Wednesday, December 2, 2009

time for some happy stuff

Lots of happy things happening in our home too...

and it's time to give those moments some attention.

Like my daughter's 11th birthday.

First of all, I am astounded that she is eleven.



what the.

I remember her natural childbirth (not my choice) that was the most painful yet gratifying moment of my life. Still shudder to think about the pain tho. :)

I remember how I loved having a baby girl. Everything was pink and I still love every second of having a daughter.

I remember her strutting her little toddler self around like it was last week. She still has that strut.

I remember how her smooth straight hair seemed so shiny in contrast to her youthful chubby cheeks and squinty smiling eyes.

I remember how I later adored pulling that hair into thick pony tails.

I remember how she always seemed so confident and self-assured. Still does.

I remember how she was always so emotional and so frustratingly like myself.

I remember when she didn't speak for almost two years, and she learned to sign just to communicate basic needs.

I remember when she finally began to speak, she never stopped.

To this day, I love, love, LOOOOOVE our conversations...

she was well worth the wait.

She is a treasure to be with, and I feel privileged to be her Mama.

It feels like God said, "Look...I'm gonna give you a really special one don't mess this up".

That's how it has always felt with our Kaitlin Taylor.

Don't mess it up.

some random pictures from celebrating Katie's day...







invite lots of girls...check.

3d movie...check.

order pizza...check.

make ice cream sundaes...check.

play Manhunt outside and then jump into the your the rain...check.

snuggle into jammies, spread out sleeping bags in front of TV...check.

send parents to bed...check

giggle all night and play truth or dare...check, check check.

ignore reminders from parents brave enough to leave their bedroom and tell us to "keep it down" (eye roll)...check

wake up slowly in the morning, but begin the giggling very early again...check.

continue to giggle endlessly at every possible thing...check.

eat homemade waffles made by sleepy mother, whilst keeping giggle level high...check

watch 13 year-old brother periodically walk by and observe all of this in absolute horror...CHECK.

jump in the pool and run through sprinklers until it's time to go home...check, check, check.















this letter is just one tiny example of why we love this girl so much...
she has a quirky, funny, thoughtful heart that leaves me drowning in gratitude for the fact that she is mine.


Happy Birthday, Kaitlin Taylor.

You are a beautiful soul and we are lucky to know you.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

we thought it was a migraine

it began as a headache.

he couldn't get out of bed

had to have a dark room tv

lots of liquids and excedrine migraine

didn't help

we tried everything

he just agonized in pain

slept when he could

we were miserable

did everything i could

brought him medicines, waters, cold compresses

made chicken soup

worried endlessly

begged him to go to the doctor

googled migraines

bought more meds and herbal remedies

friends brought over migraine drugs

nothing worked

that's when we knew

something was wrong

driving to the ER

i was scared

he was dying

the doctor listened to his symptoms

and said "i don't think this is a migraine"

i felt relieved to have answers

but afraid to hear what they were

doctors came and went

scribbled on his chart

he had to stay there

more tests

specialists were called

we would not be going home

tears in our eyes

hands gripped in prayer

this is going to be hard

i had to go home

and wake the kids

called kelly on the way

"please give me the words"

we practiced together

i woke them from a peaceful sleep

sat their sleepy bodies up on jordan's bed

looked into their innocent eyes

and searched my heart for how to say it

to tell them daddy is very sick

but the doctors are taking good care of him

and he will be fine

but inside i wasn't sure

putting on a calm brave face for them

was the hardest part

lots of questions

i wasn't prepared to answer

they wanted to see him

was that the right thing?

i had no idea

was just clinging to instincts

but i brought them

to his bedside

katie stared and played with her hands

she gave him her sacred pooky bear

the bear she sleeps with every night and never lets anyone hold

jordan ran into his arms and laid his body across his dad's chest

tears streaming down, not saying much

it was like a scene out of a sad part of a movie

but it was us

it was real

they broke my heart

but i was glad they saw him

brought the kids home

calling family

they swooped in

kelly took over my mom duties

dad stepped in

mom and molly dropped everything to come over

family by my side

was never needed more than now

i brought his clothes home in a bag

because they had rushed him by ambulance to ft myers

the familiar scene and scents of home

were now a stinging reminder

of what would no longer be

for a while

gathered what i thought he would need at healthpark (??)

the drive to ft myers

i cried

the whole way

finally could let it out

i walked into the beautiful lobby

plants, waterfalls, piano playing in the distance

still wearing sweatshirt i wore to bed, teeth not yet brushed

red bulging eyes, asked the sweet-faced elderly volunteer man at the desk

"can you tell me the room for james briggs?"

clicking away on his keyboard

his eyes scan the computer screen

he carefully writes the numbers down

and gently explains that this is an icu room

and do i know how to get there?

my tears begin again, legs go weak

do i know how to get there.

i don't even know how i am standing in this lobby right now.

he directs me to walk through the lobby, over the bridge, under the lit sign, turn left after the set of wheelchairs, and the elevator is on my left...go to the fifth floor

it was like charlie brown's teacher was speaking


i mumble "but i didn't know he would be in icu"

he asks sympathetically if it is a heart problem

i can only shake my head no and point to my head

he looks like he wants to come around the desk and hug me

i wander through the lobby

frantic to find him

scared of what was happening to him

clinging to the paper with his room number

i make it to the elevator

push button number 5

people on the elevator take one look at me and then look away

it's not pretty

the doors open

to stark white walls

hallways in every direction

i don't know where to go

a random woman in scrubs asks me if i need help

i can only nod and show her the paper

she walks me the whole way, through endless hallways

and says in my ear, "it's going to be ok, he is in a good place, we are here for you"

i love that woman for that

a nurse stops us and asks me to wait in the family waiting room while she checks with his doctor

i sink into the vinyl chair and hold my face in my hands

fearing the worst

another family is in the corner discussing their loved one, but glancing nervously at me

it was the longest ten minutes of my life

finally i can see him

he is hooked up to everything

lights and beeps everywhere

looking pale



and in intense pain

my husband

my sweet husband

my friend

my partner in life

their daddy

fighting for his life

against a burst brain aneurysm

i hold him for a long time

we are scared

but we will get through this

we have to

in the midst of all the tubes, lights, beeps, monitors...

i notice something in his hand

i ask him what it is

he holds it up high in the air

it's katie's bear

i smile weakly

and somehow know

God will bring us through this

and He did.

after 13 agonizing days of pain, waiting, praying, testing, diagnosing, treating, angiograms, ct scans, mri's, medications, meetings with doctors, IV's, tubes, monitors, beeps, blood draws, sodium checks, worrying, planning, tagteaming with family and friends, phone calls, emails, texts, 45-minute car rides, bonding forever with doctors and nurses, depending on family and friends more than we ever have, and...above all...making this somehow ok and bearable for jordan and katie...

He did. Thank you God. Your blessings upon our family have never felt so sweet.

Hold your loved ones tighter than is precious...

...and thank you from the bottom of my heart for two weeks of endless love, support, kindness, generosity, thoughts, prayers, and GOODNESS bestowed on our family.

Our hearts are full of gratitude for the human spirit, and for God's grace in times of need.

God calms the storms in our lives
and sometimes he just rides them with us.

Thank you, God...

and Kelly and Molly and Mom and Dad...

and more than a hundred dear friends, near and far...for riding this storm with us.

God Bless,
Jennifer, Jamie, Jordan, and Katie

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Through the age of eighteen, I went to church nearly every Sunday of my life. Mom made sure of it. Every Sunday morning, she pulled her three girls out of bed... all dressed up, hair brushed, faces scrubbed, ponytails in....and off we went.

There was even one Sunday we all wore matching dresses Mom had sewed. Dear God, if a picture existed of us all walking into church that day....I would pay a million dollars to see it now.

Most days we resisted. Didn't matter.

Most days we fought on the way. Didn't matter.

Most Sundays we talked, giggled, and poked each other through the entire got so bad that Mom actually resorted to giving us a grade on church behavior. Mine was usually a C...perhaps a few D's. maybe there was an F. Molly was always an A, unless I pulled her into something. Kelly was little and got away with murder. (hey it's my blog so I'm calling it as I see it)

Didn't matter.

Mom was going to bring us to church, teach us about God, and ensure that we got our baptisms, communions, confessions, CCD classes, we would have a foundation of faith.

If sports or work schedules prevented us from attending Sunday service...we would go on Saturday night...when there were GUITARS. DRUMS. A TAMBOURINE FOR GOD'S SAKE. People on microphones saying things like "praise God" and "Hallelujah"...a sharp contrast to Sunday's calm, controlled, stand-up-sit-down-kneel-down-peace-be-with-you-and-also-with-you-repeat-after-the-priest-Hail-Mary-Our-Father-sit-down-stand-up-kneel-for-a-long-time-during-communion Catholic rituals.

My childhood is filled with memories of the place...the dark mahogany wood...soft spongy cushions....the candles...stained glass pictures with rainbows of light streaming in everywhere...the choir...priests who sang a capella and it kind of embarrassed me...scents of wood varnish, old and well-worn books, perfume, incense...writing notes to my sisters...the robes...feeling a mixture of reverence and intimidation for the priests...examining the neck of the person in front of me...frantically turning pages in choir hymnals in search of the correct number before the song starts...feeling proud that I knew exactly what to answer the priest when he asked....shaking hands with strangers and wishing them "peace"....receiving communion and trying to remember which hand to lay on top...looking at the huge sculpture of Jesus on that big cross....bowing my head...saying my prayers, and hoping that I was "doing it right".

Sometimes I still do. :)

Looking back, I am awe....and proud of my Mom for believing in something so strongly for her children that she did it all herself. Pushed through our constant resistance and gave it to us anyway. I couldn't have been easy.

Thank you, Mom. (misty eyes)

Fast forward to eighteen years old...

I wish I could say I went to church after I left home for college.

I didn't. Not once.

I wish I could say I went to church when we first got married.

I didn't. Except on Christmas and Easter.

I wish I could say I took my kids to church with the same consistent passion and conviction as my Mom did for me.

I didn't. I let other things get in the way. Attended sporadically. Sent them to Sunday school sometimes. But we didn't feel like it was enough. They weren't getting a complete picture of worship, the idea of coming together with people from all walks of life, sharing their faith in God...only spotty exposures.

But whenever we did go to church, I always felt SO GOOD...renewed....refreshed...and we would say, "we need to go more...why don't we go more? Let's go more...OK? OK."

Rewind to three weeks ago...we signed Jordan up for confirmation classes...a year long commitment in which the family commits just as much as the student. We are asked to attend the mid-morning service, with Jordan's class to follow for an hour afterwards.

I have to admit it seemed daunting to make this kind of was going to a more sleeping more lazy Sundays with coffee and the more morning bike rides to the gym, with a casual brunch more just sitting around in PJ's all day, waiting for the afternoon nap to kick in, HA.

It meant getting everyone showered, dressed up, and out the door early on a Sunday morning...every Sunday...whether they liked it or not.

Just like Mom did for me.

And when I think of it like that...the decision was already made. :)

What I wasn't expecting...

was how much we all LOVE IT.

The service is filled with music.




An incredible singer with a voice and charisma fit for American Idol.

Words on a big screen so we can all sing along.

As I look around the church, I feel emotional...the band plays...the singer sings.....the drums pump a steady beat, filling every crevice of the huge, stained glass covered building with the most beautiful words and music... there are kids dancing...elderly people smiling, eyes closed...couples holding hands...toddlers clapping and bouncing on Daddy's own children singing along...Katie spontaneously wrapping her arms around my waist, as I kiss her head and smell the scent of shampoo from her damp hair...Jamie's deep voice belting out the words as he takes my hand...Jordan casually tapping his fingers on the pew as he sings...

Tears form in my eyes every time, and I instinctively push them away...seems silly....why would I cry at something so beautiful?

It's because I have missed it.

I felt at home. At peace. We all did.

The pastor delivers a message that makes everyone think a little bit harder about life...being a good person...trying your best...overcoming obstacles...and finding peace in every situation.

It fills me up. Sneaking peeks at the kids, I see they are listening...and it's sinking in.

Favorite quote of the day...

Sometimes God calms the storms in our lives... and sometimes he just rides them with us.

Love it. I couldn't imagine a more powerful, meaningful message for my kids to hold on to as they learn to cope with everything life brings. It's empowering for everyone. :)

Rewind to tonight at dinner...we are doing "Best And Worst" which each person shares both the Best and Worst moments or events of the day. teenager, so full of being cool, mature, confident, blah blah blah...says his Worst was when he missed the diving catch in today's game.

And what was your Best, Jordan?

"its a tie....between singing in church and my confirmation class today. Both were really cool."

I can't wait to go back next week.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Very Happy Birthday

I sit here, staring at a blank screen, searching for words...words adequate to describe a man who gave me the happiest of childhoods, an unfailing sense of security, unconditional love, a model for loving parenthood, and many of the quirks now so firmly ingrained in my personality.

There are none.

He is simply the best Dad I could ever wish for.

If I had one wish for the perfect Father, I would wish for him.

Exactly as he is.

My Dad is 70 today.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

I love you with all of my heart.

And even though we were banned from "any type of birthday celebration"...

oh well.




We had all been in cahoots for quite a while for this.......

We gathered pictures.


We wrote messages.

We emailed friends and family near and far, asking for birthday wishes, stories, and messages for Len Stout.

Our email boxes were flooded for weeks.

We copied and pasted, printed, agonized over fonts, mounted precious words from friends he hasn't seen in 20 years.


We scrapbooked.

The East coast clan snuck over across the Alley and were in town 24 hours without his knowledge. This is HUGE.

We baked a cake.


We booked a non-refundable appointment for him to drive a racecar at speeds of up to 150 mph. (gulp)

this image makes me laugh every....time.....I see it.


We TOTALLY got him. He didn't suspect a thing.

And I haven't seen him smile so much in a long time. :)

And because he has been "King Of The Christmas Morning Scavenger Hunts" for was time for paybacks.





Katie was kind enough to video the entire process on her polka dot phone...

and I confess, I was the only one hesitant on this gift...(is it safe? will he like it? what if he doesn't go for it?)....

I am happy to admit I was 100% wrong...



Memories of a lifetime made...check.









and true to form in most of our family gatherings at the Hutchie household...


Mysteriously turns into THIS:

gee...I wonder who did it. (eye roll)

Then it was time for the best part...the book.

This huge, monstrous book that took on a life of its own as we tried to capture, record and pay homage to the thousands of words written about our Dad during the past 6 weeks...

Dear Dad,

Happy 70th Birthday! Today we celebrate seventy years of a man who has been the rock of our family, loved us through every stage of our lives, given us the foundation for lifetime happiness, and been a huge source of love and support through every peak and valley this life brings.

We listened when you said you didn’t want “some huge celebration”. We have been banned from throwing an extravagant party (even though you deserve hundreds in your honor). So, we will obey. No surprise guests are lurking around the corner, no “this is your life” moments…because we want to honor your wishes, and leave you feeling happy, content, comfy, and loved on your birthday.

However…there are so many hearts of people you have touched in your seventy years, and we just couldn’t bear to leave them out. Important people needed to be heard, and wanted to express what you mean to them. So, sitting around the pool during our girls Hyatt weekend, we devised a plan…send a small email request for thoughts, stories, and birthday wishes for Len Stout. The premise seemed simple enough…that way, Dad would have a small intimate gathering, but we could also include people from near and far. We thought we would receive a handful of goodies, a few stories here and there…and a Happy Birthday wish or two.

The response, Dad…was nothing for which we could have prepared.

Our email boxes were flooded with messages. Not only did they respond in droves, but people took it upon themselves to forward the request, and surprise messages popped up daily. The sheer number of words says it all…just a little over ten thousand words, to be exact…but the meaningful messages behind them all are something to behold. As we read each one, we were overcome with emotion, realizing SO MANY PEOPLE love and care for you. We learned not only have you been a positive force in our family’s life, but also in the lives of dozens and dozens of others as well.

So sit back, Dad…and let these words sink in…because you have spent your life showing others how much you care…and now it’s time for us all to give that love and care back.

You deserve it.

We all love and admire you more than ten thousand words can ever say.

-Your Loving Family








We stayed late into the night, reliving memories, laughing, and just soaking in this family that I love so much.

Katie was enthralled.

I am so thankful for this Dad.

and I am so thankful he is 70...acting like he's 50.


Happy Birthday, my sweet, sweet Dad...


May all your wishes come true.