Thursday, August 31, 2006

between smiles

[posted by bkmarcus]
One of the reasons we've put up fewer photographs of Benjamin is, ironically, that he's smiling more often.

This means that we're always grabbing the camera while he's briefly grinning and then snapping the shutter once he's looking distracted or perplexed. The smiles of our 8-week-old boy are ephemeral things.

But family members have expressed a desire for more photos, so here are a couple:

- papa

in a not-so-silent way

[posted by bkmarcus]
As maman mentioned, Benjamin has been getting an increased dose of jazz recently, specifically Miles Davis. We purchased a contraption that allows me to hook my iPod to the side of his crib and play him my MP3s through small speakers in the contraption. It's a great setup, but it's cheap and you get what you pay for: the bass on the "womb sounds" recording we'd been using for his bedtime ritual started making distortion sounds on the little speakers. Lucky for me, I got no such distortion when I switched to Miles Davis's In a Silent Way, which is one of my all-time favorite albums, and one that Squirmantha's parents had already introduced into her bedtime ritual.

ocean waves icon

Ocean Waves 1.3

Download (804KB)
  • Date: May 5, 2006
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later
  • License: Free to try; Shareware $5

Benben fell asleep, with or without the help of the music I don't know. But it soothes his papa, so the ritual will continue.

As I write this, however, with Benjamin asleep on my chest as I work (well, asleep on my chest as I take a break from work to write this blog post), what has helped calm the boy down and fall asleep is not music but the synthesized sound of "Ocean Waves" playing on my computer. If you have a Mac and a baby, I recommend this very helpful little shareware app.

- papa

Monday, August 28, 2006

Baby boogie

[posted by Nat]
Isis recently posted on her musical education which got me to thinking about Benben's musical education -- in part because Isis introduced me to Peter Gabriel and re-introduced me to Paul Simon, and Benben and I have been dancing to "So" and "Graceland" during vertical time or fussy time.

So far Benben has listened to Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven (both on his mobile and off Maman's MP3s), the fave trio of the baby education world (even though the "Mozart effect" has been debunked). He has also been introduced to Marin Marais and Couperin, as well as Renaissance chants of Josquin Desprez. He has heard pieces by Haydn, Chopin, Handel, Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Boccherini, and Paganini from a surprisingly good CD that came with our free diaper bag from the Enfamil formula (and no, Benben isn't on formula, but we thought an extra diaper bag would be helpful and that having a few cans of free formula around in case of an emergency is not a bad idea no matter what the breastfeeding fanatics say -- see the ban on free formula bags in MA).

He also listens to Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg, and Francis Cabrel -- we need to get some Edith Piaf in there! -- and let's not forget the hundreds of traditional French children's songs on CDs Bebjamin's been given by his grandmother and great aunt.

And much much Miles, as well as some John Coltrane. (This isn't taking into account the jazz he has listened to with his papa when he's gone to work with him and I wasn't around.) [benpapa inserts: I wish I could mix music and editing -- no such luck.]

There is also Sting, Cake (which calmed Benben down immediately the other day), and Bare Naked Ladies. And Shakira. (Maman really has a thing for dancing to Shakira's "La Tortura" and "Hips Don't Lie" these days -- very good for getting rid of her baby belly...) And we mustn't forget the Buffy Musical ("Once Again With Feeling").

I'm sure I am forgetting something. Lots of somethings.

Any suggestions for good vertical time music or for Benben's musical education?

postscript from papa, who sometimes joins the dance

Here's what A.Word.A.Day has to say about 'tarantism':

tarantism (TAR-uhn-tiz-uhm) noun

An uncontrollable urge to dance.

[After Taranto, a town in southern Italy where this phenomenon was experienced during the 15-17th centuries. It's not clear whether tarantism was the symptom of a spider's bite or its cure, or it may have been just a pretext to dodge a prohibition against dancing. The names of the dance tarantella and the spider tarantula are both derived from the same place.]

Emphasis added.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

alien love child

[posted by bkmarcus]
No matter how many times benben's maman told me this past week, I couldn't seem to remember that Saturday afternoon was our infant CPR training — and the first time we'd leave baby bubba with a sitter, the remarkable Miss Angel.

I'm very glad we took the class, and I feel guilty and stupid for not at least reading up on infant CPR between Benday (July 5) and this weekend, but now we're caught up.

(And we don't understand why we weren't taught in the hospital what to do when an infant is choking, since it took up a whole 3 minutes of yesterday's 3-hour class.)

One thing I'm very grateful for is the weird little practice dummy you see above and to the right. The Actar 911 Infantry CPR practice mannequin.

Here's why.

After spending an hour or two on adult and child CPR, going through video scenarios, practice, more video, more practice, they finally get to infant-specific CPR. The video shows grandma and grandpa baby-sitting. Grandma goes to check on her grand-daughter in the crib and finds that the baby girl's not breathing.

Already I feel my anxiety starting to spike. Then grandma lets out a cry of anguish and I have to will my tears to stay inside my head. I try to keep my cool through the rest of the scene, but I keep asking myself why I'm the only one struggling. Well, I wasn't. In my focus on not embarrassing myself in front of pregnant strangers, I failed to notice that benben's mama is having her own emotional struggles while this video drama plays out.

Once the scenario was over and our instructor paused the tape, she explained that this was the point when infant CPR students tended to lose their focus. So to give us some emotional distance from the practice we had to do, she was going to pass out alien babies for us to resuscitate.

God bless her.

We now know how to keep the Actar 911 Infantry infant breathing until the paramedics arrive. Maybe that will translate to knowing what to do if something similar ever happens with a human baby. I hope we never find out.

- papa

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]
Interestingly timely word from A.W.A.D today:

Friday, August 18, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]
A week or so ago, Benben sarted curving up the corners of his mouth as he woke up. Looked different from gas smiles. But his eyes were closed, and the only part of his face moving were those 2 mouth corners.

Now he's starting to open his eyes and mouth wide at the same time. Are these real smiles?
I'm wary of wishful thinking.

Meanwhile, we've got one wide-eyed shot of him in his carseat and one with him relaxing on his favorite lion:

- papa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

roll over, Beethoven!

[posted by bkmarcus]
Proud papa can't believe how casually maman said, "Of course, you have turned over 2 times during tummy time -- almost three, but the third time you just lay wailing on your side."

C'mon! My boy turned himself over again before he was 6 weeks old!

(Which, by the way, he is today: 6 weeks, 18 hours, and some number of minutes ago, Benjamin entered the world.)

Let me repeat:

The Textbook baby... reaches all the milestones right on schedule -- sleeps through the night by three months, rolls over by five [months!], sits up by six....

So one time at 17 days might have been a fluke. But twice before he's 1½ months seems far less fluky.

And a day or two later, he almost did it a third time. He was on his side, trying to get over onto his back, and each time he started to sort of tumble over, he'd kick his leg in frustration and swing himself back up to side-lying position.

Then he gave up, lay on his side and screamed bloody murder. Only at this point did his father's sympathy overcome his vicarious ambition -- and I picked him up and comforted him and rewarded him with his favorite activity: a nice warm bath.
- papa

lullaby lyrics

[posted by bkmarcus]

Friday, August 11, 2006

Premier Moisniversaire

[posted by Nat]
Mon petit amour,

Your Mamie has a coined a new French word: moisniversaire (I'm guessing on the spelling). A moisniversaire is the monthly celebration of a birth and your first moisniversaire was a week and a half ago. I hope to follow in the footsteps of Squirmantha's parents and write to you every month about what that month has been like for all of us (my monthly letter is very late -- and you'll be 6 weeks old tomorrow!). I should add that it is a little strange for me to write to you in English since I only speak French to you, but we want to share these letters. This way you'll know that your maman does indeed speak English too ;-) .

It's hard to decide where to begin. Last time I wrote to you, you were 3 weeks old and now, at nearly six weeks, you are changing faster and faster. Last night, for example, you almost slept through the night! "Sleeping through the night" means sleeping 6 hours straight in baby world talk and I think you would have slept 6 hours if I hadn't helped you wake up because I figured you were very very hungry in your deep deep sleep. Of course, when I woke up at 6:30 this morning and figured out that I hadn't heard a peep from you in 5½ hours, my heart stopped and I rushed into your room. And there you were, fast asleep, in the same position your papa had left you in the night before. At 1 a.m. Because last night you had no desire to fall asleep... This doesn't happen too often, but when you don't want to sleep, you just don't sleep.

You are also getting very strong. You kick us a lot. You also headbutt us (practicing a Zidane move?) while you work your little neck. This morning you lifted your head almost immediately when I put you down for tummy time and you were more interested in looking at what was in front of you than turning your head from side to side (which is what you usually do ). At one moment you looked poised to crawl. Of course, you have turned over 2 times during tummy time -- almost three, but the third time you just lay wailing on your side.

You are also looking at us more. This makes us happy. I keep reading in parenting articles that newborns love to look at their parents' faces. You, however, love to look at whatever is behind us, which sort of freaks us out and we have wondered if there is something wrong with your eyes. You are beginning to track objects -- this morning it was a mirror you were admiring yourself in -- so I think your eyes are ok (hope you don't have the Charron astigmatism...).

Last week you had your 1 month doctor's visit. Your head has grown an inch in circumference and you have grown an inch in length (we thought you had grown more than that, but perhaps you just seem longer because your default position is no longer the fetal position). You weighed 9 lbs and 10 oz. a week ago, which means you may weigh 10 lbs now. In fact, I think you may weigh more because over the last couple of days you seem more solid and heavier when I pick you up. We found out that your length right now and at birth has you in the 75th percentile and that your weight now has you in the 50th -- and we were surprised to find out that your birth weight had you in the 25th (seemed like it should have been closer to 50th because you were nearly 8 lbs which I thought was an average size). In any case, you are eating well, though I was a little worried because you eat fast -- it takes you about 10 minutes, give or take a few minutes -- and I wasn't sure you were getting to the hind milk. Apparently some babies can empty a breast in 4 to 5 minutes.

Although during the last few weeks we have witnessed some amazing changes in you (including more and more proto-smiles), you've also had some problems. You had a terrible case of acne a couple of weeks ago. It then became a rash, but now seems to have faded almost completely away. We minded more than you did. What you
do mind, however, is the reflux and the medicine you have to take for it. Three times a day you take Zantac, which is formulated to be minty fresh for adults and thus horrifyingly refreshing for a baby. I've asked the pharmacy to put grape flavoring in it (I should add that I have always hated grape flavoring -- reminds me of medicine I took as a child, but it was the only one available for your medicine) which seems to help a little, but you still usually scream your head off when we give it to you or have several convulsed looks of shock when you swallow it (eyes wide open, head jerking back) that I find even more upsetting than your cries. We think the med is helping, though you sometimes start crying towards the end of your feeds. We also now have "vertical time" after each feed, meaning that you are either held or propped up on a boppy or in your bouncy seat or swing to get gravity to help you digest.

Speaking of swings and bouncy seats, you are a very fortunate little boy because you inherited some great ones. Squirmantha's bouncy seat has been a life saver (perhaps literally) in the middle of the night when you need to be vertical, but I'm so sleepy that I'm afraid I'll drop you. Your swings, given to you by George, sooth you and give you a place to hang out while maman eats her breakfast or papa works (he has George's small and portable Ocean Wonder's swing on his desk now).

In fact, we are moved by how generous family and friends have been -- even people we don't know. You have received so many wonderful clothes, blankets, things that play music, books, etc., that your maman is way way behind in writing thank you notes. You've also had more visits from out-of-state. Uncle Evan and Uncle Rich came down from New York to meet you.

Uncle Evan gave you two books that are important to him: Charlotte's Web and Where the Wild Things Are. I love these books too and look forward to hearing your papa read them to you (I can only read to you in French -- fortunately Squirmantha's Auntie Skip, Grandma's friend Barbara, and maman's friend Cat have jump-started your French library).

Well, my sweet boy, I know I'll have even more to say next month, so I am going to stop writing now and sneak into your room and see how your nap is going. And to admire you.

Gros bisous, mon bébé,
ta maman


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

another take your son to work day

[posted by bkmarcus]

... in a much more pleasant environment than the last one.

- papa

benben stone

[posted by bkmarcus]
From Wikipedia:
Benben Stone

Benben, in Egyptian mythology, or more specifically, in the Ogdoad, is the mound that arose from the primordial waters, Nu, that had upon it Atum, sitting. It was said to have turned into a small pyramid, located in Annu, which was the place Atum was said to dwell within.

The Benben stone, named after this, was a sacred stone in the solar temple of Heliopolis. It is thought to have been the prototype for later obelisks, and the capstones of the great pyramids were based on its design.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

the childhood pattern of genius

[posted by bkmarcus]
(The main reason I'm posting this here is to let maman comment on "genius.")

From one of my homeschooling lists:
In 1960, Harold McCurdy directed a study titled "The Childhood Pattern of Genius," commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute.

The study uncovered a three part recipe for developing high achievement in our kids:
  1. Much time spent with warm, responsive parents and other adults;
  2. Very little time spent with peers; and
  3. A great deal of free exploration under parental guidance.
McCurdy concluded, "The mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on reducing all three factors to a minimum; accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurrence of genius."

So, print this paragraph and put it to memory and you shouldn't have any trouble explaining why you homeschool!

I thought I should look for McCurdy's study before blogging about it, but I can't find it online. I do, however, find many other references to it.

Marvin Minsky, the famous co-founder of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab quotes McCurdy in a recent paper:
Harold G. McCurdy: "The present survey of biographical information on a sample of twenty men of genius suggests that the typical development pattern includes these important aspects: (1) a high degree of attention focused upon the child by parents and other adults, expressed in intensive educational measures and usually, abundant love; (2) isolation from other children, especially outside the family; (3) a rich efflorescence of fantasy [i.e. creativity] as a reaction to the preceding conditions."
This is Minsky's footnote:
Harold G. McCurdy, The Childhood Pattern of Genius. Horizon Magazine, May 1960, pp. 32-38. McCurdy concluded that mass education in public schools has "the effect of reducing all three of the above factors to minimum values."

The Good Doctors W

[posted by bkmarcus]
The OB who delivered Benjamin is Dr. W.

Before Benjamin was born, we interviewed the pediatrician of our nextdoor neighbors and we were comfortable enough with him to sign on. He's another Dr. W.

This second Dr. W happened to be on vacation the week maman's water broke, so Baby Ben got his first checkup from the pediatrician on call. She's yet another Dr. W.

Since today's visit was unscheduled, we saw this last Dr. W. She's now seen him 3 times, whereas his official primary physician (the 2nd Dr. W) has seen him only once.

Anyway, I forgot in my previous post to report that Dr W. said other than the acid and the bumps, Benjamin's checkup was "perfect." Still a healthy boy.

And he now weighs 9 pounds 10 ounces.

- papa

Labels: ,


[posted by bkmarcus]
One of my favorite habits of this little boy is how he bends when he is waking up. This is why his nickname is Bendy. Unfortunately, he also bends (i.e., arches his back) sometimes when he is nursing, which turns out to be one of the several symptoms he has of acid reflux. We took the poor boy into the pediatrician today because his maman phoned to ask about making him more comfortable when he's eating (since he seems increasingly uncomfortable now) and the nurse suggested we bring him in and let the doctor take a look.

Benjamin's "well baby" one-month visit was already scheduled for a week from today. Saturday will be his one-month birthday. Since I wasn't worried about his "milk bumps" I figured I would wait until Tuesday to ask about them, but since we were in for the one issue, we asked about the other.

So Ben-ben is having these 2 reactions to his food supply:
  1. acid reflux
  2. infant acne
Poor little guy.

His face is all broken-out like the worst acne I ever saw in high school, but we're assured that he doesn't mind it and that it will come and go for another month or two and then go away for good. Meanwhile, you might be seeing fewer photos of him for a while.

The acid reflux he definitely does mind, and his mother is at the drug store right now picking up his prescription. We're crossing fingers and knocking on wood that the medicine will relieve him quickly. If it doesn't do the trick, then we begin to suspect colic. But I very much doubt it's colic.

- papa