Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Back from the northeast with a whirlwind trip to Boston to attend the wedding of our good friends Chris & Pam LeDuc. It was a great time for Amy & me to see friends and bond with Tess without some of the responsibilities of home which were ably covered by GJ & Pappy. Much appreciated!

Another wedding is on tap this weekend as our friend Dave Jenkins ties the knot. This time the wedding is local so travel won't be an issue. Aunt Mel and Uncle Dude are also coming up to attend with us -- should be a grand time. Nana and Granddaddy have graciously agreed to take not just the three Rutledge monsters, but a Crumpton too as Corinne will be making the trip up to NC with her mom & dad. We're hoping for good weather so the kids can be sent outside to run off their energy and grandparents can take turns holding the baby! (Right now the forecast looks like 80 & potential thunderstorms -- gulp!)

Aside from the family front, I will be in Las Vegas next week for a conference with work. Those who know me well know that of all the places in the country not a good fit for me, Las Vegas tops the list. The first two days I'm there are great as I am all about seeing the people that I work with all year long via phone & email. But by Day 3, the incessant ringing of the slot machines, eating the same food over and over, and the general gaudiness and tackiness of Sin City begin to wear on me. Luckily this year a couple of my friends & co-workers from Raleigh are going out too so that should help make the trip enjoyable. Plus there's the whole notion of five nights of uninterrupted that I think about it, Vegas isn't sounding as bad as I thought.

So today I mailed in my absentee ballot as the North Carolina primary is next week. More thoughts on that later, but I admit my spirits are down with the latest emergence of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. His insistence on taking the spotlight and throwing Barack Obama under the bus is frustrating to me as an Obama supporter, especially considering the fact that Obama took the high road in his Philadelphia speech responding to the controversy. But despite that frustration the Obama bumper sticker is still on the Accord, and I didn't even give a second thought about going to see Bill Clinton as he visited Apex less than 5 miles from my house this morning. Enough already, it's time to move on.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Bah-stan Weekend

Amy & I are looking forward to what we consider a mini-vacation this weekend. Our dear friend Chris LeDuc is getting married in Boston on Saturday so we are about to take Tess on her first plane ride and to her first wedding. (No more 'til you're 27, sweetie!)

GJ and Pappy are in town to have a grandparents' weekend with the boys. The boys are in good hands so the parents are hoping to escape for 48 hours. It should be a great time.

As you can tell from the lack of posts it's been a hectic time this past week at la casa de Rutledge. Sorry for the lack of pix -- there is a great one of Gus in his Halloween firefighter outfit, lizard boots, and firefighter cap that I will find on the camera. The kid is just a performer -- I walked in to his room one day last week when he wasn't napping and he had pulled the gear out of his closet himself, beaming proud from ear to ear.

North Carolina primary is less than 2 weeks away. Who would have thought we Tar Heels would have a say in this endless parade on the Dem side. I have been kind of quiet on that front lately -- partly out of disinterest because the campaign is dragging on so long and partly out of the strange respect for Clinton for being like one of those zombies in the "Night of the Living Dead" that wouldn't go away. Maybe we can do our part on May 6.

Here's my favorite post-PA read about the endless game. Dowd knocks this out of the park.

We will touch base with everyone after the weekend. It will be funny to see how many people try to get themselves re-seated on the plane so they don't have to sit by the baby! More legroom for me anyway.

Cheers -- have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bungee Mobile

Tess is a huge fan of the singing flowers that my uncle Steve and aunt Laura gave to her. Whenever she starts feeling squirrelly we seek out the flowers, and Tess is mesmerized.

The other night we went to creative links to keep her content in her crib as she does not like to be left alone on her back -- she's a shoulder baby if there ever was one. Gus wasn't happy that he lost his bungee cord, but he'll forget about it sooner or later.

Watch those feet go! Cheers!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Birthday Boys

My how time flies. Owen and Gus are three years old today. Some days it seems like yesterday when Amy was grounded on the couch for months of bed rest at the old house. Other days it seems eons ago. Amy & I celebrated the boys' birthday over the weekend by throwing them and several of their friends a Diego-inspired birthday party at our house. We stayed up late Friday night planning an animal rescue adventure, icing cupcakes, stuffing a piñata, and enjoying ourselves more than you would think two tired parents would enjoy the whole process.

In the end, the rain held off just long enough to make the party a really fun time for the kiddos. Amy & I were longing for sleep by weekend's end, but by next year we'll be geared up for another one I'm sure.

Happy birthday dudes. Cheers!

The animal rescue started with rescue heroes Logan and Gus locating the spotting scope in the rescue center....

....then on to the fishing station to save a fish with a hurt fin....

...before proceeding up, up, up Jaguar Mountain with the help of the rip cord rope.

Finally, the kids rescued one of several beanie babies in a trapped cat carrier, a pile of sticks, or a tree -- such as this ferocious land shark.

After last year's struggle for two-year olds to bust open the piñata, we hoped a year's worth of strength and conditioning would enable them as three year-olds to take care of business. Alas, Michael's dad Mark had to step in and assist to knock it open. The young animal rescuers very much appreciated the help so they could get to the candy. Hit the weights children for next year.

Gus & Owen show their impeccable eating manners at cake time.

Benjamin gets some help digging into cake from his dad Rob while Michael clings to the crane that he rescued from a massive wood pile.

Gracen, Jack, Emma, and Gabe discuss having birthdays every week over a sugar high from cake & ice cream.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Little Drummer Boy

Amy & I have started cycling out some of the TV shows that Owen & Gus don't watch as much anymore. With the onslaught of Diego, former mainstays like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Thomas and Friends are now off the boys' radar.

So Amy & I have been trying to nudge them toward Super Why, a PBS show that begins letter and word recognition and has "super readers" as the heroes. The boys are all about the letters in their own names and recognizing when they see "O - W - E - N" and "G - U - S" wherever they go. So we figure they're ready to move beyond some of the shows that were their former stalwarts.

What's more, Super Why -- like so many kids' shows -- has one of those instantly recognizable theme songs that sticks in parents' heads all day long. I don't even try to conceal it anymore -- I'll just hum the Diego theme song while I'm walking to the cafeteria at work. If someone does a double take, they obviously don't have toddlers.

Here, Gus goes after his dad's heart with his first drum solo and his own unique take on the Super Why song. Cheers!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Knock on Zzz Wood

Amy & I have ourselves a sleeper. Tess has slept through the night about 6-7 hours the past three nights. Oh what a difference an unbroken night's sleep makes. While this certainly is not a guarantee that the 4 a.m. feeding won't return, it is a very encouraging sign. There are two grateful, fortunate parents who are very happy with this latest development from their two month-old.

This past week Owen & Gus have been out on spring break. Yes, preschools even have spring break for toddlers. I actually saw one of the boys' teachers over the weekend at Target, and even she was seriously looking forward to getting back into the school routine. We find that the boys really get out of sync when they are out of school for a prolonged period -- or maybe it's the parents whose world is turned upside-down. Either way....

Keeping the same theme of gratitude and good fortune, GJ has been in town for the past week to help keep the boys occupied. This has been a tremendous help as we have not been able to get the boys outside as much as we had hoped due to the welcome rain that has fallen on North Carolina over the past week. So having GJ here to interact with the boys has been great. And although we have not seen the sun in many days due to the rain, the rivers and lakes are finally returning to normal levels after a really serious drought here. Tomorrow GJ heads back to Kentucky to resume life in the Bluegrass, and life returns to normal here as the boys go back to school.

Championship basketball is on tonight with Memphis & Kansas vying for the NCAA title. Saturday's semifinals were surprisingly both blowouts. Hopefully tonight will be better. My soapbox moment of the day concerns CBS's coverage of the Final Four. First, CBS won't start the game tonight until 9:30 pm so the game will not likely be over until after midnight for those of us on the east coast. Second and more importantly, why in the world CBS continues to give the play-by-play & color every year to Jim Nantz and Billy Packer is beyond me. No one can suck the life, energy and fun out of one of the world's greatest sporting events quite like the second guessing of the biggest know-it-all curmudgeon Packer. Consider what the games would be like if CBS finally passed the torch to the incredibly exciting Gus Johnson.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Owen & Gus have hit the "monster" phase the past couple of weeks. They run through the house claiming to be chased by a monster or a shark with sharp teeth. They refuse to go near rooms where the lights are off. Our incredibly mellow dog Tucker has morphed into a T-Rex that tries to eat them when they are outside. Amy & I are a bit perplexed on how this all started. We did notice that a couple of the TV shows they watch had episodes that talked about nightmares, ghosts, etc. But the shows are cartoons for preschoolers on Noggin or PBS ("Little Bear" and "George Shrinks") and are pretty tame. So much for the Homer Simpson method of letting TV raise our kids.

My challenge as a sarcastic father is to try to nix the notion of monsters instead of embellishing it in exchange for a laugh -- even if it is one that only I find funny. So when Owen says to me, "Dad, you're a monster!" and runs screaming to the next room, I have to bite my tongue and reassure him that I am merely a benevolent mortal and not in fact a slobbering monster who has come to eat the resident toddlers in the house.

Still, the devil in me is reminded of the classic Far Side cartoon from Gary Larson. Resist the temptation, Derek, resist the temptation.