Thursday, March 29, 2007

swing music

[posted by bkmarcus]
Here's what Benjamin sounds like on his borrowed swing:

(or download)

got milk?

[posted by bkmarcus]

Two firsts tonight. We put Benjamin to bed on new sheets. He seemed to fall asleep. Half an hour later, Benjamin wouldn't stop crying. Nathalie found him sitting up in his crib!

So she guessed it was the new sheets that were upsetting him. She changed them while he sat on my lap and laughed (he really keeps himself entertained!) and then we put him back to bed.

He was crying again within 5 minutes. We gave him time to self-sooth, but he seemed more and more upset. So Nathalie checked on him and told me,

"He's asking for milk!"

I went in to see him while she prepared a bottle, and sure enough, he was sitting up again, and when I asked him if he wanted milk (using both the spoken English word and the ASL sign), he signed back "milk."

I felt a little guilty for being so elated and proud of my boy when he was so clearly hungry and upset. But his mother said she felt the same way. At not-quite-9-months-old, our boy can tell us why he's upset. (At least, if the reason he's upset is that he wants milk. Other signs to follow.)

One bottle later, and he's sleeping soundly.

- very proud papa

Postscript from maman: The second time I went into Benben's room I asked him if he wanted milk ("Tu veux du lait?"), at which point he sat up (and stopped crying, I think) and signed "milk."
-very proud maman

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Notes on Month 8

[posted by Nat]
Mon petit Benjamin,

Since my last letter was so long-winded I'm going to make this one short.

The most exciting thing that happened during your eighth month is that you have started to communicate with us more clearly. No words yet — and it isn't clear to me that your mamamama's refer to me — but you learned to use your hands to clap, which is a lot of fun because you are so enthusiastic about so many things. You also learned how to wave hello and good-bye.

Hands are also good for finger food. When we first introduced finger foods, I was worried you would choke. It ends up that you spent a couple of weeks just pushing the cheerios around your table. Your papa helped you learn how to use your fingers — the "pincer" grasp — to pick them up and very quickly finger food changed from table hockey to something you could put in your mouth and chew. You really like to chew, which is a relief because it means you don't choke on your finger food. You love finger food.

During your eighth month you revealed your French roots by going on strike. Not a fall or spring in France goes by without some sort of strike, be it university or high school students, postal or public transportation workers. You went on a breast strike, meaning that feeding you was quite a struggle because when you don't want to do something you squirm and arch your back, grab things, and generally make yourself very hard to hold on to. You had a lot of bottles and cups of milk.

You also became fairly mobile, though still no crawling, just a lot of stretching and squirming your way forward (or backwards).

It's amazing to me how much you've changed since we brought you home. We re-introduced you to your jumperoo this month and it's amazing to see how differently you treat it:

[video coming soon]

OK, I said this would be brief, so I'll end here with the promise that month nine will be a real letter posted on time (or almost).

Bisous mon amour,
ta maman


Sitting up

[posted by Nat]
Yesterday Benjamin sat up on his own. He was on his belly playing and I looked away for a moment and when I turned to him again he was sitting and looking very pleased. It took a moment for what had happened to register and then I realized he was excited because he was sitting. Of course, I was unable to get him to repeat this feat for his papa, but we'll try again today.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

borrowed swing

[posted by bkmarcus]
Our neighbor with all the cool toys lent us a swing to try out under our deck.

Benjamin loved it!

- papa

Monday, March 26, 2007


[posted by bkmarcus]
As of today, Benjamin can sign "milk" ...

I'd show him his bottle while doing the sign, and I wouldn't let him have the bottle until he signed back, which he did ... 3 times ... but not in front of his mother when she got home later!

Perverse child.

While he's doubled his ASL vocabulary ("more" and "milk" — unless waving hi and bye count as sign language), he's having somewhat less success with crawling. Tonight, I put him in the middle of the hall with a toy frog at one end and a toy duck at the other. He aimed himself toward the duck ... and crawled backward to the frog. He was very frustrated.

- papa

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

nope, still not crawling

[posted by bkmarcus]

Saturday, March 17, 2007

more more more

[posted by bkmarcus]
Any hesitation we had in identifying Benjamin's gesture as sign language are gone. He's clearly signing "more." He does it with open hands instead of closed, but the setting and context make it clear, as well as the fact that clapping ("yay!") is a bunch of claps accompanied by a big grin, whereas "more" is just two claps and a look of anticipation at the supply of finger foods we keep out of his reach. If I say "more?" or Nathalie says "plus?" he'll immediately do his more-sign if he in fact wants more. And when he's no longer interested in the finger foods, he'll stop.

Just to test that he knows it's the sign for "more" and not, say, the sign for cheerios, we've done it with frozen peas and pureed fruit. He won't typically ask for more mush, but if we ask him, he'll sign "more" if he's ready and not sign if he's not yet ready for another spoonful.

As with his waving bye-bye and hello, I feel more in touch with the boy.

- proud papa

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Friday, March 16, 2007

kinda-sorta firsts

[posted by bkmarcus]

We had a few kinda-sorta firsts this week.

On Wednesday, Benjamin ate at his first sit-down restaurant. He'd been to a baby-friendly coffee house twice, and a fast food place once. This was the first time at a place with menus and waiters — a favorite Chinese restaurant we hadn't been to since he was born. We made sure to go when we were likely to be the only customers. He loved it.

On Thursday, he did 3 (count'em, THREE) new things ... kinda sorta:

  1. He may have signed "more" during afternoon finger foods. I think it's typical for parents not to know if baby is doing the sign for "more" or just clapping. Babies themselves might still be working out the difference between "more" and "yay, you're giving me more!" When he puts his fists together repeatedly, I consider that the more-sign. Clapping is with open hands. Benjamin did both. He also combined the two.

  2. Benjamin pulled up to his knees on the living room couch. Not quite to his feet. Then he toppled backwards and both his parents dove to the floor to protect his head.

  3. Benjamin now loves rolling around on his parents' bed. Last night, we were each on one side of the bed while he made his way back and forth between us. At one point, while trying to crawl and moving backwards instead, he went from lying on his belly, to sitting up and resting against his mother. Neither of them seemed to notice. "Did he just sit up?!" I said. Nathalie looked bemused. "I don't know!" She didn't help him up, but between the slant of the mattress and his mother's support, we're only calling this one a kinda-sorta sitting up.

Lots of kinda-sorta progress.

- papa


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sailor Ben

[posted by bkmarcus]
Some photos from Benjamin's visit to the babysitter (sent from her camera phone to mine during the visit):

- papa

Monday, March 12, 2007

who's the fairest of them all?

[posted by bkmarcus]

more standing practice

[posted by bkmarcus]

Friday, March 09, 2007

bonjour baby

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin's mother just brought him downstairs for a quick visit during my work day.

She said to him, "Tu veux montrer à Papa comment tu peux dire «Bonjour»?" (You want to show Papa how you can say "hello"?)

And sure enough, my boy smiled at me and waved his hand hello.

(I imagine Benjamin looking over this blog some day and knowing exactly how old he was the first time he did various things. Ain't technology grand?!)

Nathalie says he learned how to wave hello from greeting the baby in the mirror.


soldier crawl

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin can't yet baby-crawl forward, but he can now advance on his belly with something approaching a soldier's crawl.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

moving backwards

[posted by bkmarcus]

Word from Benjamin's mother this morning is that the boy has figured out that he can "crawl" backwards.

He's mobile.

Just not in the direction he wants to be. We're excited, but he's quite frustrated.

- papa


Monday, March 05, 2007

playing in his crib

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin is 8 months old today. He's not quite crawling; he's not quite pulling up. But he's certainly on the verge of both. Here he is in his crib, practicing pulling up:

We had a blast. His mother wanted him to quiet down and take a nap, and instead I got him all worked up by playing with him and taking pictures. But I think she's forgiven me.

- papa

Yoga Ben

[posted by bkmarcus]

Does anyone know the name of this yoga position?

- papa

Thursday, March 01, 2007

7.75 (septième moisniversaire plus more than half a month)

[posted by Nat]
Mon petit Benjamin,

If I were to pick a few words to describe you at 7 months, I'd have to start with enthusiastic. You explore the world with gusto and laughter, throwing yourself (often literally) at new things you want to touch, rotate in your hands, and, of course, taste. Your big blue eyes are always wide open, taking everything in.

You are a joyful child -- we've had several strangers comment on what a happy baby you are. In fact, the doctor who delivered you met you again recently and asked if you are always so happy. Others have noted that you are very alert and are often surprised to learn your age. People have been commenting on your alertness since you were just a few months old and I must admit that I wonder if BabyPlus contributed to your wide-eyed fascination with... well, with everything. We'll never know, but I guess it makes how annoying that machine was the last months a little less of an irksome memory.

This month (and then some) has, of course, been full of changes and new adventures (both in babyhood and parenting). For example, you do seem happy (or intent) most of the time, but I've seen the first signs of anger. Sometimes you desperately want my tea mug and when I won't give it to you, you cry loudly and sort of bang your legs and arms. I'm hoping that you won't learn to use your new teeth when you get angry because they are much sharper than I expected. In fact, a few days ago your papa let you have a baby carrot thinking all you would do was suck. He was keeping a close eye on you when he realized you were gnawing on it and getting a tiny bit of carrot. You were pretty upset when he took it away.

It's been a lot of fun introducing you to new foods and I'm feeling a little impatient because we've more or less run out of new things for you to try until next month (though we will try mangoes soon). The first bite of something new usually triggers a grimace, but you warm up to the new taste fairly quickly. On the menu: oatmeal and barley cereals, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and green beans (though you aren't terribly fond of the latter, which I understand considering that green bean mush pretty much tastes like grass -- and I love green beans usually), pears, bananas, apples, peaches, apricots, and prunes. All of these fruits and vegetables are, of course, served to you as purées, more often than not homemade (I cook the veggies and fruit, put them through the food processor, and then freeze them in an ice cube tray).

Your favorite food, hands down, is banana, but unfortunately banana (as well as apple and cooked carrot) is "binding", so you don't get it very often and when you do, it's mixed with pear (which you also love)-- your papa calls it "pear-ana" (pronounced like "piranha" ). After a few "binding" experiences you now get prunes every morning and a mixture of water and apple juice during the day. Fortunately, you seem to like both of these. I initially watered down the apples juice a lot thinking that what was important was the liquid, but then found out that there is something in the juice itself that helps your little problem. I'll have to make sure to give you just plain water sometimes.

Things have not all been rosy when it comes to eating. Sometimes you don't want to nurse and/or eat your solids, and I have no idea why. Teething? Because you have a cold? Not enough milk there? Just not hungry? I think the most difficult thing for me about nursing (other than certain wrestling sessions to get you to nurse) is that I don't know how much milk you're getting.

You have also emptied the contents of your tummy twice. The first time was on the second day of eating squash. We were shopping and you were getting fussy, so I bought my items and went to find the car in the parking lot (I couldn't remember where I had parked), at which point you emptied the whole orange contents of your stomach on my chest. The question now is whether or not you are allergic to squash. Squash is one of the first vegetables pediatricians recommend because there is a low allergy risk. Most food allergies cause a reaction with 3 to 4 hours, this happened about 3 hours after you ate. We stopped feeding you squash (which you really liked) and on a nurse's recommendation are waiting a while to retry it. [Note: Feb. 28 is the first day we've tried again and so far so good.]

The culprit may not have been the squash, but the rice cereal. One week later, you went to bed just fine only to wake with a strange cry that brought me hurrying into your room to find you covered in vomit. We cleaned you up, changed you and then... more vomit. So we wrapped you in a towel to wait until your stomach finished emptying itself, and your papa rushed to CVS to buy some Pedialyte so that we could rehydrate you (from now on we will always have an unopened bottle of it in the house!). We gave you minute amounts of the apple-flavored stuff every 15 minutes over a nearly 2 hour period, then, once we were sure it would stay down, let you have a few ounces before putting you back to bed -- this time in your Pack'n Play in our room so we could keep an eye on you.

We think that since you ate dinner slowly and rice cereal becomes pasty quickly (or I overcooked it), it didn't settle well in your tummy. The day you threw up squash all over my shirt you had also had rice cereal, so you might not be allergic to squash, just sensitive to the glue-like nature of the cereal. And yet rice cereal is recommended as the very first solid a baby gets in the US... The Baby Whisperer recommends pears, which seem more digestible to me, but we did start you off with cereal.

Things are also not rosy for a funnier and harmless reason: your skin is taking an orangish-yellow hue (particularly the tip of your nose) because of all the sweet potatoes you eat. You have, as a college friend used to call it, a beta caro-tan. The real term is carotenemia and it is caused by eating lots of yellow or orange veggies that are high in carotene (vitamin A).

You are now an expert sitter who likes to lunge forward to grab things so that often you end up on your tummy, pushing yourself up with your arms and looking like... you are about to crawl. We think you have all the moves down for crawling, you just need to learn how to combine them, and perhaps increase some muscle strength. You have started sleeping on your tummy again (which freaks me out, but I'm getting used to it) and this is probably helping you strengthen your upper body for crawling. When you are trying to fall asleep or when you have just woken, I often find you doing push ups (the "easy" kind, knees down on the mattress) in your crib.

One of the most exciting developments in the last couple of weeks is that you understand certain words. In French. When you are in your Hop 'n Pop (so kindly lent to you by Miss Angel) I'll ask: "Benjamin, tu sautes?" (Benjamin, you jump?) and you will jump enthusiastically:

If I ask "Où est le minou?" or "Où est la minette?" (Where is the kitty? -- masculine and feminine forms) you will look at the cats. You'll also dance when asked to -- though your dancing looks a whole lot like your jumping. And when I ask you where the dragon is, you will look up at the dragon mobile.

The other day your papa asked you "Where's the dragon?" and you looked at the dragon! It was the first time he could tell that you understood English.

We've also started signing with you. So far we are doing "eat," "more," "milk," and "drink" -- and occasionally "jump" and "dragon" for obvious reasons. Garcia suggests starting with 3 signs, but our extra ones seem very relevant to your daily life. We don't expect you to sign back for another couple months.

Play is serious business. You love pulling things out of boxes or dumping your shoe box of Legos:

You also had a phase when you liked to put all your toys behind you -- you definitely understand object constancy now. Peek-a-boo is still your favorite game and you even hide yourself with a little blanket now. Of course, sometimes grabbing my hair or your papa's beard or chest hair come in at a close second. You pull with all your might and often give a delighted shriek. You also love pulling off my glasses and smile diabolically while I try to wrestle them out of your amazingly strong little fingers.

One of the things I've really enjoyed this month is watching you react to music. After breakfast we listen to a CD of French songs that our Tante Janine gave you. Recently, when the music starts (the first song is always "Sur le Pont d'Avignon") you have started to get excited. I usually sing along with the first few songs and we dance around.

Then I sing again when "Un Petit Navire" comes on. You now recognize that song and get a big smile when it starts. I remember my grandmother and mother singing that song to me and have a particularly clear memory of my grandmother saying the "Ja-ja-jamais" part. I have to admit that I feel a little twisted singing this song with you. It's about a little boy who has "ja-ja-jamais naviguer" -- who has never sailed before -- and who joins the crew of a ship. The ship runs out of food after 5 or 6 weeks and they draw straws to decide who will be... eaten. The little boy draws the short straw, but while his crew mates are trying to decide what sauce to cook him in, thousands of fish jump onto the ship, sacrificing themselves to save him. The cannibalism of the song scared me a little as a child. The lyrics on our CD are shorter than the ones on the website above and, interestingly enough, eliminate the child praying to Mary to save him. I remembered this song as being religious, but when I listened to our CD I thought I must have read more into the lyrics than what was explicit.

In the last week you have also begun to "sing" while we sing and dance in the morning -- though you don't seem to care what we are listening to and prefer to sing your own tune. And, of course, you enjoying playing the drum and the keyboards:

Well, the writing of this letter has gone on far too long, so I am going to stop now and post it. Thank you for such a fun month, mon petit chou.


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