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…

First Week of First Grade

September is a month of transition. New school routines, fall sports and activities which can lead to an exhausting day and it is easy to go through the motions from wake-up to bed-time. Despite the busyness, we don’t want to sacrifice the quality of our time together and how precious these moments are.

IMG_20190903_072046

We have been counting down to the first day of first grade since June because our crew are social animals. They thrive at school. It was evident by the last week in August that they had grown tired of their familial playmates. This first week of school has been a blast. Each kiddo has enjoyed the adventure of learning their new routine, teacher and classmates. Lucky for them, they were exposed to the entire Kindergarten class last year so the experiences was truly a shuffle of each others’ friends and an opportunity to be-friend their siblings’ besties.

All are looking forward to reading more often and with greater confidence, writing with greater clarity and expressing their creativity in art, science and music. We are ready to watch our little miracles continue to grow by leaps and bounds in first grade.

MVIMG_20190903_072149-ANIMATION

Resilience

Resilience: “the ability to overcome serious hardship; toughness.”

One week ago, I got yet another call from the school nurse sharing that our little buddy was in her office. Theo had been a frequent visitor to the nurse’s office since the first week of school with perpetual tummy aches. We were chalking it up to pooping problems given that their water intake had been likely cut in half since the start of school. However, last Wednesday he was refusing to go back to the class. He didn’t have a fever but was unable to keep anything down so, a quick Google search told me he was either severely constipated, caught norovirus, or a different stomach bug. Unfortunately, water, miralax and a glycerin suppository didn’t produce the results we were expecting so we settled on a bad stomach bug. Then, Thursday evening we noted that his stomach had blown up like a water balloon and nothing could soothe him; Off to the ER we went.

img_20181005_200642
Obstructed portion of the small intestine

I was hesitant to jump to emergent care because Theo was showing these same symptoms back in February which didn’t show anything significant; this time was different. The abdominal x-ray didn’t demonstrate stool burden so we moved on to an MRI. Here we saw that Mr. Theo had a bowel obstruction. The next 2 hours flew by as an emergent surgery was organized. The best case scenario was that Theo’s small intestine was simply kinked like a garden hose… the worse case scenario was that the obstruction could be so bad that he would leave with an ostomy.

img_20180928_195614

Frank rushed to the hospital as we were moving to pre-op. Theo was cool, calm and collected. He simply wanted to know the facts. This young boy knows the word surgery and all that it entails far too well after 4 surgeries in his first 4 years of life, including a repair of a spontaneous bowel perforation (day 1), anastamosis (3 months), an epiplocele repair, and a tonsil-and adenoid-ectomy. We discussed two plans with the surgeon; Plan A which was a simpler laparoscopic procedure where they would enter through his belly button and two small sites on either side and Plan B where they would convert Plan A to an open procedure for more extensive repair.

The surgery took two hours and we were notified after 90 minutes that they were progressing through Plan A. To say that we were relieved would be an under-statement. Once Theo procedure had concluded, the surgeon came to visit us to explain that this obstruction was a spontaneous occurrence and had nothing to do with bowel habits, hydration or anything we or Theo could’ve caused. The obstruction was caused by the omentum.

The omentum is a fascinating apron of fat within the abdomen which not only keeps our organs in place but also plays an immunological role. The omentum’s central role is the abdominal defenseman, it adheres to sites of inflammation and provides leukocytes to combat infection. In Theo’s case the omentum had adhered to the sites of his previous bowel surgeries, stretching across a portion of his small intestine. This part of the small bowel proceded to push through the stretched omentum- creating a donut-like shape- and then curved back around and came back through the same hole.

IMG_20181005_200642
Kinked small intestine

This kink in the intestine had been developing since Theo’s first symptoms in February. During the procedure, the team trimmed back the omentum, releasing Theo’s small intestine. They then inspected most of small intestine to examine other sites of adhesion but felt no further alterations were necessary.  We found this pathophysiology to be fascinating, as did Theo. He even got surgical pictures as a keepsake. He enjoys retelling the story to his sisters with these graphic images.

Amazingly, Theo displayed his resilience by discharging from the hospital 1 day later and returning to school on Monday. His bravery, curiousity and recovery truly make him one of our five super heroes!

 

img_20181005_1808291

The V5 Turn 5

This year’s birthday felt monumental. Perhaps, it is because we are now a household of school-aged children with friends and these friends joined us in celebrating the V5. Or, perhaps it is because it was a multiple-golden birthday. Even more so, it may have been because the kiddos were more aware than ever what this celebration meant. Either way, it warranted a week-long party! A day for each and a weekend for all!

We kicked off the birthday week with a trip to the Dane County Fair

Earned their Purple-striped Belts

Took a trip to Sassy Cow Creamery and toured their Farm. Of course they had to dress the part.
img_20180807_085529

Woke up at 5am on their Big Day and put on their Friday-best (all by themselves) ready to celebrate!

Celebrated Friday Morning with a trip downtown to meet a few of their favorite characters and to check out a real fire truck

Birthday Cupcakes with a side of Sunbutter and Carrots (No, I didn’t offer the veggies; they asked and it was there birthday so, how could I say no?)
img_20180803_142601

Double B-day Bash Saturday. They loved celebrating with their friends in the morning and family in the afternoon. The mid-day break was just long enough to give this Paw Patrol crew a break.

The week concluded with each getting to break their very own birthday boards at karate!

Many, many thanks to all who made this year’s milestone birthday so special!

Looking Back at Elliott Rose (2017-2018)

817_1520653573211.jpg

Ellie is still the self-proclaimed, resident cat lady and veterinarian of the Vanderwall household. She commonly expresses her emotions as a “purr” or a “hiss.” Her love for all animals continues to grow and we have observed a special connection all of the pups to chickens that she comes in contact with.

She also continues to be one of extremes. She is our happiest girl when she is happy but flip a switch and Ellies-goes-boom! We find the same is true for her activities. She is moving from the moment she wakes but come 7pm and she is o-u-t. She is by-far the best sleeper of the bunch; thank you, Ellie!

Ellie finds the most joy in playing with her hippity-hop, swinging, hanging out in the chicken run and swimming. She also loves to color rainbows and draw kitties.

Here’s a look at Elliott Rose’s fourth year…

 

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 Bella (2017-2018)

324175754_2017_11_5

Miss Bella is still the princess in the bunch and definitely is passionate about the arts. She loves to sing, dance, draw, color and create. She takes great enjoyment from building extravagant scenes with her toys and stuffed animals.

Isabella’s obsession with fuzzies and anything soft remains. Her collection of fuzzy items has nearly taken over her bookshelf. Unfortunately, a soft, sudden wind sends them flying like a dried dandelion.

The charm is also strong with this one. She has a way of negotiating with sweet subtlety. She’s a tricky one but oh, so sweet.

Looking Back at Bella this last year…

 

Bella at four years…

Bella at three years…

Bella at two years…

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

Looking back at Theo (2017-2018)

324175752_2017_11_5

Our little boy is starting to look not so little. His patience, charm and inquisitive nature are amazing. Mr. Theo loves to investigate how things work. It is not uncommon to catch him examining a lamp, taking a part our noise machine or peering inside of something. He finds such joy in figuring it out; a budding engineer, perhaps.

He is also my side-kick in the kitchen and loves to help plan and prepare healthful meals and snacks (always pairing energy with a protein 🙂 and is my most adventurous eater. I can’t name a food he doesn’t enjoy… well, there’s kombucha; he can’t get passed the smell.

Theo is fascinated by dinosaurs, space and airplanes… not atypical for a boy. He also loves his boy-time where he’ll excuse himself from the pack to go play with Daddy’s LEGOs or his trains. The girls are still learning to respect this time.

Our big brother has truly set an example for the whole family.

Here’s a look back at Theo over the last year…

Theo at Four Years…

Theo at Three Years…

Theo at Two Years…

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

Offering Thanks on World Prematurity Day

23559582_10108916033354500_4915363894907305397_n

This week we honored world prematurity; Offering gratitude to those who walked with us, served us and cared for us on our journey from birth at 29 weeks and one day to four years old. We too easily recall all of the sad conversations that were had, scare tactics used and doubters early on. But, we also recall the reassuring love, guidance and strength which we heard much louder. Throughout the month of November each year, many draw their attention to the life-saving research, treatments and support that give every baby a fighting chance.

IMG_3316
Giving thanks to the one above!

We felt that the V5 were old enough today to participate in thanking those who were critical in their survival from Dr. John Elliott and his team at Banner Desert to the elite NICU staff at Meriter. We honored world prematurity day by perusing their memory boxes, watching their first year videos, visiting the Meriter NICU to offer our thanks and enjoyed a special lunch!

Another day to praise Him for our blessings and thank His angels here on earth!

IMG_3305IMG_3310