Thursday, July 26, 2007


[posted by bkmarcus]
I don't quite know what to do about a new made-up word of Benjamin's. I guess I'll have to start a new made-up words list.

Benjamin's new made-up word is "bithe," which would rhyme with "ice" if you had a lisp.

He was saying it while pointing to the tiki torches during dinners on the deck. So does "bithe" mean torch? fire? flame? We kept saying those words to gently correct him.

Then he started using it in the bath, pointing to bubbles, pointing to the bath gate that keeps him away from the faucet and drain. Then I realized he was saying the word with a questioning intonation: bithe?

So I said "bubble bath" and "bath gate" and he seemed satisfied.

So now it seems that "bithe?" means "Tell me what this is called."

My best guess is that it comes from how he hears it when I point to something he knows and ask, "What's this?"
- papa

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the didactic virtues of the big mess

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin's new word is partout (everywhere), which he only says in combination with par terre (on the floor): partout par terre, all over the floor. This is what his mother says when he's made a big mess, and although I'm supposed to refrain from using French in front of the boy, I let myself say partout par terre because it sounds so cool. Benjamin pronounces it "pah too pah tay!"
- papa

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

first ASL sentence

[posted by bkmarcus]
Before tonight, all of Benjamin's verbal communications were in single words; all of his ASL communications were one sign at a time.

Here is Benjamin's first ASL "sentence":

more ... music ...

I'd been singing to him at the end of dinner. He absolutely beamed during "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." When I was done, he asked for more. I didn't even notice that he was combining signs.

Nathalie turned to me and asked, "Did he just sign 'more music'?"

Benjamin looked at both of us and then did it again:

more music.

After we laughed and praised him, we sang him some more songs.
- papa

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

first hike

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin's first hike in the woods (Walnut Creek Park):

(Check out the great sling — a gift from his aunt!)
- papa

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[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin's 33rd word (and 20th French word) is baton (stick), which he pronounces "bah-tay" and says with great delight while shaking sticks found in the grass.
- papa

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Friday, July 20, 2007

more photos from the Discovery Museum

[posted by bkmarcus]
Miss Angel and Kayla have sent us more photos from yesterday's outing:


Thursday, July 19, 2007

hooded towels, Spanish songs, ice cubes, and wooden horses

[posted by bkmarcus]
Wednesday night I gave Benjamin his bath and then handed him to Nathalie so she could wrap him in a towel. This is the reverse of how we've been doing things recently, so Benjamin ended up getting wrapped differently than he's used to, with more towel-hood than usual draped down over his face. I carried him like that, hooded and hidden, to his changing table, where he suddenly pulled the towel off his head and said, "Boo!"

This was one of those moments that melts a parent's heart, which is hard to communicate to anyone who hasn't spent the last year toweling off a baby and playing endless games of peekaboo. It's always one of us, maman or papa, who says boo; and then Benjamin laughs. So this was the second reversal of the evening: Benjamin kept saying boo and it was his parents who laughed and laughed.

Under Benjamin's vocabulary list, I keep a smaller list:
  1. yay! (when clapping)
  2. aye! (French for "ouch!" … said in imitation of his mother)
  3. boom! (when he falls down)
  4. boo! (said when peeking out from beneath a towel)
Oh, and I should mention that while "aye!" isn't new, he's now using it to sing along with the song "Cielito Lindo":
De la sierra morena
Viene bajando viene bajando
Un par de ojitos negros
Cielito lindo de contrabando

Ay ay ay ay
Canta y no llores
Porque cantando se alegran
Cieltio lindo los corazones
Benjamin's rapidly growing vocabulary seems to develop in phonetic clusters, first words that begin with B, then words that begin with P, and now we're onto F-words, including, unfortunately, the boy's pronunciation of "truck." Benjamin's previous new word was fleurs (flowers), which he's been repeating whenever we're outside. Now his new word is froid (cold), said mostly about ice cubes or papa's ice cube-filled carafe. We experimented with other frozen items this afternoon, touching his hand to bags of frozen veggies, etc. to see if he'd identify as froid something that wasn't an ice cube. No such luck. So maybe he thinks froid means ice.

Here's a picture of Benjamin's first ride on a merry-go-round:

(Thanks to Kayla and Miss Angel!)
- papa

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baby burton

[posted by bkmarcus]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

first phone conversation

[posted by bkmarcus]

I got my first phone call from Benjamin today. He was at the supermarket with his mother and apparently he was acting unhappy and signing "phone" …

His mother asked, Tu veux téléphoner à papa?

And apparently the answer was yes. Either that or he just started saying "papa papa papa papa" for some other reason.

So Nathalie called me and handed the phone over to her son.

I said "benben!" and he said "papa!"

Then I said "benben!" and he said "papa!"

It went on like that for a while. Then he said "bye!" and it was over.

I was excited and so pleased, because he usually clams up when offered a chance to speak on the phone. I look forward to future phone calls from him, even if we remain at the level of repeated greetings and an abrupt goodbye.


Monday, July 16, 2007

good news and bad news

[posted by bkmarcus]
The bad news is that Benjamin smacked his best playmate today and his babysitter gave him the first "time out" of his life.

Here's a picture of the 2 boys together:

Grayson is exactly one year older than Benjamin.

The good news is that Benjamin reacted to Miss Angel's flowers by saying fleurs over and over — a word we'd never heard him say before.

OK, so that good news doesn't quite counterbalance the bad, but it's better than just reporting on the boy's misdeeds…
- papa

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

change is good

[posted by bkmarcus]
new words
  1. pied (foot, heard twice)
  2. pois (peas)
  3. pâtes (pasta, noodles)
  4. change (as in diapers, said while signing)
new signs
  1. change (as in diapers, signed while saying the English word)

signs being worked on

  1. delicious
  2. bobo (aka "booboo" — pain)
Benjamin now has 30 words, which is amazing, but I should point out that different words cycle in and out of usage, so that his active vocabulary is only ever about 2/3 of his total words. We haven't heard him say marche or porte recently, which he used to say all the time.
- papa

Friday, July 13, 2007

3 more

[posted by bkmarcus]
Three new spoken words since last week:
  1. thank you (said while signing)
  2. book
  3. nez (nose, said while pointing to his nose)


our little artist

[posted by bkmarcus]
While he was next door, Benjamin made some paintings for his papa's birthday:

This was his first time painting. We'll have to figure out where to set up a studio for him at home.
- papa


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

long-term thinking

[posted by bkmarcus]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

1-year checkup

[posted by bkmarcus]
We just got back from the pediatrician.

Benjamin is still 50th percentile for weight and 90th for height.

Height:31¾ in
Weight:21 lb 9 oz
Head:18½ in

Doctor W said that by 18th months old, a normal baby has 5 words other than mama and dada. We said Benjamin had more than that already, plus a bunch of signs. He asked if Benjamin is starting to throw little tantrums, and Nathalie said that he'd just started to do so and that he's begun to test all limits. The doctor said that 12 months was early for that behavior, but that it made sense given Benjamin's advanced verbal development. (And I had the definite impression he didn't quite grasp how advanced Benjamin is, even though he was signing and saying words with me while Nathalie and the doctor talked.)
- papa

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Hey diddle diddle, a tax and a riddle

[posted by bkmarcus]

From "Humpty Dumpty falls from favour":

Jack and Jill has several possible origins. It may mark King Charles l’s unsuccessful attempts to reform the taxes on liquid measures, Jack being half a pint and Jill being a quarter of a pint, or gill. Although the King’s measures were blocked, he subsequently ordered the volume standard measures to be reduced, while the tax remained the same

Humpty Dumpty was originally posed as a riddle, as “humpty dumpty" was 18th-century slang for a short, clumsy person, who might well be the kind to fall off a wall Similar riddles have been recorded in other languages, such as Boule Boule in French, or Lille Trille in Swedish

Ring a Ring o'Roses was usually accompanied by a playground skipping game that ended with children falling down and is said have originated with the Great Plague in 1665. Some experts dispute this, pointing out that European and 19th-century versions suggest that this “fall” was not a literal falling down, but a curtsy

Friday, July 06, 2007

7 more

[posted by bkmarcus]
In all the birthday hubbub, we've not updated you on Benjamin's language acquisition.

New Words:
  1. truck (pronounced in a way that might embarrass us)
  2. sac (bag)
  3. paille (drinking straw, said while signing)
  4. merci (thank you, prounced "eh-see" and said while signing)
  5. feuilles (leaves, pronounced "fuh!")
New Signs:
  1. thank you (sometimes signed while saying merci)
  2. shower (done with sound effects!)
  3. straw (signed while saying the French word, paille)
Yes, yes. French is starting to leave English in the dust.

I'm still darn proud.
- papa

PS I forgot one:
  1. à tes (said when someone sneezes, this is the first part of à tes souhaits, "bless you")

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a stand-up guy

[posted by bkmarcus]
I just saw Benjamin stand up!

Not the first time I've seen him standing unassisted — he does that all the time now — but the first time I've seen him get there from the floor without pulling up on anything.

His mother says he did this for the first time yesterday — on his birthday!

But I wasn't going to blog it until I saw him do it myself. Which I just did. How cool is that?

- papa

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Joyeux Anniversaire, Benjamin

[posted by bkmarcus]

July 5, 2006
1 minute old
July 5, 2007
1 year old

July 17, 2006July 4, 2007

July 5, 2007 …

… and a few minutes later.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Benjamin's Birth Story: Part One

[posted by Nat]
Reader beware: this is a birth story; it won't be gory, but it is what it is.
I've been wanting to write Benjamin's birth story for months, but never seem to get it high enough on my to-do list to actually sit down and do it. I've probably forgotten a lot (time and childbirth and the hormone oxytocin do that). So, since the 4th of July is the first anniversary of this story, it seems time to write it. The 5th, after all, is Benjamin's day.

As Brian so perfectly put it, Benjamin declared his independence on July 4th of 2006. I had slept late that day, as I had slept late over the previous couple of weeks, knowing that once the baby was born sleep would become a rare pleasure (and now, a year later, I can sadly say that I have not slept in — nor gotten much more than 6 hours of sleep — in a year, so, all you mothers-to-be, sleep sleep sleep!!).

It was about 12:15 and I was getting Brian a cup of coffee when I suddenly felt a very weird sensation, as if my belly were a jiggling bowl of jello and someone (guess who!) was kicking from within. Before I could make it to the downstairs bathroom, splash! water was everywhere. Standing in a puddle at the bathroom door I was in shock. Disbelief. I had read that, contrary to Hollywood depictions of childbirth, only 15% of women go into labor with their water breaking first. I've even had a few friends who had to have their water broken at the hospital.

Fear set in. After all that preparation, after all those months of waiting for this very instant, I was petrified and couldn't quite believe that within 14 hours I would have to have a baby (once your water breaks, doctors rarely give you more than 12 hours to give birth because of risk of infection). In tears, I called for Brian. He rushed downstairs. I explained what was going on. He was excited. And calm (or at least seemed to be).

Next step was to call the doctor. On the 4th of July. His answering service took the message, he called me back 15 minutes later and asked: "Are you sure your water broke?" I replied that I was indeed sure because with every small contraction more water flowed. (This was actually something I was a little worried about, because I didn't want Benjamin to lose all his warm bath before my body released him. I managed to do some quick research and find out that my body would keep replenishing the amniotic sack with water and that all I needed to do was keep hydrated).

Dr. W accepted that Benjamin was on the way and told me he would call back in … well, it being a year later, I can't remember how long. 2 hours? 3?

Just around this time a kind neighbor came by to give us some three-bean salad she had made. She was going to a July 4th party and had made too much. Brian thanked her and told her what was going on, and she quickly left, wishing us luck. (The salad, by the way, was delicious, but we didn't eat it until we got home from the hospital.)

I hadn't prepared for my water breaking at home, but fortunately I had my big exercise ball (recommended for labor) and I sat on it in the library while munching on light snacks and watching Pride and Prejudice with the sound off (yes, I've seen it so many times that I can watch it without sound and still laugh at what the characters are saying). I ate toast with honey and chicken noodle soup while jotting down the times and lengths of contractions.

Labor, however, was slow in progressing. Very slow. I'd have a few good, evenly paced contractions, and then they would get erratic. They were, for the most part, mild. Just small cramps that tightened and relaxed fairly quickly.

Walking is supposed to help labor along, so I started walking from one side of the house to the other (it was too hot and muggy to walk outside). I walked and walked and walked. To little avail. We played episodes of Buffy as I paced. And I paced for hours.

During this time I also continued packing my hospital suitcase. It had been sitting half-filled in the nursery for about a month. I hadn't completely packed it because I was sure that if I did finish, I would go into labor hours later and I wasn't ready to go into labor (still too many things to take care of in the house).

As the afternoon progressed, my contractions remained fleeting instead of becoming stronger and closer together. The doctor would check in with us, but I had little to report, though I think I tried to sound optimistic each time. The third (?) time we talked, he told me he thought I would have to be "augmented" to get my labor to move forward. I asked for more time. I didn't want drugs. I wanted to do this as naturally as possible.

But all that walking didn't help. Around 6pm the doctor called and told me it was time to go to the hospital. He would call and tell the nurses we were on our way. (I think Brian had also called them to tell them we would be there that night.) He would tell them to prepare for an aumentation. This, of course, was not what I had planned, but then I knew that labor often doesn't go as planned. At least I had gotten to stay at home for a good part of it.

I finished packing. I said good-bye to the cats. We may have checked in with the neighbors to make sure someone would feed the felines. I remember that moments before leaving the house I had a major contraction: I had to grab the kitchen door frame to steady myself as the contraction rippled (or was it ripped?) through me.

The hospital is just over a mile from our house. We went to the emergency room entrance; Brian got the suitcase out of the car, helped me out of the front seat, and handed our keys to the attendant. (I'm sure some discussion of where the car would be parked took place.) We presented ourselves at the desk and they called upstairs and told us to take the elevator to the fourth floor, the maternity ward. A nurse was waiting for us when we got to the maternity desk and she lead us to our delivery room...


independence, 2006

[posted by bkmarcus]

A year ago today:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

independence day

Benjamin has declared his Independence this July 4th by breaking his mother's bag of waters.

(We may be out of touch for a while.)

Monday, July 02, 2007

first and last

[posted by bkmarcus]
First things first: let's establish which thing will be listed first, the first thing or the last thing.

I think last things first and first things … well, second.

First, the last thing: Benjamin had his last bottle of baby formula this morning — or rather, last bottle with any baby formula in it: it was about 1/5 formula, 4/5 cow milk. Nathalie has been transitioning him to cow's milk, tapering off the formula as we ran out of the last can of powder we plan to buy him. For the rest of the day (and from now on) it's just pure cow's milk. That feels like a major step to me. It's part of Benjamin's transition away from infancy: no more infant food.

Which brings me to the first thing, which is family dinner. For more than 7 months now, poor Nathalie has been preparing 2 dinners every night: first Benjamin's dinner, then later on a dinner for his parents. This leads to very late grown-up meals and midnight dishwashing. But tonight we all ate the same thing: stuffed zucchini. This meant that maman and papa had to eat dinner a couple of hours earlier than we're used to, but it helped that it was beautiful weather in Charlottesville all day, and we had a very pleasant dinner on the deck, the 3 of us.
- papa

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strolling with a stroller

[posted by bkmarcus]


Sunday, July 01, 2007

favorite snack recalled

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin's favorite snack has been recalled. Fortunately, he shows now sign of any symptoms.

More details on the Veggie Booty recall here.

I have to say I'm very disappointed in for not alerting us. We're big fans of Amazon, members of Amazon Prime and subscribers to scheduled deliveries of various baby products. They have records of who has ordered Veggie Booty from them. How hard would it have been for them to send out an email warning?

I did a search on "Veggie Booty" at just now. No results. No warning, no nothing.
- peeved papa

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and French pulls ahead ...

[posted by bkmarcus]
One of the many things I didn't know about babies is that you're supposed to train them away from bottles when all their front teeth are in. Benjamin never really took to the sippy cups, so this idea had me a little worried. Lucky for us, he loves drinking from a straw, and in particular he loves his new "straw cups" from Playskool.

Benjamin's new word today is paille (straw).

That puts French ahead of English by a nose, but he's also started to say sac (bag) and assis (sitting down) so if he repeats those soon, his mother tongue will have a strong lead over his father tongue.
- papa

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