Nathaniel Peter Daley
Born Monday, February 16, 2015, 5:10 a.m.
Weight: 8 pounds, 14 ounces
Length: 21 inches
Heather will eventually have the whole birth story on her blog, and I’ll link to it when she does. But for now, here’s the story from my point of view:
A big storm was predicted for the weekend, so big that Heather and Jon’s church moved their services to Saturday. Long-time New Hampshire residents thought that was rather wimpy of them, and that the news media was doing what they do best: making mountains out of molehills. Nonetheless, when Heather had some signs of early labor during the church service, we began keeping more of a “weather eye” out than usual.
By the early hours of Sunday morning, contractions were 15 minutes apart. We wouldn’t normally leave for the birth center at that point, but a great deal of snow had fallen and was still falling at a great rate. Jon dug out the car, then did it again after the snow plow came through, then once more after we were all ready to leave.
Porter, Jeremiah, and Faith stayed at home this time. Jeremiah is in a stage where he’s very independent most times, but when he wants Mommy, he really wants only Mommy if Mommy is anywhere nearby. He’s also very sensitive and easily upset when he thinks Mommy is hurt or unhappy, so the plan was to let him stay with Dad-o. Faith then decided that she didn’t care about being at the birth; all she wanted was to hold the baby when he came home. This turned out to be very convenient, as with the baby we would have exactly the maximum number of people who could fit in the car.
Jon is an excellent winter driver, and he needed to be. The roads weren’t too bad at first, but after we left town the plows were clearly behind schedule. We were very thankful for rumble strips on both the sides and middle of the road; otherwise we could very easily have been on the wrong side of the two-lane highway. We made it to the birth center without incident; it had not been plowed, but we were able to follow in the tracks the midwife's car had made.
We settled in, anticipating a bit of a wait, but not a long one.
The baby had other ideas.
Contractions, which had been strong in the car, slowly petered out, and after many hours of waiting, everyone was ready to go back home. The midwife told us that it is not uncommon for storms to provoke labor that then subsides. So we bundled back into the car, and returned home on roads that were better than they had been. Porter and our friend Don (who had come for a brief visit and some games, but got more than he'd bargained for) had shovelled the driveway so we could get back in.
The midwife was right: the rest of the day was quite normal. It wasn't until—of course—the wee hours of the morning that labor began again in earnest. And the baby wasn't kidding this time. Contractions came fast and furious in the car, and Jon made the 40-minute return trip to the birth center in record time. He's driven the ambulance so many times on those roads that he knows exactly where he must go slowly and where he can gain time. The roads and visibility were much better than the day before, which was a good thing, because a car birth would have been not only uncomfortable, but also downright dangerous in the sub-zero temperatures and high wind. It was SO COLD.
Although we all anticipated a birth soon after arrival, once again the baby had his own plans. But at 5:10 a.m., after a gentle water birth, he rose to the surface and announced his presence with a hearty voice. Joy had been given the job of determining and announcing whether they had a new sister or a new brother: "It's a boy!"
After a short rest and recovery period, we once again headed for home, where Porter, Faith, and Jeremiah waited to welcome the new baby. True to her word, Faith has held him at every possible moment, probably more than anyone other than Heather. It took a record 48 hours to name him (Noah held the previous record), but with or without name he's been patiently stepping through the newborn routine of eat-sleep-eliminate, repeat. Mom, baby, and the whole family are doing well, and everyone loves the newest little Daley.
Welcome to our world, and to your very loving family, Nathaniel!
Far be it from me to minimize the intelligence and contributions of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. My own feelings about him are mixed, as I think he acted irresponsibly and reprehensibly in the Cambridge Incident. Not his initial reaction—I wouldn't want to place any bets on my own rational behavior after returning from an exhausting overseas trip and finding myself locked out of my house, then being suspected by the police of housebreaking. But for escalating the affair even after the facts were known. At least I think that I, upon calmer reflection (and perhaps some much-needed sleep), would have been grateful to have had a neighbor notice that someone was jimmying my door, and police willing to be certain the housebreaker was who he said he was.
That aside, however, I can't deny his accomplishments, nor fail to appreciate his contributions to the genealogical field, especially in making it more popular and accessible to many who otherwise would never have given it a second thought. For a while we watched his PBS series, Finding Your Roots, though just as with Who Do You Think You Are? and Genealogy Road Show, it got tiresome after a while: too much hype, too many celebrities, not enough content. His work is serious, and his passion genuine.
Recently Gates was interviewed in the American Ancestors magazine published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. His passion shows in his answer to the question, Where do you see genealogy in five or ten years? What do you think is going to happen?
I'm working with a team of geneticists and historians to create a curriculum for middle school and high school kids, to revolutionize how we teach American history and how we teach science using ancestry tracing. Every child in school would do a family tree. We think that's the best way—to have their DNA analyzed and learn how that process works in science class. In American history class, we think that's the best way to personalize American history and the nature of scholarly research. For a lot of kids, going to the archives, looking at the census is boring. But if we say, "You're going to learn about yourself, where you come from," what child wouldn't be interested in that?
Really? Really? I'm 100% with him on the idea that genealogy makes history personal and for me far more interesting. I can feel and appreciate his enthusiasm. But can you imagine parental reaction to this particular permission slip? This is several orders of magnitude greater than the privacy violations already imposed on families by the schools. Genetic genealogy is a very young science with innumerable risks and ethical pitfalls. Even those of us who value the genetic information available aren't necessarily thrilled with the idea of our genetic information being "out there."
Medical fears Who else can learn that I have a genetic predisposition to cancer, or bipolar disorder? If I get tested, will I be morally obligated to reveal the results to my family, my doctors, or on an insurance or employment application? Do I even want to know myself? If the school learns such a thing about my child, will that affect their treatment of him? Could they initiate a child abuse claim if we refuse to take whatever steps they recommend based on this knowledge?
Sociological and psychological fears A child discovering that his father isn't the man he has called Daddy all his life. A youthful indiscretion revealed by the discovery of an unexpected half-sibling. Decades-old adulteries brought to light. We like to hear of the DNA-testing success stories, of Holocaust survivors reunited with family members they thought long dead. But there's a darker side to the revelations: as one man wrote, With genetic testing, I gave my parents the gift of divorce. Even if we're certain there are no skeletons in our own closets, or don't care if they're brought to light, can we be so sure about other family members? Can we speak for their wishes? What's revealed about our DNA affects other lives; no man is a genealogical island.
Security fears I have too much respect for hackers and too many misgivings about the NSA to believe any reassurance that the data is secure. And indeed, much of the information desired by those who have their DNA analyzed is only useful if it is shared.
To be sure, there's a lot of very interesting data that can potentially be mined from DNA testing, and I'm not saying I'll never consent. It's tempting, to be sure. But it's not a decision to be entered into lightly, and certainly not one to be imposed on a family by a middle school history teacher. Even one as enthusiastic and as persuasive as Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
And they wonder why some people take doctors' recommendations with a grain of salt. The same medical establishment that pushes the Back to Sleep campaign and is now spreading panic over measles (though I mostly blame the media for that) has declared our grandchildren to be out of compliance.
The National Sleep Foundation and the panel of experts has come up with new sleep recommendations for various age groups. To wit:
I'm all for sleep, and agree that most people don't get enough, myself included. But did you catch the recommendations for babies? Newborn to three months, 14-17 hours? Four to eleven months, 12-15 hours? Porter wonders if the doctors are recommending drugs or the ol' baseball bat trick to enforce those limits. I'm pretty sure none of our eight-and-counting grandchildren slept that much in a day. It's possible our own children did, but I was too sleep-deprived at the time to have established reliable memories.
Thanks to Katie of Peace on Birth, I bring a simple smile to your day. This is especially for those dear to us who are expecting their fourth child and live in a two-bedroom apartment, and for those who passed the family-of-six point quite a while ago. :) He's a little too hard on fathers, but you can tell he doesn't really mean it, just poking fun at himself to make a point. I'd never heard of Jim Gaffigan, but that's a name I'll be alert to from now on. There are some things he gets that few commedians do. I do wish he'd stop with the singular use of "they," however. I mean, he's talking about mothers. I think he could use "she" without excluding anyone.
I've been silent too long, so here's a quick bit of common sense from a policeman who wrote to Free-Range Kids about common sense parenting: A Cop Weighs in on When to Call 911.
Being a street cop for 22 years, I have witnessed America’s slide from self-reliance to dependence in incremental steps. The invention of 911 has been a good thing and undoubtedly has saved many lives, prevented crimes, and has aided us in apprehending dangerous people. It has also revealed an embarrassing lack of critical thinking and common sense among some who call the police for everything.
Parents are afraid. Along with the daily media reminder their kids might die tortuous deaths, they also worry they might end up in jail if they allow their kids to walk to school alone. All of this can be solved by applying good, old-fashioned common sense and a balanced approach to safety.
The writer also teaches child safety programs. I haven't more than glanced at his Child Safety Fun blog, but you can check it out here if you're interested.
I teach them that most strangers are great people who are very helpful, but give them a few techniques to bolster their confidence and give their minds a rest knowing they will probably never need their skills, but if they find themselves in a jam, they know what to do.
I'm not a big fan of going to the dentist, but yesterday's visit paid an unexpected benefit: the hygienist, a former neighbor of ours, shared this video with me.
Heather, this is especially for you, but I think Janet will appreciate it as well, despite her memories being less happy than yours. I enjoyed it a lot despite my own mixed feelings. There are plenty of good memories for Porter as well. :)
This video is just the trailer for a documentary project promoting music education, Marching Beyond Halftime. As such, it has relevance to many outside of our immediate family. Enjoy!
I haven't written much on the Common Core school standards mess (just this), but since Florida give us the opportunity to take sample tests, I couldn't resist checking out what was expected of third graders in mathematics. I was a math major in college and usually enjoy taking standardized tests, so it should have been a piece of cookie, as we say in our family in honor of one of Heather's college math instructors, who was, Ziva-like, idiom-challenged in English.
I'm strongly in favor of holding students, teachers, and schools accountable for what is learned in school. What's more, I have always had little sympathy for those who whine about the standardized testing that comes with a welcome concern for such accountability. For endless years schools have failed to work with parents, to open their doors and records to parents, and to provide parents any reasonable assurance that the massive amount of their children's time spent at school is not being wasted. They brought it all on themselves with their high-handed, "we know best, you just have to trust us" attitude.
And to those who complain that too much time is being wasted in school with teaching to and practicing for the tests, I always say the fault is not in the test, but in teaching to it and practicing for it. Any generalized testing system worth its salt should be able to count on the fact that test results are a representative sample of a student's knowledge; teaching to the sample undermines its reliability.
All that said, this is a test that requires practice, and specific, test-related teaching. First, doing math by mouse clicks instead of paper and pencil is a non-trivial exercise. In this I was aided by my hours of Khan Academy math work. But certainly students need time and practice to learn the specific testing interface.
Second, and most important, even with a bachelor's degree in math I found questions that made me stare blankly at the screen. I don't just mean i didn't know the answer: I hadn't a clue how to begin answering the question. (More)
The Brainy Bunch by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding (Gallery Books, 2014)
Facebook, like smartphones, can enslave or empower. Or both at once. At the moment I'm feeling grateful to Facebook, and the friend who posted a link that eventually led me to this Today Show feature about the Harding family and their book.
As most of you know, education has long been my passion, particularly the education of young children, and most especially my belief that most children can learn and do so very much more than we give them the opportunity to achieve. It will thus come as no surprise that when I heard of a family where seven (so far!) of the children had gone to to college by the time they were twelve years old, I immediately ordered the book from our library, and finished reading it the day after I picked it up. If read with an open mind, this is a book that can blow away a number of stereotypes and presuppositions, and not just about education.
Although a large number of homeschoolers are Christians, including many who have spectacular records both academically and socially, as the movement has grown there have slso been examples of less-than-stellar achievement, especially in academics. It is unfortunate that when many people think of "Christian homeschoolers," it is the latter example that comes to mind. The Harding family is a stunning counterexample, especially since The Brainy Bunch bristles with buzzwords that set off alarm bells: Mary Pride, A Full Quiver, Josh Harris, early marriage, Michael and Debi Pearl (at least they label the Pearls' book "a bit legalistic"), creationism, the Duggar Family, and others that might send some running for the hills. But hang on—they also mention John Taylor Gatto, Raymond and Dorothy Moore, unschooling, and the Colfaxes, quite on the opposite end of the spectrum (inexplicably leaving out John Holt, however). Mona Lisa and Kip sound like people after my own heart, able to take the best from many sources and leave aside what doesn't work for them. In any case, the family deals a clean blow to many prejudices, including that of the college student who once told them, "Children in big families have low IQs."
The Hardings insist, however, that their IQs are strictly average; their children are not geniuses. This bothered me at first, as it seemed almost a reverse boast, as if there were something wrong with being smart. But I think I know why they make this point, and it's important. There are a surprising number of people who have gone to college at an extremely young age (here's a list of the ten youngest), but they are generally prodigies with super-high IQs and extraordinary skills. This does nothing to encourage most families to believe that early college entrance is possible for their children. Or desirable. Despite its title, The Brainy Bunch shows that this higher-level work is well within the grasp of the average student, and why this is a good idea.
Some might even say the Hardings started out as a below-average family, or at least one with several strikes against it when it came to predicting their children's academic success. Kip and Mona Lisa were high school sweethearts who married in their teens. After high school, he went into the military and she started having babies. Lots of babies. Their life was not easy, requiring many moves, and times of great financial hardship. And yet here they are, with their children not only college graduates but successful at a young age in many fields: engineering, architecture, medicine, music, and more. (More)
For some time we double-dipped in choir, singing for two different churches. We've only been back a couple of times to visit what I might call the secondary church, but we seem to be perpetually on their mailing list. Recently I received an e-mail promoting their Youth Choir, which included the following paragraph (emphasis mine).
Elligibility for the Youth Choir is not based on age or grade in school. We welcome participants who are confident readers (grade two-level minimum) and who have the support of their families in making a commitment to attend rehearsals regularly and to be faithful in singing at the 9:00 am service on the third Sunday of each month (September through June). The Youth Choir also leads the singing at the 5:00 pm service on Christmas Eve.
This may not seem radical, but it is. One of our frustrations in an otherwise positive experience with children's choirs is that choir placement was nearly universally made by age and/or grade, independent of musical or emotional maturity. One choir director told me frankly that she wouldn't have it any other way, because age/grade divisions are unarguable, and she did not want to be in the position of telling one family that their child was ready for a higher-level choir and another family that their child of the same age was not. Given that the director in question was a dedicated, self-sacrificing volunteer, I could hardly argue. But that didn't make the situation any less frustrating.
It's not just children's choirs that have this problem. Age discrimination is one of the few forms of prejudice still acceptable today. Grouping by age has never made sense to me—as if the most important factor that any group might have in common is the year of their birth.
Janet was clipping Joseph's fingernails. When one of them suddenly spun into the distance, Joseph burst into song: The burden of my nail flew away ... I am happy all the day!
There are a thousand things I could write about related to my trip to Switzerland, but time is short and people at least want to hear something, so to appease both them and L'il Writer Guy, I'll mention one thing that has struck me while observing Joseph's and Vivienne's speech patterns.
Joseph, who is less now than a month from his fourth birthday, was clearly delayed in his speech when I was last here, nine months ago. Maybe, as I wrote then, "different" is a better descriptor, but in any case he was not as verbal as the majority of children his age.
Today is a different story. Where he is in terms of "average" I don't know, but his speaking ability has clearly exploded, from understanding pronouns (saying "it is mine" rather than "it is Joseph's," for example) to being able to answer questions about the past and the future. It reminds me again of how tricky it is to decide when a problem is best solved by intervention (and the earlier, the better) and when it is best simply to let the child develop in his own way, at his own pace. We'd heard a variety of advice, from simple exercises to a radical diet; no doubt each would be appropriate for some situations, but in this case, trusting and waiting were the best medicine.
There's no doubt that Vivienne is developing differently. At 29 months she is nearly as verbally competent as Joseph. She has a good grasp of pronouns, speaks fluently, and works with determination and persistence to correct her own vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar.
All this is hardly news; even within a single family, children develop differently. What makes it especially fascinating for me is that all this development is taking place in two (or more) different languages, and that, too, differs from one child to another. Joseph was slow to speak each language (though he clearly understood both English and Swiss German extremely well), but now is fluent in both and never mixes them up. He can translate from one to another (a very different skill from just speaking) and to some extent from French and High German as well. Vivienne, on the other hand, mixes the languages freely and with enthusiasm, chattering one moment in Swiss German and the next in English, pulling words from the other language as the spirit moves her, a happy experimenter.
I'm reminded of the two types of computer programmers I've observed: one who meticulously plans every detail, "measures twice, cuts once," and whose programs often work the first time; and the other, who works iteratively, putting forth one version after another and converging on the solution. Both approaches work, though each kind of programmer frustrates the other kind no end. Not that Vivienne and Joseph experience any of that sort of frustration in their speaking. But it's a good analogy of how it seems to be working for them.
Enough. It's past bedtime again—but L'il Writer Guy is happier.
It's still worrisome that our president does not consider directing the education of one's own children to be a fundamental human right, but today I'm offering thanks and respect for the Department of Homeland Security's decision to allow the Romeike family to stay in the U.S. "indefinitely." (Previous posts here and here.) That decision is not as satisfying for legal precedent as a positive court decision overturning the administration's efforts to deport the family—on the grounds that Germany's heavy-handed anti-homeschooling laws are not sufficient reason to grant asylum—but the Supreme Court refused to review the case. The TSA's decision, while still leaving the Romeikes in a somewhat tenuous position, at least also leaves them safe in their Tennessee home.
"I don't want to eat" has almost never been a problem in our family! Nonetheless, this article on ending mealtime battles caught my eye, and it has some wisdom in it, so I'm passing it on. I can sum up what I like about it in a couple of quotes.
It's dinnertime and my 4-year-old son is deep in play. When I announce that dinner is ready he makes his own announcement: "I don't want to eat, Mommy."
I tell him five words that avoid the food battle that he wants me to engage in: "You don't have to eat."
This is the rule in our house but it is followed by a second rule that everyone follows, regardless of wanting to eat or not. I tell him that family dinners are about being with family, and not just eating, so we all have to sit at the table.
What I like most about Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility in Feeding, is it gives parents and children very specific jobs in the realm of feeding. Parents are in charge of deciding what is served at meal time, when meals occur and where. Children get to be in charge of choosing what to eat and how much from what is offered to them.
So when my children complain about what I make for them, I always remind them that they can choose not to eat it. And I make sure to include at least one or two items they are likely to accept. This gives them some control, melts away the tension, and makes them more likely to try it....
This strategy puts more onus on the parents to make sure all the food offerings are nutritious: if the meal on the table includes chips and soda, a strategy of letting your children decide what and how much to eat from the offerings appears a lot less wise. Nor would I include anything not part of the family meal among the offerings, i.e. no chicken nuggets when the rest of the family is eating chicken tikka. But letting them choose proportions (including nothing) from a good meal sounds like a reasonable strategy for giving children autonomy within secure boundaries.
I wonder: if I had not been required to eat a portion of everything served, would I have learned to like vegetables sooner than I did? Very early on I developed the tactic of swallowing my vegetable bites whole, with great gulps of water, like pills. (Peas are particularly easy.) My parents were willing to insist I eat the veggies, but would not go so far as to require me to chew and taste them. If, instead, they had simply been offered as part of the meal, and I had observed my parents enjoying it all, might I not have tried them now and then, thus developing the taste for certain foods that eluded me until later in life? I'll never know, but I like this strategy better.
Our anthem for today, November 3, 2013: assisting our cherub choir with The First Song of Isaiah (Jack Noble White, Belwin CMR 2247). (This video is not us.)
Despite the indisputable cuteness of the kids, the most amusing part of the service was one of the hymns: Praise to God, Immortal Praise. No, there's nothing funny about the hymn itself, but the bulletin contained a rather unfortunate typo, leaving the title short one "t."
It was a busy day today so I'll try to make this quick. Jonathan, having been given permission to come visit me any time after 7 a.m., was at the door as expected, and Noah followed soon thereafter. The rest of the household isn't officially up until after 8:00, so this means giving up precious time by myself—time I only have first thing in the morning or last thing at night. But it is oh so worth it to have that time for uninterrupted conversation with my oldest grandchild(ren)!
After breakfast it was time for morning chores and preparation for the Bible study that meets here on a weekly basis. Noah made us tea (there was also coffee) and then while the meeting was going on, he and Faith beta-tested my newest educational PowerPoint shows. Suddenly it was lunchtime, then time for afternoon chores, and soon it was time for the boys' karate lessons. This is a new activity for the family, something Jonathan has been wanting for at least two years. He and Noah are in the same class, which I was able to observe. Noah does very well; Jonathan in amazing in his focus and the grace of his movements.
We didn't quite have time to get dinner cooked before it was time for Faith's karate lesson, so she and I went there together while the rest of the family ate. Hers is a "tots" class, so I wasn't expecting much, but she showed the same determined focus and grace that Jonathan has. When one of the other parents there commented that the "little blond girl" was blowing away the other, older children with her skills, I pointed out that she has the example of her two older brothers to follow. As I said yesterday, the educational value of older siblings is tremendous. Although Joy is not yet old enough for any class at the dojo, she insists that she is also learning karate, at home—and so she is, for her brothers and sister teach her.
Immediately after Faith's class we had handbell choir at church—which is fortunately just across the street from the dojo. They are always gracious and let me ring with them when I come to visit, and I have a great time.
Finally, we were back at home, where Faith and I had a late dinner, and everyone indulged in homemade coffee ice cream (made with coffee left over from the morning's Bible study) smothered in homemade "Magic Shell" chocolate topping.
And now it's late again—but if I'm going to enjoy the privilege of early morning conversations, I need to grab computer time at night. Tomorrow we will enjoy an early celebration of Heather's birthday; those of you who know us both will understand that part of the "celebration" will be staying home!
Noah had yesterday's Quote of the Day; now it's Joy's turn: I love Grandma in our house!
I love being here, Joy! We all miss Dad-o, however.