Looking Back at Rosie (2020-2021)

Little Miss Rosie remains our firecracker who routinely goes from zero to 60 in emotion and physicality. She is the household gymnast and is committed to doing at least 30 gymnastic tricks each day to fine tune her cartwheels, splits, front walk over and back handspring. She is excited to try team gymnastics this fall.

Ellie prides herself in her organization skillset and takes pride in the cleanliness of her space.

Rosie was also over-the-moon this last year when we purchased a family cat, named Mittens. She has commenced her journey as a cat lady.

Now, a look back at our Ellie Rosie over the last year set to the tune of Fast by Luke Bryan…

Ellie at seven years…

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 Bella (2020-2021)

Isabella Marie remains the creative quint from singing to a variety of art; Bella loves to create!

Her sweet voice continues to be heard at night, long after her sibs have fallen asleep. Her lullabies last until Mom and Dad’s bed time and are usually the sounds that we all wake up to. This night owl also has the strongest gratitude practice in the house. It is not uncommon for her to sneak in a quick thank you, hug and kiss for even the smallest of tasks.

This last year, Bella fell in love with American Idol and was Willie Spence’s BIGGEST fan! However, her love for Willie is rivaled by her fandom for Javier Baez and Patrick Mahomes.

Now, a look back at Bella’s last year set to the tune of the Friends Theme song…

Bella at seven years…

Bella at six years…

Bella at five years…

Bella at four years…

Bella at three years…

Bella at two years…

Bella’s First Year…

Tribute to Us

43877941_10110227856360680_5655020616433008640_o

“A baby’s born in the middle of the night in a local delivery room. They grab his feet, smack him ’til he cries he goes home the next afternoon. ‘Fore you know it he’s off to school and then he graduates in May; Goes out and gets a PHD and then cures all sorts of things; Wins a Nobel prize and saves a million different lives; The world’s a better place for all he’s done. It’s funny when you think about the reason he’s alive; Is all because two people fell in love….There ain’t nothin’ not affected when two hearts get connected. All that is, will be, or ever was. Every single choice we make, Every breath we get to take is all because two people fell in love.”

FB_IMG_1562866421997

This last month, Frank and I celebrated a dozen years of marriage. Our anniversary sneaks up on us every year and this year I asked myself why. I concluded that it is because over time our marriage is becoming a lower priority. It is of course not our intention but is simply a product of our attention going in 5+ other directions and not taking the time and effort to build into each other and our relationship.

This year, I felt the neglect of our nurturing more than in years passed and felt the need to lean in, take a chance, and find out if he felt it, too. Turns out, we both were observing the same thing…months without a date and a child-free conversation. Yes, we still engage in dialog, “I love you’s,” and good night smooches but it has all become routine. More evidence of where our relationship is on our radar is this very blog, which is void of discussion on the marriage where these five miracles find their origin. Therefore, this post is a Tribute to Us because the happily ever after that we live each day is all because two people fell in love.

51782128_10110705321721270_2021361392187080704_o

We like to say there was chemistry in chemistry back in Mrs. Peterson’s lab in 2002. Seated in alphabetical order, our paths were destined to cross. While Frank’s eyes first glanced upon my test answers before me, I didn’t hold it against him. It would’ve been easy to write him off as a cheater but instead this baseball stud and amateur rock star tugged at my heart strings.

10264147_10103770827163950_2898971893321474179_o

Somehow we both got out of that situation with a stern talking to from our teacher versus a failing grade. While I wouldn’t necessary describe us as “high school sweet hearts,” I gave my heart away to him our sophomore year and it made its home in our- at the time- feeble relationship, which ebbed and flowed until my senior year of high school when we made a commitment to each other that I know today will last a lifetime. The trials and tribulations didn’t stop after the magical period of infatuation. Life dealt us our fair share of hardships, but no gale has been too much to capsize our ship.  Looking back, I believe these difficulties and dark times prepared us for one of the hardest tasks we have ever encountered together- parenting.

44415_10100207405569390_8127092_n

 

Today, we remain committed and have recently renewed this commitment to “us” because we know this is a promise to a better future for our children and our family. And, one day when our house is too quiet for comfort and the chaos has subsided we will not look across the table to see a stranger but, a best friend.

52170501_10110689072170500_4931307820919291904_n

Strategies that we have found and are finding can help sustain a stressed marriage are not hard to come by. A quick google search will serve up too many to peruse but here are ours:

  • Make a commitment to your marriage and outline what that means.
  • Support each other- the other person’s identity- and what is important to them.
  • Identify and call-out habits and routines that may be slowly pull you and your spouse apart.
  • Share habits and routines that keep you together.
  • Identify your love language and actively seek to “speak” your spouse’s language.
  • Redefine what a date is.
  • Be brave and willing to take a risk on behalf of your relationship. See something, say something [in kindness].
  • Let your marriage be a testament to I Corinthians 13 and live our Romans chapter 12.

I end with the words of these two letters from St. Paul, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;     if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21)

received_707624036361368

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13: 4-13)

 

 

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

A Few Questions for You…

We caught a glimpse of fun parent-child interviews this week on Facebook and thought we would record the kiddos’ answers to the questions as they related to themselves and their interests, as well as, their perspectives of our interests.

What is…

Theo

Bella

Lily

Kali

Ellie

Use Your Noggin’

Theo

Bella

Lily

Kali

Ellie

What is Mommy’s…

I loved these answers and truly provided their perspective. Some answers were accurate, some were goofy and others were very wrong.

Theo

Bella

Lily

Kali

Ellie

 

The Reason for the Season

324175756_2017_11_5

Tradition. What is a tradition? We describe it as something you do every year. In our home, the Christmas tradition revolves around Jesus’ birthday. God gave us Jesus, who gives us the gift of grace. Therefore, each Christmas we celebrate this priceless gift by giving others gifts. Sometimes these gifts can be wrapped up with a bow, but the more precious gifts cannot. This season, I’m resolving to give my children the gift of time.

We recently received the V5’s first school pictures. At first glance, I was taken back at how old they looked! My babies are growing up, toddlerhood is in the past, my little miracles are kids; Rough, tumble, sassy and sweet children.

About the same time, the school pictures came in the mail, I also uncovered their birthing video. Banner Health invites each family the opportunity to record their birthing event [it’s certainly an event]. Viewing these two book-ends of the last four plus years only accentuated how vital time is.

I write this post now, during one of the busiest times of year, as a reminder to myself to slow down. To rethink the to-do list and truly evaluate what “needs” to get done versus what would make me feel good to get done. Is it a “need to do” or a “nice to do?” While the days are long in our home, the weeks, months and years are short. I often need divine intervention to make it through a lunch hour with the kiddos, but at the end of the day, the hugs, giggles and sweet moments shine through.

So, now my challenge to you is to do the same. Take a time out, to consider your reason for the season. Slow down enough to see the years flying by, to hear the snow and to meditate on the healing power of time with loved ones.

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

Springtime Fun

Spring is by far my favorite season and certainly not because of the weather but rather because of the new life that abounds. February through April reminds me so much of pregnancy; Didn’t see that coming, did you? This late Winter/Early Spring is just like the 3rd trimester because new life is right on the brink but you are left trudging through uncomfortable, frigid rains for three more months. Then, finally the warm showers arrive and bring forth beauty from the vibrant green grass to the clear blue skies. The sun which previously only provided light now warms the air and brings the birds and critters out to play.

This spring has been especially fun because we have been able to get outdoors and experience all that this season has to offer… budding trees, mud, puddles and sunshine on our skin. Before summer arrives, I thought it be best to provide a snapshot of our spring time fun!

March

Late in March the kiddos got to travel to Chicago, stay up late and sleep over at Papa Ron’s to watch Uncle JD’s senior recital.

Uncle’s Concert

Click Picture to start video
NEIU recital

They were so inspired; we had to have our own performance that weekend. We present to you the Concerto de Quint!

April

April temps warmed up and we discovered a new park nearby in Deforest. They loved the racing slides!

Slide race

Seesaw

Easter weekend, we got to celebrate Papa Ron’s birthday and go on an epic Easter egg hunt! Our little Easter bunnies filled up on their bunny oats and then found 50 eggs filled with stickers, chalk and clues to discover their Easter baskets!

Easter Oats

Easter Lily

17883668_10107844097966610_7049886655035536945_n

Out of the Mouth…

ThunderstormbannerYesterday evening was a stormy night. The V5 are not keen on thunderstorms and thus I made another attempt to normalize nature with use of a fable. When I was a “small” girl, I also was rattled by thunder. My Dad’s dad was quite the bowler and passed away when my Dad was young and thus my Dad used to tell me that the thunder was my Grandpa Joe bowling with his fellow angels. I shared this story with my children last night.

After our evening snack, instead of wrestling them to bed, I gathered them beneath the skylights in Theo, Lily and Ellie’s room. We turned off all of the lights and just took in the thunder and hail storm. They loved the lightning but the crashing hail and thunder rattled them all. I let them know that I was not scared because I knew that we needed the rain to help the things we loved to grow. I also shared that the big booms were the angels bowling. I reminded them that I was there to keep them safe and the angels were also there to look out for them from heaven. Kali Mae then asked if God would also keep her safe, and I replied, “Always.” Then, Bella chimed in to share that God wasn’t in the sky but that He was in her heart. Kali quickly added that Jesus lived in her heart; Theo confirmed the same for himself. I was speechless and could only smile. Kali asked me if Jesus lived in my heart and I said, “Yes, yes He does.”

The conversation quickly turned to whether God is a boy or a girl and I tried my best to save that one for another day. This completely took me off guard because we had never talked about this before. We read the bible and go to church but this was a conclusion that they had come upon based on their experiences at Sunday school. In all honesty, I didn’t think they were absorbing much from Sunday school because I always ask what they learned or talked about and I get the same answer… “I don’t know.” Turns out the Spirit is working and now all I can think about is this precious moment and praise God for His grand purposes and plans that are carried out independent of our actions. I will continue to pray that this newfound knowledge for Theo, Kali and Bella will continue to grow and help shape their identities as God’s beautiful children. I will also pray that God’s Spirit will continue to whisper in the ears of Elliott and Lillian.

As I reminisce today, I recall their dedication and what that ceremony meant. For me, I dedicated them the moment I found out I was pregnant because I knew this was a God-thing and I was simply along for the ride. I was called to fight for their livelihood and ensure their delivery. In the NICU, I was an advocate for their care. Once home, it was and is my job to create and maintain a safe environment for growth; growth in mind, body and spirit. These, however, are earthly concerns. I feel my primary responsibility is to love them; to love them with play, instruction and discipline. To love them by modeling; modeling love for others, modeling respect for their father and honor for their elders, modeling forgiveness, gratitude and thanksgiving. To love them by knowing my role; knowing when to close my mouth and open my eyes and ears wide to watch. When it is my turn to talk, I will love them with my words.

I await the day to share these words with my children.  I want them to know…

Instead of “Mama,” call me” home” because you will always have a place to lay your head with me.

I want you to know knowledge, to learn skills but most of all to maintain the attitude of one who humbly acknowledges they are still learning.

You will experience hardship. Life will trip you and then hit you when you’re down but getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way you will ever learn to appreciate the sweet taste of air. Life can hurt and time can heal. Falling and failing are part of the journey and the only way you will fly, is if you jump.

You also won’t always get what you want. You’ll want what your neighbor has, your first love to last, your pain to go away, and to save the world. But, our hands are too small, our lives to short and no bucket big enough to catch all the tears that the earth cries. These are the days for running in the rain.

Running away the worry, the pain, and the anxiety. Emptying the body of its strength so that all you’re left with is who you are and who you were made to be.

I want you to look at the world as your oyster. Every moment is the zenith. Find your strength and power from above, know your time, and get out of your way.

There will be those days; the days to lift your eyes to lift your chin, and seek out the blessings.

Slow down to go fast. Close your mouth to open your ears. Shut your eyes to open them.

Always apologize and own your mistakes but never apologize for who you are.

The world will ask you to stop crying, quiet down and button up. Choose to embrace your emotions, plant your passion, water it and watch it grow.

 

Taking on Three

dsc00919

The V5 have fully embraced being three! They love being “big” kids who can pick out their own clothes and dress themselves, go potty on their own, take on any playground equipment mom will let them and enjoy new foods, which were previously no-go’s due to fears of choking. I believe my favorite part of them being three is watching their imaginations grow! They are finally learning how to engage with one another in thoughtful and dramatic play. Some days… okay most days… it is tug of war and a battle of wills, but there are moments when I catch them caring for one another, using nice words, and even complimenting each other.

dsc00935

Their favorite play time activities include whipping up their favorite meals in their play kitchen, taking care of their dear stuffed animals, running pretend errands to the grocery store, heading to work or church, the doctor’s office and even tournaments (like Daddy). Outdoors they enjoy going to local parks, swinging on their play set, hunting for caterpillars, gardening (or picking unripened fruit) and playing in the sand.

They also are growing like never before. They love discovering which new ledges they can reach, how fast they can run from point A to point B and now which doors and windows they can open. It is a new challenge to stay one step ahead of this gang. Our best “red flag” that danger is impending is silence.

The girls’ hair also was growing so fast and so long that we took them for their first haircuts. They did so well that the stylist thought they were regulars. And, of course, Mr. Theo played “I spy” patiently throughout the salon as he waiting for his four sisters.

img_1145

Their knowledge of the world, emotions and others is also ever-increasing. I, now, have to agree with many parents when they say that threes are more difficult than two’s. The two-year-old is still learning to navigate the world before them and tantrums can often be the result of simple confusion; I have pity on the two-year-old. The three-year-old, while of course still learning, knows their world better, knows what they want, and knows each and every strategy to get it, or at least try to get it; I do not pity the three-year-old. I also am now a firm-believer in threenagers; they’re real and they’re nasty.

I can’t say it better than the Huffington Post’s Top 10 Signs You Are Living with a Threenager

  1. You live in constant fear of how to cut the shape of their toast. Do they want triangles today, rectangles, squares? And when they do tell you, they change their mind right after you cut it.
  2. They say things like (with hands firmly placed on hips), “I don’t want to. I want to do what I want to do!”
  3. You go through three or more wardrobe changes a day.
  4. Your child goes boneless the second you remind them that a transition is coming, especially when they are asked to stop playing. By the way, when was this ability given to children? You know, lay limp and double your body weight so mom can’t move you. It’s a talent reminiscent of a possum playing dead…
  5. They run away from you when it’s time to get dressed, or undressed, or do anything they deem unnecessary. In fact running away from you is their favorite activity. (Cardio workout?)
  6. To nap or not to nap, that is the question. A threenager’s answer will always be emphatically “NO!”
  7. They want three (or more) of everything because they are three.
  8. Threenagers do not possess patience.
  9. You have to leave a 10 minute buffer on any activity so they can it all on by their “OWN SELF!”
  10. You realize they’ll be a great trial lawyer one day when they’ve just negotiated their way out of a time-out.

I won’t miss the drama of the threenager years, but I know I will miss the sweet cuddles, sincere naivete, and their expressions when trying something for the first time.