Wednesday, May 30, 2007

audio 4 kids

[posted by bkmarcus]
I need to add these to the sidebar, but meanwhile, here are a couple of great resources for the littl'uns:

- papa


6th sign: "music"

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin now has 6 ASL signs:
  1. more
  2. milk
  3. eat
  4. water
  5. papa
  6. music
Yesterday at lunch, he started rubbing his right arm with his left hand and looking the way he looks when he wants us to see that he wants something.

Music? Really?

He kept doing the sign over and over until Nathalie brought her computer into the kitchen to play him some Wagner while he ate. He looked very happy.

Still, I wanted to see if he'd do the sign again. This afternoon, during his after-nap bottle on his mother's lap, I started to play him some of Aesop's Fables (now available as a podcast). Nope. That's not what he wanted to hear. There was the sign again: music.

Every time he does a new sign we feel a surge of pride.

- papa

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Monday, May 28, 2007

A few bites

[posted by Nat]
For the last few weeks it has been very hard to spoon-feed Benjamin. It's not that he doesn't like what he's being fed (usually), it's that he would rather feed himself solid foods. He also seems to think it's really funny to turn his head away from the spoon and shake his head "no." (Brian and I must shake our heads a lot to say "no.")

Distracting him from what I am spooning into his mouth has been the key. Usually I give him one or two spoons or even a bowl and he happily slams them on the table or drops them on the floor. Last week he started putting his spoon into the bowl I was feeding him from. I tried to guide his hand to put it back into mouth with food in it, but he kept his arm stiff and refused, preferring instead to feed me. Sort of makes sense.

This morning, however, he stuck his spoon into the cereal bowl and then... into his mouth! He took three bites on his own, then got bored and started splattering cereal everywhere. At least it's a start!


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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dixième moisniversaire (only 3 weeks late...)

[posted by Nat]
Mon petit Benjamin,

This blog post is late -- and yet I've been writing it for three weeks! Just another reminder of how busy you keep me!

The fact that I never got around to writing about your ninth month doesn't mean that it wasn't amazing: before your ninth moisniversaire you had three signs in your ASL vocabulary and were crawling! Fortunately your papa blogged your progress as things happened, though I'm not sure we mentioned that you started sleeping through the night. Well, you were sleeping through the night and then you started teething and now you are waking once most nights.

This last month has been no less amazing. The day after your ninth moisniversaire you started to pull up to standing in your crib -- adding a new challenge (briefly) to our routine because who wants to nap when you can be standing? Now when you wake up in the middle of the night I usually find you standing in your bed -- and, more often then not, signing for milk. I have to admit, I melt when I see you standing there, hair all messed up from rolling around your bed, eyes big, but sleepy.

You spend a lot of time playing, standing, and cruising in your Playzone. Playing includes hitting and spinning dials on the Playzone wall, destroying the block towers your mother carefully constructs for you, pulling shapes out of your shape sorter, then putting them back in (the putting back in is very recent), swinging around Dragobert (who, according to this official website, is actually called Capucin) or chewing on his feet. You also love it when we unlatch the Playzone door. You open and close it and swing it -- sometimes when you are standing so that you are almost swinging with it. You are also fascinated by your bedroom door (you've used the wooden frame to pull up to standing) and any closed doors you run into when exploring.

But your absolutely favorite game is hiding. You often hide behind your hands (even during meals, which leads to a rather messy face as these pictures reveal), but in the Playzone you hold on to the sides and bend your knees so that we can barely see your head over the edge. I look forward to playing real games of hide-and-seek with you.

You are have 3 or 4 signs, though lately you have been adding meaning to signs, and I'm afraid I don't always know what you're trying to tell me. The milk sign made with both hands and sometimes one hand has become a sign for "I want" (your papa figured this out), but want what?? I have a terrible feeling that it's Veggie Booty or Pirate Booty that you so ardently want -- not that they're bad for you, but yogurt or fruit or veggies would be better. You can also sign for "drink," though unfortunately it's the same sign you do for "eat" and for blowing kisses. [Note from posting date: your "drink" sign is actually a "water" sign and is a tiny bit different from "eat": you open your fingers and hit your mouth instead of making a "w" on the side of your mouth for the more accurate "water" sign). Currently we are working on "papa," "mama," and "peas," as well as "dance" and "jump," both of which you would rather do than sign.

The Veggie Booty reminds me that you love finger food and that it's getting harder and harder to feed you with a spoon. You eat steamed veggies (you love asparagus!), fruit, avocado (which, I guess, is actually a fruit), cheerios, frozen peas and bagels (excellent for sore gums), and cheese (Vache qui rit/Laughing Cow is a particular favorite). You've also mastered the art of drinking from a sippy cup by yourself, as well as the joy of throwing said sippy cup on the floor so your mother can pick it up for you. Ah yes, you've discovered gravity. Cups, peas, cheerios, and spoons magically fly out of your hands to hit the floor and make a lovely mess that you admire from your high chair. You have started to point at things you want -- often at the freezer so that I'll get you more frozen peas.

You have an interesting crawling style: your left foot is almost always flexed, as if it were a rudder. You love to explore, but what you absolutely adore is pulling yourself up on a cabinet that has rungs on the side like a ladder. These rungs spin when you hit them and make a neat sound. You also like to "play" the air vent in the hall -- perhaps we should call it the vent harp? Sometimes when you are crawling you stop and straighten your legs, putting your behind in the air (looks like the yoga pose Downward Facing Dog) and we wonder if this is preparation to standing up unassisted.

Some people may be wondering why we haven't been posting many pictures lately. Well, now that you are mobile, it's hard to have a free hand to snap a shot of your adventures because we are always in "catching" mode in case you fall.

Your Mamie visited last month at a wonderful time: you had just become a generous kiss giver. You still are most of the time. Usually it's an open-mouthed kiss, sometimes a doggy kiss, but you also blow kisses. And once-in-a-while you even make the kissy sound.

It's interesting to see how strangers react to you when we are out. You often wave or smile when someone says hello or compliments you. People often tell you that you have a lot of hair ("I/My kids/My nephews didn't have a full head of hair until age five!"), or that you have attractive blue eyes. If you wave at someone and that person ignores you, you are very confused because you're getting used to people paying attention to you. (Picture note: this was your last ride in the SnugRide in March. You were too long for it so now you have a "big boy" car seat -- stilling facing backward, though.)

During the last week of your tenth month you were not always a happy boy because your four center top teeth came in at the same time (though they didn't all cut through the same day). I have to admit that I'm going to miss your two-tooth grin, but I think you'll enjoy the eating opportunities top teeth will give you.

Teething made you a grumpy swimmer, but you still seem to be enjoying your "lessons." You really like playing Humpty Dumpty: I stand in the pool and sit you on the edge and say "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall" and you "fall" into the water. Some days you are a great kicker, others you would rather watch your fellow bubble babies while I swish you around in the water.

I am sure I am forgetting many things, but I've been working on this post long enough. One thing I hear often when I'm out with you, is that you are a happy baby. In fact, you briefly met your uncle the pilot -- Captain Eric -- at the Charlottesville airport, and he later told your grandma that you were the happiest baby he has ever seen.

I must say that your joie de vivre is infectious. Merci mon petit bonhomme


Saturday, May 26, 2007

read my lips

[posted by bkmarcus]
"The latest finding, presented in the May 25 issue of the journal Science, is that infants just 4 months old can tell whether someone is speaking in their native tongue or not without any sound, just by watching a silent movie of their speech. This ability disappears by the age of 8 months, however, unless the child grows up in a bilingual environment and therefore needs to use the skill." [source]

Friday, May 25, 2007

Signing for Papa

[posted by Nat]
Benjamin seems to have his 5th ASL sign: "papa." He does it his own way, of course, not touching his thumb to his forehead, but instead waving his open hand near his temple. Usually he says "papa" (or "apa" or "papapapapa") at the same time.

So he said "mama" before "papa," but now he's signed "papa" before "mama"!


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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Goodnight Moon

[posted by bkmarcus]
After months and months of Goodnight Moon, we've switched to How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

But because Benjamin's grandma is visiting and isn't quite into the level of repetition that little'ns are famous for, we switched back last night to Margaret Wise Brown's bedtime masterpiece. Interesting timing.

From Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of Margaret Wise Brown,born in Brooklyn, New York (1910). She was one of the first writers to write books specifically for children who were just beginning to learn language.

Brown wanted to become a writer as a young woman, and she once took a creative writing class from Gertrude Stein. But she had a hard time coming up with story ideas, so she went into education. She got a job at an organization called the Bureau of Educational Experiments, researching the way that children learn to use language. She eventually began to write books for children based on her research, and in 1938 she became the editor of a publishing house called William R. Scott & Company, which specialized in new children's literature.

Margaret Wise Brown helped make children's books profitable, because she understood that children experience books as sensual objects. She invested in high-quality color illustrations, and she printed her books on strong paper with durable bindings, so that children could grab, squeeze, and bite their books the way they did with all their toys. And then, in 1947, she published her own book, Goodnight Moon.

The influential New York Public Library gave it a terrible review, and it didn't sell as well as some of Brown's other books in its first year. But parents began to recommend the book to each other, and it slowly became a word-of-mouth best-seller. It sold about 1,500 copies in 1953, 4,000 in 1955, 8,000 in 1960, 20,000 in 1970; and by 1990, the total number of copies sold was more than 4 million.

- papa


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

[posted by bkmarcus]

(Reviewed here.)


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mamie's day

[posted by bkmarcus]
Maman's maman is called Mamie. Today is her birthday. Benjamin's maman called her maman to wish her joyeux anniversaire and let her hear her grandson babble into the speaker phone.

Phone calls with Benjamin are usually more fun on this end than they are on the remote end. We get to see him trying to kiss the phone or (as of today) blowing kisses to the phone, but since these aren't video phones, the person at the other end doesn't see anything and doesn't get to hear much of anything either.

Until today.

Benjamin said "Mamie" into the phone.

Nathalie and I looked at each other astonished, each confirming that the other had heard him say what he said. Then she tried to get him to say it again so his Mamie could hear it better. I said, "No, he never says a new word twice." But I was wrong. He said it again.

Joyeux Anniversaire, Mamie!

(and an early Happy Mother's Day, too)

- benpapa

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Babysitter Effect

[posted by Nat]
Benjamin spends an hour with his babysitter and her family a couple of afternoons a week. During this time he seems to regularly perform some feat for them that we have yet to witness.

Last week he took a couple of steps by himself. This Monday he stood unassisted for 15 to 20 seconds.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin can't seem to start a word with a 'P' sound, so he's finally settled on calling me 'apa (pronounced ah-pa). I'll take it.

- papa