Tuesday, October 31, 2006

why we call him the pumpkin

[posted by bkmarcus]
A year ago tonight, I posted this to my blog:

Monday, October 31, 2005

afraid of the dark

Calvin and Hobbes both speak for me. I love autumn, but there is an unavoidable melancholy in the fall.

It's been cold and very rainy in this part of the world. Hard to hike on the weekends when the weekends have all been so miserable out. Then yesterday was gorgeous -- shorts and sandals in the last few days of October, clear blue skies -- but the missus is neck deep in paperwork, so I ended up heading out by myself.

I took the iPod, of course. Mises University 2005 lectures for the drive to and from the state park, but I listened to The Map that Changed the World while hiking.

Other than missing my beloved hiking partner, I found it perfect.

Except that it's late October and it was already getting dark earlier -- AND we set the clocks back this weekend, so the 6pm darkness came around 5pm and I finished the loop in pitch black. It's amazing the things that look like monsters and bad guys in total darkness. I'm glad I decided at the last minute to stick to the paved trail instead of taking our usual meander through the woods.

Tonight is Halloween, but I got a fair spooking a day early this year.

But what I didn't know when I posted that, was that a few hours later, my beloved missus would suggest that we go to CVS and buy a home pregnancy kit, and that shortly after that we'd be standing together in the bathroom of our Swarthmore apartment, Halloween night, looking down at the word etched in liquid crystal:
Sunday night I went walking in the woods again, first time without my wife in 364 days. Once again, I was listening to a history audiobook, this time on Ancient Greece. Unlike last time, however, I had a baby boy on my chest. We made it back well before dark.

Here's the boy in the hat his mother made him this morning:

- papa

Thursday, October 26, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]
Samantha's mother (sometimes aka "SammyMammy") thinks this photo of Nathalie's should be the new blog masthead:
- papa
Maman explains:
That little face is what I see when I do sit-ups these days. Benben is my personal trainer. He sits on my stomach and smiles broadly and tries to eat my nose each time I do a crunch and exclaim "un! ... dix! ... trente!". It's nice to have his enthusiasm cheer me on as I try to reduce the baby belly.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]
If you're a Macintosh user with a baby, I really have to recommend AlphaBaby: a free computer application that makes it safe for your baby to play with your computer.

AlphaBaby keeps your input (keyboard, mouse) from reaching any of your active applications. What keystrokes and mouse clicks do instead is play sounds and display colorful shapes and letters at random locations on the screen.

I had the pleasure of my son's company this afternoon while his mother took a shower. My screensaver for the past few months has been a slideshow of all my photographs of the boy. When his baby pictures came on the screen, I noticed him noticing them. So I thought I'd give AlphaBaby a try.

I sat Benjamin on my desk with his feet on the keyboard. At first, random muscle jerks triggered the shapes and letters, but Benjamin quickly caught on and started moving his feet more deliberately. He found this very funny. It's a delight to hear him laugh.

So I turned him sideways, held his right hand to keep him upright, and let him touch the keyboard with his left hand. Yup. He understood. How wonderful to watch my boy playing deliberately with a computer keyboard before he's even able to sit upright on his own.
- papa

Monday, October 23, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]

Maman took Benjamin for a walk this afternoon in his stroller. This thing (pictured here while I was painting the nursery back in the spring) takes his carseat or can be adjusted to let him sit up in it, as you see him doing above. Today was his first time sitting up in the stroller and only the 2nd or 3rd time out for "a stroll."

His mother said he was holding on to the side (he can't sit up unassisted for now) and looked like he was thinking, "Damn women drivers!"

- papa

Saturday, October 21, 2006

bathtime ultimatum

[posted by bkmarcus]
Bathtime is very different now.

Benjamin has gone from happy-but-still-and-silent to expressive-but-still-laid-back (except for the one time we put him in a bucket) to the seafood affair (and the swarm of ducks) to now presenting me with a sort of ultimatum:
Either you help me sit upright in this thing, papa, or I'll kick my feet constantly and splash bathwater everywhere -- especially onto you.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Svan Chair redux

[posted by bkmarcus]

Benben and his frog

[posted by Nat]

For the last couple of weeks Benjamin has been very good at kicking the butterfly that hangs from the middle of the arches over his playmat. (The butterfly plays music every time it moves. ) But having no biceps to speak of, he had trouble moving his arms. They mostly waved wildly or came up only a couple inches from the mat.

Well, as of this week, the frog that hangs from one of the arches is no longer safe. Benjamin can reach up and grab it by its funky collar (a collar that makes crinkle sounds) and pull it towards his mouth to nibble on its toes. This is done with some grunting and lots of ... muttering?

I am amazed by how suddenly he seems to be able to use his hands and arms.

The better to get things in his mouth!
- maman

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]

Have I mentioned that my camera is lousy with colors?

- papa

Monday, October 16, 2006

action shot

[posted by bkmarcus]

see food ...

[posted by bkmarcus]
Here's the story of how Benjamin learned to love seafood:

- papa

Sunday, October 15, 2006

3 more turnovers

[posted by bkmarcus]
This morning, while papa was sleeping in, maman did tummytime with benben, during which he turned over THREE TIMES, doubling his lifetime total in a single morning.

- proud papa

Thursday, October 12, 2006

troisieme moisniversaire

[posted by Nat]
Mon cher petit Benjamin,

The "fourth trimester" is now over and you are 3 months old! Right now I am sitting on my bed while you sleep in your crib. You had a hard time falling asleep because you kept losing your beloved sucette (pacifier). Everytime it fell out you screamed as if someone had been pinching you. Or someone cruelly stole your sucette. And who was the thief? Your right hand.

Yes, over the last couple of weeks you have discovered your hands. Several times this week you have sat in rapt admiration of them. You put your hands together and entwine your fingers and stare at them. And then you try to get them apart, grunting as you do it. We've been sticking things in you hands for a few weeks now after I read some parenting newsletter that claimed you should be picking things up!! Ends up that newsletter was way off base (or I misread it... that might be the more likely scenario these days).

Speaking of hands, I keep forgetting to talk about your hands in these letters. You have big hands. In fact, right after you were born the doctor looked at you in my arms and commented on how big your hands were. I think you have Charron hands, specifically your great-grandmother's. She was a pianist so I must admit that I hope you enjoy playing the piano when you are older. I'm thinking your very long thumb is going to help you span more than an octave on the keyboard. You were also born with perfectly shaped finger nails and now you have the misfortune to have your mother as a manicurist (she has a hard enough time doing her own nails, now imagine nails a bit bigger than a pin's head and a little hand that won't stop moving -- I am just getting over the fear that I might clip off some flesh as I clip those lovely nails that grow so fast).

Your hands are far from being your main method of exploration. In fact, your papa was commenting recently on your need for biceps. Good thing you have a baby gym to help you learn how to use your arms and build those muscles! For now what you like to do most is kick, particularly the butterfly that hangs from your gym that sings and lights up everytime you make it swing. Your favorite game is drumfeet:

You also like to kick Nessie, your crawling giraffe that reminds me of the Loch Ness monster. We sit on the edge of the carpet and Nessie vibrates across the floor to you (playing Fur Elise [midi]) and you kick at her or grab her with your feet. And then try to lean in and put her in your mouth. Yes, your mouth is your favorite mode of investigation and since your arms aren't strong enough to bring most things to your mouth, you tend to lean forward into them.

I also keep forgetting to talk about your hair. You were born with a lot of dark, wavy hair. And now it is falling out. (If you cared, we could comiserate because your maman is in competition with Bones to see who can shed the most these days). I pulled some of you hair out of your brush last night and it feels like silk. You now have a bald strip that goes around the back of your head, basically from ear to ear. But just above it, in the back, you have a beautiful swirl of hair. I am very curious to see what color your new hair will be since your eyebrows are a redish brown and I thought I detected some blond peach fuzz on your temples the other day. But I can't imagine you without your dark hair. And what color are your eyes going to be? For now they are still deep blue.

I'm afraid that I don't know exactly when you started holding your head up. It was very gradual (and when you are tired it still flops about some), but for the last few weeks you've been holding it up pretty well. It's wonderful to walk around with you and watch you turn your head from side to side as you stare at your surroundings. When we go for walks now you face forward in your Baby Björn and you are fascinated by the powerlines. No more naps during walks! Holding your head up also means you can sit up -- with some help, which is why your papa got you the bumbo. You really like sitting up ("Assis comme un grand!") and looking around.

I could go on to talk about your daily routine (how you sleep til nine and then "we" sing French songs before mat- and tummy time, how you take three naps a day), but this post is already a week late so I'll refrain (mostly) until next time. I will mention, however, that things are looking up on the feline front. After greeting you with a hiss when you came home from the hospital, Lutèce has become more tolerant and now comes up to sniff your hand when you are playing on your mat. The other day she even rubbed her head against your extended hand and purred! Of course, I'm not sure you noticed this great honor...

You are a delight, mon petit bonhomme. I hear that month 4 is supposed to be the real awakening, but I've loved every minute (well, except maybe some of the middle of the night feeds...) of months 1, 2, and 3.
Gros bisous,
ta maman

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Monday, October 09, 2006

3 turnovers

[posted by bkmarcus]
It's starting to get cold out, so I'm working in the basement instead of on the deck. This morning the missus calls down to me, "We're having a good tummy time up here if you have a moment to come see!"

So up I went. Just in time to see the boy lifting his head and chest and grabbing his favorite toy with his left hand.

That was already pretty impressive, but then a moment later, OVER he went and was lying on his back looking relaxed and happy.

"That's the 3rd time in his life!" I said. "Right?"

"Well," said the boy's mother, "he turned over before you came upstairs, but I wasn't sure he'd started out flat on his belly."

So there you have it. Three turnovers (or possibly 4) at 3 months.

First time was at 17 days:

Second time was around 6 weeks.

- proud papa

Saturday, October 07, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]
From: bkmarcus
Date: October 8, 2006 2:02:22 AM EDT
To: "Sharon Benmaman"
Subject: Re: benmaman
On Oct 8, 2006, at 1:30 AM, Sharon Benmaman wrote:

Am curious about your use of this name. It's my last name! There are only a couple of Benmamans in this country.


Hi Sharon. Thank you for your great and unexpected note.

Maman is French for "Mom."

My French wife and I have a 3-month-old boy named Benjamin. So in the context of our roles as his parents, we refer to ourselves as benmaman and benpapa. That's really all there is to it.

What does your family name mean? (And what is its origin?)

BK Marcus (aka "benpapa")

laissez faire,
From: "Sharon Benmaman"
Date: October 8, 2006 1:09:40 PM EDT
To: "bkmarcus"
Subject: Re: benmaman

My father's family is from Tetuan, a city in Spanish Morocco.

In Hebrew, it means son of maman (ben = son).

Thanks for getting backn to me. Enjoy your son! They grow up quickly!


Thursday, October 05, 2006

being 3

[posted by bkmarcus]
Today, our boy is 3 months old.

This afternoon, Nathalie carried Benjamin over to the neighbor's back yard to watch some bigger kids play in an enclosed trampoline. One of the kids came over to meet the newcomer.

Kid: Who's that?
Nathalie: His name is Benjamin.
Kid: Hi Benjamin ... Why he's not talking?
Nathalie: He's too little. He's only 3 months old.
Kid: Hey, I'm 3 too!

(And since it turns out that units are everything, let me, benpapa, add that I too am 3. And next year I will turn 4.)

And this is today's email from BabyCenter.com:
Your 3-Month-Old This Week

Hello, Brian!

Your baby may be strong enough now to do mini-pushups, lifting his head and chest off the ground for a better view. To encourage him, try placing him on his stomach on a play mat for short periods of time every day. You'll be surprised at how quickly he learns to raise his upper body to see what's going on around him.

Learn more fascinating facts about your 3-month-old's development.

- papa

early language development

[posted by bkmarcus]
According to BabyCenter.com:
Research shows that babies whose parents speak to them extensively have significantly higher IQs and bigger vocabularies when they get older than other children, so interaction is especially important right now. Set a solid foundation by exposing your baby to a variety of words.

Talk about your surroundings when you take him for a walk, and point to and identify objects as you roam the grocery store aisles. Your baby can't repeat these words yet, but he's storing all the information in his rapidly developing memory.

If your home is bilingual, your baby will benefit from hearing both languages spoken regularly. Don't worry if some of his verbal skills seem to lag a bit at first. He'll not only catch up later, but he may also excel in his general language skills.

Monday, October 02, 2006

no longer quite so squirmy

[posted by bkmarcus]