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Jack William

The Fab Five

Jack William

14 Comments 16 May 2012

When it came time to pick names for the Fab Five we found it to be much easier than we had expected.  We simply wrote down all of the names that we even remotely liked then went through making various combinations with the names on the list until we settled on those we liked best.  After a few name-choosing sessions, we had it all figured out and had settled on the names we loved.  In hindsight we reasoned that it was probably so easy because we needed so many names and we got to choose all of our favorites.  Piece of cake!

Except for when it came to name the boy.

There was a lot of pressure in this call – knowing that we only had one boy in the mix and knowing that there was almost ZERO chance of bringing another baby boy into the world in our future, we knew we had one chance to get it right.  And so it was a really, really tough decision…at least we made it that way.  He was our only boy and we wanted him to have a strong boy name.  But not overly strong.  But it couldn’t be feminine at all, no way, not our style.  But it had to have a nice ring to it.  And it had to work with “William” because that is a family name and it was a must that the full name included it.  And it also had to sound good with Jones and it had to work when you said the first, middle, and last together at the same time.  But it couldn’t be too trendy or…….did I mention it had to be a strong name?

Set that aside for a moment and rewind with me back to March 2004.  Casey and I are in our doctor’s office for a regularly scheduled sonogram, but this time it was the big one – we were going to find out the sex of our first baby.  And as you of course know the results, it was a girl.  In a few short months she was introduced to the world, our little world at the time, as Eliot McKenna (we had a hard time deciding on her name as well) and I experienced firsthand the very real feelings of love at first sight! Casey of course already had a nearly-nine month relationship with Little Miss E by the time we first met her and so the maternal love was already deeply connected by that time.  But for me, a head over heels heart explosion detonated the instant I looked into her eyes!!

I don’t have a sister, just one older brother, and was generally pretty shy around girls growing up until I got to know them.  I didn’t really know a whole lot about the mysterious ways of the opposite sex by the time Eliot was born.  I think Casey would even admit to you that in spite of her steady influence over the prior 10+ years, I was pretty clueless in all things girl/woman/X-chromosomed.  But when Eliot was born, something inside me clicked and I can honestly tell you I never once feared her “girl-ness”.  I feel like I always knew just how to love her, how to interact with her, and how to teach, discipline, and nurture this crazy little force of estrogen that had invaded our world and I still feel like I have a pretty good handle on things with her today.  (I know, I know…check back with me when she hits the teen years, has a real crush on a young punk, I mean boy, wants to study abroad, blah, blah, blah…I’ll probably be a complete wreck in those situations, but we’re dealing with the present here people!!)

Alright, fast forward back to Jack…that’s who this blog post is supposed to be about, right?  Well it is and there is a point of telling you all of this about Eliot and the names.  The point is to illustrate for you a contrast:  whereas raising Eliot and the rest of the girls has come as natural to me as breathing, raising Jack has been as challenging as it was picking out his name.  At times, it has been as confounding as you would think it would have been for me to raise 5 girls.  And as natural as it has felt for me to raise Eliot and her four followers, raising Jack has been every bit as UN-natural.

“Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid.” John Wayne

I don’t know what I expected out of my boy when he was born…well that’s not true – I know exactly what I expected.  He was supposed to be tough…and strong…and adventurous…and a little crazy like his oldest sister.  He was supposed to be born with John Wayne’s swagger, Michael Jordan’s killer instinct, and Clint Eastwood’s ability to roll his own cigarettes while handling a six-shooter.  A bit much?

Ok, ok…given the fact that I am 36 years old and I still don’t possess the characteristics of the aforementioned American heroes, maybe my expectations were a little high.  So how about this – he was supposed to be born with a hint of their character traits and a strong desire to gain what he was lacking.  Still no good?

I must admit, Jack has fallen far short of these otherworldly expectations, and that is of course a good thing and obviously in line with reality, thank the Lord.  He has been laid back (some of the time), happy (much of the time), and sensitive (way more of the time than I would like).  He’s been funny, whiny, goofy, rough and tumble, shy, gregarious, and loving.  We have called him Big Bad Jack, Happy Jack, and Mr. Giggles, but most often we call him Jack-Jack or Jack Jones…there’s something about Jack-Jack that works for him.  Though lately we have been calling him Jack the Playa now that he has taken to calling his sisters “his girls”.  We have been delighting in (and slightly troubled with) his now frequent, smooth-talking seductions such as,  “Where my girls at??” and “It’s bedtime…just me, my stuffed hippo, and my girls. Out!”  Not sure if he’s been watching hip-hop videos or what, but I don’t think we should let this new language of his go on much longer…

The thing is, it is not easy to define Jack.  He is a mixed bag – emotionally arrested one moment, boyish charm oozing out of him the next; cluelessly rough and tumble with the girls today, helplessly prickly and sensitive tomorrow; happy-go-lucky this morning, as smooth as day old, cheap coffee this afternoon.

What gives??  Boys are supposed to be the easy ones to raise!  Everyone always shakes their heads when they hear about all those girls in my life, but no one…NO ONE…ever…EVER…warned me about any difficulties in raising a boy!  Quite the contrary as a matter of fact.  Aside from the “warnings” that come with toothy-grinned laughter about the usual “boys will be boys” behavior, everyone either directly states or implicitly remarks that boys are not just easier, but EASY to raise.   No one……again: NO ONE…warned me that there would be days when you swear your son is going through menopause or that there would be times when you would rather deal with a rabid jackal than deal with your son’s intractable disposition!

With six kids under the age of eight running around our home we know very well that every child’s temperament is uniquely their own, but surely we are not the first and only family to experience first hand the trauma of a male child’s first few years of life.  Surely someone else out there and more likely many more people out there have experienced similar difficulties with their bouncing baby boys.  Tell me we are not alone in this!!!

Hold on a minute…I think I need to dial it back just a little.  It seems I have maybe laid it on a little thick.  No, Jack hasn’t been that tough to manage.  He has his moments and he has his moods and he is way more touchy about things than we would like, but then again he is only three years old.  For the most part, he is a happy-go-lucky, silly, funny, little boy with a charming smile, a classic little boy giggle, and a loving and happy constitution.  He is an awesome little man who in no way compares in temperament to a rabid jackel…most of the time.  He is my son and I love everything about him!

Can you see how conflicted I am here?!!?

So why the angst and the anxiety about his behavior?  Why do I get so twisted up when Jack rips off an ear-piercing scream at the prospect of putting down his pink (yes, pink!) stuffed puppy so he can come eat lunch with the family?  Why the frustration in watching him fall to a heap in a fit of tears when one of the girls bumps into him??  Surely this is normal behavior for a boy of his age and surely this is a thing that will pass soon enough.

So again, what gives?

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I’ve given this a lot of thought and I am fairly certain I know the answer.  I have come to the conclusion that the biggest challenge I have faced in raising Jack, the one thing that I can undeniably blame for my frustration and relative agony is this:  me.

Yeah, I think that’s it.  No, I don’t just think it, I KNOW that’s it.  In fact, I alluded to it about half way up this page – you know, the whole thing about John Wayne and Clint Eastwood and handling a gun and all that.  That was kind of a giveaway, don’t you think?  I admit it, I am the problem here.  Jack is awesome; I am so not awesome that I hereby renounce any and all claims I have once made, continue to make, or may make in the future about my level of awesomeness being above the level of awesomeness assigned to dead fish.  Not cool, Ethan Jones, not cool at all…

“Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.” C.S. Lewis

Alright, dramatics aside, I will cautiously and hesitantly maintain that there is at least a tiny bit of justification I can muster for my total not awesomeness.  Like I said, I’ve given this a lot of thought so there is a possibility, however remote, that my justification may actually hold water so stop rolling your eyes, bare with me a minute, and keep reading.

So here is how I see it.  I have heard that life is tough, unfair, and sometimes unbearable for girls and women; I’ve read it, discussed it, witnessed it, fought it, and taken various stands against it.  I believe it to be true just as I believe the earth revolves around the sun.  And just as I cannot feel the earth move on its orbital path, I cannot feel it when little girls are mistreated and women are disrespected in the workplace or classroom.  I cannot feel the undoubtedly gut-wrenching frustration girls and women feel when trying to live up to impossible ideals put forth by magazine covers that depict impossibly thin models,  or by “child advocates” who criticize working moms for not staying home to raise their kids, and by political elites who claim that career stay-at-home moms have “never worked a day in their lives”.  But the fact that I don’t feel these injustices doesn’t mean they aren’t real and for girls and women in today’s world, I believe them when they say that this life is hard, sometimes impossibly so.

But when it comes to men and boys and the life that they face, I know it’s real – life is hard for boys and men, sometimes impossibly so.  I know this because I’ve lived it; I’ve faced the challenges and the struggles and the unfairness, and the impossibly high standards that boys and men face in today’s world.  I have faced them and succeeded at times, but much more often I have faced them and failed.  Too many times than I care to count I have failed to live up to the standards of boys and men as set forth by:  1) society at large 2) Hollywood 3) preachers 4) magazine covers/articles 5) the ‘ol boys club 6) women 7) other boys and men 8) teachers 9) coaches 10) bosses…….I could keep going if you like………..

So there it is, my excuse.  My excuse for being frustrated with the capricious nature of my son’s interactions with life is simply that I know intimately well how tough life is going to be for him and I want him to be ready.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that life is at least equally if not more challenging for girls and women and I want no less for my girls what I want for Jack – success, happiness, balance, fulfillment, joy…and I’ll work no less for their success as I do for Jack’s.  But when it comes to Jack and boys and men, I know the unrelenting pressures of life; I feel them everyday, I’ve lived them for 36 years, and those experiences make me acutely aware of all that life is going to exact from him.

And so I micro-analyze everything about him and about his readiness.  I want him to overcome.  I want him to be prepared; I want him to be well equipped; I want him to be able to handle life at its toughest;  I want him to live up to the impossibly high standards set for him by others in spite of my understanding that those standards will be impossible for him to achieve…

And that right there is exactly where I have gone wrong…

Jack is not John Wayne.  He is not Michael Jordan or Clint Eastwood and he never will be.  He’s just Jack and he is just a boy.  And although he was fearfully and wonderfully made, knitted together in Casey’s womb by his perfect and loving father, he is not perfect.  And just like his dad, he never will be perfect and he never will live up to the standards set for him by others.  In fact, if Jack tries to live up to any standards other than those set for him by the same perfect and loving creator who made him, he will fail.  This isn’t something I’ve been told or read about and it isn’t something I believe; it is something that I know because I have lived it.  I’ve faced the challenges and the struggles and the unfairness, and the impossibly high standards that boys and men face in today’s world…and I failed to meet them.  And it wasn’t until I stopped trying to live up to those impossibly high standards and began to live for the standards set forth for me by Christ that I experienced real success, real triumph, real joy, and real fulfillment.

So Jack, consider this my letter of apology to you.  I’ve fallen for the world’s traps so many times before so I should have seen this coming, but I didn’t and for that I am sorry. God has a design for you, a plan, and a mission for your life and it is my job to help you find your way, to guide you, if needed, over and through the obstacles that will cross your path, to help you become the man that He designed you to be, and to get out of your way when the time is right.  This is the one and only standard that I hope you live up to – the standard set forth specifically, intentionally, and willfully by God the Father.  Follow the path that He has laid out for you and your success, happiness, fulfillment, balance, joy, and peace are guaranteed………I know this, I’ve lived it.

God bless,



The Carousel of Bunnies and Bluebonnets

Good Times

The Carousel of Bunnies and Bluebonnets

9 Comments 06 April 2012

Easter is almost here so I had to break from the blog posts I have been doing on each of the kids to properly recognize one of my favorite holidays!!  We are celebrating this time around as we have for the last 5 or 6 years – in Austin with a house full of family – nothing better!  All of the kids are super-excited for the festivities and the wall-to-wall fun…and hopefully someday they’ll be as excited as Casey and I are for the amazing opportunities for worship and praise that await us at Riverbend church!

I don’t know exactly what it is, but the Easter holiday seems to take on more and more significance in my heart with each passing year.  Casey and I first visited Riverbend Church on an Easter Sunday several years ago and we were instantly hooked on the atmosphere, the warmth, and the mission of the church – to serve the bruised, the battered, the broken and the bored of our community and world; reclaiming, restoring and reproducing for the cause of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.  But it wasn’t until Eliot came along and then when the Quint Invasion took over our world that we realized fully the impact of what Christ did for us on the cross so long ago and continues to do for us today by his LIFE, LOVE, and GRACE.  There is not a doubt in our minds, He is risen!!

So I have a couple of quick stories that will put a smile on your face.  First, if you follow us on Facebook, you probably saw this little story about the absurd conversations our little ones somehow get us into.  It was too funny not to share here for those who didn’t catch it the first time around so here it goes again…

If you haven’t heard, we have been potty training since shortly after the Fab Five’s 3rd birthday in January.  It has been a tough few months, but we are about 95% potty trained!!!  And of course, you know we have had plenty of funny/frustrating/ridiculous times along the way to teaching 5 tots how to use the potty properly!!  So underwear and panties are now a big deal in our home, more importantly the cartoon character or Disney Princess that is on the underwear is what has become the topic of much discussion.  And this is how one of those discussions played out the other day…

Britton: “Ryan, do you like my Belle panties?”
Lila: “I want to see your Belle panties!”
Britton: “No, YOU can’t see my Belle panties ‘cuz YOU’RE not my best buddy!”
Me: “Oh no you didn’t, Britton – you are not going to be a brat like that! You show Lila your panties!”
Britton: “I caaaaann’t doooo it!”
Me: “Britton, you pull down your pants and show Lila your panties right now!”
Britton: “I caaaaaaannn’t!”
Me: “Britton, you pull down your pants and show Lila your panties or you’re going to timeout!”
(Britton pulls down sweatpants to show her panties)
Me: “See, Lila? See Britton’s panties…aren’t they pretty?”
Lila: (couldn’t care less about the panties)
Me: “Britton, pull your pants up…”

I’m pretty sure that one belongs in the Parent-to-Child-Conversation Wing of the Parenting Hall of Fame!  That exists, right?  The Hall of Fame of Parenting………??

And for story #2, we pick up the scene as the Jones family has embarked on another of Casey’s picture taking adventures, arriving to meet Casey’s crack dealer, Elle Mendenhall of Ella Bella Photography fame, in a field of Texas wildflowers.  This field, by the way, is incredible!  I have been sworn to secrecy as to its location, but let me just tell you, there is no better field of wildflowers, tall grasses, live oak trees, and all things that scream springtime in Texas…it is a slice of Heaven on Earth!

So we’re taking pictures and having a pretty good time with it because the kids are loving all of the flowers, Brooklyn most of all.  Our little princess, Brooklyn Faith is absolutely giddy in love and can’t take her eyes off of the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes as Elle snaps away.  Recognizing that Casey is about to faint from her feelings of elation from knowing she just might get the cutest photos ever taken of any child ever in the history of child photo taking, Elle goes in for the kill and pulls out……………..A BABY BUNNY!!!!!

OH…MY…………..GOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH!!!!!!  Are you kidding me?????  At this point, I seriously begin to worry that both my wife and Brooklyn might die from an overdose on cuddly cuteness!!  Acute Cuddly Cuteness Trauma – trust me, it’s a medical condition – rarely seen, often fatal.  Against better judgment, we put the baby bunny in Brooklyn’s lap and she literally cannot stop giggling and glowing from her whole being as she looks down upon this helpless little creature before her.

You may not understand how much Brooklyn loves bunnies so let me make this abundantly clear:  the little girl’s world revolves around three things:  princesses, flowers, and bunnies!!  Every night at bedtime I go around to each of the kids to tuck them into bed and I ask them to tell me something good about their day.  You can imagine the responses I get – they are as varied and hilarious as the day is long.  But there is one constant to this routine – every time I get to Brooklyn and ask her the question, I get the same response:  “I love my bunny.”  Sometimes I get, “I love bunnies” and at other times I also get, “I love bunnies hopping in fields of flowers.”  Every! Single!! Night!!!  She never mentions princesses, doesn’t say anything about the color pink…it’s ALWAYS bunnies!!!


Ok, Back to the story…

So this bunny, the physical manifestation of all that Brooklyn has dreamed of since before her first breath, is sitting in her very lap in a field of flowers no less!!  If it is possible to die, at the age of 3 no less, having achieved and experienced everything you have ever dreamed of in life, it would happen in this moment with Brooklyn, the bluebonnets, and the bunny!!  And for some reason, I seem to be the only adult who seems to be concerned about the possibility of Brooklyn’s spontaneous combustion before our very eyes!!!

And then it happens.

The bunny is still in Brooklyn’s lap and Brooklyn is still super-duper-crazy giddy with excitement when something else somehow catches her eye – the flowers!!!!  And suddenly it’s as if the baby bunny IN HER LAP does not exist as she giggles helplessly at the flowers surrounding her.

And then it happens again – something other than the flowers catches her eye – the bunny in her lap!!! And suddenly it is as if the flowers SURROUNDING HER do not exist as she giggles helplessly at the baby bunny.

And then, the flowers around her once again catch Brooklyn’s eyes and it’s as if the baby bunny IN HER LAP does not exist as she giggles helplessly once again at the flowers surrounding her.

And then, the bunny in her lap catches her eye and………….this carousel of bunnies and Bluebonnets goes around and around and around and around and could still be ongoing today if we had not pulled the bunny for fear that we would all die from Acute Cuddly Cuteness Trauma!!!!!

CLASSIC Brooklyn Faith, our sweet little princess…need I say more??

Yes, I will say one more thing:  HAPPY EASTER FROM THE JONES FAMILY!!!!!!!

God bless,


P.S.  Elle is super slammed this time of year, but found time to get me the pics for this post! Thank you, Elle!!

Britton Grace

The Fab Five

Britton Grace

11 Comments 20 March 2012


noun 1. Anatomy . a hollow, pumplike organ of blood circulation, composed mainly of rhythmically contractile smooth muscle, located in the chest between the lungs and slightly to the left and consisting of four chambers

I couldn’t find a direct answer, but by my best estimate, Britton Grace, born the smallest of the Fab Five at 2 pounds, 2 ounces, had a heart that weighed less than 11 thousandths of an ounce when she made her entrance into this world.  11 THOUSANDTHS of an ounce!!  That’s 0.011 for those who need the numbers to better visualize what I’m talking about here.  And for comparison, the best answer I could find for the weight of an acorn is 0.102 ounces.  In other words, if I am even remotely close on my estimates, Britton’s heart at the time she was born weighed nearly 10 times less than an acorn.

Go outside and look under the nearest oak tree and you are sure to find plenty of acorns.  Pick one up and feel for yourself.  Toss it in the air a few times and again, feel it.  What is it that you feel other than…nothing.  Beyond the smooth outer shell, there is nothing more to feel because it weighs practically nothing.  And yet one of the most powerful organs in the human body and one of the most important organs responsible for Britton’s survival on a moment-by-moment basis was a mere David to the acorn’s Goliath.


noun 2. the center of the total personality, especially with reference to intuition, feeling, or emotion

The estimate that I found for the weight of the heart was that this mighty little organ makes up a miniscule 0.5% of a human’s weight.   And though it is tiny, it plays quite a role in maintaining our vital functions everyday.  But the heart’s job is actually pretty simple – it is a pump.  It collects, divides, and then distributes blood…all day, everyday, this is all that is expected of our hearts.  By contrast, the brain is bigger, heavier, and is involved with every tiny little fragment of our beings.  Nothing happens in our bodies without the brain first telling it what to do, when to do it, and how it would like it done.  If it weren’t for the brain, the heart would not know how much blood to collect, how to separate the blood, and how much to distribute…in short, the heart wouldn’t even know it was a heart unless the brain told it to be a heart!  And yet somehow, in spite of all that we know about the brain’s role in making us who we are,  it is the heart that has come to be defined as “the center of the total personality.”

What can be said about Britton Grace that hasn’t already been said?  She is nothing if not a lightening rod for commentary.  In the NICU she was Britton Bright Eyes because she never, ever, ever wanted to close her little eyes and go to sleep.  She was also known, even at her super-tiny size and super-fragile age to be a bit fussy and high maintenance.  She didn’t eat much because when she did, she usually threw it all back up and subsequently had to stay in the NICU about a month longer than her sisters and brother.  And when she finally got home we soon learned how mighty this itty-bitty baby promised to be…she is a Texas personality in a Rhode Island body, a teapot with a tempest’s temerity…a Goliath in a David body!

To say that raising Britton has been a challenge would be to say that China has a lot of people, that the pyramids in Egypt are old, or that Republicans and Democrats in Congress have intimacy issues.  The girl packs a punch in her diminutive frame and when she is upset you know it…and so do the neighbors!  Irrational?  Yes!  Quick-tempered?  Yes again!  Feisty?  Yep!  Theatrically expressive when angry?  Yes!  At times completely and totally blinded by her rage?  Uh…yes.  I have often commented that Britton seems to have been born with a tormented spirit because she can at times be so inexplicably angry that we are at a complete loss for understanding.

But then she flips a switch inside somewhere and she is suddenly unbelievably cheerful…loving…super sweet…and an absolute joy!  She has always been the best cuddler of the bunch, has always given the best, head-on-your-shoulder, squeeze-you-tight-and -don’t-let-go hugs, and she has a smile that can brighten the hardest heart on a cold, dark day.  No matter what it is – whether it is her favorite color (yellow), her favorite Wizard of Oz character (Scarecrow because he is yellow), her favorite stuffed animal (first, Bingo the dog then Simba the lion (because he is yellow)), or her displeasure with the cap she was wearing in her infant photos hanging on the walls (it wasn’t yellow), the cup/plate she is given (not yellow), or the hairband chosen for her to wear (you guessed it – not yellow) – she is all in, 100%, with everything she has.

Put simply, she is all heart…


synonyms: firmness, fortitude, grit, guts, hardihood, intestinal fortitude, mettle, moral fiber, nerve, pluck, resolution

God chose to put inside each of us a mighty little organ which, though it is trivial in size, plays a mighty role in the story of you and us.  And isn’t that how God works?  He is the one who gave us the story of David and Goliath.  He is the one who noticed Zacheus, “the wee little man,” and made him part of his story.  He is the one who gave us an infant for a savior…

Knowing all of this, why are we surprised when God wraps powerful persistence, personality, and perseverance into pint-sized packages?

And so, Casey and I take Britton’s more challenging temperamental attributes with a prayer and a smile.  We smile because we know that God works mightily through the itty-bitty’s of the world.  And we pray because…well, because she’s crazy and we need all the help we can get!!!! :)

God bless,



Brooklyn Faith

The Fab Five

Brooklyn Faith

5 Comments 08 March 2012

She is without a doubt the sweetest little thing I have ever known and I seriously, seriously doubt that there will ever be a time in my life in which that statement will not be true…at least I hope not!  Brooklyn Faith is as girlie-girlie-girl as you can get and you could tell it from the day she was born.  From her big, beautiful, brown eyes, her long lashes, and her dainty smile to her super-sweet little cry, her giddiness over new outfits, and her ever present princess tiaras, Brooklyn is a princess through and through!  She loves pink and nothing else will do!  She dresses up as a princess and would not give a thought to doing otherwise.  She drinks out of a pink princess cup, eats off of a pink princess plate, throws major fits when she doesn’t get to wear her pink princess jammies, and really cares nothing about anything other than pink princesses!

She is Brooklyn Faith, aka:  Big B, Sweet Baby B, and somewhat surprisingly, our Goofy Gal.  Brooklyn is a silly heart and her goofiness is as heartwarming as is her big, beautiful smile!  While the other kids spend their days laughing, wrestling, and playing with each other, Big B spends a good deal of her time off in her own little world…somewhere bright and sunny and full of bunnies hopping through fields of flowers.  Yes, she is a bit of a space cadet with her head in the stars and her feet nowhere near the grounds of reality…something tells me she will be the object of no small amount of goodhearted, loving laughter and the cause of many, many confounded shakes of the head.

She is as easy going as a spring breeze, as warm as a summer sunset, as gentle as an autumn leaf falling to the ground, and as striking as fresh-fallen snow on the Aspens of Colorado.  She is all of that and more…as long as you don’t cross her!  As I am sure you know from every kid’s steady diet of Disney princess movies, a good princess is a strong princess, ready to fight for her love, to the death if necessary.  And when Brooklyn has been wronged, when the object of her love has been besmirched, Brooklyn will rise up and strike you down with the fury of a thousand bolts of lightning!  (Seriously, the girl will scratch, kick, and punch if you violate her space…we’re working on it…)

Truth be told, it is hard to say what kind of future is in store for us as Brooklyn continues to amble along on her life’s path.  Of course, we don’t really know what is in store for us with any of the kids, but with Brooklyn, it just seems a little bit more…….unclear.  She moves at a slower pace than the others, in all her ways, and her frequent flights to her own little world will definitely be a challenge when it comes time for the realities of kindergarten and beyond.  And I can only imagine the heartbreak that will befall our little butterfly when a rude and rowdy boy or a mercilessly mean little girl says something to offend the princess’s sensibilities.  Jeez, I can only imagine the heartbreak that will ensue when her bunny stuffty gets roughed up a bit or when she breaks her first fingernail or when a flower she has picked to wear in her hair wilts and dies without saying goodbye…forget about all of the truly difficult things that will come her way!!

As are all little girls, Brooklyn Faith is definitely a special little thing.  She is everything a little girl could possibly be – sugar and spice and everything nice…(except when you cross her!!  If you do that, you had better have said your prayers that day!)  Yes, it seems that God had an overabundance of love in his heart the day he knit Brooklyn together in her mother’s womb……….and we are all the richer for it!!!

God bless,


Three Years…But Who’s Counting?

Good Times

Three Years…But Who’s Counting?

12 Comments 25 January 2012

First of all, happy 3rd birthday to The Fab Five – Brooklyn Faith, Britton Grace, Jack William, Lila Addison, and Ryan Elizabeth!!!

Three years.  Has it really been that long?  Wait – has it really been that short??  The answer to both questions is yes…resoundingly!  When the doctor told us 3 years, 5 months, 9 days, 2 hours, and a handful of minutes ago (who’s counting, huh??) that we were going to be raising quintuplets, we knew we were in for the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced.  And we were right – the Quintuplet Invasion left no stone unturned in its mission to force change, challenge, defeat, and triumph into every aspect of our world – and the invasion continues today.

We also knew on that day that in facing this challenge – these challenges – win, lose, or draw, we were going to be richly rewarded for our efforts.  And again we were right – the 5 little blips on the TV screen that day turned into 5 little miracles, 5 little blessings, 5 enormous personalities, and at times 5 little tyrants……..

But we were also wrong about a few things, too…our crystal ball must have been a little fuzzy that day (and so were our heads and our hearts and our spirits and our perspective and our…ok, pretty much everything was fuzzy that day!).  Mostly, I think we were wrong about the scale of things.  The challenge has been far greater than even we imagined and the change these challenges have wrought has been far deeper and life-lasting.  And so too have been the rewards…in which case, the changes have been life-everlasting.

 Yep – three years.  And countless smiles.  Three years…and more wiggles than you can imagine.  Three years and………..

More imagining than we’ll ever again experience…

More surprises,  good and bad, the memories of which will never fade…

More anguish over the color of a sippy cup than any man should have to be a witness to…

More sweet little voices than a man can bear saying things like, “I love you, daddy!” and “You’re beautiful, Mommy!” and “You-you-you getting your boogers out, Daddy?”…

An endless supply of lost shoes, missing stuffed animals, messy floors, messy mouths, and messy clothes as well as broken crayons, broken toys, and sometimes broken hearts and broken dreams…

An expert knowledge of the negotiating tricks and skills of a two-year-old trying to avoid bedtime as if their life depended on it…

A lifetime worth of pull-your-hair-out frustration after a night-after-night routine of facing the negotiating tricks and skills of 5 two-year-olds trying to avoid their bedtimes as if their lives depended on it…

Countless diapers, countless middle-of-the-night wake-up calls, endless drama, endless chaos and countless picture-taking opportunities for my endlessly crazy wife!!!!  But I digress…

A steady supply of warmth, care, and love from friends, family, and once-upon-a-time strangers who have carried us through some of the most difficult times we have faced along this path…

An overflowing of pride and joy and gratitude at the sight of Eliot McKenna being everything a big sister should be and becoming more and more of what a big sister should be with each new passing moment…

Not enough date nights, vacations, and moments of peace with my endlessly crazy wife, but more longing for each than either of us can stand at times…


Never enough hugs and cuddles from our oftentimes too busy tots…

A continuous loop of the subtly-maddening choruses of Barney and Friends…and Toddler Tunes…and Little Einsteins…and Wonder Pets…and Dora and Diego…and Disney princesses…and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”…and…ok, I’ll stop now…

A never-faltering faith in God’s hand at work in the life of this family…

Three years.  5 little miracles.  Life…abundant.

God bless,


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Evolution of an Epic Fail

Good Times

Evolution of an Epic Fail

9 Comments 19 December 2011

It was a simple plan, really it was.  No preparation necessary, no cameras, no fuss, and really no bother.  It was going to be fun, festive, and full of family cheer…even for a family unaccustomed to the uneventful.  But before it really even got started, it all fell apart.  And so it was – the night of the epic fail…

So this was the plan:  it was Friday afternoon, deep in the heart of the Texas Christmas Season and the Jones family was ready for some Christmas cheer…well, the Jones parents were in the mood at least.  My first priority was to shut down my work day in time to scoop up the family and head out for the night.  Some clients of mine who live in the neighborhood (less than five minutes from our home) are Steiner Ranch’s version of the Griswold’s…and I’m not exaggerating when I say that.  Their light display boasts over 90,000 lights with light effects and displays that synchronize to holiday music…it is completely out of control!!  Every year when the light display is ready, “The Griswold’s” have a holiday party to show off their work.  So the plan was simple:  head over to see the light display, have some holiday treats, say hello to a few friends, then shuffle back to the car, drive around the neighborhood to look at the other light displays, and head back home to put the kids down and ease into a quiet evening with my lady.  Simple, right?  Out of the house for maybe two hours, not traveling more than about 2 miles, see lots of Christmas lights (always a kid favorite, right?!), load the kids up on some Christmas candy, keep them out just a bit past their bedtime so they would fall asleep easy…PIECE OF CAKE!!!  Did I mention that it all fell apart?

So we’re at the Holiday party checking out the lights and not ten minutes have passed when the trouble began.  Eliot came to me complaining of an upset stomach…a really bad upset stomach that needed pretty immediate attention, if you know what I mean.  Let’s mark that as Problem Event #1 in our Evolution of an Epic Fail timeline.  Ok, no problem…we’ve dealt with 5 stomach bugs at a time we can handle this and probably salvage the night.  So we gather up the gang, barely waving goodbye as we race to the car, and I start piling everyone in.  At this point we’re in a rush so I grab any kid and pop them in any seat available.  And here we mark Problem Event #2.  Britton gets car sick so she always sits in the middle row middle seat right next to Eliot to help prevent any tummy trouble.  So when I grabbed Lila and put her in Britton’s seat I made a mistake that would prove to be fatal.  Britton immediately noticed that she was not going to get her usual spot and as you all know Britton’s flare for the dramatic, she blew her top brighter than any Christmas display we saw that night!  Well, sorry Britton, but we’ve got to go and we can’t take the time to switch kids to different seats.  And you guessed it:  mark that as Problem Event #3!

In spite of the trouble, we manage to get the kids in their seats, buckled up tight and ready for the mad dash home so we can take care of Eliot.  Britton is exorcising a few demons from deep within her soul, but that’s nothing new so the only real trouble at the time was the urgent need to get Eliot back to the house.  We’re less than five minutes away so we’ve got this, no worries, and believe it or not we made it home without any new trouble events!    Our hope was that Eliot would make a quick recovery and our night could be salvaged so the plan was to keep the kids in the car with me while Casey ran in with Eliot to tend to her stomach trouble.  Mark the optimistic parental hope down as Problem Event #4.  Casey runs in with Eliot, I’m in the car with the 5, Britton’s  hair must be on fire the way she is carrying on, but that’s nothing new so things appear to be somewhat stable for the moment.  Not so fast, my friends…

Problem Event #5 happens unexpectedly when I turn on some music in the car – nothing crazy, just some acoustic guitars…pretty light stuff.  But Ryan comments immediately that she doesn’t like it.  What?  That’s strange…there is really nothing not to like about the music and the kids have never had any issue with the music I play in the car so what gives?  I more or less ignore Ryan about the music, but she decides that she really does not like the music and wants me to turn it off.  I tell her that it’s not going to happen  at which point some of the flames from Britton’s burning hair apparently jumped onto Ryan’s head and set her ears on fire because she starts screaming her head off and again insisting that I turn the music off.  AND THEN, Jack starts throwing a fit because he DOES NOT want the music turned off!!  We’ll go ahead and mark that as Problem Event #6.  Up next:  Problem Event #7…not to be outdone by her brother and sisters, Lila decides to get in on the action by kicking off one of her boots then immediately decrying the injustice of not having a boot on both feet by stretching the outer limits of the human vocal chord.

So just to recap:  Eliot is inside with Casey having God knows what kind of issues, Britton’s skin has apparently turned itself inside out, exposing every pain nerve in her body to the elements, Ryan’s ear drums are about to explode because of the acoustic classical guitar music I’m playing softly in the car, Jack is boldly sticking up for his daddy’s musical affinity but doing so quite vocally and with a great deal of anguish, and Lila’s screams of bootless terror are haunting the damned residing beyond the seventh gate of Hades…and we haven’t been out of the house 30 minutes.

But what about Brooklyn, you say?  Ah yes, Brooklyn…sweet, sweet Brooklyn.  God love that little girl!  Brooklyn is my own personal eye of the storm in this less-than-festive moment of cacophony.  Sweet Baby B is just sitting there, calmly surveying the scene, and casually ignoring the chaos.  When I manage to make eye contact with her (speaking to each other is clearly not an option with the amount of noise emanating from the mouths of the babes in our car), she just smiles at me sweetly as if the world has never been a happier place.  GOD. LOVE. THAT. GIRL!!

In the 2 years, 11 months, and 2 days that these five beautiful babies have bettered our lives, it can rarely be said that Casey or I had absolutely no control over any situation with the kids.  That can’t be said for the event being experienced at that very moment.  I was utterly helpless to calm the situation so I just sat there smiling at Brooklyn and pretending that I was in her world of butterflies and blue skies, far, far, far away from the mayhem that had taken possession of our family…

This goes on for a good four hours (or maybe 20 minutes, but who can keep count when the gates of Hell have obviously opened up a portal to our world right there in your vehicle??).  However long it was, Casey and Eliot finally emerge from the house, apparently with Eliot feeling much better and ready to resume our evening of festive cheer.  And as the optimistically obtuse parents that we are, Casey and I decide to try and salvage the night by driving around the ‘hood for awhile to look at Christmas lights.  At least three of the five are still apparently being ripped apart by rabid ants judging by their screams of anguish and the Quints’ bedtime has just passed, but we’ve only been out of the house an hour by this point and we are going to experience some Christmas cheer if it kills every last one of us!!!  Mark that as Problem Event #8 – we lasted less than ten minutes………..We bailed and it didn’t take too much convincing.  We were forced to admit that the night was officially a bust.  We rushed back home, hustled the kids upstairs, put them in their jammies, and put them down to bed as quickly as possible, Eliot included.


We have had our kids on planes and trains, in Oprah’s studio chairs, and at photo shoots galore.  We have experienced their lowest lows – stomach bugs, ear infections, nasty colds, and more.  We have had them over-sugared, over-stimulated, and over-tired.  But none of these moments in time can compare as memorably nor as challengingly to the night we simply tried to experience a little Christmas cheer.  It was a simple plan, really it was…too simple perhaps.  Clearly we were not prepared for what it was apparently destined to be:  a quintuplet-sized, complete, and total epic fail!!

God bless and Merry Christmas!!




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