Day 137: Being a Jones

There is a thing about our family that I believe can be quite difficult to take if you aren't one of us. Well, there are probably MANY things about our family that can be quite hard to take if you aren't one of us.

For example, while playing a car game with my co-workers on a recent planning retreat I disclosed that my family (the original 4) all have genius level IQ's and we are all type-A personalities. (We can't take credit for this, we didn't make our brains) But this family trait makes for some pretty fast-paced, opinionated "discussions" in our household. That's just ONE of the MANY things that makes us hard to take. We are a bunch of opinionated know-it-alls.

But I think the thing we are "known for" (well, maybe we are known for the last sentence in the above paragraph!), but I'm talking about our love of games. We ROCK at games. I mean, seriously, we can dominate just about any game you want to play.

Ping Pong. Dominate. (We have trophies to prove it)

Trivial Pursuit. Dominate. (Remember, we are know-it-alls)

Cake Walk. Dominate.

Wait, did I just write "Cake Walk?"


I did.

Yesterday at the girl's carnival, there was a cake walk. Get in your mind's eye a cake walk for toddlers. A bunch of colored circles taped to the ground. For toddlers. Who don't have a clue why you would WANT to walk around in a circle and step on colored circles.

Enter . . . the Jones. And Baby N. Who likes to jump on things. And Baby S. Who likes to be held.

We see that the cake walk only has two kids playing and I say, "Is it okay if we jump in?" (using my very VERY innocent voice, so as not to tip our hand . . .) and she says, "Why sure!" (poor thing, she has no idea)

So we jump in the game. I'm holding Baby N's hand and Zack is holding Baby S. Baby N is jumping (literally!) from colored circle to colored circle. Baby S is squealing and smiling with delight as Zack moves to the music from circle to circle.

Suddenly the music stops. The caller reaches into her bucket, pulls out a color and says, "If you are standing on RED, you're a winner." I look down. Zack looks down. He fist pumps (only straight up in the air, above his head) and I let out a healthy "Woo hoo!) We are BOTH on RED!

Then as we retrieve our prizes,

er . . . I mean as the girls retrieve their prizes, I say, "welcome, officially, little ladies to the Jones family. We ROCK at games."

Then Baby N says (only it sounds a LOT like Jacob's voice) "we owned that cake walk."


All that to say, our girls have entered the world of games, via the cake walk. Mmmm Hmmmm. What. (did I mention we are also insanely competitive?)

Day 136: Simple Things

It's easy to forget how simple life can be when we try so hard to make it complex. Truth is we tend to make it complex under the heading of "simplifying" our lives. I do it all the time. I'm forever "organizing" something, though if you came into my home right now, I don't know that you'd sense the organization that I have put into this house.

Of course, my two grown-up sons are in the process of moving out and into their own place, so we have tons of "just put that there til the boys move out" organization going on.

And we have toddlers. So there are lots of, "put that over there until the boys move out" sections that I will deal with when I have empty closets and drawers to put the girls things in.

And I have piles of pictures all over the place because I haven't finished moving furniture around yet. That takes time. And well, organization.

So you can see how complex my life is right now, well . . . I guess messy would be a better word than complex, but complex sounds so much more like me.

But yesterday morning, my family had some fun together. All 6 of us. I never thought I'd say, "All six of us" until I had daughter-in-laws, but it's funny how God always has different plans than we have.

We walked from our home over to the little preschool that our girls go to and joined in their fall carnival. We had so much fun.

Their costumes were simple. Pajamas that we added some wings, a headbead and a tutu to. (say that really fast three times).

No need for a "candy bag." They don't eat candy.

Just us, walking, chatting, laughing.

All that to say, I love my family so much.

Day 135: Living It One at a Time

It's morning. That time of day when I sit and think and sip my coffee.

The girls aren't awake yet. Typically by this time of day I have awakened them, dressed them, fed them, and am loading them in the stroller to take them to school.

But this morning, they are sleeping in. I can picture them being awakened by the sun peeking in through their bedroom window that faces east. I can see that long stretch that happens as they peek their heads out from under their blankets, their little hands clenched as fists that gradually open to the day.

I wonder how many mornings we will have with them.

Will it be just a few more, or will it be forever?

Will they awaken in this home, in their beds here for the rest of their lives?

I know that God has a plan. I don't doubt that He has one, and I know that it's good. I just wish I knew what it was. But I am sure there is also purpose in my not knowing.

Each morning, each new day, is filled with God's plan for that day and I get to watch it unfold in real time. I should take some pretty great joy in that. I mean, seriously, I get to WITNESS the plan of the King, lived out, each day.

So this day, I am thinking with a new mind and looking through new eyes.

All that to say, living one day at a time. This could be a good idea!

Day 134: I'm Happy They Cry

I'm so happy they cry. Finally.

They care about something so deeply that it makes them cry.

That's a milestone.

They haven't cared before.

Haven't cared who came and went in their lives.

Because people came and went all the time.

They haven't cried before.

Haven't cried because their tears wouldn't have mattered much anyway. At least that's what their lives had taught them.

But they cry now. And I'm happy they cry.

Because FINALLY they have separation anxiety.

They care that we are leaving. And that is a MONUMENTAL milestone for them.

All that to say, while most parents are lamenting the woes of separation anxiety, I am happy to have two crying toddlers that freak out a little when they see me pick up my car keys. Because finally they care who comes and goes in their little lives.

Day 133: Tina Love

Oh Tina Taylor, how we love you. And by "we" I mostly mean Zack and the twins. Of course the rest of us love you, but they are over the top with loving you.

Somedays I am a little bit jealous of how much the twins love you. (Technically, I'm jealous of a lot of things. Your ability to loop, swoop and pull your hair into a work of art with a few bobby pins, a barrette and a twisty tie. Your ability to wear absolutely anything and look cute in it, even Zack's basketball shorts that have paint on them.)

Anyway, back to why I'm jealous of how much the twins love you. I mean, I know you were their nanny for 3 months, but still, I'm their Mimi. I get up in the middle of the night with them (er . . . well . . . on the nights I can't convince Mike to get up with them, I DO get up with them.)

I cook their meals. Or, at the very least, I dial the number to Pizza Hut and order their very favorite pizza.

I do their hair. And let me tell you girl, that takes some work. There aren't enough bobby pins in the world to make their hair a work of art without some SERIOUS skills.

I do their laundry and match their clothes, and make sure all the spaghetti stains got removed.

But oh how they love their "Tina." They cry when you leave. They squeal when you arrive.
(I'm talking about the twins here, not Zack, just in case you got confused.) In short, they worship you.

My only redeeming quality is that when they are sad or hurt, it's still "Mimi" they cry out for.

All that to say, Tina, you're loved. By many people. A lot of whom live in the Jones' household. Happy Birthday. (This birthday blog felt a little bit more about me than you. Flipped it. Sorry.)

Day 132: As Far As Big Brothers

It's Zack's birthday and each year I write a blog in honor of his birthday.

Here are a couple from past years (if you so desire to click on these and read THIS much information about Zack Jones) Stupid Stories 2008 Twenty Five 2009

So, I thought long and hard about what to write for Zack's 26th birthday, and the one thing that came to my mind was what a great Big Brother he is. Of course, he isn't perfect, just ask Jacob, but as far as big brother's go, he's gotta be right up there with the best.

Of course, big brotherhood wasn't always easy for Zack. He kind of grew into the role. You see, he was a mere 16 months old when Jacob was born. Not really finished being the center of our attention yet, so having a little brother wasn't all that cool. He did love the "I'm a big brother" t-shirt (he's always been all about the clothes), but other than that, he wasn't that impressed with this baby that came along and stole our attention. He asked me on Jacob's third day home if we could take him back to the hospital now because he was noisy and smelly. True Story.

But Zack grew to love his brother and to be fiercely protective of him. When Jacob was in middle school, he was bullied almost every day at school. Finally, when the bully pushed Jacob down the stairs at school, Zack had had enough. He "discovered" the bully in the boy's bathroom at school one day, picked up said bully and placed him oh-so-firmly against the wall, and might have said something along the lines of "mess with my brother again and you'll be messing with me" or something equally as menacing. The bully never messed with Jacob again. Ever.

Jacob had a girlfriend once (a long time ago) that Zack wasn't a total fan of. But he said, "I might not love her, but Jacob does, and I love Jacob. So I love her." That's what brother's say. (It might have been something a little different, but that was the gist).

I could tell you so many more Zack loves his brother stories.

But I want to tell you now, that Zack has a new opportunity to be a big brother. And he is marvelous at it. He loves his little sisters. He genuinely enjoys their company. And they enjoy him. And when I fast forward a lot of years, I can see him being equally as fiercely loving and protective of them as he has been of Jacob all these years. I almost feel bad for the men who will someday want to date and marry these girls. :)

All that to say, As far as big brothers go, I don't think you could get a better one. Happy Birthday Zack.

Day 131: If God is For Us

Calling is a word we throw around a lot in the church world. We use it to express our life's purpose (our calling). We use it to get out of stuff we don't want to do ("I'm sorry, I just don't feel called to do that). We use it to quit stuff we don't like anymore ("I just feel like God is calling me away from this.")

Of course, that's not to say that we aren't called to do a job or called away from something, and I'm not making fun of people who have told me that recently, so don't get your shorts in a knot.

But we do use the phrase a bit lightly, I think.

A calling, a true calling from God requires a few key elements, I believe.

1. A willingness to sacrifice something
2. A willingness to do something that is much bigger than you could accomplish on your own strength
3. A willingness to set aside other people's opinions of you (especially as it relates to said calling)

There are probably more, but these are key.

Mike and I have been talking (and sometimes arguing) about our "calling." We have been called to be the surrogate parents for two precious twin girls.

1. We are sacrificing many things. Our sleep. Our sex life. Our bank account. (I got my daycare bill yesterday. $1668 for one month! holy cow!) Peace. Our freedom to come and go as we please. Free time.

I could go on. But you get it.

2. This is so much bigger than us. We absolutely cannot do it on our own. As evidenced by the number of conversations we have had lately about needing a) a plan b) a division of duties c) a village to help us with this d) prayer, more prayer, more prayer e) a second job f)God's provision g) wisdom to know how to navigate what is normal two year old behavior and what is from the upbringing they have had thus far.

3. People think we are crazy. Many of those people are in our family. I get asked really often if I freak out at the thought that I have two year olds again? YESSSSS!!!!!! I FREAK OUT at the thought of that. And teacher parent conferences. And sports practices. And dating. And, and, and.

But if God has called us, then He will equip us. He will give us the money to pay for things. He will provide people to come along side us to help on sick days, and offer us date nights (thanks Martin and Kim . . . and Brooke and Jacob and Zack and Christina). He will help us be unified as husband and wife. I believe all of those things.

All that to say, if God is for us . . . :)

Day 130: I Vacillate

I have vacillated a lot lately between posts of God's goodness, stories of "the girls" and random other things.

This post comes under the heading of "random other things."

Today I got up early and went to watch Jacob run a race called Ten for Texas. I waited for him at the 9 mile aid station, snapped his picture, jumped in my car, drove to the finish line (passing him on the road. . . funny) snapped his picture at the finish line, high fived him and headed home.

It was the drive home that I am actually blogging about.

I really don't like rude traffic cops. I get that they probably encounter a TREMENDOUS number of jerks who don't pay attention, almost run over them, etc. I get that they have to stand outside in cold, rainy, hot, humid, weather. So their job isn't easy. Stipulated.

But I really don't like it when they are obnoxious and rude to the people they are trying to direct. I mean, let's face it, some traffic cops are just not good at it.

Today's case in point was not good at it. I know this because I watched several cars do the wrong thing, based on what they THOUGHT he was telling them to do. On each occasion he SCREEEEAAAAAMED at the driver, even asking one driver, "Are you stupid?"

But I watched him. His hand signals were confusing. You couldn't tell if he was saying "stop" or "go." You couldn't tell if he was saying "it's okay to turn here," or "it's not okay to turn here."

So because he was inept, he screamed at the drivers on the road. I'm pretty sure his superiors would not like that behavior.

All that to say, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe he'd had a really bad fight with his wife before he left for work. I kind of felt bad for him. Because there was just no way he was that obnoxious without a good reason.

Day 129: Sweet Jesus

Today's blog is going to be a little bit cryptic, but I want to try and share this with you since many of you are not only faithful readers, but faithful prayers as well.

As many of you know, we have twins in our home. Twins whose mom loves them very much, but whom often struggles to make the best choices for herself or her children. We love her. We really do. She's dear to our hearts. She's a broken little girl trapped in a young woman's body. It makes my own heart ache for her.

The twins have a brother too. He is not in our home, but is currently in a home where he is lavished with love, and soon to be in a home with his "Mama and Papa."

Yesterday, God moved in an incredible way. I can't tell you how. I wish I could. Because it was incredible.

I lost sleep before yesterday. I lived with stomach pain for the days preceeding yesterday. I had massive headaches before yesterday. I worried that people wouldn't think I was fighting hard enough for everyone concerned. Before Yesterday.

But I prayed. Yes, I worried. I'm not Jesus people. But I prayed. And others prayed. And God reigned supreme. Sweet Jesus.

All that to say, three sweet babies will be safe, and secure, and well-nourished, and given boundaries and loved like they were created to be loved.

Day 128: Hand Signs and Made Up Names

I am a hand talker. This fact is most evident when I am angry. Or when I am driving. Or worst yet, we I am angry AND driving. (I couldn't decide whether to say worse yet, or worst yet, so I went with "worst yet" as it felt to have the greatest amount of emotion so don't correct me if it's wrong. I took literary license.)

Anyway. I'm a hand talker. I make gestures (not those kind of gestures!) when I talk.

Also, when I don't know some one's name, I make a name for them that describes what I know about them.

For example, years ago, my kids and I would always run into the same guy on Friday's at the donut shop (don't judge me. YES, I fed my kids donuts faithfully every Friday for many years and it didn't stunt their growth) I once had a three year old tell me that he couldn't have a donut because, and I quote, "donuts make you flabby and weak." Wow.

Back to my story. I have blog ADD today.

So, we saw this guy every Friday. And the thing that was the most notable about him was that he bounced when he walked. So we called him "bouncy man."

Really, my whole family does this. We have named all the chef's at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. They have names like "rock star guy" or "sweaty man" (sweaty man is one of the best there). When I broke my leg several years ago and the paramedic tried to PULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL the skate off my broken foot, we named him "Captain first day on the job."

I have many other stories about names I have given people whose real names I don't know.

The most common place I "name" people is in my car, while driving. People get names like "Mr. Oh-that's what that lever is for on my steering wheel. It's a turn signal!" (Most of the names aren't that long)

The other day I was at a four way stop and there was a dad there with two kids on bikes (with training wheels).

brave dad.

He had his hand on one set of his kids' handlebars and was waiting on the other kid to catch up (at said 4 way stop).

So, "Mr. Safety Dad Man" was waiving on the cars at the stop sign he was standing next to, FORGETTING the fact that there were 3 other stop signs at this FOUR-WAY-STOP. He almost got us killed. So I said, "Hey, Mr. Safety dad Man, how about letting the traffic signs do their job? Okay, cool with you?" (Of course I didn't say it TO him, more "at" him, in the privacy of my own car. I HAVE mentioned my road rage issues, right?)

Then, all the sudden, I realize . . . I have toddlers in my backseat. And they are listening to me. So I switch into "Mrs. See What a Good Mom I Am lady" and say, "Look at that nice daddy helping his kids on their bikes. That's so sweet."


All that to say, I am going to have to work on a few things. I am setting an example. I guess I've been setting one for a while now. To more than just the two toddlers in my backseat. I'm sorry. Hopefully a few of my qualities have shown through as well.

Day 127: Sacred Tradition

I just started a Bible Study tonight with my Monday night girls. We are doing Beth Moore's "The Patriarchs" or maybe it's just "Patriarchs" . . . I don't remember for sure, not that it really matters that much. I digress.

In the study, she was teaching about God's many names and how back in the day, God's presence dwelled with His people at the tabernacle. She mentioned that once a year the high priest would speak the "unspeakable" name of God (YHWH) and when he did, the glory of God would descend upon the priest. God's glory was so bright, the priest would have to close his eyes as would the entire group of people in and around the tabernacle. They would close their eyes and breathe in that sacred moment.

Generations later, the annual celebration still takes place. And though the tabernacle is long gone, when this "unspeakable" name of God, YHWH, is spoken, the people still close their eyes. They do it because they, too, are breathing in that sacred moment. The sacredness of hearing God's unspeakable, sacred, name.

I love traditions. They are a way to carry on what is important to remember.


Sometimes we let the tradition itself become sacred, instead of remembering that which is actually sacred. Those of us who are "churched" can be really, really good at passing on sacred tradition, but forgetting to pass on what is sacred about it.

When that happens, sacred tradition becomes ritual. And ritual religion quickly becomes meaningless.

Or worse yet, the ritual itself BECOMES the sacred.

All that to say, I feel called to look at what is sacred in my life. Really sacred.

Day 126: Turtle Head

I have a friend of mine who used to say all the time that she preferred living life like a turtle. Safe in her little shell. Happy to stick her head out occasionally, but mostly happy to stay in her safe world where people couldn't really hurt her.

We had a lot of talks about why that wasn't healthy. About how you can't live life in a bubble (or a shell as the case may be).

We talked about taking risks and how getting hurt is a part of life that we MUST experience.

But still, she liked turtleville.

I see her point sometimes. If I'm honest with myself. Maybe I might like living life as a turtle.

All that to say, I shouldn't blog when I'm tired. So, I'm going to crawl up in my shell and sleep.

Day 125: Wow, Glad That is Over

Today was a TOUGH day. The girls were just incredibly out of sorts. Crying at the drop of a hat, over absolutely nothing. I mean, completely melting down, over NOTHING.

But I've been that way for a few days myself lately.

Maybe they are picking up cues from me.

Seriously. I'm a mess. I cried today because I hurt Jacob's feelings.

I cried later in the day because Baby N was crying because I didn't fix her water fast enough.

Maybe babies are like dogs. You know how your dogs can sense when something is wrong with you and they hover and whine all the time?

But this day is over. And with a new tomorrow comes new mercies. I'm in need of those.

All that to say, I'm so glad today is over. Tomorrow will be better because it is new. I sure hope the girls have a good day. I want their days to all be good. They deserve it.