As of this moment, not the one in which you are reading these words, but the one in which I am typing the words into my computer, it has been nearly 313 days since our family was last in front of the cameras filming a new episode of “Quints by Surprise.” I know that it probably seems like it has been forever since we’ve been on your TV screen, but really, can you believe it has been nearly a year?? We miss filming the show – we miss the crew and we miss the energy that percolates through the atmosphere on filming days. We miss having a soundtrack playing in the background of our lives and we miss being a front row spectator to the creative process that transforms our daily routines, challenges, victories, and frustrations into something that is at times fun, funny, and faith-filled, heartwarming, uplifting, and hopefully, always very, very real about the very real ups and downs of life with quints plus one…
When we last filmed, Eliot was keeping us all busy with another soccer season and getting settled in to her new school year (2nd grade) as her super-infatuation with all things Taylor Swift was beginning to overtake her life (that’s her in the picture below, head on my shoulder, Taylor’ed out – before the concert was over!). This time last year, Eliot was ready to rock it in her vampire costume for Halloween, the seeds were being planted for a cheerleading future when she got to hang out on the field with the Baylor Bear Cheerleaders, and she was wearing the “missing my two front teeth” look with pride and warming up to sing about it at Christmas time!
The Fab Five, meanwhile, had Casey and me neck deep in potty training (and life training!) – the grip of the terrible two’s clinched oh so tightly around our lives! When they weren’t scheming new ways to keep us on our toes, they were enthusiastically taking on every new experience we could think to throw their way - learning how to ride their bikes and how to dance ballet like Eliot, getting their first real taste of football season in Texas and what it means to be a Baylor Bear football fan, and preparing for the ultimate experience of their 2-1/2 year old lives – dressing up as the Wizard of Oz characters for Halloween!
It should now go without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) – the show has been a positive force in our lives and hopefully in yours, too. It has helped us to create and of course document amazing memories for our family; it has opened our world up to interactions with people all over the world – some who check in just to say they love the show and appreciate our family, others who are looking for advice or encouragement, and still others who simply want to share their story, their struggle, and their joy, and want to thank us for inspiring them in some small way to keep smiling and to keep the faith. Judging by these messages and the many others we have received through Facebook and Twitter, the show has had a positive impact on the lives of many others outside of our little clan…truly an answer to our prayers!
Also judging by the many, many messages we get on the subject, I can tell you that there are many out there wondering the same thing you may be – will the show ever be back??! Well, the honest answer is that we don’t know for sure, that we hope that it does, and that with each day that passes without a call from TLC, the prospects of the show returning grow weaker and weaker. There are times when it absolutely kills us to not have the cameras around, to know that what we are experiencing at that moment with the kids is not being captured for the show. The quints’ 3rd birthday party, our attempts at teaching them how to swim, our first family trip to the beach, funny little games the kids make up, Eliot’s development as the best big sister on the planet – Facebook and Twitter are great, but we would really love to share these experiences with you in living color!!
But the choice is not ours to make…it’s not in our hands. And those whose job it is to make decisions such as these aren’t committing and they aren’t saying exactly why. Nonetheless, no matter what happens with the show, we are incredibly grateful to have had this experience and we are incredibly grateful to all of you who have watched and followed along with our little adventures…
So since you won’t be seeing us on your TV screens anytime soon, I thought I would fill you in on what defines “these days” for the Jones family…
These days, those “cheer” seeds that were planted at the Baylor football game a year ago have produced a Four Points Pop Warner Mighty Mite Viper Cheerleader! Eliot’s soccer days are behind her and it’s nothing but pom-poms and high kicks for now…she loves the cheering, hates the Texas heat she has to endure while she’s cheering on her team! Eliot has also just started her new school year (she’s a 3rd grader!) and in spite of some struggles getting to know all of the new faces in her class, she is completely in love with her new teacher and is off to another great start! And how about this – only in our family does a cheerleader have her very own cheer section…
These days, we are still struggling to get all five 100% potty trained…grrr!!! We made a huge push a year ago to get this done and we had pretty good and pretty immediate success, getting all five completely trained has proven to be really, really difficult…and frustrating! We’re trying to be very, very patient and not push them too hard, but oh my gosh we are tired of cleaning up pee off the floor!!!!
These days, The Wizard of Oz is still one of the faves in our home, but it has serious competition from Peppa Pig, Max & Ruby, and The Fresh Beat Band.
These days, Eliot is still a superstar big sister – both in our eyes as parents and in the quints’ eyes as adoring little super fans! Eliot loves to take the kids into her room, one at a time, to have special little play dates with each of them which they all absolutely love. She has also started to join me at bedtime so that she can read to them, help tuck them in, and give them a giggle before she bolts downstairs. And her maternal instincts have kicked in – she’ll often jump in to help settle disputes, soothe hurt feelings, and correct the kids when they are going astray…Eliot, the caretaker – who would have ever guessed?!
These just-ending summer days, the kids got more than their fill of sun, sand, swimming pools, ice cream treats, trips to the zoo, sprinkler fun in the backyard, kite flying, and all of the other summertime fun you can think of! The 5 got their first trip to the beach when we made the trek with both sets of grandparents to the Texas coast…they loved it, they wore us out, and now they wear us out everyday asking when we can go back!!
These days we have finally managed to get the whole family to church and Sunday school on a regular basis…hallelujah!! The quints love going to church and get excited every week to get to see Miss Kelly and Miss Allie who shower them with good love every week! Eliot thinks the youth pastor, Todd, is as cool as they come and Casey and I are just plain happy to be back to the church we love so much. We really can’t say enough good things about the warm, loving, and Christ-focused environment that greets us every time we get the opportunity to be on the Riverbend campus…God has been so good to us through our church home!
These days, there is nothing better for me than to watch Eliot and Jack play together…it is endlessly fun to watch these two go at it! Jack will come out of nowhere to tackle his big sister, catching her completely off guard! But you know our little spark plug isn’t going to let him get away with it so the chase is on! They laugh and giggle and tackle and chase and poke and punch and then do it all again…it’s awesome and it is totally unique to these two! None of the girls gets after Eliot the way Jack does and though I know Eliot loves it, I really think part of her doesn’t know exactly how to handle this rambunctious little brat that won’t give up, won’t stop messing with her, and won’t stop giggling is curly little head off when he does is coming after her…so so so cute!
These very recent days, The Fab Five have started attending a “Mom’s Day Out” program two days a week…YAY FOR CASEY!!!!! The program is held at a local gym, 3F Fitness, and the kids learn tumbling and stretching as well as their abc’s and 1-2-3′s…and I’m sure you guessed this part – they LOVE it!! Thank you so much to the owners, William and Haley, for putting this program together and inviting our family to join!
These days, sleep is much less difficult to come by though we had to go through fire to reclaim the blissful treasure that comes with a full night’s sleep! Earlier in the year, the quints put us through every trial you could imagine – Britton waking up at all hours of the night in a screaming fit, Lila waking up at 5:00 or 6:00 am day after day after day, Jack waking up everyone in the room at 3:00 am to tell them all that he has to go potty, Ryan waking up at 5 am so she could wake Lila up who would then make sure Britton, Brooklyn, and Jack got the memo that it was 5:00 am and time to torment mommy and daddy….it was BRUTAL!!!
And because sleep is more consistently available now, these days, life has become almost routine in our usual chaotic sort of way. Casey’s and my morning workouts have become pretty regular and the kids usually don’t get up until about 6:30 which is a godsend to us…though we long for the days that it will be 7:00 or 7:30. And since we got rid of nap time, bedtime has become much more consistent (and much less intensely chaotic and stressful!) – the kids are in bed, lights out by 7:30 every night and they’re usually all fast asleep by 8:00.
These days, we still have a handful of committed, loving, and totally awesome volunteers who have been with us from the beginning and who continue to provide loving care to our little ones, giving Casey and I much needed breaks from the perpetual craziness that defines our life. To our volunteers, past and present: thank you, thank you, thank you….THANK YOU!!!!
To answer the question we get quite often – no, these days are not any easier than the days that have gone before…though we’re hoping that the 5′s 5th year of life will bring some relief to our weary souls! I’ll repeat: no, it hasn’t gotten any easier; rather, the challenges have changed. Gone are the sleepless nights, hello mega-attitude and meltdowns from 5 hyper-sensitive little beings trying to find their place in the world. Gone is the endless parade of dirty diapers, hello pee accidents by the handful and the joys of taking 5 tots to the bathroom 5 times when we dare venture out of the house. Gone are the days of bottle feeding and burping, hello knocked over milk cups, protests over what has been provided for a meal, food thrown across the table, and ginormous messes left at the dinner table…and the dinner floor…and the dinner clothes…and the dinner hands and faces…and so on and so forth. No, things are definitely not easier by any barometer we can measure by…just different.
But as I write these words, I am reminded that in many ways life these days is no different than those that are past. We are blessed, abundantly so, and that is no different than before; we are challenged, abundantly so, and that is no different than before. It has been said that to whom much is given, much is expected. Well, to put it simply: we have been given much! This is something that has not changed and will not change – life with quints plus one is a rare and awesome blessing in every sense of the word. And no doubt, we will continue to be given much as we face the challenges of raising these 6 to be 6 happy, healthy, respectful, caring, well-adjusted, and God-loving tweens, teens, and beyond. Let the blessings flow down!!