Look who’s turning two: Kali Mae

Ms. Kali Mae

Number four of five. The best word I can think of to define Kali Mae is goofy. You may recall her shenanigans of standing on her head, as well as, crab crawling backwards on her head. Today, she can stand upright and walk, but still runs around like a waddling goofball. She has the most precious smile and the sweetest blue eyes. These two attributes help to get her out of a whole lot of trouble.

She is definitely the little stinker of the bunch. If you ask, “Who did it?” Nine times out of ten the answer will be Mae. Which brings us to her name. We debated the name change as a family and publicly and believe-it-or-not, Theo closed the case. He started calling her Mae and it has caught on. Now, the only ones who call her Kali are Bella and her Mama when she’s in trouble. She also still goes by Monkey, too because that shrill cry is still her signature.

Ms. Mae does have a sweet side. Although she is rough and tumble- and at times looks like she just crawled out of a pig’s pen- she loves to take care of her stuffed animals and her sisters. I have a feeling that her in Theo are going to be the protectors of the V5. Theo is more of the intellect and Mae is the muscle.

I love you just the way you are, Ms. Mae!

Kali’s Second Year…

If you really want to turn back the clock, check out Kali’s First Year…


Look who’s turning two: Lillian Grace

Ms. Lillian Grace

The “middle” child, Ms. Lillian Grace. She is a silly Lily. She is a long-time resident of “goofball island.” With the blink of an eye, she will start gator-chomping and chasing after her siblings. She is also known to be a sloppy smoocher; watch out for her Lily Make-outs.

Lily is a sweet heart and consistently looks out for the needs of her siblings. She is the best at finding whatever they need or are searching for. However, if it’s meal or snack time, Lily looks out for number one. She is constantly on the prowl for leftovers. She eats much faster than everyone; eating by the fistful. She is going to be a tricky one to convert to mindful eating practices. After dinner, you’ll find Lily under the table seeking out scraps, as well as, a “maybe” or two. She is our family dog.

Lily is the most photogenic quint and is always ready with the perfect “cheeseburger” smile. Her crystal blue eyes can melt anyone’s heart, especially her mama’s. I love you, Lil!


Lily’s Second Year…



If you really want to turn back the clock, check out Lily’s First Year…

Look who’s turning two: Isabella Marie

Ms. Isabella Marie

Our little Bella jumping bean is turning two! The second born of the V5. She is the pretty, pretty princess of the bunch and certainly believes that she is the “fairest of them all.” A true Daddy’s girl. She has more than just her Dada wrapped around her delicate fingers. All of her siblings are at her beck and call. Whether she needs her blanket (be-be), her snow seal (ar-ar), or anything else out of reach, they are at her service.

Bella has the best rhythm of the bunch and loves to dance, sing and play the egg shakers. When the dinner bell rings, she is usually the last one to the table and the last one to leave. Her slow dining pace, often leaves her victim to the hungry hyenas- aka Lily and Kali- awaiting her leftovers.

She is also our little socialite. She loves a crowd flutters about the room like a true social butterfly. She is our little bossy beauty and we love every ounce of you, Isabella!

Bella’s Second Year…

If you really want to turn back the clock, check out Bella’s First Year…

Look Who’s Turning Two: Theodore Joseph

The V5’s second birthday is just around the corner. Join us in looking back at the many memories and how they’ve grown in the last year.

Mr. Theodore Joseph

Our firstborn. He truly is growing into his big brother role. While he can moan and groan with the best of them, he truly is a little gentleman. I think he takes role call as much as Mommy does; to be sure that all his sisters are present. He allows all of them to go outside, go inside, or up the stairs before him. Even when they get into little scrums, he rarely hits back.

This little guy is truly our boy genius. He is now able to carry on a conversation and is the most articulate member of our household. He can rattle off 3 and 4 syllable words with ease; his favorites being watermelon and helicopter.

His stuffed dog, brown bear, Nana and the color orange all hold a special place in this boy’s heart. He is looking more and more like his handsome Daddy everyday, especially with those striking blue eyes.

I am so proud of you, Mr. Theo! Happy Birthday!

Theo’s Second Year…

If you really want to turn back the clock, check out Theo’s First Year…

When Did They Grow Up?

I had a moment the other day, where I caught a glance of my son, and I thought when did he become a little boy? Theo was just sitting, calmly on the couch thumbing through one of his favorite books. I was speechless in both words and thoughts, honestly all I could think was… amazing. In pure amazement, I wondered when did my little 29-weeker NICU babes because little boys and girls? Then, I realized they have accomplished a lot in the last three months.


Bella Glamour



Ellie Rose

Potty Training Boot Camp

Ellie was enjoying camp way too much

The weekend of May 30th, 2015 will go down in history in the Vanderwall household. This was the week of potty basic training. Frank, Nana and I enlisted the V-5 and Elmo. We knew it was going to be intense, but did not know how exhausting it can be both physically and emotionally. We based the weekend off of Suzanne Riffel’s resource, entitled “The Potty Boot Camp: Basic Training for Toddlers.” We had to adapt it a bit, so one day I’ll released my own boot camp for multiples.

The schedule included four 4-hour boot camp sessions, where you spend 10-minutes off of the potty and 5-minutes on the potty. If there is an accident you have to perform drills, where you walk the child to the accident and then back to the potty 10 times. It is ideal if you can do it for 3 days straight, but we didn’t have the manpower to continue.

After Day 1 we had taken 130 trips to the potty, with 8 “Hits”, 17 “Misses” resulting in 170 “Drills” and 17 wet pairs of pants. Prior to day 2, we honorably discharged Theo and Kali. Day 2 resulted in 9 self-initiated hits, 13 hits and 10 accidents. Moving forward Bella was day-trained, Ellie was halfway there, and K, Lil and Theo were not ready physically. We were unable to sustain the schedule necessary to maintain the boot camp, so unfortunately Bella and Ellie relapsed. At this point, we are confident that they know how to use the potty and therefore when their bodies are mature enough we will all be ready. We are letting them take the lead from here.


First Trip to the Zoo


Our little munchkins love animals. They all have their favorites and are now able to call them by name versus the sound they make. Their favorites are:

  • Theo: Turtles, Rhinos and Dogs
  • Bella: Snow seals (unfortunately, this one still known as an “ar-ar”
  • Kali: Cats and Monkeys
  • Lily: Sheep and Dolphins
  • Elliott: Horses and Dragons

The zoo was an amazing experience for them. It was so cool to watch the expressions on their little faces when they saw how big, or heard, the animals in real life.

Ellie Dragon

Upgrade to a Toddler Table

We laid to rest the amazing 6-seat daycare table. We knew they were ready when they were trying to get in and out by themselves. That doesn’t workout too well when the table is 3-feet off of the ground. Now, they not only are able to sit and stand as they please but, they enjoy helping to set and clean off the table. Unfortunately, this does allow them to take others’ food and we consistently have to remind Kali and Lily that it’s not a buffet…poor Bella often retreats to hide her food in the bookshelf so her hungry sisters can’t find it.

Learning How to Use Their Words

Silly Lily ponies

At times it feels like we live in a household of parrots. Theo and Lily are truly the best parrots, or perhaps its because they can be the loudest. Kali, Bella and Ellie tend to be very quiet and only talk when they are in small groups or one-on-one. Theo, however, will hold on a conversation with everyone from himself to the mailman. The development of their language has also allowed us to offer them choices and explain consequences of their poor decisions. I love being able to offer them two choices for a variety of decisions. I am confident we avoid a large number of tantrums this way. Also, their understanding of language at this point allows us to sit with them in a quiet place and explain why certain behaviors are wrong and thus warrant consequences and others are awarded. We are trying to use this approach more so than time-out. Time-out is now reserved for little ones who need to be removed from a situation for their safety or the safety of others. I have to say that Frank is awesome at helping the kids understand why their behavior can help or hurt others.


What’s Next?

It’s hard to believe that the V-5 turn two next month. We continue to practice a military-like schedule with lots of active play. We have figured out how to incorporate learning into these active times and as a result the kids have mastered:

  • Animals,
  • Modes of Transportation,
  • Colors,
  • The first letters of their name,
  • Numbers 1-5 (Theo knows numbers 1-9),
  • How to go up and down the stairs,
  • Drawing and Coloring.

We are currently practicing:

  • How to use the potty,
  • Shapes,
  • ABC’s,
  • Counting 1 to 10,
  • Matching like objects,
  • Opposites, and
  • Learning to be safe in the water.

Theo loves his hat

Bella Pony

Lily Cheese 2

Kali Cheese

Ellie Cheese