For those of you who know me…

For those of you who know me, know I’m a bit nostalgic. I believe this appreciation for the past and joy from recollecting was instilled in me by my dad. I enjoy reminiscing about times that have gone by, sometimes to a fault, in that I miss the present or plan too much for the future. But, nevertheless, I cherish days like today- Memorial Day- for taking a time out to look back.

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One year ago today, I was lying in a hotel in Mesa, AZ. I had just been discharged from the local hospital after having a surgery that saved our pregnancy. I did not know what the days ahead would bring, but knew that in a few hours I would have to drop Frank off at the airport and spend the next days alone.

For those of you who know me, being away from home is not my specialty. I have always been a homebody. I am perfectly content hanging out at home. While I appreciate others’ love for travel, I generally have little interest. So, needless to say moving to Arizona was not something I would have chosen to do.

For those of you who know me, know that I strive to walk with God. It truly has been a bumpy road, of straying here and there. But, as I reflect on this Memorial Day, I see how God’s hand was guiding our footsteps during that treacherous time. We had found out on that Monday that we were going to lose our pregnancy and the medical team shared with us that there was nothing we could do about it. The parents of other quintuplets told me differently. When I learned of the surgery that had prolonged other high order multiple pregnancies the answer was easy; I needed that surgery. I recall wrestling with this decision in my mind. I saw two choices: Stay here in WI where I was comfortable and await the impending miscarriage, or hop on a plane to AZ to see the best maternal and fetal medicine specialist in the world. After we decided to choose life, God granted me peace. My fear had passed away, and this new sense of calm and strength arose. I take no credit for this change, but was merely witness to it. 28wk_diagram1

For those of you who know me, know that I have a rich inner life. I may be an ambivert on the Meyers Briggs, but I believe I’m a true introvert. I process life on the inside and share with those I trust. So, why would a true introvert write such a telling message? It is to brag, but not on myself. It is to testify to the guiding grace of God the Father, His humble Son and His Spirit.

I feel like I blinked and a year has flown by. Every day is an opportunity of worship. I look at my children and sometimes forget in the moment where they were 10 short months ago. I see them kicking and rolling and can recall them doing that when they were all crammed in my tummy. I stand in their nursery and just watch as all of their little heads pop up like little prairie dogs from their cribs in the morning. I dreamed of moments like that. Our children are a true joy and a challenge wrapped up into one little package

So, on this day when we are beckoned to remember, I encourage you to first and foremost thank those who have served our country. Remember those who have fallen for it. But, also take a moment to remember and recall the miracles in your life. For you are loved!

Ellie is 9 months!

Elliott

Elliott 2

Nicknames: Ellie, Ellie Rose, E. Rose & Baby Girl

Birth Length: 14.9 in

Current Length: 26 in

Birth Weight: 2.41 lbs

Current Weight: 16 lbs

Favorite toy: Anything Kali is playing with.

Elliott

Favorite Past-time: Rolling from toy to toy, Swiping toys from her siblings & Snuggling with her big brother

BFF_T&E

Mastered Milestones: Rolling to and fro,

Developing Milestones: Sitting up by herself, Crawling

Personality Traits: Sweet, Observant and a bit demanding

Lily is 9 months!

Lillian

Nicknames: Lily, Lily-Bug, Love-Bug, Lilyput, LG, & Lil SmileyLily 2

Birth Length: 14.6 in

Current Length: 26.1 in

Birth Weight: 2.69 lbs

Current Weight: 15.7 lbs

Favorite toy: Her pacifier and “magic” blanket

Favorite Past-time: Playing Peek-a-boo and playing Lily-gician making her pacifier disappear

Mastered Milestones: The best fine motors skills in the bunch (watch out for her pincer grasp!), Initiates games, standing with assistance

Developing Milestones: Sitting up by herself, crawling

AngryLily

Personality Traits: Silly, Strategic, and definitely a bit Jealous

Kali is 9 months!

Kāli Mae Kali_Raspberry2

Nicknames: K-Mae, K, Monkey-Mae, Sunshine

Birth Length: 13 in

Current Length: 26.3 in

Birth Weight: 2.29 lbs

Current Weight: 17.5 lbs

Favorite toy: The Atom, Popping Giraffe

Favorite Past-time: Playing in the forest, practicing her yoga poses (happy baby) and swimming on her tummy

Kali

Mastered Milestones: Sitting up by herself, Standing with assistance, 2 bottom teeth!

Developing Milestones: Crawling

HappyBaby_Kali

Personality Traits: Sweet, Observant, Silly, Imaginative

Bella is 9 months!

Isabella

Goofy Bella

Nicknames: Bella, Bella Bean & Bells

Birth Length: 15.7 in

Current Length: 25.7 in

Birth Weight: 2.49 lbs

Current Weight: 15.7 lbs

Favorite toy: Anything that rattles

Favorite Past-time: Blowing raspberries and banging rattles together

Girl Talk with Kali
Girl Talk with Kali

Mastered Milestones: 1 lonely bottom tooth, Sitting up by herself

Developing Milestones: Crawling and Standing with limited assistance

 

Gpa&Bella2

Personality Traits: Strategic, Goofy, Aggressive
 

Feliz Nueve Meses

The quint’s 9-month celebration warrants yet another series to look at where each of the V5 are today! In three short months they have become not only more verbal, social and mobile, but also more strategic, witty and goofy!

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Key priorities for mom and dad are to continue to help these kiddos:

  • Learn to crawl.
  • Hold their own bottles.
  • Eat soft, solid foods.
  • Learn to communicate with simple words and sign language.

Let’s Get Moving!

There are several gross motor milestones that precede crawling that help to build the body’s strength and coordination, including:

  • Holding one’s head in line and upright when pulled to sitting (3-6 months)
  • Bears weight on hands when lying on tummy (3-6 months)
  • Ability to sit with light support (3-6 months)
  • Rolling from stomach to back and back to stomach in both directions (3-6 months)
  • Sitting independently with the ability to right one’s balance and extend arms for protection (6-9 months)
  • Able to get into a sitting position independently (6-9 months)
  • Standing when holding on (6-9 months)
  • Crawls backward (6-9 months)
  • Able to pull to a standing position (6-9 months)

No one is crawling just yet, but all of the quints are able to sit up in some capacity, crawl backwards (or scoot), stand when being held and roll. While some say that some children do not crawl, or crawl for very long, we hope that ours do because of all the benefits of crawling:

  • Develops a sense of depth perception and location along with skills on how to navigate the environment.
  • Encourages decision making, focus and attention.
  • Requires that a baby connect a series of motions and increases coordination.
  • Develops muscular strength and stretches ligaments in the wrist and hands needed for fine motor skills.

Look what I can do!

While all of the quints are between a 6-9 month year old in terms of their gross motor skills, they are championing their fine motor skills! They can reach and hold large and small objects. They are able to manipulate objects in one hand and both hands. Lily has been mastered the pincer grasp! Other’s are still working on getting their pointer finger away from their hand; but all can now extend their thumb from their fingers! This skillset is critical for not only playing with more complex toys, but eating!

We are preparing to start finger foods! The only delay is mom’s fear of the impending mess that awaits after every meal. Arts and crafts time is about to get very real as we start to experiment with:

  • Soft Bananas
  • Cooked Carrots
  • Meatballs
  • Oat-based cold cereals

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Our five little monkeys are now keen observers. Many of our friends and family have noted how the kids what their every move. They are also much more social and communicative. We catch them “chatting” not only with each other but with their toys. We are also proud that their expressive communication and cognitive skills are tracking with their age:

Kali

Expressive Communication:

  • Babbles to people with inflection and produces a variety of consonants.
  • Vocalizes loudly to get attention.

Language Comprehension:

  • Looks and focuses on people, pictures and pets.
  • Responds to simple gestures.
  • Looks for family members when named (we are still working on this one).

Cognitive Skills:

  • Works to obtain items out of reach, and able to locate a hidden object.
  • Plays 2-3 minutes with one toy.
  • Touches a toy or adult to restart an activity.

Their social skills also surpass their age. They have long been able to recognize mom and dad, as well as, who is new (or a stranger). However, now all of them either calm easy when mom or dad are out of the room, or are completely content. They also all smile at images in a mirror- needless to say- Theo and Bella love themselves some mirror-time!

We also have been working on simple sign language for about the last 3-4 months. No one is able to sign back just yet, but I do believe they are beginning to connect the signs with the objects. The signs we have started with are:

Mama
Mama

 

Dada
Dada

 

Nana/Grandma
Nana/Grandma

 

Grandpa
Grandpa

 

Milk
Milk

 

More
More

 

All Done
All Done

 

Eat 
Eat

 

I Love You
I Love You

 

We also have been using their signed letters for their names:

B for Bella
B for Bella

 

 

E for Elliott
E for Elliott

 

 

I for Isabella
I for Isabella

 

K for Kali
K for Kali

 

L for Lily
L for Lily

 

T for Theo
T for Theo

 

I am still amazed everyday at how learning can be a very independent process, and how we naturally develop all of these skills given that we have a safe, conducive environment to do so. I often feel like our little blessings teach me much more than I will ever teach them. I am so grateful for the new and maturing fruits in my life (patience, flexibility, changing priorities, appreciating each moment) that they continue to encourage with each day.

In the coming days, we hope you enjoy each quint’s individual snapshot!

*ASL images are from BabySignLanguage.com

Spring has Sprung

 

Spring has [finally] sprung here in Madison! So, what have the quints been up to while they awaited spring?

The V-5 want to thank Culvers for these stylish onesies and their support since day 1!
The V-5 want to thank Culvers for these stylish onesies and their support since day 1!

Well, they have been eating like champs and are up to 3 solid meals per day. A typical day of meals would be 2-3 T of oatmeal with yogurt and bananas for breakfast, 2-3 T of beef or chicken with squash and potatoes for lunch, and dinner rounds out the day with 2-3 T of a green veggie, vegetarian protein (chickpeas, tofu or eggs) and a healthy fat (avocado).

When the kids aren’t feasting at meals, they tend to be trying to gum each other or anything within 5 inches of their mouth, munch on their toes, or blow raspberries.

 

Theo's constantly going for those toes!
Theo’s constantly going for those toes!

 

...Or his sister's hair! Poor Kali Mae.
…Or his sister’s hair! Poor Kali Mae.

Another favorite past-time at 8 months is teething. Frank and I joke that getting teeth is a very inefficient process… 2 years of tears times five, well may be times seven. When all start moaning and groaning, hoping for those choppers, we gently ask them for results, and no more excuses. All are also working hard on learning how to crawl. They are all pros at the infamous Sphynx pose, as well as, rolling over. Theo is the closest to getting wheels. His efforts and dedication to learning to crawl are truly admirable. However, at this point he is easily frustrated and tends to opt for rolling like a log to get to and fro.

The kids are also barely big enough to fit into their dining table, which- for now- is a play place.

Smiley Ellie
Smiley Ellie
Cute Kali
Cute Kali
Lillian Grace
Lillian Grace
Goofy Bella
Goofy Bella

It is also the official meeting space for Girl’s Club Meetings…sorry no boys allowed!

Girls Club meeting

 

The V-5 have also been patiently awaiting their first adventure around the neighborhood. They took their first stroll this past weekend…and they appeared to be less than thrilled about it.

 

Theo, Kali and lil Red Riding Hood (Elliott)
Theo, Kali and lil Red Riding Hood (Elliott)

 

Lily, the garden gnome, and Bella ready for a stroll.
Lily, the garden gnome, and Bella ready for a stroll.

Despite, the lack of smiles and giggles that we anticipated, they looked pretty darn cute sporting their new spring jackets!

Lil Red RIding hood
Ellie Rose
Bella hood
Bella
Theo says hi
Mr. Theo
Lily hood
Lily
Kali hood
Kali Mae

 

 

The V-5 “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”

The V-5 definitely “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) I couldn’t miss the opportunity of featuring my beautiful children during National Nutrition Month®!

Lily enjoying some pre-meal tummy time.
Lily enjoying some pre-meal tummy time.

Eating well is a pillar in the pursuit of overall wellness, especially if you are/were a premature infant. I attribute my children’s well-being to their healthcare team’s (which includes Mommy & Daddy) dedication to feeding them well from day one.

I have bragged on and on about breast milk in past posts, including Mommy Nutrition and 2 Simple Acts, so the following will feature the best solid foods for infants, or Baby’s Super Foods. These also happen to be super foods for the oldest of children- aka adults. I selected the following foods based on their nutrient density, ease of digestion and preparation and friendliness to the young palate.

Tummy time-out for Kali
Tummy time-out for Kali

Grass-fed Beef & Organic Poultry

Meat and poultry are great first foods due to their iron content.  Baby’s stores of iron begin to fade around 6 months so, a food rich in iron is important. Additionally, iron from animal sources (heme-iron) is much easier to absorb and use by the body. Meat also is loaded with B-vitamins and zinc. If you opt for grass-fed over grain-fed cattle, you will also get meat with more healthy omega-3 fats, vitamins A and E, and less of the unhealthy saturated fats, hormones and antibiotics. Organic poultry is ideal for the same reasons; basically more time and attention are directed towards the birds living quarters and nutrition creating a better quality end product.

Lentils

Lentils may be small but they are mighty. They are loaded with protein, fiber, iron, zinc and a host of B-vitamins. They are also a good source of copper, potassium and molybdenum. These legumes are quick and easy to prepare and generally more tender than other types of dried beans.

Bone Broth

This nutritional powerhouse can be made by boiling chicken or beef bones in water and a touch of vinegar. It is a significant source of GAGs, or glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin sulfate, keratan sulfate and hyaluronic acid, which are all “ingredients” for cartilage. Additionally, the red marrow has myeloid stem cells, which supports red blood cell development and the immune system. This broth also is a great source of glycine and proline, which are the building blocks for other amino acids (protein). Glycine and proline are also used by the body to aid digestion, promote healing, and create healthy plasma. Logically, bone broth also provides a good source of minerals found in bone: calcium, phosphorus and magnesium to aid in bone development and maintenance.

Theo chowing down on avocado
Theo chowing down on avocado

Avocado

This fatty fruit is a good source of fiber, vitamins K, E and C, a few B-vitamins, as well as, potassium, and copper. Avocadoes provide a host of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals (antioxidants from plants) and can help with absorption of other nutrients, like carotenoids (orange, yellow and red phytochemicals). Besides aiding in blood sugar regulation and heart health, they also make a great beauty product.

Butternut Squash

This orange, winter squash may require some extra prep work but the sweet flavor and benefits are well worth it. Although squash are a starchy vegetable, their carbohydrate is much different than a potato; it has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The orange color gives away that it is a great source of vitamin A, but it is also loaded with vitamins C, B6 and several minerals.

Gluten-free Oatmeal

This hardy cereal is a great first food for infants. My vote goes to oats over rice for an infant cereal because it is rich in iron, zinc, phosphorus, fiber and protein, as well as, several other vitamins and minerals. It also comes without the worry of arsenic toxicity.

Why gluten-free? Well, gluten is a very inflammatory agent that is found in wheat, rye, barley and some oats and can be difficult to digest. Often times, traditional oats can also be “contaminated” with wheat due to shared processing equipment. I feel it is best for babies to be wheat-free until their first birthdays when they dive into that cake! Overall, I opt for gluten-free because it is much nicer to the kiddos’ digestive tract.

Bella loves to help feed herself
Bella loves to help feed herself

Banana

I had to include at least one common fruit. Bananas are a great first fruit because they are a good source of vitamins C, B6, B2 and of course, potassium. They also provide bone-building minerals, including magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Besides the benefit of being very convenient to prepare, they are also known as nature’s antacid because they contain a substance that can help the stomach and intestines produce the mucus lining.

Another bonus of the foods mentioned above is that when they are pureed they contain at least 20 calories per Tablespoon, which is equivalent to the average amount of calories in one-ounce of breast milk. When you have picky bottle-feeders who love solids this can be a huge lifesaver!

Ellie loves to help feed herself, too.
Ellie loves to help feed herself, too.

Whether these foods are old favorites or perhaps news ones to try, I encourage children of all ages to serve up these super foods and “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!”

The sign of good food (Kali)
The sign of good food (Kali)

ABC, 123 (45), Cute as Can Be!

Back_Lineup

At 7 months the kiddos are expressive, talkative and almost mobile! All of the quints have rolled from their tummies to their backs and only Theo has made it from his back to his stomach. They are all really good at what we call the “sphinx pose,” or more commonly known as the cobra pose for you yogis out there. I have my money on Lily to crawl first.

Their choppers are definitely on their way in so drooling, chewing, and whining are popular past times. Beware; if you get too close you’re bound to get “gummed.” We have employed several tactics to soothe them including:

  • Cold, wet wash clothes,
  • Frozen pacifiers,
  • Cold teething rings,
  • Baltic Amber stone necklaces, and
  • Yes, the occasional dose of Tylenol.

Nutrition is also a bit different nowadays. The quints have maxed out on their daily milk at 5-6 ounces per feeding, or 24-32 ounces per day, and are now chowing down on solids. Brunch consists of gluten-free oatmeal with banana or apples and Linner is beef or poultry in bone broth or steamed green vegetable with a side of squash or sweet potato. Kali continues to be the best guzzler, but Lily takes the cake (almost literally) when it comes to mowing through her solids, and well everyone’s leftovers, too!

It is amazing how big they are getting. I remember receiving the 6 month sleepers as gifts not believing they would ever be that big. But, now they are almost too big for those same sleepers! There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think back to those days in the NICU and thank God for how far these children have come.

T is for Theo
T is for Theo
B is for Bella
B is for Bella
L is for Lily
L is for Lily
K is for Kali
K is for Kali
E is for Ellie
E is for Ellie

They are certainly our pride and joy! We promise you that Theo and Bella are the goofiest of the bunch, but apparently not big fans of impromptu photo shoots before lunch.

Line-up

Elliott Rose is 6 Months Old

Our little peanut is no longer the smallest of the bunch. She is the longest and weighs the 2nd most of the ladies. She is still our little emergency. She can go from zero to 60 in a few seconds. However, she is also our best self-soother. She is our little siren who is able to win over everyone she meets. Ellie is our first to start teething and thus her favorite toy is now her fingers. This little girl also loves her tummy time! She is one of our quieter quints, but if she observes any inefficiencies in her care she is sure to let you know it. This one definitely has a C-suite in her future!

Nicknames: Ellie, ER, Eliie Belly

Birth Length: 16.9 in

Current Length: 23.1 in

Birth Weight: 2.41 lb

Current Weight: 13 lb

Favorite toy: Her fingers

Favorite Past-time: Hanging out with her older brother