P.S. - Ruth sent a bunch of pictures and I wanted to include a few here (so marked below).
Hayden got baptized March 30th. Because of Easter, every other ward but his in the stake chose to wait, luckily for those of us who had flight reservations!
His mom's invitation:
Here we are after the event (many of us squinting against the bright sunlight):
The baptism and confirmation were done by Uncle Grant (one of his girls said, just as they were beginning, "Aren't they supposed to put special oil on his head?"/shushed by mom): "Hayden Cody Rudder, by authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, we confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and say to you: Receive the Holy Ghost. Hayden, we also bless you to know how much your family loves you, your parents and step-parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We also bless you that you will be able to continue to grow strong and learn in school and at church, and we bless you that you will be able to have have the strength to choose the right, and also have the strength to change, when you make mistakes as we all do. We bless you with all these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
(Sound only [of course - we were in the chapel] -
lost some clarity in moving it from my phone to here.)
(Hayden's paternal side came but I don't think they realized the chapel might be involved and slipped off in their casual clothes before we could gather for the picture.)
(Snapped by R.)
(Snapped by R. Hard to catch a picture of all the children at the church,
in fact only the formal line-up caught them all.)
The paternal side did come to the lunch at BJ's, and Jewel told Hayden to sit by his Dad. He was beamingly proud to have everyone together. There were 17 of us at the restaurant. Drink of choice, all you can eat salad and different kinds of fantastic pizza.
Brings back memories of the last (larger) family reunion when I got so sick the first morning of it I had to go home. So I appreciate even more, this time, the gift of that first evening and the next two days, as you'll see below!
(The [non]sleeping arrangements, snapped by R.)
Raygen was thrilled and talked constantly before, during and after, about "my girls". Hayden, as you can see in the group picture, is pretty much GQ. After Raygen was born, her great grandparents on Johnny's side began an annual Easter hunt at their house, to which they've invited me every year (but I haven't gone down). That event was after the luncheon and a lot of fun there was had by all.
Grant's family was going to visit Larry's at their hotel that evening, but the kids were dirty and too exhausted after baths. Sunday morning Larry's crew came over for an egg hunt for all the kids in the local park. The men went ahead to hide the eggs. At one point, Austin ran up to me, all excited as he hollered, "Grandma!!", to show me all he had gathered in his basket. It was amusing and sweet. His sister Aliyah is magical. I swear she can be standing behind you and you actually feel her presence. Facing you she will give you an electric smile that almost speaks out loud: "I can see you need some extra love, and here it is!"
(Austin and Johnny, walking home from the egg hunt.)
(Aliyah with Jewel, snapped by R.
If you stare long enough into her eyes,
you might catch a glimpse of her spirit's warmth.)
Three of the cousins at church.
One badly in need (again) of a few catch-up winks.
(Jewel holding back a smile noting
me being a little less than reverent, taking phone pictures.)
(Back at Jewel and Johnny's [Sunday after church], snapped by R.)
The cousins had a blast, lost a lot of sleep in the process, tears of sadness at departure.
The event was a gift of mercy in that in the wee sleeping hours of Saturday morning,
Lucy started major flu symptoms. At the time we figured it was reacting to the plane ride,
as she was fine the rest of the time. Lucy's same symptoms picked back up
the day after they left, and later that week Hazel and Ruth succumbed
but no one else has (yet) been visited.
The first these four have been together since early July, 2011.
And the first time ever for all six children to play together.
No first cousins on Hayden's paternal side.
(Nor aunt/uncle children!)