Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving in Savannah

The Rutledge crew ventured south to Savannah, Georgia to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our friends Debbie and Chad and their two children Aidan and Abby. Savannah is a unique place with its rich history, the Spanish moss hanging off the trees, and parks and squares sprinkled throughout the town -- it's always one of our favorite places to visit. In past trips to Savannah, we've visited River Street, downtown, Vinny's Pizza, and the haunted pub tour. This visit was a bit different for all of us. Since we had four children calling for our time, we didn't venture out of the house much except for short walks to the park up the street. No matter though -- it was a great holiday getaway with great friends.

On Friday Aidan celebrated his second birthday with a birthday party. All the kids there were entranced by the balloons that floated to the ceiling throughout the house. Owen and Gus got to meet Abby, who is just three months younger than the boys, and had their eyes on her most of the time. Gus discovered his favorite toy of his young life so far -- a jumperoo. We sat him in the middle of it and he bounced, hopped and jumped for hours -- he was a kid in a candy store alright. And the boys got to meet my aunt, uncle and cousin in the DiSilvestros who also live in Savannah.

The trip was short but sweet. By the next time we all get together Debbie and Chad will have their third with Anmei, whom they hope to adopt from China after the first of the year. So the next visit will have even more going on, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Cheers!

Aidan the Gatherer loves to pick up pine cones, acorns, and pretty much anything he sees on his walks.

Owen and Gus stroll in the park on a sunny Thanksgiving day. Gus actually kicks it while Owen strolls.

Owen, Abby & Gus -- the bouncy chair crew -- got acquainted for the first time. Oh just wait until these three can walk.

Chad claimed to slave for hours designing Aidan's elaborate birthday cake. The validity of that claim is up for debate, but the birthday partyers dove into the cake head and fingers first regardless.

Gus and Owen got to meet cousin Brittany, Uncle Chris, and Aunt Betty Ann DiSilvestro for the first time on their Thanksgiving excursion to the Peach State.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gobble Gobble

Well we're about to pack up the van with two boys, the dog, and the acres of gear that comes with them and head down to Savannah for Thanksgiving. Our friends Debbie and Chad with their two littles ones -- Aidan and Abby -- are about to be invaded by the Rutledge clan.

Over the years Thanksgiving has evolved into a favorite holiday of mine. Don't get me wrong, Christmas is great and has a deeper meaning, but it has become so commercialized (stores decorated in October!) that its meaning has been skewed by and for too many people. Enter Thanksgiving with the turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, naps, family & friends, football, games, and more's just a very relaxed holiday. It's difficult not to relax with so much food in our stomachs I suppose.

Thanksgiving is also the weekend of the annual Kentucky/Tennessee grudge match. Although twenty straight years of losing to the Big Orange hardly constitues a rivalry, the Cats have been known to make it interesting even if they always end up on the short end of the stick. With UT's struggles this year and the game being in Lexington, I'd say "Maybe this year" if I hadn't been uttering those three words since I was eleven years old. Yes, it's been that long. Still, the game is part of the Thanksgiving holiday & tradition. Jane, make sure Dad doesn't do any harm to his recently repaired back while he's watching the game this year ;-)

So we hope everyone has an excellent and safe Thanksgiving. Don't overdo it on the turkey... not that turkey, this turkey. :-)

Note to Debbie & Chad, clear a spot for us on the street because we bring a mighty load with us. Cheers everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Boy and His Dog

Owen has discovered Tucker the past week. He follows the dog's movements whenever Tuck enters a room and smiles and laughs. So we decided to get the two of them side by side and see Owen's reaction. Once we finally got Tucker to stop licking him in the face -- which Owen didn't really mind -- we got a couple of good shots.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Goat Rodeos and Baby Showers

What a week. First thing Monday morning I have a message from my boss that we have a "fire drill" from the general manager of our group that is to be my number one priority. Our instructions were to provide a "very detailed deep dive" into the workings of our group -- how many people we have, what they all do, how much it costs, the whole nine yards. So I essentially worked non-stop for three days and three nights with some people on my team trying to condense our business into a handful of PowerPoint charts. On Thursday morning at 7:30 am we all got on a teleconference to take him through the culmination of our efforts. He joined the call and immediately grumbled about there being too many people on the call.

"This is supposed to be a high-level discussion among the executives. I don't know why this is even an hour on my calendar -- we can do this in thirty minutes," he barked.

It was a true example of miscommunication, bad leadership, and wasted effort of about fifteen people all wrapped into one -- a classic corporate goat rodeo. Weeks like this past one make me despise corporate America and long to do something else.

Insert perspective here. My buddy Dan emailed me this morning. His unit at Fort Bragg had just returned from being out in the field all week. On Wednesday we had a good rain storm roll through, ushering in a big cold front behind it. Our temperatures have dropped 50 degrees in just a few days. Unfortunately Dan was out in the rain on Wednesday night and stayed wet for the next two days in the cold as the temperatures dropped into the 20s at night. So when I say I had a crappy week, at least I was dry and warm.

Dan came up to Raleigh last weekend to run a 10K downtown. It was his first competitive race and he ran it in under 50 minutes. Here he is with Bill and Turner, two guys in his unit who ran it as well. Amy, the boys, and I went down to watch them cross the finish line.

As for the boys, Gus has developed into the little thief. He steals whatever toy, ring, block or stuffed animal that Owen has. Owen has started to stand up for himself a little bit but mostly he just laughs as Gus stacks all he toys next to him.

Owen has found his voice this week. He shrieks when he's mad, hungry or happy. It's amusing -- for me anyway as I don't listen to it all day like Amy does -- but we try not to draw attention to it or else he just does it repeatedly.

This weekend is baby shower weekend. In all honesty, normally I would moan and groan about having to attend two baby showers in one weekend. But I'm looking forward to these two. Tonight we are going to a shower for our friends Brian and Kelly who are expecting on New Year's Day. We haven't had this particular group of friends together in a long time so it should be a good time. And tomorrow there is one for some friends who just moved back here from New York. It will be good to catch up with them as well. Who knows, maybe as long as I don't have to swing a potato between my legs like I did in a game at the last couples' baby shower I attended, I might be a fan of these after all. ;-)

Owen gave his dad a big grin this week....

...and Gus just chilled out in the car seat. "Wassup y'all?"

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hair Metal Fever

I am overcome with pride and shame simultaneously at the admission that I was a fan of some horrendous "music" back in the day -- hair metal. Yes, the 80's was a decade that produced some pretty rotten bands with some incredibly rotten hair. And to celebrate, there's a poll to glorify them all.

My only two comments are 1) I actually saw White Lion in concert when I was about 14, and 2) Where in the world is Def Leppard??

Hair metal fans enjoy. Cheers!

(Hat tip to my pal Chris for finding the poll)

Monday, November 14, 2005


The boys got their first taste of bananas this weekend. They didn't know something so tasty exists. Both ranked their four solids from best to worst...bananas, sweet potatoes, rice cereal and a distant last place for the green beans.

Today we took advantage of the warm weather by taking a long walk.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Friday is finally here. It has been a good week, but a somewhat challenging one with the little monsters. We are adjusting their feeding schedule from five feedings a day down to four, introducing more solid foods.

Gus is all about vegetables -- the boy eats green beans and sweet potatoes like they're going out of style. He's a good eater and a good sleeper. Owen has gotten better with the solids -- he's still a little more unpredictable when he'll eat well, but he's warming up to them. The difficult part has been the impact to the boys' sleeping schedule. As they have adjusted to one fewer meal a day, their sleeping habits have changed which makes for some long days for Amy. Owen is only averaging about thirty minutes total in naps per day. So it's not uncommon for Amy to take a shower or do laundry with little Owen in a bouncy seat rather than sleeping like Gus. They are quite different these two boys.

So we are going to attempt to work the boys into a manageable schedule this weekend. Hopefully an extra set of hands will help Amy. Other than that, we have a lay-low schedule this weekend. Our friend Dan may come up from Fort Bragg on Saturday to run in a 10K in Raleigh. We will likely try to catch some sports this weekend. Kentucky goes to Nashville as an underdog (!!) to Vanderbilt on Saturday. Our beloved Carolina Hurricanes are lighting up the NHL early in the season -- they play tonight and Saturday night so we will probably catch them on the tube. And basketball season begins officially for UK on Sunday against basketball powerhouse South Dakota State -- the fighting Rushmores or something like that.

Have a great weekend everyone. Cheers!

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Good Wife's Guide

This is an actual article in Housekeeping Monthly in 1955. Even though I would love to absolutely light this up for humor's sake with comments, I would much rather sleep in my bed instead of out on the porch in the cold tonight.

My how times have changed! (click to enlarge)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Finally Fall

About a year ago this time, Amy and I were in Asheville, NC to get away for the weekend. Melanie had driven up from Charleston to pick up a car from Mom and Dad who had come over from Kentucky. It was a great time of year -- fall in the mountains when the summer heat had finally broken and there were oceans of color as the leaves were changing. That part of Fall is my favorite part of all the seasons. On the way home Amy and I took the scenic route, trekking up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Deep Gap before catching the highway that leads to the interstate. Along the Parkway we stopped every few miles as fantastic overlooks came into view as we weaved through the mountains. I'm sure we looked like "mountain tourists" getting out of our car and snapping photos every few minutes but we didn't care -- at least we remembered to take the fanny packs off when we got out. The changing colors of fall in the mountains is one of my favorite things about North Carolina.

The leaves are beginning to change over our way this week. It's a little later than in years past, and not quite as dynamic as last year in terms of color, but it is a mighty welcome change nonetheless.

Have a good weekend everyone -- cheers!

Linville Falls

Linville River

Blue Ridge Parkway overlook south of Grandfather Mountain


Amy & I have gradually been introducing solid foods to the boys over the past few weeks, beginning with rice cereal and working our way up the vegetable chain. We have also introduced the boys to high chairs this week as they are big enough now to begin trying to sit up on their own (and high chairs are much easier on Mom & Dad's backs than feeding the boys in the floor).

Gus is an eating machine. He has taken well to green beans and sweet potatoes and is now only getting about 70% of his food on his face & bib. Owen is still fighting the spoon -- he is still much happier nursing to get his food. We have learned to shovel cereal in pretty quickly to minimize the chance of a tantrum erupting.

Gus looks pretty chilled out in his high chair. He knows food is coming so he's in his comfort zone in the chair.

Owen is making progress with the high chair, but he still not sure why we make it so difficult for him with the crazy concept of a spoon.

Tonight he was so tired he fell asleep and snored in the chair while Amy fed Gus. We'll teach him later that you're supposed to take a big nap after you stuff your face with food.