Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Pillow Case part II

As some of you know, I talked about throwing my pillow case into the fire.  It was a blog dated 11/5 first pillow case blog and 11/8/2011.  It was a good blog, if you need a refresher go check it out.  Anyway- we never got around to throwing our old garments (and the symbolism with it) into the fire.  I don't know if it was fate, I don't know if my emotions got the better of me, or if it just was an honest mistake.  Regardless, the pillow case lived to see another day. 

Reagan, praise be to God, is still napping.  Every day she naps at the same time as the other girls.  This will end by next August because she will be in school all day.  Yet another sign my little girl is growing up.  In a lot of ways you're happy and in a few you are sad.  I now know why my father cried every time he dropped me off for college.  Anyway, since Baylor Grace moved into a big girl bed (she now sleeps in the ultra plush queen sized bed) to make way for Hadley- we had to find a new place for Reagan to sleep.  We didn't want Reagan and Carolina to be in the same room because we didnt want them to wake each other up.  The only other place for Reagan to sleep was the king bed in our master bedroom.  The girls are all pretty good, sleeping wherever we tell them too.  It didn't take either Baylor Grace or Reagan very long to adjust....and by very long I mean like a day.  Pretty soon I started to notice something about Reagan and her sleeping habits.  She has this huge bed and she insists on sleeping on one portion of it.  And to take it even further, she insists on sleeping on the same pillow everyday.  My pillow.  I asked her today why she has to sleep on my pillow and she looked at me and said "because I love you Daddy.  It smells like you, its comfortable, I don't know?"  I got to admit it was a pretty cool moment.  It made me very happy I didn't throw that ratty thing away.  When I said "sometimes a pillow case is more than just a pillow case," in my blog that day, I was referring to all the memories and history that darn thing had seen with me.  Little did I know that one day in the future, Reagan would feel the same way.  She may be growing up, she may be getting bigger, there is nothing that I can do to stop that.  I don't know what it is about the girl, no matter how big she gets, she will always be my baby.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What a day!

Yesterday morning I woke up at 4:AM to catch an early flight to NYC.  I had never been to NYC so I was somewhat looking forward to this trip.  I have had it planned since about to October.  I knew I was probably going to have some free time on Sunday, so I started to mentally map out what I wanted to see while wondering around town.  Brooke's roommate who was in our wedding was going to be my tour guide.

When the NCAA brackets first came out, I blasted the placement of UK.  They finished in the final season poll ranked #10 but were seeded as a 4 seed- it didn't make sense.  To top it off, they had UNC (another top 10 team) and Ohio State (the #1 team in the country) in their same bracket just to make it to the Final Four.  Even my Dad thought there might some conspiracy against UK. Well last weekend, UK got a revenge win vs WVU and advanced to the Sweet 16 which for them was going to take place in Newark NJ.  No one was sure how far this UK team would make it and most were content with the Sweet 16.  After all, they were going to have to play- what most believed to be- the best team in the tournament on Friday night.  That Thursday prior to the Ohio State game, I foud out my Sunday night meeting got pushed back to Monday night.  This was going to make my Tuesday travel day a little more difficult, but it is what it is.   After a hard fought amazing win, the UK guys were going to be playing on Sunday vs. UNC.  A battle of blue bloods. I couldn't believe we had won.  They were playing in Newark still,  and I was going to be a few short miles away. I was hoping to find a bar to watch the game with my friend Kristin.  Turns out she got injured and couldn't walk around, so here I am on my own.  What to do? I felt as though the waters had parted and it was desitny for me to go to the game. Might as well try and go to a game that I had no idea how to get to, and no ticket.

Going 15 miles in Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, is not a big deal at all. You get in your car and go.  Not in NYC.  I know I am not breaking news here but if you have never been, getting around is amazingly difficult.  Don't get me wrong, the public transportation is really good but the invasion of Normandy was easier to plan out.  I could have taken a cab, that would have been around $100.  So, after a plane ride, a shuttle, a bus, a subway, then a train- I find myself in Newark NJ with some fraternity friends who had done the same thing I had.  They showed up with no idea on what to do and no tickets.  I arrived early enough that I had a lot of options for tickets. I didn't want to spend more than I had previously taken out of the ATM but knew very early on I was going to have a pay a decent price.  I bought a ticket for one dollar more than face value.  Assuming it was a real ticket- which is a risk- I would be in the door.  The ticket cost me $100, it was originally a $99.  As bad as I wanted to go, I didnt want Brooke to get mad.  I figured she would understand but you never know.  Thank GOD they won! Because of that victory, it is a evening I will always rememebr and never regret the burden it took to go.

Once the doors to the very nice, new, arena were opened- the moment of truth was there and it WAS a real ticket.  I had no idea where I would be sitting and didn't really care. I was glad to be in the door.  I was in the very last row in the upper arena.  If I wanted to stand the entire game, I could have because the only thing behind me was a wall.  To top it off, I was in the UNC section.  Regardless of what happened in the game, I was very proud of this UK team. They had come a long way since our (my blog about the stress UK basketball gave me) "break"- and regardless of what happened, they did a great job this year.  I was really proud of them, this was supposed to be our bridge year. This team was wedged between two amazing recruiting classes (2009,2011)  It was a great game that UK pulled out the W. I was there to see us get our first trip back to the final four in 13 years.  I was there and it was worth every penny.  People were literally weeping when they played My Old Kentucky Home with the nets cut down.  While somewhat crazy, it was an experience of a lifetime.  As far as UK fandom is concerened it was the second best day of my life.

1) Winning the 1998 National Championship when I was a freshman.  That night was an amazing night on campus.
2) Being in the arena for the totally unexpected(trip) Final Four birth of 2011
3) Beating the #1 ranked LSU Tigers- the eventual National Champion- in Triple OT and rushing the football field with my father-in-law.

Beating UNC capped off a weekend where we beat the #1 team in the country, #7 team in the country, and making it back to the Final Four.  Wow.  It took me two hours to get home, I was tired, thirsty, and needed a shower.  But it was an experience I will tell my grandkids about.  Beating UNC to go to the Final Four and being there to see it all.  It was a lot of time and money but worth every penny. 


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Coming Home on Lifetime

I admit I am a total sap when it comes to my family- well just about anyone's family really.  I travel for work and it does get old very quick.  As I sit here getting ready for an early flight tomorrow, I think about the "Bye Dadddddddyyyyyyyy" I got before I left and the screams of joy when I return. One of the bright spots about this job is the moment after my plane lands and I get past security gate at an airport.  I always love to see the families waiting with signs and flowers for their loved ones.  Some are home from college, some are home from work like me, others just been away a while for no reason at all.  Regardless, even though it is almost never my own family, I love to see it.  The few times it has been my girls, I cant help but get all emotional.  It is different than the greeting at home- but magical nonetheless.

Well, I also do a lot of flying in and out of Louisville and as a result of its proximity to Ft. Knox I see lots of military men and women coming and going there.  The tearful goodbyes are difficult to watch, and the joyous reunions make you proud to be an American.  The other day (after a long trip home from Chicago) I watched a show called Coming Home on Lifetime channel. The entire show is about soldiers coming home and their loved ones who are here to welcome them back.  The ones who have the little girls who they have left behind get me the most.  It reminds me too much of my girls at home.   I cried almost through the entire show.  I know how hard it is to leave my girls for just a few days, I could not believe how hard it would be to do so a year at a time, in a war environment.  It is easy to say thanks for going over there and doing what you do.  They should be thanked for that.  The sacrifice though, leaving behind loved ones- especially kids- cannot be thanked adequately enough.  It isn't the greatest show out there but it is a very powerful one.

So if you get a chance to watch it on Sunday nights, please do so.  It reminds you that while the soldier goes off to fight a war on a foreign front- there is often a very different war going on at the home front.  While those that go off and fight deserve the utmost respect, the ones they leave behind do so as well.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

Every spring since we have moved to Lexington we find more and more things to love about our house.  The trees are popping now and it is a beautiful sight.  The flowers that grow- flowers we had nothing to do with, yet every year they welcome back the warmer weather and make our house look more like a home.  The rose bushes that, on their own, give us a few dozen roses every season.  This house is really at its prettiest right about now, when its a warm spring day outside.  Well, every year since we have been here we have also come to adopt two ducks.  A "Mommy Duck" and a "Daddy Duck."  Every March the fly back from wherever they were and nest somewhere around our house.  With that we have come to accept them as part of our family, the girls LOVE them.  During this season we get them their own loaf of bread from the store.  Every morning I can hear them in our front yard honking at us to come out and feed them breakfast. If they arent waking us up like some farm rooster, they are laying in wait for us to come out on the porch and look for them.  When they see us the waddle and honk over from whereever they were hiding to get breakfast. They have gone so far as to tap on the front door with their beaks if the actual door is open and they can see through the storm door.  They are as pushy as dogs.  Yet, every morning, and sometimes for dinner, we feed them.  They take the food right out of my hand.  It is kindof neat to know that these "wild" animals trust us enough to know that on our front yard they have nothing to fear.  Now I have three helpers that wad up pieces of bread and throw them as hard as they can for the ducks to eat.  I'd like to think that we are helping Mommy Duck fatten up so that she can sit on her nest and bring a few new ducklings into this world. It is funny because this year I have thrown the Daddy Duck's world into a tailspin.  Since he was here last I bought a new truck.  The new truck has the chrome package.  As a result, Daddy Duck can see himself in my wheels and along my running boards.  So, Daddy Duck spins half of his time with his head literally in one of my truck tires.  The other half he walks up and down the truck staring at himself on the step up bars.  He is either extremely threatened by "this other duck," or extremely vain.  Either way, it is hilarious.  I have to inspect under my car and around the wheels every time we get into the truck, not for a bomb, but for a Mallard who likes to hang out at my truck. 

We come to expect our feathery visitors every year, yet we sort of take it for granted.  Any number of things can happen over the course of the year, yet somehow some way, they end up back here.  And every time they do, we get so excited.  Some of our neighbors walk around and make comments about how we feed them.  Normally its a "better your yard then ours," type of thing.  I shrug it off and continue throwing them bread with glee.  They are always welcome to dine at my place.  We are hoping to sell the house and if we do, I will leave a note for whomever buys the house. 

To who it may concern:
I sincerely hope that you enjoy this house as much as we did.  So much so that when I think of a home this is almost a perfect setting.  Please know that 3 babies learned to walk on these floors, learned to eat like big girls in this dining area, and play properly on this front yard.  If these walls could talk, I hope they would tell you about all the love that was grown and shared in our time here.  These walls are yours now, enjoy.  I hope you make your own beautiful memories as we did.

P.S.  Don't forget to feed the ducks.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A man's best friend

Meet Flaget- my yellow lab who turned 10 this week.  She was born during my senior year Spring Break when I was in Key West with some Fraternity brothers (yes my eventual wife was there too).  I bought her in late April of my Senior year.  I was a man now (at least I thought so) and every man should have a Lab.  From the moment I got her, she has worshiped the ground I walk on.  She would probably ignore everyone else on the planet (except PawPaw) if I am in the same room as her.  She has been virtually no trouble her entire life and is really everything you want out of a dog.  She predates my wife, 9-11, my professional careers, my two houses, my many cars, and all the kids. She is one of the last things I have from my college days. Even though Brooke didn't grow up with or around dogs, I think even part of Brooke loves Flaget.  She was so easy we got another one, and then another dog.  I have documented my failure as a owner with those dogs.  Kids came, new job came, and I just couldn't give those other dogs what they needed (both are somewhat special needs).  I know Kylie is much happier now with her new family and new kids to love on her.  I still wonder if she would remember me if she saw me.  I KNOW Rory is much happier now with her new family.  Flaget has her own room and spends most of the time in a collar to keep her from licking her paws raw but she wouldn't have it any other way.  And in fact is probably happier now that she is on her own.  Now the kids can play with her and don't have to worry about Rory accidentally hurting them.  Now she can spend all day outside without worrying about Kylie barking at everything leaf that blows in the wind.  Tonight we played fetch, then the big girls helped me give her a bath.  Then, Reagan through the ball with her even more.  It didn't matter to Reagan that the ball was drenched with slobber, she just liked playing with her.  Baylor Grace liked shouting Flaget's name and laughing while Reagan played her.  They also loved petting her when she needed a break from the running around, Flaget isn't into summer shape yet.  It was a great time had by all and she (Flaget) smells a lot better now.  She also got a new collar too.

Flaget is starting to look older in the face, she has a bad hip, a small tumor on her eye lid, and two fatty tumors on her belly.  She is getting to be an old broad, but she is my old broad.  No matter what, she loves me unconditionally, and I would be lying if I said that doesn't make me feel better on bad days.  She really couldn't be a better dog.  The girls are into feeding her and throw their uneaten food over the gate for her, something Flaget appreciates.  As the girls get older that will take more and more responsibility with the dog and will ease Brooke's burden when I am gone for work.  I think it is important for them to have A (yes I stress the A as in one) dog around for a lot of reasons.  They taught me a lot growing up and like all good friends, she teaches me still in her old age.

Monday, March 14, 2011

All my bags are packed.....

As I sit here in a hotel room in the middle of VA, already deep into a workday, I cant help but think about how much I have left at home.  I am thankful that my leaving for work as become easier for my girls.  They(particularly Reagan) used to cry so much every time I would leave.  I have done it enough now to where they are used to it.  Plus, with the wonders of skype, we had a meal together last night.  Unscheduled we all had pizza and I got to watch them eat and they got to watch me.  We talked as if I was there with them.  That helps too.  None of that replaces the physical touch of one of their hugs, the unexpected hugs, the ones that make you glad to be alive.  I hope someday they appreciate all that we do for them, most importantly how hard it is for me to leave them behind. 

Im lucky to have a job, and one that often takes me to good locales.  I have driven all over the eastern part of the country and flown all over North America.  When I drive though it obviously gives me a lot of time to think.  When I think, my thoughts always go back to my 5 girls back in Lexington, and to my parents.  I drive up and down I-75, I see a particular Cracker Barrel or McDonalds where I stopped with the girls on this trip or that trip.  I see a McDonalds on I-75 where I stopped with my family after a trip to Gatlinburg with both sets of parents.  There I watched out the window as my Parents who were following behind me passed on through on their way back to Louisville.  I remember watching them drive by thinking about how nice it was to take another trip with them AND my family.  Almost every rest stop/pit stop/location has some value to me.  Yesterday I drove over the Blue Ridge Mountains from Lexington VA, to Farmville VA.  Farmville is just outside of Appomattox.  I couldn't help but think about the first time I ever went there was when Brooke and I were just driving around, before kids, before the pressures of life got to us.  I miss them- I wish they were with me.  I will be home tomorrow and I can't wait. I told Brooke the moment I checked in here I started mapping my drive home if only for a little while before my next trip.

I guess all of this is one reason I am so looking forward to my family vacation this June.  I am trying not to get TOO excited, in case something happens and we cant go.  We have already paid for it so I don't have to worry about that but you never know.  I am so looking forward to it so that I can create more experiences/memories for them.  I told Brooke that my earliest memories come from about the age that Reagan is right now so I want to start with great memories for them.  I also am so excited to have our picture taken underneath the "Welcome to Florida" sign at the Florida Welcome Station.  All of my family, including Hadley.  This was something my family did growing up every year.  I get to live out some of my greatest memories growing up with my family, and create new ones for them.

Well maybe I am not telling the complete truth. Without question I want to create memories for them but I think I want to for me as well.  There are a lot of lonely miles I travel and sometimes out of nowhere doubt of why I do this creeps in.  Driving down the road it helps give you a little boost to get home when you see a seemingly normal spot to everyone else  but to you it is a place where one of my girls threw a big fit, or a place where we stopped to let them play in a particular playground.  I see that place, smile, and have a little bit more energy to get me home on. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

What a story in the news.

I don't normally watch the news.  There is a lot of reasons for this, first of which- it is normally pretty depressing.  Baylor Grace and I were alone on the couch tonight and I was trying to find something on.  I decided to see what Katie Couric had to say and they had one of the best stories I had seen on the news in a while on to close the Monday night show.

Those of you who are older than me will remember this, I dont for it was before my time.  When soldiers went missing in Vietnam they used to print their name on a bracelet.  A stranger would purchase that bracelet and the point was to wear it until your soldier came home.  On the news tonight they showed a girl who got one in 1972 in her Christmas stocking and has not taken it off in about 40 years.  She never gave up hope.  Long has passed the time in which those who could come home, did.  Regardless, she kept the faith that someday James Leslie Moreland, a Green Beret, would come home.  Spc. Moreland was stationed at Lang Vei in South Vietnam when his position was overran in 1968.  He was awarded the Silver Star and promoted to SFC while listed as MIA.   Just recently his remains were found in South Vietnam (I guess its all Vietnam now) and positivily identified as his.  40+ years later he is finally comming home.  Its an unfortunate reminder than many of our brave men still have not come home from that country.    In so many ways this could be a sad story but I dont see it that way.  Kathy Strong never gave up and always believed in the name on her wrist- even when it was not popular to do so, even when she had no real idea who he was.  She had pictures of herself throughout the years and she always had the bracelet on.  She said she figured if she didnt give up hope, that maybe one day he would come home.

SPC Moreland will be burried between his mother and father under a full milatary funeral.  His sisters who are still living have invited Kathy to attend the funeral.  There Kathy, after 40 years, will finally take her bracelet off and place it in the casket.  Her measure of devotion for someone she didnt know, who ultimatley gave the last full measure of his devotion, is now complete. 

So today I dedicate this blog to two people, Dan Parker and Jim Connell- two friends of mine who went over there and were fortunate enough to come home.  You are proof that y'all are as much a hero as those who stormed Normandy or Kandhar.   Thank you for your service and I say a prayer for those who are still over there.