BOOK SUMMARY: Reminiscent of the popular family story - book and movie, "Cheaper by the Dozen" of a century ago, this book tells of the antics, adventures, experiences, humorous incidents, fun, and everyday normality of a more modern family with nine children. The story begins with the birth of number nine and flashes back to the crazy courtship and marriage of the parents of that "Fine Nine". This is the first book in the "Nine is Fine" series.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Years after having a large family of nine children - in a world where one or two children per family seems to be the norm, Kevin and Lou take a look back at a lifetime of crazy fun and adventure with their "Nine is Fine" clan. The story is extracted from the daily journals and other memorabilia of the authors - so is a true-life story (yet still kind of unbelievable and zany). "Did this really happen?"
WHY THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN: The book is written to motivate, inspire and entertain others. It is written to illustrate the fun, happiness, adventure, excitement and all the rest that can come through a FAMILY - whether large or small. Families everywhere will be able to relate to this family. All families could likely tell some or all of the stories written herein, but this family highlighted in the book are or may be different just because they took the time to write down the daily details of their lives and can look back at the records with a perspective following the passage of time, progress made, and even survival. The book can help everyone feel the joy - even eternal happiness - that can come through family relationships.
America today needs the strength that can come from families. Young people, young adults and young fathers and mothers need to know that families are good and that great things can come of having children and being "normal" parents to them. Older folks - including parents and grandparents can sit back and laugh at the Hunt antics while perhaps remembering - and maybe even writing down - some of the great adventures encountered while raising their own families.
NOTE: (WITH TONGUE IN CHEEK ... We believe that this book can easily match "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Yours, Mine and Ours". And unbelievably, everything in this book is true. It is taken from journal entries of Kevin and Lou about them and their crazy brood of nine children. Maybe someday, some movie producer will discover us (Ha!Ha!) and will want to make a movie - or a series about us ... Well, an interesting thought ...!
Eternally Yours …
Volume One of the “Nine is Fine” Series
By Lou Dene Hunt and
Kevin V. Hunt
Kevin V. and Lou Hunt
Dedicated to our nine children (The “Nine is Fine” Gang) – including Jackie, Jenae, Kaylea, K.C., Rusty, Keith, Marinda, Lana and Larissa – as well as to the next generation – our grandchildren – who are now coming forth.
Eternally Yours …
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter Page Chapter Title
1 3 Nine is Fine
2 The Fine Nine and the
3 Eternally Yours –
4 “C.Z. and Betty Jo”
5 Going our Separate Ways
6 I Want to be In Love
7 Together Again
8 The Pains of Separation
9 Lost in the Mail
10 And the Answer is …
11 Gearing up for that First Kiss
12 “Yes, Yes, Yes!”
13 The Clock Strikes Midnight
“NINE IS FINE”
There are probably only a handful of people who could tell you what they were doing on June 2, 1995. It was a typical Friday and the dawning of another beautiful summer day. For most of the world, the day was no different than any other. There was nothing really earthshaking that made the news that day. Looking back now, most folks would not feel that the day was even significant. It was, however, a milestone day for the Kevin and Lou Hunt family residing that hot day in the desert community of Mesa, Arizona.
With the events of that day, it is a day that we will forever remember and cherish. It will not be forgotten. But, details of the day are further brought to our memory through my personal journal entries of the experience and what I wrote about the event that same day. My wife summed up the day with just three words, “Nine is Fine!”
Actually, however, the day really began on Thursday, June 1st – for us. That was the day that Lou had been scheduled eight days earlier – to “be induced” for a baby delivery. June 1st was the day for the “plug” to be pulled.
This, in itself, was not a new experience for us. We’d been through it eight other times before. This was our ninth child. And with eight previous births, Lou had never once gone into labor signaling the time to dash to the hospital for a baby delivery. That’s just not the way it worked for us. She never “came on her own”. Doctors would make us wait until after the due date and then when we still had no baby, they would schedule her for an inducement.
This is actually a pretty good plan – at least for me – the Dad! It kind of put Lou into a panic in her anticipation of the event but at least it let us get our schedules set and baby sitters arranged for the other children. So, this was just another routine baby delivery for us. (Routine? That’s a laugh – with nine children – but at least we kind of knew what to expect.)
“The instructions were that we were to call the hospital at 6 AM to see if they could take us at that time. We got up at 5:15 AM to be ready to leave the house at 6 AM. We had been told that we were to be the second induction of the day but as we called at 6 AM, we were informed that we were #6 down the list. We were told that they’d call us as they had room for us. Thus, we began a full day of sitting around wondering if and when something would happen.
“My mother, or Grandma, had agreed to tend our children for us. Four of the children had commitments elsewhere – with jobs, etc, but I took the other four to Mother’s place at lunch time. Mother was making bread and fried up a big batch of fried bread (scones) for all of us.
“Back at home, the day got progressively more boring as we continued to sit around waiting and hoping for the big phone call from the hospital. We called the place at 4:00 PM and learned that there were still two ladies “in queue” ahead of us. I was really getting bugged by this time. I sat and fumed for a while but it didn’t do any good. …
“We finally got our long-awaited call telling us that we could come in. … It was about 6:15 PM when we finally received the call. … It took us about a half hour to get to the hospital. … It was 8:00 PM when the nurses got the Pitussin drug going to start the contractions. About 9:30 Pm, Lou got the epidural shot to hide the labor pains.
“We thought that the baby would arrive today but the minutes and hours slowly ticked into the new day. Lou sat and made very slow progress. The night became very long as the birth process dragged on and on. In an hour and a half Lou’s cervix showed no change whatsoever. It seemed stuck at 4 centimeters. Lou was very pleased that she had the epidural shot and thus no pain. It was pleasant to see her so relaxed. Thus, Thursday passed quietly into Friday – June 2nd.
“ I was surprised that the nurses did not break the “bag of waters” – And because of that, Lou made little progress. The water finally broke on its own about 1:45 Am. This got things moving more rapidly. The labor pains intensified but luckily were restrained or muffled by the epidural shot. … Lou progressed to a 10-cm dilation and the nurse had to let her just kind of “coast” for a while. It took over half an hour for the doctor to arrive. He did finally come about 3:30 AM. Lou could then feel only “pressure” but on instruction from the nurse, she was able to think “Push”. At each contraction the baby came down a little more. It was exciting to see the head as it began to emerge. I saw a lot of hair and thought, “This must be a girl.” (We didn’t know ahead of time what gender of child we were getting.)
“The day dawned a beautiful day and became one of the greatest days in my life. This was the birthday for a new little daughter, whom we’ll name Larissa Marie. The baby was born at 3:34 AM. This baby was a bit unusual in that she didn’t cry at her birth. It was several minutes before she did cry.
“As always, the entire birth was a special miracle for us. It was exciting and wonderful to be a part of the creation of and a witness to the birth of this little lady. As further witness of the true miracle was the fact that the cord was wrapped around the neck of Larissa. It is a miracle that she was not strangled by the cord. The cord also had two large knots in it. This was very interesting to observe. The baby was born without complications or problems. With each birth, I marvel at the way the Lord brings each new Spirit into the world. It truly is a miracle. Larissa looked perfect. I rejoice in her coming. I’m pleased that she has been sent to join our family.
“I was able to cut the cord and this was kind of fun. While the doctor was tending to Lou and the delivery of the placenta, I went over to introduce myself to the new lady. I observed that she had all of her toes and fingers and was beautifully proportioned. She had a fair amount of reddish blonde hair. She had the high forehead/hairline of Lou’s Belcher family – with longer hair in the back.
“The nurse guessed that the baby would hit eleven pounds but she was a typical Hunt baby. She weighed in at 9 pounds and 12 ounces. Her length was 21 ¾”. Her head measured 14” and her chest 14 ¾”.
“It was fun to watch the nurse take the measurements and then to clean up the baby. Stuff was put in the eyes and the baby tried to figure out what this was all about. I liked the way Larissa held onto my finger. When just a couple of minutes old, (and while in the warming table) she held tightly onto my finger with her whole little fist.
“The last thing that the nurse did was to shampoo Larissa’s hair. She took her to the sink and put her whole scalp into the water. Larissa seemed to really enjoy the effect of the warm water.
“Lou tried right away to nurse the baby. She didn’t immediately go for the nursing action, however. Lou told her, “I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t want to do that either.” She did later “latch on” to get all that she could
“I enjoyed a few quiet moments with the baby as she was in the warmer. I later held her for quite q while. I visited with her and talked to her about what was going in her new world. I told her that we were happy to have her and that she had a lot of brothers and sisters who were happy about her coming to us. I always enjoy these first few moments following the birth of a new member of the family. I felt today a special spirit in Larissa. She seemed calm and very much at peace.
“About 6 Am, Kaylea (age 13) called from Mother’s place to be the first to get the news. She also awakened Marinda (age 6) and Lana (age 3) to hear of their sister. K.C. (age 11) was also at Mother’s place. Jackie (age 15), Jenae (age 14), Rusty (age 9), and Keith (age 8) were all at my sister Lesa’s place where they had spent the night. I tried to call them but couldn’t arouse anyone there. I called them after I got home about 8:30 AM but Kaylea had already called them with the news.
“About 7:15 AM, after the nurse shift change, a nurse came to take Lou upstairs to a regular room. The nurse did a lot of final clean-up, paperwork and stabilizing of Lou. I carried all of the stuff while the nurse pushed Lou and the baby in a wheelchair. We went up to room 212C – which was a nice private room. Lou’s legs were still totally numb from the epidural shot so it was a challenge for the nurse and I to move Lou to and from the bed and chair, etc. We did get Lou situated in the bed and the baby into a small “crib”.
With the girls stabilized, I decided to head out. I was anxious to get some sleep – since I got only about a half hour through the night (about 2:00 AM). I left the hospital. I took a roll of film to the store to be developed. This featured a picture of each of the family members – and the new baby – for use on the upcoming baby announcement.
“I slept for about two hours and then headed off to round up all of my kids. I took them all over to the hospital to check out their new little sister. Mother, two nephews, my niece, and our children piled into the big family 15-passenger van. Together we trekked to the hospital to see mother and baby.
“With such a large group of us, we felt it expedient to split the group in two. Mother remained in the foyer while I took my kids only up to see Lou. Times have changed somewhat through the course of our children’s births. It used to be that the siblings were not allowed to be near mother or baby. If they did get to be with the mother, the baby had to be in the nursery. Now, however, the children can see and be with both mother and baby. They needed only to wash their hands before holding the baby. So, the children all made a beeline to the sink. They were all anxious to hold the little lady. We took turns and passed Larissa to each of the other eight children as he or she sat in the “holding chair”. I introduced each family member to Larissa as they got to hold her. It was cute to see each child as they held their new sister for the first time. They all thought she was pretty neat. The children were also intrigued with the television in Lou’s room – since we do not have one at home.
As we had all nine children with us there together in the hospital room, Lou took one look around. It was a bit overwhelming but it was a wonderful scene. As she looked over the group, she said, “NINE IS FINE!”. That phrase actually had a double meaning as she used it. At that moment. First: She thought that we had a very fine looking group of wonderful and beautiful children. And second, since she was then age 42 (and had had one miscarriage before Larissa’s birth, she believed that this birth - #9 – was the final birth for us – and so it really was the case that “Nine is fine …!” (And it was!)
My sister, Lesa, had already been to see Lou and the baby. She brought a large present for the baby and we opened it with all of the children looking on. We opened it and found it full of various clothing articles for Larissa. Most notable was a gorgeous blessing or christening dress. I think that Lou was relieved that she wouldn’t have to make such a dress on this birth – as she has made one for all of our previous children.
The younger children were all real hyper when we got home. I sat them down to read to them. We finished another “Boxcar Children” book. This did help to calm the children.
I took all eight of the children out to eat – per our “new baby tradition”. We ate Pancho’s Mexican food. We ate at the take-out place and used all five of the outside tables – with seating only for two at each table.
Lou and the baby were ready to come home on Saturday.
The three oldest girls were all working for the day but I took the other five children to the hospital with me when it was time to pick up Lou and Larissa. They fought all of the way there about who would get to sit next to the baby and her car seat on the way home. I finally said that to settle the issue, we’d have the two girls by their sister. The boys were not pleased but I said, “That’s the way it is!”
As Rusty drew a prize ticket (for completing his chores this morning before we went to the hospital) he drew one which Lou had sneaked in before going to the hospital. This said, “Change the baby”. Thus, we let him change the diaper and then dress the baby in a new sleeper outfit for the trip home.
I went downstairs to finalize documents for the birth certificate and Social Security card. I also checked in – or out – of the business office to get their clearance. We were then ready to head out. Each of the five children had their hands full of presents, hospital freebies, Lou’s things, Etc. Lou carried the baby on her lap as she sat in the wheelchair. We made quite a procession as we proceeded downstairs. We got some funny looks from people who walked by us. It was probably quite a show.
We arrived home with no complication. We got Lou onto the couch to sleep. She was worn out through the activities of the day. I left her there to relax and to sleep. Jackie and Jenae were working but I took six children to the public library to sign up for the summer reading program.
After we got back home, the kids all took turns holding Larissa. They had to take advantage of times when she wasn’t eating or sleeping. Lou called her dad to tell him of his 50th grandchild. Larissa is the 26th grandchild on the hunt side. And she is the #191 great grand child for my Grandma Augusta.
On Sunday we received a call from a nurse at the hospital. She said that they had failed to do the heel/blood test on Larissa. Thus, we had to take her back for the test. Lou got all dressed up to go with us – though she probably didn’t need to go. Several of the children went with us. We got the real run around as we tried to figure out where we needed to go for the test. I finally had Lou go to sit in the lobby while Kaylea and I and the baby waited at the laboratory. We had to wait for a half hour or so but finally we got to the nurse. She poked Larissa’s foot and got the blood on a card. I took Lou and Larissa home and I took the other eight children to church for the afternoon.
Later that night, we took mom and baby out to see my mother, siblings and some of their children. We had quite a bunch of us there together. It was a very pleasant evening. The entire family wanted to hold Larissa. She was really the star of the show.
Monday nights in our family and church are reserved for a family together time.
For Family Home Evening tonight, I collected all of my journal books which detailed the births of our children. I started at Jackie and read the birthday entry (and surrounding days) for each of the children. The reading activity was quite enjoyable. The kids really got into the journal reading. It was great fun to read of the events, activities and feelings surrounding each birth. We had forgotten many of the details so it was fun to relive those special moments again tonight.
A couple of days later, Lou and Jenae spent quite a bit of time designing our baby announcement.
Jenae suggested the theme of a box of a dozen donuts. We did finally get some decent pictures of each family member (but it took two rolls of film to do so.) The doughnut box design looked very cute when they got it finished. I headed to the print shop with EIGHT children. This, of course, was a real thrill. They were all over the place. We had our baby announcements printed for Larissa. Back at home, the children were all anxious to help me stuff the announcements into the envelopes which we had prepared a few days ago. We really had a major operation going. Each child had his or her own specific job to do. We got them sent off in the mail to many family members and friends.
I also noted that same day that the kids were enjoying our new baby girl.
The children are having fun holding, tending, and dressing Larissa. She seems very alert of late. She seems to enjoy looking at all of us. (I wonder if she thinks that “nine is fine”.)
I grew up in a family of seven children. And my grandparents raised a full dozen children (they had 13). I was the oldest of our seven children – so I was used to having a lot of children around our home. My mother once taught us about the need to have children and to welcome them into our home. She noted that many families limit children – saying that they can not handle more – or that they can not afford them. Many women, she stated, were now content to be professional women – not caring if or when they had children. My father was a postman and did not make a lot of money. Mother was a “stay-at-home Mom”. She was able to accomplish this through great personal and family sacrifice. But, she taught a great truth: “With each new child, our ability to care for them increased and my own personal capacity increased to fill the need.”
So, having grown up in the big family, I definitely wanted a big family, too. I think I was about twelve when I decided that I wanted eleven children in my future family. It was at age twelve that I became intensely interested in genealogy and family history. In those days, eleven children fit onto one of the standard “family group record sheets” that were then being used. I thought then how great it would be to have a complete sheet with a full eleven children. That goal somehow became cemented into my mind and remained there as I grew older.
Another factor in my desire for a large family was knowledge of Frank and Lillian Galbraith – who were made famous with the book and movie about their brood of a dozen children. I read the book and saw the show as a teenager and I was enthralled about their story.
I loved the scene in the show “Cheaper by the Dozen” where Frank quietly pulled a little whistle from his pocket and blew on it. It was great to see his dozen children come scrambling in from all parts of the large home and yard to his assembly call. I loved seeing him and Lillian and their full dozen in their old jalopy car. I loved the family council meetings. I loved the part where Lillian was visited by some folks who (even in 1925) thought that there should be limitation on family size. Someone – as a joke – had recommended that she – Lillian – be recruited to head up the local birth control group. She called in Frank to be a part of the great scene. And that is one time that he used his whistle to summon his dozen children. It was a great scene.
Anyway, I loved Frank Galbraith – even though he lived some fifty or more years prior to my own teen days. He was my hero. I thought he was the ultimate father. I sincerely wanted to be like him. And had it not been for the genealogy sheet, I would have determined then to have a dozen kids – but I didn’t want to add a second family group sheet – just for one more lone child on the form.
When I was about age nineteen, I had made up a list of desired qualities that I wanted in a future wife. One of the top items on the list was that I wanted a gal who came from a big family and who also wanted to have a large family of children of her own. That was a big thing with me.
My wife, Lou also wanted a large family. She had grown up in a family of nine children. (Her folks had lost their first son when just a few hours old. He would have made number ten.)
Lou describes growing up with a large family:
My parents had 10 children, one died at birth. I was number nine in the line up. I loved growing up in a large family. We lived on 5 acres of land and that made growing up one of the best things. We planted a big garden each summer and that taught us the art of work: plowing, planting, hoeing, irrigating (sometimes in the middle of the night) and weeding.
We all enjoyed the fruits of our labors. My mom would send us out to the garden to pick our dinner each night. We enjoyed red potatoes, peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces and corn - lots of corn. We planted enough corn to pick and sell. We used this money to help buy our school clothes each year.
We also had fruit trees which included many apple trees. My brothers and I would climb an apple tree with a salt shaker in hand. We would sit in the apple tree and eat little green apples until we had a belly ache. It seemed to us that the salt would help make the apple less sour. We ate some pretty sour apples.
We had a creek that surrounded 3 sides of our 5 acres. Much of our growing up was spent playing in the creek or tubing down it on inner tubes. The city planted rainbow trout fish in the creek every year. This also became a part of our growing up. Looking for worms - called night crawlers - and fishing for rainbow trout. My brothers would clean the fish and my mom would cook them up for dinner. I didn’t enjoy eating them too much because of the bones in them and the fact that its eyeballs were looking at me.
My Dad built a pond for us to enjoy more water fun, like boating, kayaking, swimming, catching tadpoles and frogs. In the winter Dad would fill the pond with lots of water and then it would freeze. We would go ice skating all winter long. My Dad bought us second hand skates from the DI store. He would stoke up a wood burning furnace and place it in the middle of the pond. We could skate and warm up our fingers and toes as needed.
We also had lots of trees boarding the creek with grape vines climbing all over the trees. We had secret hide outs and places to play house in and under the trees and vines. We spent hours playing and going on special hikes to find cool rocks and driftwood to add to our special collection of things.
On our 5 acres we had animals of all kinds - cats for catching mice and a big dog for keeping people out. We raised chickens for roasting and eggs for scrambling. We also had turkeys, lambs and pigs to raise and for eating. We had goats, geese, a donkey, a pony, and a squirrel monkey. We didn’t have these all at the same time but had them all during my growing up days.
We didn’t have a Television for the most part. So we played board games, card games, jacks, jump rope and marbles. We popped pop corn on the stove in a fry pan with oil. We put a lid on the pan of course, shaking the pan back and forth to keep the pop corn from burning. My mom would make taffy candy to pull and we would all join in the taffy pull. Or she would make an ice cream mixture that she would pour into aluminum ice trays with a handle. After the ice cream set we would enjoy eating it. It was more like ice milk, but we loved it.
We all worked hard and played hard;
To obtain a full download copy of this book, contact: Kevin V. Hunt: firstname.lastname@example.org, (480) 833-4867, or write: Kevin V. Hunt, PO Box 8795, Mesa, AZ 85214