Saturday, September 29, 2007


[posted by bkmarcus]
  1. bottle

  2. cracker

  3. Moon (by which he means not the celestial body but the book Goodnight Moon)
For months I've been showing Benjamin different bottles at the table, enunciating "bottle" as I show him each one. The best he's been able to do is point and say "buh!"

The other night, I said "bottle" and he said "ba!"

"Bottle," I said. He said, "Bot?"

"Yes! Bottle!"


"Very good! Bot-tle."

"Bottle," he said, pronouncing all 3 consonants. We were elated.

He is doing a similarly good job now with "cracker" and "Moon" — which I write with an initial capital because for Benjamin, "Moon" is a bedtime book, and not the moon to which we say "good night" inside that book. What you and I would think of as the moon outside the window he calls "ball." Makes sense.
- papa

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Washington Park

[posted by bkmarcus]

Miss Angel took the kids to Washington Park and sent these photos from her phone:

- papa

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Friday, September 21, 2007

papa needs a new pair of shoes

[posted by bkmarcus]
We were outside chatting with Miss Angel, who says she might try to get Benjamin to "tutor" the new baby in her daycare in American Sign Language. We were telling her that the one sign Benjamin has forgotten is "Papa" — when he started doing the sign again, right there.

Willing to push my luck, I asked him if he knew the sign for "shoes" (which I've been working on with him) and yes, he did the sign for shoes tonight for the first time. Ask him what the sign means and he'll say chaussures; ask him how to say shoes (or chaussures) and he'll do the sign.

He must be entering a receptive phase for new signs.

His new spoken word is bateau (boat), so maybe we'll teach him the sign for that. Or for car. Or maybe for airplane.
- papa
I just noticed that he reached 25 signs and 50 words today!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Your 14-month-old's language and cognitive development: Say it again ... and again

[posted by bkmarcus]


At 14 months, your toddler understands many more words than she can say. Her spoken vocabulary likely consists of about three to five words, typically "Mama," "Dada," and one other simple word such as "ball" or "dog," but she learns the meanings of new words every day. As she starts to add words to her vocabulary, you'll notice that she looks for opportunities to practice them. Once she can say "dog," for instance, she'll look for dogs everywhere — in books, outside, on videos — just so she can point and say the word over and over again.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

straight from Maman's mouth

[posted by bkmarcus]
"I blog in my head." – Nathalie

"… Well I do!" – Nathalie

pulled over for speeding

[posted by bkmarcus]


passer le canard

[posted by bkmarcus]

Benjamin likes to help out Maman while she's cleaning house.

Here he is joining her in vacuuming:


Monday, September 17, 2007

all but Papa

[posted by bkmarcus]
An anonymous reader asked us, "why do you teach him sign language?"

Nathalie answered.

I'll just add that Garcia claims that a baby who learns ASL
  1. shows the same advanced brain development as a bilingual child (only more so, since ASL takes place at least in part in an area of the brain not associated with spoken language); and
  2. will develop a larger spoken vocabulary than his peers who never learned ASL.
But Benjamin's spoken vocabulary is exactly (as of yesterday) twice as large as his signing vocabulary: 24 signs and 48 spoken words. Has he lost some of the signs he once knew as he speaks more and signs less?

Tonight, without planning to, I tested him: to distract him from his now-regular post-dinner kvetchfest, I started asking him how to sign X … now how do you sign Y … and what's the sign for Z?

Of the 24 signs we have listed, he was able immediately to produce 23 … all but "papa."
- proud whatshisname

PS I say that his spoken vocabulary was twice as large as his ASL vocabulary "as of yesterday" because tonight as we did his bedtime ritual, he said word #49: dodo — baby French for "sleep."

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

the depths of a toddler's memory

[posted by bkmarcus]

We were have a lot of trouble with Benjamin at dinner tonight. He kept yelling at the top of his lungs. After a couple of unsuccessful time-outs, we tried a different strategy: asking him to show us where different things were in the kitchen.

"Benjamin, where are the pots and pans? Good, now where are the bowls? Yes!" and so on.

Then I asked him, "Benjamin, where's the table?"

And instead of showing me where the table was, he looked at me and touched his hands together in a way I hadn't seen before. I asked Nathalie, "Did he just try to sign table?" She thought so. I said, "Benjamin, are you saying 'table'?" and I did the sign for him. He imitated the sign perfectly and pointed to the table.

We clapped for him, and he got more excited, alternating his own clapping with signing table and pointing to the kitchen table.

Part of the big deal for me is that I've been signing "table" for him for a few months now, with never any sign of recognition from him. In fact, I'd sort of given up. And then from out of nowhere he shows that he was taking in more than he let on at the time.

He did the same thing with the sign for "apple" — using it after I at least had sort of slacked off on demonstrating it for him. They remember more than you'd think, these little ones. Apparently he heard his grandmother and great aunt saying "wawa" during his visit to Kentucky last month. Again, no real sign of picking it up back then but a month later and he suddenly pulls it out of the storage in his brain and starts using it.

In addition to his new signs, he's also started imitating our words to an eerie degree. I asked his mother tonight if I should run him a bubble bath. "Bubba bath," he said.

As we sang him his usual bedtime songs, a couple of which include the word "petite," he suddenly said Puh Tee Tuh.

For a while, his language acquisition seemed to be on hiatus. Apparently, he's been brewing and stewing and is now ready to start dishing it out again.

- papa

Addendum: I've been signing "table" lately. Benjamin has been calling his water table "bath" and I'm trying to help him distinguish between the tub and the table.

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ben with book

[posted by bkmarcus]
This is the chair where Nathalie reads Benjamin his stories before his afternoon nap. Usually the books are on the stool and the cushion is on the chair.
Benjamin has recently taken to removing the seat cushion, climbing up into the chair and taking the books down from the stool. (His mother tells me he puts the cushion back on the chair when he's done.)
- papa

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

new words from nowhere

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin has 2 new words:
  1. wawa (apparently baby French for "dog": think WOOF WOOF)

  2. tractor
Each one is slightly surprising to us.
First of all, while "wawa" is indeed what French toddlers call dogs, it isn't a word Nathalie has been using very much. We don't know where he picked it up. Maybe it was all those times we went to the Wawa market in Pennsylvania, when he was still inside his mother.

Second surprise: "tractor" is something I said at dinner tonight to describe the toy he was playing with, but again, it's not a word he would have heard very much. Suddenly, he was saying it, and saying it over and over when he saw how delighted we were. Each time it sounded more like the full grown-up English word "tractor." When he'd drop the toy to the ground, he'd say his favorite words — "par terre" — but then he'd sign "please" and say "tractor." I was pretty impressed.
- papa


Thursday, September 13, 2007

What does the cow say?

[posted by bkmarcus]
Apparently, the cow says

"Vroom VROOM!"

- papa

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Monday, September 10, 2007

baby burton update

[posted by bkmarcus]
Here's Kate, entranced by the same mobile that was Benjamin's first love:

And here she is relaxing in her Boppy®:
She had a rough go of things the first week of her life. It's wonderful to see her a couple months later looking so healthy and beautiful.
- papa

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Monday, September 03, 2007

parental paper skills

[posted by bkmarcus]

My wife asked me if I knew how to make a paper hat for our son.

No, but I know how look things up on the web.

Now I know how to make paper look old, too — perfect for fabricating ancient documents, such as treasure maps and magic spells.

- papa


Saturday, September 01, 2007

little monkey

[posted by bkmarcus]
From sitting to crawling to pulling up to cruising to walking to … climbing!

Some of our furniture is too high for Benjamin to climb onto, like our sofa, for example. But he has figured out how to ascend in stages. If he moves a box over to the sofa, he can climb onto the box first, then proceed higher.

This evening, he climbed, unassisted, onto the top of the picnic table on our deck. The photograph to the upper right is not of our table, nor our deck, nor our trees in the background. But they're all close enough for you to picture the little guy, not quite 14 months old yet, pulling himself up onto the bench seat first, then up onto the surface of the table itself. For me to provide photographic evidence, I'd have to have been doing something other than hovering nervously during his feat.

This one has me proud and scared.
- papa

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echo echo

[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin is doing an interesting overgeneralization with his vocabulary. So many of his "words" start out doubled: mama, papa, bye-bye, and now zizi. And he hears me call him benben.

So what started as a very good pronunciation of froid (cold) became fwafwa. Always fwafwa.

Now tête (head), again pronounced perfectly at first, has become something like "tehtet."

- papa

Update, September 3:


  1. bébé (baby)


  1. vroom-vroom (pronounced "vuh-vuh" and said while playing with toy trucks)

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