178 How about you?  Any camping tips or memories you can share with the rest of us??

I am linking this post up on Works for Me Wednesday.

Ever tried to pack cupcakes in a lunch box?  It creates a gooey mess all over the sandwich baggie and takes all the fun out of eating it when your hands are covered in icing. 

I saw this handy little trick in one of my student’s lunches back in my teaching days. 

Take your plain cupcake.


Slice it in half.


Take a glob of icing.


Spread it in the middle of the cupcake.


Push it back together.


And now you can stick it in the baggie without worrying about smearing icing all over the place.

I typically set aside a few cupcakes each time I make them so my husband can enjoy one in his lunch.  Icing the middle of the cupcakes totally works for me when packing cupcakes in his lunch.