Saturday, June 30, 2007

People may surprise you

This column was in Saturday's Ledger & Times. It was inspired by last weekend.

I remember crying when my mom wanted me to walk on the gymnastics floor mat without her.

No, I wasn’t crying because somebody should have told me I wasn’t cut out for gymnastics. But rather because I was terribly shy. So shy, in fact, that sometimes when I saw people I liked in the grocery store I would hesitate to say hi to them.

My mom will still tell stories about me hanging on to her leg -- literally -- like I thought she could shield from me from the world.

I don’t really know when I grew out of this shyness. But I’m thankful I did.

But people who knew me then haven’t forgotten it.

Last weekend my central Kentucky friends threw me (and baby Cate, of course) a shower. Toward the beginning, all my friends and family took turns sharing a memory.

This kind of thing always makes me nervous. Maybe that’s just the shyness slipping back into existence.

But, anyway, when it was my mom’s turn, she reverted to my shy days. I think she likes to talk about it. But that’s OK because she always gets around to how I’ve grown up and grown out of that tendency.

So, the story goes ...

“Kristin was so shy as a kid. She didn’t speak to people and hung on my leg. But then she grew up and become a journalist. Can you believe it, she calls people who don’t want to talk to her?”

Ah, full circle.

Indeed I’m not shy anymore. At least not like that little-girl shy.

You’re not going to catch me volunteering to speak before a large crowd, or even a medium-sized crowd. But, yes, I will call people, sometimes even important people like a university president, state senator or big-business honcho.

And not only do I call them, but I always have a list of questions, sometimes the same one phrased a few different ways to make sure I get a good answer.

The morale of the story is sometimes people will surprise you. My mom finds joy in me gaining enough confidence to move beyond her leg and be the reporter on the other end of the phone.

So what if I didn’t want to be a gymnast. I found something that suits me better.

Friday, June 29, 2007

a cell phone? seriously?

This is an e-mail I got. My thought while reading remained the same: SERIOUSLY? What do you think? Seriously?

There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies. Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:

1. Emergency. The emergency number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile; network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

2. Have you locked your keys in the car? Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk).

3. Hidden Battery Power. Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your cell will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell next time.

4. How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone? To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: * # 0 6 #. A 15 digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe. When your phone get stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobilephones.

5. Free Directory Service for Cells. Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial: (800)FREE411, or (800) 373-3411 without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell hone now.

on the road again

I've been browsing blogs this morning, and I keep coming back to the same thought: Geez, I wish she (he) would update her (his) blog. Then I think, OK, it's been three days since I updated mine. Although that's not the same as three weeks or three months.

Last weekend my friends in central Kentucky planned me (well, more importantly, Cate!) a shower. We got some great stuff, especially this. But the best part was having this group of friends and family all together in one place. These were many of the people I love most. These were many of the people who prayed and hoped for us as we waited to have a baby.

There was Katie. We've been friends for nearly 17 years. Yes, nearly 17 years. CRAZY. And there was Shelley. And we've been friends for 14 years. Our 10-year class reunion is coming up, you know. Goodness. Time really does fly. (Seriously, what a stupid expression. No, it doesn't fly. It doesn't have wings. And time actually doesn't do anything at any other pace than the constant pace of time as we know how to measure it.) My sister, my mom, my aunt and my cousin's wife were all there. And Corbitt graciously hosted the shower. Corbitt and Bethany understand where we've been.

And Jodi (who affectionately identifies herself as Aunt Jo-Jo to Cate) finally got to hold Cate. Actually, this only scenario resulted in one of my favorite moments of the shower. To appreciate my recount, you have to know that Jodi and I worked together at the Richmond Register and now she works as the governor's spokeswoman.

Cate was crying and somebody ended up handing her off to Jodi, who couldn't get enough of our little one. (Trust me, Jodi, I still can't get enough of her!) Cate snuggled in with Jodi and seemed perfectly content after just a moment. My mom noticed and others commented on how Jodi seemed to have the touch. But my mom wasn't surprised: "Jodi's used to pacifying people." I think by "people" she really meant reporters (ironic, I know), not necessarily cute, cuddly babies.

OK, back to my friends. Laura is one of my friends I most admire in motherhood. Her two kids (Here's one.) are a joy to be around and I just really respect how she handles life. I was glad she was there -- and she made this adorable diaper cake our of disposable diapers with cloth diapers (aka burp cloths, at least in our house) wrapped around them. Then it was topped with socks rolled up like flowers. Bekah brough along her adorable daughter and two more tubs of clothes for Cate to borrow.

All of this to say: I spent six weeks in Murray after we returned from Bloomington with Cate. I enjoyed every moment of not leaving town, or settling into my new life in our home. (Really, I'm pretty sure it's the first time since coming to Murray State in August 1997 that I stayed in one place that long! And it was surprisingly wonderful.) I didn't really want to pack up for a trip. But I'm glad last weekend was the trip for which I packed. Seeing Milla with Cate and then spending too-short an afternoon with my friends was worth leaving the comforts of home for a couple of days. A little more time with these girls was all I still needed by the time Sunday evening came!

And we're going to Louisville again tomorrow for a wedding. One of Greg's roommates from UK is getting married. I figured I'll take the opportunity to go to Target and Archiver's -- stops I just didn't have time for last weekend.

Then I'll be ready to settle back in for three more weeks until it's time for my class reunion in July. The same weekend in July I'm throwing my sister a bridal shower. Then two weeks later it will be wedding weekend -- an event, or, rather, events, that will be worth the trip.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

cute cousins

Cate made her first trip to Louisville and Lexington this past weekend. And, let me tell you, Milla was glad to see her new cousin. Milla met Cate when she was just days old. And she was interested then, but more from a distance. Well, this time, when little Cate was seven weeks old, was totally different ...

I'm fairly certain all my readers know Milla. But here she is. My brother's daughter. She's 3 1/2 and an absolute joy to be around. In fact, I'm not sure why I don't have a category on my blog just for her. I think I'll start that today.

Milla was really into be close -- really close -- to Cate.

And she liked to be close to whoever was holding Cate, in this case Greg ...

... and in this case Uncle Zac.

I think Cate was beginning to wonder what was going on. I mean, we give her a lot of attention, but Milla was all about Cate. When Cate cried, Milla asked what she needed. A small toy? A blanket? And one time Greg was holding her when she cried and Milla insisted I take her back. I then explained that Greg was Cate's daddy and it was OK for him to take care of her. Oh, and when I mentioned to my mom that Cate's nose sounded slightly stuffy, Milla immediately went to get Cate a Kleenex.

Then there was this sweet but strange moment ...

Milla covered both Cate and herself up with a blanket and whispered to her. I have no idea what she was trying to teach her, but I have no doubt Milla will try to influence for her years to come.

Friday, June 22, 2007

So, I got my camera back ...

Here she is in awe of the ceiling fan. Yes, she's wearing IU. Hey, she was born in Bloomington, Indiana, although she was only there about 24 hours before we headed to southern Indiana where we could see the Louisville skyline. Give her a break. And her Aunt Cassie and Uncle Zac bought it for her, welcoming her to their home. (Well, Cassie is slowing moving her stuff there so it's ready for her after their Aug. 4 wedding.) Cate better wear it while it fits her because after this she's wearing UK blue when it comes to college teams.

Future tailgater is right. Wrong team, though, baby.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

more than a machine

I shut down yesterday. I had no mental or emotional juice left in my system. A nap was only temporary assistance and more than anything just postponed the tears that fell later in the evening.

But my friends gave me a dose of encouragement and I think I'm up and running better today. So far.

I wasn't ready to come back to work. That's no secret. I didn't want to go to bed Sunday night because I knew when I woke up Monday morning I'd have to adjust to a new routine. So I pepped myself up, realized that there are 24 hours a day and on average work only occupies 8 of those five of the seven days a week. OK, there's plenty of time to be a mom, be a wife, be a newspaper reporter. Oh, and maybe I can take care of myself too. Right?

Monday was OK. Then I kind of got mad about it later that night. Tuesday morning was OK. Then I covered a planning commission meeting. I rebounded after telling Greg how I was feeling. Wednesday morning was fine. Then I shut down that afternoon. I couldn't really muster any energy, focus or perspective. So I laid down on the couch. I had to get up to cover a board of zoning adjustments meeting. I cried when I took Cate to Greg's office on the way to city hall. I sat through the meeting and then I cried again when I was at my friends' house eating dinner. Then I came home and cuddled with Greg and went to sleep.

This morning I woke up feeling better. It's three hours into the work day and I still feel better. I think I'm just adjusting.

And, thing is, I'm not a machine. I can't turn on a switch. I'm four days into a totally new phase of my life. Perhaps it's OK to let some tears fall. Maybe those really revamp my soul and help me find perspective.

And all the while my mind knows that Greg is trying to find time to priorities all his business ventures and still keep Cate in the mornings. We're just not ready to pass her off to someone else. Financially, I'm not going to work to pay a daycare bill. We have friends and family who have offered to help, and we're trying to decide when and how to incorporate that into our new schedules. Like I told Greg last night, let's give this some time. Surely we'll figure it out.

Adjusting is draining for me, especially because I wasn't really ready to come back to work. For months we prepared to welcome Cate into our lives. Those first six weeks were amazing, and they were over so fast. I've committed to give this some time and get used to running this way. Hopefully the cranks will keep turning and I can produce my news stories and then go home and be a mom.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ho! Ho! Ho! A season to celebrate

My column from today's Ledger & Times.

Much can happen in six weeks.

Getting one-fourth the way through a 162-game baseball schedule takes that amount of time . Keeping with the spring season, in six recent weeks, the Derby, Preakness and Belmont all were run, leaving us yet again without a Triple Crown winner.

And even more exciting in our life: We adopted our daughter Catherine Anna, who was born on May 6. Yes, six weeks have gone by, and I returned to work this week.

That’s three city council meetings in the minutes as I finished three novels, usually with Cate by my side. In the 504 hours (including weekends) that I was off work, Cate gained two pounds, bringing her to double-digit weight and moving her up a diaper size.

So more about our new addition.

Cate has a mess of dark hair and long fingers and toes. People often say, “Oh, those long fingers, maybe she’ll play the piano.” Meanwhile, my husband, Greg, is hoping she can palm a basketball.

Keeping with the hardwood dream, he’s slowly teaching her the modified Wildcats cheer that works well with her name. C-A-T-E. Cate. Cate. Cate.

Yeah, we didn’t plan that (or the fact her initials spell CAT), but it’s a sure way to keep the Hoosier out of her after the birth mother delivered her in Bloomington, Ind.

By the way, did you see Santa in our yard? It was just part of our friends welcoming us home. Wrong season for St. Nick, perhaps, but indeed a season of celebration.

I have to admit: My friends didn’t apply for a temporary sign permit to place the out-of-season decoration in my yard. I’m not positive it was necessary, but Santa may be classified as a balloon, to which car dealers can testify about needing the city permit.

Either way, we’re sure people enjoyed the display -- and, maybe, now, the explanation of why an inflatable Christmas decoration took up residence in our front yard.

I know people talked about Santa. In fact, when we took Cate to her first doctor’s appointment eight days after she was born, some of the pediatrician’s staff had already discussed St. Nick’s early display before realizing the Sycamore Street yard belonged to the office’s newest patient.

So Santa isn’t the only one who came out to greet Cate. The pitching woes of the St. Louis Cardinals brought out another celebratory figure, even though he doesn’t know it. Troy Cate was called up from minor league Memphis to join the Big Leagues for a couple games. Word is he’ll be back.

It was Memorial Day. Greg was taking a break from swimming (and the heat) when he announced “Look at the pitcher’s jersey!” the second I walked in our relatives’ air-conditioned house. I looked and liked what I saw: Cate. He’s number 46, and you better believe we’ll have his jersey soon.

Who would have thought in the last six weeks discussing both baseball and Santa would have been relevant? But, let me assure you, the last six weeks have been better than any Christmas present and more exciting than any nine-inning shut out.

Monday, June 18, 2007

the leave is over ...

I survived my first day back at work. Granted, I was only in the office from 7 to 11:30 a.m. But, still, it was definitely out of the routine I've developed with Cate over the last six weeks.

I think I'm going to be OK with this.

The arrangement, for those of you who don't know, is for me to go to the office in the mornings, when we're on deadline at the paper while Greg stays home with her. He can get some work done while she naps. Then I come home at lunch and we trade off. It won't be that black and white as I get back in the reporting groove, but we're just going to back switching her between the two of us (mostly) work and call in back up (friends and family who keep saying to call them when we need them!) when we need it.

Well, this is our plan while she's small. When she's more mobile, we will re-evaluate.

My attitude toward work and about work tasks is SO different now that I have this beautiful face to think about ...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Cate was born one week before Mother's Day and turned six weeks on Father's Day. (Have I mentioned on here our her birthday in numerals is 5-6-07. How cool is that?!) OK, so, she's growing up ... up to 10 pounds, in fact.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

her eyes, our detour, a bath and some kids

Pardon the noticeable flash. I'm not as used to my friends' camera as I am my own. But here are my latest scrapped pages.

a sweet smell

Here's Cate with honeysuckle behind her ear ..

... before being checked out by Tuvia, who is the 2 1/2-year-old daughter of our friends Adam and Jamie. Our small group from church had a bonfire last night. (Yes, it was a little warm but the hot dogs and smores were good!)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

quite a view

This is the sweet face we get to see when we feed her. Greg is enjoying the view. (By the way, I had to borrow a camera to take this -- and others -- because mine apparently has to be repaired. The new battery didn't do the trick!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

One Month

We went to Dairy Queen (not) to celebrate Cate being one month old. BUT it's as good an excuse as anything. Plus my Uncle Rick, who lives in Yellowstone National Park, was meeting Cate for the first time and he loves ice cream as much as Greg. Cate seemed to enjoy the outing, like usual ...

And she weighs in at 9 1/2 pounds.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

What would make your day?

Pardon the absence of new Cate pictures this week. My camera battery is apparently completely dead, and, of course, I can't just go to Wal-Mart and get a new one. I ordered it from, though, so it should be here later this week. Just in time for her one-month birthday. Until then, here's some thoughts for you from Zig Ziglar ...

What if I told you there’s one simple question you can ask your spouse every day that would completely change your relationship for the better? If your marriage is lukewarm at best, asking your spouse this question could add new life and vitality to your relationship.

Wives, imagine if your husband came walking through the door after returning from a tough day at work and, after the usual greetings, asked you this: “Honey, what can I do for you that would make your day?”

Then, once you picked your jaw up off the floor, imagine being able to tell him that one thing that would make your day better –- and then seeing him drop everything to do it.

Husbands, how incredible would it be to have your wife call you at the office and ask, “Honey, what can I do for you that would make your day?”

The trouble with this question is that it’s simple to ask, but sometimes following through on the request is difficult. Your spouse could ask you to do that one thing you dread more than anything else. Or he or she could ask you to do something that’s not very pleasant, it may hurt you, or it might ruin your day to do it. It might cause you to be vulnerable in ways you don’t want to consider.

But imagine how your spouse will feel when you’ve done it. Just today I asked my spouse this question. She was gentle with me and said, “Oh, I just love it when you take care of the kids so I can take a shower in peace.” So guess what I’m doing tonight? You got it. Playing with the kids. Now, not only do I get the joy of playing with the kids, but I also get the joy of knowing that my wife is happy, too.

The question can go beyond marital relationships. ...

Before you ask, make sure your mind is set on doing whatever they ask, no matter how hard it is for you. Obviously, unethical and immoral things are off limits. But, otherwise, it’s a great test to see how willing you are to serve your spouse.

One final note: Don’t give your spouse a guilt trip for telling you what will make his or her day. Don’t say, “OK, I’ll do it if you really want me to.” Just do it with a cheerful heart. After all, you asked for it.

Friday, June 1, 2007

a Kentucky girl

This will hang in Cate's room. I wanted to hang a newspaper with her birth date in her room, and the timing was perfect with her arrival coming the day after the Kentucky Derby. Such a pretty newspaper for a beautiful baby who is going to be raised a Kentucky girl despite her inital Hoosier roots.

into the album

I guess it's not a surprise who my scrapbook pages are about, but here are Cate's first two. Well, that's not even true. I did other pages about anticipating her arrival and her nursery. But these are the first of her actually here with us.

adorable ...

Yes, we think so, just like the onesie says.

So it's June. We've had Cate for almost four weeks. And I've been off work for four weeks. Yesterday was one of those days that reminded me that my purpose right now is to take care of this precious girl. Feeding her, loving her, changing her diaper and clothes are the most important things. Getting anything else done is indeed a bonus. (OK, so I did end up making it to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon and then later wrote thank you notes, but the morning didn't start off that way.)

But the morning did start off with me praising God for the way I gained perspective after spending the day before wondering what I needed to do next. I realized, like I already said, that taking care of her is the most important, and then everything else flows from that. I wonder about routine, then I realize she's already in a little routine, one that involves much sleep. I wonder what I should do, and I realize the simply answer is love her, and the encompasses all the getting to know each other, meeting physical needs, meeting emotional needs, providing things she doesn't realize she needs ... LOVE HER.

And I do.