Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Turtles

Owen & Gus experienced their first Halloween, beginning the celebration over the weekend and concluding tonight with an abbreviated trick-or-treat run through the neighborhood. With a tip of the hat to Nana for finding the great turtle costumes, the boys won over most they encountered.

The Rutledge turtles anxiously await their first candy run.

Gus takes a brief respite from candy hunting with a pacifier.

Owen bellies up for the camera.

Excess chocolate will do you in every time boys. Let this be a lesson to you.

Our neighbors the Guthries got to see two happy turtles. Chad and Claudia's house is currently Home #1A for Tucker and will likely be the same for the boys as well. As Chad loves a good Nerf gun battle and Claudia makes an incredible strawberry rhubarb cake, the boys will be next door as soon as they learn to crawl.

Happy Halloween everyone.

Aunt Mel

Aunt Melanie drove up from Charleston this past weekend to visit and see the boys. She had not seen the boys since the summer so they had changed much in the past few months. It was a good laid back visit with a trip to Pullen Park and pumpkin carving on Saturday and a lap around Lake Pine on Sunday.

Here Melanie is with Ma Amy at dinner time. The boys have now eaten more green beans in three days than their father has in 31 years. Good boys.

Gus has gnawed away all but three of his fingers as we think he will be teething soon. We're hoping he has salamander qualities so his fingers will regenerate themselves by the time he starts grade school.

Owen offers up his stuffed rattle in exchange for a less-slobbery toy.

Derek shows the boys the gory side of pumpkin carving.

The pumpkins are carved into jack-o-lanterns as All Hallow's Eve approaches.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Week in Review

This past week has been loaded with happenings that I should catch up on.

  • C.E. (aka Pappy) had a successful back surgery on Wednesday in Nashville. The calcium deposits in his back were hampering him from being able to pick up his grandsons and putting a damper on his otherwise sunny & cheerful demeanor. (Joking, Charles) Kudos to him for taking the step to feel better. Here's to a speedy recovery.
  • On the sports front, the White Sox won the world series for the first time in 647 years which now puts the pressure on the Cubbies to end their 90+ year drought. My Bengals are having their most successful season in 15 years, but got routed in their first real test against the Steelers on Sunday. And my beloved Wildcats have an impressive streak going as only they can master -- in the past six quarters of football UK has 13 points and 7 turnovers. Did I mention basketball starts in two weeks?
  • Owen & Gus had their six month checkup with the pediatrician on Wednesday. Gus weighed in at a hair over 14 lbs. Owen, who chooses to burn up his energy by watching everything around him most of the day, weighed 13 lbs. 8 oz. Both the guys were high on the charts in terms of length (obviously from Amy) even compared to full-term six-month-olds. The boys' weight & motor skills were a little lower than full-term babies their age, but the doctor was impressed with their development as premature babies so we're encouraged.
  • Amy & I looked at a house in a nearby subdivision on Thursday to get an idea of what other options are out there in terms of dwellings. We decided to stay in our house for the time being -- after six years we have the colors, floors, feel, etc. that we want in our house. But eventually these little monsters are going to start moving around and we'll likely need more space. Hopefully we're a few months to a year away from that decision though.
  • Harriet Miers, President Bush's second Supreme Court nominee, withdrew her name from being the next Supreme Court justice on Thursday. This sets the stage for a major ideological debate on the horizon as Bush's next nominee will very likely be a conservative with a proven track record of experience that people can point to. The debate continues as to whether the Constitution should be interpreted literally as it was written 218 years ago or whether it is a living, breathing document that changes with the times and events of history.
  • And lastly on the political front, tomorrow is likely the day when indictments will be issued to White House officials in their role in the leaking of the identity of a CIA agent. Personally I truly think this is a very, very big deal. To me, more important than the actual leak is the issue that Cheney and the administration went to extraordinary lengths to keep dissenting opinions out of the debate during the leadup to the Iraq war. As a result the justification for the war has constantly changed, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found, and now 2,000 soldiers have lost their lives in a war of choice built on false pretenses. I only hope that we 1) hold our leaders accountable for their actions, and 2) that we learn from our past mistakes. Friday could be the beginning of a very revealing journey.
  • On a lighter note, Aunt Mel is coming to see her nephews on Friday. There will be pumpkin carving and Halloween events on the weekend horizon.

Have a safe weekend everyone -- cheers!

Lake Lure

Last weekend we loaded up the van with the two monsters, the dog, and forty-seven suitcases as we ventured to a little town called Lake Lure in the western part of North Carolina. The trip was our first to the mountains in a year, and our first major road venture with the boys (we'll count the KY trip as an airplane venture). Along the way we outfoxed state troopers that tried to get us to stop at the weigh stations because of our freight load, and we eventually made our way along winding Highway 64 to a cabin we rented in the mountains.

The cabin was a paradise for us. Game room, hot tub, great views, wraparound porch -- it was the perfect location for us to get away for a few days. We stayed with our friends Chris & Deb Holm from California and their little boy Cody. The Holms made their way back to the states from Madrid where Chris is currently assigned with IBM. We have shared a lot of great memories with them over the years, and it was good to catch up with old friends.

The occasion for the weekend get-together was the wedding of our friends Dave O & Julie. They tied the knot in a great little outdoor ceremony on Saturday overlooking the lake at the base of the mountains. Amy & I have known Dave since our first year in North Carolina and known Julie from her first days at IBM. It was very exciting to see the two of them together with all their friends and family around to celebrate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Hydrant

Some days you're the dog.....and some days you're the hydrant.

Today was a hydrant day. I took my project management certification exam this morning -- 200 multiple choice questions over four hours -- and despite much preparation and effort, I did not score the 82% required to get my certification. I'm about seven points shy of passing, which is doable but nonetheless disappointing.

Multiple-choice exams are like little adventures. So many times two choices can be eliminated and a game ensues between the two remaining. Obviously I wasn't able to match wits with the person who wrote the exam today. Sigh.

But tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow we head to Lake Lure, North Carolina for our friends' wedding this weekend. There we'll get to catch up with Chris and Deb Holm and their son Cody from California -- the first time we have seen them since my short-lived career of marrying people as a civilian justice-of-the-peace in Yosemite.

In addition, Lake Lure is most famously known for being the location where Dirty Dancing -- quite possibly the cheesiest movie ever made -- was shot. Cheese aside, don't be surprised if Amy & I come back with a picture of us in the lake like the one below.

Now I've.....had....the time of my I've never felt this way before.

I know you know the words.

Next time around, I'm the dog by the way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Study Break

I have been studying long and hard lately for a project management certification exam I'm taking tomorrow. Aiming for this certification represents really the first time I have had to get back into "study mode" since I got out of college. Studying is much more difficult at 31 than when I was younger -- two kids, job, responsibilities. I keep asking Amy to help me get back into the college frame of mind by going out to Tolly Ho with me to grab a burger and a beer at 2:00am, but she just rolls over and grunts at me.

There are a lot more distractions now than when I was in school ten years ago. I can say with much confidence that had the internet been as prevalent when I was in school as it is now, I would still be on my eighth go-round of English 101. Sunday I was juggling between "An organization's quality assurance plan contains which of the following inputs" and refreshing my screen to see if the Bengals could finish off the Oilers, er Titans -- I was going cross-eyed.

Last night I was taking a practice exam and Amy -- poor Amy -- was trying to keep the boys at bay. She finally called our neighbor Claudia to come in from the bullpen to help out. It was comical -- soup burning on the stove, boys shrieking between bites of cereal, Tucker running around from room-to-room trying to comprehend it all, and me at the computer literally with Kleenex in my ears trying to get through the practice exam. It was definitely one of those moments we'll look back on and laugh about.

So the end is near -- thankfully. Amy is probably tired of me asking her if she has a risk management plan in case we run out of diaper wipes or which statistical control method she plans on using to calculate her day's activities. Then Thursday we're off for some much anticipated R&R in the mountains. The only thing I plan on studying there is the control panel for the hot tub.



In honor of Halloween, vote for the best slasher in horror movies here. My money is on Freddy Krueger.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Wal Mart

Jib Jab is back with a shot at Wal Mart -- hilarious, albeit a bit sad because it's true. I've been known to go on a soapbox rant or fifty about the retail behemoth, but I'll abstain today. Besides, their rant is much funnier.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Battle Royale

The first Tug o' War battle of many. Owen won round one this morning. Gus retreated to his corner with his Winnie the Pooh and shook it off. Owen seemed to take a bit of sweet satisfaction. Oh the battles to come.

The boys are doing well -- a bit backed up from the cereal we've started back up (apologies for disclosing more information than necessary), but otherwise they're easy to entertain and remain good sleepers.

Big Blue Madness was held tonight -- Mom, the boys, and I watched intently. The boys got their first, outside-the-womb experience of UK basketball. Their first Big Blue experience actually came in utero during the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament last March. When Patrick Sparks hit a miracle three-pointer against Michigan State to send the game into overtime soon-to-be Dad got a little excited, shouted, and ran around the house hysterically rejoicing. According to then Mom-to-be, the boys heard their dad and shared his excitement by punching and kicking Mom from inside her belly. So tonight was their first experience seeing Big Blue for themselves. Is there any doubt these boys will bleed blue?

Other than that, it is a low-key weekend at the Rutledge household. I'm studying all weekend for my project management exam on Wednesday, and Amy is manning the controls with the boys, with a break Saturday to go to a friend's baby shower. Fall is here.

Cheers -- have a good weekend!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Diaper Free by Three...


An op-ed in today's NYT:
[I]t turns out, there is a group of parents - supported by a pediatrician, some child-rearing experts and, of course, a Web site - who disagree. The diaper-free-by-three movement - and the three here is three weeks, not three years - claims that babies need never wear diapers again.

According to the Web site, diaper liberation comes as caretakers develop an "elimination communication" with their infants. "Elimination communication" is a fancy term for "paying attention," in the same way we notice other stuff babies communicate like hunger, tiredness or a desire to be picked up.

In this case, parents watch for the kind of fussiness, squirming and funny faces that come before a baby urinates or has a bowel movement. Caretakers should also pay attention to any daily routines that the baby follows, like urinating after feedings or when waking up. At that point, it's a simple matter of holding the baby on the pot, and pretty soon he or she connects the toilet with its function, and the pattern is set.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Amy & I have been lax with our posts lately. We get caught up with keeping up with the boys and the house, and I have been trying to study for the project management exam.

This past weekend was a good one, though it went by very quickly. I ran a 5K Saturday morning, and I use the word 'run' liberally. It was my slowest time yet, but I was happy to get out there and run it. Then Saturday afternoon we were treated with a visit from the Thompson family -- Chris, Alyssa, Jackie, Samantha, and their golden retriever Sunny. The Thompsons were our next door neighbors until last summer when they moved to Pennsylvania. It was so very good to catch up with the changes we've all been through in the past year and a half -- the boys for us and new house, job, schools, and friends for them in PA.

We got to spend Saturday night with our neighbors Chad and Claudia. Chad & I were in sports fan heaven with three different football games, a baseball playoff game, and a Hurricanes hockey game on at the same time. Keeping up with that many games at once is a skill that sometimes goes unappreciated. ;-)

The weather has changed here for the better. It has turned cool, and we have had four straight days of slow, steady rain from Tropical Storm Tammy. It has been a soaking desperately welcomed. On Sunday I renewed my yearly exercise in futility in trying to grow grass in the yard. This enthusiasm will carry over into spring when everything is green, plush, and new. But by the second week of summer when it's hot & muggy and no rain falls, I'll mail it in. But hey, it's fall -- time for optimism.

Also on Sunday, Amy got some "me time" to go out shopping, although it wasn't as much as she would have liked (or as much as she deserves). While she was out I tried to entertain the boys by taking them to the park for a walk around the lake. Male bonding.....almost. It would have been much better had I remembered their pacifiers. I remembered them about halfway around the lake, at which point both boys decided to assail me vocally in unison for forgetting. We got quite a few stares from passers-by -- some sympathetic, some pretending to ignore. The way I look at it, it wouldn't be fair for me to keep their crooning abilities to myself when I can share them with everyone else, especially in a public place.

Our weekends seem to fly as I'm sure everyone else's do too. What we consider eventful now would have seemed so tame a year ago. We look forward to the upcoming weekend and the rip-roaring, mad fun it will bring. Cheers everyone!

Samantha gets reacquainted with our cat Harper (who has been in that position on that couch since 1999).

Chris and Sam with their dog Sunny, who enjoyed romping around the back yard with the Tuckster.

The gals -- Samantha, Amy (with Owen), and Jackie -- chat in the kitchen.

Amy & I with Jackie and Sam in our driveway. Chris and Alyssa got a good chuckle at the sight of the minivan where the truck used to be parked.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Dynamic Duo

We've had a good week with the boys. Action packed as always. Here are some misc pictures from the last few days. Both guys weighed in at a whopping 14 lbs today. Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Owen the 'creeping crawler'. It won't be long until he's mobile.

Gus found a comfortable position to catch some z's.

Gus rests after a hard day at the grocery store. They both loved looking up and down the shelves.

Storytime. They seem to have a favorite Dr. Seuss book!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Politics Test

42 questions here.

Go for it.

My results:
You are a
Social Liberal (66% permissive) and an...
Economic Liberal (35% permissive)

You are best described as a:

You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

This American Life

Amy & I are admitted NPR goobers. One of our favorite rituals before Amy got pregnant was to come home from work, cook dinner and talk about our day. While we did that, NPR would be on the radio on in the background. At times we listened to the news to try to get a full perspective of what was going on in the world. Other times we listened to the funny, quirky entertainment programs. One of those programs is called This American Life. The show is simple -- real experiences and observations from everyday people. Some are funny like the policeman's story of where he nearly burned down someone's house trying to get a squirrel out of their attic and living room; some are serious like the man's story of spending 20 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit. So while our days of unwinding without distraction from two little 5 1/2 month olds are fewer and far between, we do still get the occasional moment where we can relax with an old pasttime.

Last night I got the chance to listen to the show while cooking a late dinner. The theme of the pieces on the show was 'Getting and Spending,' what people do to get money and what they do with it once they get it. One of the segments turned into a discussion of doing something you never thought you would, or becoming "That Guy" you said you would never be. I immediately connected to this as I have had to eat crow many times over as I've gotten older (see exhibit #1).

The "That Guy" segment goes through several examples of people's experiences as they fight everyday conformities and eventually succumb to them. And they're funny -- from the guy who won't buy Mitchum deodorant because of the ad campaign to the guy who refuses the convenience of wheeled luggage in an airport. It hit home with me with the example of cellphones as for the longest time I was the guy who held out because I didn't want to be like everyone else.

You were never going to be that guy yapping on his cellphone, but now you are. But why? Because at this point the only reason not to have a cellphone is to be that guy who refuses to join the club, which isn't cool.

After listening I realized 1) I love hearing other people's experiences as they go through these same realizations, and 2) knowing when to stop swimming upstream against the current is a good thing to know.

Here is the audio link if anyone is interested. The segment starts around the 36 minute mark so you can scroll forward to there to hear it.

Act Two. That Guy. This American Life Producer Diane Cook investigates that moment when you realize you've become "that guy" you've always hated, and how the simple act of purchasing deodorant can lead to that moment. (9 minutes)


--That Guy