Thursday, November 23, 2006

first Thanksgiving

[posted by bkmarcus]
The pediatrician suggested we start Benjamin on "solids" this month, so we thought Thanksgiving would be a good day to start.

Getting ready for dinner


Dinner is served


Of the 5 tablespoons of rice cereal and milk, maybe 1 or 2 made it down to his tummy.

- papa

Saturday, November 18, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]

At 4½ months.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

old phones

[posted by bkmarcus]


The Times

November 14, 2006

Educational toys? Just give toddlers your old phone

(After a two-year study an education expert concluded that young children don't need pricey playthings to teach them about technology.)

By Rosemary Bennett

PARENTS spending hundreds of pounds on high-tech educational toys for toddlers would be better off giving them an old mobile phone to play with, according to an education expert.

Lydia Plowman, Professor of Education at the University of Stirling, says parents should stop feeling pressurised into buying computerised toys for young children because they are no better than traditional methods of teaching children the basics.

Families eager to introduce their children to new technology should use lap-tops, mobile phones and other gadgets already in the home rather than splashing out on custom-built computers, she says.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


[posted by Nat]
Today is my birthday and though I've had quite a few birthdays, the word has a new meaning for me since I've been through Benjamin's birth day. Birthdays mostly belong to the person who was born that day, but it is also a day that completely changes the life of the woman who gave birth. So as I prepare to celebrate my first birthday as a mother, I'd like to thank my maman for the labor she went through thirty-six years ago today and for thirty-six years of love and support.

Bisous ma petite maman!
-la maman de Benjamin et la fille de Mamie

Sunday, November 12, 2006

quatrieme moisniversaire

[posted by Nat]
Mon petit Benjamin,

As I start this post you are asleep in your crib swaddled without your pacifier. This is your morning nap, and so far you've been asleep for over an hour. This is a triumph after 10 days of 20- to 40-minute naps. I'm not sure what has changed, but it might be that I've started swaddling you for naps again and that helps you sleep longer. [Addendum: A day or so after I started to write this post we stopped swaddling you because you began to scream bloody murder when you couldn't move your limbs.]

This month has been a month of changed routines. During months 2 and 3, we had a pretty steady routine, but you started to change it and the transition has been tough on your maman. You used to wake between 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. for a pre-breakfast feed and then sleep again until at least 9 a.m. Now you are sleeping through the night (meaning about 6 hours without waking), which is mostly great except that you now get up earlier in the morning and your maman is not a morning person. (Guess that is going to change!)

You have a bottle with your papa around midnight (sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later) and then you sleep until about 7 a.m. The first few nights you "slept through," you woke around 8 a.m., but then we changed back to standard time and so you've been waking around 7 a.m. But today you got me up at 6:40 a.m.!!

These changes, unfortunately, have had a negative side effect (or so I believe): your maman's milk supply has gotten screwed up so that in the afternoon I don't have enough milk for you, and you pull (and sometimes twist -- ouch!) and then scream and scream until I get a bottle into your mouth.

After consulting a lactation specialist I am now taking 9 fenugreek and 9 blessed thistle caplets (they should be called horse pills!) a day. The side effect of this herbal remedy: I smell like maple syrup! Will this scent make pancakes and syrup a comfort food for you when you are older? [One week later: the horse pills have worked, but now, after your first two meals of the day, you have taken to feeding for 3 to 5 minutes and then refusing the breast, acting like I am trying to poison you. This means, of course, that when you cry when we put you in your crib at bedtime, we wonder if you are hungry, and I often end up feeding you. This sometimes leads to your falling asleep on the breast, which is NOT what we want -- you need to fall asleep in your bed, and feeding to sleep will only become a crutch to help you sleep.]

You've had some real triumphs this month. You can now turn onto your stomach. This doesn't always come easily, but you are persistent and once you are on your tummy you seem quite happy -- for a while. (Movie coming soon!) After looking around and playing some you've now started to try to turn back onto your back, but though you've done this several times since you were 17 days old, you can't quite do it when you really want to, which you find very very frustrating. You stick your bottom in the air so that sometimes we wonder if in fact you are trying to crawl -- of course, you don't have the necessary upper body strength to crawl yet.

On the day of your fourth moisniversaire you flipped onto your tummy in your crib and took your first nap on your tummy. You seem to be really comfortable that way, which is great, except that it freaks me out that you are sleeping on your belly when you can't turn onto your back. There is a huge campagne right now called "Back to Sleep" to prevent SIDS. Since pediatricians started to tell parents to put babies on their backs to sleep (instead of their bellies which was the norm in the 70s and 80s) the rate of SIDS has fallen dramatically in the United States. Of course, once you can turn yourself onto your tummy, there isn't much we can do, and in fact, once you do it on your own, it isn't considered dangerous anymore.

You've been making all sorts of sounds for the last couple of months. Your latest favorite is "mmmm." You close your lips tightly and pull them in over your gums so that your mouth becomes a line and you open your eyes big as you say "mmmm" enthusiastically. We can have whole conversations saying "mmmm." You still make the throaty "a" or "areu" sound your papa loves so much. Actually, within days of your moisniversaire you've become very chatty, making all sorts of noises with your throat and tongue. We were grocery shopping at Giant the other day, and you babbled (sometimes loudly) almost the whole time. There are times when I could swear you've repeated words I've said to you, like "minou." It's probably just my ears tricking me into believing you repeated what I've modeled for you because you certainly don't make the same noise more than once.

What do you like most these days? My guess is sitting up. You can't sit by yourself yet, but you love it when we hold you in the sitting position, and when you are in your swing or in the bath, you try to sit up. On some days you really don't want to sit back and relax in the tub, you just want to lean forward (and chew on the side of the tub or your papa...). Actually, in the bath on Friday night you managed to sit unsupported (except, perhaps, by the seat in the tub)!

A close second is putting things in your mouth. You've gotten very good at smoothly picking up a ring or toy and putting it into your mouth. At first you would take a teething ring with two hands and while you stared at it intently you brought it up to your nose and then lowered it to your mouth. These days, however, you seem able to put things in your mouth without much concentration.

Your papa has been very proud of you this last week because you can now feed yourself at night. Yes, once he's placed the bottle in your little hands and added a support underneath, you can hold it in place while you drink. In fact, it looks like you really want to hold it because it's hard to get it out of your hands!

A few days after your moisniversaire you had your 4 month well-baby check-up. You were very happy and excited at the pediatricians, looking everywhere and smiling at everyone. While your parents asked the pediatrician a bunch of questions, you played with your father and made all sorts of noises. It was heartbreaking when the nurse gave you your 4 vaccine shots in your legs. You went from joyful to wailing so hard that you stopped breathing for a few seconds. The next thirty hours were tough on you since the vaccines gave you a slightly high temperature. Thank goodness for infant Tylenol!

Your stats at 4 months: 26 inches long (still in the 90th percentile!), 14 pounds and 6 ounces (still 50th percentile -- you gained almost 3 pounds in two months, much to your maman's relief), and you have a head circumference of 16 inches (also 50th percentile).

Finally, your bald strip is beginning to go away as new hair grows in. And guess what? It seems to be blond!!



Friday, November 10, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]
A week ago tonight, we ordered Chinese delivery, as is our wont on Friday evenings. (We'll do so again tonight.) Nathalie forgot to ask for the total when she placed the order, so she filled out most of a check for me and left the amount blank so I could fill it in if the food arrived while she was tied up with baby care.

While I was filling out the check, the Chinese delivery guy asked, "You watch football?"


Since I was looking down at the amount field on the check, I couldn't see his expression, but he followed up with, "Oh! NASCAR!"

Um, no. I handed him the check. Whatever he looked like before, at this point he was looking confused. I said, "We don't have a TV."

"Ohhhhhh," he said smiling and looking relieved. "So you very very spiritual!"

I have no idea why that exchange took place, but I tells it like it happens.

The thing that bugged me after he left (because I'm bugged by the kinds of things that bug no one else) is that it's not entirely true that we don't watch TV. We don't have cable, and the reception is terrible on the broadcast channels we might normally be drawn to. But 99% of what we rent from Netflix is stuff produced for television, and we do watch DVDs almost every night.

But I think Netflix is on its way out, at least as we currently know it. I'm beginning to suspect that DVDs will seem quaint to Benben when he's old enough to think that things seem quaint. They'll be part of the history of technology, like those big arch-shaped radios, black-and-white television, and 8-track tapes (and audio cassettes, and VHS, and so and so forth...)

We watch the NBC show Heroes, but we buy it from iTunes. Now I discover that the major broadcast TV networks are streaming their most recent episodes on the web. Competition is even driving them to do more: NBC has an animated series of spoofs called "Pale Force" that it only shows online and CBS is even streaming "Meet the Papdits" -- a pilot for a series they did not pick up a couple years ago, but might now be reconsidering as its writer and producer is finding success with the new Borat movie.

Most of the Americans in my parents' generation grew up with TV, but some of my childhood peers still had parents who told them, "When I was your age, we didn't have television ..."

How will I explain television to Benjamin? Our current thinking is to keep him away from TV and videos until he's at least 2 years old (based in part on research that correlates attention-deficit issues with babies watching television). I've been starting a children's section of our DVD library, but for all I know, his main experience of video will be on computers.

In a world of on-demand video -- a world where the very concept of "online" might seem perverse, since offline will be the exception -- what sense will he be able to make of the idea that we once had to (ahem, I mean chose to) adjust our lives to a broadcast schedule. I'm not even sure commercial interruptions will make any sense to him.

- papa

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]
For a wedding present, my father gave us an electronic piano. When we got back from our honeymoon, we spent a lot of time alone together in the mountains. We had the piano keyboard with us, and I played it all the time. (Trying to teach myself.) When we moved to Pennsylvania for 3 years, many things went into storage, including our keyboard. Seeing how much Benjamin loves playing with AlphaBaby, I thought I'd introduce him to the piano keys. Out came his grandpa's wedding present. Looks like Benben's a natural:

- papa

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

trick or treat

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin has friends he hasn't yet met in person, including Julius Caesar and El Seed ...

No more tummy time

[posted by Nat]
On Sunday Benjamin started to roll onto his tummy. He did it several times in a row and now, whenever I put him on his back on his play mat, he plays with the toys above his head for a while and then rolls over onto his tummy.

He can't, however, consistently turn from his stomach to his back. He's done that several times, but I think he can only do it when his body is positioned a certain way. (I'm hoping he learns how to turn from his stomach to back soon because I don't like finding him on his tummy in his bed knowing that he can't turn onto his back — though Baby 411 claims that it's ok for a baby to sleep on his tummy once he can turn on his own).

Yesterday I stepped into the kitchen, leaving him on his back, playing happily with his catapillar. When I came back a minute later he was on his stomach and he had moved his body 45 degrees. As I watched he proceeded to rotate himself, pushing off the rug with his feet and lifting his behind in the air. He ended up almost 180 degrees from his starting point. Does this mean he will be an early crawler? He doesn't seem to understand how his arms could help him in this venture, so it's hard to tell.

- Maman