Lara and Gloria are now 9 months old, and it's time again for our monthly baby update. The girls are now both crawling well. Lara has learned to sit up on her own and Gloria knows how to pull herself up and stand on her feet. She's been doing that since 2 weeks already, but only now has she learned how to get back down in any other way than just letting go and falling backwards on her head. There's no day the babies don't get new scratches or bruises and they are relentlessly curious. The other day they escaped from the baby-safe part of the room and happily chewed on our passports.
When they are not sleeping or crying, they are babbling most of the time. For a few days in a row they pick a favorite syllable that they then repeat endlessly. Presently, Gloria is commenting everything with na-na-na, and Lara is practicing dadn-dadn. I've speculated she's echoing Stefan's "Was mascht Du dadn?" (What are you doing there? Saarland-style). On Monday we took them to the institute and they were duly impressed by the guy next door drawing Feynman-diagrams on the whiteboard, though more interesting still they found all the cables under my desk together with the occasional woodlouse that we evidently host down there.
I always thought babies typically swallow or choke on everything small enough to fit into their mouth. It turns out though the very little ones put things in their mouth but don't swallow. In fact, at this point ours still refuse to eat anything that's not smoothly mashed. They'll just push it around in their mouth for a little and then spit out. (It's called the "gag reflex" and should vanish by 7-9 months. You better not leave your baby alone with the combustion engine anyway.)
Neither Lara nor Gloria have teeth yet. That has not deterred the Swedish health authorities from assigning us dentists' appointment. It's not like they ask you to come, no, they just send a letter with a time, date, and location you have to appear. We actually missed the first two appointments. I then called them and tried to convey the information that the girls don't even have teeth for the dentist to look at, but to no avail. I'm picturing a long corridor with offices where Swedish doctors sit and cross out names of patients that didn't show up for their appointments, or belatedly notice the body part they wanted to examine is missing. But at least we know where our taxes are going. (The same health authorities that require amputees to prove every other year that the missing part hasn't regrown. Still better than no health insurance...)
Stefan was sent a list of gadgets the modern father needs to have, for example the full color, high-def, video monitoring system, that allows you to check on your babies by Skype, or a cry analyzer. But the gadget that I would really like to have is a diaper with an integrated microchip that sends a note to my BlackBerry when the diaper is full, and a number attached to it. It's somewhat degrading to having to push my nose onto baby-butts in order to examine the matter, and Stefan's nose evidently isn't up to the task. The German comedian Michael Mittermeier aptly referred to the nose-on-butt procedure as "the shit-check." Which reminds me, I should really write the report on that paper now...