Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bluegrass Adventure

The Rutledge family just completed a pilgrimage to Kentucky to introduce Tess to family and friends and see some familiar faces. Amy & I woke up early at 4:00am on a Saturday morning and finished the last of the packing before trying to sneak the kids into the van before it was light in hopes that they would stay asleep for a few more hours. An hour later we pulled out of the driveway with three kids who were wide awake. So much for stealth mode.

The trip to Kentucky was an all-day event. Gone are the days when Amy & I used to be able to make a stop or two for Tucker and be back on the road in 5 minutes. With an infant and 2 three year-olds there were many more stops and longer ones at that. But we made the most of it. Our highlight was a stop in eastern Tennessee off the interstate where we found a gravel parking lot for semis that was the site of our peanut butter & jelly picnic. Tucker happily sniffed around in open space while Amy fed Tess and the boys made lunch. Who said truck stops weren't for minivans?

Once we arrived in Paducah there were many anxious folks ready to get some Tess time. Nana and Granddaddy opened up their house to aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, and the fun began. Tess was more than happy to oblige as she (mostly) quietly ate up all the attention.

On Monday Owen and Gus ventured over to their cousins' house while Aunt Ashley was kind enough to watch all the kids. Mason, Gavin & Brooke entertained the boys, and all five kids ended up taking a nap in the floor as they had expended so much energy with each other. Amy & I appreciated the time out as we went out shopping for a couple of hours. I needed shoes as my tennis shoes and sandals were inadvertently thrown away instead of packed in the van. Doh! Also I got to visit my favorite store in Paducah -- Roof Brothers, home to one of the best India Pale Ale selections I have ever seen in any sized town. Whatever magic Aunt Ashley has that will get five kiddos to sleep at the same time should be bottled and sold!

The Tess collage (clockwise from top left): Aunt Pam & cousin Lauren; grandmother Mary Margaret; Aunt Kay; Uncle Ken & Aunt Rhonda; Aunt Rhonda (solo); Aunt Susan (with the magic hold); Granddaddy (with the enticing newspaper); Cousin Mason; Aunt Susan and Uncle Shan; Cousin Allee; Aunt Melba; Granny

Cousin Mason brought over his acoustic guitar that we restrung and tuned. Then we dove in to the land of chords. Mason mastered E, G, C, and even a D-minor. Before you know it he'll be touring the country singing to audiences and melting hearts.

While Tess was eating up all the attention of being the new kid on the block, the cousins proved to be fantastic entertainment for Owen & Gus. The boys were mesmerized with all the activity -- playing monster, chasing each other through the house and the yard, and watching Gavin climb trees. Baylee dips Gus while Brooke, Owen & Mason pause under a good climbing tree.

Granddaddy provided some fun as he took the boys and the Posey kids to the golf course for golf cart rides. When they returned it was time to fire up the lawn tractor for rides up and down the street.

Amy & I got to see some of the Sturm family while we were in Paducah as well. We spent a morning over at Craig and Melisa's house where the trampoline and pizza were huge hits.

[Craig (standing), Aunt Ashley (with Gus), Whitney (holding Tess), Amy (with Owen), Papa Jack, Brooke, Mason & Gavin]

Finally, when you have a question about technology chances are it's best to ask someone younger than you. Billy found this out first-hand as Allee introduced him to the world of customized ringtones, radio stations on his cellphone, all through the wonders of a headset. Nothing like those young whippersnappers to keep us all in line.

Our trips back to Kentucky are always loaded with activity. That will always be the case since there are so many people we want to see and we live in North Carolina. We were happy to be able to see as many people and share as much time with folks as we did. The hospitality is certainly appreciated.

On Wednesday we ventured across the Western Kentucky, Natcher, and Cumberland Parkways to my hometown to see some family & friends in southcentral Kentucky. GJ and Pappy were happy to accommodate our clan in their environment for a change. On Thursday we had a nice visit with my grandmother who lives in a nursing home. Mother was entertained by the boys' activity and very pleased to meet Tess for the first time.

After the visit we took the kids out to the swimming pool, where I had burned many an hour growing up in Glasgow. At the pool Owen found his swimming fins for the first time. He had been swimming several times in our neighborhood pool at home, but on this day he truly decided to break out of his shell. He jumped off the side of the pool, went underwater, and realized that he was going to be ok when I pulled him back up. It was like a light went off. The kid proceeded to wear his dad out over the next two hours, jumping off the side of the pool dozens upon dozens of times articulating the joy through shrieks and shouts. GJ joined in the fun by submitting to the boys' cries for her to go down the slide, which she happily did. I wish I had my camera handy. That's what I call grandparent dedication.

There was another new addition to our family as we got to meet Maren, whom my cousin Jane Layton adopted from Guatemala in January. Maren is an absolute doll who is coming out of her own shell -- venturing over to play with the boys or hand someone a toy before coming back to Mom for reassurance. We were very glad to make young Maren's acquaintance.

Another bonus this visit was to connect with my pal David Downing. David and I have known each other since we were five years old in kindergarten playing Nerf Hoop and Atari. The first thing David noticed was that the tree in the front yard had been taken down -- the very tree he suspended himself from in disbelief after Christian Laettner hit "the shot" in 1992. Sharing a happy hour with David and introducing our crew to him was a great time.

A trip to Glasgow wouldn't be a visit without a stop by Spencer Benedict Stables. The boys roamed around the barn and the fields checking out all the horses and farm equipment. It's a gorgeous place with those great, gentle creatures where kids can run to their heart's content.
Decisions, decisions.....

And of course the boys had to leave their own mark as they fertilized the fence. Gus and Owen are definitely at the point where they marvel at peeing outdoors. (Amy asked that the bum be censored.)

We wrapped up our trip on Friday night with a trip to a Mexican restaurant in Glasgow where for the first time, I enjoyed a beer in my hometown -- legally anyway. The food was great, the cellphone pranks to GJ were entertaining (for me at least), and it was a great way to wrap up a week's visit with our family & friends in Kentucky that we love.

Cheers everyone!

1 comment:

Dad said...

Looks like fun Derek, Sorry we could not be there as we were celebeating Gabi's birthday here. Love ,Laura