Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Week 38

Florida is voting again today. Hopefully they have gotten rid of the old butterfly ballots. We've all been down that path before. The GOP vote is really the only one that matters today. Tonight should be interesting to see if McCain can emerge as the frontrunner heading into Super Tuesday next week or if Mitt Romney and his immaculate hair will lead the pack. If you believe polls, they seem to suggest that this is a two-man race.

The Democratic side shouldn't matter since there are theoretically no delegates at stake. The Clinton campaign will surely hype Hillary's win, if nothing more than to shift the focus from Obama's South Carolina momentum and from Bill's latest zipper trouble (courtesy of Tom Toles):

On the home front, Amy is starting to hit that "I am incredibly uncomfortable" stage where she doesn't sleep. Gus decided to take it easy on her one day last week by only having five (!) accidents in his pants while she had the boys. Ugh. Gotta love potty training. Owen then got in on the act and boycotted coming home from school yesterday, throwing a fit in the classroom when Amy arrived to pick them up. I chuckle that the boys have a rude awakening coming when Amy is no longer pregnant -- while she cannot pick up the boys and physically impose a mother's will on her two year-old right now, those days will very soon be coming to an end. On the bright side, the boys do seem to be in a pattern of 2-3 steps forward and then a step back with the potty training. So we feel we are on our way and heading in the right direction to having only one child in diapers by the time baby #3 arrives.

Amy has a doctor's appointment on Wednesday where we hope to continue to get good reports. It could be two hours or two weeks from now. We are just playing the waiting game for the time being.

Finally, on an indulgent note, Amy & I have partaken in season two of Bret Michaels' Rock of Love on VH1. It is tacky, cheesy, and completely low-brow. But it is shamefully one of our favorite hours of television each week. Twenty bachelorettes vying (for the second season, mind you) for the affections of a washed-up, has-been rock star where the race to the bottom wins -- entertaining indeed!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Politico Palmetto

The South Carolina Democratic primary is today. I know Aunt Mel & Uncle Dude will be voting for their candidates today and may be happy that all the television cameras & media attention will be leaving the state after today. Amy & I look forward to watching the returns tonight and the gear-up for Florida in a few days and Super Tuesday the following week. The political season is certainly heating up.

On a similar political note, there is a book excerpt n the current Newsweek about the Bush presidency. When I started reading it, I thought, "Ok, just another Bush bashing book -- get in line." But this one -- at least from the excerpt -- really seems to go deeper and examine Bush's struggles in his search for a doctrine and a legacy greater than his father's.

A really interesting critique.

At a temperamental level, the president has almost no ability to accept blame or learn from mistakes. Disagreement, whether from critics or allies, sounds like his mother's nagging and his father's disappointment. Thus criticism has the opposite of its intended effect on him. Disapproval hardens Bush's conviction that he must be right and reinforces his refusal to surrender. Believing he earned his position in life through willpower, he feels he shouldn't have to ask anyone for permission. This obstinacy has been evident in his personnel practices as well as policy choices. The more the media demanded Bush yield up a head—CIA Director George Tenet, Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales—the longer that person was likely to be staying around.

Bush's inflexibility is rooted in the old family drama. It reflects not just a personality forged in opposition to his father, but an idea of leadership developed in conscious contrast to him. Where George H. W. Bush weighed options, W. sizes you up and decides. Where 41 saw shades of gray, 43 finds moral clarity. "The son prides himself on being the guy who cuts through it all, who is decisive, not wishy-washy,"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Great Day After

Every now & then a day comes along where you just feel awesome. No matter the hurdles that are thrown at you, it's still a great day. Today is that day at the Rutledge house.

So when Owen misses the toilet and pees all over me first thing in the morning, I shrug it off. When the boys' school calls telling us that Owen has fallen and banged his nose up and that he is pretty shaken up, we take it in stride. When I hear on NPR that the Clintons are gearing up their attack machine against my guy Barack Obama, it doesn't faze me.

The reason?

Because Kentucky beat 3rd-ranked Tennessee last night in a gutty, gritty performance on national TV in front of a hyped-up Rupp Arena crowd.

And while it may be silly to let my mood be dictated by a basketball game -- the outcome of which I have no control over if I listen to my beloved wife -- I just can't help but feel tremendous excitement over last night's game. The Cats hustled, battled, scratched and clawed to get that win and are finally showing signs of progress adapting to their new coach Billy Gillispie. The feeling after the win was part jubilation over beating a very talented Tennessee team and part sigh of relief that there is still hope that this team can have a respectable season after horrendous losses to Gardener-Webb and San Diego.

So to celebrate the feel-good vibe, Amy & I picked Gus & Bruiser up from school, went out to lunch, and all attended Amy's 37-week doctor's appointment. The boys were mesmerized when they got to hear the baby's heartbeat, and Amy got a great report. We are now just playing the waiting game -- it could be 3 hours from now or 3 weeks from now when the baby comes.

So in reality the news from the doctor is probably a better reason to have a great day than a basketball game. But it's still sweet when a big win gets the Big Blue blood pumping through my veins a little faster.


This man finally had a smile on his face after his Cats battled back from double digits to upset the 3rd-ranked Vols. And he wears a nicer suit than his orange counterpart....

"Bruiser" Rutledge shows his evil eyes and his roughed-up nose after losing a battle with a plastic dog at Montessori school.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Skosh of Snow

Well, winter came and went this weekend with a half-inch dusting of snow for us in the Triangle. On Friday night the weather forecasters were calling for up to 4 inches of snow. I don't know who was more excited -- Amy & I or the boys. We had the boys all worked up with stories about playing in the snow the next day. But by the time we woke up on Saturday morning the forecasters had downgraded their estimates as the storm moved east of us. Oh well, we did get to see snow come down for a few hours towards the end of the day which was pretty. We woke the boys up from their naps to go outside and play in it, knowing that this could very well be the only snow we see this season. Regardless of the light amount, we had fun outside in the frozen stuff.

Gus was happy to go outside and play in the snow, namely because he got to prance around in his Diego hat & mittens, his mom's scarf, and his new blue lizard boots.

Owen took the more traditional route in terms of attire, but still had quite the time running around stomping on the snow. "We need more snow, Dad, we need more snow." Indeed we did.

Even the expectant mother braved the elements and got out in the snow for a few minutes. Amy B. has surpassed the 36 week mark, getting a great report from the doctor this week. The baby is head down, and the doctors have told Amy they won't stop labor from here on out. Our hospital bag is packed & list of phone numbers to call is ready to go. Our biggest challenge now is to try to keep enough Honeycomb in the house for Amy's twice-daily craving. (Stock tip -- buy stock in Post cereals from here until Valentine's Day.)


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Year Notes

The New Year is here. Down with the Christmas tree and plastic yard reindeer and up with the campaign banners as the caucus & primary season is underway. So many states have moved up their elections to these first few weeks of 2008 that there is a tidal wave of coverage on the races at this early stage. I have to admit that all the attention on the Presidential race has a political junkie like me excited.

With Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee winning in Iowa last week the remaining candidates are scrambling to craft themselves as the change candidate. Whatever your political affiliation, it is easy to admire both of these guys as experts at crafting and delivering a message of hopefulness that so far transcends left/right, blue/red, liberal/conservative. It is really interesting to watch.

Full disclosure -- I am an Obama guy. After reading his book, The Audacity of Hope, I began drinking the Obama kool-aid. Yes, he is light on experience. Yes, he speaks in platitudes that are devoid of many specifics on how he would change things. (As Amy says, he needs more "red meat" in his speeches.) But his vision for America to bridge differences both among people in the country and with people beyond our borders is genuine to me. I think it reflects an inclusive way of thinking -- that you have to listen to all points of view and not surround yourself with people who support your way of thinking -- that I believe is exactly what this country needs right now. His message resonated with tens of thousands of new voters in Iowa last week. We'll see if he has the staying power to take New Hampshire tonight and more states in the coming weeks. It will be fun to watch it unfold.

On the homefront, Amy is almost to 35 weeks with the pregnancy -- or as she likes to say, "5 weeks, 2 days, 8 hours, and 15 minutes until I can go 10 minutes without having to pee." She is a trooper as she waddles around the house scrounging for Honeycomb and keeping the three men in order. We go to the doctor tomorrow to get her checked out, and then it's an appointment every week from here on out. A couple of our neighbors pulled together a baby shower for Amy on Saturday which was great. Amy got to get a surprise night out on the town with her friends, and the boys got to eat pizza and roughhouse with pal Chad Guthrie.

We are still plunging forward with potty training with decent results. The boys are progressing at telling us when they need to go to the bathroom. Sometimes they tell us as they are going and sometimes right after they have gone. I'm sure you can imagine some of the mishaps so I'll spare you. Let's just say that so far the number of Fabreze bottles it takes to get the "accident" smell out of a certain two year-old's favorite pair of green lizard boots is at two and counting.

Finally, I have been receiving some good-natured ribbing from my friends here in Carolina about a certain basketball team's less-than-stellar start to its new era of basketball. After Kentucky's seventh discouraging loss to archrival Louisville on Saturday, I vowed to quit reading message boards because of the endless sea of negativity coming from the Chicken Littles among UK fans. That resolution lasted only days as curiosity got the best of me today. After reading the posts from the "This is all Tubby's fault" crowd and then posts from the "Gillispie was a huge mistake" crowd, I take solace in the calls for calm from the few sensible posters that still post on the boards. The reality is it is going to take some time for Gillispie to get his mindset instilled in his type of players. It will take time, which is never easy for a rabid fan base to accept.

The other reality is that after the second consecutive Music City Bowl victory and a win over the national champion LSU Tigers, Kentucky is a football school anyway!