Wednesday, August 31, 2005

One step Ferber

After being called upon as a last resort, Dr. Ferber has revolutionized our evenings. Keep in mind that Pete was crying hysterically at bedtime every night, for a good while, until we broke down and fed him. We started the Ferber method of teaching him to go to sleep on his own last night. It involves some crying at first, but Pete is learning:

Last night: 32 minutes of crying before sleep, followed by an unprecedented nine-hour sleep
First nap today: 30 minutes, followed by unprecedented nap in crib
Second nap: 22 minutes
Tonight's bedtime: 7 minutes

It's certainly hard to hear your baby cry even for seven minutes, but that's a whole lot better than last week, and at least there's a reason behind it, and we get the extremely valuable bonus that Pete is going to be able to get himself to sleep without all the theatrics we've been using for months. If things go according to plan, the crying will stop completely soon. Oh joy. And knock on wood knock on wood knock on wood--especially since everything could be thrown off when we leave for the weekend on Friday.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Day care begins

As we had hoped, Pete was easily the least anxious of the three of us about his adjustment to part-time day care. So far, so good. Bedtime has not improved, but thanks to Jackie Brown's encouragement, we will let Dr. Ferber take the lead tonight. I've gotten his book and found that his ideas have always been wildly misrepresented when I've heard about them in informal settings.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Trouble sleeping

There is a developmental stage, usually between six and nine months, in which babies often abandon learn to keep themselves awake and become panicked when parents begin to leave the sleeping area. Ask me how I know. And Pete goes to day care for the first time tomorrow. We need good luck this week.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A great babysitter departs

If Pete had a plan, the motor skills to operate a keyboard, an understanding of the future, and some command of written English, he would post today to say what a good friend Lara has been to him this summer. And he would wish her a great year and promise to write news of crawling and walking and talking while she's gone.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Did we mention we're cows?

We noticed on this trip that Pete, who has always been calmed by singing, was starting to settle down if we played Sandra Boynton's Philadelphia Chickens CD, which is a big favorite of ours in the children's category. Then, on the last stretch of the trip, after he had been traveling and meeting new people all day with admirable cheer and resiliance, he got especially fussy. We tried singing--no dice. We stopped at Williamsburg and walked around, which he liked, but the car made him cry again. Carolyn got into the back seat and played with him, which worked for about ten minutes, after which more crying than ever. Then the CD worked for a few minutes, but more crying ensued. By this point, Pete was realizing that he was hungry, so were were in a world of trouble but only about 15-20 minutes from home. Then inspiration hit: we realized that it wasn't just the Boynton CD that was calming him. It was the first song of that CD, a chorus-line number sung by a group of cows. So we played the cow song again. No crying. At the end, and I mean instantly, full wail. Cow song again. No crying, then end and wail. Then papa got smart: cow song again, hitting the button to go back to the beginning just before the end. Bingo! About four more renditions carried us through to 10th Avenue. Then we let it end, and Pete cried for the last ten seconds, and we were home. Oh, best friend cow song!

Pacing ourselves

[To a former student]: I, too, walk in circles or pace when I'm on the phone. Carolyn has not found this one of my more endearing traits, and I admit I probably wouldn't like being married to a phonewalker either. However, the habit has been enormously handy lately, since Pete loves to be held and carried around. If I need to make a longish phone call, I can just wait until he's ready to bounce to sleep and make the call. Then everybody's happy!

Friday, August 19, 2005

To Illinois

We go to see grad school friends in Champaign-Urbana this weekend. They have a daughter, Frances, who is just a few weeks older than Pete. She will be the first baby girl Pete has hung out with. This will also be my first visit to the place my parents met.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fair minded

Pete went to the State Fair on Sunday. With us, as you may have guessed. I had wondered whether he would go nuts for the animals. He's fascinated by our cats now (after not noticing them for months), and I thought barns of cows and pigs and lambs might strike him as wondrous, huge versions of Giddy and Kirby. In fact, the results were mixed. Pete was generally more interested in the human fairgoers than the livestock. The two exceptions were cases where he could get a good view of an animal's eyes, once with a cow and once with a lamb. The best connection was with the cow, who caused much kicking and trembling.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Little guy

I've started calling Pete "little guy" with increasing frequency as he gets older and seems less like a baby and more like, well, a guy, but little. All along, I noticed that I was saying "little guy" with an inflection that wasn't quite my own. This little strangeness carried connotations of great fondness, but I couldn't figure out why the phrase came out of my mouth the way it did. Then it hit me: I've been quoting Marge Simpson calling Bart her "special little guy," as she does when she wants to mark an uncommonly tender moment between them. This instance is one of many in which I've recognized myself having unwittingly quoted comedic sources--about 40% of what I say comes verbatim from Steve Martin's early albums--but it's the first evidence that my son is, in essence, being raised by a cartoon character.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Pete was making these great happy little raspberry sounds with his mouth about a month ago. Then they suddenly disappeared. A few days ago, I noticed one little one. Now he's a veritable happy raspberry machine. Happy day.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


You may recall note #4 on Pete's development below, about speaking strings of syllables. Yesterday evening, we were eating dinner with Pete happily playing in a little chair next to us. Eating, talking, playing with Pete, eating, talking. Then BOOM!: "byaayayaya," says Pete. Carolyn and I both froze, looked at each other to confirm we'd heard the same thing, and we had it. Pete's first wordlike babble.