Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekly Reader

I've been putting this off because I'm still unsure of myself on this whole blogging thing, but I'm determined to be successful. A New Year's Goal: conquer the world of blogging...or at least be able to publish posts and pictures on my blog. I'll be happy with that. I am converted since I used to have major problems sending pictures with the Weekly Reader. If I had more than a couple, it would take a long time to send, then inevitably most, if not all of them would come back. Then I would work it over and send again - sometimes I would be lucky, sometimes everything came back. This way I can put as many pictures on as my heart desires, and a Grandma's heart desires to show off her grandkids, so be prepared.
Since my last post, I to meet one fabulous gal: the latest grandchild, Lauren Mae, #22. Because she arrived a week earlier than scheduled, our official meeting was postponed so I could witness the sealing and blessing of Luke and Ethan Hutchings. Lauren was a week old by the time Claire (complete with Ella and Lincoln), Julie, and myself set out for Dallas, TX. We had a detour right at the start when Gary called the night before from the airport, a bit frantic, because he had left his bag that had his work files and scriptures on the security belt. Unfortunately, he didn't realize this until it came down to a choice of fly or don't fly and he chose to fly since he had a definite work commitment starting in Saudi Arabia. We were given the task of finding his forgotten bag the next morning and figuring out a way to get it to him on our way out of town. That delayed us a couple of hours, but we were successful; unfortunately, the bag made it to the Middle East only to get lost/misplaced there. Fortunately, Gary found it in the Bahrain cargo hold enroute back home two weeks later, so he is 'whole.' Have you ever lost your scriptures? Well I have and you feel like your better half is missing!
Speaking of fortunes and misfortunes, Claire had a 'series of unforunate events' almost as soon as we crossed the border into TX. We dropped her off at her good friend/roomie, Aleisha's home, where she planned to stay for one night. That was Monday evening on our long, long drive from ATL to Dallas (just ask Julie how long it was and she'll give you the details). We ended up not seeing Claire until Friday afternoon. She and Aleisha went to 'On the Border' (no anonymous name protection here) and inside of her burrito was buried a 2 inch razor blade which she discovered when she bit down on it! Claire called Rachel who in turn tried to tell me why Claire wouldn't be coming as soon as was expected and all I could picture was that blade going down her throat cutting it's way all the way to her tummy. I nearly passed out myself before I found out what really happened. She bit down on the blade, but did not swallow it. She summoned the waitress who called for the management who somehow managed to make Claire feel like he was suspicious she had 'planted' the razor blade for monetary benefit. Now how is that for turning the tables on the victim? He offered her a $10 gift card for future use. That was the ultimate insult. Corporate the next day acknowledged that they cut tomatoes with a similar blade, even though the manager said they didn't have anything like that in the kitchen. Coverup! The next morning Claire is sick with back pain, nausea, and chills which are symptoms of e-coli poisoning. Off to the Dr. she goes only to find out a few days later that they 'lost' her culture. She did some detective work and found out that it wasn't really lost, the culture was never ordered by the Dr.! All hopes of a multimillion dollar suit went down the drain. Actually, Jason said he would have been happy with $100,000! Claire definitely had a series of unfortunate events but managed to fully recover despite the country doctor's ineptitude. As for 'On the Border', they are probably still losing razor blades in their burritos, so BEWARE!
Claire's absence meant Julie and I only had to share Lauren 50/50 instead of splitting her three ways. She is a total delight and totally cute. She was eating and sleeping and pooping like an expert, and being carefully attended to by her older sisters who quite adore her. Rachel is such a great mom - I loving being the mother of great moms. Truly, I feel like I have 8 incredible moms in the world as my daughters and daughter in laws - each one mothering in their own unique and wonderful way.

We were so glad when Claire finally joined us in Dallas even though it meant a full house at the Crofts! Kate, Taylor, Ella and Lincoln wore themselves out chasing each other all over in tutos and ballerina slippers. I can't say that we did a whole lot other than just enjoying the time to be together but that's really all we wanted to do anyway. I did mange the neighborhood outlet mall a couple of times as well as a $1600 back up accident that was totally my fault, and totally covered by our insurance. And I suspect the insurance company will totally recoup that with increased premiums!

Julie left us early to head back to UT and a couple of days later Claire and I made the long drive back to ATL with Ella and Lincoln who were pretty close to perfect for those 14 hours. More positive proof that there are amazing mothers in this family!

Grandma Jewkes, Lucile, has been with us for a few weeks - spending time between Jana's home and ours...and her computer. She is working on her life history and she has some great stories to tell. She also let me take her to STOMP at the Fox and did we ever have a stomping good time. What a great show - if it comes your way, figure out a way to see it! I enjoy taking walks with her in the morning, sharing good books to read, and just letting some of her goodness rub off. We both just read, 'Left to Tell' a heart-reading story of survival during the Rwandan genocide in the 90's - by Imaculee Illibigaza. It is more than a story of survival - it is a story developing faith in God who she testified 'saved' her from certain death time after time. It is a story of learning to forgive those who did unspeakable things. I also just finished 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' - another very good read. My goal for the next few days is to read 'Three Cups of Tea' for our book club coming up on Friday.

Jacob was home for the weekend - a surprise visit and we always love surprise visits from him. I teased him about being one of the richest members of the family - he definitely has more discretionary income than we do and maybe than you do, too! Jake is having surgery on his nose on Feb 16 as a result of an injury in 2006 when he was elbowed during a basketball game. He went to the Dr. who confirmed it was probably broken at the time, but we're finding out now it was not only broken, it was misplaced. He has gradually developed breathing problems which means he's not sleeping well which means he is tired after a long day at the dental office which means he isn't getting a whole lot done on his academics because he falls asleep! (Jake...correct me if I'm wrong!) So he is going to have his nose broken again, the scar tissue cut out, the nasal passages all cleaned, his nose straightened and maybe even a new nose shape! It will not be fun, but it will be worth it, right Jake?

I'm so glad Gary is back home safely from Saudi. He got back Wed morning and had two days of work with Franklin Covey on Thurs and Friday. He hasn't had a chance to recover yet! He is working way too hard if you consider he also has a very time consuming and stressful job with United Capital as well. Seems like the closer we get to retirement the crazier/busier life gets.

Now that the New Year is here we are on the afternoon block for our church meetings. That's pretty challening for Luke who isn't yet old enough for the nursery and has to endure three hours of adult meetings right smack during his three hour nap time! From the noise level in our sacrament meeting, I would say Luke has some company. I recently read an article by Orson Scott Card on helping children be reverent in church. I like his philosophy on this a lot better than my philosophy as a young mother, but as Lucile always says, you do the best you know how at the time. If you want to check it out, here is the website:Message

First day of February - 2009 is already well on it's way. Brian (do I dare say it....Big 30 for him) and Beau have already turned a year older in January with Hayden, Gabe, Jenn, and Ella celebrating this month. As for the future, Elder Holland said it just right, 'Faith trusts that God has great things in store for has to do with blessings and truths and events that will YET be efficacious in our lives.' Didn't we hear the following at the past General Conference: 'The best is yet to come!'

To the Future!

Friday, January 23, 2009

In honor of my new camera (thanks to a lot of you, and a special thanks to Emily and Jake for orchestrating it all), this Weekly Reader will be long on pictures, and short on words. I remember on the days that our TIME magazine used to arrive, Jacob would come home from school and immediately sit down for an hour and read it from cover to cover. Only later did I find out he was only looking at the pictures and the short explanations under them – fast food style current events! Take a glimpse at some of the latest current events from our family:

First photo: Welcome to Ethan Cole Hutchings who arrived on December 30th just in time for a 2008 tax deduction! Isn’t he handsome? I was called to come up to the hospital just minutes before he was delivered and was lucky enough to witness the miracle of his birth. He cried for just a minute, then opened up his big eyes and started looking around. Within 30 minutes he had about a dozen visitors in his delivery room – things have definitely changed from when I was having babies. We had to beg and bend the rules to have Gary in the delivery room, and then later only select family members could visit the new baby and that was after they had thoroughly sterilized their hands and covered themselves with hospital gowns. Ethan is still spending a lot of time looking around when he is awake, and very little time crying. Emily is ‘training’ him already and he is on a routine. I’ve not had nearly enough grandma time with him.

Second photo: This little gal, Lauren Mae Crofts, arrived two weeks early but still didn’t quite make a 2008 tax deduction for her mom and dad. Born Jan 5, her mom said she came way too fast. Rachel likes to enjoy every moment of labor and delivery and she got cheated on this one. This new little gal is beautiful and I can hardly wait to meet her in person. Julie, Claire, Ella, Lincoln, and myself are leaving for Dallas early in the morning in the reliable and old suburban. What’s another 1500 miles added on 250,000 anyway? Brian took the week off and has been taking good care of Rachel. Kate, with Taylor as her assistant, is reported to be taking good care of Lauren.

Third and fourth photos: ‘Visions of sugarplums danced in their heads!’ The excitement in Sofi and Lili’s eyes is a preview for the excitement at Hickory Hill Farm as Christmas drew near. Gary and I did host our annual ‘Older Folks Christmas Dinner Party’ the weekend before Christmas. We had a big crowd and some interesting white elephant gifts….like a six pack of beer! The college kids all made it home safely. Chase Verzello tagged along with Jacob and spent a few nights with us. Gary invited Rolando, our Spanish speaking carpenter/fix-it-up guy, to bring his family to our home for Christmas Eve. We thought he was bringing seven others along and we told them we would have dinner at 6:00. We planned a big Christmas feast for a big group. At 4:00 they showed up – Rolando and three of his brothers – not quite seven but hopefully four hungry men. At 4:30 they told Jake Sr., in Spanish, that they had to leave about 5:00. At this point I realized there had been some serious miscommunication between Rolando and Gary when the invitation was extended, which often happens when we only speak English and they only speak Spanish and Jake H. isn’t around to interpret! To make a long story short, when I started pulling out the bread and milk for them instead of the ‘feast’ whose aromas were filling the kitchen, they changed their mind and stayed for the evening. They even joined us for our traditional Christmas Eve reading of the First Christmas from the Book of Luke, complete with grandkids bringing their selected nativity piece to the scene, and our voices joining for carols as the story progressed. It ended up being a lovely evening filled with love, laughter, good food, remembrance, and sharing of stories and testimony. We sent our guests home laden with food and hopefully touched by the Spirit of Christmas. That night the stockings were hung with care after we bid farewell to Josh, Dagmar, Jasper, and the sugar plum fairies.

Fifth photo: You’ll see a group of us perched in a big old tree on St. Simon’s Island. We were lucky enough to find a beautiful home on the beach available starting on Christmas Day and through the weekend with time to play on the beach, swim in the pool, pedal on a ‘bycycle built for six’, compete in our own American Idol contest, play Ticket to Ride, and even sleep….a little.

Sixth photo: ‘I saw momma kissing Santa Claus….’ I mean, I saw Julie kissing Christopher! Chris Ricks joined us for five days before heading to Israel for a semester abroad. Julie is now a lonely heart. Chris is just one of those guys you can’t help but love. While he was here we went to Cirque Soleil/Jungle Fantasy on New Year’s Even. What a great show – fabulous costumes, music, and performance. The girls made sure Chris hit all of the hot spots: El Charro, Red Neck Gourmet, CafĂ© Pig. In case those weren’t southern induction enough, we bequeathed a bright red University of GA sweatshirt on him to replace all of his sweatshirts that Julie has taken over.

Seventh photo: Luke with his mom and Dad on the day of his sealing in the Atlanta temple, Jan 11. The sealing was over before I even knew it began J Because I was the lucky one that got to bring the boys into the sealing room from the children’s center, that meant I was supposed to help Luke put his hand on top of his mom and dad’s while they knelt across from each other at the altar. The problem was, Luke didn’t want to his hand to be put anywhere, so he started protesting which meant I stopped hearing, and the next thing I knew it was over and people were getting in line to congratulate Jake and Emily….and Luke. So, it was different than I expected. Cooper and Ethan got to witness all of this, too – and so maybe you could ask them for some more details. After pictures, we all gathered for lunch at La Madelaine’s: Hutchings (including Butch, Debbie, and daughter Jamie); Josh, Dagmar and family, Jana, Wayne, and Kailey; Jason, Claire, and family, Grandma Jewkes (hooray – she is here for a stay!), JD and Meredith Parker Ethington, and most importantly….Julie! We thought Jake Jr. was coming and missed him when he didn’t – he qualifies for ‘most important’, too.

Eighth photo: Luke and Ethan all dressed in white for their blessing day. Jake H. joined the ‘double blessing club’ (elite members are Josh and Gary) for having the privilege as Dads/Melchizedek Priesthood holders to give two blessings back to back. Jake managed to do it without having twins and Luke was a BIG sensation, and Ethan was a SMALL sensation. Jake gave wonderful blessings joined by the boys Grandpa Hutchings and Poppy Jewkes, Josh, Jason, Wayne. Special weekend for Jake and Emily who seem to almost overnite have grown from two to a family of five!

Since the last Dec 16 Weekly Reader Amanda, Hannah, Christian, Luke and Lucy have all celebrated birthdays. Lucy had her birthday dinner at ‘Lucy’s El Patio’ and that really is the name. Every time they would pass this restaurant on the way to church, Lucy would say, ‘There’s my El Patio!’ She had a Fancy Nancy party this week just like her big sister Madi had in December.

I’m going to quote Ella for the close of this Weekly Reader Photo Edition. She had her first close up of a temple yesterday at Luke’s sealing. Here is how it went for her. ‘Mommy, there’s a man on top of the temple! ‘So this is where Heavenly Father lives?’ ‘I don’t want to go home, I haven’t gotten married yet.’ You’ll see her in the final photo enjoying some freedom on the temple grounds.