Friday, August 22, 2014

Superhero Poovie!

We have a small obsession in my house, and by we, I mean everyone except Brooke. In fact, the thing we love, Brooke generally does not like. We love superheroes.  I have to give my brother, Patrick Ayers, all the credit.  I liked comic books as a kid because he did.  He was an X-Men fan, I liked Spider Man and The Punisher. We have very different personalities, but that was one thing we had in common.  I was never the nerd (in this case its a compliment) that Patrick was at it related to the marvel world, and growing up the movies were terrible.  This has changed in the past 15 years, the comic book movies are awesome.  It has drawn me back, and also gives me another way to connect with a lot of the guys I work with.  Im not just a dumb, redneck,  jock, I am also a nerd (and not just a history nerd).  Nerds are kind of cool now.

I try very hard to introduce to my girls the same things I would if they were boys. As far as interests go, I don't want to treat them any different. The girls get more than their fair share of SEC sports (we love the new SEC Network), all types of history movies, and yes...Indiana Jones. They love Indiana Jones. It all started when Caroline took a liking to Captain Jack Sparrow. I thought maybe I would have a chance to get them to like some of the same things I did. She would always want to watch Pirates of the Caribbean.  Then it became a Star Wars thing, and it has now morphed into a complete love for The Avengers.

All four girls love the movies and have seen every movie starting with the original Iron Man. Many of them at the theatre. They often know more about the comic book characters than many of my friends. For instance, Caroline knew that Falcon in Captain America 2 was not wearing the same outfit that he does in the comic books. Here in Park Ridge, its a trendy thing for kids to load up their backpacks with key chains. Baylor Grace has one, it is a heavy hammer.  Thor's hammer to be precise. She likes Thor, because they both have long blond hair and blue eyes, Reagan often wears Captain America's shields as her ear rings.  This is her in her Captain America T-Shirt.
The girls often go with me to the movies to see them when they first come out.  Here I am, walking into a comic book movie with anywhere from 1-4 girls following behind.  It does get some looks.  I could not care less.

It really was good for Caroline that she liked to read comic books.  Reagan will read an instruction manual if it is all she can get her hands on.  However, with her eyes the way they are, reading a continuation of items (like a chapter book) was always harder on Caroline.  Comic books were written in a way that was enjoyable and not too difficult for her eyes. She she would read every comic book I would give her.  She is currently reading Marvel's Civil War graphic novel, which is one of their best series (and no, it has nothing to do with America's Civil War)  Now that she has bifocals it isn't as difficult for her to read, but for a while, comic books were the majority of her reading.  I was totally okay with this.  It was something else her and I could bond over.  

I think they get that superheroes are not real, but we believe in them in this house for sure.  Much like Santa, Captain America stands for everything their Daddy stands for. While girls are getting into all sorts of things that have questionable morals, most of our comic book heroes stand up for what is good. The movies are done in such a fantastic way that I don't need to skip too many parts. Maybe a little of Iron Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy (which is awesome) probably need to wait a bit until they are older.  But in life, you have to believe in the good guys. You have to pull for the good guys.  That's why Capt's shield is something I'm glad they enjoy.  If I am in a good mood, Im often wearing my Captain America clothes, if I am in a bad mood...its The Punisher.  That is probably a different blog on a different day.  

Caroline once asked me if I were Captain America? I asked her, had she ever seen Captain America and her daddy in the same room at the same time? Perhaps its what I do when I go on my "work trips." You should have seen the look in her face. Their feelings for The Avengers changed a little when Reagan told me that Baylor Grace thought Thor was handsome. Now, they all have a crush on Chris Evans version of Captain America. Hey, I don't blame them, he is a good looking dude.  

So this brings me to the picture of Hadley above. This has been her first week of her new school, where she knows virtually no one. Hadley is doing what Hadley does, charming everyone into loving her. If they only knew what a holy terror she really is. Anyway, after school on Thursday her teachers let her select something from the prize jar, and she selected the Hulk pez dispenser.  The teachers, at first, weren't sure if she really wanted that.  Did she really know what she was getting? Why would she select Hulk, when she could have selected all the princess ones? Hadley insisted, because she loves "Superhero poovies," as she calls it.  She knows all about Hulk, Captain "Amerta" and "Four (Thor)" "Fiderman (Spiderman),  and the Hulk one is the one she wanted.  I couldn't have been more proud of her. She was so proud of herself. I think its appropriate that of all The Avengers, she gravitates towards Hulk.  They both sort of have the same effect on a place... HADLEY-SMASH! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mission Accomplished

I feel like I accomplished something big today, something that makes me want to blow the dust off the blog and write about it.  As y'all know, I'm a big history guy.  I am, in many ways, an actual historian.  This subject matter has really defined my entire educational life.  While many were doing volcanoes for their science projects in grade school, I was doing one on the conspiracy theory surrounding the JFK assassination.  One of my first trips with my new (don't worry its the same wife I have now) wife, was a Civil Wargasm through PA and MD.  At one point during my first walk down Pickett's Charge, a rather dramatic point due to the rolling thunderstorm that was about to hit,  I asked my wife "can't you just hear the guns?"  She, rather disgusted at this point, replied: "No, its hot.  Lets hurry.  Its a good thing you're cute, because you are a nerd."  She meant it with love....I think.

I spent one summer tracing down my family history, and I may do it again shortly.  Now that I have kids of my own, its more and more important to me.  I was digging through all the census records I could find, just to get a little clue into the past.  Turns out, one of the most interesting stories was right in front of my face all along.

As I have mentioned before, my mother's father was in WWII.  He was actually in every major European campaign after and including D-Day.  He was a truck driver, transport guy, drove a big truck.  He said the scariest moment of the war for him was the night prior to D-Day (not the actual invasion itself).  James was slightly delayed into Normandy because they had to secure the beachhead in the morning for him to drive the supplies up.  He told his story about how he had to move every large vehicle on the ships en route to Normandy, at night, in as much silence as possible, with no lights.  He said he had to move the vehicles right up to the edge of the ship without driving overboard.  Don't forget the ship was moving in the ocean.  They could only communicate by clicks, and no lights from the vehicles were allowed.  He said that was the most stressful moment for him.   He later told me had to sleep under his truck on the beaches of Normandy because there were explosions going off everywhere.  That didn't bother him too much.  He later then participated in Northern France, Ardennes, and Rhineland campaigns.   Click on each campaign to learn more.

I could never get PaPaw to talk much about the war.  One thing that always stuck out to me was when he said "That's (going to war) just what we did.  We went over there, did our duty, and came home."  As he has gotten older, and probably realizing the bell will toll for him sooner rather than later, he has opened up about his time over there.  Now, he just talks to me about it without me having to ask any questions.  He gave me his dog tags this past November when I took my girls to see him.  Caroline gave him a Veterans Day thank you card.  Where before it was like pulling teeth, now he just talks.  Talking is harder for him to do and all of this was 70 years ago.  Some of it, you can tell, he doesn't want to remember.  However,  I can imagine recall would be difficult for anyone.  I don't claim that my PaPaw was a larger than life figure.  I don't even claim that when I was younger we were all that close.  I was certainly closer to my PawPaw (Dad's Dad) who was taken too soon by pancreatic Cancer.  That doesn't mean I didn't love my PaPaw, and that I didn't appreciate the gift of my mother.  She is just an awesome mother, and an even better MaMaw (have I lost you with all of our southern parental nicknames?)  Anyway, as I have gotten older and learned more, my PaPaw has become someone I admired more and more.  As I once told him, they make video games and movies after stuff he did.  I think what made him more admirable, is the "aww shucks" attitude he had about the whole thing.  He is, in many ways, a living hero. 

I can recall watching videos of the last Confederate soldier who died in 1959, I have even asked my father if he remembers that moment when it happened.  The last WWI American soldier just passed 3 years ago, something I will never forget.  It is now WWII soldiers turn.  Every day we lose brave men (and women) who fought in that campaign.  Each one of them should be thanked, appreciated, and talked to, before it is too late.  That brings me to my "Mission Accomplished" moment.

When I was doing the family research, I made copies of my grandfathers discharge papers from the US Army.  I was surprised to see how active he was and how decorated he was.  He doesn't have a ridiculous amount of medals, but having any from that time period is pretty cool.  The papers were something I was going to hold on to forever.  Flash forward about 7 years, and I see "my" Congressmen Andy Bar (R from Lexington KY) say on twitter that his office can replace your relatives WWII medals.  I was instantly determined to have that done for my PaPaw.  I called PaPaw's Congressman's office (Yarmouth D from Louisville) and asked if they could do it.  Ironically enough, the staff member who has been helping me along the way is my brother's ex wife.  To her credit, she has pushed this through and stuck with it until the end.  I am very thankful for that.  It turns out that all of my grandfathers war records were in a file folder in a warehouse in St. Louis.  Sounds good, right? The problem is, that warehouse burned down in the early 70's, so there was very little evidence the government had to verify my grandfathers record.  In fact, all they had were two pay stubs.  Thankfully, I had his discharge papers (glad I did the research years ago and kept those papers).  They matched the numbers on the pay stub with the papers, and everything was quickly verified.  Now, James F. Rissler's records will be digital stored in the governments files. The cherry on top is that his medals were quickly sent to the Congressman's office, hence the GWB picture above.  Mission Accomplished.....almost.  Still don't actually have the medals in PaPaws hands, but it won't be long now.