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March 31, 2007

Old Friends New Friends

There was a brief period when FM reacted with fear to new faces. Brief, like perhaps a few days or a week. Since then he has shown a great appetite for faces of all kinds. He is sometimes bothered by smells—strong perfume, cigarette smoke in your hair—but seems to be pretty happy to see anyone who is happy to see him. This eases introductions, of which there have been many. Interestingly, he seems to (and I suppose most babies do) recognize other babies and children as somehow different than the majority of new people he meets. I don’t understand how this is possible. Perhaps babies measure the size of the face they are seeing? But that works only if they can get a good measure of the distance to the face, and I don’t think they can always do that. Perhaps they use the absence of a hairline to recognize other babies? But how then do they recognize children, for example Yone, our godson, whom Felix finds particularly amusing and who has a quite clear hairline? Or is what he likes about Yone is how he makes such wildly modulated sounds, and how he runs away and then runs back again and again and again? Is it that children treat each other without the sort of exaggerated gentleness with which adults treat children?

Posted by talia at 5:04 AM

March 30, 2007

Movie: Dream Dream Dream

What is he dreaming about? It seems obvious that it’s partly about eating, you can see him clearly sucking. But what is very surprising to me is that he also smiles in his dream. Why surprising? Because at this time he was not yet smiling while awake, ever. Random muscle movement? It wasn’t for at least another month that he began smiling for real.

Posted by talia at 3:36 PM

March 29, 2007

Movie: Falling Awake

I say in the caption that he might be either waking or falling asleep, but I see now that he must be waking up: he’s dressed in his outdoors suit, so must have come home asleep, been laid down and unzipped, and now is waking up. That was a great little suit he had, by the way, and I don’t know who gave it to us, but Thanks Whoever You Are. Talia always seems to be able to remember what came from whom and so is more directly grateful to individuals. I just feel a general sense of thankfulness.

Posted by talia at 3:43 PM

March 28, 2007

Quiet Moments

I love him when he’s asleep. I love him all the time, and even more as time goes by and he becomes more whatever he is, but really I love him the best when he’s asleep. He does everything with great enthusiasm, he’s very high energy when he’s awake…and then he’s out.

That having been said, by far our biggest problem with this child is that he doesn’t stay out for long. More on that elsewhere.

Posted by talia at 3:52 PM

March 27, 2007

Movie: Revenge of Learning To Suck

By popular demand, a second "learning to suck my hand" video.

You’ll notice in both of the Learning To Suck videos he is sucking his right fist. In fact, he is ambidextrous when it comes to sucking. I wonder when we will notice a preference for right or left?

Posted by talia at 6:54 AM

March 23, 2007

Medical Moments

The Dutch system of post-birth care is excellent. I think the equivalent in the US is the “well baby clinic”: you take your baby in periodically for checkups, measurements, and inoculations. Here the process starts in your home when a sort of extension service of the clinic sends people to your house for the first hearing and blood tests.

What I like about these visits is seeing other parents with equivalently young babies in the same situation as yourself, and hearing the noises and seeing the things their babies do. It can be very isolating being a new parent, and seeing other parents reacting just as you do to babies that cue them in just the same way as yours is in some way comforting. What I don’t like about these visits is that not every baby who comes in to the clinic is actually “well,” so one can’t help but wondering what your baby will bring home. To date, nothing, but I worry anyway.

Posted by talia at 6:52 AM

March 20, 2007

Movie: Learning to Suck

A lot has been written about thumb vs. pacifier. We quickly welcomed the pacifier, and so did he. Recently, though, he has taken matters into his own hands, so to speak. It makes me wonder what the books are talking about: in many of these "either/or" matters the baby is apt to choose both, and regardless, it's likely to be the baby who chooses. And babies don't read.

I thought of babies as born thumbsuckers, if not addicted to pacifiers, but the variation among them is considerable: some do, some don’t, some go from one to the other, for some it’s finger sucking instead, or even nothing, and so on. Still, I was surprised at how long it took Felix to learn to suck his thumb given that thumbsucking runs in his genes on both sides. In fact, he still doesn’t really seem to get it, now, at six months old. In this film, though, I suppose it was mostly a question of the size ratio between hand and mouth: at this stage it is perhaps more satisfying to suck an entire fist than one tiny digit. Also, at this age the default position for a baby’s hand is a fist, so sucking a thumb would require an extra bit of coordination. This baby, at any rate, stayed with the fist for a long time. These days he mostly sucks on bars of wood.

Posted by talia at 4:42 PM

March 19, 2007

The Many Faces of Felix

We took dozens of photos Felix around this time and I did what I usually do: went through them all and deleted the ones that were either bad shots or effectively doubles. It didn’t work. First of all, Talia bought this SLR camera with a portrait lens so pretty much every shot looks incredible. Second, Felix somehow just doesn’t look the same from shot to shot. In fact there’s a series of about ten portraits in which he looks like a different US president in each one (the “something surprised him” photos; in the one posted he looks just like Gerald Ford) despite the fact that they are all taken mere seconds apart. The irony is that being foreign born he can never be president. I do not mourn this fact.

Posted by talia at 10:58 PM

March 18, 2007

Movie: Art Film

Talia says she doesn’t “get” this movie. Do you? The music, by the way, wasn’t as loud as it sounds, we are very careful with his little ears.

Posted by talia at 4:18 PM

March 15, 2007

Movie: Waking up...or not

Babies at this age spend a certain amount of time in a sort of half-sleep, and moving from one phase of consciousness to another is not the seemingly smooth process that it is for most adults. They can also be surprisingly hard to wake up. Not a problem, of course, since mostly what you want them to do is sleep.

Posted by talia at 4:20 PM

March 10, 2007

Why Did We Do It?

Circumcision. You have a perfectly healthy baby, you voluntarily have him cut. It does not, on the face of it, make any sense. As it happens, we didn’t think much about it in advance: we’re Jewish, we’re American, it’s the “natural” thing to do. But having done it, I found the process unpleasant and above all senseless enough that I hope our future children are girls simply so that we don’t have to even think about doing it again.

Posted by talia at 7:20 PM

March 6, 2007

A Few Early Portraits

What is so odd about these and the many dozens of similar shots we made in this early period is (less than a month old) that he somehow looks different in all of them. I found it very difficult to keep an image of his protean face in my head. I also found it impossible to say what features came from where. It was only after several months that I thought “OK, this is what he looks like.” But looking back, some of those features were always there, even in such utterly bland photos as his passport photo, a classic of its kind. Want to see it? You’ll have to come visit.

Posted by talia at 7:21 PM