Ready, Set, Kindergarten!

2176_1535072438870Our transition to kindergarten has been deemed a success! The kiddos are loving their new school, their teachers and their “specials.” The first week was very exciting but we quickly realized that we needed to be cautious and careful of after school activities because our endurance for a long school day was not up to par. Day one ended with a 20-minutes sob fest laid out upon the kitchen floor. We are still trying to navigate how to sneak in a cat nap or quiet time when they arrive home to assist with the transition… this remains a work in progress.

Overall, our keys to a successful transition are as follows:

  • Prepare. Preparation begins the night before or even weeks before and includes IMG_20180903_192834planning breakfast, lunch and snacks. Most of this preparation happens the night before when breakfast is partially prepared, lunches and snacks are packed and clothes for the next day are laid out. Sharing the plan with the youngest members of the team is also key because it can’t remain a best kept secret if it will be successful. It’s helpful to share the plan for the next morning or day the evening before.
  • Delegate. Mornings can be hurried and easily become chaotic, but delegating tasks to children and adults, all members can work as a team. Kid-friendly tasks include getting dressed, setting the breakfast table, filling water cups, serving themselves breakfast, brushing teeth and hair, etc. Older kids may be completely self-sufficient and simply need morning nudges to stay on task. Younger children may require more nudges and time stamps at each check point along the way. We have found our Alexa to be really helpful in these efforts. Our munchkins wake between 5-6a and often play upstairs until they are que’ed to come down. The first reminder comes via Alexa around 6:30 (Time to pick-up and get dressed), the second around 6:45 when “breakfast is ready.” We carry out these reminders every 10-15 minutes until we leave for the bus stop at 7:15.
  • Be Flexible. Stuff happens. A well thought-out plan can easily fall to pieces. Families can still get out the door in one piece and on time by remaining flexible. Flexibility can be difficult but by focusing on core values, remaining calm and being optimistic one can roll with the punches (easier said then done).

We got to share these tips on a recent news segment in Wisconsin!

Here are the captured memories from our Kindergarten prep!

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And Then There Were None

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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.

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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

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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.

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Dapper Mr. Theo
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Purple, Princess Bella
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Kali Mae Sunshine
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Anti-Tights, Laid Back Lily
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Always looking to gain an inch, Ellie Rose on her Tippy Toes
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Bustin’ a Move in her Kitty Shoes
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Photo Booth Sillies
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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.

 

 

Fall Fun

The Autumn chill is here, the leaves have fallen and 2018 is nearly here! I’m uncertain if it’s because the kiddos are in school now but the weeks are passing by at great speed. I was determined to post about our fall fun before the first snow so, here we go!

This year for Halloween there was a unanimous vote that the V7 would become the Paw Patrol!

There was no question about who would be who; all assumed their roles naturally:

  • Frank as Ryder, the Patrol’s fearless boy leader
  • Theo as Marshall, the kind-hearted fire dog
  • Bella as Chase, who always has her nose in someone else’s business
  • Lily as Everest, the playful snow pup
  • Kali as Tracker, this girl’s spirit animal is a hound
  • Ellie as Skye, because we can’t keep her from flying
  • Cassie as Katie, pet spa owner charged with keeping the pup’s squeaky clean

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This was also the first year that the troop partook in the Halloween booty. Besides being determined to find more “trick or treating friends” than last year (see video below), our crew wanted to know all about this mysterious candy.

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So, at every house they had more than enough questions for our neighbors about their treats. It also was no surprise that they tried to rack up as much candy as their favorite colors. We needed to exercise caution due to Ellie’s allergies but found some new faves for her, too. I was very proud of how our children handled Halloween. Upon coming home with a heavy load, they each selected 7 pieces and enjoyed them over the next week before turning the rest in to our local dentist for a prize pack.

Then, November hit and hit hard and I’m certain we have been sick with 3 different viruses over the last 3 weeks. The latest is croup; all of the ladies have fallen and Theo is standing strong. We are pulling for his perfect attendance at school and hoping he stays well!  Poor Ellie got the more rare spasmodic croup and had a short stent in the emergency department.  Luckily, she has grown into one of our best communicators and directly informed me that she needed to go to the doctor. Her spasms resolved quickly after a nebulizer treatment and steroids, as well as, her first cherry popsicle.

Amidst the sick days, the girls miss school and all of their friends. The V5 have grown to love school and their teachers. Theo has also started to play with other boys at school, which is tremendously exciting for Mom and Dad. He was so proud to share that he played Super Heroes with another boy at school and got to be Batman!

Their faves of the season are writing their names and favorite words, doing arts and crafts with Nana, playing legos with Daddy and helping Mom in the kitchen. Our little sous chefs made sushi a few weeks back and Theo and Bella loved it; the others were less fond of the seaweed. Overall, they continue to be strong eaters and are beginning to grasp mindful eating. I’ll openly admit that this summer we battled with a period of sneaking food but once we invited them to start preparing and portioning their own plates this resolved. It was a great lesson for me to take back to the clinic.

A final fave that warrants a special call-out is karate. All are enjoying their instructors, the positive reinforcement and physical challenges that come with it. Lily and Theo are now both masters at Star Block 1 and Ellie is a high-kicking master. Kali and Bella are still growing into karate but share that they like the running and calisthenics.

Next up for the V7… school photos, parent teacher conferences and family photos!

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.

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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.

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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!

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Off to School

Today we celebrate the Vanderwall Quintuplets first day of school. We had no worries about being late since all five have been giddy with excitement since they first received their 4k notice in the mail; all were up and had dressed themselves by 6:30 am. In all honesty, we did experience a few wardrobe snafus and fashion faux pas but all easily resolved.. They gobbled down their oats and were eager for their photo shoot.

At School

About 1,000 pictures later, we hopped in the van and headed to school. So many memories were captured within those 5 minutes while we dropped them off…

  • Kali, Ellie and Bella bee-lined it to their cubbies. Took off their back-packs, hung their coats and took their take-home folders to their teachers. Theo wished each sister farewell and Lily grabbed all three for a family hug.
  • In Theo and Lily’s classroom, Theo was amazed at all of the boys and Lily kept saying how much fun today was going to be.
  • We almost made it out tear-free but, on our way out Ellie caught a glimpse of Daddy and needed one more hug.

Looking back

On the way home, they were eager to learn what the others’ experienced. While they maintained the same daily schedule, the individual activities were different. Bella, Ellie and Kali decorated hats and Theo and Lily took a class picture. Bella was proud to share that she made a new friend who helped her put her coat on. Everyone’s favorite part of the morning was playing at recess. All are looking for another day tomorrow.

We are experiencing nothing but pure joy in the Vanderwall household today. We are so proud of our little miracles!

 

 

 

 

 

Bye Bye

Lined up

Lets go