Looking Back at Lily (2017-2018)

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Lillian Grace remains the most laid back of the quints. Her easy-going personality is refreshing. She loves hard and let’s go easy and is ever-so forgiving.

Lily is also very loyal and the queen of routine; if we did it once a certain way, it can be assumed that it must be done that way every time. Luckily, type B Lily can be swayed as long as you have a reason.

Lily is also an animal lover. She loves Papa Ron’s Holly girl and aspires to one day live nearby so she can care for Holly while Papa is on trips. This is just one example of Lily’s consideration. She loves to help and her intuitive nature brings her to your side before you even know you need a hand.

Join us as we watch Lily over the last year…

Lily at four years…

Lily at three years…

Lily at two years…

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

A Season of Firsts

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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Family First

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” -Mother Teresa

In this messy world, you hear hundreds of antidotes for the issues that plague society but I agree with Mother Teresa. If you want to change the world, start at home.

From a young age, I was taught that family comes first. We were a family that worked together and played together; quality time was precious and memorable. I hope to instill these values in the V5.

Three practical ways to incorporate family time into busy lives are to:

  • Enjoy Family Meals,
  • Find time for one-on-one memories,
  • Escape for a weekend, and
  • Keep Daddy and Mommy, Husband and Wife.

Family Meals

What parent wouldn’t want their child to have…

  • Higher grades,
  • Larger vocabulary,
  • Higher self-confidence and self-efficacy,
  • Greater sense of resilience, with
  • Lower risks of substance abuse, mental illness and obesity.

As well as, a better sense of personal and family identity.

All of these attributes start around the table. Researchers continue to observe that families who dine together for 4 or more meals each week experience the aforementioned benefits.

Eating together as a family has taken on many forms for over the years but one thing has stayed the same- we eat together at least one time each day: breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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One-on-One Memories

We cherish our breakfasts with each child which we have blogged about in the past. But, recently the girls got to take Daddy and Papa Brett to their Daddy (and Grand-Daddy) Daughter Dance.

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Theo and I took this opportunity to have a date night of our own, filled with a trip to the library, dinner and finished up with some time at a local pool (Thank you, Diane!).

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Weekend Escape

Finding a new environment to explore as a family can be fun and affordable. Whether it’s a day trip to a nearby park or forest preserve, visit to friends and family, or a vacation destination, new settings can provide the reset that families are seeking. We recently spent one night, two days in the Dells.

 

While my attention was split between a professional conference and family, it was magical to watch the kids experience a hotel and resort for the first time. We packed in two waterparks, a four-story play park, go-karts, and arcade games which were perfect ingredients for family fun!

Stay Husband and Wife

This is the most difficult task for Frank and I. We aspire to get away each week but if it’s not broomball season it turns out to be monthly.

Broomball

Whether it be a quick walk after dinner, golf outing, breakfast at a new pancake place, or a strategy game after the kids go down, this time is cherished. It helps us connect, share our days, and stay husband and wife.

 

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.

 

 

The Reason for the Season

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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.

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!

Summer, wherefore art thou?

Every August, as Labor Day approaches, we ask ourselves where has summer gone? Time is now flying by at a rate that far exceeds any in the past. These last two months were filled with fun, adventure, milestones and memories. And… I’ll let our pictures tell the store of the summer of 2017!

The V5 were featured on Valley Perinatal Services’ Blog

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Our posts included a special thank you to our miracle-working, perinatologist Dr. John Elliott. In case you are wondering, this individual is who Ellie is named after and her inspiration for one day becoming an Astronaut Physician… who is also a “cat lady;” her words and her dreams.

Lily Said Tata to her Tonsils and Adenoids

This was an adventure, milestone and now a memory. We discovered that Lily had sleep apnea earlier this year and finally had her T&A in late July. She had a rough recovery and needed a second operation the first week in August but now has completely healed. She also finally has her voice back, too! The rest of the V5 were especially supportive to her and now we have a bunch of otolaryngologists running around our home removing tonsils and adenoids on a daily basis.

Enjoyed their 1st Amusement Park- Little Amerika

Nana B, Papa Brett, the quints and I took a little drive to our local amusement park and enjoyed the afternoon speeding in circles.

 

Swimming Lessons

Swimming this summer was very impressionable! The munchkins were divided for the first time during swimming lessons this year: Theo, Kali and Ellie were in one class and Bella and Lily had their own classes. Bella loved the space to explore independently, however Lily did not enjoy it. This was a lesson for Mom and Dad in planning for 4-k this fall that Lily benefits from a buddy. All in all, it was a solid experience and all advanced!

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The V5 took on Four

We are four weeks into year four and very excited for preschool which will be starting on the 11th of September. Theo and Lily will be sharing a class and Kali, Bella and Ellie will be in their own class. Thank you all for the birthday wishes and for helping us celebrate our miracles.

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Explored Pope Farm Conservancy’s Sunflowers

Looking Back at Bella

Isabella Marie will be leading us into the quint’s birthday tomorrow. Big Sister Bella is a take-charge kind of lady. Her charismatic personality often lands her in the leadership position. She is quite considerate in this role and rarely abuses her power.

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Bella bean is truly our creative artist. She rattles off a tune easily in her beautiful sing-song voice and often sings her and her room-mate (Kali) to sleep each night. When she’s not singing, coloring or drawing, she is usually dreaming up some drama-filled scenario with her animals or princesses.

This one takes princessing seriously; her appearance and fashion are important to her. She is also quick to judge so, put on your thick skin when Bella is around. Lucky for her, she often gets away with pointing out others’ insecurities using her cute giggle and charming smile; Kids do say the darnest things. I must say that this is a rarity; she is as sweet as can be and is very sensitive to others’ needs.

Now, let’s look back at Bella over the last year…

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 Theodore Joseph

Big brother, Theo, got lucky that “cool blue Tuesday” comes before Purple Princess Wednesday and didn’t have to be number five in this series. While, I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded; he has saintly patience. I’m confident he’s going to be quite the gentlemen.

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He is empathetic, compassionate, and can spot distress from across the room. Whenever, I need it most, Theo’s there at my knees giving me a squeeze and tells me that he never runs out of hugs; my heart melts every time.

He is also Mr. Smarty Pants and has started to help teach his sisters all that he knows. His language, inquisitive nature and critical thinking amaze me; they are beyond his years. As you will see in the video below, he is also quite literal.

Theo also has a silly side and loves to be imaginative with “his girls.” I’m looking forward to watching Theo grow as he starts school and meets other boys his own age.

Now, a look back at Theo…

Theo at Three Years…

Theo at Two Years…

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