Abundant Love

On the doorstep of Mother’s Day, I am in my typical reflective state. Memories are overflowing in my mind; the laughter, the joy, the growth but also the tears, the tantrums, the opportunities for future learning and development. I have ruminating on the behavioral difficulties in the present stage of life and was having trouble pin-pointing a cause until yesterday. I attended a local strategic thinking summit related to poverty, hunger and health education and the leader mentioned that the root of the issues is the scarcity mentality. Something clicked in my brain and now I believe this is also at the root of the issues in our household.

What is the Scarcity Mentality?

Psychology Today published an article on the mental implications of scarcity; The author investigates what happens to our minds and how does this impact our behaviors when we feel we have too little and concludes that scarcity establishes a playground for envy. In a big household, where the sibs share everything- including the same birthday- it is easy to see why there may be an innate drive to be the “fittest” and a natural urgency to collect, store, indulge, and remain in the proverbial spotlight.

We made and make efforts to allow each of the V5 to be an individual; while this is good and was founded in good intention, I believe it may provide fodder for the rivalry. For example, each quint basically has their own brand… Lily loves green, is the biggest fan of the Paw Patrol by far and is known for her collection of horses whereas Ellie is the family’s “cat lady” and has not lived a day in her life in any color except for pink. Again, I believe this is good, it provides a source for identity but has it also promoted a sense of scarcity? Are there limited favorite colors, animals, favorite hobbies, etc? I’m uncertain on how they view this but am also curious if they perceive a scarcity of Daddy’s attention, special time with Mom and warm and fuzzy snuggles with Nana.

In my study on scarcity, I also learned that it can propel individuals to action. When there is abundant time then there is no urgency to learn, explore and achieve. So, how do we preserve the benefits of scarcity while encouraging an abundance mentality?

What is the Abundance Mentality?

Dr. Stephen Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, shares that the scarcity mentality is a “zero-sum paradigm” and that individuals who are rutted in this mindset have a difficult time sharing both recognition and power whereas the “Abundance Mentality” is a product of personal security. This alternative mentality is the paradigm of plenty with enough to share. This security permits the sharing of self and resources to benefit the greater whole, the team, the family.

Every parent who knows love – agape love (Psalm 86:15; John 3:16) – knows that it can be given and received infinitely to a child; it is unconditional. Love is a universal language which surpasses our understanding. A mother’s love starts long before conception and truly never ends. I believe it originates when one is a little girl and she finds joy in taking care of another. I want my children to know this at the core of their beings. Mommy will always love them.

How can we foster Abundance?

Like other parents and caregivers, I want my children to know who they are, that they are loved and that there is enough of most things, whether it be what’s for dinner, toys, crayons, etc. to go around. How can we foster the abundance mentality in our homes so we can help our children to identify the appropriate time for competition and teach them to see win:win solutions? Leaders in this area suggest the following:

  • Model Appreciation. Say please and thank you and mean it. Demonstrate the value that we have in others for what they say and do.

 

  • Remind ourselves and others that there is more than enough. In the day and age of social media, comparing yourself to others is an epidemic but it can be stopped with a choice. We must stop the envy, the peeking at the “greener” grass next door, and embrace a culture of inclusion and attitude of gratitude.

 

  • Seek Opportunity with Optimism. Be the “glass is half full” person that people like to be around. Choose to see hardships as opportunities for progress, not unattainable perfection.

 

  • Be the Change. I love this quote made by Gandhi in years passed because of its truth. We need to give more of what we want. Our children are constantly watching and learning. We can foster gratitude and abundance by giving; giving our time, talents and treasures away.

 

In closing, I wish all of you mothers and blessed Mother’s Day filled with smiles, happy tears and memories that will last a lifetime.

 

 

 

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When I Grow Up…

The V5 recently did a unit at school about Community Helpers and the idea of work, having a job and growing into a profession have started to make sense. I love hearing about their “career” aspirations and views on life. At present, Theo wants to be a police officer when he grows up because he wants to drive a police truck and keep people safe. When sharing this, he always states that his teacher also said that he can change his mind if he wants. It is also important to note that he is heavily considering becoming a paleontologist or aerospace engineer.

Bella’s recent surgery has truly had an impact on what she wants to grow up and she has truly taken to being a doctor. While I find it hard to see Ms. Bean battling through the sciences and physics- I still see her using her creative talents in the arts- I admire how she wants to “help make people healthy.” Who knows perhaps she’ll prove me wrong and use her steady hand and artistic talents to become a surgeon?

Ms. Lily Grace wants to be a teacher so she can tell people to listen to her. We try to explain to her that there’s more to being a teacher than having people listen to you. This apparently is the most obvious role of a teacher in her classroom. I will add that Lily’s teacher shared that she is a delight and one of the best listeners – along with her brother- in her class. Lily continues to grow into the most considerate and compassionate little girl, as well as, a true socialite, I believe she will be in a service field, too.

Kali Mae has taken great pride in being the sole quint that has not had surgery and has truly been quite well through the onslaught of seasonal illnesses. Therefore, she has been called upon to be a caregiver in the last several months. While she is a natural caregiver, instinctively seeing needs, she also greatly enjoys being a little boska and instructing her patients on the best way to care for themselves.

Ms. Elliott Rose continues to have her sights set on becoming a “cat lady.” She recently added that she wants to own a salon where she can take care of all of her kitties and put bows on their tails. She remarks that you will always know when she’s coming because you will hear her kitties. I’m holding out for greater professional goals. Ellie has an affinity for movement, rhythm and puzzles so, we will see where this takes her.

At the age of 4 ½ years, I share all of this tongue-in-cheek while loving to capture their life perspectives at every age and stage.

Other fascinations include reading, writing, money and the inter-workings of everything from time to sunburns (most of these questions immerge right before bed-time). Now, that all five have mastered the sounds of individual letters, we have observed them “sounding out” words, “letter by letter.” Teaching and observing this process is amazing to me. Reading and writing are huge milestones in my mind because they are gateways for communication. They unlock a whole world for understanding. I am so excited to watch my children continue to grow into book worms and budding authors.

The V5 also received banks last year, they were previously used for storing their most precious tinier than tiny toys (i.e. Hatchimals, Shopkins, etc.) but now they have started to understand money as currency and have loaded their banks with pretend cash and coin. I’ve also caught them exchanging these funds for goods. They also have come to understand that another reason why we work is to make money. This learning has helped them to better understand why Mommy, Daddy and Nana have to go to work.

Finally, my favorite fascination at present is their inquisitive nature about how things work. While Theo is by far the most curious about inter-workings, the girls are growing in their curiosity. The best is when Theo stumps us all with his questions and we have to look it up. I believe this demonstrates that 1. It’s okay to say I don’t know, 2. The practice of looking answers up, and 3. We are all still learning. I just prefer to learn during daylight hours and not the minutes before bed-time.

 

 

Offering Thanks on World Prematurity Day

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This week we honored world prematurity; Offering gratitude to those who walked with us, served us and cared for us on our journey from birth at 29 weeks and one day to four years old. We too easily recall all of the sad conversations that were had, scare tactics used and doubters early on. But, we also recall the reassuring love, guidance and strength which we heard much louder. Throughout the month of November each year, many draw their attention to the life-saving research, treatments and support that give every baby a fighting chance.

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Giving thanks to the one above!

We felt that the V5 were old enough today to participate in thanking those who were critical in their survival from Dr. John Elliott and his team at Banner Desert to the elite NICU staff at Meriter. We honored world prematurity day by perusing their memory boxes, watching their first year videos, visiting the Meriter NICU to offer our thanks and enjoyed a special lunch!

Another day to praise Him for our blessings and thank His angels here on earth!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Explored Pope Farm Conservancy’s Sunflowers

Looking Back at Bella

Isabella Marie will be leading us into the quint’s birthday tomorrow. Big Sister Bella is a take-charge kind of lady. Her charismatic personality often lands her in the leadership position. She is quite considerate in this role and rarely abuses her power.

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Bella bean is truly our creative artist. She rattles off a tune easily in her beautiful sing-song voice and often sings her and her room-mate (Kali) to sleep each night. When she’s not singing, coloring or drawing, she is usually dreaming up some drama-filled scenario with her animals or princesses.

This one takes princessing seriously; her appearance and fashion are important to her. She is also quick to judge so, put on your thick skin when Bella is around. Lucky for her, she often gets away with pointing out others’ insecurities using her cute giggle and charming smile; Kids do say the darnest things. I must say that this is a rarity; she is as sweet as can be and is very sensitive to others’ needs.

Now, let’s look back at Bella over the last year…

Bella at three years…

Bella at two years…

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