No Pressure

Good Times

No Pressure

4 Comments 20 October 2014


I mentioned in the last post that having 5 kids in kindergarten has added a new layer of crazy to our world.  Well….here’s a good example of what I was talking about.  The kindergarten teachers sent out an email last week about a new project coming up for our little scholars (first thought:  yay!  5 projects to do…so completely what we were hoping for!).  The kids are learning about rhyming words and being introduced to poetry through the use of nursery rhymes.  To make it memorable and fun (of course – fun – this is kindergarten – everything must be fun!) the kids are all going to pick out a nursery rhyme that they will present to the class on a tri-fold presentation board (which is thankfully being done at school and not at home!).  And here’s where the fun comes in – the kids are going to dress up like one of the characters in the nursery rhyme!  We get to figure out the what and the how of 5 nursery rhyme costumes….yay us!  So yeah…there’s that.

But here’s where the story gets funny.  Ryan picked “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as her nursery rhyme.  Easy enough right?  Dress her in black, sew or pin some stars to her and we’re good.  Right?  Well, Ryan had other ideas.  She told Casey that she wanted a star costume – she wants to be a star.  Not several stars on a black shirt; a single star with her arms and legs as the points of the star.  Casey just kind of gave her the ol’ non-committal “uh-huh” that parents know so well and sent Ryan back to play.  But Ryan didn’t go back to play – she went to the drawing board to draw a picture.  She drew the picture you see above.  Yes, that’s Ryan on the pedestal with her star costume being sewn by her maid-servant, aka Casey Ann.  No pressure, mama…you got this!  Umm, yeah…….

The other kids haven’t yet provided us with vignettes of their costumes, but I’m sure they’ll get to it soon.  Here is what they’ll be dressing up as:  Brooklyn is doing Baa Baa Black Sheep; Britton and Lila are both Jill from Jack ‘n’ Jill; and Jack is Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater.  Look out fun, here we come!

God bless……….Ethan

*Just to be clear and hopefully keep people from getting the wrong impression – we love the kids’ kindergarten teachers and know the kids will love this project.  Yes, it’s a bit much for us to do 5 costumes, but that’s the way it goes when you have quints – it’s what we signed up for when we told the doctors we would absolutely not consider reducing the pregnancy when we learned Casey had 5 little miracles growing inside of her.  It would be absurd for the teachers to change their lesson plans or projects for us and even if they did that, we would not accept the change because it would deprive our 5 from having the fun learning experiences that the other kids in their class would enjoy.  So, not complaining (well, maybe a little),  just sharing some of the challenges we face in a hopefully fun way.  Hope you enjoy!

Transition……….To Change

Good Times

Transition……….To Change

10 Comments 29 September 2014


We’re no strangers to change around here – when you get the news that you’ll be welcoming quintuplets into your world, change becomes as familiar to you as your own face in the mirror.  We went from 1 kid to 6 and shortly after that we went from privileged to tightly packed when we downsized our house as our family nearly tripled in size…and we went from a fairly anonymous existence to a very public one along the way.  We changed cars, family budgets, and long term plans.  Our bank accounts changed quite a bit and so did our priorities.  Perspective, passions, pursuits, and pleasures, both simple and complex – no stone was left unturned in the last several years.  So yeah, change?  We got this.

Not surprisingly, the ongoing theme of our recent history did not alter course over the summer and heading into fall.  In May we decided to put our house on the market to take advantage of the sizzling Austin economy.  Favor was on our side and the home sold in three weeks!  We closed and moved in late July into a rental in our same neighborhood.  The move went well – we even got a break from the Texas summer heat on moving day when a cloudy, unseasonably cool day rolled into town.  Five or six weeks later we were 100% settled into the new home, a temporary one – it’s a rental so yeah, we’re already signed up for more big changes ahead…more on that later.


Just as we got ourselves settled into the home, the biggest change we’ve faced in a long time, one that we’ve anticipated for years came on August 25th at 7:45 am – KINDERGARTEN!!!!!  Yes, it finally arrived, the big day we’ve been waiting for……and waiting for…………aaaaaannnnnddd waiting for for what seemed like foooooorrrreeeevvvvveeeeeeeerrrrrrrr!!!!!  I’m guessing you can tell by that last statement that no, we are not homeschooling.  (And yes, that’s a question we get a lot because I guess people for some reason equate large families with homeschooling.  Thanks Duggars?  Mormons?  Who gets the thanks for that utterly insane perception???  God bless those who can do the homeschooling thing and do it well.  It’s not us, not in our DNA.)  Back to the subject – so yeah, kindergarten is here and it’s going very, very well.  And of course we cannot forget about our superstar 5th grader, Eliot McKenna – she’s doing awesome in school as well, loves her teachers, taking on some tougher course work and responsibilities (it’s a big jump from how fourth grade was), and is all and all being the usual rock star that she always is.

So here’s the lowdown on the kinder program.  I believe it is recommended that you split up your multiples when they hit the classroom so that they can develop their individuality.  Uh-huh.  That’s all fine and good for you parents of twins, triplets, and quads slackers, but we’ve got 5 and you’re nuts if you think we’re going to have the bandwidth to deal with 5 different teachers (plus Eliot’s 3 teachers), 5 sets of school projects, 5 classrooms full of 20+ potential inviters and invitees to birthday parties, 100+ classmates and their drama, and all the other madness that would come with that.  Five different sets of emails and friendly “volunteer donation” reminders from 5 different homeroom moms……..seriously, no one is strong enough to handle that! ;)  But we didn’t want to put them all in one class and Texas has a law that allows the parents of multiples to decide how their children are placed in their classrooms so we decided to go with a 3/2 split.  How did you decide who to put together you ask?  Of course you asked that – if not out loud, you definitely thought it in your head as soon as you read that last sentence.  Yeah, we get that question a lot.  Well, we tried to think of how the pairings would work out best and well, we failed, but that’s a good thing.  The kids all do pretty great with each other and when they’re not being pretty great they’re being pretty awful – there’s really no in-between.  But they treat each other pretty great and pretty awful at a pretty even rate.  In other words, they don’t really have any alliances.  The two who are best friends today will be best friends with another one of their siblings tomorrow.  The three that are filing down their toothbrushes to make shanks so they can settle things once and for all with each other will all be best friends tomorrow and the next day they’ll be in the love/hate cycle with another one or two of the kids.  This phenomenon is known as the circle of siblinghood, I believe.  Kind of like the circle of life but without the death and killing and eating of each other kind of stuff… far.


The 3/2 split is working out pretty well.  We’ve got Lila and Jack together in one class and Brooklyn, Britton, and Ryan in the other class and their classrooms are right next to each other’s.  In fact, their classrooms connect with a little hallway at the back of the rooms where the cubbies for their backpacks are.  It’s funny to watch them wave at each other from across the hall when they’re hanging up their stuff at the start of the day.  Actually, the one thing we thought would be good with the split was for Lila and Ryan to be separated.  Those two are as competitive as the ladies on ‘The Bachelor’ and we thought it would be good for them to have some other kids to try and dominate for awhile.  (I overheard this from Lila to Ryan just today – “You always think you’re better than me!!!”  Oh boy…..)

Like I said, kindergarten is going great.  All of the kids love their teachers (and we love them too – they both rock!) and are excited to go to school every day!  And…and…AND!!!!!  Not one of them has been in a lick of trouble in the first four weeks!!!  Not even Britton!!!!  OOOOOOOHHHHH YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!


As for me and Casey, well, we’re in transition.  For me, it’s pretty much all good except that I have to get up so dang early now to get them all off to school.  While I’m getting myself ready for the work day, Casey pretty much handles getting the kids ready for school, fed, water bottles filled up, backpacks packed, lunches handled, and of course hugged and kissed on their way out the door.  I drive all 6 to a neighborhood right near the school and walk them in just like I’ve always done with Eliot and then Eliot stays with me and helps get the littles dropped off at their class.  After that, I walk Eliot down to her class….I love it and I’m really going to miss it when she doesn’t let me walk with her anymore which is probably coming really soon…uggggg!!  I’m usually home working when the chaos gets home from school (Casey picks them up) so I still get to enjoy a little bit of family madness while my work day is winding down, but the quiet days are pretty nice!

For Casey, it’s a little more of a mixed bag as she’s working on reclaiming a little piece of what she once knew as a life while she works on keeping these kids on track.  She’s catching up on some organization projects, digging into some new meal plans for healthier eating around here, getting back into a workout routine, and preparing for when the kids get back home and turn the house upside down again.  Contrary to what you might think and what I generally accuse her of doing, she is not laying around eating bon-bons and her life has not gotten any easier since the school year began – my girl’s a worker, a tireless worker!  Getting into a rhythm with all of these changes has been a bit of a challenge and we’re still working out some kinks, but she’s getting there and feeling better about things every day.


To sum it all up, this family is currently in a period of transition…to change.  And we’re used to that change thing.  It’s just a different kind of change this time around and it’s bigger than our typical every day kind.  Change.  That’s what we do around here and we’ve been doing a whole heckuva lot of it lately.  It’s been a new kind of crazy in an otherwise crazy life, but we’re handling it well I think.  At least I hope so because 2014/2015 promises to be a whirlwind of a time for us!  Oh yeah, that other big change I said we’re signed up for?  We’re planning on hopefully, maybe early next year, starting construction on a new home……oh my, oh my….good, busy, crazy, stressful, blessed times ahead!!!!

Until we chat again…God bless!!

Catching Up

Good Times

Catching Up

6 Comments 22 September 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Mother’s Day 2014

It’s been awhile since I updated this blog on a regular basis and much has happened in our lives since that time.  So I’m thinking the first order of business should be to give you a little refresher course in what it means to live life with 5+1.  As you can imagine, life is at is always has been – filled with headaches and heartaches as Casey and I do our best to keep our sanity in the midst of the madness of raising six young’ns to NOT be psychopathic imbeciles bent on the destruction of society.  Somedays we wonder if there is any hope for them or us!  The saving grace of this is the fact that due only to the grace of the Lord above, we ended up with 6 fiery, funny, fun-loving, pretty sweet, somewhat polite, fairly well-behaved little angels-in-training….at least so far.

The next soccer superstar of the family??

The next soccer superstar of the family??

In the personality department, not much has changed.  Eliot is still the leader of this eclectic band and has taken on much more of a motherly role with the 5.  There are lots of big hugs and kisses goodnight, one-on-one playtime sessions, teaching moments and words of wisdom, and group activities that are headed up by the “sistriarch” of the family and we love it!  She has also assigned herself the title and responsibilities of the Special Assistant to the Director of Discipline and asserts herself quite frequently when she sees any of the 5 getting out of line (which can lead to some interesting challenges, but it’s really great to see some of the fruits of our labors with her in her younger years starting to shine through).  And the kids, of course, still think Eliot hung the moon and the stars which is a-ok with us!

I had 5 dates to the Daddy/Daughter Dance!

I had 5 dates to the Daddy/Daughter Dance!

As for the Fab Five – read back through the blogs I did on their individual personalities back in the summer of 2012 and you’ll know our kids as they are today.  Brooklyn – sweet as can be, bunny-loving princess who seems to stroll through life in her own little world, stopping to smell every flower along the way.  Britton – firecracker with the passion of a newly-frocked priest at a Southern Baptist tent revival!  The girl has anger issues – she knows it, the other kids know it, we’re praying and working hard on her everyday, but she has shown great improvement.  And good Lord, she has the funniest, happiest disposition when she’s not stomping that foot of hers and declaring the end of humanity with her cries!!

Britton's napping it!

Britton’s napping position…love it!

*Side note – funny thing about Britt – she has started taking naps again, something she started to do entirely on her own.  Sometime around mid-afternoon she’ll simply disappear, only to be found later in her bed, on her belly, butt up in the air with her blanket gripped in her tiny hands down between her legs, sawing logs and drooling on her pillow (it’s hilarious!) and we’ve found that she does much better with her attitude on days that she gets a full nap.*


This May Eliot was baptized and has chosen to live her life for Christ!

Jack-Jack – still happy with a sensitive side…sometimes and without warning, an extremely sensitive side!  He’s been playing soccer for a year now and seems to really enjoy it though he’s not quite caught on to the fact that you’re supposed to actually try and take the ball from the other kids and not just dance around the scrum (my formerly aggressive soccer-playing self has had a lot of practice on my patience…a whole lot!).  Generally Jack is busy just being awesome at doing his thing and not letting the girls get to him too much with the constant issue of them being well, girls… :)  Lila – gregarious, curious, mischievous, and often hilarious.  Yep, nothing has changed with her!  And Ryan – what more can I say – the girl is a superstar at everything she does.  She’s still our little lion ready to take on any challenge thrown her way!

The girls had their first dance recital in cute!

The girls had their first dance recital in May…so cute!

As I said before, life is as it always has been – challenging (but in a mostly fun and rewarding way), hectic, ever-evolving, demanding, imperfect, and yeah, fun, rewarding, and full of laughter.  And believe it or not, Casey and I still love each other, work pretty dang well together, don’t argue too much, and constantly look for little moments to get away from the crazies and enjoy some peace while we reconnect.   Sometimes we actually succeed and find those little moments and it’s usually pretty awesome when we do.  It’s pretty cool to know that after 21 years of being together (married for 15) that when we do get away, we still have fun together, still have surprises for each other at times, and still get excited about living life together and facing the challenges of life…together.

Keep tuning in to the blog from time to time ‘cuz I promise more is coming.  I’ve got plenty to talk about these days – transitions and new beginnings seem to be our lives’ theme and I’ll be doing my best to keep you all up to date.  Until then…….God bless!


I’m Back! (I think…)

Good Times

I’m Back! (I think…)

7 Comments 14 September 2014


Here we go again…I think. Maybe. I had a crazy thought the other day and this is my first attempt at following through on it. I’m going to start blogging again. Maybe.

I’d like to write again – I truly miss it. I miss the interaction with our friends and the faithful followers of our family’s story. I miss the therapy the blog has provided me so many times over the years – being able to unpack my emotions and struggles as I work through the words of another post is worth more than a month of sessions on the therapist’s couch! And I miss the memory book the blog provides of our many adventures over the years. Sharing the adventure with friends and family was the reason we started the blog in the first place and someday, sharing the adventure with our kids in reminiscent times will be more valuable than we could ever imagine.

But the reason I stopped blogging in the first place is that I simply had no more time to devote to it. The kids got more mobile and with that, life got more hands on for me, more on the go, more involved, and more tiring…way more tiring. Piggyback rides and bike riding lessons and wrestling with daddy and the constant instructing (Get your feet off the table! Flush the toilet! Don’t hit your sister! Stop pulling Lilly’s tail! No, you cannot put Play-Doh in the toilet and act like a sea monster is coming to get you!) – that stuff wears a man down!

But I miss it. And I know I’ll miss it more years from now when I want to go back through the timeline of our times with the wanna-be diva and her five little followers. So I’m going to try. The posts might be a little shorter and they might have fewer pictures (thank you, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for picking up my slack on the pics), but I’m moving it up on the priority list and hoping for the best. And I also hope you’ll follow along. Talk to you soon….I hope. :)


God bless,


The Creek, the Crawdad, and Apparently, the Competition

Good Times

The Creek, the Crawdad, and Apparently, the Competition

43 Comments 01 July 2013


The kids are getting bigger and more independent, as 4-1/2 year olds are prone to do, which is great for a whole lotta reasons.  But there is one reason in particular about the kids getting bigger that excites me most of all – the opportunity for adventure!!  Babies are cute and cuddly and all of that fluffy stuff which is why we love them so much, of course.  Toddlers are funny and fun and challenging in their own special way.  I love all of the different phases of early childhood for various reasons.  But I can’t wait until the kids get old enough to really do things – toss the ball in the yard, climb a tree, row a kayak, swing on a rope swing and let go over a crisp, cool lake on a hot summer day – those are the adventures I am ready to discover with my kids!  Eliot has been in adventure mode with me for awhile, but the little ones are just now beginning to touch their toes into those unknown waters…and I am ready!!

So we found ourselves on a little adventure – just me and Casey, Jack, Brooklyn, and Ryan.  Eliot, Britton, and Lila are spending the week at the grandparents’ places so it was just the 5 of us…an almost normal-sized family for once.  Summer is in full swing here in Texas with upper 90 degree highs the standard for the day and that means that you must find water if you are to be outside for any length of time.  And that is just what we did – headed off to the creek for some fun and, of course, adventure!


Our chosen destination was Bull Creek and it is awesome!  It’s about 10 miles away from downtown and the water is always cool.  There are huge areas where the water is ankle deep and there are other spots where it is over your head, but it is always clear as can be.  The creek runs through some limestone cliffs and cedar-choked hill country and is one of the most picturesque spots in all of Austin.  Oh, and dogs are allowed so we took Lilly along with us.  The kids had a blast swimming, hiking, and spotting sunfish and other creatures along the creek bed.  One creature in particular really got our attention though – crawdads!


Have you ever heard of a crawdad?  You might know them as crawfish or crayfish – they look exactly like lobsters, but they are little, about the length of a credit card or maybe a pen.  You can find them in the creeks and rivers around Texas and other southern states, usually hiding in the mud or under a rock.  I remember spending a good bit of time in my youth combing the creeks around our house for those little mud bugs…good times for a little boy on the loose!


Back to the story!  Like I said, Bull Creek is crystal clear and we’re walking along when all of a sudden, Jack yells out, “Look!  A lobster!”  I got there first, just in time to see the “lobster” right before it scuttled under a rock and out of view.  It was a crawdad, for sure, but I couldn’t get him to come out of his hiding place for everyone else to see.  So I gave the kids a little lesson about what Jack saw – a crawdad, not a lobster, but it looks just like a lobster and they live in the creek so be on the lookout for more – and off we went again.  So we’re on the move once more, everyone keeping their eye out for crawdads when I see one and this time it’s out in the open, walking along the floor of the creek.  So I called everyone over, keeping Lilly under control by my side so she wouldn’t scare off our little friend.  “Look everyone – it’s another crawdad, just like what Jack saw!”

And that’s when something happened, or rather, when something was said.  And I knew in that moment that Jack and I had officially entered another phase of our relationship……………..

“The one I found was BIGGER than the one you found, Daddy!,” Jack said proudly.

Huh.  Oh, really, Jack?  You measured the crawdads, did you?  You, my little Rainman wannabe, knew in an instant of seeing two different crawdads from 15 feet away that the crawdad you saw was bigger than the one I saw and, even if this were the case, you believe this is something that is worth pointing out to the entire group there assembled?  So that’s how it’s gonna be, huh?  Didn’t realize we were competing or that we were on that level now, but I guess I was wrong.  Ok, yours was bigger…I’ll let you have this one, it’s cool…….noooooo problem……

Alright, I’m a big boy, too and two can play at this game.  I’m in, I’m ready………and I can’t wait!!  Let the games begin!

I love you, Jack-Jack, and I am excited about all of the adventures and, of course, competitions (friendly, loving, teaching, learning, growing, big, and small) that are in store for us!!

God Bless,


The Trip from Down There (You Know Where…)

Good Times

The Trip from Down There (You Know Where…)

63 Comments 05 June 2013


We’re back!  Well, sort of.  If you follow this blog (or used to), you can probably tell that I haven’t been too good at keeping things up to date lately.  I would love to tell you differently, but unfortunately this isn’t likely to change in the near future, though I will really try to post more updates.  The good news is the reason for the absence – my work as owner of Eliot J Construction has picked up considerably which keeps me fully occupied during the work week and the kids are at an age now where we are running around quite a bit with them which keeps me pretty well occupied on the weekends.  In short:  a busier work week which enables me to better support my family + more time with the family on the weekends which enables me to keep my head clear and heart full = much less time to write blog updates.  We do still update the Facebook and Twitter pages regularly though so we haven’t completely dropped out and have no intention or desire to do so.  Being able to share our lives with friends, family, and supporters through all of the various media available to us has been richly rewarding and we have not grown tired of being engaged in this way!  We will continue to do our best to share with you the stories, the chaos, the fun, the struggles, and everything in between that comes with a life with five plus one…promise!

Here are a couple of quick updates before I get into the story of the trip from you know where…

The kids are growing like weeds, as they are known to do, and life is as crazy and hectic as ever.  No, it hasn’t gotten any easier yet, just different.  But life is as it always has been, probably more so in this regard – a lot of fun!  Seriously, with 5 uniquely goofy, creative, curious, needy, active 4-year-olds running around the house following their superstar big sister on adventures big and small, there is no shortage of fun and laughter in our home.  Life is equally demanding though as fights erupt with regularity, meltdowns over trivial matters are all too frequent, nights are restless, bladders are tiny, accidents of all kinds are common, and messes occur in the blink of an eye…all of this and then some seemingly every hour of every day!


Eliot will be graduating from the 3rd grade in a few days and in anticipation of the hot Texas summer she cut her hair short for the first time.  She loves the new look which go great with her new braces…super cute!  The quints will be headed off to kindergarten in a little over a year’s time.  The 5 have been in a mom’s day out program two times a week which has been great.  Their teachers are awesome, the kids love going, and the 6 hours/week of free time that Casey gets out of the deal is priceless!  This past spring, Eliot McKenna resumed her role as the Internationally Known Soccer Superstar  with another successful soccer season and two of the kids, Jack and Britton, hope to follow in her footsteps this fall.  Lila, Brooklyn, and Ryan have chosen to dance and will be taking ballet when the other kids start up with soccer.  Yep, our crazy busy life is about to get crazier, busier, and probably a bit more chaotically cute, as always!!

I guess to sum it all up – life is good, God is great, and our kids are crazy!!!!  Now, onto the story of the trip from below…way below……….


Ok, I have to admit…it wasn’t that bad.  We actually had a good time and came home with some fantastic memories of our time away.  We relaxed, we slept in, we strolled casually (I honestly cannot remember the last time I strolled casually!), we ate great food, embarked on adventures, and enjoyed the glory of God’s creation all around us.  In many ways, it was everything a weekend getaway without the kids ought to be and we are already looking forward to the next one.

I booked the trip without telling Casey and surprised her on Mother’s Day with the news.  On Memorial Day weekend we were to drive up to Denton, drop off the kids and the dog at the grandparents’ house, then head to the airport for 2 nights and 3 days in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the most enchanted of locales in the “Land of Enchantment.”  It was perfectly planned, perfectly timed, and perfectly matched to our increasing need for time away from the constancy of the responsibilities that define our life.  If only things would have stayed perfect……and it didn’t take long for it to go all wrong!


Thursday night, 11:00, Casey and I are crawling into bed after a long road trip from Austin to Denton, getting the kids settled and put to bed, and making last minute preparations for our flight the next day.  We were to get up at 5:00 am on Friday, leave by 6:00 before the kids got up, and get the getaway started early.  No sooner had our heads hit the pillow did we know that this trip was not going to get off to the best of starts.  It started with Britton – she couldn’t sleep.  Then she had to potty.  Then she had to poop.  Then her tummy hurt.  Then she just wanted to fuss because that’s what Britton does.  Then Jack had to potty.  Then he just started yelling for no good reason because that’s what Jack does.  Then Lila couldn’t sleep, had to go potty.  Then Britton again, don’t remember why.  Then again and again and again.  In the six hours between 11:00 pm Thursday night and 5:00 am Friday morning, our kids woke us up 11 times.  Six hours, 11 wakeup calls………..11 wakeup calls!!!!  I think I got two hours of uninterrupted sleep; Casey wasn’t so richly blessed.  At 5:00 am, my head was throbbing, my joints were aching, my eyes felt like someone had been poking them with their finger for several hours on end, and our little getaway was already in danger of getting away from us.  Nonetheless, our spirits were not to be broken so easily and we headed off to the airport leaving our cares behind!  Nothing was going to stop us from relaxing and having a good time!!

We made it to our hotel with no trouble, checked in, dropped off the bags, and though we were both dead tired we hit the streets of Santa Fe in search of a good time……it was a struggle.  Don’t get me wrong, Santa Fe did not disappoint – the weather was beautiful, the restaurant we ate at was fantastic, the people were friendly, blah, blah, blah…did I mention we had less than two hours of sleep the night before because 3 of our 6 kids decided to do everything in their power to make us hate them??  Fortunately for the kids they didn’t succeed, but neither did we in our efforts to put it behind us and carve out a relaxed, happy time.  We powered through, took some pictures, bought a few trinkets…….and got into bed at 8:45.  And that’s when things suddenly got better, much, much better!


The sheets were soft, the down comforter was fluffy, and the sleep came easy, 9 glorious uninterrupted hours of zzz’s plus an hour of simply staying in bed, eyes closed yet fully awake, enjoying the silence of a domicile that contained only two people both over the age of….well, neither of them were kids!  This is what getting away was all about and this was worth all of the trouble it took to get here!!!


The rest of the day did not disappoint.  We decided to take a road trip out to Angel Fire and see what adventures we could get ourselves into in that little part of the world.  After a leisurely, picturesque, windows-down drive through the mountains, we arrived in time for lunch at the base of Angel Fire ski resort.  We had no plans, but quickly came up with something to fill the day.  I’m not sure how I pulled this off, but somehow I convinced Casey to strap on a helmet, elbow/forearm pads, and knee/shin pads, load a downhill mountain bike onto the back of a ski lift, and hop on with it to get to the top of a 10,000+ foot tall mountain before pointing her tires downhill and rumbling down the mountainside over rocks and curves, dirt and dangers of all kinds.  IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!  Neither of us had done anything like this before and had no mountain biking experience, but we were able to not only make it down alive, but do so with only one scrape on Casey’s thigh from a little tumble she took near the top.  By the time it was over, we were both sweaty, covered with dirt, and smiling from ear to ear!  We hit the road back to the hotel, cleaned up, grabbed some dinner, then headed back to our gloriously peaceful slice of heaven (otherwise known as our hotel room) for another great night of uninterrupted sleep…..nothing better!


And then it all came crashing, clanging, banging, and screeching to a halt and it all ended with one little text message.

From Casey’s mom, 7:30 am, Sunday morning:  “Casey, I hate to bother you with this on your vacation, but I feel I have no choice.  Lilly Belle has been throwing up all night and this morning she won’t stand up or move at all.  I’m afraid she must have eaten something in the yard and her intestines are blocked.  I don’t know what I should do, but she is in very bad shape.”

NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (That’s pretty much all I remember doing for the next several hours.)


Let me tell you something about Lilly Belle – she’s a great dog and we love her dearly, but she’s a dog and therfore she can be really, really stupid in spite of her breed’s supposed intelligence.  She is half golden retriever and half poodle – a combination of two of the smartest dog breeds in the world and through her training, etc. she has proven to have some smarts…dog smarts.  But she’s still a dog and dogs as they relate to humans are stupid.  They can be trained to do really smart-seeming things, but left to their own devices, dogs are as stupid as stupid gets.  Loveable, cute, adoreable, wonderful in many ways, but dumb as dirt on a lollipop when compared to the intelligence of even some of the dumbest humans around.  There are exceptions, of course.  Lilly is no exception.

Lilly has a fiendish appetite for eating two things that no human no matter how intellectually challenged would ever dare to ingest – rocks and socks.  She doesn’t chew the socks up, she swallows them whole.  By absurd and wholly incomprehensible contrast, she chews on rocks and sometimes one slips down her throat.  We’ve found both socks and rocks in her poop and her vomit since she was a pup and we have been unable to get her to stop eating these things as well as incapable of keeping all of the rocks and socks away from her.  We feared that this dreadful day might someday happen, but of course we were completely stunned when the day actually arrived……at 7:30 am… a hotel room……in Santa Fe, New Mexico……while we were supposed to be getting away from our stressful lives for a tiny little 3 day getaway……..

Goodbye weekend getaway, hello stress bomb!!!  Goodbye casual stroll, hello frantic texting!!  Goodbye savings account, hello to even more belt-tightening!!  Goodbye clear headed peaceful tranquility, hello questions with bad or no answers, difficult decision-making, and partial solutions!!  What do we do?  How much is this going to cost?  What if she doesn’t survive the condition or the treatment?  If we spend the money and she does survive how are we going to prevent this from happening again?  Wasn’t I supposed to be sipping a mimosa and meandering through an art gallery right about now????

Lilly Belle 5.31.13

Well, we did the frantic texting and got the bad answers – yes it is an intestinal blockage, yes she will die without surgery, yes it will cost way more than we can afford, yes dogs often swallow things they shouldn’t, no there isn’t a good way to keep them from doing so.  Fantastic.  Then we made the difficult decision – yes go ahead with the surgery.  I never got that mimosa, but I did meander through a few art galleries…it was an angry meander though, nothing like the casual stroll of the day gone by!

Our flight left later that day and we eventually got back to our parents’ house around 9:00 that evening.  Lilly had made it through the surgery – a rock, a sock, and a ponytail holder were extracted from her small intestine (way to pack it all in, Lilly!) – and she was in recovery. The kids were thrilled to see us and we were……, yeah, we were thrilled to see them too….yeah, that’s what we’ll go with.  I wish I could say the drama was over by that point, but apparently our bad luck had not run out quite yet.  Lilly was not recovering well and needed to stay on IV’s for at least another day (it ended up being another four days) and yours truly came down with a stomach bug just in time for the drive back to Austin.  Faaaaannntttaaaasssssstttiiiic!!!!


So we did get some good sleep on our trip and had some great weather.  We also had a near-perfect day on Saturday; I honestly do not know how it could have been any better.  The kids had an absolute blast with Nana, Bappa, Summer, Angel, Grandma, and Grandpa and that always gives our hearts a smile.  And I got 64 consecutive hours alone with Casey Ann.  And even though our time together was mostly spent either sleeping, sleep-deprived, or stressed out of our minds, time alone with my lady is absolutely priceless and I’ll take it under any conditions.  Lilly did survive, finally came home from the vets, and will be coming back to Austin in a few more days.  Our bank account will survive as well (though, unlike Lilly Belle, it will take more than a few days for it to recover).  So all’s well that ends well, right?  Right?  Right??!  RIGHT???????!!!!

God bless,



The Jones Fam

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