Saturday, June 30, 2007

a monkey on his back

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin's new word tonight seems to be "Maggie" — said over and over on tonight's family walk. We couldn't figure out what he was saying. He's only met Nathalie's friend Maggie a few times, and it's been a while.

When we got home, Nathalie gave him the plush monkey toy she got at the San Diego Zoo a few years back. "Maggie! Maggie! Maggie!"

So apparently "Maggie" is "monkey" … but a mystery remained. I haven't been saying that word around him very much and Nathalie has only been saying it in French: singe.

So I phoned Kayla, Benjamin's babysitter. Mystery solved. They were playing with the San Diego monkey on Thursday evening — maman and papa's "date night." Kayla was strapping the monkey to Benjamin's back, using its long limbs as straps. Benjamin thought this was great fun, and it obviously made an impression, since he was trying to talk to us about it two nights later.

With some feedback from us, Benjamin is now saying something much closer to "monkey" than "Maggie" …

- papa

Before adding "monkey" to the list of Benjamin's current words, half were French and half were English. Perfect bilingualism.

I get this by first subtracting appellations — mama, papa, buh — and counting ball/balle and box/boite as one of each. That leaves
  1. bye-bye
  2. bath
  3. hat
  4. hi
  5. dance
  1. marcher
  2. porte
  3. boire
  4. fromage
  5. par terre
PPS His mother now tells me that he's also said banane (banana) in French. So we're still tied:
  1. monkey
  1. banane
What an appropriate pair.


dance ... on the floor

[posted by bkmarcus]
This morning — well, more like noon — I stood Benjamin on my lap and helped him dance to Paul Simon's "Graceland." He smiled and laughed and said "dant" a bunch of times. Nathalie pointed out that he was saying "dance" with an American accent. So I guess that's a word he associates with his papa.

Then at lunch this afternoon, Benjamin started saying "pah teh" over and over. Nathalie realized he was saying par terre ("on the floor") about all the bits of food he drops from his high chair onto the kitchen floor. So that's a word he associates with his mother — the one who does all the feeding.

I've added these new terms to Benjamin's vocabulary list, which now stands at 15 words.

- papa


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

keeping lists

[posted by bkmarcus]
Since we're having trouble keeping track of Benjamin's growing vocabulary, both spoken and signed, we've decided to attempt to maintain comprehensive lists:

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New words and favorite words

[posted by Nat]
Benjamin has gotten pretty good at saying "bye-bye" (though sometimes he just mouths it) and I'm pretty sure he is saying "hi" too (don't know why he doesn't try "bonjour" since he certainly hears it every day).

At dinner tonight he said "fromage" (cheese). Well, he said "fo-age," "fmage," and finally settled on something like "mage." He also repeated "baguette" several times, which surprised me since we don't eat baguette often and just happened to have one for dinner tonight. We'll see if he recognizes baguettes next time we go grocery shopping. He might just think they are really big sticks.

So far his words mostly have to do with what fascinates him: walking ("mash" for marcher), doors ("pote" for porte), balls ("ba" for both balle and ball), and boxes ("bwa" for boite or "box").



little trips

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin is definitely a novice as a walker — definitely a novice, but definitely a walker, too.

Last week's event was extremely exciting, but I wasn't yet ready to call him a walker.

Yes, he did take a dozen steps across Miss Angel's front lawn (9 steps on video), but 2 points kept me from acknowledging the fulfillment of the pediatrician's prediction at the 9-month checkup that Benjamin would be walking before his first birthday:
  1. Benjamin seems to do things for Miss Angel and family that he won't readily repeat for his own family (e.g., he took 2 steps for them back when he was only 9 months old!)
  2. It seemed to be an important part of Benjamin's early unsupported walking that he not realize he was walking unsupported. As soon as he thought about what he was doing, he'd sit down and start crawling instead.
Today's perambulations overcome both issues. Nathalie stood him at the cabinet, from which she'd seen him walk to the kitchen door earlier this afternoon. She wanted to see if he'd do it again while I was watching.

Not only did he take the few steps between one known source of support and another, but on the next iteration of the same "trick," he stopped midway, thought about things for a moment (while standing), changed his mind, turned around, and walked several steps to his mother instead. It was amazing to watch. I couldn't believe he could change directions so radically, so deliberately, and so competently.

We were cheering him on and he clearly did, in fact, understand what the big deal was.

He goes back and forth between looking very sure footed and wobbling until he falls. I think there will be a lot of crying and bruises over the next month or so, but plenty of joy and accomplishment, too, as he gets used to his own transition from baby to toddler.
- papa

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Monday, June 25, 2007

wish list

[posted by bkmarcus]
Since a few people have asked what to get Benjamin for his upcoming birthday, we've set up an Amazon wish list of toys for the tot. For the next couple of weeks, we'll keep this image link in the sidebar of the blog as well as the top page at

Boi! (bwa)

[posted by Nat]
Benjamin woke up last night and started to cry. When I went into his room, he was standing in his bed. He looked up at me and said "Boi! Boi! Boi" -- no sign language. "Boi" or "bwa" is how he pronounces "boire" (to drink, in French). He usually says it while signing.

He told me, with spoken words (well, one word), what he wanted!

We gave him some water in his sippy cup, then he took his sucette, lay back down, and went to sleep.


PS He also said "bye-bye" (while waving) to the cashier at the grocery this morning and then "bath" to his father this evening. More b-words in his vocabulary...

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bones, RIP

[posted by bkmarcus]

Saturday, June 23rd, our beloved Bones left us after a battle with cancer.

We miss him desperately.

Here are some photos of Benjamin with his "buh":

Saturday, June 23, 2007

a baker's dozen ... um, plus one

[posted by bkmarcus]
In addition to Benjamin's first 6 signs, and his 7th (and his 8th, which I forgot in my original version of this post!), he now has a half-dozen more:
  1. bath
  2. cat
  3. phone
  4. hat
  5. peas/ball*
  6. finished (all done)
Bath, cat, peas, and finished are all actual ASL signs we've taught him. Hat and phone he made up. His made-up sign for hat (which he does while also speaking the word aloud) turns out to be the real ASL sign. For phone he just holds his hand to his ear. His mother thought he had an ear ache yesterday, but I pointed out that he does the sign whenever he sees or wants the mobile phone in my shirt pocket.
- papa

Benjamin first learned the sign for peas, one of his favorite foods. Nathalie would demonstrate the sign for him: holding out her left index finger to represent a pea pod, then touching it in 3 places to represent 3 peas in the pod. Benjamin's version was poking his index finger into the palm of his hand. Then he started using the sign for peas to indicate balls — and round objects in general. So we taught him the sign for ball, which involves touching your fingertips together, as if around a small ball. Now he balls up his fist and touches it repeatedly to the palm of his other hand hand. This still indicates peas, other round finger foods, balls, and helium balloons — anything (somewhat) spherical.


Friday, June 22, 2007

9 Steps

[posted by Nat]
Yesterday Benjamin and I found a pink balloon in our yard. We knew it belonged to his beloved babysitter, Kayla, who lives next door and just celebrated her sweet sixteen, so we took it to her.

Lo and behold, she still had a bunch of her birthday balloons tied together in the front yard, where there was also a wonderful stick that Benjamin dutifully picked up, helpful lad that he is.

(Yes, I'm getting to the 9 steps.)

Kayla's mom and I were chatting while Kayla played with Benjamin.

Suddenly, we were all stunned into silence as Benjamin, waving his stick, took off across the yard to get to the big bunch of balloons. He was walking, no one holding his hand. He must have taken at least 10 or twelve steps — so far we had seen him take 3 at most.

Here's a video taken a few minutes later as we tried to recreate the event for his papa. We counted nine steps this time around, but it was at least his third or fourth march across the yard.


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Happy Feet

[posted by Nat]
No. I'm not talking about the movie. I'm talking about tasty toes.

The other day when Benjamin and I were coming home from the supermarket, I heard him gurgling happily to himself. I couldn't see what he was up to because he has to be in a rear-facing car seat until his birthday (and let me tell you, I'm really looking forward to turning his seat around so I can see what he's doing and so he won't get the sun in his face anymore!).

We got home and I stepped out of the car and peeked in the rear window to wave to him. That's when I discovered what was making him so happy: he was sucking on his toes, putting one foot to his mouth, then putting it back down to raise the other.

Of course, I had to take some pictures:


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

storming the castle

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin's babysitter turns 16 today. For her party, she had a giant inflated castle to bounce around in. Even Benjamin got a turn:

- papa

Monday, June 18, 2007

some photos

[posted by bkmarcus]
It's hard to get any photographs of Benjamin these days. Even when we get our hands free to grab a camera, he's usually moving around enough to make the shots pretty blurry. Here's a small handful of shots I've managed to get over the past couple of months:

- papa

Benjamin's new bedtime book

[posted by bkmarcus]

As Benjamin gets older, he gets used to things faster. It was time to buy him a new bedtime book. We're all three of us enjoying The Going-To-Bed Book.

- papa


children's story podcast

[posted by bkmarcus]
Here's a resource Carolyn found:

"Welcome to Storynory where Prince Bertie the Frog brings you an audio story every week. Each one is read specially for him by his friend Natasha. But Bertie likes to share - so you can hear them too, ABSOLUTELY FREE!"
- papa


Sunday, June 17, 2007

world wide school

[posted by bkmarcus]

Your only investment is your time.

Your only requirement is an interest in learning.

Welcome to the World Wide School. The best place on the Internet to learn just about anything. Just read, click and learn. We wish you the best.

This site is dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of educational material. To participate in the World Wide School all you need to do is to invest your time.

For whatever reason, many people may find it difficult to broaden their education by traditional means; attending high school or college can seem like an impossible dream. That is why we are offering an education via the Web.


- papa


Friday, June 15, 2007

Words heard around the house

[posted by Nat]
Benjamin is having an incredible week. He is in the middle of a developmental leap.

This week his spoken vocabulary has at least doubled if not tripled. As Brian posted a few days ago, he's been saying mama, papa, and buh (for Bones and all other four-legged creatures) for a while now. In the last few days he has added balle or ball (pronounced "bach" or "ba"), hat (usually said while he taps his head), marche (meaning walk, pronounced "mash" -- he is all about "finger walking" these days), and perhaps porte (door, pronounced "pot" -- we have a new storm door that he loves to look through), boîte (box, pronouned "bwa"), boire (to drink, pronounced "bwa" and said while hitting the back of his hand against his mouth, which is his version of the ASL sign "to drink").

Hm... he seems to like words that start with "b"...



Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Stepping out

[posted by Nat]
Yesterday Benjamin took one step without holding anything. It was a very little step, but still!

For the last few days he has been standing without leaning on anything more and more. This usually occurs when he has toys in each hand or is clapping or "brushing" his hair. It never lasts very long (5 to 20 seconds) because as soon as he realizes he isn't holding on to anything he either falls or lunges for something to lean on.

We were playing in his Play Zone and he was holding his rattle-phone. The Play Zone has its own phone and a place to "hang it up" on the wall, but that phone was in the kitchen. Benjamin decided that he wanted to hang up his rattle-phone, so he stepped forward and tried to put it into the wall where the other phone usually goes.

As I write this, it occurs to me that I should also be proud of the fact that he understands that both toys represent the same thing!



It goes round and round

[posted by Nat]
Benjamin has invented a new sign:

ceiling fan.

He puts his arm in the air and rotates it in an elliptical motion.

He loves ceiling fans and often "asks" me to turn on the fan in the kitchen while he eats.

This is his eighth sign.


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Monday, June 11, 2007

Standing on his own

[posted by Nat]
Although he doesn't quite get it, Benjamin can now stand without any support. For 1 to 20 seconds. This happens when he is holding a toy in each hand or at least something in one hand and is focused on what is happening around him or what he wants to grab with his free hand. As soon as he realizes he is standing without support, he collapses to the ground.

Today we went to visit our neighbor who was painting with a toddler she takes care of. They were sitting under a tree putting the finishing touches on a painting when we arrived. I held Benjamin's hands and he walked around in the grass. Then he found a stick. He let go of one of my hands and leaned down to grab the stick and started walking around with it, waving it. At some point he stopped walking around and I gently slipped my other hand out of his fist and there he stood, admiring his stick and showing it off.


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Sunday, June 10, 2007

receptive language skills

[posted by bkmarcus]
After reading about Benjamin's 6th and 7th signs, a friend wrote:
Where's the list of the words he's articulated orally? I may have missed it.

My reply:
I'm afraid we haven't kept one. He repeats a lot of things once or twice, but the only "words" he uses regularly are mama, papa, and buh — which originally meant "Bones" but now seems to mean any little creature on 4 legs. He often repeats the rhythm and number of syllables correctly without necessarily getting any of the phonemes right.

His receptive language skills are getting more impressive, but also noticeably lopsided, meaning he knows more French than English.

Où est ton nez? He points to his nose.
Où est ta langue? He sticks out his tongue.
Où sont tes cheveux? He grabs some of his hair.
Où sont tes oreilles? As of today, he'll grab an ear.

But Where's your nose? Where's your tongue? Sometimes.
Where's your hair? Where are your ears? Rarely.
- papa

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

the 7th sign

[posted by bkmarcus]
While Benjamin's favorite and most frequently used sign is still "music," he has added a new sign to his ASL vocabulary:


Every night, after his bath, I brush Benjamin's hair. A couple weeks ago, he started taking the brush away from me and trying to brush his own hair. Then last week he started to empty-handedly mimic the brushing of his hair after we were done.

Last night, when I was inviting him to turn out his closet light during our bedtime ritual, he pointed to the brush on his bureau and then mimicked the brushing of his hair. He's done it a few times since then.

In Sign with your Baby, the author says that babies will start to make up their own signs for things, and that the parents should just go with it.

So we're pretty excited that at 11 months old (which he is today), Benjamin has begun to make up his own signs to communicate with us.

Even cooler is the fact that his made-up sign for brush is in fact the actual ASL sign for brush!

- papa

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Friday, June 01, 2007

big words for little kids

[posted by bkmarcus]
Carolyn of MonsterFool brings this to my attention:
SATees: Big Words for Little Kids
They include such baby-appropriate terms as 'dilatory' (meaning "tending to cause delay," seen to the left), 'edacious,' ("craving large quantities" — perfect for a bib) and 'recondite' ("difficult to understand").

- papa