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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Cabin Fever

There is a cabin fever epidemic in our household. We are quite thankful that Spring is upon us because we cannot wait to get outdoors!

We tried to make it outside throughout the winter, but the quints’ affinity for snow and cold varies on a wide spectrum. Ellie Rose took on Frosty and loves to galavant through the snow; she anchors the scale at the “love for snow” end point. Mr. Theo dislikes all that snow has to offer; thus anchoring the other end of the spectrum. Kali Mae is our mid-point; She enjoys sitting amidst the drifts catching snowflakes and munching on a snowball. Lily and Bella are a bit more free-spirited and can tolerate it for a bit, but then quickly want to go indoors. Needless to say, our snow experiences typically last about 20-25 minutes, or half of the amount of time it takes to prepare.

How we are treating cabin fever and getting our crazies out…


Everyone, however, loves to be outdoors when it’s warm. We trekked to the park in our neighborhood the other day for the first time. It was very cool to watch our 29-weekers climb the play structure with ease, run around the park, swing on the swings, and best of all get dirty! The V5 are not, typically, fond of getting messy. If they have a drop of water- fondly known as a Dibble-dop – on their clothes, they demand a new outfit. But, when we left the park, everyone had dirty hands and mud stains; it was a true milestone! We look forward to many more mud pies and grass stains in the future.

V5 in their Spring Gear

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Lily and Turtle

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Ellie and Her Kitty

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Bella, Nana Bear and Mr. Walrus, fondly known as WusRahl

 

The quints also made their first appearance at Sunday School last week and loved it. They learned a new song, made new friends and didn’t shed a tear. We are very excited to watch them grow in their social skills, as well as, learn about God’s love. They were also very excited to get dressed to go to church!

 

The V5 in their Sunday Best

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Ellie, K-Mae, Lily, Bella and Theo

 

We (Dad, Mom and Nana B) continue to try our best to stay a step ahead of our crew physically and mentally. It is evident that our bunch needs consistent challenges that stimulate them intellectually and outlets to get their crazies out physically. We welcome suggestions for challenging the V5. Right now, we are:

  • Reading like book worms
  • Practicing writing our names, numbers and shapes
  • Singing songs
  • Learning our ABC’s and 123’s
  • Building towers and puzzles

 

Theo reading the “Dot Book” to Lily

We plan to start:

  • Practicing with scissors and making more necklaces to improve fine motor skills,
  • Gardening to foster a love for getting dirty, and
  • Getting out and about to increase opportunities for social interaction.

 

The Habituation Hypothesis

Christmas and New years have both come and gone, and 2015 is upon us. This holiday season flew by faster than in previous years, and I have closed the case on the vanishing holiday season. I have confirmed six reasons why the days seem to pass in the blink of an eye: Theo, Bella, Lily, Kali and Elliott. The sixth reason is a bit more scientific- the “Habituation Hypothesis.” This hypothesis is based on the fact that human brains use an abundance of energy everyday, and as we age the brain looks for ways to conserve energy. One way it conserves energy is by placing daily routines on auto-pilot; these may include emptying the dishwasher, driving to work, or changing diapers. This adaptation makes time seem like it is passing much more quickly since fewer unique moments are being recorded by the brain. When we are younger, everything is new; when you become a parent, everything is routine.

This realization made me want to slow down these special years by creating more unique moments, or “elevating our daily experiences.” The following are a few snapshots of cherished memories of this winter season…

 

Our Lead Nudest (video)-

 

Theo & Bella loving their new Teddy’s from Grandpa and Grandma-
Teddy Love
Kali’s rendition of Shake it Off and the V5 showing off there physiology skills (video)-

A sneak peek on how we keep our house so clean (video)-

Kali showing off her favorite Christmas present from Uncle JD- Pandy-
Kmae & Pandy
A very Vanderwall Christmas morning (video)-

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving all of the V5 enjoyed the holiday fare!

Bella&Gpa_CheeseburgerWith a mouth full of choppers they enjoyed the feast, along with cherished family memories and their own rendition of football.

It was a difficult 24 hours preceding the holiday celebration due to our first visit to the E.R. via ambulance. Poor little Lily’s nervous system kicked into hyperdrive during lunch on Wednesday. We learned that she has a pretty nasty U.T.I. and some of the bacteria may have snuck into her bloodstream. When this occurred her body sounded the alarms and all of her blood rushed to her central organs leaving our poor little lily-bug blue as can be and short of breath. This- apparently- is common response in preemies.

Gpa&LilyTrying to stay as calm as I could, I called 911 and our local Fire Department and paramedics were at our home in minutes. They asked upon entry if I needed to call any parents of the kids I was caring for (thinking they had walked into a home daycare); I kindly told them they were all mine. The other four behaved wondrously as we took care of Lily. Once Nana B arrived, Lily and I were off to the E.R. where Daddy met us. After one night’s stay and a big-dog antibiotic regimen, Lily is on the mend.

On a happier note…at their last check-up we learned that everyone has “caught up” and the medical team no longer has to adjust for their gestational age. The V5 are now just shy of 16 months and are all within in one inch of one another in height but vary in weights.

  • Theo is now 30.5 inches and 25 lbs.
  • Bella is 29 inches and 19 lbs.
  • Lily is 30 inches and 20 lbs.
  • Kali is 29.5 inches and 22 lbs.
  • Elliott is 29 inches and 20 lbs.

The latest milestone news is that everyone is now a bi-ped and are now walking!

Mr.Theo

 

Ellie Rose

 

Kali

Kali got her wheels about 2 weeks ago now and Lily just started walking this past week.

 

We are very thankful for good health, family and friends this holiday season!

Tailgate Pic V5

One Small Step For…

The V-5 are now 1 year and 2 months and just 2 weeks away from their due date. Since their first birthday we have been witness to milestone after milestone, including first steps!

 

Mr. Theo can now:Quints-59

  • Cruise along with a push-along-walker,
  • Stand-up by himself,
  • Stack cups and blocks,
  • Match colors,
  • Place rings on a pole, and
  • Throw a ball.

No real words yet for Theo but he can rattle off a host of consonants. He also can recognize the word ball.

 

Ms. Bella Jumping Bean can now: Quints-4

  • Cruise with a push-along-walker,
  • Pull herself up and stand,
  • Remove her bib and shirt,
  • Throw a ball,
  • Dance like a queen, and
  • Point at things and people, especially those that she thinks should get into trouble.

Bella is great a monkey-see, monkey-do and will mimic most actions. No words yet for Bella, but she is definitely the singer in the group.

 

L.G. can now: Quints-60

  • Pull herself up and stand with assistance,
  • Match colors,
  • Point at things and people,
  • Throw a ball, and
  • Make the sign for milk.

Lily also knows a host of consonants and her favorite is Da, Da, Da, Da.

 

K-Mae can now: Quints-3

  • Pull herself up and walk slowly with a push-along-walker,
  • Collect similar objects (puppets, chewy tubes, clothes),
  • Stack cups, blocks and rings, and
  • Play peek-a-boo.

Kali loves to rattle off consonant sounds and certainly knows the word, “no.” Needless to say, she’s our little trouble-maker. For those that know the Pigeon and Duckling books…she’s our little pigeon.

 

Sweet Ellie Rose can now: Quints-36

  • Stand up along and… walk!
  • Collect similar objects,
  • Point and pull things, and
  • Place objects into a box and remove them

Elliott is the quietest quint, but when she is excited she loves to squawk and repeat consonant sounds.

T.I.K.L.E. at One Year

The stages of infancy fly by, often times I don’t recall specific days, but rather specific moments. It is these moments- these memories- that still give me goosebumps and have left footprints on my heart. Milestone stages at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months give me a reason to reminisce.

How do we spell love? T.I.K.L.E.

T is for Theodore

Theodore Joseph

T is for theo2

I is for Isabella

Isabella Marie

K is for Kali

L is for Lillian

Lillian Grace

L is for Lily

E is for Elliott

E is for Ellie

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Another special thank you to Hayley for the beautiful photos that she took of our children at 3 and 12 months. She is a very talented photographer. Her talent and patience are divine!  Be sure to check back at her homepage for more Photos by Hayley.

First Year Stats

The numbers are in! The V-5 tolerated their one-year check-up like champs.

 

fam photo

 

Here’s how they weighed in…

Theodore Joseph- “Theo”

  • Birth Length: 14.5 in
  • Current Length: 28.8 in
  • Birth Weight: 2.87 lbs
  • Current Weight: 23.2 lbs

Isabella Maria- “Bella Bean”

  • Birth Length: 15.7 in
  • Current Length: 27.6 in
  • Birth Weight: 2.49 lbs
  • Current Weight: 17.5 lbs

Lillian Grace- “Lily Bug”

  • Birth Length: 14.6 in
  • Current Length: 27.9 in
  • Birth Weight: 2.69 lbs
  • Current Weight: 17.8 lbs

Kali Mae- “K-Mae”

  • Birth Length: 13 in
  • Current Length: 28 in
  • Birth Weight: 2.29 lbs
  • Current Weight: 20lbs

Elliott Rose- “Ellie Bellie”

  • Birth Length: 14.9 in
  • Current Length: 27.6 in
  • Birth Weight: 2.41 lbs
  • Current Weight: 18 lbs

 

The kiddos also were featured on Madison’s local NBC station (WMTV-15). Check out the story and video at:

http://www.nbc15.com/home/headlines/Vanderwall-quintuplets-turn-the-big-1-270422081.html