Monday, November 29, 2010

Sometimes it is for the better

Brooke and I love dogs.  We had two before we were married and rescued a third one right after we moved into our first home.  Kylie (pictured above) was Brooke's friend in Louisville when she didn't have that many.  Brooke was new to Louisville and a coaches wife.  That meant she spent a lot of time a lone.  As a result, she took Kylie everywhere and did everything with Kylie.  Everyday Brooke would walk to practice to watch me and almost everyday she brought her dog.  Kylie was a princess and spoiled rotten.  Then Reagan came.  Brooke's time was cut drastically for the dogs but Kylie suffered the most.  She was no longer Brooke's baby.  Brooke would still walk to practice and she would sometime still bring her dog but those times came less and less.  Then we moved, then Caroline came (and everyone knows how much time Caroline took), then I changed jobs that required me (the primary care giver to the dogs) to be gone, then came Baylor.  Brooke, working with three kids and a sometimes absent husband, just didn't have the time to take care of three dogs.  It didn't help that every time Kylie went out she would everything. 

The time had come to get rid of the dogs.  You know the story about Rory.  When I talk to my Mom and Dad I don't ever ask about Rory.  Not because I don't care but because I know she is living a much better life for her.  Flaget has her own room now, bed and padded floor- something the other dogs would never let her have.  However, I do miss Kylie and think about her a lot.  Brooke said she found a good family with young kids and a farm.  It had been a couple of months now and we hadn't heard anything. I asked Brooke to check in with the new owners to see how Kylie was doing.  They say a picture says a thousand words, the above picture verifies that comment.  It hurts that she is gone.  She always yodeled when I came in the room, loved to sit in my lap, and was a sweet dog.  But when I see the above picture it does make me feel better because I know she is living the life she deserves, she is once again a princess.  I wonder if she saw me again would she remember me?  Would she remember the times spent at Camp Four Paws?  Probably not, and maybe its better.  She is in a better situation now, I am sorry I failed her but am happy how it worked out.  I never got to say goodbye to her but I think that would have been too hard had I been here. 

Her new owners sent a couple of pictures and said Kylie has fit in great.  They love her so much and are so thankful to have her and apparently she loves being on a farm.  That makes me happy because she is a special dog. Sometimes the difficult choices you make as a parent or owner or for the better, no matter how much it hurts you. They said that the only problem they have with Kylie is that she doesn't get along very well with the cat....that a girl Kylie.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thats because it sortof is Patrick.

Tomorrow we will host essentially 5 families for Thanksgiving.  All of us will be connected by two things 1) Brooke or myself and 2) Love for each other.  It is sort of an inspiring thought when you sit down and try and take it in.  It fills me up inside.  When they all arrive tomorrow, some will come from as far south as Nashville others as far north as Wisconsin.  Many of us would trust our lives with the others, some will be new faces just getting to know each other.  We will range from babies to grandparents. 

Our house is already decorated for Christmas.  We do this for two reasons.  One, we have little kids and they LOVE Christmas.  Plus Elf-E (our Elf on the shelf and future blog subject) helps keep an eye on the kids.  Plus the girls love the magic of Christmas, so tough if you don't like it that we usher in the season the weekend before Thanksgiving.  The other reason is we want to have the house decorated for this day when everyone comes.  Patrick generally says "Christmas?  Its just now Thanksgiving!"  True, he does have a point but he sort of misses the larger idea.  For Brooke and I, this is all we could ask for on our Christmas list so in that sense, tomorrow sort of is Christmas.  Tomorrow we will all be here together, something that doesn't happen often.  Something that makes Brooke and I so very happy.  Christmas will come with chaos, rushing from place to place, time lost in the car.  Tomorrow is calm.  Tomorrow is sitting in front of the TV, fires in the fire place, good conversations, good drink, GREAT food. Tomorrow Patrick, is our Christmas. 

We will all have a great day together.  That is something to be so very thankful for.  Brooke looks like she swallowed a basketball, her trip to the Dr. yesterday gave us confidence of a healthy heartbeat.  That is something to be SO very thankful for. My parents have been married 42 years, that is CRAZY.  Brooke's parents (married forever too) are both Cancer survivors- that is so very fortunate.  There is much to thank the good Lord above for. We all have things we would like to improve on, issues that keep us up at night.  Maybe health, maybe money, maybe love in our life, but tomorrow we will all have each other.  And that is the greatest thing to be thankful for.  So no matter where you will be or who you will be with remember these two things 1) We have so much to actually be thankful for and 2) There are so many people who have less and would give anything to be in your shoes. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

If you arent a part of it, you cant understand. If you are, you cant explain it.

Originally I had a long blog about how much I disliked another team for their lack of respect year after year.  I then realized in true Coach Beatty style, I needed to keep my mouth shut and let the play do the talking.  We played St. X twice this year in front of a total of 46,000+ fans.   I know Mike G, I can hear you now in your raspy voice..." its all about the kids, they are still champions in my heart, the best team didn't win tonight yadda yadda yadda."  I get it.   I know Bob's 7 titles in 10 years (with a potential 8 in 11) are luck.  The fact that in 10 seasons Trinity made it to the state finals 9 times, is just luck.  Trinity's two wins versus X this year had a combined score of 83-7 were just bad nights for X.  I am thankful we were so lucky.  I am also thankful to have the greatest High School head football coach in Kentucky history in Bob Beatty (and Trinity already had one of the best).  A man who taught me a ton in my brief 5 years with him.  I am better at my job today because of Bob's mentorship.  I am thankful to have coached alongside Andrew Coverdale and see what his mind was like.  Sam Adams, who became a great friend.  I am appreciative I got to play for and coach with Coach K (an X grad nonetheless), to see the definition of a True Gentleman.  The list goes on in on.  While we may never be better than X (cough cough), I will cast my lot with those who wear the green and white any day.

While there is much to celebrate, I know right now, at this very moment, the staff and young men of that Trinity team are getting ready for Ryle next week.  No one pushes you to be your best like Beatty and his staff.   Sometimes that rubs people the wrong way but when they graduate, with multiple rings, and look back- they are almost all appreciative of the fact that there was a group of men who pushed them and held them to a higher standard.  Trinity may not always win but the staff will always prepare you for the game.  That is a great life /sports lesson.  A great staff/mentor/parent always puts you in the position to win and never does anything to hurt those chances.

There is a saying that sometimes in life it is better to be lucky than good....I guess X wouldn't really know what either is like.     

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aunt Brooke and Uncle Aus(h)tin

Sorry for my brief absence in my blogging.  I was up in CT on Friday and down to Auburn on Tuesday, so it has been a crazy week.  I wanted to dedicate this blog to two very special people in our lives.  It is sort of a long story so I will cut out what isn't important and leave what is.

I met Brooke (then Perrin) when I was a Dean of Students at UK.  She was in charge of the governing council of the sororities.  As a result, we worked a lot together.  Very early on she would come to me more than anyone else for professional advice.  I would like to think it was because of my classic good looks and southern charm my openness to help all at UK, but it was probably just because I was around.  Well after a while we became pretty close.  She knew I was married and had one kid, knew that I had another on the way, but there was no connection with them yet.  Then one day in March or April, (my) Brooke was in Lexington - she was still living in Louisville at the time- and she hadn't felt the baby (which would be Caroline) move in a while.  After I found out she was going to the hospital, I rushed over there to meet her.  Problem was Baby Reagan needed someone to watch her, so I grabbed the first person I saw in the office and said  "Brooke (UK Brooke) you re coming with me."  Since those words, Brooke has been right there with us through it all. 

Brooke started coming over to hang out with my Brooke. At the time it wasn't a great relationship because the Brooke's were in two very different places in their lives.  But soon Brooke started watching Reagan.....then she started watching Reagan and Caroline....then she started coming over to watch a weekly show...then she started coming over for no reason at all.  It got to the point where she no longer came over to see me, didn't really even acknowledge my presence.  She would come over, the girls would scream and go crazy for her, and her and my Brooke would have a good time together. 

Then one summer she starts telling us about this trip to Africa she was going to take to get some field work as a nurse.  Brooke (mine) and I were pissed about this.  She was going to place that had armed guards.  We were furious that she would go, risk her life, and risk our go to babysitter.  She kept saying she was going with some dude, but we weren't hearing it.  We were seriously upset and I told her if she was my child I would forbid her from going...seriously said that.  That is when we started hearing about this guy named Aus(h)tin (Caroline calls him Aus(h)tin for some reason).  I first thought of him, as any father does about his daughters boyfriend, I was very skeptical.  Brooke had become a big part of our lives and more importantly in my kids lives, I didn't want some dude coming in and ruining that for Reagan and Caroline.  I must say, Aus(h)tin took to my girls like a duck to water.  It has now gotten to the point where my girls no longer go crazy just for Brooke when she gets here, they want to know where Aus(h)tin is.  It has sort of come full circle and now Brooke and I are back to being friends... :)

Baylor Grace was about to arrive and it was Brooke that watched the girls while we were at the hospital.  A few weeks laters we went down to Gulf Shores two summers ago and Brooke, Aus(h)tin and his family were going to be there.  They welcomed all of us in with open arms and the love in Aus(h)tins family is evident.  He has a sister that immediately took to the girls, and even a high school aged brother who was great with the girls.  Most boys that age are punks or couldn't care less about kids, but not Carson.   We knew we needed God Parents for Baylor Grace and Brooke was the obvious choice.  She loves my girls as if they were her own, she is a nurse, and without being dramatic- she would give her life for those girls.  As a parent it gives you so much comfort to know you can trust someone outside of your blood in that fashion, with your kids.  Especially when your family lives in different cities.  The jury was still sort of out about Aus(h)tin though, should he be Baylor's God Father?  When you see Aus(h)tin read to the girls, they climb all over them, he plays the angry pirate with them, you can see how much he loves them too.  The choice became pretty clear to us. 

A year later it was time for them to get married Brooke and Aus(h)tin bypassed members of their own family so that Reagan and Caroline could be their flower girls.  Aus(h)tin asked me to be in his wedding as well.  We needed a place to stay and again, Aus(h)tin's family took us in. They had met us once before but you would think we were friends forever.  When the amazing week was over, my Brooke was almost in tears because she enjoyed being around them so much and wondered when we would see them again.  Aus(h)tin has an amazing family and we know that Brooke, who we love, is in good hands over there.  

So this blog is dedicated to Brooke and Aus(h)tin.  They have given us so much, including another part of our family, Callie (a once babysitter now family member to us.  Caroline LOVES Callie, she is the first person Caroline wants to invite to her parties). We trust our girls 100% with them and having a doctor and a nurse around is always comforting.  Most conversations end with a sincere "love you guys," and when Brooke and Aus(h)tin are around, you can see in their eyes how much they love my girls.  Thats really all I could ever hope for.  Without a doubt in my mind, they know our girls better than anyone.  I know someday Brooke and Aus(h)tin will have kids of their own, and I can see our girls babysitting their kids.  I also know that they will make excellent parents because I can see the way they are with my kids.  You are hard pressed to find better people than Brooke and Aus(h)tin, and this Thanksgiving and every other day, Brooke and I are thankful for them.    

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Pops, Rojo, Dad-

I wanted to wish my father in law (who i will refer to as Pops in this blog) a Happy Birthday.  To me, Pops' story is really amazing.  I struggle writing this blog because i feel so much that I would want to add (to illustrate that story) was told to me in relative confidence and I do not want to violate that.  So I will do my best to tell a story to justify the guy he is and our special relationship. 

First off, I call him Dad.  A term I do not use lightly.  I am extremely lucky that I love my wife's family and in particular her father.  I understand that it is not always that way and in fact, most of the time you simply tolerate them.  This is by no means the case with me.  I invited my father in law to my bachelor party in New Orleans, an inviation I think he regrets declining to this day.  He is a friend, someone who I go to for advice, and a good time to be around.  In some ways he reminds me of my own father, but in some ways they are complete opposites.

My father grew up in a very loving, supportive family.  Despite the TB that my grandfather suffered through, he was always there for my Dad and they were very close.   I think that is part of the reason why my father and I are so close. My father wears his heart on his sleeve, he sings, he cries, and he loves with all the passion in the world- that’s the way he was raised.  Its too complicated to explain Pops childhood and even his earlier fatherhood years.  Eotionally, they were just totally different people.

I think a few things happened that changed my father in law and made him a different man today.  Pops had skin cancer twice.  The bad kind- not the kind they can simply cut away.  Anytime you are faced with that, it’s likely to change you.  I think he realize how precious life really is.  Plus, his kids grew up- his son became a cop, his daughter a highly successful college student.  At some point around this time, he realized that he had done a good job.  I would like to think I had an effect on him too.  When I came around he realized he had someone else to laugh with, tell sex jokes with, eat fatty foods with, cry with, and simply trust.  While Pops and I had a special bond- his relationships with my "kitchen cabinet" have become fulfilling for me to see as well.  My brother Patrick, Johnny C (who once impersonated Pops' son.  Now can you imagine a pasty, ginger 6 foot 5 guy with a short, Middle Eastern looking 5'7 son?  Shit that is a blog right there).  But most importantly I have been thrilled by the relationship between my two dads.  It’s funny because they are similar in the fact that they HATE people.  Yet despite the fact that they HATE people, they truly do love each other.  This means a lot to me- because I care so much about the both of them.  They HATE talking on the phone, yet they talk often and normally, they end the call (sometimes in tears) with- "I love ya man."    So, I think all of us have changed Pops a bit.

Despite his own struggles with Cancer- nothing is like hearing your wife has it.  All of us husbands/fathers say "I don’t care what you do to me but don’t hurt my wife/kids.  Mimi's battle with breast cancer was probably harder emotionally then his own.  It is times like that you realize how much your wife means to you and how dependent you really are on them. 

And then the grandkids came..and came...and are still coming.  Now, Pops is mush in their hands.  They have turned this once hard man, into a marshmallow.  Part of the reason is trust- he trusts us, part is because they are cute, all of it is love.  It may have taken him a few decades to get here but through his loving wife, devoted kids, extended family, and grandkids he has truly learned how to love.  That is an amazing lesson to learn- no matter what age. 

So Happy Birthday big man.  I wish I could be there with my girls to celebrate with you.  We could go to "Salad House" or something.  Unfortunately I am up in CT working...something I think you can appreciate and are okay with.  God help the guys that try to date my daughters, let alone marry them.  In reality, I pray the young men respect me as much as I do Pops.  I just hope they are slightly better behaved when they’ve had a little booze and are on a public beach.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanks for your service-

Meet Sarah.  Sarah is my brothers wife. Her life story is reads like a book and through a strange twist of fate, she finds herself right at home in Louisville with my brother Patrick.  There is much to brag about my sister-in-law but today I wanted to take the opportunity to brag about her being a Marine.  No she is not in active duty, but once a Marine always a Marine.  It is hard enough to be in any service, even harder to be a Marine, even harder to be a female Marine.  Sarah served 7 years in the USMC and I never miss a moment to tell my friends about her.  I'm not sure how she remembers her time in the Marines.  I have to believe it was more difficult for her than we could ever know...or want to know.  But no matter, I hope the longer she is out- the more positives she takes from her time there.  Time has the ability to erase some of the bad memories and replace them with only good and she deserves that. 

I take a lot of pride in my girls.  I swore I wouldn't be that Dad that talks about them every chance he got...and I 100% am.  The feeling I got when Reagan scored in soccer.  The joy I get from seeing Mayor Caroline shake hands and kiss babies at Seton.  The pure beauty I see in Baylor Grace's eyes, knowing she is going to be a knockout when she gets older.  You cant measure that as a proud father.  I also am proud (and lucky) to have my wife's brother to be a cop and my brother's wife to be a Marine.  I puff my chest out and swell with pride when it comes up in a conversation and I can tell people my sister in law is a marine.  Thanks Sarah.  She is a lot of things, fitness instructor, great wife, caring person but today I wanted to highlight that she was one of the few, one of the proud, she is a Marine. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Old Fashioned Fireplace.....

That is a line from a Frank Sinatra Christmas tune.....he "would trade the whole Manhattan skyline for an old fashioned Christmas (with an old fashioned fireplace) back home (who amongst us wouldn't?)."  Having a fire in the fireplace is a special event in my house.  As you can tell by the picture above, all my girls love sitting in front of the fire. When I was a kid, I did the same thing.  One of my favorite memories was a fire in the fireplace, and Christmas music playing the background.  We would have fires in the fireplace any time the weather was anywhere between 45- 15 degrees.  My parents used to say anything under 15 and it was too cold for a fire.  Never made sense to me but like most things I trusted them.  It was always more than a fire, it was part TV, part dinner table, part conversation piece, all family.  I couldn't begin to count the times we would just sit around and watch it, never talking too much.  I love the warmth, the sound, the smell.  When I have a fire, I think about growing up- it usually meant there was something good cooking in the kitchen and perhaps a guest was coming over.  Normally that guest was Fr. Tom.  When he moved to Florida for a few years we bought a VCR tape of a fire in the fireplace and gave it to him to watch down there because he loved them as well.  Of course we always had a great fire around Christmas and it used to be we couldn't listen to Xmas music until Thanksgiving night.  That is one tradition that has morphed in my house.  We have the house decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving, and Christmas music is played around Halloween.  I always loved Christmas as a kid (who didn't?) and Mom and Dad always thought it was because I LOVED getting gifts.  Honestly, I did (again who doesn't?)  But truthfully, It was so much more than that. I loved the decorations, the traditions, the candy, the food, the anticipation.   I would wake up with the horses on Christmas day (Patrick would have to strap me into bed) and I used to cry on Christmas night because it was over. To this day very mucha  kid around Christmas.  My wife, to her credit, makes the house look amazing during the Holidays.  She has taken many of the things I loved about Christmas from my Mom and adapted them to our family.  I think that is where my love for this holiday comes from, my Mom.  She, to this day, believes.

Having kids who understand this holiday makes it so much better.  We got the girls a pretty good tree for their room. I have never heard Baylor Grace really say "please" before.  All she said while we were decorating the tree was "PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE" because she wanted another ornament to hang on the tree.  There really is something magical about this time of year and it is all seen in a child's eye.

Anyway, my thousands  eight loyal readers might have wondered what is behind throwing things in the fireplace?  Well it is actually a good story.  Brooke and I take to girls to Gatlinburg every December for a Christmas parade.  It is a tradition we started out of the blue and is one of our favorites.  This year we couldn't go because I have a work trip.  Well last year we rented a huge Chalet and both my parents and my in laws came.  Anytime my fathers get together it is always a good time.  Neither my Dad or my Father in Law (also Dad) like people.  They love each other- another blog another day perhaps.  I am lucky in that sense that my families get a long so well.  Anyway, my Dad wears things until they get holes in them, literally. Sometimes my Mom can patch them up, sometimes they just look like swiss cheese.  Well last year my dad brought a pair of PJ pants and boxers that looked awful but they were comfortable to him.  Much like my pillowcase in my previous blog.  Well after a little, and by little I mean bathtub, of Crown Royal (maybe even a braunschweiger)- we convinced Dad to get rid of those nasty clothes.  We expected him to discard of them via trash.  After going back into his bedroom to change, he comes back out and proceeds to throw his clothes into the roaring fire.  In very much an Irish fashion, we stood in silence, toasted the burning clothes, and watched them disappear.  When they were gone, we laughed and haven't stopped since thinking about that time.  For a moment, everything else fell away, and we all just laughed together.

So that's where the throwing my pillowcase into the fire came from.  If you re wondering, I actually didn't go throw with it.  Perhaps by God's work, I just couldn't bring myself to it.  This works out perfectly because Dad has something he wants to throw in there at Thanksgiving.  We can burn our things together.  Maybe, we are starting a new tradition.  So, if you are coming to my house for Thanksgiving and you have something old, something you hate, something you love- and you have been looking for a proper Viking send off.....we have your outlet. 

Just nothing plastic, we don't want to harm the environment.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Somewhere TAPS is playing.

Today is a sad day, somewhere Taps is playing.  I would never make light of the seriousness of that song, well I guess I sort of just did, but it is a sad day at my house.  Today, I made an adult decision that I had put off making for years.

Look at the picture above.  What do you see?  Most of y'all just see a pillow.  To me, I see history, my childhood- the past.  The pillow is one of my favorites I have ever had but that is not what is important.  To me, the pillowcase is the gem.  This pillowcase was once my brothers and by once I mean probably 15-20 years ago.  When Patrick got his first big boy bed (I cant remember the size of the bed) he got this set of sheets.  It was a black sheet with a gray pinstripe.  I never particularly liked the sheets but this pillowcase has been mine for years, like at least 7 or 8.  For that time period it is the only pillowcase I have used.  A few pillows have come and gone but the pillowcase has remained.  I lived in three different places, taken it on may vacations, and for awhile every night it helps me forget my problems.  It is faded, worn out, ugly, and now getting put out to pasture.

Brooke has tried to get me to get rid of it before, she has since stopped trying because she knows my attachment to it.  I can't explain it but it is a comfort thing.  I think maybe its because in some strange way it brings me back to one of the best times in my life was when I lived with my parents.  Something as a kid I said I would do forever, something Reagan says she is going to do forever.  Brooke and I lived there right after we got married (Mom and Dad did the same thing with Dad's parents) and there is just something always secure about going to your parents house.  Every time I spent the night there I knew that there would be fewer and fewer times to do so.  Life is precious, it is short, and it is numbered.  Now with bills, work pressures, getting old, families, etc- you always think fondly back of the time when you were safe with Mom and Dad.  No matter what.  Normally the longer you are away from things the more you forget the bad stuff.  Times in your life are generally never as good as you remembered them to be.  That isn't the case for my childhood or my parents.  In most cases it was the best and Mom and Dad did all the could.  I hope that I adequately relay to my kids how great their MaMaw and PawPaw were as parents to me.  I hope that I foster a similar environment for my girls so that they always feel safe, welcomed, loved, and fed, in my home.  Just the same way my parents did.

In the end, I hope that one day when my girls move out (it hurts to think about it at this point) they will take something with them- something they will have alongside of them - to remind them of home, their comfort, the love, of me (and their mom).  Probably wont be a pillowcase but sometimes a pillowcase is much more than something to cover your pillow. 

So next time we have a fire in the fireplace, I will retire this pillowcase in the proper Tim Ayers tradition.  I will throw it in the fire and watch it become one with the earth.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Did you vote?

Don't worry, I swore I wouldn't not get political and risk upsetting any of my 3 loyal followers.  My post today isn't about Democrats or Republicans- its about the process.  I enjoy voting and always triple check to make sure I voted for the person I intended to vote for.  That night and the following day I am always glued to the TV to see the results.  It doesn't matter which side is winning, I am fascinated at the country we have become.   I know most are very upset about the direction of the country.  I get that there is a ton to be upset about.  Some say we went too far, others say we didnt go far enough.  Unemployment around 10% (probably the real number is higher) is way too much- regardless of who is to blame.  But when you look at what happened from a historical perspective, every two years shows what a great country we are.

The election season is vicious.  Anything is fair game.  Ben Chandler(D) is the incumbent congressman for Lexington.  He has been running ads about Andy Barr(R) being a convicted criminal.  Sounds awful, who vote for a convicted criminal?  Want to know what the crime is?  He had a fake id when he as 18.  Seriously.  Why would anyone go through the process?  God forbid when the opposing candidate starts attacking families.  It gets very personal, very cruel.  But it almost never goes past that (minus a few stompings by followers here and there).  No matter how cruel and how personal the attacks are, almost instantly after its over the loser steps aside and pledges loyalty to the city,state, country, that just them no.  That is amazing.  The peaceful transfer of power is a microcosm of how great this country is.  It isn't that way everywhere and hasn't always been the case here (see the Presidential Election of 1860). 

Yesterday (as it does every two years) reaffirmed my belief that this the greatest country in history. We have people who will sacrifice almost everything to serve in politics, people who volunteer that are willing to give the 'last full measure of devotion' in order to protect us, and friends who can disagree about the direction but shake hands when it is all over.  Not because of the threat of violence, not out of fear, but out of respect and love for this great country.

Tomorrow is a brighter day.