Over the past few weeks, I have really noticed the bond between my girls growing and it has been so sweet to watch.  They seem to be off playing together quite often now and even started sleeping in the same bed at night.  As I look at these pictures of them together, I can’t help but cue up the song from “White Christmas.”




There were never such devoted sisters..


All kinds of weather, We stick together

The same in the rain or sun

Two diff’rent faces

But in tight places

We think and we act as one


For more fun with pictures, visit here or here. 

And if you haven’t entered my give away to help Sudan, click here.

I got a funny e-mail from my mom this morning.  She told me to set the DVR to record Rudolph tonight b/c apparently my 3 yr old needed a refresher in holiday pop culture. 

According to my mom…

“We were walking in the mall on Black Friday.  We went to the Build a Bear shop which had been transformed into Santa's Workshop for Christmas.  They had stuffed snowmen and deer and Santa bears.

I said to her,  "Look it's Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer!!"

To which she looked at me like I just grew 3 heads and said "A red nose reindeer???"  Really Grandma??”

The DVR has been set… wait till she finds out he can fly too!!

This post is being included in Mary’s Tiny Talk Tuesday.

For those of you taking advantage of the sales found online today, I thought I’d remind you about my Shopping for Sudan opportunity.   If you shop from Amazon.com, please bookmark my site and click on the (shop now) link on my top left side bar.  It will take you directly to amazon.com

Help me get the word out about Shopping for Sudan!   Tweet and or post a link on face book to my Shopping for Sudan post (Here is the link if you want to copy & paste it: http://lifeatthecircus.com/shopping-for-sudan/).  Then leave me a comment each time you do so, telling me you did and you will gain another entry into a give away for Go Fish’s Christmas CD Snow.  (a favorite here at the Circus Casa)

Feel free to tweet and post on face book as many times as you like for more entries.  Give away will end Wednesday Dec 1 at 12:00pm EST.  (but feel free to keep spreading the word long after that)


I have had a fabulous week.  We took the week off of school, and aren’t going anywhere but here.   This weekend we did some much needed, long overdue DEEP CLEANING.  I literally stayed in my PJs till 5:00 on Saturday and started in my bedroom cleaning and organizing till the dust bunnies under my bed were all sucked up by the Dyson!  (in the middle of this day when my house looked like a tornado hit, the breakfast dishes were still on the table and I was still in my pjs  my MIL showed up to take the kids for a few hours… a blessing so valuable and appreciated I swallowed my pride and opened the door so she could pick up the kiddos)

Sunday we watched the game snacking on BOGO free burritos from Chipotle and mini heath bars (in honor of our favorite TE Heath Miller).    Then we did a little more tidying, had a leisurely dinner and Scott even got some raking in. 

Monday and Tuesday were spent with the kids playing outside (it has been in the upper 60s-low 70s this week) and my catching up on things inside.    I have felt so behind this fall and by the time we got back from our fabulous Florida vacation, I really felt like I was hanging on by a teeny, tiny thread.   Between soccer and sailing on the weekends this fall and homeschooling during the week, topped with still not sleeping through the night, and gymnastics and cubs scouts on the weeknights, the house has slid further and further down the priority list. 

I feel so refreshed and so energized and so ready to welcome in the Christmas season now that I have finally been able to get on top of the house work.  It is like a HUGE burden has been lifted off of me.  And for this, I am so very, very grateful.

I am grateful for the chance to slow down this week.  Grateful for the chance to catch my breath and catch up this week.  Grateful for the chance to do some crafts with the kids and for the opportunities to spend time discussing what we’re thankful for.  Grateful for time around the house in our pjs, for getting to sleep in. 

Tomorrow we will entertain my parents, Scott’s parents, and Great Grandpa.  I am so excited to cook and eat and just savor the day with family and good food.  I love watching the parade, love how the smell of turkey fills the house and love, love, love me some mashed potatoes and gravy!! 

As I take a few minutes to sit on the couch and ponder this afternoon before quiet time ends and the kids and I get to work on a few more projects around the house, my heart is so full and overwhelming with thanksgiving. 

I am thankful for God’s grace and for Jesus Christ.

I am so thankful for these 4, very different, very active, sweet children who make me smile each and every day.  I am thankful for the privilege of being their Mom.  I am thankful for their love for each other. 


IMG_4858I am thankful for my sweet baby and the reminder he is to slow down and savor the moments. 

I am thankful for a husband who knows me better than anyone else, who knows my ugly sides both inside and out, and yet loves me more than I could have imagined and makes me feel so valuable and appreciated.   


IMG_1409I am thankful for friends that feel more like family and with whom I can be truly real.



I am thankful for our vacation…for the safe travels, health, and the fun memories we shared.


I am thankful for my parents and my in laws.  I am grateful for their relationships with my children.IMG_7278

I am grateful that Uncle Jim is home from Iraq and that we will get to spend Christmas with their family this year. I am grateful for a SIL whom I consider a sister and a friend.

“Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart, Give Thanks to the Holy One…”

How about you?  What are you thankful for?

It became quite clear to us that our little man was ready to try solid foods when he started opening his mouth like a baby bird anytime we were eating with him on our lap.  We couldn’t help but laugh when he started reaching out for Daddy’s fork, mouth wide open, just begging for a taste.


Here he is holding our Smores ingredients while on vacation… his poor pathetic face seems to be saying, “They aren’t even nice about it!”


Finally, this weekend we gave him his first taste of rice cereal.  IMG_6381

He kept reaching out to grab onto the spoon  and try and get more. 

I have to tell you that never, NEVER have I seen a baby so excited about solid food.  He literally waved his arms in the air and kicked his feet with glee.


I can honestly say that of all my babies, he truly enjoys food the most.  When I nurse him, he will actually pause and look up to flash me this big ol smile… it’s almost as if he is saying, “Thanks Mom!” 

And this was by far, the most receptive baby I have had when it came to feeding him “solids.”  In the past the first feeding has typically been more ceremonious, lets put the spoon up to your mouth, you can get a feel for the new texture, spit it back out and we’ll snap a hundred pictures or so of this great right of passage.

Not so with this one… true, he ended up wearing quite a bit of the rice cereal paper Mache, but part of that was honestly b/c he kept grabbing the spoon trying to shove more in.  He actually finished the entire bowl and by the end all 5 of us were smiling and laughing right along with him. 

It was a precious moment that I will cherish and a sweet reminder to take joy in each bite of life.

Every year I have high hopes for being on top of things in the Christmas season.  Last year, as hard as I tried, I was no where near on top of things.  In fact, my Christmas cards became New Years cards and weren’t even mailed till the middle of January. IMG_5114

This year, however, I have high hopes.  Thanks to a special promotion from Shutterfly, I have already designed my Christmas cards!  That’s right it is 3 days before Thanksgiving and my Christmas cards have been designed and ordered!!! I can’t believe it either folks.  (But have no fear, we are not putting up any decorations or playing Christmas music till Friday)

Check out these super specials that they have going on right now. (Bloggers can get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly: http://bit.ly/sfly2010) and for those of you without blogs, you can still save 20% off of your photo cards and 30% off of other cards)

I really like Shutterfly for Christmas cards because they have so many design choices to choose from.  IMG_3763It used to be all the photo cards looked the same, one family photo with your names printed at the bottom.  And this often posed a bit of stress to this circus mom, because how do you possibly find one picture that captures the essence of your family?  Or better yet how do you find one that doesn’t?  (b/c while the essence is quite often a photo like this, that is most definitely NOT the picture I want gracing my friends and family’s fridges this holiday season) (why oh why is it SO hard to get everyone to simply smile and look at the camera at the same time)  With the collage format, I can simply pick and choose a variety of pictures which show off the best side of each family member and put them all in one card.  Scott likes them b/c he feels Christmas cards should have pictures of everyone in the family, not simply a cute kid shot.  For the circus fam, these photo cards work for us!

I have to be honest with you and tell you that I am a big fan of Shutterfly.  I find their site easy to use and they offer great discounts and prices frequently.  In the past, I have used Shutterfly to make little photo albumns for each of the grand parents, the great grandparents, and even Aunt Karen.  They offer a great little 5x7 flip book that you can design yourself and they are perfect for sticking in your purse or putting on your desk at work to show off the grandkids.   This summer I even made big brother/big sister brag books for my oldest 3 after their baby brother was born.  I was able to design and order them in an afternoon and they had them within a week to show off to their friends and family.  Easy-peasy! 

Take a look around, they have some really cute gift ideas. I thought the luggage tags could make really cute diaper bag ID’s and the photo strips would make a fun gift for a child’s friend or a great souvenir from a vacation!

And don’t forget, if you’re a fellow blogger, you too can benefit from their 50 free holiday cards, simply follow the directions found here.




Notice anything different about his smile?


Take a closer look…


See it on the bottom right?  Say goodbye to his cute toothless smile.

My baby got his first tooth!!

We decided to add a little pizazz to our normal morning chaos as we got ready to leave for our tutorial today.  Since it’s the last day the tutorial is meeting before Thanksgiving, they had a Harvest Party at the end of the day and the children were encouraged to come in costume.

My son went as an Indian and his little sister went as a Pilgrim.  (costumes courtesy of Mommy’s costume bin from her school days… I was Pocahontas one year for Halloween and the “Pilgrim” dress  was actually a costume from a church play).

My 3 year old wanted to join in the fun, and as is often the case with this independent child, she wanted to add her own flare to the celebration.

“I want to dress up too, Mom” 

“Ok, what do you want to be, a Pilgrim or an Indian?”

“Neither, a kangaroo.”

Well of course, we all remember the kangaroo at the first Thanksgiving, right?  With no time to argue and no costume to offer as an alternative (a kangaroo some how seemed more appropriate than Queen Amidala) we headed out the door like this.


The shades make a nice touch, don’t ya think?


When a tour company approaches you as you board their boat offering the chance to back out with a full refund, a normal person would heed the warning, take the money and run.

But we aren’t normal.  Because we have a quest to visit every national park during our married life together.  And this quest brought us all the way down to Key West.  And we didn’t drive all the way down to Key West only to turn around and head 100 miles north without first taking a boat 70 nautical miles further west to Dry Tortugas National Park.

So, we boarded the boat with our crew of lil ones,  quickly bought some Dramamine and off we set for the Dry Tortugas!

The first hour was nice.  We ate breakfast, the kids met the Captain, did a little coloring… then, our 3 yr complained of her belly hurting.  We quickly got our supply of “bags” ready and spent the next hour losing our breakfasts.  The girls fell first.  With the 4 yr old having it the worst, followed closely by her Momma.  By the time we reached the island we were both covered in her puke.   The only one who was spared the misery was our 6 yr old.  Even our baby fell victim to the sea.  Scott held out pretty long, and truthfully, I think he was sick more from watching, smelling, and wearing all of our puke, than he did from actual sea sickness.

Ya know how on TV whenever they show women in labor, they show them angry and screaming?  Well, I am not one to scream in labor.  But, when sea sick, that is a whole other story…   Pretty much all I said during that hour was, “I’m sorry and thank you” to the incredible boat crew who kept helping us clean up and “We are IDIOTS… what were we thinking?” to poor Scott as we did our best to hold barf bags for our kids, hold our kids, and puke into bags of our own.  IMG_5835This picture was actually taken on the way home… when, with more favorable seas and a more timely dose of Dramamine, the kids slept and all 6 enjoyed a nice boat ride without feeling sick!

It was just as horrible as you might think and I wondered if the island could possibly come close to being worth the trek out there. 

IMG_5685Finally when we reached the boundaries of the park with the island in sight, our stomachs settled and we got a view of the paradise awaiting us.

Shell in the surf

Ft Jefferson was built on the Dry Tortugas in the 1800s to defend our trade routes from Britain.  Words can’t even describe how enormous it was and it truly blows my mind to think of how they got those bricks all the way out there and built it.  Here is a view of the inside of the fort.  They said you could fit all of Yankee Stadium in here.  It is massive!   And our son loved the fact that each “window’’ was intended for a cannon.Fort Jefferson

View through window of Fort Jefferson

A moat surrounds the entire fort.  We enjoyed our walk around it looking for wildlife swimming inside of the moat. 

Walking the moat around Fort Jefferson

We also enjoyed walking around the halls of the fort as well as the view from the top. 

Walking the halls of Fort Jefferson

Me and my little girlWe chose to eat our lunch at a picnic table by the shore.  Afterwards the kids enjoyed playing on the beach.  The water and adjacent islands were beautiful!  One island aptly named “bird island” had a cloud of constantly swarming birds going though there annual matting dance. Gymnastics at the beach

My son particularly enjoyed playing in the giant cannon (and pretending to fire his sister in it).

Ready, aim, fire!!!

During the boat ride home I was already telling Scott that the ride there had been worth it.  I guess I am glad we’re a little nuts! 

Our time at Biscayne National Park was funIMG_5410, but way too short.  We took a 3 hour tour (which thankfully turned out much better than the infamous 3 hr tour).   I think the kids favorite part was the 45 minute ride out to Boca Chita Island.   They described their ride out their as “the best rollar coaster ride ever!”  The wind was really blowing.  I thought it felt much like those super sonic hand dryers that look like they are ripping your skin off.

IMG_5416Once we arrived at the island, the first thing we did was climb the lighthouse.   The top of the light house provided you with a panoramic view of Biscayne National Park (most of which is the underwater coral reefs) and a view of the Miami skyline. I love our lil man’s expression… you can see it was VERY WINDY up there!






Biscayne NP Magnet

IMG_5497Once we finished with the light house, we spent some time exploring and playing on the island.  It was beautiful and Scott and I were quite frustrated to learn that we could have camped the night out there.  It would have been amazing, but unfortunately we learned too little too late.  IMG_5447




So, we made due with the time we had exploring and frolicking on the island before heading back to the main land.  On our way back we were able to watch the Blue Angels practice for an air show that weekend.  It was a lil taste of home!IMG_5457


IMG_4975When we arrived at Everglades NP it was shortly before midnight and raining quite hard.  Scott got out of the van to attempt to put up the tent, but when he remembered the top of our tent is open screen (which we then put a cover over after set up) he realized it would be futile as the entire inside of the tent would be  soaked before we even set it up.





So, we opted to spend the night in the van.

Both of us can honestly say we were surprised that it wasn’t as horrible as we thought it would be.  We were quite crammed in there, but we made it work.  My oldest son slept in his car seat, our oldest daughter crammed in on the floor behind the suitcase, the next daughter slept on the back seat, Scott and I slept up front and the baby stayed in his car seat within reach of us incase he should need to eat in the middle of the night.

The next morning we woke to a break in the rain and decided to hit the Anhinga trail as soon as possible before the next string of showers blew though.  This hike was by far our favorite part of Everglades and up there as one of the top fav events of our entire trip.  It was that beautiful.  We saw alligators swimming in their natural habitat and so many beautiful birds I couldn’t even begin to count them.  Literally, everywhere we looked we’d find a bird.  Scott had a great time photographing them.  Alligator



Donning the appropriate appearal

The poncho’s were a huge hit with the kids, particularly the girls.  They were SO excited about wearing them!


We took another short walk as well as a canoe ride later in the day.  We saw crocodiles and even watched an Osprey enjoy his fish lunch! 

CrocadileA crocadile has no match for this set of teeth.

We interupted an Ospray's  lunch

While we did encounter some rain at times during the day, they were passing showers and over all we had a fantastic day in the Everglades.  Thankfully, we were able to set up camp that night when it wasn’t raining and enjoy a good night of sleep.