Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An Antibiotic Yuletide

Our first Christmas in our new house with the boys did not turn out as we expected. Late last week Owen & Gus each caught the cold & fever virus that wiped out the young Rutledge lads for five days strong. As a result naps were short, fuses were short, and some pacifiers were called in from the bullpen to salvage the holiday. Luckily for us GJ and Pappy were in town for a few days to lend a helping hand and keep the holiday spirit alive.

Despite the colds and fevers and much like in Whoville when the Grinch stole all the toys, decorations, and roast beast, Christmas still came. The four adults pulled Owen out of the sick bay long enough to sit in Santa's lap since he had missed the opportunity when the Poseys were in town. Amy and I got to attend our Christmas Eve service, and we all gathered round the tree for a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, a new tradition. We didn't let the sickness turn the house into a full-blown infirmary. There were still happy hours and some quality family time which is the best part of Chrismas anyway. Cheers!

Amy & GJ chat scarves, handwork and babies.

Gus goes to work on his new latch puzzle from the Guthries.

Owen Deere is in heaven with more tractors.

Owen patiently waits for Pappy to unharness the Sesame Street pirate ship with Elmo ("Melmo") at the captain's post.

The Rutledges pause for a seat in Santa's chair while he slips in through the trap door for the photo so the boys wouldn't be scared away.

A Merry Multiples Christmas

The Rutledge crew was treated to a visit by the Posey family last week leading up to Christmas. Uncle Scott, Aunt Ashley, Mason, Brooke and Gavin made the trek across three states to spend three days with us here in Apex. Despite the long trip and some gloomy weather, the two herds had a great time together in celebrating the holidays.

The highlights & images...

  • Securing a spot in Santa's lap
  • The Polar Express
  • Ice skating at Tinsel Town
  • An acre of sugar cookies
  • Lots of home-cooked grub
  • Wheel of Fortune (including a spaceship and a trip to New York)
  • Marty McFly and Back to the Future (1.21 gigawatts, Great Scott!)
  • Playroom with the boysJackson chasing the Tuckster

The Posey family with Owen & Gus at Tinsel Town.

The crew poses for a Christmas photo before opening presents.

Jackson pauses for a moment of relaxation before searching for Tucker's heels.

Gavin perfects his video game skills as Brooke and Mason compose a Christmas melody.

The crew invades Santa's garage and lap for a photo. (Owen crashed with his dad at home with a fever & cold.)

Our bellies were filled with a sugar cookie bonanza...

At Tinsel Town, there were ice skating exhibitions...

by Mason...


...and Brooke.

Monday, December 18, 2006

"Nothing New Here...And That's the Point"

As the crunch sets in during the last few days before Christmas, here is an interesting read about a group of people in California who have pledged to not buy anything new throughout the year in the face of our modern consumer-obsessed culture.

Personally the execution of such a pact would drive me insane. But the intention is good -- simplify. I could go for some of this -- although new socks are a necessity. ;-)

Food for thought. Cheers!

"We didn't do this to save the world. We did this to improve the quality of our own lives," Perry says. "And what we learned is that we all have a lot of more stuff than you think, and that you can get along on a lot less stuff than you can imagine."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pre-Christmas Tidbits

Thoughts & updates this week as I struggle to keep my head at work and off of dancing sugarplum visions....

  • Thanks again to GJ for coming to North Carolina to visit and help out with the boys last week. We got a lot of things done that had been lingering around since the move and eating at us. We all had a tremendous time.

  • Amy had a ladies' night out on Monday leaving the boys in the care of their dad. I'm happy to report that the house was still standing when she returned, and the boys suffered no injuries that will result in scars.

  • I am wholeheartedly looking forward to a guys' weekend after Christmas to attend the Music City Bowl in Nashville. The last Kentucky bowl game I attended was in 1984 when I was 10 which coincidentally (?) was the last time the Cats were victorious in the postseason. Therefore despite all the antagonistic emails I receive from a Clemson fan who will rename nameless (from Boston....former IBMer....Pats fan....professional Jeff Tweedy supporter), I am confident that the 22-year bowl drought ends on December 29. Marty Moore will sleep well this New Year's. Clemson is going down! ;-)

  • The boys are noticing Christmas things more and more. Last week when we went to pick up our Christmas tree, we had two extremely fussy ones in their car seats until we drove by a house that would make Clark Griswold blush -- lights everywhere, giant straw figures of little drummer boys, plastic Santas, reindeer, snowmen, you name it. Once the boys saw this they were mesmerized. Owen has picked up on snowmen -- "nano" and "nanomen" in toddler-speak. If only snowmen drove trucks or tractors I think the boys would faint from overstimulation. It really is fun to watch them noticing these things more and more.

  • We are getting ready for the arrival of the Posey crew to North Carolina next week. The old-school Nintendo will be dusted off, and the boys will certainly be primed to see aunt, uncle and cousins.

  • The countdown is approaching for the arrival of Baby Crumpton -- it's just a few weeks away. I am ready to start taking bets on a baby boy or a baby girl. Personally I am undoubtedly convinced that Melanie & Roman are having a girl. Perhaps it's simply that I am getting payback by having boys for all the things I did as a child that it's only fair that Mel have a girl so she gets the same reciprocation. ;-) Whatever the reason, my gut says little girl.

  • Finally, The Office returns tomorrow with its Christmas episode which from the write-up looks tremendous. We will be glued to the tube at our house for this one. And the annual Kentucky/Louisville matchup is this Saturday. I know our friends in Louisville look to this game every year as the event to determine whether the next twelve months are spent gloating to or suffering taunts from Cardinal fans. The UK flag will be flying from the Tar Heel state.

Cheers all!

Friday, December 08, 2006

GJ, Stretch & Grow, and Booger Mountain

Nine days between blog posts is entirely unacceptable....

GJ is in town this week. We picked her up at the airport on Sunday, and it's been non-stop action all week. The boys have enjoyed having their grandmother around and are very happy with the extra attention. Of course Gus loves the expanded audience as he gets tired of trying to entertain his parents over and over.

While we have had an extra pair of hands around, Amy finished painting the office this week. One more room to go! (And believe me, neither of us are in a hurry to pick up the paintbrush for that last room -- we've about had our fill.) Finishing the office was key though because that's where the Christmas tree is going. We are starting to get into the Christmas spirit, and having this done gives us the nudge to start decorating the house. Amy & Mom also cleared out the remainder of the garage this week so we can now park the car there for the first time since we moved in. Another milestone that probably seems small but is huge for the Rutledge family!

Amy & GJ took the boys to Stretch & Grow class this week. There the boys get to run around, play with basketballs, hula hoops, slide on slides, act like animals, and sing songs. No wonder being a kid is great -- we adults just give up these things at a certain point. I'm taking a hula hoop to work for my own Stretch & Grow class -- are you with me? Ok, maybe not.

Finally, the crew went searching for the family Christmas tree last night. The weather turned bitter cold as last night was the coldest night of the year so far. The boys didn't care about the cold though as they strapped on their hats, their jackets and ran circles through the trees. (Owen was more interested in the trucks that passed by on the highway, but he had the spirit.) Claudia joined the hunt and brought their truck to haul away a tree from the Booger Mountain Christmas tree farm. Because you haven't had a Christmas until you've had a Booger Mountain Christmas.

Have a good weekend everyone -- cheers!

From the Apex Christmas parade last weekend....we didn't get to stay for the whole thing as there was a stoppage halfway through, but two boys got to see trucks, a firetruck, and a band so they were happy. Here's Mom and the boys waiting for the start.

Owen was a happy little camper when we told him trucks would be coming through. Anticipation, anticipation!

Stretch and Grow is the way to go for little ones. Our two hoard the slide.

GJ explains to Rudolph here that he's about to go on a Christmas tree hunt.

"March! Trees this way, c'mon GJ!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Should I Get a Dog or Have a Child?

Hat tip to my buddy Mike Mankowski for this one. (Note these are not our pictures -- thankfully!)

Although we once had our dog mutilate a couch like this one, luckily we haven't had boys repaint our house.




....or Child

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Turkey Week Hangover

Random thoughts after a holiday week....

The Thanksgiving break was a good reprieve from work for me, and Amy & I got to spend quality time with the boys, all four of us. Of course we didn't take enough time to relax, spending the boys' naptime and bedtime painting, putting up blinds, fixing up the house etc. Alas the move-in continues and probably will for a while, but we are really starting to put our imprint on the house making it our home. Rome wasn't built in a day, right?

One of my favorite things about the holidays is how they break up the normal routine. And while routine is good and saves us as parents, it can also be a trap in that we don't break away from the same things often enough. Last week gave us a chance to do some of things out of the ordinary, regardless of how small they were -- all four of us going to the park on a random morning, playing with the boys and the dog outside in the middle of the day, etc. Taking a break from the day-in, day-out routine is a good thing sometimes.

On the sports front my beloved Wildcats came up short against their nemesis Tennessee on Saturday. It was one of those games where I thought Kentucky outplayed the Vols and had the game in hand with the ball inside the 10-yard line in the waning minutes. Yet an ill-timed penalty and the lack of ability to finish off a team once again doomed Kentucky. Winning is the only thing that changes that mentality -- the ability to know you are going to come out on top in these close games. Coach Rich Brooks made a lot of strides with this team this year, and hopefully he will build on that next year so they can win these games, especially against the Big Orange. Still I'm hopeful for a bowl bid to either Nashville or Memphis so I can see the Cats play for the first time in a couple years.

Folks in our neighborhood started decorating for Christmas this weekend. We have everything from nice, quaint lights & wreaths to Santa, reindeer, & snowmen elbowing each other for position on lawns -- the Clark Griswold-style lawns. Although our preference is more on the subtle decorating side sometimes walking through the neighborhood to see the "busier" houses is fun. The boys love reindeer after all -- Gus & Owen neigh in unison like horse swhen they see them. Amy & I may dive into some Christmas decorations this weekend -- we'll see.

Finally we are excited about visitors coming through the Tar Heel state in the coming weeks. GJ is coming this weekend to spend some time here with us and the boys -- hopefully this visit will be easier than the last time she & Pappy were here when we were moving. (We won't put you to work quite that hard this time Mom, I promise.) ;-) The boys will be anxious to show off their "dactors" and "tucks" -- they are both on a major tractor and truck kick right now as little boys are known to do. After that visit the Poseys and both sets of grandparents will be coming to town around Christmas. We'll have all the boxes out of the way by then.

Aunt Mel only has six more weeks to go before she & Roman get an addition to their household. Could be a holiday surprise....

It's getting to be Vince Guaraldi time -- cheers!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gobble Gobble

Amy & I are preparing for our first Thanksgiving in our new abode with the boys this week. We got a small turkey yesterday and some fixins. We are going to teach the boys the joys of eating until you can't move and making an imprint in the couch while you sit and watch football. Ah, Thanksgiving -- I love it!

This year will will be a different Thanksgiving as we won't be spending it with any of our extended families. Billy and Elaine are going to Knoxville to watch the Tennessee/Kentucky game (watch out Billy -- this could be the year!) ;-) C.E. and Jane are trekking down to Charleston to spend the weekend with Aunt Mel and Uncle Dude. But Amy & I are really looking forward to a few days where we can relax and continue to get settled into our house (we still have painting to do and boxes to sort through). We'll make sure we eat enough for everyone else. Have a great Thanksgiving -- cheers!

Owen & Gus check out Dad's workshop where the wind chimes are at the perfect height.

"Scatter brother! Quick, before they make us help them rake all these leaves!"

"I would help rake leaves, honestly I would. But there are just so many things to ponder when you think of all the leaves that have fallen. I think I'd rather just sit and think of them."

"Here you go Dad, two handfuls of help from me."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Animal Babysitters

Our post-dinner ritual in entertaining Owen and Gus got some relief last night. In the past Tucker hasn't had too much to do with boys. He gets grumpy at being tugged, pulled, poked, and prodded. So when the boys come near him, he normally gets up and moves to the other side of the room or leaves altogether. Last night however Owen coaxed Tucker into a game of tug rope which left two boys and a dog wildly entertained and tired. It also two parents very glad to have found entertainment help. Long live good dogs!

Playing with the dog went on for a good half hour and would have continued had we not had a cat sighting. Now if we could just get Dutch and Harper to play with the boys like the dog does, Amy & I would leave the babysitting to the animals! ;-)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Exorcising the Ghost of Marty Moore

At the risk of counting chickens before they hatch, putting the cart before the horse, and jinxing the current good fortune of Kentucky football all within the same blog post, I had to post this now given the good feeling that surrounds the Big Blue football program. And seeing how rare it is that UK gives its football fans the opportunity to feel good, I may not have this opportunity for another 5-10 years. So here goes.

When November rolls around fans of the University of Kentucky typically have their eyes exclusively peeled to the upcoming basketball season, and football lingers like an unwanted gnat. The Vanderbilt game is nearly always a gray, dreary matchup of the cellar dwellers in the SEC. By the time the Saturday after Thanksgiving gets here, Commonwealth Stadium is infiltrated by waves of orange and the incessant -- some would say obnoxious ;-) -- rumblings of "Rocky Top" can be heard in full blare. Occasionally the UK football fan is still clinging to the hope of a winning record heading into the final game of the season, but a win over Tennessee in the finale hasn't happened for 21 straight years.

This season is a bit different. For the first time since 1999 Kentucky has qualified to go to a bowl game. The team should be 7-4 by the time the annual grudge match with the Vols rolls around next week. The Cats have a young team dominated by underclassmen and are led by an underrated quarterback who has made the transformation from indecisive and turnover-prone to confident and explosive. UK has won its last three games including an upset over periennal power Georgia and a fourth-quarter comeback against a better-than-average Vandy.

So with this rare feeling of good fortune comes an extension to the football season that has me looking ahead to bowl possibilities. The most likely candidates for Kentucky would be the Music City Bowl in Nashville or the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. But an outside possibility exists for an invitation to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. Several things would need to happen, not the least of which is a Kentucky victory in Knoxville next week. Despite the fact that I predict such a victory nearly every year ("No this really is the year") and despite the fact that my spy (my friend Eric who is a grad student at UT) is nearly guaranteeing that the streak will end this year, a win at Tennessee will be difficult as it always is.

Still for a moment let's assume the Cats continue their improbable run and finish 8-4. (I'm up to eleven chickens now I know.) This would put Kentucky in second place in the SEC East, and the Peach Bowl would definitely be within the realm of possibility. As the Peach Bowl pits SEC vs. ACC, a potential matchup could be against Clemson which would reunite the two schools from their clash in 1993 when I was a freshman at UK.

Such a scenario is the ideal cap to a solid season -- a chance to end many a bad streak: the losing skid to the Big Orange, the ghost of Marty Moore, the 22-year drought without a bowl victory. Don't get me wrong. There are still plenty of ghosts to be exorcised: the last second Chris Doering TD catch against Florida, the horrendous Hail Mary loss to LSU, and so many more. But with such a history of awful defeats, UK fans can't expect them all to be erased in one year.

Here's hoping the good fortunes continue and some ghosts are on their way out. Cheers!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

C - A - T - S

Bowl eligibile for the first time in seven years. Assuming they win next week, they'll be 7-4 heading into Knoxville for the showdown with Tenneesee. Not bad for ole Rich Brooks & co.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Midterm wrap-up

Hear, hear...

E.J. Dionne - "Meeting in the Middle"

American voters, in their wisdom, ended an era on Tuesday. They rejected a poorly conceived war policy in Iraq that has weakened the United States. They rejected a harshly ideological approach to politics that cast opponents as enemies of the country's survival. They rejected a president so determined to win an election that he was willing to slander his opponents by saying: "The Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses." The voters decided there was no decency in that.

No longer will the national tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, be used to undermine the opposition party. It was only after he was forced to do so by an electoral defeat that President Bush called for genuine bipartisanship yesterday. Imagine what the world would look like if he had done that a year or two ago.


This election creates an exceptional opportunity to move from blind ideology to problem-solving and from stupid divisiveness to a politics of remedy and reconciliation. The Democrats had better make it work.

Monday, November 06, 2006

V - O - T - E

If we don't vote, we don't have the right to complain about anything.

Fall Fun in Charleston

Anxious for a much needed break from unpacking boxes and wanting to see Aunt Mel and Uncle Dude (and baby X on the way), Amy & I loaded up the boys, high chairs, suitcases & toys for a weekend down in Charleston. It was a brisk weekend with temperatures staying 50s and 60s during the day and down into the 30s at night -- great autumn weather. We had a tremendous time -- playing with the dogs, going to Harvest Fest to see local bluegrass bands and tractors galore, and vegging out while talking kids over CSI reruns.

Melanie and Roman aren't finding out if they're having a boy or a girl in early January, but my money's on a baby girl to join the family. It won't be long...

Gus sweet-talks Mom & Aunt Mel into taking him on a hayride.

Owen was in heaven with all the "dactors" that awaited his exploration.

Owen even finds one that is the right size. "How much for this one please, sir?"

Several local bands gathered onstage for some bluegrass music Charleston-style.

Back at la casa, T-Cuz, Chloe and Tera are forced to watch feeding time from the deck. Chloe and Tera will very likely make the transformation from dog to vulture at feeding time just like their cousin Tucker.

A beaming Gus reunites with his canine soulmate, Ms. Chloe.

The crew poses for a snapshot after a fun day at Harvest Fest.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Politico Friday

It's been a while since the last Politico Friday. Since midterm elections are this coming Tuesday, and since I think this Friedman NYT editorial speaks volumes of truth, PF returns.

Thomas L. Friedman - Insulting Our Troops, and Our Intelligence

Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century — to bring out the best in us. His “genius” is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country’s health, prove him wrong this time.

Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq — and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate — it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we’re as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don’t think we’re that stupid. Next Tuesday we’ll see.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Release the Hounds

We had a tremendous Halloween. The neighborhood was decorated, kids filled the streets running from house collecting candy and the adults took some time to chat in the streets. The boys proudly displayed their canine costumes and loved being outside watching all the other characters trick-or-treating. It was a great night had by all!

The dog pound

Still working on the 'sit' and 'stay' part. Obedience school? Note, Gus is upside down on the left.

Run, I have the keys!!

The boys ended the night relaxing on the neighbor's swing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from our little pumpkin monsters to yours!

BTW, we closed on the old house today. Not without jumping over some more hurdles yesterday with deck encroachments, utility easements, yadda yadda, but 'tis a done deal. The house ordeal is finally over -- wooohooo!


Monday, October 30, 2006

Pumpkins Galore

Halloween has turned into a popular festive season for Owen & Gus -- and we aren't even to the candy part yet. The boys have been running to their closet on a daily basis, tugging at their dog costume, and happily issuing a barrage of "woof woof"s. Couple that with the joy of pointing out all the pumpkins on people's front porches, and it's safe to say the boys are pumped for Halloween.

This past weekend we ventured out to a pumpkin farm outside Apex where the boys thoroughly enjoyed their first pumpkin-picking experience. They were treated to a sea of pumpkins, a hayride-pulling tractor, and two donkeys. Later the boys got to finally put on their dog costumes and celebrate Trunk or Treat at our church.

Yes, I believe Halloween is going to be a favorite holiday for some time. Just wait til they figure out you get to eat chocolate on top of all the other fun. Cheers!

"I want that one, Mom!"

Gus doubles as a pumpkin.

"Wooohooo! C'mon brother, make the getaway while they're not looking!"

The honor system -- leave your money in the mailbox.

Mini pumpkins are just our size.

Big Red prepares for a Saturday of hayrides while Amy & Gus scope out the asses.

Dad explains that although eating the pen is fun, drawing a jack-o-latern face on the pumpkin with the pen is better.

Gus happily displays the decapitated pumpkin scalp.

Owen shows his lonely puppy dog eyes at Trunk or Treat before warming up to the crowd and running wild.

Gus immediately heads for Tigger and Pooh with keys in hand looking for an audience.