Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stand By Your Brother

Gus and Owen have wrapped up their first year of preschool. They have "graduated" from the toddler class and will be entering the 3- to 6-year-old class in the fall. In the meantime Amy squeezed out two more weeks of child care in the mornings as we enrolled them in music camp and cooking class. Last week they played drums and guitar while grooving to Elvis & the Beatles. The jury is still out on which one liked the King and which one liked the Fab Four. This week they have made pizza and pancakes at cooking camp, and Amy & I are determined to have them working the grill by the end of the summer. After all it's hard work coming up with dinner ideas every night as working parents everywhere can attest.

Tess has started to roll over. She can manage the belly-to-back move pretty easily, and with some more effort she has started to roll from back-to-belly. One funny thing she has started doing is kicking the fish aquarium that hangs on the side of her crib to turn on the bubbles & music. Amy & I heard this a few days ago through the baby monitor and thought that she must have thrown a lucky kick into just the right spot. But Tess's good fortune led to determination as the past two mornings she has maneuvered her way over to the aquarium and to kick start her day with fish sounds.

The boys are really ready for a break from the schedule & routine of school. I think it will be good for them to enjoy summer and the relaxed schedule that always accompanies it. Meanwhile their vocabularies continue to expand as they throw together some sentences that make us as parents do double takes. Gus's new thing is "Dad, you are a crazy old man!" which is now commonplace around the house since his first exclamation of it drew such a laugh from Amy and me.

Another thing that we have noticed emerging is Gus and Owen's protectiveness for each other. Last night the boys were rolling around the front yard with their friend Logan, rough-housing and tumbling over each other. All of a sudden Gus stood up and had enough:

"Logan! You! Get! Off! My! Brother!!"

Logan was a bit stunned at the command and limped back to his mom for some reassurance. Apparently only Gus is allowed to beat the snot out of his brother.

In another incident last week at music camp the boys reported back to us that they were not fans of a little boy, Ben, who was also attending the camp. Gus explained that he was not happy at all with this Ben for taking his drum away from him. Amy & I inquired of Gus how he reacted to his drum being taken. Did he use his words to tell him that it was his drum? Did he hit Ben?

"No, I didn't hit him, but he is not nice."

Amy & I smiled at each other and were thoroughly pleased as we are constantly working with the boys to share their things and to work disagreements out by talking rather than cold-cocking when they get mad. So next we turned to Owen.

"Owen, did you see Ben take the drum from Gus?"
"Yes, Ben is not nice."
"Did you use your words to tell Ben that it was Gus's drum?"
"No, I hit Ben."
"Oh. You hit him?"
"Why did you hit him?"
"'Cos he took my brother's drum."

Well 1 out of 2 is not so bad. We'll get there.

Amy & I are gearing up for a big family weekend. GJ, Pappy, Aunt Mel, Uncle Dude, and Corinne and all the pups will be making the trek to North Carolina for a few days of R&R. The boys ask us every morning if it's Friday -- they are clearly looking forward to the company. It will be a good break for us as well as Amy has really been surfing the stress waters with all her responsibilities -- work, 3 kids, husband, house, more work, etc. etc. We hope to have one of those weekends where nothing is planned and we can turn the kiddos loose outside while the adults enjoy a few happy hours on the patio marveling at their energy. Should be a great time.


Monday, June 16, 2008

It's a Girl!

A huge congratulations to our friends David and Julie Orthober on the birth of their first child, Madeline Elizabeth, who was born yesterday. What an incredible Father's Day present! I chatted with Dave really quick this morning right as the doctor was coming in, and he said everyone was doing well and that he was instantly smitten by his little daughter. Those little girls have a way of doing that with their dads, don't they?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

To all the dads out there... we wish you a Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Big Russ

A very sad start to the weekend as Tim Russert died today of a heart attack at the age of 58. The "Meet the Press" host was the king of political journalism. In a media culture full of blowhards and partisans, Russert was the ultimate in fair, down-the-middle reporting.

Amy & I would often tape his show on the DVR and watch it on Sunday nights after the boys were down. What a loss.


Weekend roundup...
  • The Rutl crew endured the heat wave that smothered the east coast over the past week. Temps were close to 110 heat index last weekend. Now the mercury has dropped to a mild and temperate 90. Oh well, so much for spring -- summer is here for sure. (I had to placate my buddy Chris who emailed me earlier this week wondering where my annual "it's @#$& hot outside!" blog post was. Apparently the heat wave extended to the Northeast as well.)
  • Adding to the need to stay indoors is a 60 square mile forest fire in the Pocosin National Wildlife Refuge over by the Outer Banks. Smoke from the fire traveled as far west as the Triangle yesterday giving us a Code Red ozone day. The fact that smoke could reach us here 150+ away -- traveling west nonetheless -- was a surprise.

  • Owen & Gus finished toddler class at preschool this week. When I dropped off the kids on on the last day the teachers looked like they were prepared to celebrate whereas the parents were groping with the reality of keeping their kids entertained for the next 10 weeks. For the first time Amy & I sat down and planned out the summer months so we could manage & juggle kids with grandparent visits, day camps, vacation, and babysitters. Nothing like kids to reinforce the old Boy Scout mantra of being prepared.
  • Tess is finding her voice. She squeals & shrieks to get attention, stunning herself that such a loud noise was something that she indeed generated. It is pretty comical. We will try to get some video to share. She is at a cool phase now where she is a little easier to soothe when she gets agitated. Where the first couple of months only picking her up and/or giving her to Amy to eat provided reassurance, now she has grown accustomed to the sound of our voices to calm her down. Like I have said many times, we are very fortunate to have an easy baby in Tess ("Tessa Lou Lou" as I now have Gus calling her.)
  • A shameless bit of self-promotion.....our local NPR station is a mainstay at our house and in our vehicles. A while back during one of its fundraisers the station advertised a campaign called MySource where listeners could write in with their comments about what they enjoyed about public radio. I submitted a little blurb after battling the boys in the van for control of the audio -- their Curious George movie or Dad's NPR. I got an email the other day that they put it up on their website.
  • Finally a political word -- the next time you hear John McCain & conservatives try to tell you that Barack Obama is going to raise your taxes, check this out. (Hat tip to my buddy Scott K. for the link.)
    "Will the Real Tax-and-Spender Please 'Fess Up"
According to the group’s computations, under Mr. Obama’s plan, the middle of the middle class, or those earning $37,595 to $66,354, would see taxes cut by $1,042 a year. Under Mr. McCain’s plan, taxes for people in that category would also fall, but by $319; the largest chunk of the benefits would go to those making $2.8 million a year or more.

Have a good weekend everybody. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Great Seduction

I love this column by David Brooks. He makes the point that the deterioration of Americans' financial values is one of society's biggest problems. As I read this I thought back to my days in college where there were kiosks sprinkled throughout campus with credit card companies giving away all kinds of gifts to get college students to sign up for yet another credit card. Really interesting read.

Over the past 30 years, much of that has been shredded. The social norms and institutions that encouraged frugality and spending what you earn have been undermined. The institutions that encourage debt and living for the moment have been strengthened. The country’s moral guardians are forever looking for decadence out of Hollywood and reality TV. But the most rampant decadence today is financial decadence, the trampling of decent norms about how to use and harness money.


On the one hand, there is what the report calls the investor class. It has tax-deferred savings plans, as well as an army of financial advisers. On the other hand, there is the lottery class, people with little access to 401(k)’s or financial planning but plenty of access to payday lenders, credit cards and lottery agents.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Yes We Can!

La Casa de Rutl is a happy, happy place tonight. Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for President.

[T]his is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past and bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

Yes. We. Can.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Tess Chuckle

Amy caught Tess laughing on video for the first time with an assist from Gus.