Sunday, June 26, 2011


I love Caroline, she is the sweetest girl around.  She showers you with love and kindness because that is her nature.  She is also afraid of a lot of things (except bugs oddly enough).  You mention the word snap and pops and she literally freaks out.  Seriously, it reminds me of something from Exorcist. 

We are working on her firework fear- along with her fears to just about everything- and I have found something that helps.

While at Disney, I tried the Pirates of the Caribbean ride by myself. It turns out to be a ride I thought all the girls would like.  Well I knew that Baylor and Reagan would like it but there were a few parts I knew would scare Caroline.  She has always been interested in Pirates, ever since she got her own eye patch last December. While there were a few scary parts for Caroline, for the most part she really liked the ride and took it all in stride.  As a memento of the ride, while purchasing a water for us to drink, I saw this small Jolly Roger flag and I was hit by some lighting.  See, I sorta know how Caroline thinks because she is very similar to me.  I knew that when she is afraid of something, she needs something other than her thumb to concentrate on to get through the bad parts....why not a Jolly Roger?  The flag was used during the Pirate days to strike fear in I figured it would be a great symbol for Caroline to use when she needed to be brave.  It gives her something else to concentrate on other than what it is going on around her.

One night she was having bad dreams and was crying for Brooke and I.  When we got to her, she was crying and asking for her flag to keep her brave.  Last night we had a fireworks freek out and she kept saying ...."I need my flag! I need my flag!"  It has become in some ways more than I intended and in others, exactly what I intended. 

She had her birthday yesterday and by all accounts it was a great success.  Most the family was here, the weather was great, and the kids played hard.  Ive learned in 4 years that Caroline is a sweet girl, loving girl, emotional girl, scaredy cat, and a lot like me.  Good and bad.  Its been challenging and rewarding in recent times to see her face her fears, find new ones, overcome some.  But the main thing I learned is that my life, our life, is so much better because of Caroline.

HOIST THE BLACK FLAG Caroline, time to make them walk the plank!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On On UK

This is someones house...on a Wednesday... in June.... here in Lexington.  I was going to blog about this but I feel that a picture really is worth a 1000 words in this case.  I am speechless. 

Then they do.....

Im not talking about anything other than time.  Where does it all go?  The harder we hold on, the faster it seems to evaporate. I have spent the past few days going "this time last week..." referring to some point of time when I was on vacation with my family.  That time just seemingly went by so fast.  Im pretty sure no matter how long you had with your family like that, with your loved one(s) it would never be enough.  But I can't get over how fast it seemed to go.  That got me started thinking about a lot of other things.  I looked at Reagan the other day when she went out to play with her sisters, she looked 12.  So tall, so grown up looking.  Our lives have been so filled with babies and raising kids that the last few years are just a blur.  Someone looked at our wedding photos yesterday and she told Brooke, man- Boomer looked so young (that was 8 years ago for the record).  I don't mind getting old, it happens.  What I hate is losing time.  I miss when Reagan was younger and all she wanted was me and her binky.  Sometimes I miss when Caroline was "Bob" or when Baylor Grace didn't talk.  I blinked and now Reagan is Stretch Armstrong, Caroline is a pretty little girl, Baylor Grace is a bombshell with a singing voice, and now we have Hadley.  Where did it all go?  I think it is worse because they are girls.  From the moment I first held them in my arms and their tiny little hand grabbed my finger, a father knows he is going to lose her.  That's what she is going to do, that's what you want them to do.  You want her to grow up and replace you and yet it is the hardest thing to come to terms with.  With each passing day and each birthday celebration they are closer to letting you go.  Robert E. Lee told James Longstreet "To be a good soldier, you must love the army. To be a good commander, you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love."  To be a good father I must love my girls and prepare them for the day without me.  I get that...its just so hard to be okay with.  And the further along we get, the faster it all seems to go.  

Different jobs, different cities, different houses.  This morning Baylor Grace woke me up at 6 again (like most mornings) and I was so furious- in her defense she did go back to sleep.  I couldn't wait for her to be a big girl and not do that. Later in the morning after Caroline and Reagan woke up, they barely said a word to me when they did except to ask 1) for breakfast) or 2) what does Captain Jack Sparrow look like?  I will let you guess which girl asked question number one and which girl asked question number two.   So I had the two big girls and were feeding them and I was hit by a sneezing attack.  From seemingly the heavens above I hear "blessh you Daddy."  It was Baylor Grace who had gotten herself out of bed-which  she isn't supposed to do- and was already down the stairs with two different bears in hand.  She is getting to be a big girl too.  Sometimes it seems as though we cant wait for the girls to grow up, to be self sufficient, to be people....then they do.  And we miss when they were babies. 

Dad will be 66 in Dec, Brooke just turned 30, where did all the time go? My Dad and I had a conversation about when the girls are a particular age, what age will I be?  It just all hit me about how fast time really does fly.  And it is sad. Not because you get old but because you miss the great times of the past and you understand that everything around you is changing.  Like it or not.

 We get so busy raising kids and paying bills, we forget to stop and look around. Ferris Beuller was spot on.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More than words....

You are probably wondering why no blogs about vacation or Father's Day?  I have thought long and hard- had a lot of drive time to think- about what I was going to say about our vacation, or how I would best talk about the special meaning of this day.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized there was really no way to put it into words.

Vacation was amazing, the greatest one I have ever had.  While I missed having both sets of parents there, it was nice to have time with my girls (and the extra Brooke, who was a big help too).  I can't begin to tell you about all the fun we had and the memories made.  No words can do it justice.  And let me say this, when you have girls, Magic Kingdom really is a place where dreams come true.  I dread the work that I have waiting for me tomorrow morning, it all starts again.  Since the moment we made the reservations for LBK, when ever rough time came I would remind myself "just make it to June," for vacation.  While I am so sad to see it end, I can remind myself again that- with any luck- next June we will be back there on the beach together.  God I love those girls.

Fathers Day was a day well spent.  I got to see my grandfather, spend time with my brother, and have a good dinner at my folks house.  The girls have been asking to go to MaMaw's and PawPaws house, so it was nice to spend the day there.  For the first 20 some odd years of my life, my father was my best friend.  Not because he let me do whatever I wanted and get away with all the bad things I did.  It was actually the opposite.  I appreciate the standard at which he held me, the love he gave me, the example he showed me.  Brooke and I have formed a relationship that only a man and his wife can but my father always will hold a special place in my life and Im so thankful he is around for me to share these days with. 

But I do want to end this one with a special note to my wife and daughters.  The greatest title I have ever been given is Daddy.  With each passing day I fall deeper and deeper in love with all 5 of you.  So much of what I do and who I am is because of you girls.  I want to give you the world and will work my a*s off in order to do so.  You are very well behaved, beautiful, strong, young women.  I am so blessed you were a gift from God.  Daddy's Day, really is the greatest day of the year.  Thank you so much.

So, to Dad, and Pops- thanks for everything you do and being great men.  To my PawPaw and to Brooke's Grandpa, thanks for blazing the trail.  You are in a better place and will always live on through us.  Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads out there. I hope you are honored as I am to be called Daddy. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Yesterday was my 8th Anniversary with Brooke.  We were lucky enough to be able to celebrate that date here in Florida.   We started the day with a trip to Myakka State Park.  With Billy the Exterminator and Swamp People, my girls are into bugs, reptiles of all sorts, and especially alligators.  Yesterday we saw a roach somewhere and Reagan said "those can make you really sick!"  I asked her how she knew that and she said Billy!"  So, we take the giant air boat ride out onto a lake and once we finally got to the other side, there were alligators everywhere.  It was something out of a movie and the girls LOVED it. 

After a late nap and a few hours in the pool, we returned to Columbia for our Anniversary dinner (with everyone).  This would give us a chance to walk around again and say goodbye to St. Armands.  I had joked with Brooke Ward when we were at Columbia's for lunch about the fact that Dick Vitale will probably come by-  it didn't happen at that lunch- but it did last night for dinner.  I was glad Brooke was there because it put someone else at my table that was more excited about Dicky V than myself.  My Brooke, and girls, couldn't have cared less.  Brooke Ward, stared at him through the entire dinner.  She was obsessed with Dicky V.  We didn't want to bother him because their were a few that were and we wanted to just let them enjoy their dinner (he was with his wife).  We were done and waited outside of the restaurant waiting on Brooke Ward.  Everywhere we go, we draw attention- as a unit.  I would like to think because the girls are so cute and there a lot of them.  Who knows?  Well I guess they got Dick Vitale's attention because when we walked buy ( I still didn't want to bother him) he handed us his autographed kids book.  All the girls, especially Caroline, were very appreciative even if they didn't know who he was.  He was then gracious enough to take the above picture with the girls and was so gracious with all them.  Brooke and I wet our pants.  He was totally a great guy. 

When then capped the day off with a late night family swim in the pool and all the girls did such a good job, Reagan is a swimmer now.

Today is a the last day at the beach for us.  We still have Disney tomorrow but it is ALWAYS a bittersweet day when we have to pack up and leave this great place.  There are so many great memories in this place and its been amazing to make new ones with my family.  With three girls sleeping in that room, and talking all night long- I was reminded of all the nights Patrick and I spent in those rooms.  It is strange being here without them, maybe next year we can all be here together, but it has been a great trip.

One more day here, I will soak it all in.

Monday, June 13, 2011


This is Reagan
This is Reagan jumping off the side of the pool.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A day in pictures

We woke up (earlier than desired thanks to Baylor Grace) in a hotel in Valdosta GA.

Then after a drive in the car we finally made it to the beach.  The excitement was just too much for some of us and after pooping everywhere, we just needed a nap.  And boy did we love the ocean breeze and sounds of the waves crashing.

So we played and played at the beach.  Caroline went from being afraid of the water to wanting bigger waves in the ocean.  But eventually it was time for us to go eat at Moore's, our first night family tradition.  Some of us had been working hard in the sand and were not too pleased about leaving.
But all good things must come to an end.  Our first night on LBK was through.  And after a later than normal dinner, bed time, it was finally time to call it a day.  Some of us were more ready for bed than others.
Ahh the joys of a Griswold family vacation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Southerner and a Cause-

There are two types of people who are all about their "Cause."  The first group of people are Southerners.  We are raised on stories of "The Lost Cause."  Stories of our brave brothers in arms who went off to fight the tyranny of the Yankee Government.  We know our history better than those who teach it to us, we never let it die, and we comfort our crying babies with songs about Dixie, and the Bonnie Blue Flag (hey Caroline says it sounds like a pirate song).  When we talk about "The War" it is only about a time period from 1861-1865.  Not the Revolution, not WWI, WWII or any other conflict. We name our boys names like Jackson, Davis, Forrest, and our girls Savannah, Georgia (pronounced Jo-Jah), Dixie, and Caroline. Us Southerners love our Lost Cause. 

The second group of people that are wrapped up in their cause are Catholics.  You have a Saint dedicated to every cause out there including one (St. Jude) dedicated to lost causes. I suppose that is a Southerners dream Saint.  Every thing us Catholics do, we do for a cause.  I ran in a race on Saturday and it was for the St. Vincent DePaul Society.  We eat. sleep, breathe, other peoples struggles.  In my opinion that is one of those things that makes my religion great.    I guess being a Southern Catholic, I had no choice.  I am a sucker for a cause.  Every time someone comes to the door trying to sell something for their trip to DC, I have to at least listen to their pitch.

I have debated on writing this blog for a long time- Im not sure I would be able to do it and get across the correct point. I wasn't sure I would have the "courage," to actually write about it.  I don't pretend to understand the struggles they go through and I hope this comes across correctly.  I do so write this blog ONLY to bring awareness to something a few years ago I knew very little about.  It is scary to see on regular basis but through it I can find some remarkable slithers of beauty and strength.  I see it though the carefree eyes of a child and through the resolute look that only a parent can give.

My neighbors have two grandchildren, Mason and Sadie.  Reagan, Caroline, and Baylor Grace, all love it when they come and visit next door.  They get excited when they see their mothers SUV outside and they play, and play, and play together outside.  From a distance it appears as though you have 5 kids being kids, the most basic desire for any parent.  Up close is a different story.  Both Mason and Sadie are inflicted with a disease called A-T.  I don't even know the actual name, and like mentioned above, I didn't know anything about it before I moved to Lexington.  I encourage you to go hear to read more about A-T.  Essentially it is a disease that effects the motor function of a child and impedes their movement and speech first.  It then breaks down their immune system and many of the kids end up with some form of Cancer.  It is ultimately a dehibilitating disease- that is sort of like Lou Gehrig's disease for children.  And like ALS, there is only one ending.  We all know we are on borrowed time but we almost never think about it.  If someone asked us "would you want to know the day you are going to die?" most would decline.  There will always be a tomorrow, in our minds there will always be another day.  Another day to tell that person you love them, you are proud of them, or the hardest one- you are sorry.  We know our days are numbered but we think and we act as if they are unlimited.  Unfortunately for kids with A-T, those days are numbered in the cruelest way.  Through twitter, facebook, and her blog, I have become aware of the struggles their Mom faces through her words.  I hurt so much for them and admire the strength that they show.  I haven't been able to shake the anger and the hurt I sometimes feel inside about the situation.  While running, a sleepless night, or on a long drive, I often find my thoughts wondering to those kids and their family.  I seem to walk a tight rope between being thankful for the health of your own kids, pissed because of their kid's health, and a feeling of total helplessness.  I can only imagine what their Mom and Dad go through.   

Anyway, I have learned that kids will say anything.  Reagan, in front of everyone, has told someone that he had a big belly.  Caroline, openly asked why a female passer by had a mustache?  You never really know what will come out of their mouth.  To the girls credit, they have never said a word about Mason and Sadie's disability, and never once on the side asked any questions to us.  The other day, Reagan was trying to teach Mason how to play catch.  They simply treat them as they would one of their own. Im so fricking proud of my girls for looking past any imperfections and in a sense, realizing we all have them.

But I struggle with the ultimate fate of those two kids- and someday having to explain that fate to my girls.  I can't imagine how hard that will be when that day comes, and to think that having to explain that to my girls is the easier parental role to have to play out.  I'm not sure I can do much to help, no matter how bad I want to.  So, I write this today to hopefully make you more aware of the disease.  I think more than anything Mason and Sadie's Mom and Dad don't want sympathy- just awareness.   If you're on Facebook, I encourage to visit their page at!/pages/A-T-Lexington-Team-Mason-Sadie/213756251987915 to find out more.  The other day- one spent around taking both her kids for another day at UK hospital, Kerri posted this poem (below).  I think most parents, in their heart of hearts, believe this will happen for their kids.... while some parents can only wish.  I pray to God their wish comes true.

Each night I tell the Lord above
I wish for you to experience true love
To marry and have your own little ones
To go to college and maybe have too much fun
To feel the wind upon your face
After completing your first marathon race
To see you walk down the aisle
Nervous but happy with a great big smile
To get to drive a big truck or small car
With the open road ahead to go far
I wish for you to have your voice be heard
For people to always have a kind word
I wish for you to reach for your dreams
Whether big or small, having fun in between
I wish for you to hold your head high
To believe in  yourself, to always try
I wish for you a long and  happy life
Full of possibilities and free of strife
So please Lord hear my wishes today
What the future holds I cannot say
A dream is a wish your heart makes
My heart wishes these dreams will take

Friday, June 3, 2011

Just so you know, Im HUGE in Croatia.

All the girls are out picking berries and have been for a while.  I am home by myself and hopefully done with work on this Friday (half day).  I wanted to take this down time to mess around with the blog a bit so that when a loyal reader comes by they see some new things.  I joke that of the over 8000 views of my blog, almost all where from me or my parents.  I at least want Mom and Dad to see new pictures or something when they come by for a visit.   While that is still probably true I was pretty excited to find out that there is a way for me to tell where from all over the world, people have viewed my blog.  I was honestly shocked to see where some of those places were. Twice someone in China has viewed my blog, not one- but two.  I am sure that person was killed for searching an American's blog and he/she was never heard or seen from again. I mean Google isnt even allowed into China but I am.  It is a safe bet that all of them came upon my blog accidentaly.  Perhaps a keyword search on yahoo sent them to my place for a while.  Whatever reason they came, they came just the same.  My hope is that the day they visited, they took the time to read whatever my most recent post was.  And perhaps, with any luck, I brought my A game that day.  They probably will never return here but my wish is that when they left they thought that whomever this blogger is, he really loves his kids, his wife, his family, and this up and down rollercoaster of life.  Maybe, just maybe. 

United States
United Kingdom

The Hangover Part II

Last night after we put the girls to bed I went to the movies to see The Hangover II.  The above youtube video is a Billy Joel song that was in the movie.  It doesn't have anything to do with the movie except it was played during a scene when they were landing in Thailand.  Turns out I really like the song.  Anyway, go see The Hangover II.  Is it is funny as the first one? Probably not.  The first one was one of the funnier movies I have seen in my life.  Is it the same basic movie as the first one? Yes.  Were we surprised when The Griswolds European vacation didn't go as planned?  Wait, there was mob killing in Godfather 2?  Regardless, it is a very funny movie and I'm pretty sure you will laugh out loud.  Laughing is one of those natural elixirs that make you feel better regardless of what is going on.  When you think about it, how often do you push inhibition aside and just laugh out loud in front of strangers?  It will probably help to see the first one before you do if you havent already, almost the entire cast returns.  They were smart too because they each took a % of the ticket sales.  Go see the movie and enjoy the "magic show!"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Playing For Change

I saw this on the news this morning.  It was one of the coolest and most inspiring things I had seen in a while.  Basically a guy with a video camera and an apple computer went around and recorded some of the "best" street performers singing the same song.  He then edited it together and boom- magic.  They have since released albums and he has brought them together for a tour.  Really pretty cool, with some great songs on youtube.  Playing For Change- sometimes "hope and change" are very real and very cool.