Monday, July 30, 2007

Recapping 10 years

A column I wrote in Friday's Ledger & Times ...

Ten years ago I didn’t have an e-mail address and barely knew about cell phones.

Stamps cost 32 cents and the idea of being married and having a baby seemed a world away.

Those were the days when Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” was heard often on radio stations and you probably saw the Titanic sink on the big screen.

And those were the days when University of Kentucky lived up to its tradition as a basketball powerhouse. One NCAA championship banner was hung in Rupp Arena in 1996. The Wildcats made it back to the title game the following the year and then brought home another national trophy in 1998.

Oh, 1997. In most ways, it sounds so long ago, but sometimes it doesn’t feel so much in the past.

Now, I am addicted to checking my e-mail and keep my cell phone near. In fact, I have two e-mail addresses I check regularly and no landline phone number to speak of. I haven’t heard Eric Clapton in a long time and I don’t make a habit of watching Leonardo DiCaprio movies.

Meanwhile, a certain Kentucky basketball coach forgot how to recruit to a school that should basically sell itself and its hardwood. I do hold out hope that the times are changing there.

In 1997, I was graduating from high school and making the decision to come to Murray State to major in print journalism as far away from Oldham County as I could get without leaving the Bluegrass State.

Yep, 10 years ago. Oh, how the times have changed.

And for that I’m certainly thankful.

My husband and I went to my class reunion. Some of the 254 people who made up the Class of 1997 at Oldham County High School reunited for a few hours. And that was plenty of time.

Throughout the years, I’ve kept in touch with a small handful of high school friends, mostly thanks to the e-mail address I check in a slightly obsessive manner. (Seriously, it’s a habit I formed not long after high school graduation when my enrollment at Murray State came with an e-mail address. My parents would say it wasn’t a free address either after all those tuition and housing payments.)

Two of my good high school friends are married so that’s two of the 254 with whom I keep up. Then there’s another friend who I ended up luring to Murray State from UK.

Then there’s a couple friends with whom I reconnected while our reunion was being planned. I’m certain that 10 years ago the Class of 1987 wasn’t organizing their reunion through a Web site and automated phone calls with reminders of the event.

But we did. And I’m sure we Colonels aren’t the only ones using high-tech party planning strategies.

So I spent three hours last weekend reminiscing with some old classmates while my husband spent most of that talking to the friends of mine from those days that he knows now in our life together.

There weren’t any real surprises. Nobody was surprised I write for a newspaper in my grown-up life. I did, after all, get my start in that crowd as managing editor of The Clarion Colonel.

My first boyfriend seems to have a nice family. A childhood friend and I exchanged motherhood stories. A high school classmate who doubled as my first college roommate made a trip for the reunion from New York.

The food was mediocre. The conversation seemed surface -- not shallow but quick blurbs that somehow seemed to cover a decade. The memorabilia from our time capsule that got wet in someone’s basement provided some laughs.

And at the end of the night, I left the room knowing it was important to remember some of those people influenced who I am today but thankful for the 10 years since those days at OCHS.

It was worth recapping a decade in a few hours, even though summing up the 10 years that have passed really isn’t that simple.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Truly hair-raising moments

Cate has had some crazy hair after baths this week. And we don't do anything to tame it!

Friday, July 27, 2007

2.27 miles from home

It's Friday night, and a great night to eat out, especially for someone who is quick to make excuses not to cook. (I just did the dishes, I don't want to dirty the kitchen. OR I have had a busy day, eating out is easier. OR I have been thinking about Chinese food all day. ...) So, Greg and I went to Tom's Grille, a local establishment here in Murray. It's one of the nicer places to eat, and our table seemed to be surrounded by couples out on dates.

Just like us.

Except we had an 11-week-and-five-day-old baby with us.

We don't think twice about taking her somewhere. We like to have her with us, and she's just a really great baby.


Well, back up a few moments, Cate seemed like she wanted to eat when we were leaving the house. I hesitated, but we decided to just go ahead and feed her when we got the restaurant. She's eaten lots of places other than home.

So on the road to Tom's. Keep in mind that this is Murray; nothing is very far. Actually, it's 2.27 miles from our house and Mapquest says it should take 4 minutes.

We get there, and Cate is happily chewing on a strange but somehow endearing soft, pink blanket that also is a bear stuffed animal thing. Anyway, she's content. We run into some people we know. Actually, Greg's second cousins. (I think. You know, I know who they are exactly and can tell you how they are related, but I'm not good with those family tree labels.) So we chatted after the hostess showed us to our table. Fine. Cate grinned for them. I'm telling you, those grins melt even strangers' hearts. Just ask the people we pass in the aisles at Kroger. And they even love to look at her when she's sleeping.

Then she started getting restless, so we went to our table. I made a bottle and started feeding her. All is well.

Then she fell asleep so I sat her down in her car seat carrier thing. (I hate the word carrier. Makes me think: Pets. Um, no, our daughter is more valuable than that. At least to us.) Well, she apparently decided she didn't want to sleep but wanted to eat more. OK, we can do that. So we do.

And, well, it only momentarily worked.

The last couple days Cate had been a bit sensitive. I think it's the two spots on her gums that seem to be preparing for teeth.

So, she started crying in a slightly piercing fashion that I felt like everyone who was apparently out on their dates at Tom's was looking at us. Or rather trying not to look at us. So Greg took Cate outside. She calmed down. He brought her back and gave her to me. Salad vs. chicken. He needed to eat his hot food. She was OK. Then she wasn't. He decided to walk back out with her. I finished eating. Then he came back. And I decided to walk out with her.

Greg finished eating. Then we left.

It is important to remember at this point that we live 2.27 miles -- even more importantly less than five minutes from the restaurant.

Cate doesn't make a peep from the time I walk outside with her until ...

Well, she just doesn't make a peep. When we pulled into the driveway, I said to Greg, "I bet she's asleep."

Sure enough. Her precious little head was slumped over to the right like she likes to sleep. Inside the house, I unbuckled her and went straight to the crib. She did her cute little I-am-really-tired stretch then curled up on her right side really close to the bumper.

And she slept for an hour. Only to wake up to eat some more and smile at her Mommy and Daddy.

It's like she knew.

Usually I say it's like she knew to only have minor breakdowns at home. Or it's like she knew when to wake up in the car, like she's sensing the Beaver Dam exit is close. Well, tonight was the opposite.

It's like we should have known to feed her before we left the house and take a full, content baby out to the restaurant and not push our luck by asking her to wait 2.27 miles.

Just for the record, though, I do think it is important to say that in nearly 12 weeks Cate has had a major breakdown at each grandma's house and a few at home, especially in the evenings. She's totally a morning person and she's genuinely very happy. And really tonight I'm just thankful we experienced the first public baby meltdown.

And come to find out, the couple sitting in the booth over understands. But they were on a date while their 10-week-old boy was at home with his grandma. Oh well, we live and learn and, of course, realize there are more meltdowns to come. But I'll take them because Cate is worth more than any awkward (and slightly loud) moment in any restaurant.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Family Entertainment

This weekend there was much ...

... dancing,

... jumping,

... and cheesing.

And it pretty much just wore Cate out.

But when she was awake, she spent much time chewing. And Milla make sure she wasn't alone. (Notice Curious George and Secretariat.)

And then the next day there was more ...

... interacting really closely.

And that wore Cate out too.

Seriously, this was much of the weekend. When Milla was dancing and running and jumping and riding her big wheel on our walk, Cate was sleeping in the stroller. Between all of this fun, I got to visit with Jodi, although I am completely at terms with the fact my friends like to visit Cate more at this point!

I also went to my high school reunion (A newspaper column on this will follow in the coming days.) and threw Cassie a bridal shower. No, I don't have pictures of any of those things. They aren't quite as entertaining as Milla and Cate. Although, you know, I laughed really hard at my sister's shower.

Sometimes I wonder if she's old enough to get married.

Then I realize she is marrying Zac at the same age that I married Greg five years ago. OK, so they're really OK. In fact, we (being the family ...) even like Zac. Yes, there will be pictures (by me and a professional) from their wedding, which is in like a week and a half.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Go Redbirds!

Cate was pretty into the Cardinals game tonight. And she learned quickly that Juan Encarnacion was lazy. Regardless, she enjoyed her time on the floor, with the ceiling fan in view.

First Father's Day remembered

My newest scrapbook page, thanks to Cate napping and a momentary slow-down in work.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

moving, visiting, sleeping

There's lots of movement these days from Cate. Mostly moving her legs and bringing her fist to her mouth to chew on. I'm pretty sure she's in the early stages of teething. I can feel a couple spots on her gums and she gnaws on anything close -- usually our fingers, her fingers or the burp cloth.

We got to see Rod and Corbitt -- and Addie, of course -- yesterday because they're in western Kentucky visiting his parents. It's always nice to have our central Kentucky friends in western Kentucky. Anyway, Addie is almost 10 months and seemed to really be wishing Cate could play with her. I told her soon! Here she is trying to get her attention, but Cate is focused on Addie's daddy.

Also yesterday, Rod gave us a proof book of all the family shots he took the last time we were in Lexington. These beautiful shots are from the Lexington Cemetery. No worries. There are more than grave stones at this cemetery. There are many colorful flowers, ponds, foot bridges and other park-like features. So, courtesy of Rod, here are a sample of the pictures. Now I just have decide which ones I want to order!

And, to truly top off the weekend, Cate slept from 10:30 p.m. to 5:50 a.m. That's through the night in my mind. Now, if she can just do it again tonight!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The privilege of probation

From today's Ledger & Times.

Let’s play a word association game. I say probation ... and you’ll probably think rehabilitation.

Or troublemaker.

Or punishment.

Thing is, probation is really about a second chance.

Sitting in Calloway Circuit Court earlier this week, I found myself thinking about grace and forgiveness and opportunity. Not reporting to an officer who will verify someone’s employment, complete a slightly invasive drug screen and get tabs on John Doe’s whereabouts.

OK, so that’s part of probation, but it’s not the point.

The point is John Doe isn’t in jail. Rather he’s working to support himself and likely a wife and children. And he’s living at home and not in the close quarters of a cell.

Let’s take our hypothetical John Doe. Say he was arrested on some marijuana charges, and he had some rolling papers and scales close by. Long story short, he spends a few nights in jail then family members help him hire a defense attorney who works out a deal with the prosecutor.

And the deal is probation. No jail time. Well, no jail time as long as he stays out of trouble. Stays away from the bad crowd.
Doesn’t revisit his friend, Mary Jane. Doesn’t drink alcohol. Works. Reports to that probation officer.
Pretty clear. And, seriously, seems like a good deal to me.

And it must have seemed like a good deal to John Doe because he took it when he pled guilty. He told the judge those conditions were OK because, after all, there was prison time hanging over his head.

Then the good deal turns sour when the probation officer learns John Doe smoked pot recently and kept alcohol in his house. Doing his job, the officer brings probation of violation charges, landing John Doe back in court and probably a few more nights in jail.

Yes, John Doe is fictional. But the scenario really isn’t. At least a half dozen such cases were in court earlier this week. Not all of them were about marijuana. But substitute public intoxication. Or factor in driving on a suspended license. Or couple the illegal drug and alcohol and a dangerous weapon. Whatever the specifics, people went against the deal that kept them out of jail.

Guess what happened? Yep. Handcuffed.

Dennis Foust has spent a decade on the circuit court bench and was a district judge before that. He’s seen his share of John Does. And his philosophy is clear: Smoke dope while on probation and go to jail.

He said it more than once Monday morning.

The probation violations were getting to him. He offered advice to a couple of people before his bench. He lectured a few others. And he followed through on the broken deal.

“People say, ‘Don’t you feel bad when you send someone off to jail crying,’” Foust said in court. “Yeah, I feel bad. But not that bad because everyone makes a choice.”

Ah, choices. John Doe should have made some better ones. He had another chance.

Another person -- let’s call him Jim Doe -- struck up one of these good deals on Monday morning. With his attorney by his side, he accepted it quickly. No questions asked. He said he understood what his probation meant.

Judge Foust wished Jim Doe luck. But, you know, it’s not really about luck. It’s about embracing the second chance and making the choices that don’t lead back to that court room in front of that judge.

It’s about making the most of the good deal.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

a delightful change of plans

Don’t plan without God. God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the plans we have made, when we have not taken Him into account. We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him -- that we have not even considered Him to be a vital, living factor in the planning of our lives. And yet the only thing that will keep us from even the possibility of worrying is to bring God in as the greatest factor in all of our planning. --My Utmost for His Highest

Oh, how those words speak to me. (Thanks, Laura!)

Naturally, I'm a worrier. I wonder if I'll have enough time to get every thing done. I think about if I said the right thing or if reacted too emotionally. I fret over standing my ground while still loving people. I find it easy to fill my life with tasks and outings. Oh, the worries.

But the days when I thank God for all the many, many good things around me and give him my day, those worries seem to go away. When I don't plan my day away but realize laying Cate on my legs and talking to her as she smiles back is so much more important, I get so much more done. I always wonder how that's possible, how giving up tasks for even a few moments can make me much more efficient with my time.

(Seriously, since lunch I've made it to the grocery, played with Cate, interviewed someone on the phone, written a column, started a load of laundry and made dinner plans. On a side note: Cate may be small, but, man, she has a lot of laundry ... clothes, towels, burp clothes, blankets ...)

Then I'm reminded God makes it possible. When he's taking care of the details of my life, I can worry less, life more joyful and love so much more comfortably. I still manage to get done what needs to be done, but my attitude about it all is so much more pleasant. And I don't feel like I've planned my life away.

Cate is such a beautiful reminder of how my life should be prioritized. And I have no doubt that such a lesson is one of the many reasons Cate is with us.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

swingin' and starin'

Cate really loves her swing. (We have one at Greg's office too.) Whoever thought to put that mirror on the bottom of the mobile was pretty smart. Cate thinks so too.

Oh, by the way, I guess the shots helped Cate sleep through the night. But I really think (and hope) she's getting close. She doesn't piddle much at night. She pretty much eats and then goes right back to sleep. So, if we can just get her to stock that little belly of hers a little bit earlier. But, I'm telling you, she's still beautiful at 3 a.m.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Two Months

Only in the beginning do months matter. With that said, Cate is two months old, as of yesterday!

She went to the doctor today and weighed in at 11 pounds 3.2 ounces. (Precise, I know!) And she measured 23 1/4 inches long. That means she's gaining weight and growing taller.

The best about her right now is how she smiles and coos while completely focusing on our faces. She's a happy baby. And she recognizes our voices and faces.

And, to really celebrate, Cate slept through the night!

OK, so maybe the three shots and the Tylenol that followed had something to do with that. But maybe she's just learning that if she fills up in the evening she can make it from midnight to 7 a.m. without eating. That's our hope.

This is how it happened last night: She ate at 6:30ish and then went to sleep about 8:20 p.m. I woke her up at 11:45 p.m. for a diaper change and to eat. Both those feedings she ate really well. So I put a sleepy baby in her crib about midnight, and she slept almost continuously until 7 a.m. Greg did give her a pacifier somewhere around 5 a.m. But that takes less time than feeding her. And apparently is satisfied her sweet little sounds -- they weren't "feed me" sounds but rather "what am I doing awake?" sounds.

So we'll just have to see what happens tonight. But if she wants to eat at 3 a.m., at least we have those beautiful eyes and sweet smile awaiting us.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Fourth of July!

Props to Jodi (aka Aunt Jo-Jo) for the adorable outfit.

A brush with Hollywood

Even Molly Sims loves Cate.

Yep, Molly Sims. She's from Murray, and Bryan, who works at the book company that her dad owns, hooked me up with an interview yesterday afternoon while she was in town. It was supposed to be 10 minutes, but she was quite the talker so I ended up being there closer to an hour, talking to her while she wrapped some of the decorations that she bought at antiques shops here for her new New York apartment. She was really down to earth and I'm looking forward to writing my story.

The whole experience makes me like Delinda Deline even more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Greg had a mini-reunion with some friends from his UK days because one of them got married in Louisville on Saturday. Turns out we know the girl he's marrying through some Murray State friends. Small world. Yeah, but none of it interested Cate.

She was our sleeping beauty during the ceremony ...

and the reception ...

and later during the reception ...

Moving on to the rest of the weekend.

"Shine" was appropriate on Cate's onesie Sunday morning. She smiled and cooed for quite some time laying on Grandma's floor. And Milla was right there to be part of it.