Tis’ the Season for Social Learning

We are now a month into the school year and have finally found our routine. The children absolutely love school. If they had it their way, they would go everyday. They enjoy their teachers and the opportunity to teach Dad, Nana and Mom all that they learn each day. It did take a few weeks to understand the concept of friends. I think it was likely because they already have a social unit. But, now I’m proud to say that each has at least one friend they look forward to playing with each day. They also have learned all of the names of the other children in their class.

Their favorite week yet was the mojo week where each day of the week was an opportunity to dress up with crazy hair to tye-dye to their pjs.

IMG_3076

IMG_3077

IMG_3091

It has been a true blessing observing their social growth in just the last few weeks. I also love to hear the songs they are learning, how they are able to use their scissors more effectively and write their names in the right direction 80% of the time.

My greatest challenge remains helping them to transition to school and back home from school. Getting in the car and then out of the car with minimal yelling, threats and tears is a victory. This is a social and emotional learning opportunity for all of us.  I am learning that less is more and that my directions need to be simple, calm and clear… without threats. It is a work in progress.

IMG_2929

The kiddos have also joined karate! We were reviewing all of the extra-curricular possibilities and landed on martial arts because of the many benefits for developing focus, discipline, respect as well as an outlet to for gross motor development.  The experience has already provided a number of new mentors for the kids, as well as, consistent language to foster reverence for adults and one another. Their class is a mixture of white belt levels and kids ages 4-7 years and thus also serves as a great modeling opportunity and even more friends!

We are very excited for all of the opportunities that this season of life has served up! Major growth is ahead!

IMG_3121

Advertisements

Off to School

Today we celebrate the Vanderwall Quintuplets first day of school. We had no worries about being late since all five have been giddy with excitement since they first received their 4k notice in the mail; all were up and had dressed themselves by 6:30 am. In all honesty, we did experience a few wardrobe snafus and fashion faux pas but all easily resolved.. They gobbled down their oats and were eager for their photo shoot.

At School

About 1,000 pictures later, we hopped in the van and headed to school. So many memories were captured within those 5 minutes while we dropped them off…

  • Kali, Ellie and Bella bee-lined it to their cubbies. Took off their back-packs, hung their coats and took their take-home folders to their teachers. Theo wished each sister farewell and Lily grabbed all three for a family hug.
  • In Theo and Lily’s classroom, Theo was amazed at all of the boys and Lily kept saying how much fun today was going to be.
  • We almost made it out tear-free but, on our way out Ellie caught a glimpse of Daddy and needed one more hug.

Looking back

On the way home, they were eager to learn what the others’ experienced. While they maintained the same daily schedule, the individual activities were different. Bella, Ellie and Kali decorated hats and Theo and Lily took a class picture. Bella was proud to share that she made a new friend who helped her put her coat on. Everyone’s favorite part of the morning was playing at recess. All are looking for another day tomorrow.

We are experiencing nothing but pure joy in the Vanderwall household today. We are so proud of our little miracles!

 

 

 

 

 

Bye Bye

Lined up

Lets go

Summer, wherefore art thou?

Every August, as Labor Day approaches, we ask ourselves where has summer gone? Time is now flying by at a rate that far exceeds any in the past. These last two months were filled with fun, adventure, milestones and memories. And… I’ll let our pictures tell the store of the summer of 2017!

The V5 were featured on Valley Perinatal Services’ Blog

1 year family photo

Our posts included a special thank you to our miracle-working, perinatologist Dr. John Elliott. In case you are wondering, this individual is who Ellie is named after and her inspiration for one day becoming an Astronaut Physician… who is also a “cat lady;” her words and her dreams.

Lily Said Tata to her Tonsils and Adenoids

This was an adventure, milestone and now a memory. We discovered that Lily had sleep apnea earlier this year and finally had her T&A in late July. She had a rough recovery and needed a second operation the first week in August but now has completely healed. She also finally has her voice back, too! The rest of the V5 were especially supportive to her and now we have a bunch of otolaryngologists running around our home removing tonsils and adenoids on a daily basis.

Enjoyed their 1st Amusement Park- Little Amerika

Nana B, Papa Brett, the quints and I took a little drive to our local amusement park and enjoyed the afternoon speeding in circles.

 

Swimming Lessons

Swimming this summer was very impressionable! The munchkins were divided for the first time during swimming lessons this year: Theo, Kali and Ellie were in one class and Bella and Lily had their own classes. Bella loved the space to explore independently, however Lily did not enjoy it. This was a lesson for Mom and Dad in planning for 4-k this fall that Lily benefits from a buddy. All in all, it was a solid experience and all advanced!

Fam in Pool

The V5 took on Four

We are four weeks into year four and very excited for preschool which will be starting on the 11th of September. Theo and Lily will be sharing a class and Kali, Bella and Ellie will be in their own class. Thank you all for the birthday wishes and for helping us celebrate our miracles.

IMG_2820IMG_2821IMG_2822IMG_2839

 

Explored Pope Farm Conservancy’s Sunflowers

Looking Back at Theodore Joseph

Big brother, Theo, got lucky that “cool blue Tuesday” comes before Purple Princess Wednesday and didn’t have to be number five in this series. While, I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded; he has saintly patience. I’m confident he’s going to be quite the gentlemen.

theo3

He is empathetic, compassionate, and can spot distress from across the room. Whenever, I need it most, Theo’s there at my knees giving me a squeeze and tells me that he never runs out of hugs; my heart melts every time.

He is also Mr. Smarty Pants and has started to help teach his sisters all that he knows. His language, inquisitive nature and critical thinking amaze me; they are beyond his years. As you will see in the video below, he is also quite literal.

Theo also has a silly side and loves to be imaginative with “his girls.” I’m looking forward to watching Theo grow as he starts school and meets other boys his own age.

Now, a look back at Theo…

Theo at Three Years…

Theo at Two Years…

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

Looking Back at Ellie Rosie

This year we’re going backwards, giving baby girl Ellie Rosie the chance to be first. She is small but mighty, we knew this from the moment we “met” her in the womb. She is our little firework.

ellie-e

Elliott continues to love her kitties and all things pink. She also is quite the chicken whisperer and overall animal lover. Her all-time favorite cat continues to be Marie, from the Aristocats, and Bootsy (grey cat) is a close second.

She also has the biggest sweet tooth of the bunch; she loves Daddy’s milk and almonds (aka Original Soy Milk and Cocoa-dusted almonds).

She also truly has the most fun. I love watching her love life, it is an inspiration to me to slow down and play with my Rosie.

Here’s a look at Elliott Rose’s third year…

Ellie at three years…

Ellie at two years…

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

Transitions…

You don’t have to tell me that change is hard. I have trouble eating something different for breakfast each day; I’m the queen of routine. The last few weeks have been especially difficult at home; So much so that we needed to put our heads together to figure out the reason for the increase in whining, tantrums, regression, and just plain cruel behavior. Once we started reflecting, we realized how many changes the kiddos have incurred in the last month. They have started to independently get dressed (picking out clothes to putting them on), wiping themselves, saying goodbye to Pull-ups at naps, starting swimming lessons at a new location, and the biggie- bidding Uncle JD farewell as he continuous his academic and professional journey in Chicago.

IMG_2355 (1)

What is it about change and transition that is so hard?

We are creatures of habit and change takes more energy, especially emotional and mental energy. Pediatric behavioral specialists believe the primary reason is because it requires that we stop something we enjoy and feels comfortable, in order to, do something very different that we need to do and may not want to do. Many of the negative consequences related to transition, even simply transitions like leaving the park or putting away a toy, require intense emotional management. Since strong emotions like anger, anxiety, frustration and sadness require practice to explore and manage; young children simply haven’t had the time or experiences to learn how to do it well. Our youngsters often look to us- their parents and caregivers- for tips on managing transitions; if we throw tantrums, they will, too. I often catch myself whining, complaining and throwing a pity-party from time-to-time and this negativity is as contagious as the common cold. I try to remind myself that like most things in life, prevention is the best medicine.

How can we help?

Create boundaries with freedom. We all know that people thrive in routine; perhaps because we have the comfort of predictability. I have found that if I set boundaries, create a structured schedule or routine and then grant freedoms within the structure, the kiddos flourish. For example, we eat and sleep at the same times every day but, what we do between these marker-activities is up to the children. Another example, we enjoy four different food groups at every meal: Protein, Grain/Starch, Vegetable and Fruit, but the V5 get to collectively- or individually- decide what we eat.

Prepare for change. We often give several countdowns to transition such as 15-minutes until clean-up time or 5 more minutes in the bath tub. If we’re at the park, they also always know that they get “one-more-thing” and after the last thing, we head to the car. These countdowns are more difficult with big changes, such as moves, starting school, surgeries, etc. From my perspective, you don’t want to start mentally preparing children too early where it can breed anxiety but also want to allow for adequate time to process. Any suggestions from our readers?

Transition Tunes. Life can be better as a musical. Certain activities lend themselves to a soundtrack such as cleaning up toys (clean-up song playlist); we love Daniel Tiger’s Clean, Pick-up, Put-away song. We also sing songs as we head upstairs for nap. We are always open to new tunes, so send them our way.

Visual Cues. It often amazes me how disoriented our children are to the days of the week. Nana B created a color chart for us which has a color for each day of the week. Each of the V5 has their own color and thus their own day. We try to celebrate each day by wearing the color of the day:

  • Lucky Lily Green Monday
  • Cool Blue Dude Tuesday
  • Purple Princess Bella Wednesday
  • Red Rosie Thursday
  • Orange-You-Glad-You’re-The-Only-Boy Friday
  • “Play-doh Rose” Pink Saturday
  • K-Mae Yellow Sunshine Sunday

It truly lends itself to a colorful wardrobe and the children have learned the days of the week. Frank also added little pictures of Nana, Uncle JD, himself and I to the chart so they would know who their primary caregiver was for the day. This was uber-helpful and cut-down on the number of questions each day.

Consistent Consequences. This is a difficult strategy for us. We have our go-to consequences based on our stoplight approach:

  • Green Light: you get a smiley at the end of the day. After three smileys, you get to pick from the prize bucket.
  • Yellow light: Verbal warning and a 2-minute time out
  • Red light: 2-minute time out and lose a toy

But, what happens when they earn several red lights? Or, the caregiver becomes so weary that they can’t keep up and thus be consistent. This is where we struggle. When the number of bad choices outweigh the good, it is tough to remain positive and thus reward the good choices with verbal praise, stickers, etc. I think this is when it’s necessary to let the little lights shine and truly make a big deal out of the good choices so, they can encourage more good choices but also fuel positivity so we all don’t become frowny brownies.

IMG_2184

Catch Quality Zzzz’s. Quality, routine sleep is definitely good medicine for physical, mental and emotional health. Life can get in the way of adequate sleep but it is well worth shifting priorities to achieve it.

 

Summer Snapshot

We love summer because it means we get to get outside and spread out! The backyard not only presents ample opportunity to burn off that infinite energy but also is an amazing classroom! The lesson plans write themselves as we stumble upon goofy looking bugs, chirping birds, and dodge rainstorms. Our new flock of hens has also fostered the children’s interest and love for animals, as well as, their care-giving skills. Ellie, Lily and Kali are truly the farm hands in the family.

Before the summer runs out, here’s a snap shot of each before they turn four in 3 three weeks!

Fam in Pool

Conductor Theo steering Thomas the Tank Engine home. Theo continues to be the intellect who loves to read, investigate and question. You can often find him nestles in on the couch with a stack of books. This little explorer loves to ask why and continues to be fascinated with space, dinosaurs and more recently cars.

ConductorTheo

Our Dreamer, Ms. Bella is the most imaginative. She can relay the most fantastical story, make a figurine out of a fork and write a song in an instant. And… she LOVES her Daddy!

bean.jpg

I love this photo of our Fearless Lily. It articulates exactly where she’s at in life with the gash on her forehead, chewy tube around her neck and a whole tomato in-hand. Lily is a lover; she is the first to say hello and the last to say goodbye. She is also a serial hugger; one just isn’t enough for Lily.

Lily

Kali-Meh, our little Emoji, is anything but “meh.” The emotions run strong in this young lady. She throws a serious tantrum but also exhibits the most empathetic concern for others.

image1

Ellie Rosie is our little mother hen. She seriously may be a chicken whisperer; she is the only one that they will coo for when she snuggles them. When she’s not in the chicken run, she will likely be bouncing on her hippity hop or cuddled up with her litter of kittens.

er.jpg