Monday, September 28, 2009

The Bowling Ball

As we mentioned last week Owen & Gus would not let Amy and I bypass our birthdays without celebrating it just like the professionals do -- in other words, like a four year-old would celebrate it.

On Thursday night we took the kids out to eat and had the staff come out to serenade Amy with "Happy Birthday." They brought her ice cream, which was quickly devoured by Owen, Gus, and Tess. Then on the way home I stopped to get the birthday cake that I had ordered. So dessert #2 was held in our kitchen after which there were three children with sugar levels rivaling a female East German sprinter's testosterone level.

Rather than try to squelch the kids' energy by telling them that they shouldn't chase each other around the downstairs at full speed, Amy & I encouraged the kids to run faster to get all the energy out before we even contemplated baths & bedtime. All three children happily obliged, and even Tucker got in on the action of chasing each other around and making noise.

Unfortunately for Gus, Tucker moved over in front of him during a chase sequence sending Gus tumbling head first into the hard floor. I had always thought that lumps on the head were things of Popeye and Wile E. Coyote cartoons. But no, they are very real as a lump the size of a buckeye protruded from Gus's forehead for the next several hours. In true hardheaded fashion, Gus took the lump like a champ and considered it his badge of courage.

When we celebrated my birthday on Saturday, Amy took the boys out to the dollar store so they could buy some balloons and the boys could get Dad one present each. When they allowed me back in the house to see the decorations and open the presents, I was treated to a slingshot gun that propelled rubber space shuttles and a plastic toy gun that shot ping-pong balls -- in other words, exactly what a dad needs and purely a 100% coincidence that the boys might also enjoy them.

I didn't even get them out of the packages before the boys snatched them and ran off with their new acquisitions. It reminded me of this episode of The Simpsons from season 1.

Birthdays are great when celebrated with little ones that love to celebrate.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Derek!!

While we couldn't help the Cats pull out a win on your big day, we enjoyed celebrating by making your shirt. The one of a kind shirt includes Owen's fish carrying, rock crushing truck and Gus's green rocket truck with a red driver showing the blood flowing through his healthy body.

Happy birthday from the whole gang!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Feliz CumpleaƱos a Mama

A big Happy Birthday to Amy today!

Owen and Gus were so excited for their mom's birthday -- much more excited than we parents get at the thought of notching another year on our belts. Tess was groggily watching her brothers bounce off the walls this morning, but she quickly picked up on the excitement.

The kids had made pictures for Amy -- including an apple tree under a sky of raining hot dogs and hamburgers (Owen & Tess), a sea of fish with a flying airplane truck overhead (Gus & Tess), and a fiery volcano (Owen & Gus) -- and then hid them under the TV table in their playroom.

Then, this morning when Amy got back from her run the boys played "hot" and "cold" to guide her to the hidden birthday treasures. When Amy didn't find it in about 3 seconds, Gus said, "No Mom, upstairs! Upstairs! Under the TV!"

When Amy sat in the floor the boys couldn't pull out their gifts fast enough, including a small package wrapped in birthday paper.

"Here Mom, here are your jelly bellies! Open them! Open them!"

We need to work on playing up the surprise a little bit. But hey, we'll take the botched surprises in exchange for the boundless energy the kids bring to birthdays any day.

Happy Birthday Amy B!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Apparently Andy Roddick reads the blog. Who knew?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009
To: Amy Rutledge, Founder of MMFF (Moms of Multiples For Federer)

Dear Amy,
I am writing to you today as the President and Founder of Concerned Parents Opposed to Poor Sportsmanship, or CPOPS, to issue a plea for you to end your allegiance to Roger Federer. As we are all aware Mr. Federer has represented the sport of tennis very well over the past several years, racking up more Grand Slam championships than anyone in tennis history in the process.

But on Monday night, Federer's loss to Juan Martin del Potro may very well have signaled a changing of the guard in men's tennis. During a court change Federer could be heard voicing his frustration at the chair umpire for allowing a late challenge to a ball that was called out.

While professionals who play at the highest competitive level such as Mr. Federer are certainly known to let their frustrations show from time to time, it's the surprising level of testiness and yes Amy, dare I say vulgarity that emanated from Mr. Federer on Monday that has my organization concerned.

Our children deserve better role models than the likes of a profanity-spewing Serena Williams. Unfortunately now we see that Roger Federer belongs in that category as well.

Join me and my organization in combating this swell of gamesmanship and the lack of sportsmanship that is exhibited by the likes of a so-called champion. End this allegiance to Mr. Federer and join the dozens of tennis fans who think that an American such as myself should be elevated to the top of the men's tennis world.


Andy Roddick

Concerned Parents Opposed to Poor Sportsmanship

(For our readers fortunate enough not to start their careers working in IBM Accounting, CPOPS were purchase orders for things as trivial as office supplies that we entry-level accountants were required to approve by the dozen. This mindless workload drove many an IBMer slowly insane.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Tennis Moral High Horse

So the US Open concluded last night after a weekend of rainouts. The men's final saw the end of Roger Federer's incredible win streak of 40 matches come to an end to a 20 year-old from Argentina in Juan Martin del Potro. As much as Amy's devotion to R-Fed can rival my allegiance to UK athletics -- in other words, fanatical -- I have to admit he is one gracious guy and a heck of a champion. And this shot in the semis against Novak Djokovic is one of the best tennis shots I have ever seen.

Federer did get uncharacteristically perturbed at one point and actually cursed at the chair umpire over del Potro's late challenges. But given the verbal assault that Serena Williams put on the poor linesperson from her semifinal on Saturday, Federer's outburst was incredibly tame.

Amy & I talked a good deal about the Serena tirade. For both of us it will be hard to pull for her again as a tennis player. Even though she has always been less than gracious to her opponents, Serena seemed to have grown up over the past couple of years. Until Saturday anyway...

The problem I have with the Serena situation is not so much the outburst, but the complete lack of contrition she showed until 2 days after the event -- when it was obvious that the media and fans had begun to backlash against her. Only then did she come out and apologize for her actions.

I don't mean to sound like an old curmudgeon. Nor do I like to give too much credence to the argument that our culture and society are going down the toilet. I think part of it is that times change, attitudes change, and we are slow sometimes to accept change.

But the Serena tirade, the Joe Wilson classless outburst during Obama's speech last week, and the Kanye West incident at the MTV Music Awards this week all have one thing in common -- an attitude that only takes oneself into consideration and not others. So even if we are not going down the toilet, there is certainly a lack of respect that is bothersome.

GJ called the house last night to mention that Charlie Gibson had a piece on ABC News last night about this very issue. Today, David Brooks echoes some of the same points in his column that bemoans the lack of modesty in our culture today, contrasting it with 1945 after Americans remained humble despite being victorious in WWII.

I suppose people have been complaining about the eroding respect for other people for generations. And I imagine everyone has his/her own opinion on what the solution is to turn attitudes around. For me, a starting point is teaching my kids not to tell an official in a sporting event that they'll shove an f'ng ball down the official's f'ng throat when a call doesn't go their way.

(Stepping down from soapbox now.)


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Holy Matrimony Bites

A special congratulations goes out to our wonderful friend Dan Wilkerson (aka Lt. Dan) who is getting married in October. Dan was the best man in our wedding and is now stationed in Fort Bragg, NC, an hour away from us here in the Triangle. Dan comes up to visit us periodically when he's not jumping out of Blackhawk helicopters or going through training exercises deep in the woods of eastern North Carolina. When he came up back in August he gave us the good news, and over the weekend he called to tell us the date is set. Amy & I will be traveling to Shreveport, LA for the ceremony. Congrats to Dan!

Other tidbits from our piece of the planet...

GJ & Pappy spent the long holiday weekend with our crew. I got a night out for my Fantasy Football draft (which featured two Cincinnati Bengal selections as well as a former Kentucky Wildcat in Keenan Burton thank you very much). Amy & I got a date night out as well together as well which was a great time. We appreciate the long drive down to NC to see our crew and spend the time with us. Tess is still walking around shouting, "GJ, are you?"

Amy & I are venturing into the world of organized sports for our kids. We signed Owen & Gus up for a 12-week indoor soccer program. This place even has a league for 18-month olds (!) so in theory we could have registered Tess. But when I took her to the place a couple weeks ago while the boys checked it out, Tess was more interested in the whack-a-mole and the flashing lights in the arcade so I think we have a while. As parents Amy & I are making a vow to each other not to be one of those deranged Little League parents that plays the whole "living vicariously" angle through their miserable kids. In other words I promise to give it a couple of weeks before I show up with face paint on at one of their games.

I didn't think it was possible for my wife to like Roger Federer any more than she already did. But since he won his incredible Wimbledon title over Andy Roddick earlier in the summer, Federer went off and became a dad for the first time -- to twins no less! So now Mr. Swiss Cheesehead is now on my TV screen in Gillette commercials and Rolex commercials, he wears tailored white warmup suits before some matches, and he now posts Facebook updates on parenthood. R-Fed is an incredible champion, but I think I could take him in a diaper-changing contest. (Admittedly I am actually coming around a bit on Roger. I enjoy giving Amy grief about him because she's such a rabid fan, but he is definitely one of the classier sports stars out there.)

Are we sure we can?
Trying not to get too bogged down in the politico stuff, but I have to say after watching President Obama deliver his health care address to Congress last night in primetime, I have to say:

"Where in the heck has this guy been for the past 8 months?"


Getting people to accept change is a helluva lot easier than getting people to simply vote for it.

Adam Nagourney has the best analysis of the speech that I've read today.

Finally, my Wildcats are 1-0 after a 42-0 drubbing of lowly Miami (OH). I am playing fantasy football for the first time in a few years after taking a hiatus. And the NFL season kicks off tonight. Fall is definitely in the air -- I love it.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Pre-Labor Day

Fall is in the air in central North Carolina. In September is normally still hot and humid here, but yesterday the humidity dropped and temperatures were in the 70's. If this truly is the end of the 90+ degree days, then this really has been a mild summer compared to other years.

The cool weather definitely has me in the mood for football. Optimism abounds among college fan bases everywhere. Reading the papers here and listening to sports talk radio, you would think both UNC and NC State will be competing for a national championship come January.

It's the same thing reading the blogs for my Kentucky Wildcats. Nevermind the fact that UK lost its best defensive lineman to a (crummy) illegal substance test. Nevermind the fact that it limped to a putrid finish to the season with a loss to Vanderbilt at home and a ho-hum performance to a down Tennessee team. That was so last year. Things are going to be different this year. So sayeth the sages in the blogosphere anyway.

That is part of the fun though. Saturdays in the fall with the windows open, the breeze coming through, and football from noon to night. I am looking forward to the first games tomorrow night.

Speaking of fall, has there been a more notable fall from grace than that of Mr. Billy Gillispie? Two years ago the guy went from good ole boy Texas ball coach to the head job at one of the most storied programs in college basketball. Fast forward to today and he was fired from the UK job, sued the university for $6M, faced the public revelation of abusive treatment toward his players for 2 years, and now gets arrested on a DUI on his return to Kentucky to negotiate a settlement to his lawsuit.

The compassionate response would be, "I hope the guy gets help to turn his life around because he clearly has a drinking problem." But the diehard UK fan in me, who will never forgive him for ruining the college experience for one of my favorite UK players of all time in Jodie Meeks, tends to shrug a "karma has a way of coming back to bite you" response to Gillispie's troubles.

(Gregg Doyel has one of the better summaries of the BCG situation out there.)

This will look good on the cover letter to his resume for his next head coaching application.

Elsewhere on our front, Amy has been going full throttle on getting the Worship & Wonder program going at our church for the kids. We painted the classroom last weekend. We have trays, towels, a Montessori bell, and all the stories ready to go. It all starts this weekend with an orientation followed by the first class on September 13.

Owen & Gus got a "no cavities" report from the dentist this morning. Tess is entering the "I think I'd like to get into everything" stage now as an 18-month old. Things are good with our crew.

Safe holiday weekend to our readers & enjoy yourselves.