Sunday, September 30, 2007

A lovely celebration


Greg was in a wedding this weekend. His childhood friend Sam married Pan Ke, a girl he met when he was teaching in China a few years ago. Their story is sweet, and so was their day.

Cate was a good sport throughout the ceremony and reception.

After sleeping and eating during the ceremony, she kissed and drooled much of the reception. Kisses in this case involve Cate's slobbery mouth opened up and pressed against our cheeks. Sometimes she uses her hands to cup our faces before she plants her wet lips on our faces. Then she'll pull on my hair because she notices it nearby.



Pan Ke has seen Cate a few times recently since she's been in Murray finishing up wedding plans, and each time she just loves on her. It's really sweet how she takes to her. Here they are during the reception, after Pan Ke had changed from her white wedding dress to traditional Chinese attire.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Talk about comfort ...


Twizzlers are a comfort food to me.

My mom, sister and I like to take them on trips. Jaclyn and I like to eat them as spirit food when we're cheering for the Cardinals. Greg just likes them.

Well, these particular Twizzlers offer lots of comfort and spirit because they're the longest Twizzlers I've ever seen. Almost 18 inches. That's almost a foot and a half.

Friday, September 28, 2007

TV paused to parent

Even though I'm not working at the newspaper anymore, I still get that "It's Friday!" feeling. And I'm glad about that. During the week, it is harder for me to remember what day it is, but for some reason Fridays still feel different.

Maybe it's just because Greg and I stayed up late watching TV. We were just so excited for all of "our shows" to premiere.

Our TV watching was paused while we had a conversation about parenting. See, we were at Jaclyn and Bryan's house watching TV. First, "Survivor." Then "Grey's Anatomy." Then "CSI" was on tape. Well, Cate was fine, eating and sleeping during the first two, but then she really uncomfortable/irritated before we started "CSI."

Keep in mind 17-month-old Luke was sleeping in his bedroom not too far away. So when Cate was screaming, all I kept thinking was, "She's going to wake him up." I just really appreciate how good a sleeper Cate is, and I don't want to interrupt other people's sleeping children!

So, we ended up leaving. We did have "CSI" and "The Office" recorded at our own house. And I was having conflicting thoughts about parenting.

Yeah, who knew a night of TV could lead to an analysis of parenting philosophies.

For us, we want Cate to be part of our lives. She's obviously our priority, but she doesn't need to run our household. Really, that idea is more applicable later when she's moving around, talking and making toddler decisions. But she's part of this family. We're the parents. Yet we want her to be flexible. And she is. She's a laid-back, easy-going baby who smiles and jabbers so much more than she cries. But she's also 4 1/2 months old.

Some background here is twice this week we went to Greg's cousins' soccer games, which went past Cate's usual bedtime. She didn't really mind, and just feel asleep on my lap. Although with the cheers around us, the sleep was slightly interrupted. But, still, she was good, and ended up going to sleep for the night a little later than usual when we got home. No complaints -- from us, the parents, or her, the baby. But it was sort of like last night was the third time this week that she was ready for her bed and we weren't at home. Like we were pushing her too much to be too adaptable.

I'm probably over-analyzing this. But it's important to me to make parenting choices now so we can be consistent as Cate gets older. Greg and I are on the same page about being just a bit wiser about our evening plans in relation to what else has gone on in a given week. Despite the tired tears from Cate, I'm glad Greg and I talked about this for awhile last night.

After, of course, George told Izzie he loves her too. And Derek and Meredith had break-up make-out session. And Mark needed a friend. Cristina seemed lonely, even though she thought she was free. And Alex seemed bitter for even Alex. Oh the storylines that will unfold this season.

And, don't worry, the CSIs found Sara. And when she woke up from her unconscious state, she wasn't alone. Grissom was with her.

Most surprising, to me, was Jim and Pam. They really are together. I didn't expect their relationship to be addressed on the season premiere. "The Office" has a tendency to draw out storylines, keeping us viewers waiting to find out what happened. But not this time, and it was entertaining.

You know, it's funny that I just summarized my initial thoughts from three shows -- a medical/soap opera drama, a crime drama and a mock-umentary comedy -- and relationships are all I mentioned. You can tell what's important to me. Although, Izzie caring for the injured deer made me laugh, as did Michael Scott hitting Meredith with his in the parking lot.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Swinging with the Big Kids

Here are some shots from our lunch at the park. Cate enjoyed swinging as did her cousins Elijah and Ethne.





And then she was ready for a nap.

At Home with My Baby


This is the pile of books that I'm thinking about reading. Well, I've actually started "Professionalizing Motherhood." It's a good choice for me. This is my ninth weekday home with Cate and I've only dealt with the self-applied pressure of thinking I'm not doing enough around the house one day. And that same day I did like three loads of laundry while Cate was napping.

OK, so this is probably the place I should admit I've watched the whole third season of "Grey's Anatomy" over the past week and a half in preparation for last night's series premiere of "Private Private" practice and tonight's season opener of "Grey's." So I'm a little addicted.

And, for the record, I give Addison's new show a thumbs up, mostly. I wasn't wild about the psychiatric storyline last night with the woman counting the tiles in the store after she was reminded of her son who died from brain cancer. It just seemed sort of out of place with the rest of the show, but it wasn't enough to make me turn it off. And I'll record it again next week.

Cate and I are in a good routine. And it's been a nice mixture of being at the house and getting errands and other tasks down outside the house. Today we even went to the park with Angela, Charles, Elijah and Ethne. Greg met us up there for lunch and brought Quizno's.

I find myself talking more about poop, the deals I found at Target last weekend on Pampers Swaddlers and Similac formula, how Cate slept the night before and the chores I found time to complete. But, you know, I don't really miss talking about the drug busts, crazy phone calls with so-called news tips and whatever meeting is on my agenda for the day. I loved that stuff when I was doing it, but I love taking care of Cate even more.

You know, she makes the best faces when she's eating and just after she's woken up from a nap. She's giggling more and even likes the silly songs I make up. My little Cate, she's a wiggle worm ... is a popular song I sing when I manage to put her diaper on while she's kicking on the changing table. Kicking out of pure happiness, I should add. It's her new thing, along with giggling.

Gradually, I'll make it through those books. And I'm in the mood to scrap some too, so hopefully I'll have the time to be inspired. But more than anything you should know that I like it at home with Cate.


So the cute onesie Cate is wearing today is courtesy my mom, who along with my sister and myself, can pretty much quote all of "Dirty Dancing." We'd probably all agree that the last scene when Patrick Swayze brings Jennifer Grey up on stage to dance to "I've Had The Time of My Life" is the best part of the whole move.

But just before that scene ... Johnny bravely tells Baby's parents: "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

Monday, September 24, 2007

cheers and poop

Two stories from our weekend ...

First, Cate helped root UK to victory on Saturday evening. FOOTBALL victory. An on-the-road, conference victory.


OK, so she went to bed before the game was over, but she was in the spirit at the beginning.

Then on Sunday, we went to Clarksville, Tenn., to visit Cassie and Zac because they were there for Austin Peay's homecoming. And a 75-minute drive is better than a 4 1/2-hour drive. So we got to the restaurant about 15 minutes early and I decided to change Cate's diaper.

Good decision.

When I got her out of the car seat, I laid her down on the back seat and realized poop was literally coming out of the bottom of her shorts and onto her leg. The mess was totally out of the bottom of her onesie and through her shorts. And she hardly even wears shorts or pants. I just kind of dressed her up for her Aunt Cassie. Good thing because otherwise the poop would have been all down her leg even worse and all over the car seat.

Lovely.

So I took the shorts off. And I couldn't salvage them. First of all, I didn't want them stinking up my car and I didn't have a Zip-loc or anything to put them in. Also, they were like caked with poop. (Although I probably shouldn't use the word "cake" and "poop" in the same sentence.)

I took her onesie off, which, remarkably, barely had any evidence on it. But enough evidence I didn't want to put it back on her. I quickly realize we didn't pack an extra outfit. Here Cate is 4 1/2 months old, and for the first time ever I don't have an extra outfit with me. Thing is, it's the first time EVER in those 4 1/2 months I NEEDED an extra outfit.

Remember that we were early to the restaurant. So I called Cassie and told her that we were there but we were leaving because we had to go get Cate something to wear. She said they were checking out of their hotel and close to Wal-Mart.

So, instead of packing a mostly naked Cate back into the car, we just waited for Cassie and Zac ... and an outfit.

Friday, September 21, 2007

baby in blue

My baby girl can pull off baby blue ...



At least I think she can!

It's official!


We had our final adoption hearing in court yesterday afternoon. It was an informal formality. We know both our attorney and the family court judge. While addressing Judge Mattingly, I accidentally called him Rob because that's how I know him. And then our attorney, Rick, stopped the formalities one time to take a picture of Cate because she apparently looked especially cute laying on my lap chewing on the stuffed bear that the court clerk gave her.



Then we had friends and family over last night to celebrate Cate. We grilled 32 burgers and only had one left by the time the party was over. My family wasn't able to come -- that's what I get for planning a party on a Thursday night -- so they sent those pretty flowers pictured above.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cate, meet Cereal. Cereal, meet Cate.


We introduced Cate to rice cereal yesterday. After adjusting to eating the thicker substance off a spoon rather than liquid through a bottle, Cate seemed to like it.

I would have taken pictures of her first bite or at least first "food" feeding, but my camera batteries were dead. Yes, batteries. Plural. Both dead. And I couldn't find my charger. Still can't find the charger. The batteries are these special Kodak batteries than only can be charged in the Kodak charger.

So I ordered another charger that happened to be on clearance on Kodak.com. I just paid for regular 3-8 business day shipping. Then I borrowed my in-laws' camera. So I took some pictures this morning. Also this morning, I got an e-mail from Kodak saying the battery charger would ship in the next 24 hours. Then this afternoon I had a box from Kodak on my porch.

Yep, the charger that I ordered yesterday online arrived today. I really have no idea how that happened.

But I really need an explanation.

So, back to the real point at hand. We introduced cereal to Cate's life. And you can see Day 2 of the experience, thanks to my in-laws camera.



And a comment on the bib: She has one for every day of the week. They came in a pack, courtesy Jaclyn and Bryan. In addition to them being cute, they remind us of a scene from one of our favorite movies.

It's certainly not the MOST memorable restaurant scene from "When Harry Met Sally ..." But in this one, Sally was telling Harry about her break-up with Sheldon.

Sally Albright: Well, if you must know, it was because he was very jealous, and I had these days of the week underpants.
Harry Burns: Ehhhh. I'm sorry. I need the judges ruling on this. "Days of the weeks underpants"?
Sally: Yes. They had the days of the week on them, and I thought they were sort of funny. And then one day Sheldon says to me, "You never wear Sunday." It was all suspicious. Where was Sunday? Where had I left Sunday? And I told him, and he didn't believe me.
Harry: What?
Sally: They don't make Sunday.
Harry: Why not?
Sally: Because of God.

Well, we have a Sunday bib. And I'm sure we'll have to use with the way Cate likes to stick her fingers in her mouth between bites of cereal.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Catching up in photos

Being that it's my first week at home with Cate, you'd think I could have blogged earlier. Yeah, not so much. In fact, I started this post Monday and now it's Tuesday morning and I'm just returning to it.

First, I had to turn in my key at work because when I finished Friday evening, everybody else was gone. So I had to lock the door behind myself. Then it was to the grocery. Then home to eat lunch and for Cate to finish her nap she started in Kroger. Then back out to Wal-Mart and the Post Office.

Then when Cate napped again I did get to go through my pictures from the weekend.

First, it was Ethne's second birthday party. That's Greg's brother's daughter for any of you new readers.

Ethne definitely was the princess of the party.



And Cate enjoyed sitting with her great-grandma. (The plastic beaded necklaces were party favors. Appropriate for a princess.)


Then Saturday night Cate got dressed up for the Murray State football game.



It got pleasantly cool out, so Cate had to bundle up in this adorable sweater.


Then Sunday we exposed Cate to more sporing events. This time the St. Louis Cardinals. While a win would have been more enjoyable, the weather was beautiful and we had a good time.


Luke demonstrated the lucky Twizzlers. They weren't exactly lucky, but they tasted good, as Luke can attest!


We took a mini-bus of friends up there, and Cate even wanted to try driving. She and Luke also enjoyed some more time together. Luke affectionately calls her "Date" because that K sound is too much trouble for his 17-month-old mind.



While I was cleaning off my camera card, I realized I still hadn't posted pictures from our trip to Kentucky Lake with Greg's family the weekend before this past one. So, here are some shots from our time there. Despite the frequent rain, we enjoyed ourselves.



Ethne just liked the outfit that went along with being at the lake!



Cate kept herself occupied by chewing.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What’s in a name?

My farewell column in today's Ledger & Times

There is much in a name.

And, just for the record, mine is spelled K-R-I-S-T-I-N. But that’s not always what I’ve been called.

My elementary school label of “Mr. Hill’s daughter” wore off as I grew older. But growing up in Oldham County with a principal as a father and a teacher as mother, it was pretty well known that my dad was an elementary school principal.

In middle school, I started developing a slightly independent identity. But then in high school my aunt was my English teacher both my junior and senior years. I never addressed her by name because I wasn’t sure whether to call her Aunt Carolyn or Mrs. Godbey. Either way, other students knew I was “Mrs. Godbey’s niece.”

And so you know, I did get a B in Advanced Placement English at least one of the quarters. So I didn’t breeze through my relative’s class.

When I wasn’t deciding how to get my aunt’s attention those two years, I was probably in the newspaper office. I spent my senior year as The Clarion Colonel editor, a role that prompted another identity -- “Newspaper Editor” -- but more importantly served a springboard to college.

When I got to Murray State, hardly anyone knew my name. But I found The Murray State News.

I spent much time those four years learning about myself. Despite five years difference in age, my sister and I grew closer. I solidified my love for writing, especially to inform and educate. I made friends I intend to keep for my lifetime. And I met the man who would become my husband.

My collegiate roles were varied, and the labels fewer.

Eight months after I graduated from Murray State, I became Greg’s fiancĂ©e. And then six months after that, I changed my last name to Taylor.

We -- now collectively “The Taylors” -- spent our first year in Lexington, where we started finding our identity as a couple. Then we moved to Murray, where we’ve been the last four years.

Murray is his hometown, but it’s also the hometown of our relationship. This is where we met, and this is where we settled. We started our family here and made big decisions about our careers here.

During the past four years, I assumed another identity: “Kristin at the Ledger.” Since Sept. 8, 2003, I’ve written at least 2,175 stories. And that doesn’t include all the court news and police logs. I’ve laid out pages, taken pictures, answered more phone calls than I could even tally and filled in for my editor.

But most of the work in this job happens outside the office, building relationships and learning the community. I’ve covered 88 city council meetings and two murder trials. Each month, I’ve covered regular meetings at city hall, Murray State, Murray-Calloway County Hospital and CrimeStoppers. And along the way, I’ve kept up with criminal court cases and state politics.

Truth be told: I have liked this job, this identity, more than I ever thought I would. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the way I became part of this community.

Even so, I’m going to replace my pen and notebook with toys that rattle and squeak, bottles, naptime and smiles that melt my heart. She’s only 4 months old, but she’s changed me.

I’m fully embracing my new identity as “Cate’s mom,” starting officially after I finish writing about the Board of Regents later today.

There is much in a name. But there is more to be said about purpose.

Live in the moment

...but the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three on them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in a hurry to get on to the next things: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.
--Anna Quindlen, journalist

Today is my last day at work, and I'm sitting in a Board of Regents meeting right now. Actually, I'm sitting outside the meeting. The regents went into their first of two executive sessions today. Later, they'll break for lunch and then reconvene this afternoon for the full board meeting, as opposed to the committees right now.

I'm mostly excited.

Last night I did have a twinge of sadness as the mayor presented me with a certificate at the end of city council and told me (and everyone there and watching on TV ... yeah, I don't know how many really watch on TV, but they can!) that I was the best reporter he's worked with. The compliment stirred my insides a little.

But I still don't have hesitation.

I'm looking forward to living in the moment with my daughter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Lost Boy who found hope

This is story published in the Ledger & Times last week. The situation has been on my mind. And I love the sense of hope this man still has despite his childhood circumstances.

By KRISTIN TAYLOR
Staff Writer

Gabriel Akech Kwai was 7 years old when his father was murdered in Northern Sudan. His home country was then divided during a civil war that eventually forced him to travel with the 33,000 other “Lost Boys of Sudan” to Ethiopia and later to a Kenyan refugee camp.

Kwai, who has lived in the United States for six years, considers himself lucky. So lucky that Kwai has established Women’s Educational Empowerment Project for Southern Sudan to help educate and empower women, bringing the educational gap that exists in the northern and southern regions of his homeland.

“This is where my dreams lie,” Kwai, a Murray State senior, said in a recent interview with the Ledger & Times. “... I learned that children learn a lot from their mothers, and if we educate the women of Sudan, then we help her entire family.”

Born in 1979 in Bor, Kwai was the last born in his family, which included his father and his eight wives as well as their children. Then as a civil war ripped his country and family apart, Kwai walked with the group of parentless boys from Sudan to Ethiopia, where life was particularly difficult the first few months without food until the United Nations provided some relief.

Kwai lived in Ethiopia from 1987 until 1991, when that government ordered the refugees to leave the country within 24 hours. Kwai recalled the devastation of the journey to come: While seeking shelter in Kenya, Ethiopian militias attacked the young refugees, killing 5,000 of them in one day.

“I was one of the luckiest who crossed the border,” said Kwai, who will graduate from Murray State in December with a bachelor’s degree in finance.

Kwai spent the next nine years at the Kenyan refugee camp that became his home. There he received his elementary and high school education. And in 1997 he received hope. United States officials visited the camp and listened to the many issues the Lost Boys shared. That began the long process that led to 4,000 of the boys being able to settle in the United States in 2001.

Kwai came to Louisville, where he worked and then went to Jefferson Community College. After two years there, he enrolled at Murray State, where he has continued working toward his finance degree.

But he’ll graduate in December with more than a degree. During his time in the U.S., he gained vision for how to help his homeland. That’s why in February he started Women’s Educational Empowerment Project for Southern Sudan.

“When I came to America, I worked in different places and learned about American culture,” Kwai said. “One thing I learned is that when we support another part of the world, places can change. I learned about women in the different workplaces. I had some woman as supervisors and they were doing great things. They were contributing to the economy. I realized women in Sudan could get an education and help the country.”

Kwai was able to see his mother for the first time in two decades last year.

“She is really happy about WEEP,” Kwai said. “She was not educated. My dad was the only educated person. When my dad died, all of us suffered.”

The short-term goals are to sponsor 10 young women to attend high school in surrounding countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, and broaden the support network for the non-profit project.

Then later, Kwai hopes WEEP can build schools in Southern Sudan and empower women. Men and women in Northern Sudan have 71 percent and 52 percent literacy rates, respectively, while the literacy rate among men is 37 percent and far less at 12 percent for women in Southern Sudan, according to information from the United Nations Population Fund.

“Narrowing this educational gap could raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutritional status and health, reduce poverty and reduce HIV/AIDS outbreaks,” Kwai says on his project’s promotional brochure.

WEEP aims to pair American donors with Sudanese women.

“I’m getting a lot of positive response from the churches and people I’ve talked to,” Kwai said in a recent interview. “They are willing to think about it and they really want to support us.”

Right now, he’s concentrating on gaining assistance in western Kentucky, but he’s also maintained support in Louisville. In July, Kwai traveled to California to talk to the NAACP, which plans to sponsor one girl next year and made a donation.

In addition to getting established, Kwai and the six other Murray State students who have been helping him are planning a mission trip for a few months next year to see the conditions in Southern Sudan.

“All of them are willing to help me out,” Kwai said of the six American students working with WEEP. “In every meeting we have conducting, there are things I need to get done and they are quick to do them.”

Yes, she's my daughter ... almost

It's Tuesday and I've yet to unpack from our weekend at the lake. The bags are sitting in the living room, and I just pull stuff out as I need it. It's just that kind of week. It's my last week at the newspaper, and a busy week it is. Murray State, court, police, politics, city government ... There's a little of everything going on this week. And yet I'm sitting on the couch right now blogging. Go figure.

I took Cate to get her 4-month immunizations at the health department today. (Remember, it's significantly cheaper than at the pediatrician -- even with health insurance.) Well, when I made the appointment I never thought to tell the receptionist we were in the process of adopting Cate. I just said I needed to make an appointment for my daughter to get her 4-month shots.

Well, today when I got there, I didn't have all the necessary paperwork, mostly the court order giving us guardianship. It honestly never crossed my mind to bring it. I'm just so used to Cate being our daughter.

But in realty, well, at least from the government's perspective, it's not official.

Yes, the health department is cheaper, but there is a bit more governmental red tape to get through without getting stuck to it. But, hey, I'm saving at least $100, even though it requires another appointment next week and the proper paperwork.

Friday, September 7, 2007

waking up


Now, can't you see why I only have one more week of work left? I want to be home when this beautiful girls wakes up from naps. This is her face just after I went into her room when she woke up from a nap this afternoon. Yes, indeed, what a sweet heart.

Look at that hair. She's having a good hair day.

And she has a new talent ...


Now I need to go finish packing because we're going to Kentucky Lake for the weekend. And it's raining. Yes, raining. I know, that's rare these days.

Pretty in Pink

A two-page spread of some of my favorite pictures of Cate ...


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Four Months

Cate puts lots of things in her mouth right now, including this stuffed animal today.


She's 4 months old today. And she weighs 13 pounds 12.8 ounces and is 25 1/2 inches long. That puts her in the 55th percentile for weight and 99th percentile for height. And that means she's grown 5 pounds and 12.9 ounces and 5 1/2 inches since she was born.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

distracted

I had intentions of being productive with my evening after Cate went to sleep and Greg was still teaching his class at MSU.

Instead ...

I got sucked into "Singing Bee." And now the Cardinals are playing.

Earlier, while still in the mindset for productivity, I did call the insurance company and doctor's office to find out how much Cate's four-month shots would be. With insurance, having met our deductible, the office visit and shots would be like $120. That's the 20 percent out of our pocket after the insurance company pays 80 percent. Meanwhile, I can get the same shots at the health department for $8-10.

Seriously, no wonder there are all sorts of problems with insurance and health care. It just doesn't make sense.

I guess you know where Cate is getting her four-month shots next week. That is after she visits the doctor for a check-up this week. Yeah, there's something to be said for convenience and getting the shots where I'll already be, but it's not worth $100.

OK, alright, fine, I'll sort the laundry before I sit back down on the couch.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Dressed up with charm


Most days, Cate wears just a onesie. She was born in May, and it's been hot ever since. She's nearly 4 months old, and she's never worn socks or pants. Just onesies, dresses and gowns. But I do like to dress her up for church. (Even though our church is very casual.) The bottoms of most dresses still don't fit her very well, so one-piece outfits -- a step up from a onesie -- are ideal.

So, this morning I set out to take some pictures of her outfit, which was cute and slightly preppy. And she turned on her charm. My favorite is the one above.

But I needed to show the whole outfit ...


And then she and Greg shared a moment ...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Close to perfect

Today really has been pretty close to a perfect Saturday. I got to sleep in a little (Yes, 8:15 a.m. is sleeping in ...), stayed into my pajamas past noon, watched college football, cleaned the house and scrapbooked. Later we're playing Settlers of Catan.

Here are the three pages I scrapped ...




(Click on pages for larger views.)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.