Monday, October 29, 2007


Amy & I became convinced last spring that the boys really needed stimulus from sources outside the house and interaction with other children their age. Up to that point the boys were nearly two years old and had spent all their time with Amy at home. Amy had the boys connected into a network of moms & kids in playgroups, and the boys interacted with some friends in our neighborhood. Still it was apparent to us that it was time for them to make the leap into a somewhat more organized learning & social environment.

We settled on a montessori school in Cary after one visit -- the only visit we made to choose a preschool. In our minds the school appealed to us probably initially more for Gus because it seemed like a place that would allow him to express himself without putting strict boundaries on him. Gus would not have excelled in an environment where he had to follow a set schedule. At the time Owen was more dependent on Gus than vice versa so we thought he would fit right in -- having the other children around to interact with and having his brother there to lean on for security.

The montessori philosphy allows the kids to learn at their own pace without following a specific time schedule. They do things in the same sequence every day -- morning song, group time, snack time, outdoor time, etc. But they don't stick to a certain schedule. So if the kids are really into a particular book at story time or into a food tasting, then the teachers let the kids determine when it's time to move to the next activity rather than the clock.

The boys have been in preschool for about two months now. Amy & I could not be happier with their attitude towards school and the progress they have made. Their vocabularies are taking off. They are really into learning and stories. And although they still don't want to share all their toys, their interaction with other children has really progressed.

Each week the teachers send out an email about the activities for the upcoming week and photos from the prior week. Here are some good recent ones.


Gus busting through in his own way.

A Friday dance in the rain and mud, Gus style.

Owen takes part in a shaving cream bonanza.

Getting dirty is so much fun.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Finally Fall

Fall is finally settling in here in Apex. We have had hints over the past three weeks of cooler temperatures only to be greeted with the occasional humid day in the mid 80's that we are all so tired of having. But the outlook for the next two weeks looks promising -- all 60's and 70's on the way. This week has finally brought us some much-needed rainfall as well. Central North Carolina is classified as extreme drought as we are nearly 10 inches below normal rainfall. This has triggered mandatory water restrictions in most of the state -- no sprinkler systems, very limited outdoor hand-watering, and even a press conference by our governor where he suggested residents turn the water off when they brush their teeth. Good suggestions, just not the sort of thing one expects to hear from the governor. But the drought is really serious as we have less than 100 days remaining in the reservoir which acts as this area's main water supply. Thus, the rainfall has been a very welcome occurrence.

We have begun to do some fall things with the kids. Last weekend we took the boys to a pumpkin patch out in the country. They were ecstatic as they got to pick out their pumpkins, feed the donkeys, and sit on the haystacks. The simple pleasures of being a's refreshing.

The boys are all ready for Halloween. They are going to dress up as firefighters, and already they grab the costumes out of the closet to parade around the house. Two of their favorite toys are the plastic fire trucks that they ride around on. So next Wednesday should be a fun night for them trick-or-treating.

Finally, both Owen & Gus are really into their Montessori school. They talk about their friends in their class and readily hop in the car when it's time to go to school. Last Friday when it rained for the first time in weeks the teachers opened the doors to the classroom to let the kids go outside and play in the rain. When Amy picked the boys up, all the kids were in a new change of clothes without shoes or socks and happy as could be. This week they have enjoyed the "mystery game" where they pick out a household object from a paper bag and describe what it is, how it is used, where it is found, etc. We have even duplicated that game at home which is a hit. Yesterday was shaving cream day, and we were told by the boys' teacher that Owen had a field day with that game.

Ah, to be a kid again -- feeding donkeys, picking out pumpkins, playing in the rain, and spraying each other with shaving cream.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Go for Two

Kentucky charmed the country last week with its upset of #1 LSU. The Cats try to add to their mystical run today against defending national champion Florida. The game will be a huge challenge for UK. The Cats are without their top running back, they are banged up from the LSU game last week, and they have to face an uber-talented Florida QB in Tim Tebow. The Gators had a bye week last week so on paper they should be the fresher team.

Given all those things I don't expect Kentucky to pull off the unthinkable two weeks in a row. But given the guts & character of this year's Wildcat team I'm not putting it past them either. One thing is for sure, the Rutledges will be glued to CBS this afternoon to see if they have another rabbit in their hat.

Go Big Blue! Cheers!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Customer Service

In all my frustration against my nemesis Time Warner Cable, I have never reacted by taking a hammer to my local customer service office. Not that I haven't wanted to....

Great story.

"Taking a Whack Against Comcast"

Who among us has not longed for a hammer in this age of incompetent "customer service representatives," of nimrods reading from a script at some 800-number location, of crumbs-in-their-beards plumbing installation people who tell you they'll grace you with their presence between 12 and 3, only never to show? And you'll call and call and finally some outsourced representative slings a dart at a calendar and tells you another guy will come back between 10 and 2 next Thursday? And when this guy comes, pants halfway down his behind, he'll tell you he brought the wrong part?

And there is nothing, nothing you can do.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Storming the Field

I thought it was funny when Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky's AD, sent out an email last week with this statement regarding storming the field should Kentucky upset LSU:

Dear UK Fan:
Coach Brooks often speaks about the commitment his team has made to be successful. With his pledge to excellence also comes the responsibility of the fans to support the team but to do it with class and dignity. Everyone affiliated with the University couldn't be happier with the overwhelming support the fans have given the coaches and the team.

As a reminder, SEC and University of Kentucky policies strictly prohibit spectators from entering the competition areas at any time before, during, or after a game. UK's field surface is among the nation's best. When fans rush the field it compromises the integrity of that surface and risks the health and safety of the same players that fans are intending to celebrate. Please continue to enjoy the wins from your seat.

LSU brings the nation's number one team to Commonwealth at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, so it will be another difficult test for our team. Coach Brooks often remarks about the difference the home crowd makes for the team. Please support the Wildcats by entering the stadium early, supporting our team, and practicing patience in the parking lots before and after the game.

From the diehard fan's perspective the win over LSU wasn't just a celebration of one game. It was vindication, retribution, revenge, and exorcism of past losses -- many, many of them -- that people were celebrating. After Kentucky stopped LSU on downs in the third OT, I just jumped up and shouted, "They did it!" over and over again. I couldn't believe that Kentucky had finally overcome the years of losing this game, this very game. And I'm just a fan watching at home -- imagine if you're these players and coaches trying to undo this habitual losing mindset.

After Kentucky's monumenal upset when thousands of fans stormed the field in celebration I chuckled to myself remembering Mitch's email. In reality I think Barnhart could make one phone call to a big booster and get a $25,000 check delivered to the athletic department that day to pay these fines assessed to schools when their fans storm the field.

So I feel for Mitch having to answer to SEC and NCAA officials each time the fans storm the field. It is an issue of safety, although I would argue that it's not that dangerous now that the grounds crew takes the goalposts down immediately. Personally I think Mitch secretly could care less about fans storming the field as it means UK's football team is doing unprecedented things, but he probably has to send that email out.

I have watched this video clip countless times. I love the roar of the crowd after the TD catch and defensive stop. What a thrill. Go Big Blue!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Win Like No Other

Kentucky over LSU 43-37.....3 OTs.....upset of the #1 team in the nation.....biggest win in modern UK football history.




A picture is worth a thousand words...

Hat tip to Jeff Mills for the picture. What a thrill!

Geaux Big Blue

Huge Kentucky game vs. #1 LSU today at Commonwealth. C.E. is venturing up to Lexington for this one -- yell loud for us, Chuck. The game is a national television game as CBS picked it up for its SEC game of the week. Mitch Barnhart (Kentucky athletic director) sent out an email this week to alumni & fans stating the importance of staying off the field for safety's sake should the unthinkable happen. Of course still stuck in UK fans' heads is the game four years ago where LSU beat the Cats on a last second hail mary bomb while UK fans celebrated tearing down the goalposts in the opposite endzone. Finally, although Kentucky is having its best season in 30 years the loss last week to South Carolina was a reality check. As if the notion of beating a top ranked team that spanked them 49-0 last year wasn't enough...

Given all of that, I am still going to pursue a different route in asking the football gods for a Big Blue victory. I'm not going with the historic upset path, the revenge path, or the monumental UK season path.

Here goes. Football gods, can you really live with yourself knowing this little guy will be disappointed all week without a Big Blue victory? Does this little UK fan deserve a Big Blue upset or what?

Go Big Blue! Cheers!

Friday, October 12, 2007


Over the past three weeks we have been extremely fortunate to have Jane stay with us. She has been a tremendous help to us with the boys, the house, the dog, the pregnant mom, the stressed-out dad, you name it. The fact that Jane packed up her things and departed her life in Glasgow was a sacrifice on her part (and Pappy's part) that we truly appreciate.

The boys have really bonded with their GJ -- each morning the first question out of Gus's mouth is "Where Joo-Jay go?" When Mom spends time with the boys, the teacher in her comes out. She knows from years in experience with kids how to interact with them. Amy & I watch with keen interest and try to pick up some tips.

Owen and Gus -- especially our dear sweet roaring lion Gus -- are definitely two years old right now. I don't want to call it the "terrible twos" because there are times when this stage is really enjoyable. The boys are gaining their independence, learning how to articulate what they want, and piecing their thoughts together with longer sentences. They love to read, play with their trucks, and want to be more and more a part of what we are doing. With that development though comes more challenges obviously. There have been a lot of tantrums lately -- getting out of the car, going upstairs for baths & bedtime, just in general when they don't want to do what we want them to do. So having GJ here to both help deflect some of the stress and to help Amy and me to deal with it has been a tremendous help.

When Mom tells her son and daughter-in-law that we need to get control of our two year-olds now before it is too late because the kids are starting to run the house, we listen. And she is absolutely right. As Amy & I have been trying to take as much off of Amy's plate as possible with these early contractions, it was becoming a challenge to maintain order in our house. We were letting some tantrums go that we should have been addressing and nipping in the bud. That parental wisdom that can only be gained from experience is very helpful at times like this.

Finally, even Tucker has been a happier dog with GJ here. No longer does Tucker snuggle up in Mom & Dad's bed -- oh no. A habitual early morning walker, GJ now has the dog's loyalty as she takes him on neighborhood laps and fills his bowl. Tucker will have to go back to being walked once a day -- heaven forbid -- when GJ goes back to Kentucky on Sunday.

So a tip of the glass to Grandmother Jane. We thank you for all your help, advice, and shared wisdom. Cheers!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Halfway Point

Amy B has passed the halfway point of the pregnancy. The first trimester was a bit rough as her appetite do I put this politely, particular and selective. ;-) She is through that stage now though and eating much more. The doctors have told her to put on the pounds.

We are still proceeding with caution as the Braxton-Hicks contractions that sidelined Amy when she was pregnant with the boys have made an unwelcome return. Amy is going to the doctor every two weeks for ultrasounds to make sure that the contractions aren't causing anything to happen prematurely. So far, the contractions are just a nuisance. Still we are keeping a close watch on it and trying to keep Amy from overdoing much as a mom with 2 two year-olds can not overdo it, right? Luckily we have been fortunate enough to have GJ in North Carolina with us for a few weeks to help out with boys, meals, etc. Her help has been tremendous.

Finally the boys know they are going to have a baby sister rather than a brother -- although I'm not sure they really know what that means. And they know that the baby is actually in Mom's belly and not in Dad's belly.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Politico Friday

Here's an interesting quiz to assess which presidential candidate matches your beliefs. I was actually surprised with the results. Apparently Joe Biden is my guy. Who knew? ;-)

It's 11 questions -- check it out.

Hat tip to Darrin D for the link.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Five and Oh !!?!!?!

What a very odd year in college football. For University of Kentucky fans, we are accustomed to talking basketball by this point. It is October after all. Midnight Madness is 10 days away. The Billy Gillispie era is about to begin, right? But stop the presses.

Rich Brooks has put together a 5-0 Kentucky team that has a chance to win its first two SEC games for the first time in 30 years. Kentucky has a chance to start the season 6-0 for the first time in 67 years. The Cats are ranked #8 in the polls -- the football polls. Quarterback Andre Woodson is a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.

This is an awful lot of early success to throw at a fan base whose team is used to losing on Hail Mary's and last second touchdown passes. We are fans of the program that has mastered the art of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory -- over and over and over. Yet, we Kentucky fans still tune in, still support Big Blue, still keep coming back.

As I was discussing this alternate reality we find ourselves in with my friend & fellow UK fan Dave O, we concluded that tonight's Kentucky/South Carolina game is probably the biggest Kentucky football game of our adult lives. How crazy is that! A Thursday night ESPN game which is only the second league game of the season is arguably the biggest Kentucky game in years. The only game that comes to mind that could be bigger is the Louisville game in 1994 that re-established the UK/UofL rivalry after laying dormant for decades. Either way, tonight's game is huge if Kentucky wants to make the leap into the national scene.

Our crew will be glued to the TV tonight. The boys are practicing their "C-A-T-S" cheer. Here's hoping Kentucky can win tonight so next week's LSU game becomes the biggest game in recent Kentucky football history. Go Big Blue!

BTW, the beverage of choice for tonight's game is VICTORY Hop Devil Ale. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Our Very Own Michael Scott

The annual IBM 5K was last Saturday. To my knowledge no money was raised for the research and treatment of rabies but it was a good time nevertheless. Derek would have you know he eventually passed the guy pushing the stroller. The boys congratulated their dad after the race and begged to go down the enormous slide.