Tag archive for "good times"

No Pressure

Good Times

No Pressure

6 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!

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…..in 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……..um, 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,



These Days

Good Times

These Days

35 Comments 23 September 2012

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!!

God bless,




“LLIIIIIIIILLLLAAAAA!!!” (aka: Lila Addison)

The Fab Five

“LLIIIIIIIILLLLAAAAA!!!” (aka: Lila Addison)

8 Comments 19 June 2012

Unexpectedly to me as I sit here, intent on writing a blog update about Lila, the words are just not coming.  With her curly blond hair, crystal blue eyes, and powerhouse of a personality, you would think that any description of Lila Addison would practically write itself.  But as I sit here and stare at my blank computer screen, all I can think is, “how do I begin to adequately describe who this little girl is and what she means to this family?”  There are so many different words and descriptions that pop into my head – curious and adventurous (otherwise knows as mischievous); ornery, stubborn, and willful (or you could say sure of herself and of her convictions); sweet as cotton candy (and at times sour as spoiled lemons); loving, caring, and kind (but sometimes really mean) – but each of them seem to only just peer past the opening pages of the novel that is Lila Addison.

It wouldn’t be exactly true if I said that we always knew Lila’s spirit was doused with an extra dose of indomitability, but it didn’t take long to figure it out…or rather, it didn’t take long for her to let us know.  As  soon as Lila learned to crawl, we knew we were in for a ride!  As parents all know, you constantly look to put your eyes on your kids whenever you are out in public.  Parents of multiples (or multiple kids), you know that you are constantly doing the count, making sure you have all of your kids accounted for.  When you have five and they’re all newly mobile, you do the count no matter where you are – home, back yard, bedtime, bath time, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even for snacks!  I can’t tell you how many times the count went like this, “1…2…3…4…………..where’s Lila?”  Which was almost followed up a few moments later by this, “Lllliiiiiiiillllaaaaaaa!!!  What did you do??!”

With her adventurous spirit, among the five Lila has been the first to do lots of things, but Lila’s firsts have generally not been of the baby-book-documentation variety!  She was the first to figure out how to take off her DOC Band and then she taught Jack how to do it.  She was the first to figure out how to take off her diaper at night and then refused our constant appeals to her to keep it on…and then she taught Ryan and Jack how to do it.  Once we figured out how to make it impossible for her to take her diaper off, she was the first to figure out how to reach into her diaper, pull out the contents, and throw them on the floor…and then she taught Britton that trick (and then Ryan mastered it!).

She was the first to pull her sister’s hair, the first to push and hit her brother, and the first to take a bite out of Britton.   She was also the first to figure out how to blame much of her destructive behavior on her sisters and brother…

No doubt, Lila is as sweet as sweet can be, but it is also quite clear that mischief is her middle name!  I wrote this about her back in November of 2010 when the babies were still babies, just 21 months along (and too young to be pulling such shenanigans!):

Just the other day I watched her steal a snack from Britton when Britton wasn’t looking.  When Little B discovered the missing treat and voiced her protest, I told Lila to give it back (she had not eaten it yet).  She immediately shoved the whole thing in her mouth and looked at me with puffed out cheeks and her bright, blue, innocent eyes which were clearly saying to me, “too late, sucker!!”


But life with Lila is not all mischief and mayhem.  She is, as stated before, as sweet as sweet gets!  She has a thing for grandpas and will immediately gravitate to one (not necessarily her own) whenever a grandpa is in close proximity (we were at a party once and Lila spent the entire time cuddled up on our friend’s grandpa’s lap…she had never met him before that day!).  Her real grandpa, Grandpa Bill, calls her his little buddy because of her constant companionship with him whenever he is around.

She also has a thing for ballerinas – she LOVES them!  Every day when she wakes up, the first thing on Lila’s mind is ballet – she goes straight to the costume bin to pull out the purple ballerina outfit she got for Christmas and put it on…every single day!!  And speaking of Christmas, she is also incredibly fixated on holidays, all of them!  Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Fourth of July, Father’s Day, Flag Day, Arbor Day, Columbus Day…doesn’t matter, Lila loves it, and when it comes to holidays, little girl loves to decorate!  She’ll first ask, “What holiday is coming up?” and then follow that up with, “When are we going to decorate?”

And then there is Lila’s curiosity which of course goes right along with the aforementioned mischief and mayhem.  Here’s an example of how Lila’s got-to-know mind works – we are planning a vacation to the Texas coast for later this summer and every day Lila has something new to ask about it.  “Will we play in the sand when we go to the beach?”  “Will we go underwater when we go to the beach?”  “Will we fly kites when we go to the beach?”  “Daddy, are you and Jack going to wear shorts when we go to the beach?”  “And the girls are going to wear our swimsuits?”  “Will we see fish when we go to the beach, Mommy?”  “Is the water going to be blue at the beach?”  “Will we build sand castles when we go to the beach?”  “Are there birds at the beach?” “And do the birds eat the fish?”  “Do we eat the fish, too, Daddy?”  New questions have been asked (and the questions asked on previous days get asked again) every day since we announced our beach-going plans!!

Let’s  just say that if curiosity really did kill the cat, I hope that its lethal capabilities are only effectual with felines!  Lila, Lila, Lila…

It is one of the great joys of life to me to witness how God can pack so much personality into such a tiny package as he has done with all of our kids.  Eliot is our happy-go-lucky, wild child; Brooklyn is our pink bunny loving, delicate flower of a princess; Britton is the fireball, as fascinating to us when she expresses her joy as she is when she is filled with anger; Jack is Mr. Happy, a giggle-box who just likes to have fun; Ryan, well…we’ll get to her with the next blog post…

But unlike the others who seem to overflow with their preassigned parcel of personality traits and who are relatively easy to define, Lila is different, a bit more complex, and more difficult to characterize.  She is a veritable variety show of moods and attitudes; a super-sized sampling of sugar and spice and of some things not really so nice.  She is a plethora of  pigtails and tutus, a bounty of ballerina twirls, daring adventure, and sometimes epic fails.  She is our Lila Bear and to know her is to know love…(and also to know some things quite other…) :)

God bless,




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,



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