Friday, July 28, 2006

Make or Buy

There is not much sleep happening at the Casa de Rutledge this week. Owen & Gus both have colds again and have developed a deep cough that would make a chain smoker blush. The coughs are at their worst at night when the boys lie down to sleep as all the drainage heads down into their chests. So the boys have been waking themselves up frequently at night. And as you can imagine when the boys aren't sleeping, the parents aren't sleeping.

But there is more to our temporary insomnia than just the common cold that frequents our abode. Amy & I have decided to put our house up for sale next week and look for a house with more room. This decision to move did not come lightly as I imagine it doesn't come lightly to anyone who reaches this point. But with the two of us both being detail-oriented and conscientious sometimes to a flaw, let's just say there has been a tremendous amount of hand-wringing and deliberation on this decision.

There are so many variables that go into our decision, a big one being whether or not to finish our basement to give us the extra bedroom & space we need with the two boys. Just like the professors teach in Economics 101, at its core the decision is a simple make or buy decision. Is it cheaper for you to make something yourself or is it cheaper for you to pay someone else to make it for you? My employer IBM faced this decision for years before finally announcing it was selling off the part of the business that made PCs -- ultimately it was more cost effective to buy PCs from Lenovo than it was to continue making them internally. But a house is difficult to think of in purely economic terms. There are emotional connections with a house -- the blood, sweat and tears you put into making your house your home; the first time your kid takes a step; the fun times you have had with family and friends; and on and on. After weighing all the variables -- leaving our neighbors who are like family, resale value, cost of reinvesting in a new house, interest rates, being in a neighborhood with more kids -- we have decided to make the leap.

So next week our house goes on the market. We are taking the weekend to make one final push for some aesthetic improvements. The hard part for us has been holding off from going in to other houses we have found that we really like. The last thing we want is to find a house that we think is perfect and have to make yet another decision about whether to make an offer when we haven't sold our house yet. I don't want to imagine the insomnia that would be living at our house in that situation!

Have a good weekend. Cheers!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Grandparent Fix

The Rutledge crew was treated to a visit from C.E. and Jane, aka Pappy and GJ last week. The grandparents were on a tour of the southeast, visiting Melanie and Roman (and future grandchild) in Charleston then trekking to Raleigh to see Amy, the boys and me. The visit was a bit of work -- hopefully we didn't throw Pappy's back out -- and a lot of play. Amy & I even got a date night out of the house complete with dinner and a play while the grandparents watched the boys. Owen continued to come out of his shell and did fine away from Amy. Gus continued to milk his cheeky grin for all it's worth. A great time was had by all.

Some highlights & pix:

  • Dinner at the pizza parlor
  • Sand & swings at the kids' park
  • Amy's sweet potato nachos
  • Late night chats on the patio
  • House hunting
  • The Last Night of Ballyhoo
  • Bath night and GJ's bedtime stories
  • Pappy's french toast
  • Painting on ladders
  • Yuengling & Russian WWII war medals
  • Ka-bobs, Bombay, and unwinding with the neighbors

At Kids Together Park, Owen shows Pappy how to properly shovel sand.

Gus leads the way to the swings with GJ.

Grandparents and grandsons peer from a house in the sandbox.

The Rutledges happily enlisted the services of Pappy Van Gogh to help finish the painting in those hard to reach places. Doo-rag sold separately.

We let Pappy relax a bit too amid his home improvement work, including riveting games of 'slap the table' with Owen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Weigh-in's, Peacekeeping, and a Muzzle

Today was the boys' fifteen month checkup. They are still lagging behind a little bit in some areas since they were young thirty-three weekers at birth. But the doctor was very encouraged by the progress the boys are making. We discovered Owen has a large head as his head circumference is in the 92nd percentile of children his age. This was encouraging for two reasons -- one, it explains why he has a conniption fit when we put shirts on him; and two, it gives us hope that his brain will grow to superhuman size enabling him to evolve into one of his generation's greatest thinkers. Ok, maybe we should stick with the shirt explanation. Young Gus on the other hand is a little taller & weighs more. He is up to 22.5 pounds and 31.5 inches long -- his height is in the 70th percentile (still not sure where he gets this). ;-)

Gus is building up his courage to walk more frequently. He will now take steps on his own if he sees something he wants. We think Owen will follow suit very shortly, especially after he sees his brother moving about with more mobility.

Our latest role as parents is playing Kofi Annan. Granted having two boys the same age Amy & I knew we would have to play peacekeeper; we just didn't know it would start so early. Gus is usually the culprit as he enjoys tackling Owen to the ground, usually when Owen has control of the baby walker. Being the little stinker he is, Gus will then look at us after Owen crashes to the floor knowing the reprimand is coming. He bats his eyes and hugs his brother. It's as if he is saying, "Yeah Mom & Dad, I know I wasn't supposed to take Owen's feet out from under him and I know his head hit the floor pretty hard, but I really do love him." I'd say we're in for 17, 18 years of fun.

Finally, continuing in the aggression vein, Gus has developed a lovely little biting habit. Exhibit A occurred as we sat in the pediatrician's office today. The doctor was examining Owen as Amy held him, and I was letting Gus crawl about the room. Owen was rather fussy as he was being poked and prodded, and Gus decided he wanted some attention. So he proceeded to pull himself up to the chair I was sitting in, opened his mouth, and bit me right in the cojones. Fun times. Exhibit B took place once we returned home. The boys were playing on the kitchen floor as Amy & I cooked dinner. The next thing we hear is Owen belting out a good scream as his face turned beet red. Gus -- with his head pressed against his brother signifying a hug -- looked at us as if he had done nothing wrong. Of course he had locked his jaws down on Owen's wrist as the teethmarks gave Gus away. More fun times.

So as a result we are in the market for a good dog muzzle for our youngest child, Gus Edward Rutledge, age 15 months. Some examples of models are included below. Gus's favorite color is blue.


Owen shows off his tattoo of Gus's incisors

The culprit: May be the last time this young boy is photographed without a muzzle until he's 12.

Available at, $15/each. Any future Rutledge children thank you in advance.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lazy Tuesday

Let me just say that this little gem is not representative of any Kentucky fans I know. Ok, maybe three or four.

This is so bad, but bad in a hilarious way. Hat tip to my amigo Michael Mankowski for -- ahem-- pointing this out to me and also the delight that Tar Heel fans are getting at this one on the message boards.


Brooks: A Different Crisis

Just read a great analysis of the Middle East situation from conservative NYT columnist David Brooks. I'll link it here and then return to lighter baby pictures. ;-) It is a really good read though.

David Brooks

Israel's main enemies in this crisis are not normal parties and governments that act on behalf of their people. They are jihadist organizations that happen to have gained control of territory for bases of operations. Hamas and Hezbollah knew their kidnappings and missile launches would set off retaliation that would hurt Gazans and Lebanese, but they attacked anyway — for the sake of jihad. They answer to a higher authority and dream of genocide in his name.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Politico Friday

With all that is going on in the Middle East today -- continued struggles with sectarian violence in Baghdad, Iran thumbing its nose at the world in its pursuit of nukes, and now Israel fighting with the extremist Hezbollah military wing -- it is clear that the US has no easy choices in this escalating situation. It is tough for me personally to grasp what individual citizens can do. So I'll just exercise my right to have a voice and throw out my small two cents:

I hope for once that the debate that takes place between now & November is centered on the real, substantive issues we face and is not limited to soundbite-style platitudes that artificially paint our choices as more simple than they really are.

Naive and hopelessly optimisic, maybe. But that is my hope nonetheless.

E.J. Dionne has a great column on this today.

That is what the American debate should be about, but those in charge of Republican campaigns this year have another idea. They have hit upon the brilliant strategy of pushing any serious discussion of the failure of American foreign policy past Election Day. For the next 3 1/2 months, they want the choice before the voters to be binary: staying the course and being "tough," or breaking with President Bush's policy and being "soft." There are just two options on the ballot, they say: firmness or "cut and run."

If I were a Republican strategist, I'd probably do the same thing. But Democrats and, yes, the media) risk playing into Republican hands if they fail to force a discussion of the administration's larger failures or let the debate focus narrowly on exactly what date we should set for getting out of Iraq.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Steps and Stands

Gus stepping out lately....

....while Owen evolves into an upright little man.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Help Wanted

We just finished dinner. Would anyone like to come give these kids a bath? Learning to self-feed has been interesting.

World Cup

Sunday was a day for the men at Casa de Rutledge. Amy spent the afternoon out running errands so I babyproofed the downstairs so the boys and I could enjoy the World Cup final. Ok, so maybe the game was more for the boys and an excuse for me to play with Elmo and the toy banjo. Either way, it was a fun game to watch.

It still seems odd to end a championship with penalty kicks like they do in the World Cup. But the game has to end at some point. In the end, Italy won the Cup on PK's 5-3. But the most bizarre incident in the match yesterday -- aside from the revelation that France's coach was an astrology nut who didn't allow Scorpios on the French national team -- was when France's star inexplicably sank his team's chances at victory by being ejected for headbutting an Italian player.

Gus responded to the play by tackling Owen and giving him a zerbert on his belly.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Lord Stanley's Tour

The Stanley Cup began its year-long tour around the Triangle this week. Today it made a stop at GlaxoSmithKline, which is a corporate sponsor of the Hurricanes and where our neighbor Joan works. Joan extended an invite for us to come by and have our picture taken with the Cup , which was our second invitation this week from neighbors to see the Cup at their workplace -- we have some great neighbors! Amy & I being the rabid Hurricanes fans we are were all too happy to oblige.

Joan poses with the Cup.

Amy, Gus, Owen & I shake hands with Lord Stanley.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

World Cup

The World Cup is down to the final -- Italy and France on Sunday afternoon. Although I am a lukewarm soccer fan as I detest the player flops and dives, I have become a big World Cup fan. It really is captivating to watch a sport that captures the enthusiasm of an entire country on each side.

The Sports Guy sums up my feelings in this very funny summary, "Why I Love the World Cup."


The whole injury-time thing. I mean, what other sport keeps some arbitrary amount of extra time in an official's back pocket? It's so stupid yet weirdly effective. I'm convinced the guy who came up with that was drunk.

Boys, Paint & Hot Dog Eaters

As I returned to work the day after an extended holiday break, I looked back at what a relaxing weekend at home morphed into. As Amy mentioned in her earlier post we spent a a great deal of quality time with the boys, including morning breaks outside in the blow-up pool to beat the heat.

For a few days I got reacquainted first-hand with Amy's routine on a day-to-day basis. It truly is nonstop. At one point this weekend we both realized at dinner time that neither of us had stopped to take a shower. My hat is off to her as she takes care of the boys with seemingly unlimited patience. Watching the boys develop -- even over a few days -- is always a good experience as they are constantly changing and adapting.

Gus is a people person. A true example of this is how he loves to wear his sunglasses because of the attention they get him. He knows when people are laughing at something he does, and he looks for that reaction. In restaurants, he flirts with ladies as he knows they are gushing over him. From a communication standpoint, he is ready to communicate with people. He has really picked up on sign language -- milk, out, more, sleepy, quiet, dog -- and has begun constructing baby talk sentences that only he understands. He has started to stand up on his own if only for a few seconds before he crashes to his behind. Last night he tried to take his first steps while we were getting ready for bath night. As he does all of these things, he grins at you to gauge the reaction you give him.

Owen is our little introvert. He loves his mom as Amy is his safety net. He always wants her close by, and he feels the most comfortable when she is in the room with him. He is not really interested in people even when they are directly looking at him or speaking to him. Instead, Owen loves animals, lighting up when Tucker, Dutch or Harper enter the room, and staring at objects. He will ignore everything around him to gaze at wind chimes, a ceiling fan chain, or out the window. Where Gus is motivated by the people around him and the reactions that they give him, Owen is motivated from within that little head of his. He has begun to pick up on some sign langauge -- he loves spontaneously pointing to his nose to remind you that he knows what and where it is. More than anything, Owen marches to the beat of his own little drummer completely at his own pace. It is still amazing to me to see how completely different these two boys are from each other, despite being from the same parents and raised in the same environment. It is quite enjoyable to watch.

The rest of our weekend was devoted to paint. As Elaine mentioned to Amy the other day, she thinks we paint more than anyone she knows. We do indeed enjoy color and the self-satisfaction we get from changing the spirit of a room simply with a coat of paint. Our problem -- aside from finding the time to paint since we are usually entertaining two monsters -- is that it takes us several iterations before we settle on a color we like. Our bathroom is color #4. The kitchen took five. We finally decided on gold for our living room after sand, tope, coir, and two light blues. We attack it a quart at a time and go from there. If you are a Lowe's stockholder you undoubtedly have enjoyed the past month. But sell now as the Rutledges don't have any paint projects lined up for the near future.

Aside from infant sunbathing, trips to the home improvement store, and Amy in her paint clothers we did find some time to enjoy the weekend. Our friends Matt and Laura came over for dinner on Monday. Matt has lived in Sweden and frequently travels overseas with his job so he has a unique perspective on how we Americans are perceived in the world. Couple that with the fact that he likes good beer & political discussions and let's just say the Secret Service is put on surveillance alert when the four of us get together.

Finally, Amy & I also found some time this weekend to watch some Fourth of July sporting events, including Wimbledon and some fantastic World Cup soccer matches. The culmination of the sporting events had to be Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest from Coney Island. Kobayashi -- a 160 lb. eating machine from Japan -- won the event for the sixth consecutive year, downing 53 3/4 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

The groan you hear is both my stomach at the thought of eating that much so quickly and the fact that championship hot dog gorging is gaining in popularity as a "sport" in America. Cheers!

How are these people not 400 lbs.?

Living room before (colors #3, #4 & #5)

Living room after

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th

We hope you all had a relaxing 4th of July. The boys got some much needed play time in their pool. Here are a few pictures from our adventures on the back deck over the last few days. Derek and I have been painting our living room and what has turned out to be all the trim in our downstairs. For those of you that have lived through our painting experiences, this one won't disappoint you. It took 6 colors over a 6 week period to decide on 'Gold 3'.

Little swimmers.

The boys stop to check out the scenic view.

Come on dad... get in the pool with us!

Gus loves getting his feet sprayed.

A Shark!?! Where?!?

You know it's a good time when the feet come out wrinkled!