Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wedding Weekend

We spent Thursday afternoon until Sunday afternoon in the St. Louis area. The big event was John + Christine's wedding. (John is Greg's youngest brother, in case you needed that explanation.) Anyway, we had a good time ...

First, the St. Louis Zoo, which is free. My sister-in-law Angela has a zoo membership at another zoo, so we paid $5 for a pass that allowed us to ride the carousel + train as many times as we wanted, plus go into the children's area. Good thing, because as you'll see below, Cate loved the carousel ...

The kids were great. Cate had a short nap in the car on the way there and she crashed when we got in the car afterward. But first, I had her pose for the picture above with me!

Then on Friday we went to the Science Center, which also is free. Cate was short on sleep, so she was ready for a nap after we were there a couple hours, but it was fun.

Next up: The rehearsal. Christine surprised John with his groom's cake, which I thought was a great idea. Plus look how cute it is! (John works for his grandpa's bus sales business. Plus my in-laws have another bus business, contracting with the government on military bases.)

Then the big day. The wedding was beautiful and we all enjoyed ourselves.

Welcome to the family, Christine. As you can see, we keep growing.

There are many more pictures here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Red Letters Campaign: Anticipation

To commit your heart or not? There is much debate in the adoption world about when you throw your heart into the mix ... upon first sight of that referral picture? Or not until the court date? Homecoming Date? Share your thoughts and experience!

Interesting prompt.

For me, I was fully committed from the day in mid-January 2007 that we saw our baby girl on the ultrasound screen when we were at the birth mother's 25-week appointment. It was the first day we met the birth mother and the day we all agreed to proceed after some previous initial phone conversations.

A couple people continually cautioned me that she may change her mind or something else could happen. Of course, that was reality. But my heart was trusting the birth mother and process so much that I proceeded with everything I had.

That's how it had to be for me. Like in all of life's moments, we couldn't control the details, but we trusted God to continue taking us through the process to which he had obviously led us. There were many reassurances along the way that probably only spoke to my heart. I couldn't really explain them to the people who were being cautious.

I knew Cate was supposed to be our baby. We named her on the way home from that first appointment/meeting with the birth mother. The birth mother referred to her as our baby.

I know international adoptions, and some domestic ones, have a whole host of uncertainty because there are so many more variables. But speaking from my experience, I had to commit to this baby girl (and the birth mother), and that meant throwing my heart in the mix early.

Cate was born 15 weeks after I threw my heart into the mix, and she's been with us every since.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The (Small) Hazards of Traveling

Cate has been a night owl.

Yes, those of you who are familiar with Cate's sleeping habits probably just had to read that sentence twice to make sure you read it correctly the first time. Let me explain ...

We've been in the St. Louis area since Thursday afternoon. That's two nights in our hotel so far, and one more to go. Both nights Cate has pushed her bedtime later than she ever has. Thursday night it was 9:40 or so when she finally gave in. That's after a fun day at the (free!) St. Louis Zoo and limited napping. After dinner, she was snuggling with her blanket and sucking her thumb (sure signs that bedtime is near!) ... but she didn't want to go to sleep while I was in the room. So I left. When I came back, I didn't hear her, so I thought we were good. (I should mention that Greg was doing guy stuff with his brother and the other guys for the bachelor party ...) Nope. She heard me come back in the room and wanted to talk. I laid her back down in the portable crib that is about as long as Cate is. Then I went in the bathroom and sat on the (closed) toilet and worked on a Sudoku puzzle. But she knew I was in there. I tried ignoring her for a little while because she was just babbling.

It was almost 8 p.m., a little more than an hour after we started this whole process. So I let Cate snuggle with me and watch the first part "Grey's Anatomy," then I laid her down, turned out all the lights, lowered the TV volume and then finished the show while Cate finally gave in.

Last night when we got back from the rehearsal dinner at 10ish, Cate was still up, entertaining her great-grandparents. Apparently she had taken an hour nap at her bedtime, then obviously decided that was better than sleeping.

While trying to woo Cate to sleep Thursday night, I spent much time thinking ... I remembered I was thankful that I don't have to do that every night. I'm also thankful Cate likes to sleep in her own room in her own bed. Even though that kind of sleep training doesn't work well in a hotel room, it works well for the majority of our lives, and that's definitely more important.

UPDATE: Saturday night, after dancing herself into a sweat, Cate crashed. She pretty much went right to sleep and we didn't hear a beep from her until the next morning. Still, next time we're on a trip, a suite room with a door to close off the bedroom sounds like a good idea.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

These are the days of our lives ...

... the simple things.

Right now Cate keeps her baby close.* She even insisted on taking her into the Post Office with us yesterday.

This picture has two points.

1. Cate has learned to say "cheese" when the camera comes out. And this is her cheesing.

2. Those Crayola Color Wonder markers/paper are great! Cate loves to color, but she's still tempted to write on herself, or whatever else is near.

* Although probably not as close as her juice, which you'll see in both pictures!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The entertainment that is GOGGLES

Cate found a pair of swimming goggles in Pierson's room when we were over at the Kerrick's house Saturday evening. They were great entertainment ... for her and us!

She kept taking them off, then wanting them back on. She even tried to dance ...

Her moves reminded me of someone wearing those goggles that simulate being drunk.

Pick up Sticks II

On Saturday, Greg moved the the pile of limbs Cate and I created in the back yard to the front ditch so the city workers could come pick them up. Cate did her best to help.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Please ...

In the last few days, Cate has started saying "Please" when she wants something. In this case, she wants juice. Her version of "Thank you" is cute too, so I'll have to catch that on video soon.

Pick up Sticks

Cate helped me pick up sticks yesterday, although she was more into the leaves. I figured the branches in the our backyard weren't going to disappear without some help.

Monday, September 15, 2008

One year at home

I drafted most of this in the little notebook I carry in my purse while I was sitting in the waiting room at the dentist office this morning ...

Every now and then I surprise myself. Quitting work a year ago was one of those times. And, actually, there have been several moments of surprise the past year as I reflect on just how satisfied I am with that decision.

I'd given a month notice, so after making the decision in early August, I was more than ready to be home when mid-September arrived. I remember sitting in a Murray State Board of Regents meeting on Sept. 14, 2007, and having these bittersweet feelings: I'm really going to miss being out and about in the community, informing people of what is newsworthy. But have you seen my daughter? I can't imagine anything being any better than being with her.

So, here's the truth, 365 days later: There has not been one day I wished I still worked at the Murray Ledger & Times. Seriously, not once have I wondered if I made the right decision. One time I did want to write a breaking news story (when Gov. Ernie Fletcher commuted Harrison Yonts' sentence ...), but even the fleeting desire to make some phone calls, ask some questions and put it all together in a story didn't make me want to actually do that again for a living right now.

Understand that I loved my job. I cherish the relationships I built throughout the community. I took pride in educating the community about Murray City Council, MSU's administration, Murray-Calloway County Hospital, police business, court actions and various other people and places, all depending on the day. I loved being out and about and then returning to my desk to get it all down for tomorrow's paper.

But there are no words to explain how much I enjoy being a mother and how much I adore my daughter. I realize staying home isn't right for every family and every situation, but it is positively right for us. I am so thankful I get to play with her, take care of her, teach her, watch her and have her company at Kroger. I realize some of this would be possible had I continued cranking out stories for the Ledger & Times, but I love the quantity of quality time I get with her.

I am more easy-going than I used to be. Don't worry, I haven't completely let go of that perfectionist deep inside me. But it doesn't bother me to let Cate learn to use a spoon with yogurt ending up lots of places somewhat near her mouth. I just put a bib on here when Grandmom gave her a Push-Up. Baths clean off evidence of playing.

I like the little ways I've been changed the past year. I can't explain them all, but I feel them every day. My heart is calmer. My schedule is less hectic. My purpose is far greater. Cate and I have our routine, and I wouldn't trade it for any other assignment.

Who says?

My sister, who I'm certain will be voting for a different presidential candidate than me, sent me this quiz. I rather enjoyed taking it and seeing the results. You should try it, and then comment about what you think.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy birthday, Ethne!

Cate's cousin Ethne celebrated her 3rd birthday today. (She officially turns 3 on Tuesday.) She believes whole-heartedly she's a princess, so everybody played into the theme. She especially loves Ariel.

She just picked up the candle when it was time to blow it out! Angela worried about her lips catching on fire, but Ethne blew it out before she touched herself with it!

Cate wanted to be a princess too. Apparently a singing princess!

Blowing Away

It was rather windy here this morning ...

As you can see, the neighbors' tree and many smaller branches came over our fence.

And a few from the other side of the pile ...

Meeting Charley
(and seeing other people)

Cate + I took off for Nicholasville on Thursday morning. We were eager to meet Charley Kerns! Driving that morning, I was thinking about life-long friendships. (Apparently Cate was taking care of some important matters on the computer!) I'm really blessed with some girls who have known me for a long time, and I was looking forward to seeing some of them.

First stop: Katie + Brad's house.

Isn't Charley cute? He was born Sept. 4. He weighed 8 pounds and was 20 1/2 inches long. Katie (who I've known and loved deeply since October 1990! That's 18 years!) seemed so content, despite the tiredness of her first week of motherhood.

Even Cate was excited to meet Charley (aka "bay-bee"). Isn't her little hand on his arm adorable? She seemed to big compared to him!

We stayed with Corbitt, Rod + Addie that night. The Pearmans (Robbie, Julie, 19-month-old Jay and 10-week-old Jenna Marie) and Jodi came to visit. It was fun seeing them. Corbitt + Jodi are the two girls from my year in Lexington that I keep in touch with the most. I met them separately (Corbitt through a small group at Southland and Jodi while we both worked The Richmond Register) in 2002.

Then we headed to Louisville on Friday morning.

At 2 1/2 months, Jax is getting big and making some great faces!

And, of course, Grandmom had a messy treat for Cate (and Milla) to enjoy.

Cassie + Zac got into town later that evening. I enjoyed seeing them (and beating them in Hearts!).

First thing on Saturday's agenda was Lizzy's birthday party. I didn't really take any pictures, although I kept thinking I would. I'm sure Shelley will have some. (Speaking of long-time friends, Shelley + I met our freshman year of high school and have been friends since. That would have been 1993 ... 15 years! Bekah was also there, so that's another high school friendship I value.)

There are more pictures from our three days here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Preserving the Moments

It had been a couple weeks (at least) since I scrapbooked, but I've had some time this afternoon ...

... I liked how they turned out. Nothing special, but I preserved the moments.

Miss Independent

Cate likes feeding herself with a spoon + fork these days. This is what lunch looked like earlier today ...

At 16 months old, she's walking faster, even trying to break into a run sometimes. The run is usually interrupted with tripping + falling. It seems like she learns a new word every day. Luke, eat, bath and back are the recent additions to her vocabulary list. Today we pulled into Jaclyn's driveway for our morning walk, and Cate said "Luke" before she was ever out of the car.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Good-bye, summer?

With my daughter in jeans + myself dressed in capris, I think we had our last boat ride of the summer. Just seems fitting with baseball commentators constantly talking about magic numbers + must-win games and football teams finally gracing us with their presence that we should temporarily say good-bye to summer. I love flip flops, slight sun burns, trips to the lake (and my new-found love of tubing ...), baseball and fresh fruit, but I also love needing a jacket as the sun sets, going to football games, watching the leaves change and putting on a sweater for the first time this season. Oh, and I really want to go to a pumpkin patch. I have roasting marshmallows + hot dogs on bonfire on my fall to-do list as well, but that shouldn't be a problem because my friends also are all about bonfires.

So, maybe this is good-bye summer, hello fall ... Maybe.

Before the boat ride Saturday evening, Cate discovered a duck call while the guys played pool. Lucas taught her how to make the sound I was very thankful we'd leave at Lake Barkley.

Then Lucas took most of us out on his boat while Katie stayed with Cate, Norah + Evalyn.

That's the Kentucky State Penitentiary behind us. Makes for a lovely picture-taking back drop, huh?!

Yes, my hair is wind blown ...

... but the scenery was totally worth it. Beautiful sunset.

There are more pictures here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


We spent Labor Day weekend in Branson, Missouri, with Greg's family. I assumed it was going to be like Gatlinburg, but I liked it MUCH better. I like the Smokies but being in Pigeon Forge + Gatlinburg gives me a headache. Branson is less overwhelming to me the way everything sits among the hills.

Here's a run-down of our weekend ...

* We stayed in a four-bedroom lodge that accommodated us well.
* The Chinese acrobatic show we went to was entertaining. (Photos were prohibited, though. I guess they were afraid we were going to steal their tricks!)
* We went to an indoor water park that was great for the kids.
* The Titanic museum (apparently the world's largest such attraction) was great. My favorite parts were the room of photographs taken by a passenger who only took the ship for a short trip so he wasn't on it when it crashed and the time line of the crash, sinking and rescue. We touched water that was as cold as the ocean and walked into a room that simulated how it would feel on the deck that night. (Again, photos were forbidden. This time it was something about copyright!)

* I especially loved The Butterfly Palace. I took many, many pictures.

* We saw some huge trout that were being raised to be released into Lake Taneycomo. Cate got to feed them + learn the word "fish."

* We happened upon a great restaurant.

There are many more photos here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sarah Palin

I admit, I like that she's a woman. But I wouldn't vote for a candidate -- at any level -- just because she's a woman. Hillary, for instance, wasn't at the top of my personal presidential hopefuls. I don't vote just for a party either. I like to think I vote for the person. In fact, one time I didn't vote for the candidate with whom I agreed with more when it came to social issues and tax philosophy because I didn't like the way he treated people.

Anyway, politics. It's an interesting game.

And this presidential election is getting even more interesting, to me, thanks to John McCain's pick.

Sarah Palin was a mom first. Then she was a council member, then small-town mayor and then governor. As an Alaskan, she thinks we should drill in her home state for oil. She may not have a ton of "experience," but she does run a state and has a family. While I can't imagine doing those two things, I applaud her for trying to make a difference.

And she has more "experience" than Obama. He is running to be commander-in-chief of our military during war time (among other roles). Palin just MIGHT have to fulfill that role.

But she will help shape policy and set a tone for our country. I like how she comes across. And I like how she isn't a veteran politician who has grown comfortable in a D.C. home.

Oh, and, so what if her teen-age daughter is pregnant. I learned a long time ago you can't judge a person by the actions of those they love. At least the family values the life of a baby, who isn't at fault for parents' not-so-smart choices.

What do you think?