Sunday, November 25, 2007


[posted by bkmarcus]
Benjamin's new word is "Gumby" — although his pronunciation is unique.

If you know how "Ben-ben" is pronounced in French, then just replace the B's with G's to get "Gan-gan" … That's how Benjamin says Gumby.

He's referring specifically to this video:

We don't allow Benjamin to watch TV, but we've tried a couple of animated shorts on him, played on my laptop. "Gumball Gumby" is the only one he's interested in, and he's interested in it over and over and over again.
- papa

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bb's first laptop

[posted by bkmarcus]
A very successful gift from grandma was the Kiddieland Laptop, which is the reason "computer" is Benjamin's newest word.

He's been obsessed with Maman's and Papa's computers for almost as long as he's been alive, but it's only having his own computer that finally inspired him to use the word.

You can read about the product here, where there's also a video product demo.
- papa


back from the coastal south

[posted by bkmarcus]
We're back from an oceanside Thanksgiving spent with both grandmothers in South Carolina.

(No, none of us is from South Carolina, but that's nevertheless where we gathered by the ocean.)

Benjamin got to put his toes into the Atlantic for the first time. He was also in a richer bilingual environment than he's used to, because there were more people speaking each language, or sometimes both languages.

Here are his words from the past week:
  1. ketchup
  2. papier (paper)
  3. ça (this, that, as in "mo' ça!" — meaning "give me more of that")
  4. Josh (Miss Angel's husband)
  5. Mick (Miss Angel's youngest)
  6. apple
  7. coucou (peakaboo, pronounced like the cuckoo bird)
  8. couvercle (cover)
  9. tache (stain)
  10. ceiling (pronounced "see" or "seal" and referring only to ceiling fans)
  11. mouche (fly)
  12. bounce
  13. baiser (kiss)
  14. douche (shower)
  15. picture (as in photo)
  16. dehors (outside)
  17. keys
  18. packing
  19. clock (pronounced without the L, unfortunately)
  20. nounours (teddy bear, pronounced "noorsh")
  21. piano
  22. poireau (leek)
  23. computer (pronounced 'puter)
My favorite of his new words are "papier" and "packing" because of how he demonstrated that he knows their meaning.

Papier: After Nathalie demonstrated the French word for "paper" (we went through a lot of paper products this past week) Benjamin walked over to a cardboard box and said, "Boîte papier!"

Packing: Benjamin is at a stage where he wants both his parents around all the time. If I'm not there, he apparently says "papa" a lot. When he's with me but not Nathalie, he spends the whole time asking after maman, plaintively.

While we were getting ready to leave South Carolina yesterday morning, Nathalie needed me to keep the boy occupied while she packed (because when he's around for this activity, he spends the whole time undoing everything his mother does).

So he kept asking "Maman?" to which I would at first reply, "Maman's packing. She's packing her bags."

Then when Nathalie took a load of luggage down to the parking level, I changed the answer to "Maman's packing the car."

Then when it was my turn to pack bags and load the car, Benjamin was asking his mother, "Papa?" And she replied "Papa fait sa valise," at which point Benjamin turned to my mother and explained in English, "Papa packing."
- papa

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

why I need to trust the boy more

[posted by bkmarcus]
After I had posted his new words last night, Benjamin used a few more: the French word for turkey, both masculine and feminine, and both French and English words for juice.

Today, while I was raking leaves, Benjamin pointed to my rake and said balai (broom). He knows the correct French word, rateau, so his mother said, no you know what this is called. We both expected him to reply rateau, but he said "rake" in English.

And apparently, while mother and son were in the car this afternoon, Benjamin said, slowly, "Papa … rateaufeuilles. (Papa rake leaves.)
  1. rake
  2. placard (closet, cabinet)
  3. monsieur (sir, mister, man)
  4. bagel (pronounced more like "boggle")
Tonight's bath was an even more wonderful demonstration of Benjamin's growing ability to communicate. At first I ran it too cold, so I added some extra hot water before putting him in. Not only did Benjamin use yesterday's new word, "hot," but he was specific: "hot bath!"

About 10 minutes later, he stood up and wouldn't sit down again. I gave him to the count of 3 to sit down and when he didn't, I took him out of the bath, and explained that if he wanted to go back in, he'd have to sit down. He kept saying, "no." He didn't sound contrary, but he was definitely disagreeing with me about something. I tested our understanding by putting him back in the bath, telling him to sit, but he stiffened his legs and shook his head no, then looked at me and did the sign for "change" as in changing diapers. I didn't know what to make of that, so I just called his mother to bring a towel and retrieve him. The bath was over early. A minute later, as I was emptying the tub and putting away bath toys, I heard his mother call from the other room that Benjamin was peeing in his potty for the first time!

Sonofagun, so that's what he was trying to tell me. The boy needed to pee and he didn't want to do it in his bath.

(I should say that sitting on the potty and pretending to pee is a nightly routine before the bath, so he's familiar with the potty and associates it with at least saying "pee pee" but he's never actually peed in his potty before tonight.)

We were so proud. We did a big congratulatory ceremony of bringing the pot from his bedroom to the bathroom so we could pour it out and flush it for the first time.
- proud papa

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Saturday, November 17, 2007


[posted by bkmarcus]
While most of Benjamin's words are French, there are certain words he'll only say in English.

Nathalie will tell him, "Dis «au revoir»" [say goodbye], and he'll respond in English: "Bye bye!"

And until today, it was, "Dis «bonjour»" [say hello], and he'd respond "Hi!"

This morning, Benjamin greeted me with a shockingly well-enunciated "Bonjour!"

Then this afternoon, he pointed to the painting he did for my birthday (proudly displayed in the hallway) and instead of saying peinture, as he usually would, he said "Painting!"

The day's only half-over (or, for late risers like me, just getting started) and the boy already has 4 new words:
  1. café (coffee)
  2. bonjour
  3. painting
  4. hot
And yes, that does bring him up to 150.

Here's why I think his 150th word will stick: Nathalie brought me a fresh cup of coffee and Benjamin tried to touch it. I took it out of reach, and said, "Hot!"


"Yes, hot — it will give you a bobo!"

So he slowly put his finger forward, and I let him touch the tip to the cup. He poked it a few times, then touched a few finger tips tentatively. The whole time, I was saying, "See? Hot!"

Then he slowly put both hands forward and held the cup for a moment against his palms. Suddenly he jerked them away and looked betrayed.

"Yes," I said. "Ow! That's hot!"

"Hot," he agreed.
- papa

PS I just reviewed his full vocabulary list, and I see that we've never put this very old word on the list:
  1. bobo (French for boo-boo)

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Benbenese for "frog"

[posted by bkmarcus]
  1. doux (gentle, said while petting or caressing instead of hitting)
  2. turtle
  3. peau (skin)
  4. brush
  5. puzzle
  6. croa-croa (French for "ribbit"; Benbenese for "frog")


Thursday, November 15, 2007

mo' riz

[posted by bkmarcus]

New words:

  1. Andrew (Miss Angel's older son; Miss Kayla's younger brother)
  2. popper
  3. Mamie (Maman's maman)
  4. main (hand)
  5. riz (rice)
We had Indian takeout for Nathalie's birthday dinner, and apparently Nathalie didn't give Benjamin enough basmati rice, as he indicated by chanting "mo riz! mo riz! mo riz!"

So riz is a word I've only heard him use in 2-word combination.

I also heard a very gratifying 2-word combination when I gave him some papadum: "Merci, Papa."

Nathalie has been reading Toddler 411, according to which these are the standard milestones:
  • 6 words other than "mama" and "dada": 14–21 months √
  • 50–200-word vocabulary: 2-2½ years √
  • speaks 2-word sentences: 21 months – 2 years √
  • points to pictures when named: 18–24 months √
  • knows 6 body parts: 18–25 months √
- papa

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[posted by bkmarcus]

Benjamin's new word this morning was "popper" — referring to one of the many gifts his great aunt just gave him:

He has already put it to use helping his mother clean house:

- papa

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hbd, N

[posted by bkmarcus]
Joyeux anniversaire, Maman!

- papa
(with many, many thanks to Benjamin's patron and art instructor, Miss Angel!)

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007


[posted by bkmarcus]
New words:
  1. dinosaur (as in How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? — pronounced "die-show")
  2. voiture (car)
  3. bouchon (cork)
  4. cork (yes, both French and English!)
  5. débarbouiller (to clean off one's face, pronounced "Bobby")


fair is fair

[posted by bkmarcus]


[posted by bkmarcus]
I laughed out loud when I read this week's newsletter from's Baby Parenting channel:
This week brings more recalls, leaving your kids just rocks and twigs to play with. Lumps of coal might be safer options this holiday season.
Well, that certainly makes my holiday shopping easier.
- papa

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


[posted by bkmarcus]
I'm listing "dinosaur" as Benjamin's 131st word, but he's actually been saying it for almost a week. He only says it at night, however, when requesting his favorite bedtime book, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

Our bedtime routine includes going from room to room to turn out each light, and before we even get to our bedroom, where we read and sing to him before carrying him into his bedroom, he starts saying "die-show! die-show!" (which is the closest I can come to representing how he pronounces dinosaur.) The reason he does this is that we used to lay out 3 books for him to choose from, not including the dinosaur book, which we read him every Sunday night as a special treat and a way to mark the week. Then he started rejecting all his nightly book options and requesting "papa! papa! papa!" which we eventually figured out was his name for the book that opens, "How does a dinosaur say goodnight when papa comes in to turn out the light?"

Once we understood what he was asking for, we'd say, "Oh, you mean dinosaurs?" So now he knows to request the book with that new word.

Every nap time, he wants his mother to read him "boom boom" (which I'll let her describe), and every night, he wants me to read him die-show. In fact, he wants me to read it to him twice. I speed-read it the second time, which he finds funny.
- papa

"Does he mope, does he moan, does he sulk, does he sigh?"

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[posted by bkmarcus]
  1. Maisy (as in Maisy Mouse)
  2. pretzel
  3. crochet (hook)
  4. peinture (paint)
  5. pizza
  6. couche (diaper)
  7. rateau (rake)
  8. vacuum
- papa


Sunday, November 11, 2007

shanshu prophecy

[posted by bkmarcus]

Here are Benjamin's latest words:

  1. Ben-ben (his own nickname)
  2. prince (as in Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
  3. shampoo (pronounced shanshu)
  4. airplane (said while signing)
  5. bacon
  6. rouleau (roll, scroll)
  7. Louis (one of his dolls, named for Louis Armstrong)
- papa

(Only the most hardcore Joss Whedon fans will understand the title of this post.)

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Thursday, November 08, 2007


[posted by bkmarcus]
October 6th:
Nathalie: Comment tu t'appelles? [What's your name?]
Benjamin: Bébé!

November 8th:
Nathalie: Comment tu t'appelles?
Benjamin: Ben-ben! [with French pronunciation]

Yes, it's finally happened. The boy can tell you his name!
- papa

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

chilly at the playground

[posted by bkmarcus]

Taken by his mother this brisk afternoon at North Park.


[posted by bkmarcus]
I just got an excited phone call from Miss Angel, who's looking after Benjamin this morning.

She wants the date and time noted: November 7, 2007, at 10:30 in the morning, Benjamin said … "Angel"!

He's suddenly working on names, although he still struggles with his own.

Here are his words since "pumpkin":
  1. anneau (ring, pronounced "nano")
  2. medicine
  3. gant (glove)
  4. casser (break)
  5. cane (cane)
  6. poisson (fish)
  7. cake
  8. pencil
  9. tour (tower)
  10. Angel (as in his beloved next-door neighbor, Miss Angel)
We have also heard rumors of
  • yellow
  • blue
  • coffee
  • bagel
  • doctor
  • rock
  • Uncle Josh (Miss Angel's husband)
  • Kayla (Miss Angel's daughter and Benjamin's regular babysitter)

- papa

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