Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bits & Pieces: The tale of snow days and more

All in favor of spring starting immediately, say I? Motion carried. Now how do we enact this with Mother Nature?

I don't know about you, but frankly, I'm ready for spring, and as I write this, it's only Jan. 9.

From friends lamenting on Facebook about cabin fever to teachers trying crazy science experiences, I know that the last few days have been "challenging" to say the least.

Frankly, my favorite - don't try this at home without adult supervision experiments came from a couple of my teaching friends. I loved the one where you make boiling water become snow, which really does work (but note that it must be VERY cold outside, and you run the risk of being burned by water splash back if not done safely), and the "stiff as a board" frozen t-shirt.

Frankly some pictures of frozen bubbles have inspired me to have it on hand for the next really cold day.

Ah snow days. Somehow the carefree snow days of my childhood have moved into the reality of adulthood - there's really no "snow day" for adults. Work and life tend to fill in the gaps.

I know it hasn't been a popular decision at times, but after talking with Superintendent Sandy Coaly, I understand her reasoning for having canceled school in Grove - especially on Thursday.

It only takes one teacher, one student, and for that matter, one bus full of elementary students, running into difficulty, to make you realize life is short, and missing a day of school is well, not a matter of life or death.

I've been in her shoes. I've made the call when it meant more than 200 basketball players, parents and cheerleaders would miss - and not make up - an Upward Sports basketball game.

Deciding that for 200-plus individuals was hard enough - and yes, I didn't make everyone happy when I made the call for a snowstorm.

Imagine taking into account more than 2,600 students and more than 300 faculty and staff. Sandy Coaly has some hard shoes to fill in this case and I'm thankful that she is focused on the safety of GPS students and adults.

The point is this. I'm grateful to be writing a story about how the district will make up snow days, verses a story about a bus of children exposed to frostbite or worse - and I'm pretty sure, ultimately, most parents would agree they would rather read the later than the former.

Give us your opinion.

Some days, we ask questions, and get a few responses. Other days, like this week, wow, y'all have lots of opinions.

This week, we asked two questions that are still going strong, even days after the initial post on Facebook.

The first dealt with the proposed statue the Satanist would like to place on the capitol grounds featuring a seven-foot statue of what has been described as a "goat-headed demon sitting on a throne with children next to it."

The other, dealt with the city of Grove's decision to mirror the recent executive order to limit the use of electronic cigarettes on city property, well, has let us know there are some strong thoughts on both sides of the issue.

Thank you to everyone took time to share thoughts and opinions about issues raised in these question of the day. I believe it's a new form of democracy and truly lets local officials have a sampling of their constituents opinions.

So here's to snow days, snow ice cream and more. May your days be filled with laughter and humor, and may spring come quickly!

The column appeared in the Jan. 10, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun.
You can read the original column here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 10, 2014

From the 01.10.13 Grove Sun

From the 01.10.14 issue of The Grove Sun
(Left) An eagle, captured in mid-flight over Grand Lake with its prey. Local photographer Dave Wagenblatt caught this image in December from his home on Monkey Island. - Dave Wagenblatt / Special to the Grove Sun

(Right) Kevin Swalley, with Vapers Tek, demonstrates the use of an electronic cigarette and the water vapor produced in the process. Swalley, who spoke at Tuesday's council meeting, urged council members to not limit the use of the devices on city property, saying many people - including himself, have used them to stop smoking regular cigarettes. - Kaylea M. Hutson / Grove Sun

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Renew my spirit

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10 NIV..

This week's faith photo.

Loving this concept.

Need to think of a slightly better game plan for future photos.

Fortunately a co worker took my idea - hands and snow - and made it awesome when she said "What about shaping a heart?" So I said yes! Then captured the pic after she made the shape.

Creativity and faith. Mixing the two on the faith page. I've created a monster. Now I need to think of ideas for the coming weeks.

Monday, January 6, 2014

From the 01.07.14 Issue of The Grove Sun

From the 01.07.14 Issue of The Grove Sun

(Left) Chuck Smith, with the City of Grove's Building and Grounds department, works to clear a walkway for city offices Monday morning. The weekend weather system brought in several inches of snow and temperatures hovering around zero.

(Right) On Thursday, family and friends will gather together at the Delaware County Extension office to celebrate Barbara Denney with a come-and-go retirement luncheon. The event, set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, commemorates the 10 years Denney served with the Delaware County Extension services, most recently as the director, family and consumer science and 4-H educator. She is shown with two 4-H'ers during the halloween-themed fall party.

Photos by Kaylea M. Hutson / Grove Sun

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Defining my word: Laugh

Working to define my word: Laugh for the January project of One Little Word.

I've struggled with the assignment today - partly because the day changed when the "storm" blew in the snow and bitter temperatures. I've spent most of the day updating first church closing, than school closings.

I've overthought the project. Today, I finally decided to do everything digitally, Using Phonto and Instagram. A new app, Noteshelf, giving me a way to gather the images/project together in one piece.

How I'll print it? Not sure yet. But that's a concern for another day.

Here's my images up close.

My word for 2014 - Laugh.

#olw2014: Defining my word - Laugh. Ok, the definition I found didn't really fit why I chose it, so I kind of tweaked it to fit my reasoning. :-)

More about my word: The synonyms for Laugh. Again, I tweaked the definition to fit why I chose the word for 2014.

My Selfie portrait. The assignment was to take a current pic, or use one that represents your word within the last six months.

I love this one. I took it in December, after Tassie highlighted my hair. I liked it, because I was laughing after I finished - because I walked in to get a cut, and said "do what ever you want" and came out with highlights.

So here's the first part of the January assignment. My word, its definition and some of the other words that relate to it.

This is a journey of self discovery. It's not a sprint, but rather a marathon. Here's to a year-long marathon designed to help me truly embrace my word. I'm hoping it helps me smile for rest of the year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks

I had a chance to slip away and see Saving Mr. Banks today.

The movie (despite having a few "spoiler" comments from friends) was not what I anticipated.

It was even better. The storyline, which shows how Walt Disney worked for more than 20 years to bring Mary Poppins to life, to keep a promise to his daughters.

It also shows how PL Travers strived to honor her father, despite his flaws.

It was powerful. I loved the performances by Tom Hanks & Emma Thompson. Wow. Each embraced their respective character with depth and authenticity.

I also loved how the storyline was filled with messages of hope, perseverance and forgiveness of oneself and others.

The story also found a way to reminds all of us to find laughter and joy in life despite things that happen in the past.

This was definitely a film worth seeing. Here's a tip - STAY thru the credits.

I loved this quote, Disney told Travers at the end of the fillm, as he encouraged her to step out in faith and to trust him with her story.

“That’s what storytellers do. We restore order to imagination. We bring hope.”

On a side note: It's amazing how this story wove into my word for 2014 - Laugh. Travers had to learn how to put aside the past in order to learn how to laugh again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Starting a New Year

The new year started with a bang (literally) for me Tuesday, as I hung out with a friend and her kidlets as they had a New Year's Eve slumber party.

By bang, I mean those crazy little confetti poppers. I had fun tormenting my friend's first grader, with the poppers - he liked the idea of popping them, but not listening to them pop!

And then there was the "just dance" party, and a crazy game of charades. Let's just say, hanging out with my friends helped me start my year with hours filled with lots of laughs (my word for 2014, if you missed last week's column.)

Then on January 1, I joined others across the country taking part in the "First Day Hike," at one of the many state parks. I was near Siloam Springs, and love the Natural Falls State Park, so I brushed off my walking shoes and went for a hike.

Ok, for the record, walking on a treadmill does NOT prepare you for the "natural trail" at Natural Falls State Park. I'm glad a few people were patient as I trudged up the path.

It was nice to be outside for more than an hour, spending time away from the "screens" that take up most of my life.

I love the concept behind the First Day Hike. It's like Amanda Wiley, the park manager for Grand Lake State Park - Bernice Nature Center told me, the hike is one of the many activities she will plan this year to get people outside and enjoying nature.

Wiley has several things planned during the course of the next year, including a weekly "wild eats" program, that lets visitors to Bernice see the park's animals during feeding time.

So how did you ring in the New Year? Did you make any resolutions (or revolutions as my friend's first grader said in all sincerity).

I also spent New Year's Day celebrating the arrival of the New Year babies (see elsewhere in the paper for their happy stories), yet grieving, for a young family that I know.

Drew and Mandy Harris have fought valiantly, with integrity and honor, as their daughters, Alex and Emma struggled for years with a wretched disease known as PKAN or Pantothenate Kinase-Associated Neurodegeneration, a rare genetic disorder that allows for the accumulation of iron in a person’s brain.

The disease caused the girls to exhibit many of the symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, including a rigidity of muscles, tremors and a lack of coordination. It also affects a person’s cognitive and developmental abilities.

One to three individuals for every one million births are diagnosed with PKAN. Alex and Emma Harris were, at the time of their diagnosis in 2009, the first cases of the disease at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.

While many with PKAN live into their 20s or 30s. Individuals who present symptoms early in life, often progress with the disease at a faster rate.

For Mandy and Drew, this meant saying goodbye to their youngest daughter Emma in March 2012. On Wednesday, their first-born daughter, Alex who turned 11 at the end of December, ended her battle with the disease.

On Tuesday, I'll journey to northwest Arkansas, to stand alongside friends, and the many children I know who grew up with Alex, to say goodbye to a sweet little girl who charmed everyone she knew. A little girl who could say more with her eyes, than words, and loved the color purple.

So if you see me in town sporting purple highlights, know I'm joining in with others to honor Alex's memory in this way.

Do me a favor this week, hug the kidlets (of all ages) in your life, and make sure they know how much you love them, and care for them - and then make some memories. Because, like Patti Beth says in her column today, memories are what last for a lifetime.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at or 918-786-2228.

Note. This column appeared in the Jan. 3, 2014 issue of The Grove Sun. Click here for the original link.

From the 01.03.14 issue of The Grove Sun

From the 01.03.14 - Issue of The Grove Sun


It's (Two) Girls!

Read more about them here!

(Left) Derek Hagar and Toshina Williams of Grove welcome their daughter, Lexie Nichole Hagar, the first baby born at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital in 2014. She arrived at 12:10 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 1, weighing weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and was 18.5 inches long.

(Right) Isabel Mae King arrived at 4:21 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1, to Cheyenne Burlein and Brandon King, weighing 5 pounds, 9 ounces and measuring 18 inches long.

Kaylea M. Hutson / Grove Sun

Here's a fun fact: Dr. Zachary Bechtol was on call for the New Year's deliveries. The two girls were his first two New Year's Day babies.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Deep calling deep

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:7, 8 NIV)

I'm trying something new. On Fridays, when the faith page is "light" on stuff, I'm putting a photo in, with a bible verse - kind of a devo without words.

Another way to try some non-traditional journalism, and a way to blend the yin / yang of my world.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bits & Pieces: Happy New Year!

I originally wrote this column for the Dec. 27, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun - my last editor's column for the year. It seems appropriate for today, the first day of 2014. - Happy New Year!

As you read this, the 12 days of Christmas are in full swing (psst. Christmas really doesn't end until Jan. 6, on Epiphany) and the first day of 2014 is knocking on our doors.

Are you ready for 2014? Well, I guess it doesn't matter if you answer no, because guess what — it will be here, ready or not — in a less than four days.

A year — 365 days full of untapped possibilities — await you. What are your hopes and dreams this New Year?

Do you have a resolution to make? If you are like me, the resolution made on New Year’s Eve is often left in the dust by spring break.

In the last few years, starting in 2007, I’ve done something different. Rather than make a resolution that will fail, I've filled my days with a word to help guide my life.

I’ll be honest, because I’m a “wordy” gal, I usually pick one word in January, and then by mid-summer, another has woven into my life. Such is the case in the first year, when I started looking for “wonder” around me, and later found myself “seek”ing out God’s will for my life.

Other past choices have included simplicity and joy (2008), dream and hope (2009), half-full and see (2010), new and renews (2011) and rest and sabbath (2012).

One word.

It amazes me the power a single word can hold, especially as I watch God use it to shape and define the things I encounter in a year.

It's quite astounding really, when I think of the ways God uses the words I choose to speak to me — through the experiences that fill my days.

In 2013, I began the year with "imagine" and that word grew to include "rejoice." I will admit, however, I spent most of the year focusing on "imagine."

I found the word imagine (or maybe it found me) before Christmas 2012, when a friend and ministry colleague handed me a rock with the word imagine engraved on it.

He challenged me to "imagine" the freedom that can only be found because of God's love. He also challenged me to consider the things in store for my life, that may seem beyond my imagination.

At that time, God only knew how the word would shape my year. In the past year, God has used the word to challenge me to imagine a new direction in life — and even a chance to return to the newsroom.

Was it easy? Absolutely not. But things that challenge us are often what ultimately bring us the greatest joy and satisfaction.

This year, my word came to me as I spent time putting together the "Christmas adventure" that unfolded for Sunny the Elf on The Grove Sun's Facebook page.

I'll be honest, I laughed a lot as I not only took the pictures, but as Samantha and I put the storyline together on Christmas Eve.

Suddenly, the word for 2014 began to emerge — laugh. It was reinforced when a new friend texted me a photo on Christmas eve with an altered sign with "For Lease Navidad," painted on it. (I'll admit that I'm still giggling over the photo several days later.)

Life gets pretty serious, especially in a newsroom. Sometimes laughter is truly the only medicine to get through the day. So I'm starting the year with a goal to find ways to fill my days with laughter.

Defining 2014
So what word would you use for 2014? What comes to mind? Maybe it’s “new” or “adventure” — because of the endless possibilities that await you. Or maybe it’s “friend” because you want to focus on building or repairing friendships with the people around you.

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer to this idea. You simply pick a word to help define your hopes and dreams for 2014 — then start looking for the things God wants to teach you using the word.

A new year — 365 days as clean as a page in new sketchpad — and new opportunities. What will you create this year?

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at or 918-786-2228.

Note. This column appeared in the Dec. 27, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun. Click here for the original link.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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