Get Well, Stay Well

Starting school is truly a milestone and stimulates a child’s body, mind, heart and, well, immune system. The chill of Fall and Winter air in the Midwest, reins in not only the holiday season but the flu season. This year, we felt the cold, dry air earlier and thus were tossed into the trenches earlier. Experts have noted that this flu season (2017) has been worse than in years passed and will peak at Christmas. This is a relief for a Mom of five- knowing that reprieve awaits.

I swear we have all had the sniffles since that first week of school, but the last 6 weeks have been especially bad. From croup to the latest 24-hour stomach bug, the V5’s immune systems have been challenged. This warranted a post for other parents who are sick and tired of being sick and tired. While the young ones appear to be somewhat energy-immune to runny noses, fevers, seal-barking coughs, malaise and nausea; it is a good sign to me that they still want to run, jump and play. One knows it is bad, when all their child wants to do is snuggle.

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What can we do?

  • Practice Hand Hygiene. Teaching children to wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water at transitions in routine at an early age is very important. Pausing when coming home or inside from playing and always washing before meals and snacks can be a great protective strategy. Viruses enter the body through the nose, eyes and mouth so keeping hands clean coupled with keeping hands clear of these body parts can keep the cold and flu viruses out.
  • Don’t Share Germs. Kids are notoriously not good at sharing, except when it comes to germs. Teaching children to not share their straw, cup, silverware, napkin, toothbrush, etc. can be helpful. Also, teaching them to cough and sneeze into their elbow [Vampire Sneeze] can protect others around them. Washing bed sheets, blankets and those favorite stuffed animals and toys weekly can also help to keep their beds from becoming a breeding ground for bad bugs.
  • Stay Active inside and out. Most don’t have to tell kiddos to move but it can be hard to maintain summer activity levels in the winter chill. However, research supports that moderate physical activity can cut cold and flu occurrences by 25 to 50% by boosting the immune system and increasing the circulation of the body’s natural cellular defense. We have found that the Just Dance, Indoor Recess, and Go Noodle are a great way to get our kids’ blood pumping. Also, indoor obstacle courses, hide-and-go-seek and of course bundling up to get outside are all great ways to stay active year-round.
  • Catch those Zzz’s. Inadequate sleep can increase a person’s risk of getting a cold or flu by 200%. Most infants and toddlers need 11-15 hours of sleep each day and preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours. This is collective between evening and naps. While sleep needs do decrease with time, most adults still need 7 to 9 hours each night.

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  • Eat your Vitamins. There are an abundance of over-the-counter immune-boosting supplements but nothing beats getting your vitamins and minerals from solid food sources. Many know that Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to keep the body healthy. Amping up vitamin C from citrus fruits, berries, melons, tomatoes, leafy greens and broccoli. Many may not know that zinc has been shown to decrease the length of colds and help to prevent illness. Adequate zinc is also important from lean meat, chicken and seafood, as well as, beans and nuts.
  • Make a Flu Shot a Family Affair. This may be a controversial suggestion because many believe their vaccinations do not help or actually make them sick. This is unproven. Some feel ill after getting the shot because the body is bolstering its immune response. It also takes 2 weeks for the vaccination to provide protection so, if an individual encounters the flu virus or a cold within those 2 weeks, the shot is not to blame. We feel that the shot is much better than 2 weeks of the flu.

So, those are just a few suggestions to help stay well during the cold and flu season.

If and when we get sick, getting well is the priority to keep the duration of the illness as short as possible. During these days, rest and rehydration are tried and true. Well wishes to all!

 

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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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Fall Fun

The Autumn chill is here, the leaves have fallen and 2018 is nearly here! I’m uncertain if it’s because the kiddos are in school now but the weeks are passing by at great speed. I was determined to post about our fall fun before the first snow so, here we go!

This year for Halloween there was a unanimous vote that the V7 would become the Paw Patrol!

There was no question about who would be who; all assumed their roles naturally:

  • Frank as Ryder, the Patrol’s fearless boy leader
  • Theo as Marshall, the kind-hearted fire dog
  • Bella as Chase, who always has her nose in someone else’s business
  • Lily as Everest, the playful snow pup
  • Kali as Tracker, this girl’s spirit animal is a hound
  • Ellie as Skye, because we can’t keep her from flying
  • Cassie as Katie, pet spa owner charged with keeping the pup’s squeaky clean

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This was also the first year that the troop partook in the Halloween booty. Besides being determined to find more “trick or treating friends” than last year (see video below), our crew wanted to know all about this mysterious candy.

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So, at every house they had more than enough questions for our neighbors about their treats. It also was no surprise that they tried to rack up as much candy as their favorite colors. We needed to exercise caution due to Ellie’s allergies but found some new faves for her, too. I was very proud of how our children handled Halloween. Upon coming home with a heavy load, they each selected 7 pieces and enjoyed them over the next week before turning the rest in to our local dentist for a prize pack.

Then, November hit and hit hard and I’m certain we have been sick with 3 different viruses over the last 3 weeks. The latest is croup; all of the ladies have fallen and Theo is standing strong. We are pulling for his perfect attendance at school and hoping he stays well!  Poor Ellie got the more rare spasmodic croup and had a short stent in the emergency department.  Luckily, she has grown into one of our best communicators and directly informed me that she needed to go to the doctor. Her spasms resolved quickly after a nebulizer treatment and steroids, as well as, her first cherry popsicle.

Amidst the sick days, the girls miss school and all of their friends. The V5 have grown to love school and their teachers. Theo has also started to play with other boys at school, which is tremendously exciting for Mom and Dad. He was so proud to share that he played Super Heroes with another boy at school and got to be Batman!

Their faves of the season are writing their names and favorite words, doing arts and crafts with Nana, playing legos with Daddy and helping Mom in the kitchen. Our little sous chefs made sushi a few weeks back and Theo and Bella loved it; the others were less fond of the seaweed. Overall, they continue to be strong eaters and are beginning to grasp mindful eating. I’ll openly admit that this summer we battled with a period of sneaking food but once we invited them to start preparing and portioning their own plates this resolved. It was a great lesson for me to take back to the clinic.

A final fave that warrants a special call-out is karate. All are enjoying their instructors, the positive reinforcement and physical challenges that come with it. Lily and Theo are now both masters at Star Block 1 and Ellie is a high-kicking master. Kali and Bella are still growing into karate but share that they like the running and calisthenics.

Next up for the V7… school photos, parent teacher conferences and family photos!

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…