Birthdays kind of lose their appeal after a while, at least that with that getting older part. If I could keep the favorite foods and cake without the aging it would be incredible.

And while 44 isn’t exactly old, it can kind of freak a person out, especially when you could swear up and down that 25 was like yesterday.

Getting older isn’t half bad, though.

I mean, I’m old enough that no one cares that I got a little tipsy last Thursday afternoon when Vince and I took Joe to the airport for him to return to California. As much as I would have loved a longer visit, the U.S. Navy is sort of strict about people returning on time, and step-mom’s birthdays aren’t really an acceptable excuse.

Downtown Nashville is a lot of fun, filled with honky tonks and live music day and night. I can attest that the drinks went down easy, but fortunately Vince was driving. And I said a prayer of thanks that the girlfriends and I never decided to take a trip there in our single days. With bars and boot stores, trouble in capital letters is what that would have been.

I’m going to have to start saving money now for when my mom and sister do come visit. If I’m drooling over the displays already, the damage the three of us could inflict in an afternoon of shopping would be spectacular. Forget the Louboutins. Corral is more my speed. I don’t know if I can find a reason to justify going back and getting those black sequined boots that I’m still thinking about, but really, do I need a reason? Still another plus of getting older.

I would like to say I’ve calmed some with aging, but Vince would probably have something to say about that, and if Sam’s comments during the last Louisiana State football game are anything to go by, well, I’d be lying if I tried to. The boys came to check on me one Saturday afternoon, thinking something had gone spectacularly wrong and was injured, but no, it was just me reacting to a missed tackle. I caught a mumble or two of “she’s crazy” as they went back upstairs. I figure it’s better if they learn early. Sam is wise enough to know that as long as it’s not directed at him all is good.

And he knows the answer when he asks if I could be louder. The answer is usually yes. Especially during football season.

With age also comes experience. Which, as I get older, I respect more and more. One great plus about being in Tennessee is adjusting and experiencing life from a different viewpoint than that of California. Shaking up one’s perspective can be helpful. And having a little life behind you... struggles and successes, joy and grief, blessings and hardship, helps you appreciate all of it. Understanding that comes with age. And while I may require Ibuprofen some days to help an ache or pain, that understanding makes much of life so much easier, and is an acceptable and fair trade-off.

My mom reminded me of those “exciting” birthdays where many plans were made for festive celebrations, and blowout parties when I lived at the ranch. Everyone should have fireworks on their birthday at least once, right? Now the perfect birthday is homemade pizzas and a scratch-baked red velvet cake, with a good chance of a glass of diet root beer and vanilla vodka to kick off the celebration.

Gone are the days of planning nights out. I’m more interested in nights in front of a fireplace and planning my next painting project (the master bathroom, if anyone is interested, as I’ve finally had my fill of lilac). Although a few of those Ibuprofen may be in order when I’m done.

So much for a quiet Christmas break for Congress.

Between the back and forth of the impeachment saga, and the disposition of Iran’s Soleimani, the New Year brought about many political fireworks, even if the outcomes of some remain known.

Regarding the former head of Iran’s Quds force, I shed no tears over his death. Period.

But the hair-on-fire reactions from across the political spectrum was something to behold. Panic attacks about President Trump starting World War III, people in hysterics about a draft that isn’t happening and on the flip side gross cheering at a new front in our Middle East misadventures.

Not two weeks after the release of the Afghanistan Papers, everyone is accepting at face value our wartime intelligence and government decrees? Sorry, no.

At the same time, I fully get the necessity, and message, of our government taking out the number two guy in Iran responsible for funding and exporting a level of evil that regular people can

barely fathom.

Don’t get me started on the glowing obituaries published in the Washington Post and New York Times, glorifying Soleimani.

Half of the Democrats, in an effort to damage Trump politically, defended a man who at best was a murderer. Insanity.

Disagree with the president’s tactics all you want, plenty do. But for the modern left to defend a regime that regularly executes gay people (among other atrocities) seems more than a little unhinged. Those looking to dirty a president gloss over the actual oppression and terror the man fomented.

No, I do not enjoy that the United States is the world’s policeman, but sometimes that is necessary.

To put it simply, sometimes the bully needs to get punched back, a little harder, to remind them that there is always a bigger guy in the school yard or around the next corner.

Violence isn’t always the answer, but sometimes a reminder that violence is available, just not preferred does the trick.

Even a basic reading about Iran’s capabilities would tell you that calls of World War III being on the horizon aren’t realistic. A draft, in the immediate future over Iran, is fantastical.

Thankfully, I am pretty sure we have a president who is less interested in nation building than I am. Also thankful that he doesn’t apologize for saying things like “[Soleimani] was a monster. Now he’s not a monster. He’s dead.”

Sometimes, it really is just that simple.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at or by calling (209) 862-2222.