One Week Shy of 21 Months

The munchkins will be 21 months old in just 1 week and I wanted to capture how much they have changed with a few profile updates!

DSC02909Theodore Joseph

  • Nicknames: Theo, Mr. Theo, Buddy, lil Koala (he gives the best hugs!)
  • Favorite animal sounds: Woof Woof!
  • Favorite word/letter: Ooooo (must be a Wisconsin thing)
  • Favorite food: Banana (nana) or Cheese (Cheeeeez)
  • Favorite toys: Stuffed Bear and stuffed moose
  • Personality: Nana’s boy


Isabella Marie

  • Nicknames: Bella, Bella-Bean, Beanie
  • Favorite animal sounds: oo-oo ah-ah (Monkey)
  • Favorite word/letter: Is giggling a word?
  • Favorite food: Avocado
  • Favorite toys: Soft and cuddly toys (blankets, stuffed animals and even pipe cleaners)
  • Personality: Social butterfly


Lillian Grace

  • Nicknames: Lily, Lil, Lily-bug, Love-bug
  • Favorite animal sounds: Baa Baa (Sheep)
  • Favorite word/letter: Ma-Ma (Milk)
  • Favorite food: Milk and Meat
  • Favorite toys: Spoon and bowls (She loves to pretend that she is cooking)
  • Personality: Silly Lily


Kali Mae

  • Nicknames: K-Mae, Monkey, Monk
  • Favorite animal sounds: Meow (Cat)
  • Favorite word/letter: Kali has her own language and will babble all day to herself and imaginary friends
  • Favorite food: Kali is an equal opportunity employer and doesn’t appear to have a favorite
  • Favorite toys: Rubber bath toys
  • Personality: Daydream Believer

DSC02915Elliott Rose

  • Nicknames: Ellie, Ellie Rose,
  • Favorite animal sounds: Ney Ney (Horse)
  • Favorite word/letter: La-la-la (Ellie loves to sing)
  • Favorite food: Much like Kali, she loves a variety of foods
  • Favorite toys: Anything she can collect and organize (cups, blocks, dishes, animals, etc)
  • Personality: Independent Woman

What are the V5 up to?

A common question I receive is, what are the V5 up to?

2015_04, Easter, LAgain too many week have passed without posting… our days continue to be filled to the brim with work, learning and play. It’s quite difficult to believe that in four short months we will have 5 two-year olds running around and attempting to run the place. It is clearly evident that they are bound and determined to learn and explore all that is in their world. This may go without saying, but this exploration certainly includes investigation includes Mommy’s and Daddy’s boundaries. They have become quite the experts at pushing Mommy and Daddy just far enough to see what will “get our goat.” Yes, the “terrible twos” are upon us. These days are characterized by the stereotypical symptoms of this dreaded stage of toddler development:

  • Mood swings (See Exhibit A: “Lily Light switch”)
  • Temper Tantrums (Exhibit B: “Kali go boom” in the local Target when the cashier needed to ring up our bananas)
  • Conscious defiance (Too many exhibits to mention)

It would be easy to stay “here” in this perspective, and honestly dread what each day may bring. But, I prefer to challenge my thinking and explore how this stage can become the “Terrific Two’s.” When I remember that I do not have five malicious monkeys roaming about my home, but instead curious children who are learning how to navigate emotions, social situations, and new passions it is easier to remain engaged in the process. I welcome tips on how strategies to help my kiddos through this stage.

Kali's 1st Ponytail
Kali’s 1st Ponytail

As we ride this theme of exploration, the Vanderwall 5 have started to explore potty training. Isabella and Elliott have shown clear signs of readiness:

  • Physical coordination to be able to remove pants
  • Can sit down on the potty for at least two minutes
  • Mental recognition of when they need to urinate
  • Great disdain for wearing a wet and dirty diaper
  • Intrigue and interest in others’ bathroom habits
  • Demonstrates a strong desire for independence
  • Understands simple instructions related to potty training

Theo, Lily and Kali are still in the “Exposure stage,” where they are interested but not ready. As those who have potty trained before know, this process is not for the faint-of-heart. We have thought about trying potty training “boot camp” for a weekend (read more here), but can’t wrap our heads around how that would be realistic for 1) kids at different stages of readiness and 2) from a public health safety and sanitation perspective. We will mostly have to increase the intensity of our training with Bella because it is nearly impossible to keep that cute little butt of hers in a dirty diaper.

Theo’s 1st Hair cut

In other fun news, we are working our way towards the majority of two-year milestones.

Movement Milestones-

All of the munchkins have similar physical capabilities. All can walk, run, stand on their tip toes, carry several large objects while walking (toys, siblings and laundry!), kick and throw a ball, crawl up and down the stairs, and climb on and off of furniture. Yes, the five little monkeys jumping on the bed story is a reality in our home. We are still working on going up and down the stairs while walking with assistance.

Ellie loves beets!

Fine Motor Skills-

All are able to scribble spontaneously when they want to. Most prefer to explore the variety of flavors that come with each color crayon. We are still working on drawing a straight-line.

They are great at picking their toys up and building towers. They are also progressing in feeding themselves with spoons and forks (we are moving on from the feeding trough days and now are using bowls and silverware… oh, sophistication). We are practicing fine motor skills with a fantastic pinterest activity where you practice inserting pipe cleaners into a colander. The kids love it and it keeps their attention for 20-30 minutes. They are experts at building block towers, too.

Language Skills-

If you spend any length of time in our home, you may mistake it for a zoo. The V5 do not cease to amaze us in their acquisition of new words, especially animal sounds. They are able to recognize and impersonate over 30 animals. My personal faves are horse (ney ney) and fish (Kali has the cutest fish face you’ll find). They are able to recognize and point out a variety of objects and people by name. We aren’t able to say phrases, yet, but they can rattle off a variety of 2 syllable words and are quite the parrots and thus attempt longer words that they hear. When they can’t find the word, or the sign to communicate what they want or need they quickly resort to pointing and screaming… this staged-approach appears to be quite effective.


Cognitive Milestones-

The children are able to seek out and find hidden objects; this is a game they love to play with Nana B! They are great at sorting like objects and pairing shapes. We are still working on sorting by color. We even have a few who have begun make-believe play. Kali and Ellie love to sneak away into their fantasy worlds.

Social and Emotional-

As noted before, all of the kiddos are demonstrating an increased desire for independence and when they do not get it tantrums ensue. They don’t tend to show any signs of separation anxiety, but this is often because they always are with a primary caregiver, or each other. They love being with each other and recognize each other as separate from themselves.

2015_04, Easter, P

All in all, we are so very proud of how our five little miracles continue to grow, learn and develop before our eyes!