Under Construction: How Life has Changed

 

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I was reflecting today on how much life changes when someone becomes a parent and even more so how the change does not stop at child birth; with each stage, the child grows and the parent changes.

At conception, I grew in my passion, responsibility and intent to protect my unborn children. I witnessed a side of me that I had never seen before- the Mama bear. I was keenly aware of the needs of the “fruit of my womb” and there was nothing that was going to stop me in fighting for their lives.

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Photo Credit: Hayley Painter

At birth, I grew in love, and all that encompasses this word: sacrifice, friendship, and intimacy. I never knew this type of love; the love of a parent for their children. It is this love that grounds all future growth and is the “why” for each and every day.

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In infancy, my managerial capabilities were tested; could I pump, feed, bathe, cuddle, console, play and nurture five infants every day? We would see. We did, but not alone, and thus I grew in humility. I had to fight my pride and welcome- and rely- on the help of others. Still to this day, our family is living proof that it takes a village.

In toddlerhood, the challenges shifted to be more mental and psychological than physical. Yes, it can be tiresome to chase around five two-year-olds, but it is more challenging to teach and coach them through their new emotions, experiences and misunderstandings. It is in this stage that I took Daniel Tiger’s advice, “when you feel like you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four.” Between this mantra and my many parenting mishaps, I believe I have learned the value of remaining calm during chaos and calamity… unfortunately knowledge does not translate into skill very easily.

Today, we are in the preschool era. Being three is so very different than two. At three, children move with ease, can articulate what they are thinking and have a basic understanding of the world that they witness day-in and day-out. They are still naive to everything outside of their four walls but that presents caregivers with a priceless opportunity. Preschoolers are hungry, hungry for knowledge of all of the what, when, where, why and how of this world. It is a true joy to help a youngster navigate a new experience that you know they will remember with smiles in their heart.

Yes, I will not deny there are the threenager moments and mood swings; the “holes” in their oatmeal, the zipper that won’t budge, when they wanted triangles instead of rectangles, or even when all of the bubbles in the bathtub have come and gone. These little things that make the littles steam; it is in these moments that I pray I am able to remain calm and that my peace would transcend their anguish. It is these times that are preparing me for their true teenage years.

At the end of every day, I lie in bed reviewing the day- as I’m sure they do- recalling my good choices and my bad choices. I try to remind myself of the elementary lesson that bad choices don’t make you a bad person, or a bad parent for that matter. We are all under construction… works in progress… building, refining and polishing each other in each moment of everyday and in each stage and we all play a role in this process independent of our age.

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Trick, Treat, or Teaching Opportunity

Halloween can be a scary time for more reasons than the goblins and spooky ghosts. Halloween seems to kick-off the season of treats beginning with the tempting sweets that line the grocery store aisles. Many parents dread Halloween due to the amount of candy that their child drags home after a long night of trick-or-treating.  However, I am looking forward to this teaching opportunity.

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Many of you know that food, nutrition and overall wellness are near and dear to my heart. I love equipping and empowering people in their health pursuits… especially my children. Trick-or-treating is a great time to teach moderation. There is a growing body of research that encourages families to mark no food as forbidden. Ellyn Satter encourages parents to help their children to, “Learn to manage sweets and to keep sweets in proportion to the other food [they] eat.” Moderation can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it is a lesson worth learning. According to research, treat-deprived children often end up weighing more later in life due to hoarding forbidden foods. I appreciate these findings but also recognize that these lessons need to be age-appropriate.

At three years young, my kiddos still are led by their frontal lobes (aka Impulsivity) therefore, we have tailored the moderation conversation to one of “wants” versus “needs” and “wants” have a time and a place. Since candy and sweets are unnecessary “wants,” my children have never had any. We don’t have any in the home so, if they encountered a candy bar on the street they wouldn’t know what it is. This is intentional because I know the power of sugar and I also know the consequences. Sugar is a sweet and silent killer that is a great contributor of morbidity and mortality around the world. Because of this I often associate excess sugar with excess alcohol or even smoking. As parents, we are guides and guardians for our children. We are blessed with the opportunity to guard their hearts, minds, bodies and souls until they are able to “digest” the media and message and then tasked with helping to guide them through this muddy world.

This does not mean my children will never have the pleasure of candy; recall those that are deprived often become the secret hoarders. Instead, we will continue to be intentional about when, where, why and how we introduce these types of foods and experiences. I also feel led to set others up for success that is why we will continue to be the weirdo house on the street that does not handout candy, but rather an allergen free snack. There are also a host of other food and non-food alternatives including…

Non-Food Alternatives:

  • Stickers
  • Glow sticks
  • Play dough
  • Rings
  • Toothpaste/Floss/Toothbrush
  • Pencil/Erasers
  • Seasonal Post-it’s
  • Bubbles

Food Alternatives:

  • Gum
  • Granola Bars
  • Pretzels/Crackers
  • Popcorn or Puffed Corn

So, with moderation in mind may the force be with you as we forge into the season of sweets and continue to guard and guide our children in the days to come!

Looking Back at Kali Mae

Kali Mae is the most compassionate quint. She has a sixth sense for the needs of others and truly enjoys caring for her brother and sisters. She also has a special place for animals in her heart. She loves Papa’s dog, Holly, and enjoys going to the local petting farm to see all of the “cute” animals.

K-Mae is our little firecracker and the queen of temper-tantrums. It doesn’t take much to lay Kali out on the floor and send out that shrill, monkey screech. Her cure is typically an outlet for her anguish (stomping her feet, talking it out, etc.) or simple reassurance that it is okay to be angry. She is also the human emoji and has a collection of facial expressions for every occasion.

Kali’s name has ebbed and flowed over the years, but has settled on the originally Kali Mae. She enjoys a variety of nick names, including K, K-Mae and Mae. But, when asked what her name is, she now replies Kali Mae.

Kali has many loves, but the following are her favorites…

Her Favorite Animal: Piggy

Her Favorite Stuffed Animal: Piggy Pancake (featured in If You Give a Pig a Pancake), but you will also find her Moose (If You Give a Moose a Muffin), Minnie Mouse and Yellow Bears tucked in her bed with her.

Her Favorite Animated Character: Peppa Pig

Her Favorite Show: Super Simple Turn and Learn ABC’s

Her Favorite Food: Anything sweet, but in all honesty she’s enjoys everything

Her Favorite Activity: Gardening

Now, here’s a look back at Kali Mae’s second year…

Kali at two years…

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

Looking Back at Isabella Marie

Isabella Marie is three! As we look back and ahead at our Bella-Bean, it is clear that Bella is the most creative, artistic and imaginative among the five. She can entertain herself for hours with intricate story lines. She is a social butterfly, but truly enjoys her alone time.

Bella also appreciates order; “A place for everything and everything in its place” truly describes Bella’s space. Her room may appear to be a mess, but it is perfectly imperfect in her eyes.

She also appears to be the “popular” girl among the V5 and tends to rule the roost. The only card that will trump Bella is Theo; He has a special place in her heart of hearts. Also, since Bella (Felix) and K-Mae (Oscar) have been rooming together they also have become besties. It warms our heart to see them playing hand-in-hand and caring for one another’s needs.

Bella is the opposite of “even keel” and often unpredictable in mood, opinion and action. It’s also difficult to pin her favorites but we’ll try!

Her Favorite Animal: Seal

Her Favorite Stuffed Animal: Truly her Fuzzy blanket or Her Ginormous Brown Bear

Her Favorite Animated Character: Lambie from Doc McStuffins

Her Favorite Show: Doc McStuffins

Her Favorite Food: Avocado

Her Favorite Activity: Snuggling on Daddy’s lap

Now, here’s a look back at Isabella’s second year…

Bella’s at two years…

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

Turning the Corner

Time continues to roll by; days turn into weeks, weeks into months and now months are quickly turning into years. At some point in the last few months, the V5 turned the corner. One evening, they went to bed little squirmy wormy caterpillars and woke up beautiful butterflies. We have truly witnessed our babies’ metamorphosis into little people.

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They are verbal and becoming more articulate; all can mumble through the ABC’s. Their coloring and writing skills are becoming more and more impressive; all can spell their names. Most often you have to rearrange a few letters but they’re all on the paper. They are becoming more independent with each day; all are day-potty trained. They are scary-mobile. I recall keeping them down off high equipment at the park and back from ledges knowing that their little bodies would keep them from doing what their minds were determined to do. But, now, now I just wince a bit as they jump from here to there, or climb as high as they feel comfortable and run as quickly as their legs will carry them. It’s amazing.

My favorite marker of growth, however, is the growth of their imagination. I love watching my children use their creative minds to make up games, stories and scenarios as they either play alone or with each other (rarity, but it does happen). Most of the time you’ll find…

Theo having some “boy-time” playing with his orange lam-bor-ghini and green tractor, heading off to Farm and Fleet.

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Bella playing dress-up and hurrying off to church, the grocery store or the eye doctors. She has the most elaborate imagination and will keep herself busy in her creative world for hours if we let her.

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Lily typically hovers around any and all of her siblings, wanting to play along or simply snatch the toy their playing with. It’s not malicious, only devious. She’s a little troublemaker. Her favorite scenarios these days are caring for her little koala (Uti) or mouse (Mousie) and helping them learn how to use the potty.

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K-Mae loves to write, draw and color. You’ll find her at the blue table writing her name, drawing shapes or coloring little yellow bears and piggies. When she’s not practicing her penmanship, she’ll be running around with Bella. Since those two became roomies a few months ago, they have been nearly inseparable.

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Ellie is a mover and a shaker. All of her imaginative play is as active as it can be. Her favorite games to play are “obst-cle” course and “bouncy house” where we rearrange the couch to be a huge square for her to bounce around in. It was a real treat when the Whitakers’ borrowed us their real bouncy house.

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When Rosie is all tuckered out, you will also find her snuggled up with her entourage of stuffed kitties and a pink blanket.

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It is ever so hard to believe that they will be three years old in two weeks. The transition from toddlerhood has been real physically, emotionally and socially. We have truly watched them turn the corner and are now excited to watch them head down the road to new knowledge, skills and adventures.

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Bouncing into Spring

Spring is an amazing time of new beginnings, shedding of winter’s layers and welcoming new life. The V5 are enjoying every minute of exploring our new backyard, the neighborhood and all of the flowers and plants starting to poke their heads from the ground.

We formally welcomed Spring at the Madison Area Mom’s of Multiples Spring Fling. The kids had a blast at the Open Gym with all of the trampolines, mats, parallel bars, obstacle courses and toys. We now adoringly call the open gym, the Bouncy House. We, however, picked up a nasty bug at the event and riding on the fun memories, giggles and smiles that we shared last weekend to carry us through. Here are a few of our faves…

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Isabella is Cruisin’

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Lily in her Bug

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Theo is in his Little Deuce Coop

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Pedal to the Metal Ellie Rose is gone in a Flash

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K-Mae was swerving with authority and a smile

Video Clips:

Bouncy House Fun…

Obstacle Course Run…

K-Mae’s Obstacle Course Run…

The V5’s Got Hops…

Theo escorting Ellie Rose…

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.