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…

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.

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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 Lillian Grace

Our sweet, sweet Lily Bug is a very kind soul. She continues to love to help; she assists with everything she’s able to including making meals, sweeping up, caring for our chickens and folding laundry. Her best stuffed friend remains her koala, Uti but she also has fond affections for her lion, frogs, and owls (her little hooty hoots).

Her other favorite past-times include using her strength to bull-doze the other quints and is quite the Lil-instigator. Our Lily Linebacker has a fierce Lily-lean. She also is our Y.O.L.O. and is one of the most daring, acquiring battle scars and bruises on a daily basis. When she’s not bruising, she’s snuggling

She has recently taken an interest in photography. She loves using my phone to snap pictures of objects around the house and has quite the artistic eye. I also will find 20+ pics of Uti on my phone if I’m not careful to put it away.

Now, let’s take a moment to look back at Lily’s last year…

Lily at three years…

Lily at two years…

If you really want to turn back the clock, check out Lily’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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A is for Astigmatism

It was only a matter of time before the children of Harry Caray (aka Frank) needed glasses, granted my poor vision didn’t probably help either. In fact, researchers have found that if both parents are near-sighted, the child has a 33% chance of also being near-sighted. This is the case for Theo, Bella and Elliott. We learned at their latest eye exam that all are near-sighted and have astigmatism.

What’s Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is caused by an abnormal curve of the cornea, or the outer region of the eye. Technically, it’s a refractive error because the shape does not bend light correctly. Their optician stated that their eyes look more like footballs versus the normal baseballs. In order to see clearly, light needs to be bent by the cornea and the lens of the eye before it reaches the retina.

How did we know?

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Since the V5 were premature, we have been seeing an eye doctor annually since birth. The early examinations were quite medieval and used an odd contraption to keep their eyes open during the exam. Now, the visits resemble an adult visit where they complete a variety of vision tests near to the eye and far from the eye. Then, the eyes are dilated (takes 30 minutes) and the back of the eye or retina is examined. The dilation is necessary to evaluate astigmatism.

In the end, you will receive a “score card” describing the prescription for the right eye (“OD”) and left eye (“OS”). It starts with the “spherical error,” or whether the child is nearsighted (can’t see faraway) or farsighted (can’t see close up). A positive sign indicates farsightedness whereas the negative sign indicates nearsightedness. The higher the prescription the worse the vision. The “Cyl,” or cylinder numbers describes the astigmatism and the “Axis” indicates which way the astigmatism is oriented. Finally, the “Add” section is used for bifocals.

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Getting Gear

There are several companies that make child-proof glasses. Our insurance company covered Miraflex and after 2 weeks, they’ve proven their worth in not only correcting vision but withstanding some trauma. You can choose from a variety of shapes and colors. Of course, our 3 chose their favorite colors: blue. purple and pink; they’re true to their brands.

First Impressions

When trying on the glasses in the optical shop, we observed different reactions.

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Theo was excited for his new gear, Bella appeared quite upset and slightly confused and Ellie was unsure. I believe its important to recognize these feelings as simply feelings and help children to understand that glasses are just like medicine and they can help to heal your eyes just like medicine does for the body.

The first few days required a lot of reinforcement.

image3For example, Theo thought it made sense to hide his glasses in a tree in the yard for almost a whole day. Many thanks to Nana for tracking them down. On the other side of the spectrum, Ellie’s words after putting them on were,”I can see you Mom!”

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Bella has also grown to love her glasses and has come to recognize how much they are helping her.  While it first it was disheartening to learn of their vision problems, it warms my heart to see how much better they can see and thus experience life now.

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V5 at their Dental Appt with Dr. Cece and her crew