kaden's first blog. our first kid. it's an entreprenurial adventure.

Friday, August 26

and he's off!

Kaden has started moving a lot lately. At first I suspected teleportation because I could not for the life of me see him move. And besides he often looks like he is concentrating deeply on something. I would put him down and go get a drink, or grab a sweater, or run around naked or whatever - and I would come back moments later to find him off his playmat and across the room under the computer desk grabbing at wires. The first time I found this out he had gotten on the other side of the day bed, so that when I walked in I couldn't see him at all. So I walk into what looks like an empty room thinking "he couldn't move, and now he's moved out."

But now Megan and I have seen it. It's kind of a pre-crawl that amazes me at his strength. He basically drags himself across the floor with his now well-toned arms like a (very cute) wounded soldier in some old WWII movie. I think it most reseambles... well... slithering.

Also, we just had a recent visit from Kaden's grandmother and aunt. Kaden got to walk a lot, and there was much smiling. Pictures up on Flickr.

everything's real

On the back of a pretty weak article in Newsweek that almost everyone with babies read called Reading Your Baby's Mind, I was reminded of the Onion parody, 'Study Reveals: Babies Are Stupid', in which scientists give intelligence tests to 3,500 babies and conclude that the infants are "so stupid, it's not even funny."

Anyway, searching for it led me to an article that is actually worth reading, because it is so counter-intuitive. Judy S. DeLoache's totally Scientific American article talks about her insights into the lack of a children's ability to do "symbolic thinking." Basically, kids can't tell fake things from real things, they don't understand symbols.

Why is this important? Well, it can be amusing to watch your child try to reach inside a picture to pick up an apple. Or perhaps you'll use this information to play a game where you replace a real-sized chair with a little tiny 12" one and then watch the kid still try to get into it. But once your done with the shenanigans, there is the very new realization that kids learn worse when you use symbols.

Okay okay, I hear again -- why should I care? Think of the common method of holding up three apples, and then taking away two of them to try and teach about subtraction. Turns out it takes a kid twice as long to learn that way versus just using a pencil and paper. Kids have a hard time getting past the fact that the apples are just symbols for something. It's delightfully counterintuitive and really interesting to consider the implications.

Think of that the next time you're playing with alphabet blocks. (thanks Collision Detection)

Sunday, August 21

the closet treatment

We just got back from a long weekend in Nantucket with the Shahs and Kristen. Kaden definitely notices other kids now and loved playing with Jack. Of course, at this age playing mostly means the two grabbed at each other while the parents held them just far enough away that no eyes got poked out.

Kaden loved the sand and it was all boding well as a dry-run for our one week vacation in Kill Devil Hills, NC that is coming up soon. However, Kaden decided on the first evening that he would much rather play with his parents, who were clearly in the room, than go to bed. It was a miserable sleepless night in which Megan mercifully told me to go ahead and sleep on the couch at about 3am so one of us could get a few hours.

The next morning there was dread in Start-Up Mom's eyes at the thought of going through this sleepless hell for an entire week while everyone else cheerily enjoyed the waves and sunshine. I was determined to find an answer, and asked for ideas from everyone else (it was fairly obvious we had something going on when they found me on the couch). Jill recommended we do what the Conine's (god I love you Steve and Alexi) did earlier in the week... stick the kid in the closet.

The PackNPlay just barely fit in the closet, the slightly adjar door helping to make Start-up Mom feel like we were not going to be suffocating our child. Sure enough, the added darkness plus inability to see his parents made him sleep just fine. Whew.

If you're curious there are some photos of Nantucket here:

- Slideshow of Kaden-only photos from Nantucket
- Slideshow of Best of everyone from Nantucket

Sunday, August 14

sleep nazi retreat, now in full historical color

One thing I distinctly remember from the old days of child-rearing chaos and confusion (that being six weeks ago) was buying a book called Understanding Children by Richard Saul Wurman. RSW is an investor in my "other" start-up, so I'm inclined to buy what he's saying, and his book is exactly up my alley. It takes the subject of childhood; full of data, feelings, conjecture, and conflicting advice, and tries to explain some of the big concepts in crystal clear information graphics.

Despite my being excited about getting it, I actually haven't looked at the book much since I bought it on account of what I perceived as gross inaccuracies (GROSS I say!) in the data he was presenting. Let me explain.

You see, when I picked it up a couple months ago it said this:

That's a sleep chart in RSW's book, and in the orange box it is claiming that my three month old child will be having 2-3 wonderful naps a day. The chart is supposed to be a helpful reminder of the stages of sleeping development. This way when you kid is five weeks old you get a sense of how it will be getting better soon and you don't just go down a fifth of gin and pass out on the porch to get some sleep.

Now.. for comparison look at the orange box below, which signifies Kaden's actual sleep habits at three months.

Kaden's sleep chart was completely erratic and is fairly tiring to even look at now. So, according to my data clearly RSW was either grossly oversimplifying kids to the point of uselessness, or he was just wrong. Either way, the credibility of the book was undermined so I stopped reading and even shared my findings with a few friends.

However, two months later the picture has changed. So, to set the record straight, at five months this is how Kaden is sleeping.

In the orange square you'll distinctly see two bands of blue that signify he's taking two good naps a day (sometimes a third pops up). So despite my quick dismisal, it turns out RSW was generally right. Perhaps I was perhaps a bit quick to be skeptical, although to be fair RSW was at least two months late on predicting Kaden's sleep patterns (which is 60 days, 1440 hours, or roughly 20-30% of Kaden's life so far) with no warning about variability whatsoever. Just another little lesson about taking everything you read with a grain of salt.

Oh.. and just for fun, below is a view of the last two months of sleep for Kaden (the top is the most recent, then it goes back in time).

Start-Up Mom was pretty skeptical when I first started keeping track of his sleep. Actually, she thought I was an anal nutcase bent on overmeasuring our child, just as you do now (oh the wonder of blogs). But as they say in business, what you can't measure you can't understand (or some other adequate rationalization for having fun with charts).

It's interesting to look at how random his sleep was just two months ago (bottom of the chart), and then if you look at the very top you see it starting to move into more of a pattern. Despite Start-Up Mom's first perceptions, she has found it very helpful in seeing when his nap times were naturally developing and also whether he was getting enough sleep every day. And thanks to the wonders of web technology it is actually only a minute or so a day.

Saturday, August 6

We're still in the dark ages of fastening

So the kid is looking up at me on the changing table like, "seriously, it's been five months now, you haven't figured out a faster way to get me dressed? I've learned motor control, how to eat food, and I'm gonna lick walking any day now.. it still takes you five minutes to put a friggin' onesie on me?"

And I can understand his impatience, but I can't do anything about it. It's those stupid snaps! There are a hundred of them and it's ridiculous buttoning every inch and a half of a body like I'm stitching a hopped-up squirrel into a straight jacket.

Has anyone found anything better?

I mean tonight I tried putting him in with something that had buttons and I think he had time to ponder how Locke's Theory of Individuality is perfectly captured on Ebay in the time it took me to button his pajamas.

What gives? We can put a man on the moon (that example really doesn't have the same punch it used to) but we can't get a quick way to throw my kid in jammies? Where's silent velcro when you need it? Someone at MIT, stop working on some new fangled social software just to trade porno movies and get cracking on this.

All this studying, and the semesters already over?

Kaden hit five months old last week, and this has been a whole new stage for him. He no longer uses the swing that used to be the only way we could get him to nap, there's no more swaddling, and we've taken down the mobile in his crib as it kept him from sleeping.

Along with all these changes, there is also an amazing amount of advice that we've accrued that now simply goes out the window. It occurred to me today that all this knowledge we gained; baby books, the classes, the late night blog reading. It was all really focused on that first whirlwind 3-4 months of life.

I've got color-coded folders with key items circled, things like rooming in, rooting reflex, and leaving the vacuum on for hours to sooth him -- it's all largely useless now. I think we did twelve weeks worth of reading and classes only to find out it covered the first twelve weeks of his life!

It did serve a purpose though, as I felt a lot more prepared and understood what was going on. Still, I'd be hard pressed to go through that kind of knowledge transferal for every three months of his life.

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