One of Matt’s cousins comes to Boston periodically for business, and he finally decided to try to fit in a visit to us this time, to meet Petra. This makes him the first of Matt’s extended family to meet her.

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My Dad came down last week to help us with Petra. He brought an old baby nightgown that was worn either by him (late 1930′s) or his mother (nineteen-oughts). It just fits Petra, and with this hot weather, seemed cooler than her onesies (but it rides up somethin’ terrible).

Petra and the Antique Family Nightgown from Matt McKeon on Vimeo.

One of the things Dad helped with was babysitting Petra for our first night out without her. We went to see a sneak preview of the new Harry Potter movie (very good). And this is what we found when we got home:

We also met up with one of Petra’s 3rd cousins, Stephen Shaw (my dad’s cousin’s grandchild). He’s about 18 years older than her and doing a summer school class at Harvard before his last year of high school.

More recent photos on Flickr.

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Here are a couple of videos taken over the last month:

Petra blows out the candles on her one-month-birthday cake (with some help from Daddy).

Petra’s 1 Month Birthday Cake from Matt McKeon on Vimeo.

We visit Alison’s relatives in Newport to meet the latest addition to the second cousins.

Introducing … The Denton Family G4s (East Coast Division) from Matt McKeon on Vimeo.

Denton Babies Quintus with Dad Eelco, Iris with Dad Matt, and Petra with Aunt Gwyneth from Matt McKeon on Vimeo.

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We took a day trip down to Newport for the holiday, to see the newest addition to the extended Denton family (Alison’s mom’s side). Hot on Petra’s heels came Quintus, son of cousin Tracey and Eelco. He was born 3 weeks early in the last week of June. We got to meet him and also see Gwyneth, Matt and Iris as well as the Alison’s Aunt and Uncle.

Quintus with his Dad:

Petra enjoying Newport Harbor:

Iris Goofing Off:

All the babies:

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Today is actually her 5 week birthday, but we had the “one month” doctor check-up. She’s doing great. Weighs 8 lbs. 9.7 oz. (Up from 6 lbs. 10.0 oz. at birth.) That’s a little over 6 oz per week, or slightly under an ounce a day! She’s also 20 1/2 inches long. Both her height and weight are in the 25% percentile.

On her actual birthday, we had delicious cake from Rosie’s.

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I can’t believe that she will be a month old in two days. Where did the last 4 weeks go? She’s definitely getting bigger, and lately, fussier. I uploaded a bunch of photos to the flickr album; here is a selection.

First bath in the basin

Granddad Jones playing with Petra

Daddy Reading to Petra

Sleepy Petra, sleepy Daddy

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June 27, 2009. Petra “playing” with the elephants in the gymini.

Petra in the gymini – week four from Matt McKeon on Vimeo.

Compare to Iris at a similar age.

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Enough people have inquired about why we chose these particular names that it seems helpful to make a post about it. We’ve also had a number of creative guesses about Petra and Rosalind; I almost want to do a poll about that, but I’ll stick to the point.

The Naming Process:

We’re pretty systematic people, so we started off by each coming up with a list of about 20 names that we liked. We were fortunate to be aided in this mission by an excellent book, the Baby Name Wizard. It was written by Matt’s manager’s wife, and the associated website has lots of fantastic vizualizations of names that may look familiar to those of you who have seen the work of Matt’s group on Many Eyes.

Once we each had a list, we compared them. There was a single name that appeared on both lists, but it wasn’t really a top choice for either of us. Other than that, it was clear that we had radically different taste in girls’ names …

… but we pressed forward. We each picked about 5 names from the other person’s list that we could live with liked best, ending up with a list of 11 names.

Over the next few months, we each mulled over those names and discussed the ones we liked better. We finally settled on Petra. It had originally been on Alison’s list, because it (although ending in “a”) was not terribly over-feminine, had a strong meaning (“rock”), and was uncommon without sounding weird.

Matt likes it because (a) it is the female form of his dad’s name, (b) he loves the ancient city in Jordan, and (c) it is the name of one of the main female characters in Ender’s Game, a favorite sci-fi novel. Actually, this is one of Alison’s favorite books, too, but she’d forgotten about the name.


Originally we were going to give her one of our last names as a middle name and the other as the last name. So we didn’t need to come up with a middle name. Only a few days before she showed up (mind you, she was 14 days early), we talked over the last names again and decided on hyphenation. Then we needed a middle name, so we went back to the original lists of names. Rosalind was one of Matt’s picks that had ended up on the “short” list of 11.

The main reason for choosing this name is because of its Shakespearean connection. As many of you know, Matt and Alison met in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s High school Shakespeare course. Both of us read and performed in many Shakespeare plays in our younger days. Rosalind, from As You Like It, is one of Shakespeare’s many great, strong, female characters. (We actually went through a bunch of the plays looking at names, but a lot of them are … less palatable). It is also the name of the woman scientist who played a major role in the discovery of DNA’s double-helix structure (and indeed should have been listed as a coauthor on the seminal paper by Watson and Crick), only to have her role downplayed and recognition thwarted by Watson.

so … Petra doesn’t have too much to live up to, does she?

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What do you think? Does she look more like Mom or Dad? Here are some of our baby photos for reference (click through for more photos):




Does Petra Look Like Mom or Dad?

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We all come through it remarkably unscathed.

Petra’s First Bath from Matt on Vimeo.

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