Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Get your affairs in order....

"Get your affairs in order" is probably one of the worst things a doctor can ever tell you.  It is their way of telling you that you are on borrowed time.  I used to dread and hate that phrase but after what has happened today, I have come to appreciate it more.

I got all three girls up, dressed, fed, and out the door by 7:20 (all by myself).  A task that I am proud of considering I had been up since 2:30 am thanks to Hadley Blaine.  When I got to school to drop the girls off, I noticed Baylor Grace's teacher was crying.  This teacher has taught 3 of my girls, in 4 years straight (Reagan had them two years in a row)- so naturally you become close to them.  I asked what was wrong and I was told that one of Reagan's classmates father had died (was dying).  He went into the hospital yesterday because of a headache, and was now brain dead.  Worst part is, Reagan's classmate didn't even know the entirety of the situation.  She asked for her class to pray for her Daddy because he had a headache and was in the hospital.  She didn't know he we would not be coming home.

I don't really claim to be this guys friend, I had to struggle to place his face.  I saw his wife almost every day when she walked their two girls to school and he and I would chat at the girls parties.  Again, Ive seen him now for three years in a row.  What hit me the hardest was that his daughters were Reagan's age and Baylor Grace's age.  Now the Mom will have to raise their two girls alone and they will never really know their father.  How do I explain that to Reagan?  He went to the hospital for a headache and now he is never coming home! I am positive that they would give it all up if he simply had the chance to get his affairs in order.  He wasn't even granted that "luxury." How do I resist the anxiety that comes every time I leave for work that I am never 100% sure I will see my girls again. No one loves the girls the way I do, the way a father should love his daughter(s).  Who is going to watch over them, teach them how to survive, if their Daddy isn't around? His death, or impending death, has really hit me hard and I am struggling to comprehend it.

Life is so precious, hug the ones you love.  Don't go to bed mad.  Forgive. Forget.  We are only here for a little while and we never really know how long that little while is.

In the words of the GREAT Jack Sparrow "Better to not know which moment may be your last. Every morsel of your entire being alive to the infinite mystery of it all."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Times they are a changing.....

I had one of the most amazing few days, I had to blog about it.  I wasn't sure I would get home on Wednesday, but after a two hour delay at the bridge, I finally pulled into the house for a long needed break with the family.  I should have known that it was going to be a good weekend when I get home to watch UK win in basketball.

Thursday really was  a great Thanksgiving.  We took the girls to play in the park and after naps, we were ready to eat.  Patrick came over and the girls were so excited to see him.  It was really neat to have my girls making dumplings with me and my father.  Three generations of Ayers' doing what is a tradition in our house, making dumplings.  Then Baylor Grace worked her magic when she asked PawPaw to sit next to her.  It was too warm to have a fire in the fire place but it was good to sit around in the family room with the family, watching football.

Friday was an amazing day for November.  We decided to go to the Zoo and had almost the entire place to ourselves.  By the time we left it was getting crowded, it is true that the early bird does get the warm.  Friday night my Dad and I went to the Trinity game.  Trinity is something we both share a passion for and we don't get to go to too many games together anymore, so it was nice to get there and watch our Rocks play.  Trinity is on an amazing run and is playing it its 11th State Championship game in 12 years.  If Trinity wins on Friday, they will win Trinity's first National Championship.  Absolutely amazing.

Saturday, Brooke and I went out to breakfast together for a mini date.  Later we went to the movies and saw the Muppet movie....or as Baylor calls them, the Puppet movie.  It was great for me to go there with Patrick and Mom as well, because many years ago they got me into the Muppets.  To watch it with my girls made me feel like I was passing on part of my childhood.  The theme of the movie really played into that as well.

Saturday was a great day because I got to watch a lot of football with Dad too.  INCLUDING UK's victory over UT.  This was the first time in 27 years that UK has done this.  I realized I was Reagan's age the last time UK beat UT in football.  I have been to so many games where my "sports" heart was broken by UK in finding a way to lose to Tennessee.  I honestly was not sure if I would live to see us ever beat them in football.  The longest active losing streak in NCAA football is no more.  Now there is a new longest active losing streak....unfortunately UK owns that one as well- you're next Florida. After the Tennessee game, we went on an amazing walk through an area I used to play at as a kid.  It was great to take the girls there too.  It was a pretty flat walk so no one complained and 3/4 of the crew made most of the walk themselves.  It was one of the best hikes ever, on a great weather day. The day ended with my girls helping MaMaw put up her Christmas tree.

Like all good things, this weekend had to come to an end.  The girls got up early and left to try and settle back in for our last few weeks in Lexington.  I stayed around at Mom and Dads, just to hang out.  Once they left, it was amazingly quiet in their house.  It seemed, big, silent, and empty, without the girls.  The three of us talked about life and you could tell things were changing.  Us Ayersmen don't do well with change and this one is no different.  With the move to Chicago soon, things will change.  We will no longer be a short ride from Mom and Dad's, an even longer ride to Nashville.  I think this hurts my Mom and Dad more than they are letting on- it hurts me too.  We are all excited for the adventure ahead, but it is bittersweet and I think it hit us today.  When I finally pulled out of the driveway their were tears in Mom and Dad's eyes which hasn't happened in a while.  It was one thing when we left Louisville for Lexington, this is something totally different.  When I looked back and honked like I always do, I could see them standing their waving like always.  After hanging out with their grand babies, I think they realized how important it is for them to make the effort to get up to Chicago.  Especially after Baylor Grace asked PawPaw to sit next to her at dinner two nights in a row.  Blowing him a kiss when she left helped too.  I think we all appreciated the time we shared a little bit more than normal because we know that it won't always be that way.  It was sad for me too, sad for the same reasons, and sad because I saw that look in their eyes.

I went to the mall with my girls later on Sunday, something we always enjoyed doing.  While we were at the mall we saw a mannequin with purple hair.  We had to explain to Caroline that people don't really have purple hair, it was just for show.  The next mannequin model had white hair.  Brooke told Caroline that people don't really have white hair either.  Caroline said "nope, I know someone with white hair.  It is a boy (pause) he is a grandpa (pause) it is PawPaw!"  Later on the ride home Baylor Grace said, "I miss MaMaw and PawPaw."We told the girls that  we can Skype if they want and that we will see them soon.

It was a great weekend and I realize that nothing will be the same.  Yes, things are changing, things will be different, but that doesn't mean they will be worse.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Brooke: Caroline, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
Caroline: My sisters, because I am never alone.

I apologize I haven't been updating my blog as much as I have in the past.  It is not for lack of good material, in fact I am at a stage in my life where every day something comes up.  The fact of the matter is, I have been so incredibly busy with the move, work, and family, that I haven't had time.

I got home late Sunday night from a work trip to Boston.  I woke up early Monday to take Hadley and Reagan to have surgery.  Both came out okay, in fact Hadley came out like a champ.  Reagan was/has been more of struggle but for the most part, all is well.  After a long Sunday and early Monday- I was ready to hit the road with the family and move our stuff into the house in Chicago.  Literally on our way out of town Brooke's car goes crazy and she can't go anymore.  This means we must load my truck in a parking lot and I am going on my own.  On my way up there, perhaps because of the rain, there is a massive wreck with multiple deaths.  It causes me to wait in my car for 3 hours.  3 hours.  As mad as you might get because of being stopped for 3 hours, driving by what was left of the cars does put things into perspective.  On Tuesday we got to move stuff into the house, pretty exciting right?  Well of course it would rain all day.  Then we had some issues with stuff left in the house, the day was not starting off well.  After seeing what was getting brought in off the truck, I could not believe the amount of stuff we had.  Much of it hadn't been touched since the last move.  Everything was so tucked away in the attic of the old house- we didn't notice it all.  After freaking out about the lack of space (even though this house is bigger) by about 4 everything was moved in and the unpacking began.  I didn't get finished with it all, not even close.  But with a little help from John Collias, we did get most of the kitchen done.  I look forward to getting back up there with the entire family and settling in.  There is still a long way to go but I am thankful to have a nice home up there.

I wanted to drive back today to be with the fan for Thanksgiving.  After a good half day at work,  I was making excellent time until I got 7 miles from the KY border.  I was stuck in traffic AGAIN for 2 hours this time. I was so close to home.  Thankfully, there were no injuries.  I don't feel bad about being upset at the wreck.  Finally making it home to say goodnight to the girls was reward for the 5 hours I spent sitting, stopped in my truck.  It as great to see them, even if for a brief second.

There is much to be thankful for and I am excited about spending the day tomorrow with my loved ones.  I will probably go to Trinity tomorrow morning to watch practice,  I will watch some NFL football, and eat a TON of food.  Perhaps there are even some Muppet's in my weekend plans, and maybe a trip to the zoo.  The weather is supposed to be real nice on Friday. Whatever your plans are this weekend, I hope that you spend it with people who you love, and in turn love you back.  I hope that you have plenty of food, and lots to be thankful for.  I know I do.  Its a crazy life, but its our life...and I love it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The first hard choice....

As I sit here and watch out stuff getting loaded into the moving truck, I am filled with all different emotions.  This house has so many memories, so many firsts, and so much love.  Our time here in Lexington has been amazing but now it is time to move on to the house in the above picture. It honestly feels like the last episode of MTV's The Real World, in the sense that the show always showed the people packing up and moving on, just like us. Baylor Grace walked up today and saw the movers putting some of Hadley's toys into the moving truck and she went ballistic.  I thought I was going to have to separate my daughter from the workers.  No Baylor Grace, they are not taking Hadley's toys.

These past few weeks could not have been crazier and the next few will be the same.  To top it all off, it appears that Hadley has a double ear infection, to go along with the surgery she is having next Monday.  Reagan is going under as well.  Our life is totally upside down.  There is light at the end of the tunnel and we all have hope.  But as the craziness engulfs us, I have done a lot of reflecting today, with a few thoughts about our future.

I understand its going to take more to get our family together.  Its going to take a greater effort for my parents and Brooke's parents to see us.  The drive is going to be longer, maybe even a flight.  It won't be as simple as jumping in the car and heading down the road.  You have to do it though, for all of us.  The responsibility of the job ahead of me is enormous.  I am not sure where to even begin.  I will tackle this head on and do the best I can to push forward SAE. However, I will need your help in order to do so.  

The first hard choice is ahead of us.  Do we send Reagan to public schools or the local Catholic school.  In Lexington and Louisville, there was no choice.  We had to send them to Catholic schools.  In the place where we are living, the local public school is a great school, maybe even better in terms of scores. Its newer, clean, etc.  But, there isn't a crucifix in every classroom.  Something that has always been so important to me. Reagan isn't the problem either, its Reagan + Caroline+ Baylor Grace+ Hadley, that's a lot of money.  When the alternative isn't good, its a no brainer.  But when the alternative is great- it makes it a really hard choice.  The money that would be freed up by sending them to a public school, would allow us to do more as a family and with these schools you wouldn't be sacrificing their education in the process.  With everything else going on, I am struggling with this choice the most.  It goes back to my grandmother (God rest her sainted Irish soul), to my Dad, to me, and thus far- to my girls.  It was always Catholic schools.  We will still have a crucifix in every room in our house. And the 100 year old Catholic church is  just a few blocks away from our house.  Trust, me it looks like a Catholic church, not some ski lodge like so many of the new ones.  I am thankful we have options but this is a tough call.  

Tomorrow is a new day full of unknowns, excitements, and unfortunately hurdles.  I will make it through it all, with the love and support of my 5 girls, family, friends, and brothers.  Today is a day for reflection of my time here in Lexington.  A chapter of my life that saw my family grow from one baby to 4, from a high school football coach to an Executive Director.  I will miss the Bluegrass State, and My Old Kentucky Home will have the same effect on me, as Ol Danny Boy does on the Irish when they leave Ireland.  

Thanks to all who made being here such a great experience for my family, we will always love our Ol Kentucky home.... no matter how "far way" it is.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11. Thank you.

To all my fraternity brothers who just got back from a patrol in Afghanistan, to all the people who have served....thanks for doing what you do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sometimes it is more than a table.

I couldn’t get the picture turned around, my apologies but what you are looking at is a well worn chair.  I have sort of a theme sometimes with my blog.  It started with my Dad's clothes in Gatlinburg, then a pillow case, now the chair.  Sometimes a chair is more than just a chair.

With a move that is coming way to fast, our lives are pretty crazy right now.  We are getting rid of a lot of stuff, selling a lot of stuff, and throwing a lot of stuff away.  One of the items we decided to give away was this kitchen table above.  This table is at least 20 years old.  My parents got this table sometime around the time when we moved to the house my Mom and Dad currently live in.  If you look closely at the chair you will see teeth marks where Dixie chewed the chair as a puppy.  As a matter of fact, almost every dog since then has.  My parents then gave me the table in 2001 when I moved into my apartment here in Lexington, and Brooke and I have used this table ever since.  At first it was our main table, then it moved to the dining room table.  In our house here in Lexington, we used it about twice a year to eat on, but every day I used it as my office.  It was wobbly, I had to constantly tighten the bolts on the legs out of fear it would collapse.  It was quite literally on its last leg.  We made the hard call to get rid of it, it really wouldn’t survive a 4th move.

Brooke and I love putting things for free on Craig's List.  It is amazing to us how quickly someone will show up and take it off your front yard.  We literally laugh about it.  Today, 27 minutes after we posted it, a lady arrived to take the table.  I figured it would be best for me to go out there and help her load it up since she was here by herself. She kept talking about how beautiful the table was.  To us it was a lot of things, old, worn out, beat up, chewed up, a relic, but it wasn’t beautiful.  She kept talking about how much she appreciated it.  She had been living out of her car and just finally got a place for her and her twin girls.  She didn’t say much else- just that it was a quick move.  I got the sense that there was a dark reason for her move, but I didn’t press because its none of my business.  So I loaded up the car with the table and the chairs and sent her own her way.  I thought about it and realized that this table which had seen so much in our lives, still had one life left.  It was going to another home and helping a lady and her family who couldn't afford much else.

Sometimes a table is more than just a table, it was to us, and now it will be to this lady.  When I thought about blogging about this table, it was simply to talk about the mileage we got out of it.  After the lady picked it up and told me her story....I realized this blog was about much more than that.  So whoever you are lady, enjoy the table.  It served us so well and I hope it does the same to you.  In life you must move on, don’t look back, but every once and a while you got to sit back and relax.  Now she has something to help her and her kids do just that

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Mom- our hero!

As a Christmas gift to my four young grand daughters, I promised 400 scarves, 100 for each grand child... I always say a little prayer for each person who gets one of my scarves, because you can never have enough people praying for you when you are in harm's way in any way, shape, or form. I consider being able to supply these little bits of "home" a privilege. Thank you so much for all y'all do. --Nina Ayers

Thank you Nina for expressing so beautifully how we all feel. My scarf helpers and I marvel every day at the tremendous generosity of so many people across the nation who spend countless hours and pour love and best wishes into each scarf and hat they so lovingly create to send to our heroes in harm's way.

I wanted to share the excerpt above from a website called Operation Gratitude that mentioned and complimented my mother for all the hard work she has done this past year.  I normally say things like "greatest Ive ever known," and "hero" when talking about my father.  Without question, the same can be said about my mother, proof above.

She has spent the past year knitting 100 scarves for each of her granddaugthers to be sent to the troops in Afghanistan.  That is 400 scarves....400 HUNDRED! Wow, I am so damned impressed and proud of my mother.  She has a lot of hidden talents.  We all know she is a great cook, but she is also a good painter, handy around the house, and can carve up some great scarves for our troops.  There are a lot of things you could (and should) do for our men and women over there.  This is such a unique and special item, I know there will be a lot of men and women who are positively effected by my Mom's hard work over the year.

Great job Mom, we love you and are so proud of you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A simple thanks

I started this journey over a year ago because I thought Brooke was pregnant.  I wasn't sure how long I would last doing this blog but I knew there were a few things I wanted to put down on my blog because they were so important to me.  It seems as though there was life event after life event, and now there is another.

I have been offered, and accepted the position of Executive Director of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and its three entities, the Fraternity, Foundation, and F&H boards.  This truly is a dream come true.  To think I was once a pledge whose chapter was about to get kicked off campus, to now where I will soon become our 13th Eminent Supreme Recorder...is amazing.  Without question this is a huge responsibility and a massive change for Brooke and I.  One of the biggest changes is the fact that we will have to move to Chicago.  For the most part this is a no brainer, but I can't help but be a little sad for a few things.

I first should apologize.  I need to apologize to my family for moving so far away.  It breaks my heart to know that we wont be an easy drive away from each other like we are now.  It breaks my heart because the distance is what saddens Brooke the most.  While we are all supportive of this and ready to make the move, it is still sad.  While I'm sure my loved ones understand, I am sorry.

I am sorry to Seton Catholic School.  Not only do the love Brooke as a teacher, they love all of my girls as their own.  I never worry a bit with dropping all three of them off at school. There the get a Catholic backed education and are with teachers that love them to the core.  I am sorry that their own teachers cried when they got word that they were losing Baylor Grace, Caroline, and Reagan.  I am sorry that Brooke cried when she had her talk with the principal about having to leave.  I am most sorry that Reagan will miss out on getting taught first grade by her mother next year.  Seton is an amazing place, where we had roots.  I will miss that school and the people there.  Thank you so much for giving Brooke the opportunity to teach, and teaching my girls in their most formative years.

I can't even begin to thank Callie, Brooke, and Austin enough.  They have become such a big part of our family here in Lexington.  From the first time I grabbed Brooke into service, to the first time Callie met baby Caroline and was afraid to hold her....they have been here to help.  The girls love them so much, Baylor Grace got upset today when I told her Callie wasn't coming to play with here.  You three have been blessings and no matter how far we go, you will always be so close to our family.

In case you are wondering about this house, we have sold it.  The inspection was Wed. and the contract is pretty good.  Anything can happen but it looks good so far.  We are desperate to have Thanksgiving here even though the closing will be hours after that.  Reason being, we want one more gathering with all of our family here at the house.  A house that has provided so many great gatherings.  To birthdays, to births, to baptisms, to holidays, to games, etc.  This is the house where all of my children learned to be mobile, most learned to talk, walk, hug, get up after they fell down, potty trained, etc.  This house was so much more than a house, it was a home.  And the ducks, how could I forget them?  Every April they returned and we would fatten them up so Momma duck could go have their babies.  I hope the new owner takes as much joy in feeding the ducks that come back every year, as we have.  So many memories, it is sad to think that there wont be another calendar change in this house.

I normally am good with words but I am at this point honestly at a loss.  I am humbled and excited about the opportunities ahead.  I'm proud to stand next to Brooke, and love our life together.  I am sad to leave Lexington behind, and put a few more miles between both sets of parents.  All you ever want as a kid is to make your parents proud, and I hope I have  Sometimes in order to do so you must take leaps of faith like I am, even if it means taking you further away.  They hope they have raised you well enough to do just that, even if deep down inside it hurts them for you to do so.

There are so many people I could thank for preparing me for whats ahead but I know if I start, I will leave someone I care deeply about, out.  So thank you all, its been a hell of a ride.  The road goes on forever and the party never ends.  I will keep this blog going because now, more than ever, it will be a way for my loved ones to keep up with my goings on.  You probably thought that I had always done this blog for me, but truth be told, I have done this for you.