Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011!  For some of us 2010 was a great year and we hate to see it go.  For others, we simply cannot wait to turn the page.  As I sit here I want to hold onto the minutes and seconds as much as I can because come Monday it is back to reality.  I have enjoyed these past two weeks with out having much work to do but mainly spending it with my family.

I have a confession, I used to hate New Years.  I always thought the best aspect of the holiday was the song Auld Lang Syne (turn it up, a good version).  Even though most don't know the lyrics, it sounds good and it is always neat to see all those at Times Square singing the song at the same time.  For one moment, just one, everyone forgets their problems and embraces the moment.  Most importantly they embrace each other.  I used to sleep through the event- taking my fathers stance- that it is going to happen regardless if I watch it or not.  While he is correct, isn't that the case with almost every thing?  Every Super Bowl will happen, yet we will watch that.  Every UofL vs UK basketball game will happen, yet we will tune in.  While it still is amateur hour for those who don't normally party, I sort of have a new found appreciation for today's holiday.

Tonight, I will watch, filled with anticipation of what 2011 brings.  A new baby, a new home, who knows?  But I will be most appreciative for those who will make that journey alongside me.  I will watch the ball drop and when it does I will hug and kiss my wife (if she is still awake)- perhaps the greatest tradition of this holiday.  It is a sign of love, respect, and thanks for the person who stands by you the most throughout the year.  I don't think my girls will be able to stay up that late but before they go to bed I will kiss them too.  They are my greatest motivation and the main reason for my excitement for 2011.  I cant wait to watch them grow.

So whatever you do tonight, be safe.  Be with the ones you love, and keep the faith.  2011 will be a great year. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Season was Jolly.

As I fired up my computer tonight on the desktop is a picture of my family right before trick or treating on Halloween. I couldn't help but think about how that seemed like just yesterday. I remember going to the Mall the very next day after Halloween and seeing the Christmas decorations going up.  Wow, time really does fly when you re having fun.

I had, without question, the best Christmas to date.  One of the traditions my parents started not too long ago was going to the mall on Christmas Eve. We liked to go and sit and watch all the craziness. Brooke and I took the girls and to our surprise both Reagan and Caroline wanted/got their ears pierced.  It was the start of a day I will never forget. I should say I actually didn't get much for Xmas.  I opened  a total of 7 presents, 3 of which I knew what they were, 1 of which was incorrect.  When it came to gifts, I don't have much to write home about.  The best gift I got was one from Brooke.  She took some of my best SAE and Trinity T-shirts and had it made into a quilt. For a guy who used to obsess over opening gifts, I didn't care that I didnt have much to open.  I loved watching everyone else open their stuff.  Much of which I worked hard to get for them.  It is sort of like a home improvement project you did yourself.  There is more gratification in that.  I will say the best gift I got over all was having my folks at my house on Christmas Eve.  To share that time with them, to have them stay at our house, was truly a special gift.  To have Dad read Twas the Night Before Christmas to my girls, will be a moment I will cherish forever.  The next day, those girls were amazing.  Reagan had the best reaction you could ask for to every gift she opened.  Caroline desperately wanted a Buzz Lightyear.  Every time you got near the box he talked and she couldn't for the life of her figure that out.  When she heard it, she acted like it was God speaking to her or something.  Origin unknown. Baylor Grace took a while to get into the swing of things but by the time we got to the end of things she knew exactly want to do.  Baylor can oopen and hand out gifts with the best of them.  She got this motorized hamster and spent all morning yelling..."WHERERUUUU?"  (her first sentence) when it got out of sight.  By 11 she was totally worn out and ready for a nap.

We then went to Louisville for Dinner and had a great evening with Patrick, Sarah, and her father.  The girls was super excited to see them and play at MaMaws and PawPaws.  We woke up this morning, drove to Nashville, and the girls spent all afternoon playing with their Cousins.  After 4 gift opening sessions, they are knocked out cold- even Brooke is asleep.  It will be bittersweet when we get home to Lexington because the house will look like it did when we left it Christmas day, but it will be a long time again before we listen to Christmas music.  The girls will grow up even more, and with any luck there will be another girl to our family next Christmas.  Thankfully I will get another year of them believing and another year of magic.  I can only hope that the "through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow." 

I have learned a lot since becoming a father, a lot of my education is inspiration for this blog.  Every day teaches me something new.  The one lesson that I learn on a repeating daily basis is that I am extremely lucky.  Things that used to matter simply don't.  Things that matter now, trump everything.  So when the days get hard this year, when things go wrong, I will think about these past few weeks.  I will think of the music, the decorations, the songs (which the girls now sing), and the time spent with my loved ones. Those thoughts of the past and hopes for similar times in the future will get me through the hard times. 

Thanks to everyone who made it possible.  Most of all, I thank God for giving me the those in my life- they (you) are truly the best gift.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our day at Rupp-

Last night Aunt Brooke asked if I wanted to go to the UK game with them and bring Reagan.  It was during nap time but well worth the cost.  Reagan talks about her only game at Rupp like it is better than Dis-a-knee, yet another thing I love about her.  The problem with any invitation to one of the Ayers clan, you sort of have to invite them all.  I try and take the girls on individual dates, they each get to go somewhere of their choosing on their date with just their daddy.  No matter what, the other gets very sad when this happens.  It doesn't register to them that they will get their alone time too.  So, like with most birthday parties, I decided to take Caroline too. It would be her very first UK game period.

I knew both would have to miss naps, walk a lot, stay close to Daddy, and suffer through some traffic.  When I told the girls about it this morning they were super excited.  Reagan began telling Caroline about all the different foods you can eat at the game, obviously the highlight for her last time she went.  Her MaMaw would be proud.  So I loaded the girls up in the van at 12:00 for the 1:00 game.  Rupp Arena is only 5 miles away, at 12:45-sitting in traffic- I knew we were in trouble.  Brooke and Austin had gotten there first and bought the extra ticket (they only had four and we needed five) and were waiting on us.  There was not a place to park anywhere.  The problem was this was a rare game during a workday when most take place after 5 or on the weekends.  Parking was just atrocious.  So, I pulled up to Rupp and Brooke and Austin ran out and picked up the girls and ran in.  At least the girls were going to the game.  I drove around for the next hour to find a spot.  I could find spots but they were all sooooo far away there was no way the girls could walk there after the game.  I thought about going home but then I would just have to come back and pick them up, fighting the traffic again.  I was sort of in a pickle.  I would have paid $40 to park somewhere if they would have left me, or I would have sat in my car- with it running- if the cops would have let me.  Neither were an option.  So, about half time people started leaving and I found a spot reasonably close.  I parked the van and ran inside.

I did get to see the second half, and Reagan's face and excitement when I showed up made it all worth it.  She sat in my lap, Caroline was in Austin's and we got to watch the second half together.  The girls knew when to cheer, what to cheer, how to cheer, etc....they were ready for this.  I was one proud Daddy.  All the practice at home got them ready for their big day.  We had popcorn, hot dogs, ice cream, and all sorts of good treats.  Reagan said it was the best day ever and Caroline loved the cheerleaders and the army men.  I don't really care why, and it was much harder than anticipated, but I am glad they had such a good time going there.


Monday, December 20, 2010

He sees you when youre sleeping....

Meet The Elf on the Shelf, ours is named.....Elf-E.  Mimi gave this to us a few years ago and he has become a big part of the family.  If you don't know the story, I will fill you in.  The Elf is given to us from Santa.  He helps Santa watch the family and every night when they sleep he flies back to the North Pole and reports back to the big man.  The next day when they wake up they are to try and find where he is hiding.  He can't talk back to the girls, only listen.  The most important rule is that if you touch him he loses all his power and cant go back to Santa.  He is sort of like a creepy Gizmo with all his rules.

Anyway, he actually really works.  The girls cant wait to see him at Christmastime and race to find him every morning.  He is such a part of the family that he makes occasional trips back to our house throughout the year to check in on the girls.  They "hope" he comes on their birthdays and he almost always does.  Even Baylor Grace loves Elf-E.  We have told the girls that he has his own family back at the North Pole and his job, watching us, requires him to be away from his family just like my job sometimes requires me to be gone.  Throughout the year he watches over us via a snow globe so he can see the girls progress.  It has sort of become like an affair.  Lies on top of lies to cover up the true story but in this case, it is okay.  As if the behavior wasn't instantly corrected by saying Santa will find out, Elf-E is the great disciplinarian around our house.  To the point where the girls even say "Elf-E will find out" or " I am going to tell Elf-E."

To us its all very cute and a microcosm of the magic of Christmas.  The girls buy into the fact that every night he flies back to the North Pole and then back here before the day starts.  Why not?  Makes sense doesn't it? It is magic.  Most of Christmas is based on magic but the excitement, the emotions, the cheer are all very real. That is what is so great about the season.  The girls now sing along with the music, decorate the cookies, and understand the idea of giving.  Christmas really is better when you have kids- aren't most things though?

Friday, December 17, 2010

A video blog

Some may see me as mailing in my blog today. Trust me, if you know me, understand me, know what I do for a living- you will understand the emotion behind my video blog (vlog) today.

So please, turn up the volume and enjoy.

Im just too far from where you are, I want to go home.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Perfect Storm

Boy was I excited for this past Saturday. I had this day planned for over a month, Brooke and I were going to finally get away.  I thought what better for a night out for us than going to the recently re-opened Opryland Hotel.  The Opryland Hotel had been closed since the first of May due to the flooding rain (click here)  in Nashville.  This is not the perfect storm that I allude to in the picture above, that came this past Saturday.  I felt it would not only be a great night for us, it would be a good way to help support the hotel.  I booked this rather expensive room back in October and was hoping to give Brooke a great night of food and sleep.  I then, in a very Clark Griswoldian fashion, plan a night for my whole family down there.  We would go to the Ice Land, have dinner, walk around the hotel etc.  A fun Christmas night for us all.

I should have known this would not be the case when it took us an hour, in the pouring down rain, to get from the off ramp to the half mile away parking lot.  We then ran from the car to the place where the Ice Land was, in the rain, and got soaked.  It was a cold frog chocking rain.  We then waited outside, huddled under one golf umbrella, because there was a line to get in and no awning to protect us.  Once we got up to the door, we were charged an arm and leg (thankfully not mine) for everyone to go through this place.  The kids were free.    It was cool both literally and figuratively.  They carved ice to recreate the entire cartoon Santa Clause Is Coming To Town.  It was amazing, and there was an ice slide (sort of like the Christmas Story) that all the girls did.  I am not sure Baylor really wanted to but she didn't have much of a choice.  After that was over, we all ran back to the cars and got soaked again.  It is no wonder they are all sick.  Thankfully I was so pumped with steroids and anti biotic that I think I will be okay.  At this point Mimi and Pops thought it would just be best to take the girls home.  No walking around, no dinner together.  I agreed totally- i wanted to just sit and watch the game. 

We then go to the hotel, following the signs to the valet parking.  We have to wait in another line, at least this time we were in our cars and not getting wet.  We get to the first person and she tells us we cant valet because we aren't checked in yet.  I explain we have already prepaid our room and are staying at the hotel, why cant we valet?  She has us go talk to someone else.  He wont let me valet.  I have never almost punched a valet guy before but I was very close.  He told me something I didn't want to hear, I had to go wait in another line (at least in the car).  As I drive off, the window was still down and someone tells me to slow down.  At this point I told him to "f*ck off."  I was feeling a little perturbed. 

So we get in line and decide to ditch the car at the self park and run into the hotel.  Which we did, getting soaked again.  We then walked all away across the hotel, a hotel that was elbow to elbow with people, to check in.  The lady behind the desk was amazing and very sympathetic to our situation.  She bumped us up to a Junior Suit and off we went.  Walking back to our room, I thought the chaos was close to being over.  Our room was on the outside wall of the hotel, first floor.  The shuttle line was right outside our room and since it was poring down rain, everyone was waiting right outside our room.  As Brooke goes to use the bathroom and I sit down to watch the game and through the screaming and hollering outside I see people looking into our window.  It was very much like that scene in the John Candy movie, Summer Rental.  In fact, it was exactly like that scene. This would not do.  So we load up and walk all the way back to the front desk (tired, hungry, and wet).  Renee again moves us to the other side of the hotel (this is a huge place) to a very nice room.  Our nightmare was seemingly over.  We walk around a bit, trying to enjoy each others company which is becoming extremely difficult due to the amount of people who apparently have never seen a large Christmas tree in their life.  Also, we begin to notice that there are a ton of people with AFLAC shirts on.  That company was having a convention there and had rented out a large section of the place which shut off 4 restaurants to the public.  A wedding had knocked out another area.  I asked someone that worked there (with deep desperation in my voice) is there anywhere to eat here?  "We have an Irish restaurant and a few kiosks."  Awesome, that is what I envisioned for my wife, a kiosk of pulled pork.  The Irish restaurant had an 1 hour and 15 minute wait.  At this point everything was pissing me off, by the time we get back to the room Brooke was in tears.  She is a lot of things emotional is not one of them.  So for her to be this upset says a lot.  She jumps in the shower because it is about the only thing she can do to keep from losing it.  I decide to go ahead and order room service, at least we will eat and be done with it.  Besides on every page in the book it says "30 minutes guaranteed or it is free."  So, I call room service and wait on the phone for 8 minutes before they answer.  I tell the guy I would like to place an order and he says it will be at least hour.  Fine, shorter than the Irish restaurant, but he then informs me it wont be free.  Apparently that printed policy is for only when it is convenient for them.  I slam the phone down on him.  After cooling off, Brooke still in the shower, I call back.  Even if I pay- an hour is better than the restaurant options.  So, after the nice lady answered my call and I explained I knew about the hour delay she asked what I wanted.  Well Brooke will never turn down a Pizza.  I think if it was a good Pizza for one of her kids, she would have to think long and hard.  She is also a vegetarian, so I was going to order her a cheese pizza.  I tell the seemingly nice lady that I would like a cheese pizza...."I am sorry sir, we are out of pizza."  The phone was slammed down for the second time.  How do you run out of pizza.

I made a bee line for the front desk.  The night was done. The manager tried every way in the world to get us to stay but our night was over.  24 hours later Brooke and I could do nothing but laugh.  In the end, it wasn't the end of the world.  We did get a free night out of the whole ordeal and got home earlier the next day which was good because of the weather.

I am sorry to my wife, I really wanted her to have an easy, enjoyable night out.  Maybe in a week or two when we try again.  I love ya babe- thanks for sticking with me through this crazy rollercoaster ride. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This is what is important

Here SHE is.  Baby girl #4.  I think this is a pretty good profile shot of her, she looked very healthy. I am not at all disappointed in the fact the she is a girl, I sort of expected it all a long.  I am disappointed that if we have no more- and there aren't any plans as of right now to have more- I never had a boy.  The Ayers name will die with me.  No boy to honor my father with by naming my son after him.  I think back to the time we thought we lost her, I said I didn't care what she was as long as she was okay, I mean that.  It will be a crazy time in this house with 4 girls.  One of the problems with another girl is while we may have all the clothes, we are out of names.  Brooke just wanted ONE girl, now we have so many we cant think of what to call her.

Like I said, I always wanted a boy to name him after my Dad.  I refuse to even think about naming my imaginary son after me.  I think that is sort of arrogant, especially if I am the first in the line to do so.  However, yesterday as I was trying to make it through another brutal work week, I was hit by a thought.  What if I named my daughter after me?  Brooke and I couldn't agree on a name we liked, so I floated the idea of naming her Blaine.  Its a name that could sorta go either way, a name I never use, a name Brooke likes.

What do y'all think?  I don't want her to be tormented all her life for having the name Blaine if it is going to do so.  I do sort of think it might be a cool story though.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Meet Bloody Anndi Coffey of the ship Lady Ntonia From The East

Last Wednesday I left for PHX on a work trip. I see a facebook status update from my wife saying she is in awe of Caroline.  I ask what Caroline did but heard no response and sort of forgot about it at that point.  After all, Caroline amazes us everyday.  With her humor or her outpouring of love, she is generally a pleasure to be around. 

I was caught by surprise on Sunday when the girls picked me up at the airport.  I said hello and gave big hugs to everyone and then took my seat at the front of the van.  I immediately say to Brooke "what the hell did Caroline do to her eye?"  Brooke informs me nothing, and that she has to wear the patch everyday for 6 months.  I did my best to hold my rant down and believe I got away with much of it due to the music and the layout of a minivan with the big girls in the back.  There was no way on earth my daughter was going to wear that patch everyday- kids can be mean and I didn't want my sensitive soul (Caroline) to have to endure that.  I was pissed Brooke didn't tell me, I was pissed it happened to Caroline, I was pissed that she would have to look like a pirate for 6 months.  I come to find out that Brooke took it very hard out the eye doctor, Caroline took it all in stride.  She was so cool about the whole thing- that is what Brooke was in awe about. 

As it turns out, looking like a pirate is pretty cool to most kids and according to the pirate name generator off the net Caroline is now Bloody Anndi Coffey.  She couldn't wait to tell me about all the different patches she got, and was upset because she couldn't wear one to school the next day.  Reagan-after a coming to Jesus talk from Brooke- was uber supportive and made her sister feel very comfortable in her patch.  It didn't take me long to come down from my initial anger and realize that this too shall pass.  Brooke is right, if an eye patch and ear tubes are the worst we have to deal with, we are pretty lucky.
I updated my facebook status right away that my daughter(s) showed more maturity than I was at that point and that I too was in awe of them.  I have tried very hard to be a good parent and do all the things a father is supposed to do.  Turns out, I not only teach lessons to them but every once in a while, they teach us lessons too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

They generally ARE who we thought they were.


I wanted to write and dedicate today's blog to a very special person in my life.  He was always there for me, even before my own Dad was (sorry Dad I get it, just a day trip to Atlanta).  He was there when loved ones past, there when new ones were born, he was there when loved ones joined "the flock," and there when we had to say we were sorry for something.  He came over almost every Sunday, spent most of the holidays with us, and love my family more than his own.  In fact he explained to everyone that we were his family because it was easier that way. 

My friend had a very difficult last few years of his life, often times alone.  In fact the thing that pains me the most was that when he was called up to the big congregation in the sky, he did so alone.  That haunts me to this day.  I would often visit him the last few years and I was touched by the fact that in his new place he had one picture on his bedroom dresser, it was a picture of me.  When he was in Louisville there were pictures of our family all over the place.  When he moved to Florida, he kept the one.  I am happy that before he passed he got to meet Reagan, he would have loved my kids as they have grown, just as he loved watching Patrick and I.

His last few years were rough, worse than he deserved.  And I will never forget that when things started going downhill with our friend- Patrick gave me some great advice.  We were at a movie- I cant remember which one- but I remember what Patrick said.  I was very upset by the way things had gone down and Patrick said "Boomer- people are never what you think they are....but generally they are pretty close."  You re right Patrick, he wasn't what I thought,  but he was pretty damned close (hence my Youtube clip above).

My friend is gone now but he has continued to given more than we could have ever hoped for or even asked for.  When some of us needed a "Hail Mary" he came through, even from heaven.  I will never forget him and I miss him deeply.  Like most Sundays at our house, with life -he had to go back to his funny farm too soon. 

Thanks TPC, Rest In Peace, you deserve it.