A Season of Firsts

mvimg_20180706_112603

We have finally reached the age that everyone has been telling us about. The age of wonder with the ability to articulate curiosities, joys and fears. The age where memories are made by the minute. The age of near-self-sufficiency and ability to help… truly help. The age where messes are made but also cleaned up in a fraction of the time. The age where feelings are felt and are now being able to be navigated, understood and managed. Four- going on -five is an amazing age. This is partially why this summer has been so much fun. The other part is the opportunities that we have been blessed with to explore. Here are a few of our most memorable firsts this summer…

First Parade. The V5 represented Kicks Unlimited’s Little Ninjas class in the Flags of Freedom Parade.

IMG_20180630_133447

First Time Riding a School Bus. The kiddos are enrolled in the Kick-off to Kindergarten program this summer which include a bus-ride to and from school. They have been doing great! No fear.

FB_IMG_1529378051387IMG_20180618_074406-ANIMATION37140937_10109889103364400_7093450462883479552_n.jpg

First Firework Show. Talk about awe and wonder! It’s difficult to explain fireworks to a child. While not everyone was fond of the sound, they all loved the show. They also enjoyed the entertainment at WaunBoom!

First Tragedy. The Sun Prairie community was literally rocked this last week with the tragic explosion downtown leading to the sudden loss of a hometown hero. We couldn’t have hid this from our children, if we wanted to. Instead, we chose to embrace it and use it as an opportunity to explain what happened, how it happened and how to respond. Service and social responsibility are very important to me and being able to serve alongside my children was very memorable. The V5 willingly headed to the store to make care packages for displaced kids and brought them to the Red Cross shelter at the high school. 

Red Cross Efforts

First Trip to Michigan. This first was inclusive of the first 4+ hour car ride (7 hours one way) with only 2 bathroom break (total victory). During our time in Michigan, they experienced their first: trip to the beach, sandcastle, sand dunes, boat ride, and hike. On the way home, we had the opportunity to ride the Ferry- another first! Many, many thanks to Uncle Jeff and Aunt Sue for their hospitality and these memories!

 

37155735_10109889103184760_7877061615336554496_n

 

 

 

Advertisements

And Then There Were None

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-12,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Over the last week, the V5 kissed their last nap goodbye. While it was bittersweet, after 7 days of being nap-free, we believe we did the right thing. The transition went surprisingly well so, I had to share the success.

How did we know it was time?

Most sleep consultants and specialists agree that most preschool-aged children between the ages of 3-5 years need 10-13 hours of sleep every day. For us, this was from 8pm at night to 6am and a nap from 12:30-2:30. In the last few months, we had more and more mutinies during nap time and surprisingly the munchkins that didn’t nap made it past dinner better than those who did. We also noted that they were having trouble falling asleep and winding down at night when they did nap. This Mama turns into a pumpkin before 9pm so the staying up until 9:30-10p had to go. The V5 have always been early birds but even the worms were still sleeping at 4:30am. So, all of these signs pointed to the need to transition.

How to Transition

Like most childhood transitions, whether it be starting solids, potty training or decreasing daily naps, it is best to let the child lead the way. Therefore, be sure not to disregard naps too soon. Those brain breaks are essential for emotional and physical resets during the day.

When it is time to transition, consider a slow fade where you decrease the nap by 15-20 minutes each day. While we didn’t technically follow this suggestion, I believe the kiddos did. In retrospect, their 2-hour nap had dwindled over time.

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-12,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Practice quiet time. This is an invaluable practice that can follow them into adulthood. This gives our crew time alone to look at books, do puzzles, sing, color or draw. While it is tricky to keep them separated, it pays dividends in the afternoon.

It is important to note that quiet time isn’t equivalent to screen time. While a 30-minute episode of their favorite show may provide the adult with some quiet time, it is not going to provide rest that their mind is seeking but rather will stimulate the brain.

This last suggestion may be obvious, but one must also move bedtime earlier. Our home now becomes meltdown-city around 6:30p. Therefore, we moved the dinner hour 30-minutes earlier to have be able to head upstairs by 6:30p and those sleepy eyes are shut now by 7p.

Benefits of Being Nap-Free

If you would’ve asked me a month or two ago about the benefits of being nap-free, I may have struggled but now I am relishing in the freedom to schedule fun day-time activities without restrictions. It also has permitted more hours in the day to have fun family time as evidenced by the Springtime fun featured below. The best benefit of all may be that they are now sleeping through the night with greater consistency and the bed-time battles have also decreased. This means more time for Nana to recoup and more time for Dad and Mom to be husband and wife.

Park Time

Pool Time

Zoo Time

Preschool Prom

843_1520653667624.jpg

The V5 got to try out their Easter Best last night at their Preschool Prom!

The evening was spent enjoying dinner, dancing and a very long balloon animal line amidst lots of new friends.

823_1520653580412.jpg

Dapper Mr. Theo

825_1520653583753.jpg

Purple, Princess Bella

819_1520653575885.jpg

Kali Mae Sunshine

821_1520653578183.jpg

Anti-Tights, Laid Back Lily

817_1520653573211.jpg

Always looking to gain an inch, Ellie Rose on her Tippy Toes

841_1520653625441.jpg

Bustin’ a Move in her Kitty Shoes

851_1520653755588.jpg

Photo Booth Sillies

849_1520653738264.jpg

The only way we could capture a group photo… put them in a box

When I Grow Up…

The V5 recently did a unit at school about Community Helpers and the idea of work, having a job and growing into a profession have started to make sense. I love hearing about their “career” aspirations and views on life. At present, Theo wants to be a police officer when he grows up because he wants to drive a police truck and keep people safe. When sharing this, he always states that his teacher also said that he can change his mind if he wants. It is also important to note that he is heavily considering becoming a paleontologist or aerospace engineer.

Bella’s recent surgery has truly had an impact on what she wants to grow up and she has truly taken to being a doctor. While I find it hard to see Ms. Bean battling through the sciences and physics- I still see her using her creative talents in the arts- I admire how she wants to “help make people healthy.” Who knows perhaps she’ll prove me wrong and use her steady hand and artistic talents to become a surgeon?

Ms. Lily Grace wants to be a teacher so she can tell people to listen to her. We try to explain to her that there’s more to being a teacher than having people listen to you. This apparently is the most obvious role of a teacher in her classroom. I will add that Lily’s teacher shared that she is a delight and one of the best listeners – along with her brother- in her class. Lily continues to grow into the most considerate and compassionate little girl, as well as, a true socialite, I believe she will be in a service field, too.

Kali Mae has taken great pride in being the sole quint that has not had surgery and has truly been quite well through the onslaught of seasonal illnesses. Therefore, she has been called upon to be a caregiver in the last several months. While she is a natural caregiver, instinctively seeing needs, she also greatly enjoys being a little boska and instructing her patients on the best way to care for themselves.

Ms. Elliott Rose continues to have her sights set on becoming a “cat lady.” She recently added that she wants to own a salon where she can take care of all of her kitties and put bows on their tails. She remarks that you will always know when she’s coming because you will hear her kitties. I’m holding out for greater professional goals. Ellie has an affinity for movement, rhythm and puzzles so, we will see where this takes her.

At the age of 4 ½ years, I share all of this tongue-in-cheek while loving to capture their life perspectives at every age and stage.

Other fascinations include reading, writing, money and the inter-workings of everything from time to sunburns (most of these questions immerge right before bed-time). Now, that all five have mastered the sounds of individual letters, we have observed them “sounding out” words, “letter by letter.” Teaching and observing this process is amazing to me. Reading and writing are huge milestones in my mind because they are gateways for communication. They unlock a whole world for understanding. I am so excited to watch my children continue to grow into book worms and budding authors.

The V5 also received banks last year, they were previously used for storing their most precious tinier than tiny toys (i.e. Hatchimals, Shopkins, etc.) but now they have started to understand money as currency and have loaded their banks with pretend cash and coin. I’ve also caught them exchanging these funds for goods. They also have come to understand that another reason why we work is to make money. This learning has helped them to better understand why Mommy, Daddy and Nana have to go to work.

Finally, my favorite fascination at present is their inquisitive nature about how things work. While Theo is by far the most curious about inter-workings, the girls are growing in their curiosity. The best is when Theo stumps us all with his questions and we have to look it up. I believe this demonstrates that 1. It’s okay to say I don’t know, 2. The practice of looking answers up, and 3. We are all still learning. I just prefer to learn during daylight hours and not the minutes before bed-time.

 

 

It Hurts.

Merriam Webster defines pain as, “physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury.” It is as subtle as the burning sensation in tired eyes felt with every blink and as agonizing post-operative healing without medication. It is also everything in between; gut-wrenching stomach pangs, dry sore throats, pounding headaches, throbbing sinuses, and internal distresses felt from your ears to your toes.

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-12,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

But a parent and a caregiver knows it as so much more. We know it as the sting in our hearts when we see a child or loved one helpless, the anguish in our bellies because “we are sick again,” the shock and awe that that frail, emaciated young body is your poor daughter after months of recovering from virus after virus. It is the frustration when you just want to see your child giggle, run and play versus curled up in the fetal position with tear-stained cheeks.  It is the pain felt in the darkness when there has been no break in day.

The last six months in our household have been trying. The physical strain that has come with this last season is one for the books. After monthly trips to urgent care, two late night E.R. visits, two surgeries and two more on the calendar, countless ear infections, too many hours waiting for prescriptions to be filled and almost 10 weeks straight of being sick, we are tired of being sick. At times, I think my children have forgotten what it feels like to be well.

There’s no doubt that I’m a “glass half-full” kind of gal, but I’m starting to strain to see the rose color in my glasses. I know this too shall pass but I pray it will pass sooner rather than later. We are not interested in any Guinness Book of World Records for the number of viruses we can mutate and redistribute in one season.

I will end on a positive note. I still stand by the need to take one moment at a time and in each moment seek the joy. For each crack of a smile, unannounced giggle, bout of childish energy or sneaky hug around the legs is a ray of sunlight through the clouds, and they all must be cherished.

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-12,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-ve

 

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.

IMG_2343

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.

IMG_2344

  • 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!

 

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.

IMG_3076

IMG_3077

IMG_3091

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.

IMG_2929

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!

IMG_3121