Eliot's First Week of Kinder, The First Walk, Boot Camp Update and Other Random Notes

I just wanted to give a quick little update on all of the happenings of last week since, as we have become accustomed, everything has changed about our days and once again we have a "new normal."

Eliot Begins Kindergarten...The biggest change this week involves the little princess, Eliot McKenna, who started Kindergarten on Monday, which, with this being our first experience with having a child in public school, apparently changes just about everything in the rest of a family's life! Here are the highlights:

- Eliot LOVES just about everything to do with going to big girl school...except getting out of bed at "night"! She is not used to getting out of bed before the sun comes up and on the first day of school as we were preparing her breakfast and getting her ready to go, she asked, "why are we doing morning stuff at night?!" Hilarious!
- Talk about loving the whole experience: as she crossed the street with the help of a crossing guard for the first time, she exclaimed, "That was totally awesome!"
- She loves PE, but is really looking forward to going to the library, which didn't happen last week for some reason. Hopefully this week she'll get to go!
- She is also not a fan of the 30 count rule at the swingset...each kid on the swings has to count to 30, then let the next kid go after that. Obviously, that is not a popular rule!
- She is all about riding her Razor (scooter) to and from school every day like all of the other big kids...too cute!
- On Tuesday, before she discovered the Razor phenomenon, she wore her new tennis shoes which, according to her, make her run really, really fast. I'm not kidding when I tell you that little girl sprinted the entire way to and from school that day to show how fast she was!!

The First Walk...We finally took our first walk today with the whole gang, something we've been looking forward to for quite awhile now. Casey, Eliot, and I used to take pretty regular walks around the neighborhood, but have had to put those on hold since Casey went on bedrest nearly a year ago. For whatever reason, we decided today was finally the day to get the babies out on the road for a little stroll. I don't know if it was the heat or the newness of being in a stroller or if that little demon that shows up in our house from time to time to torment us, but the babies did not enjoy the experience one bit! You'll notice in the picture above that four out of five are very eagerly expressing their displeasure with this whole walk idea! There was at least one baby crying...no, check that...screaming is a better word for it...the entire time we were out there and usually it was two or three that were...uh, yeah, SCREAMING!! Regardless of that, I'm glad we got them out there and knocked another first off of the list...maybe we'll wait for cooler weather before we try that one again!

Boot Camp Update...I am very happy to report that we have logged significant victories in the battle for house control! The babies are just no match for the classical music, the soft, cuddly sleep sacks, the warm, frothy goodness of a bottle of formula, many talented baby-helpers, and two very determined parents!! For much of the month of August, we have managed to get them all down no later than 9:30, with at least two of the babies (one of them is always Britton, Baby Bright Eyes) getting up in the middle of the night for a little snack bottle. But for the last three days it's been closer to 8:30 with only Britton getting up. It may be too early to stake this claim, but, what the heck, VICTORY IS SWEET!!!

And finally, a couple of random notes. Britton is the first to be able to sit up without any help...see the picture! She's awesome...doesn't even do the baby-forward-lean to do it! We now feed them all cereal two times a day, mixed with green beans for dinner...hmmm, yummy! Jack and Ryan are not fans of the cereal, but Lila loves it and the two B's, Brooklyn and Britton are pretty ok with it all. Actually, Ryan the Lion pretty much screams her entire way through her bowl of cereal!! Ryan seems to have all of the necessary skills for doing a real crawl, but hasn't figured out how to coordinate it all just yet. She's soooooo close!! Last note: I begin school again tomorrow so say your prayers that I'll somehow remember how to juggle this madness once again!!!

God Bless,


Yes, Absolutely...It's a Time to Celebrate!!

When we got home from the babies' church dedication last week and before we had changed clothes and settled into a Sunday afternoon feast, a little spontaneous moment of celebration broke out between me and Casey. I had gone to the garage fridge in search of a casserole to warm up for the meal. What I discovered, along with the casserole, was a bottle of champagne that a client of mine had given me a few months back; a bottle which I figured due to our hectic life would not be dusted off for many months from now, perhaps on our 11th wedding anniversary next June. Popping the top on a bottle of champagne means only one thing in my mind - a celebration has ensued - and I was immediately struck with the realization that in the midst of all of the chaos and craziness that this day had brought to our family, we had not taken pause to celebrate the day for all that it meant to us. Needless to say, I came back from the garage with more than a casserole in my hands.

It was Thursday, August 14th, 2008 when we got the news that would change our lives... immediately and indelibly. At the time, it was six babies, labeled by our fertility doctor as A, B, C, D, E, and F on the sonographer's screen. And as you know, the final head count ended at five, labeled six months later by their still-in-shock parents as Brooklyn, Britton, Jack, Lila, and Ryan. And now here we were, seven months to the day after their birth, committing our little tribe to the care of Christ's church. On that day it was never more apparent that these five babies - five blips on a sonographer's monitor 12 months ago, five little newsmakers on Austin's TV screens just seven short months ago - had grown into five precious, beautiful, little miracles, whose very lives speak volumes about the glory of our creator and now continue to change our lives...immediately and indelibly...every day. Yes, we had reason to celebrate!

Maybe it was the busy-ness of the preparations for the day or the fact that we went on our mini-vacation the two days leading up to the dedication that directed our thoughts elsewhere. And though I had had some thought that the day was every bit as much a celebration as it was a dedication, it never really occurred to me actually take time to, well...celebrate. Judging by the look on Casey's face when I walked in from the garage with a casserole in one hand and champagne in another, the thought hadn't occurred to her either. But as the cork was popped on that pink, bubbly bottle and we shared our first toast, there was no doubt that a celebration was called for...and maybe even longed for.

When the first toast was being poured out, a friend commented to us that he sensed that the day had been a bit of a celebration - honestly, I think that is the first time the word had been uttered in reference to the babies' dedication. Of course, our immediate thoughts and response were in reference to the babies: we've got five healthy, happy, growing, smiling, beautiful babies that were dedicated to the church today...heck yeah, this is a day to celebrate! We're still alive, still mentally competent, still married, and still happy with life after seven, wait make that twelve, of the most difficult months anyone we have ever known has ever had to endure...you better believe we're celebrating!! That day, and most especially that moment, will forever serve as one of the more captivating memories in my overstuffed inbox of memorable times thanks to the course of life our Father has put us on!

In the few days following the dedication, once the glow of recent memories began to fade like the embers of a campfire as do the stories that are passed around it, my thoughts began to trail to a different reason for celebration on that day, in that moment, because of these times. No question, the day was reserved and celebrated for the babies and God's goodness and that was reason enough. But another reason began to emerge, unknown and unspoken to most, but equally important to our family, if only in our little world with only quiet recognition.

Casey and I have been married for ten years and dated for six years prior to that and had enjoyed a pretty decent relationship for much of that time. But never had our marriage been on more solid ground than the day we got a glimpse at what lay ahead for our marriage and for our family. We had just come off a year of heavy focus on what was most important in our lives – faith and family – and we had found a really good place for both. To find ourselves in that place, where our marriage was never more alive was an achievement we were proud of and as we went through the process of trying to bring another baby into the world, we were looking to the future with more excitement than at any time since we said our "I do's."

And that is why, as the doctor dutifully identified the six little blips on that screen as our future brood, behind the excitement was a whole lot of fear in both our hearts. How would our relationship survive, let alone thrive, with all that the changes that these blips would someday bring to our lives? We had worked so hard to bring our relationship to a place that God had intended when he created the institution, why would he now drop this bomb on our hopes, plans, and dreams? How would we have enough time to ever focus on each other, something that had been so vital to our lives together? I don't know how to accurately rank our fears following the news we received on that day little more than a year ago, but I can say for certain that the future health of our marriage, our relationship, and our love for one another was at the top.

So after a bit of reflection on just what it is that we were celebrating on Baby Dedication Sunday, my answer to that question may not be as obvious as once thought. The way I see it, the babies' health, well-being, and miraculous lives are reason alone to celebrate on that day, but honestly, those things were never in question in our minds. God did the heavy lifting on that part, with little input from us. He created them, protected them in the womb, allowed for the amazing medical advances that ensured their health beyond the womb, and stirred a tremendous amount of love in people's hearts to help care for them in the months since. You've heard me say this before, but truly, God did this.

I believe that there are times in life where God takes complete control as I believe he did with the babies' health. But I also believe in free will. And somewhere between these two polar opposites, I believe there are times in life where he simply presents us with options and gives us a choice to make and decisions to be made around that choice. And this is what I believe was presented to me and to Casey, as individuals and as a couple, in the days following that fateful appointment in our doctor's office. We were presented with options and were forced to make decisions that would impact our lives forever...immediately and indelibly.

I tell you today that the evidence is on display and our verdict is in: we made the right choices. We chose to not allow this pregnancy and these births to destroy what we had worked so hard to build. We chose not to accept survival; rather we chose to maintain our focus, sharpening it where necessary. Simply, we refused to believe that God would allow his creation to destroy his blessing…as long as we did our part – make the right choice. And somehow, through all of the craziness that has swirled around our lives lately, our marriage has found an even better place than it had a year ago. Somehow, in spite of all of the stress and the worry for what lies ahead for our little band of misfits, we are even more excited about the future than we ever could have imagined!

So yes, absolutely - it's a celebration! It's a celebration of all that is good and pure and miraculous about life, as any baby's life can attest. Can there be any more striking example of God's goodness than the life of an infant, let alone five at one time? I think not! But it's also a quiet celebration for Casey and me, a small victory dance between the two of us, whether the world is watching or not. We have survived, we have thrived, and we continue to fight alongside our Father - for our marriage and for each other and for our family - as we look confidently towards the future. And yes, every once in a while, we celebrate...

God Bless,

New Videos Uploaded

Check them out here:

Britton and Her Jumperoo Naps:

Baby Boot Camp - Five Happy Babies:

Lila and Ryan - Morning Sweetness:

God Bless,


Baby Dedication...Pics and More!

Wow, the baby dedication was AWESOME!! We had a great time finally getting our whole clan out in public and introducing them to the Riverbend family! The babies were out of the house for about four hours and did absolutely wonderfully! No fussiness, no blowouts or blow-ups, no spit-ups on their beautiful outfits, and no drama...excellent! All five of them even took a little nap between the two services! My lady was looking AMAZING as the pictures can attest and Eliot, aside from hiding behind me the entire time we were on stage during the second service, was a perfect little angel! It was a great day with lots and lots of family, loads of friends, and tons of well wishers and good vibes from our church family!!

I also have to mention that the entire weekend was made so amazing by several of our baby helpers who pitched in extra time to allow us to take Eliot to Fiesta Texas and also to take much of the burden of entertaining family off of our shoulders. We had several folks who helped out with the babies while we were out of town, one fine lady named Farrah, aka Rah-Rah!, who rallied up several of her friends to cover the whole day on Saturday, and two tireless helpers, Renee and Pam, who cooked a Saturday night dinner and a late Sunday brunch for our entire family!! Additionally, Riverbend went out of their way to put together a slide show for the services and sing a special song - "Let Them Be Little" - as the slideshow played. I'm trying to find some good video to upload so I'll let you know if I'm able to do that. Thank you to everyone who helped make it such a special day!!
You can also follow this link to see some pictures from Grandpa's camera:

God Bless,
Ok, I decided after I posted this that I needed to add a few more details about the trip to San Antonio. So we walked every square inch of the Riverwalk, literally, and did our fair share of sweating. We actually did a pretty horrible job of doing the Riverwalk thing...we walked from one end to the other and decided it was time to eat after we were way too far from the good restaurants to walk back. Then we decided to go grab the car and drive around and find a restaurant. After driving around awhile and not finding any restaurants we parked again and walked a whole lot more before realizing we were exactly where we had started - on the Riverwalk, a long way from good restaurants...long walk, decent food, bad margaritas (we sent them back - who has ever heard of doing that on the Riverwalk?!), but still a great night!
Six Flags Fiesta Texas was totally awesome! That place is really, really cool! We did all of the rides that Eliot was allowed to do, saw a couple of shows, played some games (she won the Supergirl cape she's wearing in her tough-girl pose above), then hit the water park to cool off. Excuse me, did I say Eliot? I meant, Little Miss Fearless! There was not an ounce of fear in her body as we hit the roller coasters - flips, turns, twists, and loops - she loved it all! I swear, if you've never experienced Six Flags in that way, do yourself a favor - go out and grab the first five-year-old that you can find, hit the park with no agenda, and put the little one in charge of the day's activities...you'll have the time of your life!! At least, that is, until the little one has a meltdown because she is over-tired, over-stimulated, and a little over-heated, which for Eliot hit around 6 pm. After about a ten minute nap, she was ready to go again so we left the park, hit the restaurant for some refueling, then stopped by the ice cream shop before heading back to the hotel for the night. Good, good, good times!!!


Baby Dedication This Sunday...(after our mini-vacation to Six Flags)!!!

Alright, the original three are headed south again for another mini-vacation. Casey, Little Miss Sunshine, and I are headed to San Antonio in about one hour to begin our trip!! We are headed to the Riverwalk tonight for some good mexican food, a couple margaritas, and a good amount of sweating in the August heat. Tomorrow, Six Flags Fiesta Texas is the destination for some roller-coaster riding, water parking, and more sweating in that danged ol' August heat!!! We come back Saturday to a house full of babies, volunteers, and grandmas and grandpas (and hopefully escape that crazy Texas heat)!! Thank you to Tricia and the Harrison family along with all of the incredible "helpers" (that's what Eliot calls the baby volunteers) who are making this trip possible!!!!

And then the big event, the moment we've been waiting for since it was scheduled in early June - the babies' dedication to the church happens this Sunday! I cannot begin to express how excited we are about this day!! Not only will it be our first real venture out into public with the entire family, it will be the Fab Five's first appearance at Riverbend Church which has been such a strong supporter of our family during this incredible time. We will all be up onstage for both services, 9:45 and 11:15, along with our superstar volunteer, Tricia Harrison, to introduce the family. The service will also include a couple of cool little extras prepared by the Riverbend staff...very exciting!!!!!

I feel a little bit out of place (in other words, a little girly) commenting on this next aspect of the day, but I have to mention what the babies will be wearing for the big show. A high school friend of Granda Bill's, Beth Lewallen, made dresses for the girls and a suit for Jack out of Casey's wedding dress...seriously, that is really cool!! The dresses are absolutely adoreable, Jack will be looking totally dapper, and I am pumped because I no longer have to lug that silly dress around every time we move!! Ok, really, what a great idea! On top of that, she included a monogrammed handkerchief for all of the babies - and one for Eliot, too - to be worn in their own weddings...like 40 years from now! And then on top of that she also made a pillow out of the gown's bodice to be used to by the ring bearers in each of their weddings...which will all happen at least a year or two after I am dead and gone!! Huge, GINORMOUS thank yous to Beth for doing this for us!!!!!

So come on out for a wonderful, happy time in celebration of these five little miracles as we dedicate them to the care of the church and as we dedicate ourselves to raising them up in a Christian home! We loved the experience of doing this for Eliot when she was a baby and really value the symbolism and importance that this event will hold in our lives as a family!!

God Bless,


On the News Again... :)

Sorry, I totally flaked this morning/last night and forgot to update everyone to let y'all know we were going to be on the news again. KXAN came by on Thursday and interviewed us for the story linked below...enjoy!


God Bless,


Baby Boot Camp

August is officially Baby Boot Camp month in the Jones house as we launch an assault on the Fab Five and begin the reclamation project...at least that's the plan any way! Maybe we've completely lost our minds or maybe we've been sipping from a few bottles of our own as the babies gently nipple their daily nourishment, but we have decided that this quintet of crazies can no longer have control of our lives...at least not total control!!!! And so it begins...
There are three goals for the months: get all five sleeping through the nights, get them into a night-time routine and down by 9:00, and get them all eating cereal with ease (ok, relative ease)...stretch goal - naptime routine. It's ambitious, we know, but something must be done! Well, it's August 5th and I can tell you that we have opened all three fronts of this baby battle with some early success to report! Four out of five slept through the night for two nights in a row, but then the babies launched a counter-attack on night three, waking us up SEVEN times in one night...aaaaaggggggggghhh!!! We've actually had them all down between 8:30 and 9:30 on all four nights (it's 9:55 as I type this...yeah!!). And as you can see from the pictures, the cereal feeds have begun. As you can also see, Jack and Brooklyn just LOVED it... I'm pretty sure that if Brooklyn could speak, she would have been saying something along the lines of, "Just what the..........do you think you're putting in my mouth????!!" :)
So here's the battle plan for the night time routine, with a huge thank you to the Wilkinson's, victorious veterans of their own quintuplet home dominance battle, for lending us their expertise! First, we hit them hard with the ultimate baby killer - low lights and classical music! Ruthless, I know...we mean business here! Next, a new diaper, a change of clothes, maybe a little lavender lotion and then we hit 'em wear it hurts - right in the belly with a big, warm bottle of the good stuff! After that, we continue the assault with story time while their food settles and the classical riffs softly lead them to lullaby land. Finally, we go in for the knockout blow by zipping them up in their sleep sacks and topping 'em off with another couple ounces of the frothy goodness. It's a combination they can't resist...well, almost...but it is working pretty well so far!! I mean, why wouldn't it...who wouldn't be ready for a long night's sleep after that kind of treatment??
Seriously, Jack and Ryan LOVE the new routine! Jack goes into smiley, happy chill mode while Ryan thinks it's party time and she's the star of the show...it is the cutest thing ever! She smiles, she gurgles, she laughs, she screams a little bit, then does it all over again...hilarious!! Britton is the biggest fighter of them all and doesn't go down without a scrap-fight every time. Generally, that's how Britton is all of the time these days...never sleeping unless she's being held, never happy unless she's held, never content unless she's...yeah you guessed it, being held and walked and bounced...for hours on end...not fun!
Brooklyn and Lila are battling it out for the sweetest of the bunch. We thought all along that Brooklyn had it, hands down, but Lila has shown a sensitivity in the last few weeks that we didn't know was there. She got so upset with me two times, I thought her little heart had broken right into a million pieces. Once, I was tickling Eliot and Lila did not like it one bit! The other time, she and Ryan were in side-by-side bouncies and both were fussing. Since Ryan was making more noise (no surprise there), I picked her up to calm her down...bad move! Lila was crushed and she let me know about it!! Really sweet, but broke my heart as well! Don't get me wrong, Brooklyn is still our little sweetheart, but Lila is positioning herself right alongside her in the sweetness department.
One other quick note - Jack loves the bouncey seat these days and all of them love their activity tables. Jack will bounce and laugh for the longest time, happy as can be. I loaded up a short video of him getting a good laugh at some of my antics and you can see it here:
So there you have it...the battle has begun! Pray for us, my friends, we may not make it out of this in one piece, but we must prevail...no matter the cost!!!!!! ;-)
God Bless,

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