Looking Back at E. Rosie (2019-2020)

Ellie, who is fondly called Rosie by mom and dad, is proving to be Mom’s mini-me. It is not uncommon for us to say the same things at the sametime and for our mannerisms to be eerily similar. While Ellie is the “baby” of the bunch, her BIG personality hides it well. She easily identifies her feelings and is able to articulate her emotions and her logic in a way that surpasses her years.

This little firecracker LOVES to move and is happiest when she is upside down doing cartwheels, round-offs, backbends or whatever new act is assigned in tumbling and cheer. Our Rosie is the most organized and determined quint and she will be sure you know it. She loves to lend a hand, especially when it involves outdoor chores, caring for the chickens, meal prep or sorting, however the result will almost always be in rainbow order.

Now, a look back at our Ellie Rosie over the last year…

Ellie at six years…

Ellie at five years…

Ellie at four years…

Ellie at three years…

Ellie at two years…

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


Looking Back at Kali Mae (2019-2020)

Kali Mae wins the drama mama award of the year! She is a bundle of amplified emotion; a feeler inside and out. While carrying all the feels, she is also a thinker. She is easily lost in her mind and able to think steps ahead of a situation.

She loves to lead and orchestrate plans whether it is a dance routine with her sibs or an eloquent tea party for her nest of Minnie Mouse friends. Our memorable Disney adventure this year was the trip of a lifetime for this little princess; everyday was a magical adventure.

Kali’s inquisitive nature and desire to lead will be sure to take her to great places!

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

Kali at six years…

Kali at five years…

Kali at four years…

Kali at three years…

Kali at two years…

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

Looking Back at Lily (2019-2020)

Lily Love-Bug is exactly that! She is a compassionate ball of energy who is up for anything. She is the most fun play-mate because she’s not afraid to be herself and accepting of whomever you are. Her personal mission in life is to make a new friend everyday.

Safer at home orders have been hardest on this little socialite but she finds freedom in her imagination, daily dance parties and Frozen 2 or Trolls World Tour musicals performed for all to see in the backyard.

When she isn’t entertaining, you will likely find her amidst an exciting Lion Guard portrayal or plotting her next invasion of Bella’s privacy. Her faves remain her little koala (Uti) and her ever-growing pride of lion stuffed animals.

Join me as we take a look back at Lily’s last year…

Lily at six years…

Lily at five years…

Lily at four years…

Lily at three years…

Lily at two years…

Lily’s First Year…

Looking Back at Bella (2019-2020)

Miss Bella is no longer the only princess in the bunch and thus has diversified with her new aspiration to be a pop star when she grows up! She remains a budding artist and continues to take her reading, art and writing quite seriously. She still cannot live with her assortment of white fuzzy animals including Tiny her ginormous bunny, Feliz her little puppy and Whitey a small white bear that she received when she graduated from the NICU step down clinic.

Bella also loves to sing, dance, and swim as well as continue create vast imaginary schemes. Now, a look back at Bella’s last year…

Bella at six years…

Bella at five years…

Bella at four years…

Bella at three years…

Bella at two years…

Bella’s First Year…

Looking Back at Theo (2019-2020)

While birthdays feel a bit different in 2020, our excitement to celebrate our five miracles does not.

Big brother Theo continues to lead his sisters by example. He is a budding gentleman who is still the King of Questions. He wants to know the what, when, where, but most of all the why and how. Digging, building, drawing, swimming, and playing Mario Odyssey or RBI baseball are among Theo’s favorite hobbies. His number one, however is playing baseball.

Theo and Daddy are baseball buds! If they aren’t tuning into the Cubbies on the TV or radio they are outside in Quintupletville Stadium hitting homers into the pool or playing some good old-fashioned catch.

Now, here’s a look at Theo at Six Years…

Theo at Five Years…

Theo at Four Years…

Theo at Three Years…

Theo at Two Years…

Theo’s First Year…

Change is the only constant in life

Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said, “Change is the only constant in life.”
We have all experienced significant changes over the last several weeks. We are familiar with change but, often only anticipated change such as the growing of our children, the changing of seasons and of course the dreaded time change. But recently we have all experienced changes which were unanticipated and have left many of us feeling confused, anxious, sad, and lonely.
As I reflect over the time of this pandemic, I see that it truly has only been a few short weeks but has felt much longer. It is also hard because we don’t know how long these “short-term changes” will last. We know that they are necessary to “flatten the curve” the changes were successful in doing just that. We also know because the curve is now flat that we are destined to long-term change.
It is too easy to dwell in the darkness and rehearse the sad stories over and over in our minds. I have heard that negativity is like velcro in our brains. We have to work hard to not think about the shortages across the world, the astronomical number of deaths and those who have died without anyone by their side, the lonely funerals, the distance between loved ones and the unknown future. It is much harder to rehearse the blessings in disguise. These are often like a fried egg slipping off a well-greased pan.
We need to practice gratitude and slow down enough to smell the roses and see the beauty that will rise again. With great tragedy comes hardship but I know that our lost loved ones, our economy, our country will rise again.
There is beauty amidst this darkness; like the opportunity to spend more time as a family. The time which used to fly by has slowed; days used to feel like minutes and now those same days feel like weeks. The weather is warming and many are seeking outdoor fun and a breath of fresh air. Organizations have had to think creatively and divergently about staffing solutions, shortages and strategies for the pandemic, this has brought about new leaders, teamwork and efficiency. Again, it is too easy to sit back and complain but much harder to take this change in stride as children do.
I have taken time to think about how my children have handled the last several weeks. They have grown accustomed to schooling at home and now love it! They have never complained about not being able to leave the house or not being able to go to the store. They have been flexible with the food we have available to us; while there was complaining at first this has become the new normal. They question out of curiosity but never argue with the answer that “this is how it is for now.” They’ve soaked up the extra snuggles, enjoying having everyone at home and look forward each and every day to the high fives and embraces that await when they reunite with their friends, their teachers, and loved ones.
So, I hope that all of us can take a moment to let go of the darkness and for a brief moment welcome in the light that our children so easily see. This too shall pass, the only constant in our life is change so, let’s enjoy each and every step by finding the goodness in each day. For without rain we would never see the rainbows.
Here are some of our blessings and memories from Quarantine in 2020…

The Most Magical Place On Earth

After nearly a year of planning, our family took on Disney with confidence, gratitude and sheer awe. The Disney experience is truly life-changing. From the built environment to the personalities of the cast members, they truly transform the world for kids of all ages. Our 8-day plan included a 4 park pass to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. We made sure to keep our park days manageable by getting their at rope drop and bowing out around dinner time each evening. This helped with the traffic and prevented major meltdowns. Since we were staying off property our fast pass opportunities were fair, especially because we were booking for a party of ten. But, it still helped to provide the necessary structure for our Disney Park agendas. At the end of the day, we were tired but not exhausted and after our 2-day respite we were ready for the remaining two parks.

Instead of rambling on about our daily itineraries, I’d like to tell the story in pictures, which starts of course with our BIG REVEAL!

My Favorite Things

“Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things”

Gratitude, gratefulness, thanksgiving, contentment; these are a few of my favorite things! Many keep a gratitude journal but I would challenge them to not only recount their grateful moments but to live them! Slow down life just enough to appreciate these moments before they become memories.


As I type this, it is a challenge for me, too! Many of my entries and posts are recollections because life whirls by us. This post is yet another account of my children and their favorite things because I know that too soon, these faves will be likes of the past.

Mr. Theo

He is outnumbered. This describes his life, his challenge but also his greatest gift. He has no one to compete with in our household simply because he was blessed with that Y chromosome. He shines bright- not only because he’s the only boy – but also because his patience, inquiry, maturity are far beyond his 6, well, I’m reminded 6 1/2 years. Here are a few of Theo’s favorite things:

  • Favorite Color: Orange and Green
  • Favorite Sport to Play: Baseball
  • Favorite Sport to Watch: Football
  • Favorite Team: Chicago Cubs
  • Favorite Hobby: Building… anything
  • Favorite Food: Chinese
  • Favorite Animal: Humans or more specifically homo sapiens
  • Favorite Memory: Going to the Cubs Convention with Daddy
  • Favorite Song: Go Cubs Go
  • Favorite Saying: Why?


She will forever be my Bella Bean but has explored a variety of identities this last fall… Isabella, Izzy and has come back to Bella. Bella remains the artistic Princess. She has notebooks filled with doodles, hearts, stars and of course the new love of her life… King Boo, or has she refers to him, “Boo King.” While it’s an odd pairing, it works! Here are a few more of her favorite things:

  • Favorite Color: Purple and White
  • Favorite Sport to Play: Cheer
  • Favorite Sport to Watch: Sportsball
  • Favorite Team: Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears and 49ers
  • Favorite Hobby: Drawing and Playing LOL dolls
  • Favorite Food: Chocolate Mint Ice Cream
  • Favorite Animal: Bunny, Lamb and well, Ghosts
  • Favorite Memory: Joining the Siwanatorz fan club
  • Favorite Song: I want candy by JoJo Siwa
  • Favorite Saying: “Sto-op, Mo-om.”


Lily-Love-Bug is exactly that! She is the most heartfelt, helpful and considerate little girl from 6a to 6p. If you catch her outside of her normal business hours, her sensitivities run high and so does her temperament. Lily continues to adore her little stuffed koala, Uti, horses and unicorns. She also loves to entertain with her Y.O.L.O. approach to life.

  • Favorite Color: Green, Teal and Black
  • Favorite Sport to Play: Gymnastics
  • Favorite Sport to Watch: Dance
  • Favorite Team: Brewers and the Cubbies
  • Favorite Hobby: Spending time with family and DANCING
  • Favorite Food: Bananas
  • Favorite Animal: Baby Koalas and Lions
  • Favorite Memory: Snuggling with her baby Koala
  • Favorite Song: Everyday Pop Stars by JoJo Siwa
  • Favorite Saying: No words, simply places her palm to her forehead  and subtly shakes her head

Kali Mae

Kali Mae is a thinker. Her thought life is rich and tough to break into. She is a natural observer and at times is not afraid to share her thoughts and emotions. Other times, she is a tough nut to crack. She is a sweetheart and loves to take care of others. To say Kali loves Minnie Mouse would be an understatement. She plans to one day live next to Minnie in Disney World.

  • Favorite Color: Yellow, Blue and Pink… are polka dots a color?
  • Favorite Sport to Play: Cheer
  • Favorite Sport to Watch: Gymnastics
  • Favorite Team: Chicago Cubs, Chicago bears and 49ers
  • Favorite Hobby: Playing Minnie Mouse
  • Favorite Food: Minnie Mouse Cake
  • Favorite Animal: Mice and Puppies
  • Favorite Memory: Opening up her Minnie Mouse presents at Christmas
  • Favorite Song: D.R.E.A.M. by JoJo Siwa
  • Favorite Saying: “That’s Weird!”


Ellie Rose, known strictly now as Rosie in the household is truly a depiction of the rhyme, “Sugar and Spice and everything nice.” She is super sweet but can also be quite spicy and salty for that matter. She continues to love to move, bounce, dance and flip. She is counting down the days to see JoJo Siwa in concert and acquiring more JoJo bows than there are days to wear them. Her love for animals continues, as well as, the joy she finds in organizing her things… in rainbow order, of course.

  • Favorite Color: Gold, Silver, Turquoise, and Rainbow!
  • Favorite Sport to Play: Cheer and Backyard Football
  • Favorite Sport to Watch: Volleyball
  • Favorite Team: Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears
  • Favorite Hobby: Making up dances to JoJo Siwa songs
  • Favorite Food: Donuts
  • Favorite Memory: Going out for donuts as a family
  • Favorite Animal: Kittens
  • Favorite Song: Everyday Pop Stars by JoJo Siwa
  • Favorite Saying: “That’s Rude!”

Our favorites come and go. But, our gratitude for these things, these moments and memories never will.

A Magical Season


Temperatures drop and the wind chills as households warm up with family, traditions, and celebrations. The holidays are truly magical! Despite being sick, the V5 still had twinkles in their eyes on Christmas morning. The queasiness in their stomachs was cured by the excitement of traveling to family’s homes for delicious food, fun and of course thoughtful gifts.

Before the big day, we were able to visit with all sides of the family!

Bella and I were sad to miss the Vanderwall Christmas this year but enjoyed our special one-on-one Christmas with a long winter’s nap and a short viewing of Olaf’s Holiday Traditions.


The germs cleared and we rung in 2020 fever-free with our annual tradition of yummy appetizers, counting down with Australia and blowing poppers throughout the house!

We had final Christmas celebration with Papa Ron and Holly Girl. Kicked off 2020 celebrating Frank’s successful year with a delicious Hibachi dinner.

Cheers to you and yours for a happy and healthy 2020!

A Season for Change

The changing of the seasons has me eager for the holidays. This time of year is ripe with family, friends, thanksgiving and generosity. It is also a reminder that we are on the door step of a new year! While life-change can happen any time of the year, there is definitely something motivating about a January 1st start date.

The year 2020 is going to be a more mindful year. I plan to be more intentional about my words, my eye contact and my silence at home in hopes of modeling these skills for my children. We also will be starting family counseling in December and into 2020 which I hope will improve the dynamics – and maybe the volume – in our home. No cards to hide here; we are all works in progress.

I also plan to be more mindful about our food choices. As a dietitian, our family eats fairly well and are already quite mindful about how meals and snacks are composed. I recently watched a documentary entitled, The Game Changers, based on a recommendation from close friends (Thanks, Alex and Danielle!) that challenged my beliefs about a healthful diet. I have watched other movies that support veganism but this one maintained a more moderate view and did a stellar job of incorporating strong epidemiological evidence. I accepted the challenge and plan to transition our family’s meals to more a of plant-based pattern. This does not mean we are becoming vegans but does mean we will have more meals where the traditional protein is not present but rather we will be experimenting with Tofu, Beans, Lentils, Jackfruit and Vegan queso. I welcome you to join us on this journey. I hope to start a new section on this blog that shares are trials and successes at dinner. Perhaps, we will include a view testimonial and opinion pieces from the kiddos, too!

I think this transition will be a good opportunity to also build into our children’s interest in science. They really enjoyed making their science projects for their school fair and making hypothesis and conclusions based on what they learned. They will have the opportunity to learn about new foods, tastes, and textures as well as how to be an adventurous eater!


The Physics of Pitching
How to Be a Princess… art is science, right?
How do cameras take a picture?
How are bows made?
How are rainbows made?


Now, back to the hustle and bustle of November! Happy Holidays!