Two and Two

Feb 10, 2005

Two and TwoIn the evening, I often find myself stopping my current activity to check on the kids. It’s a pretty natural motion and one I’ve been doing with regularity for a couple of years now. I sneak into their rooms and assure myself that everything is ok. That sound from the baby monitor was just the house settling. That bump on the ceiling was just the cat.

And sometimes, while replacing Cambell’s blanket for the third time
or placing my hand upon chest of our new little one to ensure that his quiet sleeping is just that, a realization hits me: I have kids. To be more specific, I have multiple kids. Plural.

It’s an interesting sensation, part fear and part adulthood, among other things. I truly feel blessed; I never forget that they are due to wake up. Soon.

Cambell, the elder, recently celebrated his second birthday. He has officially entered the terrible twos, although I’d argue he’s taking the transisition better than most. We need to watch him with the chalk, bedtime is more of an event than a scheduled time, and the wife just yelled upstairs to inquire about mysterious noises echoing down the steps but, from all accounts, we’ve gotten off pretty easy.

Two, I think, is the official age when your child starts to become a person. Communication is less of a chore. Poo poo and pee pee occasionally find their way into the potty. Toys are less momentary distractions than actual playthings. It’s an amazing age where experimentation abounds. The world is all about discovery.

His budding use of language is fascinating to witness. Trips to the store with the wife result in the chant of “Wait for ME!” chasing me through the aisles. After searching the house for his milk this morning, Cambell chimed in to help, “It’s in the kitchen, inside the truck.” Leaving the house gets me a heartwarming “I love you TOO.”

Two months, on the other hand, is all about becoming a child of your own. In the past, I’ve gotten in trouble with the wife for referring to newborns as “it”. My reasoning is simple. Until you can tell by inspection, it seems fitting, even though the parents of said child aren’t likely to agree.

Two months, I think, is the age where a child transitions from “it” to him or her, not that there was ever any doubt with Chase. His big tuft of hair left little doubt to his possession of a penis and, for the record, I’ll admit that being his parent makes the prospect of identification that much easier.

He’s smiling now. Chase has a real attention span. He likes things, like watching the mobile above his bed or watching daddy’s impression of a horse. His cries, while still being a slight source of mystery, are more directed, more readable. Most of all, he sleeps through most of the night, almost assuredly helping with his parents clarity of mind. I don’t know that I can discount the effects of extra sleep when trying to discern your beautiful child from a screaming poop machine.

From a parent’s perspective, it’s an exciting, and often exhausting, time. You chase one around the dining room table. You burp the other on your shoulder. One becomes a child before your eyes as the other becomes a kid wrapped around your ankles. Parenthood settles in. Two at a time, I think to myself, both too much and too little.

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One of the things you learn early in parenthood is to be prepared. This might involve leaving more time for those little things, like traveling. It may involve leaving your back turned as little as possible. Most of the time, it’ll involve being ready for the unexpected.

For example, if you were to visit church on Christmas Eve for evening service, you should plan ahead. Dressing, for example, is a little more involved when young ones need to participate. Your pants aren’t the only one in the closet. Your shoes aren’t the only thing needing to discover feet.

You might leave a bit more time for dinner, possibly employing the services of the local Papa John’s rather then attempt to do the heavy lifting yourself. The clock will be ticking. Let’s not forget that one parent can easily be removed from the family preparation picture in a heartbeat, perhaps due to an insatiable infant that — hypothetically, of course — latches onto the breast and becomes determined to never let go.

Before leaving the house, you may want to check the vitals on your mode of transportation. For example, gas is apparently a requirement if you want your car to do simple things, like go. A shining gas light that forces an extra pit stop is not a happy beacon for an anxious grandmother peering through a church window. The fact that your youngest child may wail in the back seat during the entire trip is a possibility you might want consider as well.

Once you arrive at church, you should get comfortable. After all, your church may not offer nursery services for evening mass. Your little one will be easy to keep stationary, particularly after receiving a new set of clothes. Pat yourself on the back. That extra outfit is just the kind of preparation I speak of. The first outfit, liberally laced with the previous contents of the bottle you brought, could very well be ready for retirement.

Your oldest, however, may present additional challenges. Crayons might keep him occupied for a little while. That well of kindness in his heart might keep him still and quiet for more than a few moments. But, eventually, your child is likely to get fidgety. Trust me. I’ve heard stories.

He might stand and sit, stand and sit. He could view the pew as a wonderful piece of playground equipment, using it to venture from one parent to the other.

Of course, restlessness might also manifest itself as unbridled enthusiasm. He might loudly cheer at the conclusion of the sermon. He might gleefully clap and hoot at the end of every hymn. These are little joys, truly shared by all.

Near the end of the service, you might worry about the approaching candlelight hymn. Worries about so much fire surrounding your little one could bother you. Don’t stress. It’s more likely that your child will view it as a massive birthday celebration, following the bob and weave of the candle in an attempt to conclude his birthday wish. Keep it moving and just out of reach. Good luck. Your chances of keeping such a candle lighted are low indeed.

But, eventually, you’ll find your way home. While the echoes of chaos are fresh in the air, you’ll pause to consider the changes in your life that parenthood brings. You’ll thank the little ones that make life unpredictable and be happy for the blessing that is the holidays. You might not have felt ready for such a day, where the unexpected lay behind every corner, but don’t fool yourself. The only thing you truly could be unprepared for is spending the next morning without them.

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Official Statistics

Dec 4, 2004

For those who are sure to ask, here’s the lowdown on my newborn son:

Name: Chase Kenneth Wootton
Time: 4:26 am, November 21, 2004
Weight: 8 lbs .04 ounces (7 lbs. 15 ounces before going to the nursery)
Length: 21 inches
Favorite Current Video Game: Half-life 2

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Baby Boy Number 2

Dec 4, 2004

Chase Kenneth Wootton

I didn’t really expect to find myself in the hospital just after midnight,
early on a Sunday morning. The wife had emerged from the bathroom
just a short while ago. Her water had broken. It was time to go.

I didn’t anticipate that it would happen so fast. It seemed only moments ago
when the babysitter for Cam arrived. I packed the truck.
I threw the camera in the back. I added the new car seat in its
proper spot. Less than four hours later, 7 centimeters was the
measurement of interest.

And I really didn’t know what to do with myself when the doctor
and nurses began to move with a sense of urgency. The little
heartbeat emitting from the nearby monitor was straining.
Contractions made it dangerously slow. I found myself slightly
out of the way while the hospital staff took the necessary precautions.

My wife found her bed titled — her head lower than her feet. An oxygen
mask was placed over her mouth. The strained lines that crossed across her
face weren’t the result labor pains.
In a fit of courage, she pleaded with the doctor. “Tell me what I
can do to help my baby. I’ll do anything.”

The doctor replied in a calm voice, “Just try not to wander into the

Shortly thereafter, things settled down. My wife’s blood pressure
rebounded. The baby’s heartbeat stabalized. Active labor was about
to begin. We waited for things to remain calm for a bit.
Twenty minutes followed. The quiet beep of the baby’s heart kept
us company.

Chase, Taking it Easy

We were relieved when things began in earnest. The wife was prepared –
even excited – to begin pushing. She barely got the chance. After a
couple of pushes, I stole a glimpse of a small tuft of hair. A few
pushes later, the doctor grabbed a pair of forceps and told the wife
he’d take things from here.

Before I knew it, my second son lay in my wife’s arms. He cried, providing
two parents the desired assurance that he was ok. I followed his lead.
Chase Kenneth Wootton, meet world. World, meet my youngest son.

I’ve tried to write this blog, a chronicle of the birth of my second
son, several times. Each time the events of the birth sound
dire, something that will likely surprise those who’ve talked to me since.
In casual conversation, I tend to dismiss the harried events of the actual
birth rather quickly. However, when putting things in writing, I can’t
seem to dodge the sparks of fear and worry that preceded the little gift
from God that followed.

I suppose it is a reminder of just how lucky we are. From what I understand,
all the concern I felt was not a mistake. It wasn’t just a feeling brought
on my watching scurrying folks in hospital scrubs. We were later told
that a nearby room had been prepped for an emergency C-section, just in case.

God has blessed us. The Wootton clan now counts 4 in their number.
We are, by all official measures, a family. We no longer
talk of our child. We speak of “our boys”. We fret over “the kids”.
Critical mass has been reached, filling our house, heart, and
lives rather nicely.

I believe the biggest surprise in the end, if you speak to my wife and I, is
that this family thing happened at all. Three years ago, we would have given anything for
what we have now. Two years of trying with no results ensured we felt
the grips of despair. Now we pick our little dreams up for hugs and nestle
them close just because we can. There isn’t a better feeling in the

The Wootton Family

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Sports Fan

Sep 28, 2004

A couple of Sundays ago, the wife ran off to a baby shower — probably the 100th baby shower she’s attended since getting pregnant herself — leaving me in sole possession of our child. I was a little worried. Sunday in the fall should really be referred to as Football Sunday. The Ravens were suiting up. The kid was asleep. I worried about my ability to watch 22 men fight over an odd-shaped ball and entertain my child at the same time.

It turned out that he was a welcome addition to my Sunday ritual. The kid slept for much of the first quarter. When he did wake, he was as good as gold.

Outside of a request for some Baby Einstein, he didn’t seem to mind that dad was watching the game. He played on the floor. He visited me on the couch. He learned to signal touchdown. For a just a little while, he watched some football. He and dad managed to get some pigskin bonding in between commercials.

Afterwards, we walked around the block. His tiny legs and distracted eyes made the short jaunt a longer, but enjoyable, trek. After all, the sun was shining. The sky was blue. My little boy was keeping me company. Sometimes parenting is all it is cracked up to be.

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Sep 27, 2004

I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately. The fall season is in full swing. My TIVO is back from its summer vacation. The wife and I often settle down for the evening and catch some rays from the boob tube. The only odd thing about this is that I’m often watching alone. The wife is there in body but not in spirit.

She’s mailing in her attention. After a day of carrying around quite a sack behind her belly button and chasing the previous contents of her uterus around the living room, she’s ready to relax. This relaxation normally includes her eyelids. I can’t blame her. I’m glad I don’t have a bowling ball clamoring around in my insides. I only worry about the content of the TV she watches. It’s incomplete and, in some cases, disturbing.

For example, Monster House is a show we watch a lot. To me, it’s a home improvement show with a guy’s twist. To her, the show is about a group of contractors that start an ambitious project only never to complete it. What a mess these folks make! At least they could clean up.

Her vision of CSI is even more disturbing. Apparently, CSI is a show about horrible crimes that forever remain unsolved. Heinous acts are committed and no one ever figures out what happens. The nightmares must be awful.

The thing is she doesn’t care. Only my compulsive desire to watch more TV than is healthy and my compulsive need to see everything to completion drives TV to a realm where it might be considered important. She’s just happy to find any place and any position that allows her even the shortest moment of shut-eye. More power to her.

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My Baby This Week

Sep 24, 2004

I think BabyCenter rocks.
Outside of the occasional advertisement in the mail (hey, they have to pay the bills), their weekly updates on both my little boys, born and unborn, provide some of the best email I get.

They say
Cambell is learning new words. They aren’t joking. New words sprout
from his tongue every day. Pete and RePete are pretty good friends.
Occasionally he takes time from his work with linguistics to surprise us
with new abilities. Today, he grabbed the wand from me as I was blowing
bubbles in the backyard. Before I could instruct him, he put it to his
mouth and blew. His bubbles chased mine into oblivion. There’s a lot
of that “guess what he did today” going around lately.

They say
the baby in the belly is growing at a rapid rate; muscles and lungs
are forming. My wife will attest to that, along with the heartburn they
mention. Those muscles are fueling the poking and prodding she feels

If you are have a young one or, better yet, one on the way, check them
out. Their weekly factoids are easily
digestible, sometimes offering a quick peek at progress and sometimes
giving you a peek into what is going on in there. Who knew?
This internet thing is pretty cool.

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The Mystery of Crying

Jul 27, 2004

A year and a half of parenting instills confidence. You know your child’s schedule. You know your child’s cry. You think you know when to comfort. You think you know when to enforce. Still, a little thing like putting your kid to sleep can shake you up a bit.

The wife and I spent the last hour and a half putting our child to sleep tonight. It was a constant struggle of tears and stress for the child and parents both respectively and consecutively.

I know what you are thinking, particularly if you are a parent yourself. An hour and a half doesn’t sound like that long. Kids act up. It happens. Well, it doesn’t happen to us. At least, it doesn’t happen all that often and it is very rarely a fight of any kind. Out of character is an easy description. Strange alien child with a spinning head is another.

We started by going through the checklist. The diaper feels fine. He doesn’t appear to have a temperature. He ate like a beast during dinner. Oragel was already administered as he attempted to gnaw off his hand earlier in the day.

We then went through his list of possible secondary objectives. He wouldn’t be watching a movie on mommy’s bed tonight. That’s a treat, not a habit. Rocking him to bed, normally no-no in the Wootton household, was an option we partially offered. It was accepted until his back hit the sheets.

We then worried about the storm. Thunder and lightning accompanied his attempts to sleep. Somewhere nearby was getting hammered but the fury wasn’t overhead. Rumblings and faded lightshows rarely bother him. I’d be surprised if that was the problem but you never know. He might have inherited his mother’s fear of God’s bowling practices.

I held him and brought him to the window, opening the blinds so he could see outside. “See the lightning? It’s like fireworks. See the trees swaying in the wind? Hear the thunder? It rumbles.”

He didn’t look worried as I carried him back to his crib. He twisted himself to my shoulder and let out an audible burp. His eyes closed. His problem wasn’t food or a diaper. It wasn’t a fear outside his window or hidden motive he couldn’t communicate. It was gas.

He turned over and went to sleep. I watched him rest, wondering how much and how little I really know.

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Camping at a Resort

Jun 4, 2004

While sitting by the campfire at Cherrystone Campground in Cheriton,Virginia (found along the Eastern Shore, on that little piece of Virginia found to the East of the Chesapeake Bay), I got the distinct feeling that I wasn’t camping, really. There was a fire at my feet and an empty beer by my side but something was amiss. The campground was too alive, particularly after the sun had long ago settled behind the bay.

The occasional engine of a monster truck sounded off a few rows over. The family across the road from us had no clue how to work their car alarm, leaving its serenade for all to hear over and over and over). The campsites were tightly packed, with few patches of land and few trees to separate one neighbor from the next. It didn’t feel particularly private and it didn’t feel much like camping.

A closer look at the pamphlet might have revealed the problem. The word “Resort” is prominently displayed and resort might be a much more fitting description. After all, there were four pools. A pool for kids (incredibly cold), two pools for everyone (incredibly crowded), and pool for adults (closed at 6:00 pm, incredibly early) were scattered about the campground. The camp store was the size of Walmart (without Walmart’s prices, of course) and sported beer (this was actually a good thing). There were boats to rent and a fish-cleaning pavilion to bring your catch. The pavilion wasn’t hard to locate; simply follow the smell carried by the morning wind.

The positive parts of the trip were brought with me. In order, that would be my family, my friends, and my DVD player. From what I understand, A Mighty Wind is just as entertaining under trees as it is in my living room. Good company can make up for a lot and, in this case, it was needed.

I should mention that the trip home was pretty entertaining. We would spend the morning and afternoon navigating Memorial Day traffic north to Baltimore and over the Bay Bridge. A traffic jam in Easton was solved by my lovely wife. A 50 mph trip around Easton is a whole lot better than a 5 mph trip through Easton. A second detour around traffic led us a community lake, complete with ducks for my son to chase. The two portable potties served their purpose after a long drive. It’s odd to say I enjoyed the trip home. My son was an absolute angel strapped down in his car seat and the detours we took not only solved our traffic problems, they provided welcome diversions to a long, 5 hour trip home.

It shouldn’t be surprising that the wife and I didn’t think much of the Cherrystone Family Camping Resort. Every thought of Cherrystone brings sounds of car alarms to our ears. My gracious offer to teach our neighbors exactly how to use their alarm was ignored, leaving a ringing first impression that serves as an unwelcome warning against a return visit.

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My Flowers

May 25, 2004

The wife surprised me with one of these when I walked in the door from work today. I was quite pleased. No, it doesn’t smell wonderful and, no, I don’t need a vase or water to keep it alive. But, you know, flowers of the pedal kind aren’t my thing. Cool pieces of technology — now that’s some horticulture I can rally around.

Word to the wise: know how to keep your man happy. Women aren’t the only ones who appreciate the unsoliticed gift now and then, even if it requires a TV to bloom properly.

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