Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Dressed for Success

Our self-serve laundry service is a little sluggish these days. It's all we can do to get clean clothes. This was Derek leaving for work today. He sprayed water on the hanger creases in hopes that it would pull out the wrinkles and dry before he arrived at work.

Round 2

Last week Derek posted the picture of Gus pulling Owen's ear (Round 1). As you could tell from the picture, Owen was not pleased. It was only a couple minutes later that the bell rang for Round 2. With Owen in the left corner and Gus in the right, Gus reached out with a cheap blow to the pacifier. In one quick grab, Gus pulled the Nuk from Owen's month. Owen wanted to retaliate but had already used most of his energy during Round 1. Instead, he cried.

To ease the pain, Owen got a little time in the beanbag.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

My intent in posting these out here is not for glorification, but to document what has to be the one of the most destructive natural disasters to hit the US in my lifetime. Thoughts and prayers to those people who have suffered loss on a scale that is unimaginable.

Hurricane Katrina, once a category five hurricane with winds over 150 mph, makes landfall just east of New Orleans, Louisiana on August 29.

A levee on Lake Ponchartrain breaks and floodwaters spill into New Orleans.

The Superdome, housing thousands of stranded people in New Orleans, has parts of its roof damaged.

People in New Orleans who did not or could not evacuate in time are rescued from their rooftops by helicopters and boats.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Bienvenidos Amigos!

Amy & I were fortunate to get to visit with friends from Mexico this weekend. Oscar Martinez, who Amy knew from her IBM days (back when she actually got paid for working night and day), was in Raleigh this past week. Oscar introduced us to Martha Vincent, who is on a two-year assignment in North Carolina from Mexico. The four of us and the two little monsters got to spend a few hours together at the house discussing life, work, cooking, peach salsa, Cinco de Mayo (not actually a big holiday in Mexico), politics, and culture.

Both Oscar and Martha hail from Guadalajara, which is the second largest city in Mexico. The city has a rich history that goes back nearly 500 years. It is very interesting to listen to our friends tell of the history both of their home city and of Mexico. They also bring a unique perspective of America that we are not often exposed to.

It is not every day that Amy & I get the pleasure to visit and talk with friends who have different cultural backgrounds than us. We hope to get the opportunity in the future to share more experiences with them. Cheers!

Oscar shows us pictures on his computer of his friends and sites in Guadalajara.

Martha juggles Owen as he tries to tell her in his language that he likes to be in constant motion.

Owen is a happy child as Martha discovers the secret to his happiness is talking while moving.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Rawker!

Kudos to our pal Gretchen for finding this gem of The Rawker. This guy is hilarious!

And I must say, whenever a funny webpage makes its way around the internet Gretchen is usually all over it -- be it mullets, MasterCard spoofs, the Star Wars kid, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Letters From the Dark Side

Owen and Gus each received a form-letter post card from Dubya and Mrs. Dubya this week welcoming them into the world. It was unexpected to say the least, even though I imagine these go out all across the country to new parents. Imagine the money they could save and give back to the richest 1% of Americans with another tax cut if they quit sending these post cards out.

Melanie and Roman

Our thoughts and prayers are with Melanie and Roman. They will need patience, resilience, and strength as they deal with the loss they suffered. Melanie and Roman are incredible people, and they will eventually come out stronger on the other side. But it will take time.

Aunt Mel and Uncle Dude, so many people are pulling for you and here for you if you need an ear. Just let us know.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Round One

I think Amy is going to elaborate on this post when she gets a spare moment. I have a feeling this picture is a sign of things to come for a long time. Amy told me on the phone that when she pulled Gus's hand off of Owen's ear that Gus just grinned a big, wide grin.

Boys, boys.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Boot Camp

The Rutledge men conquered New Dad Boot Camp on Saturday. It was a good male bonding time, both for Dad and boys and for the guys who signed up for the class. Plus it gave Mom a morning to herself. Speaking of Mom, Amy had my backpack ready and the van started for me this a.m. -- maybe she was looking forward to the time by herself? ;-)

The class brought back memories as I vividly remember being at that stage just a couple months ago where you're not really sure what to expect and eager to ask questions for the dads that brought their babies back. There were three expectant dads in the class that worked at IBM -- two of whom were expecting twins, and one of those two whose wife was on bed rest. Talk about deja vu.

One of the more amusing things the instructor does is stop the class whenever he sees a dad get a diaper out for a diaper change. He then asks for a volunteer for someone to be a sacrificial lamb and change a diaper. Keep in mind, most of these guys have never even held babies much less changed a diaper in front of twenty pairs of eyes. Owen gladly played his part as he rumbled down below within the first fifteen minutes of the class. So I paraded him out to the middle of the floor, eyes wide as moons as a volunteer changed his diaper. Both of them were troopers although Owen had a curious look on his face the whole time with everyone staring at him. ("For crying out loud, Dad. Had I known you were going to show my goods to the free world I would've held it in til the break.")

Gus slept the first hour and a half of the class, which saved me. He's been really moody since getting shots yesterday afternoon so I was worried. But he slept until it was time for a bottle. After they ate, we passed the boys around the room and answered every question the guys had --What was your experience as your wife went through labor? How many diapers do they go through in a day? How long do you have to wait before you have sex again? How long until they sleep through the night? You name it.

The class is great because it's men teaching the class for men. Guys really open up in an uninhibited environment like that. And the best thing I think it does is help you realize is that you're not alone going through the experience. Everyone learns on the job like these expectant dads are about to. There are so many different ways of doing things, and advice comes from all corners. In the end, you just have to jump off the diving board and trust that there's water in the pool. Sometimes you make the perfect dive without a splash and sometimes you make a belly flop. But you get through it nonetheless.

Dad & boys leaving for New Dad Boot Camp...

...and the boys after all the stimulation slept for two hours when they returned home.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Five Sticks

Owen and Gus had their four-month checkups today. All is good -- they are starting to roll over, follow fingers, laugh, do basic arithmetic. They're catching up on the growth chart compared to full-termers their age, not quite there with the weight but making progress.

Gus was a little bummed with the weigh-in. He was 11 lbs. 15 oz. Unfortunately since he was just shy of the 12 lb. mark, he doesn't get to stay up an extra 30 mins. a night. Maybe next time, little guy. Owen weighed a little less at 11 1/2 lbs. The doctor was pleased with their growth and really impressed that Amy was still nursing them. She's something else that Amy B.

Then came the shots. Five apiece -- from hepatits to one with five initials. Not good times. Both boys gave a pretty good scream, but really it wasn't as bad as the shots at the two-month checkup. They've been conked out all afternoon after their visit.

Since they were troopers with the five sticks, I'm going to attempt to take them both to New Dad Boot Camp tomorrow (barring cranky side effects from the shots). How could I not, right?

Cheers -- have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

All Time Greatest Sports Video Game

Nod to Chris LeDuc for finding this gem.

All Time Greatest Sports Video Game

As a child of the 80s who grew up on Atari and Nintendo, I burned countless hours with friends trying to master video games all across the spectrum -- adventure games, sports games, strategy games. For sports video game enthusiasts, this contest is a must-see.

Video games bring back a wealth of great memories -- from Atari Football when I was eight to NHL '94 when I was 18 to digging through my old games with my nephews when I was 28. Good times.

My final four:
Double Dribble
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out
Tecmo Bowl
NHL '94

Yes, I just burned an hour at work looking at this. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Drawing Straws

Back in the spring before the boys were born, I took a class at the hospital called Boot Camp for New Dads. It is a course the hospital offers for men who are about to be dads for the first time. The class was recommended to me by my neighbor, and his praise was well deserved.

The class is taught exclusively by dads so you truly get the "guy" perspective on what is about to hit you at 500 mph. So much of the pre-natal experience is about mom, and rightly so -- obviously we men have it much easier in the whole pregnancy/childbirth department. But there are changes in store for dads as well -- from the relationship with your wife and having a whole new perspective about responsibility to what kind of dad you'll be and how to change a diaper. Plus there are some good tips in the class on how to react calmly when a new mom blames you for the fact that she hasn't showered in two days, slept in three, and has perfected her aim and velocity with a pacifier. So when I got a call last week from the guy who leads the class wanting to know if I would come back as a new dad and help teach it this weekend, I didn't hesitate to say I would help out.

However the obvious question has gnawed at me the past couple of days -- which rascal do I take? The coordinator knew we had twins and told me to bring both boys if I wanted. I'm thinking that's not such a good idea. I'm picturing 10:00am Saturday morning. Two boys' bellies start to rumble. Two sets of vocal chords begin to warm up. Four eyes keenly move about the room in search of Mom. Only instead of Mom, there are twenty guys in the room--fifteen of which are wide-eyed, impressionable fellows about to be new dads yet unaware of the dueling vocal arrangments Owen and Gus are capable of when they're hungry and Mom is nowhere to be found.

Since the goal of the class is to reassure expectant dads and not send them home weeping to their wives, I think I'll just take one of the boys. Come Saturday morning, we'll be drawing straws to see who gets to be the guinea pig for New Dad Boot Camp.

4 Months Old

It's early afternoon and for the most part, all is quiet. NPR is playing in the background and from time to time there's a screech from the living room as Owen tries to find a more comfortable position in the pack & play. Gus is sleeping on the futon with 4 fingers in his mouth.

Yesterday marked our 4 month anniversary with the boys. I must admit the daily routine has gotten easier over the last month. That has everything to do with the additional sleep we're getting at night and the big toothless grins. Both boys have also discovered that their hands and feet belong to them. They're starting to hold small toys and chuckle when you play with their feet. It's amusing.

Owen has been rolling over for a month or so now (before picture, Gus on the left). That's why we packed away the bumper pads and put up the second crib a few weeks ago. Being the mom, I felt like my boys had grown up on me. Reality struck. But in all actuality I'm sure Gus was delighted to have his own space and Owen, well the captain took off seatbelt light and he's free to move about the cabin.

Here's a glance at 4 months.

Road Trip Mobile

As we posted last week, we got the van last Tuesday. Amy and I are really happy with it. After nearly a month-long process of emails and phone calls to dealerships looking for the right price, color, trim, etc. etc., we got what we wanted. As Billy said when he & Elaine were here this past weekend, "Make sure you get the car you want because if there is something you don't like about it in the beginning, you will never like it and regret the decision." Sound advice.

So here are some pix. We ended up getting leather, as a bit of a luxury for us and to help with spilled juice cups that will inevitably find their way into the van. The seats fold down easily in the back so we can fit more than just a stroller in the cargo space. The doors open automatically so it's easy to get two kids in car seats in and out. Finally we are really big on Honda as the Odyssey had a really good saftey & satisfaction record, and we've been really pleased with our Accord.

Tucker has to adjust to a new "truck." Whenever we would say that word in our house, he would immediately perk up as he loved to go for rides in Dad's truck. I think he'll adapt fine as long as he gets to tag along for road trips.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Nana and Grandaddy

The boys got to see all four grandparents in a ten-day stretch with Billy and Elaine making the voyage to North Carolina this past weekend. It was a great visit as they were surprised how much the boys had grown since seeing them in May. Amy & I gave Nana and Grandaddy a hard time when we picked them up at the airport. We jumped out of the van to greet them, and they bypassed us with a bee-line for the back seat where the boys were. ;-) It was pretty funny.

Owen & Gus showed off their smiles for their grandparents. Little Gus is enamoured with his Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal. We can put him in his bouncy seat and just watch him go. He entertains himself by cracking himself up and kicking his feet, which in turn makes the animals move again and starts the laughing cycle all over again. It's very entertaining to watch.

Owen has taken a hiatus from rolling over. Amy commented it is like the frog on the Bugs Bunny cartoon that sings and dances, but when you put him in front of an audience he just sits there. Of course when we try to show Nana and Grandaddy how Owen rolls over on his side and chews on his fist you can hear cricket noises in the background. Still he entertained us with some big gummy grins as that mouth gets really wide when he's happy.

Billy and Elaine got to carry the boys in the Bjorns as we toured the neighborhood. Walks often put the boys to sleep as the stimulation and change in environment wipe them out. When they're awake, their eyes are wide open as they check out all the sights and sounds.

So the Tar Heel Grandparent Tour wrapped up its summer leg. Visits are always fun to look forward to and tough when they're over. Amy & I hope to firm up a date soon when we can make a trek back to the Bluegrass to begin a road trip adventure of our own. Cheers everyone!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Ultimate Buying Experience

Well, we got our van yesterday. Amy & I are excited and relieved. I never thought I'd utter or write the words that I was happy to be a minivan guy. But function wins over fashion any day of the week in my book. The experience wasn't without humor, as is often the case with us these days...

Amy & I always try to be cognizant of being out in public with the boys. We remember how annoyed we were before we had kids when parents would let their babies scream endlessly in public or when they would let their kids just run wild. So we tried to make preparations since they would be tagging along for the car buying experience.

I made arrangements with the dealership to go in and settle up with them at 4:00pm. The boys eat at 2:00 and 6:00 so this was ideally a good time to do it. We weren't trading anything in and I had a decent financing deal already lined up in hopes that we could shave off as much time as possible. (Jane, your son is a 'J' on the Myers-Briggs scale for certain -- prepare, schedule, organize!) ;-) Amy & I had the stroller loaded up, pacifiers in hand, and both Baby Bjorn carriers ready if needed. We were a sight I tell you.

The dealer had just gotten a shipment of cars in so they were very busy yesterday. Salesmen -- a few drooling -- were shuttling people back and forth. The finance managers were in high demand since so many people had come in to pick up their pre-sold vehicles. The scene was not frantic or chaotic, but it was steadily busy and at times hectic.

Owen & Gus for the most part were troopers. They sat in their stroller alternating between sleep and curiosity. When the activity got to be too much to process, they would go to sleep. At least for the first hour and a half.

By 5:30 they were antsy. Pacifiers wouldn't stay in. An occasional fussy shout came from each of them. Amy & I alternated pushing them in the stroller, weaving around people and new cars on the showroom floor.

By 6:00, their bellies took over. No more patience. No more stroller. Get me the heck out of here, Mom and Dad. By this time we were finally ready to sign on the dotted lines (all 47 of them -- going along with my theory of car buying being a needlessly stressful situation). Now Amy & I were crammed into a tiny sales office. We had Owen & Gus out of their strollers into their carriers, my finger shoved into Gus's mouth for gnawing, and Amy dancing side-to-side with Owen trying to hold the pacifier in so he wouldn't explode. But he did explode -- down below, through his diaper, through his clothes, into the a tiny sales office with little ventilation mind you.

Needless to say once we reached this point and Amy explained that "No, we don't need to pay an extra $87 a month for chipped windshield protection and volcano insurance," the finance manager (a nice lady in actuality) zipped us out in three minutes. I think I saw her leaving out of the parking lot behind me lighting up three cigarettes at one time.

So for anyone dreading a buying experience who needs a definite stopping point with a salesperson, we rent our children for $100/hr or a bargain rate of $150/hr for both of them.

After this experience, I have vowed to go out of my way to embarass the living daylights out of Misters Owen Frank and Gus Edward when they bring their first girlfriends home to the house. You all remember that right -- when your kids are at that age where they are easily embarassed by anything their parents do? Boys, Dad is breaking out the Bob Ross afro and happy-little-tree-painting costume -- paybacks are hell! :-)

I'm Happy Minivan Guy today though. Cheers everyone!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The eagle has landed

Derek, The Odyssey has just arrived. It will be tommorrow before I can get the car inspected.

AutoPark Honda in Cary

Reaction from Amy
(In her best Navin A. Johnson impersonation) "The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity I need! My name in print! That really makes somebody! Things are going to start happening to me now."

A Grand Time

Jane and C.E. ventured to North Carolina this past weekend to see Owen and Gus.....and to see Amy & me too. ;-) The boys have changed a lot since May -- both in their physical features and in their personalities and reactions. It was a much easier visit for all of us than the last visit. I don't mean to suggest the last visit was bad. It's just that now things are easier for several reasons -- the boys are sleeping through the night, they are more predictable, we know our kids better than we did when they were a month old, and Amy & I get more rest than we did back then so we're not accusing each other of conspiring to hide all of the pacifiers while an unhappy child wails in the wee hours of the morning.

GJ (GranJane) got to watch up close and personal as Gus found his thumb this past weekend. He went to town on it after discovering that it was truly attached to his own hand and that he could have his thumb whenever he wanted it.

Pappy enjoyed the time with his grandsons as well. He got to see Owen roll over onto his stomach and actually make it back over to his back on the futon. C.E. also got a case of local beer from the Carolina Brewing Co., another perk of coming to see the boys.

And as much as I rant about posed pictures, I even agreed to sit still for a couple. (I'm covered until 2007 now by the way.)

Getting together is always exciting at the beginning of a visit and tough when it's time to leave. But we're pretty much old pros at it by now. And there will be many more get-togethers to look forward to.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Lounge Singer & the Grinner

I had this waiting in my inbox this a.m. from Amy. HUGE grin from Owen. I'm not sure what that look from Gus is -- maybe a lounge singer-esque "Hey there baby" or a "What's happenin' sugar? Come here often?" I love it nonetheless.

Jane & C.E. -- otherwise known as G.J. and Pappy -- just left this morning to go back to Kentucky. We had a great visit with them (pictures coming shortly). The boys were really good for us. Stimulation from all the attention helped them sleep hard when they went down. Gus is really starting to react to animals & the noises they make. Elaine and Billy will be here later in the week so the boys will get to see all their grandparents before the summer is over.

Good times.....cheers!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Goodbye old friend

We agreed to terms on an Odyssey this week. We're just waiting on one with the color we want to come in -- it should be any day.

So this week was bittersweet for me as I had to face the fact that I needed to sell my truck. The truck was the most reliable vehicle I have had. When your previous vehicle had stranded you at the grocery store, the mall, on I-40 in the mountains, and been towed from the Bluegrass Parkway in rural Kentucky one learns to appreciate a reliable vehicle. The Toyota was an awesome truck -- I didn't know how many people agreed with me until I tried to sell it.

When I bought my truck in '99, I looked for a long time for a Toyota Tacoma. I knew that's what I wanted after having a lot of trouble with Ford and Chevrolet vehicles (see: Bluegrass Pkwy above) -- I wanted to try something different. But used Tacomas were few and far between to find. I ended up finding one -- a lease turn-in that I jumped on. Six years later all I had done was the basic, routine maintenance on the truck that had served us well. Trips to the nursery, Lowe's, the dump, moving furniture, meteor watching, and on and on -- trucks are very handy.

I came home on Wednesday night, snapped a few photos, (wiped a tear from my eye), and went to to place an ad on the internet. I thought I could get a lot more for it selling it on my own than trading it in. And I had previous difficulty finding one when I was looking for a truck, I was hoping scarcity played in my favor. Worried I was being too aggressive, I priced it at $300 over blue book value. By Thursday evening, I had three people call (one all the way from Charlotte) and one guy come by to test drive it. By Friday I had another half dozen people call -- one from Ohio who said he would've jumped on a plane to fly down here for a Toyota with low mileage like mine. Nevertheless, I sold the truck in less than 24 hrs to a guy looking for a reliable hunting truck.

So now we put our faith in the dealer's hands -- always a good place to be, right? -- that our van will come in anyday as they are telling us. Last night we went to a multiples club sale (which doubled as a minivan convention), and we had the only truck in the lot. So I guess it's time.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Happy Friday

Owen in his usual face down position. He gets mad when he can't roll back over. The kid is going to be so happy once he gets his mobility. We're probably going to curse the day, but Owen will be a happy soul once he can stand up and move around freely.

Dad, Gus & pup....

Not much needs to be said about the smiling Gusman....his grin speaks for him.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

It's coming...

...we should have a van in the next couple days. Amy's ashamed it's a Vee-Dub.