Sunday, December 31, 2006

a few firsts

[posted by bkmarcus]
A few firsts this weekend:

Papa got to see Benben swing:

Benjamin's first time sitting in the shopping cart:

Benjamin's first bath in the kitchen sink:

- papa


Thursday, December 28, 2006

babble baby

[posted by bkmarcus]
According to our weekly Wednesday email from, at 5 months and 4 weeks:
Your baby the babbler

Your baby now sees and hears the world almost as well as you do. Her communication skills are expanding rapidly, too, as evidenced by her squeals, bubbling sounds, and operatic octave changes. Her sounds can demonstrate her attitude or response to objects — such as happiness, eagerness, or even satisfaction — with a problem well solved.

At this age, about half of babies babble, repeating one syllable — such as "ba," "ma," "ga," or other consonant-vowel combinations — over and over. A few will even add another syllable or two, making their sounds more complex.

You can encourage your baby by babbling right back at her and by making a game of it ("The sheep says, 'baaa,'" or "The goat says, 'maaa'"). Or, when you hear a syllable you can't identify, just respond enthusiastically with, "Yes, that is a car! See how shiny the red paint is?" Your baby will appreciate your encouraging her by keeping the conversation going.

She'll also appreciate it if you listen as if you understand everything she says and find it extremely interesting. Try simulating a conversation: You listen while she talks, then ask a question and wait for a response!
For the first couple of months, Benjamin, as often as not, was in the lower 50% for developing particular skills mentioned on We tried not to worry about it. For the past few months, Benjamin seems to be a month or two ahead of schedule — suddenly doing everything early.

So when we read that half of 5-month-and-4-week-old babies are babbling, it concerned us in that we're-going-to-deny-this-concerns-us sort of way.

Nathalie pointed out that he babbles constantly according to our definition: lots of meaningless phonemes strung together at various volumes and pitches. But not according to the BabyCenter definition: "consonant-vowel combinations — over and over".

That was yesterday.

Tonight, out of nowhere, Benjamin started BabyCenter-babbling.

Mostly he said "ma ma ma" and "ba ba ba" but at one point he said "die die da da!" — which I've decided not to take as an Oedipal outburst.

Here's his monologue on the topic of his mother:

(or download)

- papa (aka Die-Die Dada)

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

our bye-bye baby

[posted by bkmarcus]
Because I work at home, I get to visit my son throughout the day.

When I return to work, I say a loud "BYE-BYE" and wave goodbye to him exaggeratedly. His mother waves his arm for him. He gets very excited by this.

Today, our next-door neighbor, who is gaga for the boy, came over to visit him before his lunch. As she left I turned his high chair toward the door so I could wave his arm bye-bye, but before I could touch him, he was waving it on his own!

We all freaked out and clapped and he started waving bye-bye more and more wildly, urged on by our cheers.

My little genius.

Every new accomplishment is exciting, but this one particularly so, because it is the first time I've felt something like "communication" with him. I said we needed to say goodbye to our neighbor, and he started to wave bye-bye to her. My words aren't just amusing sounds to him now; they're starting to be meaningful. So I count today as my first contact with his mind. I'm overwhelmed.

- papa


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

strike 1

[posted by bkmarcus]
Strike 1 for the overambitious and under-read papa:
How can I make sure my baby is drinking comfortably?
Like so much with babies, you'll need to listen and observe. If you hear a lot of noisy sucking sounds while she drinks, she may be taking in too much air. To help your baby swallow less air, hold her at a 45-degree angle. Also take care to tilt the bottle so that the nipple and neck are always filled with formula.

Never prop a bottle. Besides not providing you or the baby with time for bonding and snuggling, it can cause the baby to choke. Bottle-feeding, like breastfeeding, can be a wonderful time for nurturing your baby by holding her close.


- papa

Monday, December 18, 2006


[posted by bkmarcus]
Here are some new uses Benjamin has discovered for his feet:

bencat, take 3

[posted by bkmarcus]

April 30th

July 8th

December 18th

cinquième moisniversaire (and then some)

[posted by Nat] cher petit bonhomme,

Five months old already!

(Yes, I fully realize that I will keep saying "[insert amount of months or years] old already!" for the next 50 years or so.)

This has been a very fun month. (Not so fun have been your continued nursing issues, but I won't get into that here.) Two major things have happened:
  1. you have started eating solid foods; and
  2. you can sit up unassisted!
On Thanksgiving Day we gave you your first taste of "real" food: a delightful mixture of rice cereal and milk. You ate it with great enthusiasm and have continued to love your cereal -- you now get oatmeal too and seem to prefer it to the rice cereal. You often get a lot of food on your face and in the reservoir of your bib, but overall you do seem to get a lot of food down. Here is a short video of your mamie feeding you:

Later this week you will get your first fruit: a steamed pear purée made from pears your Grandma sent for turkey day. (Note: you had the pear last weekend and really liked it. This weekend you got carrots, but the jury is still out on that very orange stuff that you got all over your face ... and in your hair, and behind your ears, and ....)

The biggest news, though, is that you can also sit unassisted for quite a while now:

What has amazed us is how quickly you have learned to adjust yourself to not fall over. It seems like within a few days you went from sitting for 30 seconds to sitting for 10 minutes. Each day you get a better idea of how to steady your body. Until recently if you leaned forward you would usually end up in a strange position with your chest on your feet or on the floor. Now you lift your chest away from the floor so that you don't fall over!! Your papa removed your swing (while your maman shed a few tears...) and replaced it with your Pack 'N Play (modern version of a play pen that can also be used as a bed and changing table). The Pack 'N Play is great because it has a padded bottom, so when you fall over you don't hurt your head. Now you sit in there for up to maybe 10 minutes at a time and amuse yourself with your toys.

When you sit you also seem very aware of your environment. You know that there are things behind you and you often turn around to try to get a good look at them. This happens often when you are in your high chair in the kitchen and the cats are walking around (hoping that they will get fed too). You watch them pace around the kitchen or you try to turn around in your seat to get a glimpse of what they are doing behind you.

Last letter I was very excited about how you could turn from your back to your tummy. Well, as soon as you figured out how to sit, you forgot about turning over. Once in a while, you turn from back to tummy and seem to like to look around and to play a little that way, but you still have not mastered the tummy-to-back roll. You are almost there, but you don't know what to do with your arms. This frustrates you to no end and tummy time ends with lots of wailing.

You have also learned to stand up with assistance and you LOVE this. In fact, we can't even put you down to sit without standing you up because you immediately stiffen your legs when nearing a sitting surface. You want to stand so much that when you are on your back you arch your back and get very frustrated when you can't get anywhere.

You are making all sorts of new sounds now. On your moisniversaire you started to put your tongue between your lips and blow raspberries. You also say "buh." While your mamie was here we all (your mamie, maman, and papa) heard you say "mama" while in the bath. You were looking straight at me and although I know you make no connection between these phonemes and me, I teared up. Of course, even with your papa coaching you, you haven't repeated it since.

Your arms and hands are getting strong. You have started what I would call proto-hugging. When I pick you up in the morning you grab my neck (or hair...) and pull me closer to you. Then you open your mouth like you want to eat me -- proto-kiss? When nursing on your right side you stick your left arm in the air. It hovers there for a while and then, without looking at it, you slowly move it around like a sensor and once your hand is near something (e.g., my face) you reach out with your long fingers and sometimes gently stroke my cheek -- or grab my nose or glasses with your little claws.

Oddly enough, you seem to be a morning person. Don't know where you get that because your parents are certainly not morning people! You wake up sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. and rarely cry. Instead you play with your feet and practice making new sounds. When I come to get you, you look up at me with your big blue eyes (framed by long dark lashes) and give me a big smile. Perhaps those smiles will convert me into a morning person!

You are very interested in the cats now. You are learning how to pat them and they have been incredibly patient (even Lutèce, to my surprise!) when instead of caressing their heads your try to get hold of an ear or grab a handful of fur. While sitting in your highchair you've had some conversations with Bones who likes to sit in the kitchen chairs. He hasn't answered yet, but he's the strong silent type and I think chatty Lutèce might be a better conversationalist.

At the end of my last letter I announced that your new hair is blond. Well, it turns out that some of it is blond, but in fact most of it is a light brown -- guess you'll have golden highlights. Will this be a trait you've inherited from your maman? Because so far you look so much like your father that if I hadn't given birth to you I'd wonder (almost) who your mama is! Your eyes are still very blue, but will they stay blue? Genetically I think they have a very good chance of being blue, but your father does have greenish brown eyes, so we'll just have to wait and see.

I feel like I am forgetting some wonderful details about your fifth month, but this blog post is way way late, so I'm going to go ahead and finish it up. You are a real delight and your laughter is infectious. I don't know how to explain how your smile and your giggles make my day, but they certainly erase any worries. Thank you my little love.

ta maman

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ben warhol

[posted by bkmarcus]
Start with this image (or rather, start with one of your own), then process through this web application to get results like this artist.
- papa

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


[posted by Nat]
Once upon a time, Benjamin's favorite object in the world was the mobile over his big swing.

Now he can't stand lying back. He must be sitting all the time. So we've put the big swing in storage, and taken out the playpen his grandma gave him. He's delighted:

- papa

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

frog sitting

[posted by bkmarcus]
Today Benjamin is 5 months old. And he is sitting like a champ. So much so that when he does eventually topple over, I find it takes me by surprise. Today we broke out the playpen his grandma gave him so he could have a place to sit and play surrounded by soft surfaces.

I learned a couple of interesting things today from's weekly mailing:
What's more, making use of the new perspective gleaned from sitting up helps her cognitive development, too. At first, she'll only be able to "frog sit" (with a hunched back and arms forward for support) for a few minutes. Gradually, her balance and strength will improve and before long she'll be sitting up on her own — probably by around 6 or 7 months.
So what I called protositting is called "frog sitting" ...

Seems appropriate.
While some babies adopt rolling as their primary mode of ground transportation for a while, others skip it altogether and move on to sitting, lunging, and crawling. As long as your child continues to gain new skills and shows interest in getting around and exploring his environment, don't worry.
Now that is a relief. As proud as I am of my little froggy for sitting a month or two ahead of schedule — not frog sitting anymore, but gen-u-ine sitting — I've had some concern about the fact that he has stopped rolling over. When his mother does tummytime with him, he tries and fails. Can't remember to get his arm out of the way.
- papa

Monday, December 04, 2006

new AlphaBaby setup

[posted by bkmarcus]
Now that Benjamin is sitting up for long stretches of time, it's easier to give him new things to play with and new ways to play with old things.

Here he is in his new AlphaBaby setup:

- papa