Saturday, October 29, 2011

Win, lose, or draw....

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

...Robert Frost

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

There may be 7 words you can't say on TV but there are 4 you can't say in this house.

George Carlin was known for a lot of funny things, unfortunately by the end of his life he was known more for being a bitter old man.  However, when he was in his prime, one of the things he was most famous for was "the 7 words you can't say on TV."  Because I try to keep this a family blog and his 7 words rant is totally NSFW, I will let you youtube it on your own.  Well in honor of George Carlin, I wanted to let you in on the 4 words you can't say in the Ayers house.  We started this with Reagan, Caroline loved the rules, and even though we haven't really pushed it on Baylor Grace, she is the first one to call you out on it if you say these words.  Even if I am on the phone with someone from work, having an adult conversation.  She will remind me when I am off the phone that I can't say that word.  She will remind me the rest of the night that I can't say those words.  The looks from all the big girls if I say one of those dreaded words, cuts like a knife.  So what are those you ask?  Would they make a sailor blush?  Probably not, but here you go.

Stupid This word is probably the most violated word in our house (by me).  It is amazing how often stupid comes up in a normal conversation.  We instituted this rule because this word for a kid is often used in a nasty sense that ends up getting them into trouble.  We felt it was better to cut if off early so that they don't claim something or someone to be stupid, that might ultimately get them into trouble.  Stupid is the number 1 word you can't say in this house.

Hate Hate is on here for obvious reasons.  We never want to hear one sister tell the other, "I hate you!"  This has been said millions of times between and at family members with little true intent.  However, its still ugly and it is still hurtful.  We don't hate things in this house, especially each other.  No matter what context you use the word, it probably isn't worth it.  Hate is a banned word in this house.

Shut up Shut up (which I guess is two words) is not allowed to be uttered by our girls either. This is difficult to control when you hear a politician mouthing off on TV or a dog barking.  Regardless, rules are rules, and we cant say shut up in this house.  Again, our main point is we don't want the girls telling each other to shut up.  It is another way kids, and sisters, are just ugly to each other. 

No This word is sort of hit or miss.  We say no to the girls a lot, and I feel it is one of the better things a parent can say to their child.  We also want them to grow up and feel comfortable and confident enough to say no.  At this age though, they don't understand the proper context and one of the brattiest things a kid can tell her parent is NOOOOOO.  So, unless we are asking them a yes or no question- they aren't allowed to tell us no.  If we tell them to do something and they say no, they are in trouble.  I will admit, we let this one slide more than the others, but they must be cautious when they say this to us.

So while the words you can't say in my house aren't R rated and wont get you fined by the FCC, you must be careful...... if you say these words around these parts, you might get sat in the timeout corner.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Soothing to the soul.

I admit it, I have always been fascinated by snake charmers.  I don't want to be within 100 miles of a King Cobra in the wild, yet these men sit face to face with these deadly snakes.  I don't even like looking at them when I take the girls to the zoo.  I know there is glass between us but what if the glass maker was having a bad day when that piece was cut and it isn't as strong? What if the intern, who is coming off his weekend drug high, forgot to screw the lid on correctly?  Anyway, it is safe to say that these snakes give me the eebegeebees.  I am intrigued at the courage (or stupidity) these men show and the power they show as well.  They seemingly put the venomous snake into a trance and can sometimes even kiss the snake on the lips.  It is said that the snakes get in the coma like state because of the vibrations that come from the wind instrument the man is playing.  On top of the music/vibrations the charmer often moves, almost in a snake like fashion himself, to help keep the snake in the trance.  Now it is also said that often the fangs are removed, sometimes the mouth is stitched shut.  That does take a lot of the danger out of the equation but it is still interesting to watch the relationship between the man and the animal.

I have my own sort of technique with my girls that has become a ritual to help calm them down every night.  Reagan and Caroline sleep in the same room and ask me to sing to them before bedtime.  It is usually a combination of three songs: My Old Kentucky Home, Dixie, and Goodnight Sweetheart.  Lately I have been throwing O Danny Boy and The Old Man in there as well.  They love them all and can't get enough.  Each time I am done, I kiss them, tell them I love them, then they almost always fall into a deep sleep.  People are amazed at how our kids so easily go to bed.  There is a lot that goes into that for sure but Daddy's music charms them to sleep every night.   Baylor enjoys it as well.  She picks who she wants to sing, some nights its Mommy and Twinkle Twinkle, and some nights it is Daddy with Dixie. Some nights she cons us both into singing to her at different times because she is an abosulte stinker and its hard to say no to those blue eyes  she wants to hear both songs. Regardless, for the three "big" girls they all love to be sang to right before bed.

Hadley hadn't really gotten to that point yet, at least not until yesterday.  We were on our way home from Nashville and due to the festivities, they girls were passed out asleep for much of the trip.  This in itself is a miracle.  The two big girls almost never sleep in the car.  As good as they are about sleeping on the mainland, they fight sleeping in a car.  This wasn't the case yesterday.  About 10 miles left of the bluegrass parkway Hadley wakes up and is extremely pissed that she is still in the car.  She starts crying and fussing like you wouldn't believe.  At this point we were out of options.  We didn't want to stop again because we were so close to home, the other girls were still sleeping, and she didn't want her toys.  Brooke says to me "sing to her!"  She has been with us for six months and I (known as the singer in the house) had never done this.  She is crying and fussing, everything is wrong.  The moment I get two words out, she stops crying.  Like a light switch went off.  It was one of the more interesting and touching moments I have had as a father.  I don't know what it was but something about me singing to her, made her calm down.  As long as I would sing, she was silent.  So, there is still about 30 minutes left of a drive.  That was a lot of Twinkle Twinkle, My Old Kentucky Home, etc. to sing before we got home.  I actually ran out of songs to sing, had to look them (lyrics) up on my phone (yes while driving) in order to get her a new song.  You'd be surprised at the few songs you actually know the lyrics to when put on the spot and without the radio help.  I ended up resorting to Christmas Songs and closing out the concert with a powerful (at least in my mind) version of Silent Night. 

Perhaps that was just a fluke and once we got home she would be distracted or harder to sooth.  About 6:30 she got extremely fussy and so despite the fact it was a little early, it was time for her to go to bed.  She didn't really want to go to sleep, I had to go back in there a few times and she was fighting it, with her eyes closed.  So, I started to sing to her.  She immediately stopped fussing and went right to bed.  A few hours later, Brooke, Brooke, and I were downstairs talking and Hadley woke up again crying.  Daddy went up there on two different occasions and the moment I began to sing to her, she calmed down.  It happened a total of 4 times yesterday and Brooke commented on how I seemed to have the magic touch.

All in all, its a pretty good feeling that my voice has a soothing feeling for my girls. After all, I am Irish, that's what we do.  We sing at the drop of a hat, regardless how well we carry that tune.  Part of me knows that as they get older, it will take much more than a song from Daddy to make them feel better.  I know that there will be a time when they no longer want their Daddy to sing to them anymore. You hope as a parent they find ways (or you teach them positive ways) to comfort themselves so they don't need you anymore. Mostly so that they can stand on their own two feet, but also because there will come a time when you wont be around anymore to do what they need. Sort of the double bladed sword of parenting.

I have always been fascinated by the relationship between man and beast with the snake charmer.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It really does a body good!

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, today I would like to take time to thank something very special, very important to me.  That is my wife's breasts.  Now there are lots of reasons why I am and should be thankful for those wonderful objects, most of which I will not bother you with today.  The main reason why I would like to publicly thank them today is because they have nourished all four of my baby girls.  As I look at Brooke on the couch now feeding Hadley, I tried to think of how many times she has done this.  When Hadley is done breastfeeding in April, I think the number will be around 5000-6000 times she has produced a good wholesome meal for my girls.  Not once did Reagan, Carolina, Baylor Grace, or Hadley, ever take formula.  Not only has this provided my girls with extra health benefits,  think of the money saved as a result.  When nutrition was at its most important, my wife came through for all of them.  How many nights did she go without sleep while I drooled on the pillow next to her because my nipples don't lactate?  She has sacrificed so much of her body for these 4 kids that no amount of appreciation is truly enough.

My wife always had an incredible body, she is a great athlete.  When she was pregnant, you could never tell she was from behind.  She remained skinny as hell everywhere except where she swallowed a basketball.  After Baylor Grace, she didn't stay in the hospital 24 hours before she was home.  She really is strong in so many ways.  Having said all that, carrying and delivering babies is hell, and it has roughed up Brooke..... in her mind.  I can't convince her than you could never tell she had 1 kid, let alone 4.  While a little different in some areas, she still looks amazing in my eyes.  Some Mom's have their kids, then farm out raising them so they can go workout all the time, etc.  and get their body back to pre baby shape.  Brooke simply dove into being a Mom and works her a*s off to keep up with the 4 girls and as a result, looks better physically than the majority of Moms around.  So while carrying a baby might be hell on a stomach, and breastfeeding might be hell on other areas, you still look great to me Brooke.  While at times it may be difficult on you, I thank your boobs for feeding my girls so many times and you sacrificing your body, your sleep, and your sanity for them.   

Monday, October 3, 2011

What was your most memorable year?

Brooke and I were watching TV tonight and on the show they were talking about what was their most memorable year.  Brooke and I discussed this for a bit and after going back and forth, I knew what my answer was.

At first you would think 2003 would be my most memorable year.  That year had so many life changes in that it would generally be hard to surpass.  First and foremost, that was the year Brooke and I got married.  While I feel our marriage is much better off today then it was when we actually got married, it was still a life changing day.  She looked amazing, and I was so proud to be in that beautiful Catholic Church in Nashville.  Also, we won a state title in football that year that ended up being a major struggle.  We started off the season 0-4 and I learned about overcoming obstacles, keeping the faith when everyone is doubting, and I learned that it isn’t always as easy as our undefeated 2002 season.  I started my graduate work at Spalding that year and I also decided not become an officer in the Navy.  Being a teacher at Trinity was always a dream of mine.  It was a major fork in the road that had life changing implications.  Most of the time in life you don't regret the things you do, you regret the things you didn’t do.  I feel like I would have made an excellent officer in the Navy and sometimes wish I had done that.  However, I know that if I had done that I would not have the girls I have today.  Yes, Brooke and I would have had kids and who knows, maybe I would have had a boy.  Regardless- I wouldn’t change it for the world.   2003 was an amazing year, but it takes the silver.

Which leads me to the only year that could have passed 2003, and that was 2006.  2006 was the most memorable year for me.  It was my first year on the varsity staff at Trinity.  Trinity football is in my blood and still is today.  To be able to work my way up through the ranks to work alongside three coaches that I hold in the highest regard (Mike Wagner, Andrew Coverdale, and Bob Beatty) was an absolute treasure.  I switched sides of the ball which was sort of scary, but I learned more than I did in the previous 5 years, and really became a complete coach.  It was a season where we lost the first game in the last few minutes of the game, but won every other game. With all the wins that season- I also saw loss firsthand of the worst kind that season.  Mike Wagner's son- someone I babysat as a kid- was in a car accident.  You learn about someone how they handle success but I feel you learn more about someone when they are faced with adversity.  I will never forget the courage that Mike Wagner showed those few weeks.  He never hid, he faced every challenge, with his son in that hospital bed.  Not knowing what the future holds, there were days we thought Andy would pull through and days we werent so sure.  It was an emotional rollercoaster that I woudln't wish on my worst enemy.  I will always remember being in the press box the Friday after Thanksgiving (we were at Henry Clay), when the police came into the box looking for Wags because his son was fading.  Something like that sticks with you.  You might think that this would be something you would want to forget, put behind you.  For the most part you would be correct.  I can’t put it into words what I learned from Wags those few weeks.  He taught me a lot about football, going back to the days he coached me in grade school.  The lessons he taught me about life those few weeks, can never be matched.  He taught me to Live, to Laugh, and to Love.  I would do anything to not have had that lesson learned but it happened, and through it he made me a better person.  Also that year I decided to take a job at UK.  It was a major head fake that I never saw coming.  Taking that job had so many unforeseen ramifications and I don't regret it to this day.  While there are a few at Trinity who made the situation worse than it needed to be, it was a great opportunity for myself and my family.  If Trinity is what they say it is, they should have all been happy for us....and for the most part they were.  While I didn’t stay at UK long, it did lead me to working for SAE, something that never would have happened if I would not have left my comfort zone at Trinity.   Working for SAE has been a blessing and I feel a calling. We probably would have never had 4 kids, and Baylor Grace and Hadley would not have been part of my life.  I do not think it would have been feasible to have four kids if we would have stayed at Trinity.  That choice to leave has brought us to Lexington and allowed me to travel all over the world.....and might have even more changes in the future (a future blog).  It really was "the butterfly effect."  But most of all, 2006 was the year Reagan was born.  A father cannot put into words what it means to hold their child for the first time...particularly their first child....particularly his first baby girl.  I honestly believe that there is a reason that God has given me girls.  If today, I am anything positive, it’s because of those girls.  Everything changed that day in February, for I now have a love so deep that I had never felt before.  And of course, we can't forget that in 2006 we found out we were pregnant again with our Sweet Caroline.  All of that combined makes me feel like 2006 was the most memorable year for me.

In the comments section below please comment on this blog if you want, but also feel free in the comments section to tell me about your most memorable year as well.

(yes that is Reagan)

I am a creature of habit

The big girls had dance, so I thought I would take Baylor Grace to the mall and look what we found!  Originally, I was going to write this blog about how excited I was for Christmas. You cant say it is because of the gifts I get, because honestly I really dont get many anymore.  Which is fine, the way it should be.  Having kids around Christmas makes the holiday so much more amazing.  I even purchased my first Christmas gift tonight for a lucky girl.  Then I started thinking...wait a minute, I have seen this before.....

If you look back on my blog, look at Monday, October 4th.  You will see almost the very same thing, with the very same blonde hair, blue eyed girl.  One year ago, to the day, (well today is the 3rd and not the 4th but is Monday) I took Baylor Grace to the mall and we saw the same Christmas decorations.  The madness began on that day a year ago, and I suppose it starts again.  I then looked at the blog to the weekend prior and we had our first fire that weekend before...just like this past Saturday.  I truly am a creature of habit.

The years come and the years go by and at some point habits become traditions.  Some may think I am crazy and they would totally be correct. I am crazy about this time of year and crazy about the sparkle in their eyes.  Last week when Reagan was acting up, Caroline told her to be careful with what she (Reagan) was doing because God, Jesus, Santa, and Elfie were watching.  It wont be long now before Elfie joins us again. 

(Here is the picture from 10-4-2010. I see a diaper bottom too).

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Its never too soon-

I do believe that it is never too soon to have a great fire in the fireplace. Also we are having a sleepover tonight as well.  We are having a good family night.  Yes that is a mini lightsaber in Caroline's hands.