On Resolutions

New Year’s Eve is here, and with it resolution season has officially opened. I have mixed feelings about resolutions. Using the symbolism of the new year to “start fresh” and make positive changes provides a psychological boost, I suppose. However, the most common resolutions are trite and obviously didn’t stick last year or the year before.  The gigantic advertising budget of diet companies this time of year is a clue. I won’t even go to the gym until mid-February, when most of the resolution defaulters stop clogging the ellipticals. Do I sound cynical? I hope not. I believe resolving to change for the good is necessary, and something we should do all year long–  not in one big burst when December turns to January. It also seems that a really effective resolution to change for the better must involve more than the self. The perennially popular weight-loss resolution seems hollow. Once one is wearing smaller clothes, what then? Does exterior shrinking lead to interior growth? Let’s be healthy, yes, but let’s look to something bigger for our once-a-year resolutions. How can we effect relationships with family, friends, and the world at large in a positive way? For my part, I resolve to be more gentle in my interactions. Will I be a resolution defaulter? I hope not. But striving for gentleness leads to hurting others less– and that, I believe, is worthy of a New Year’s resolution. Happy New Year to one and all, and may all of our resolutions be realized.


Baby D Wishes You A Merry Christmas

Outfit Courtesy of Grandma J


Baby D as Baby Jesus in a Christmas Pageant


Does Santa need a helper?


Pajamas courtesy of Grandma L.

 Baby D hopes your Christmas is filled with love and laughter!

Exciting Proposal for Public Schools in My State

In an effort to improve the quality of public education, my state is entertaining proposals for changes in the very structure of the system. I am quite excited about one proposal in particular– doing away with grade levels and allowing students to move on to new material once proficiency in previously covered material has been shown. As one district superintendent put it:

“I feel like our system locks students into spending 12 years in school, when some students might be ready for their next challenge in a shorter time frame. It also makes sense financially. Some students may need more than 12 years and some may need significantly less.”

Yes! This step is one of the changes I have wanted to see in public schools for years. Why promote students based on age instead of mastery of material? It seems that this change would lead to improved outcomes– students get as much time as individually needed to learn each concept, and are allowed to move on when they are ready instead of when the “unit” is completed. No more pushing some students ahead before adequate understanding is reached, resulting in frustration and decreased understanding of more advanced material. No more holding students back from the next step when they have understood the preceding material, resulting in boredom and loss of excitement about learning.

My opinion of the public school system in the U.S. has been that equal access to education for all is a noble concept, but structural change to the system is necessary before the goal can be reached. This change would be a very positive step in rebuilding a functional public education system. I dearly hope this proposal is adopted.



What Is this “Santa”?

Today Baby D met Santa for the first time. He did not cry, but did appear to wonder what this strange looking person was all about. Perhaps he was thinking “I’ve heard the song. You see me when I’m sleeping? You know when I’m awake? I’ve got my eye on you, Santa”. He also got to see Cousin S, who was portraying the Ice Princess at the north pole display. She looked lovely in her gown!

Drinking From a Glass is Hilarious

Baby D now sips water from a small glass while I hold it for him. He really enjoys drinking from a glass. The process goes something like this:

1. Sip

2. Belly Laugh

3. Reach for Glass

4. Repeat Process

The laugh is priceless– such joy at discovering something new. I never realized drinking water could be so funny! This is also a Montessori concept. In Montessori babies drink from a small glass that at first is held by the parent and eventually can be used independently by the child. “Sippy” cups are discouraged since they can be carried around and knocked over with no spills. The idea is that by trusting the child with a real drinking glass the child learns to use it carefully and develops in self respect.

EC Update

It has been quite a while since I posted about our continuing experiences with elimination communication. We had a remarkable run of success with several months where we only had one or two soiled diapers per week. Now we are having soiled diapers every day, and catching one or two bowel movements per week. We are not disheartened, but just changing our routine. Now that Baby D is mobile and crawling around to explore his surroundings, his signs are not as clearly noticeable. Whereas in the past I could tell pretty reliably when he needed the potty, now my first indication is usually a certain odor emanating from his diaper. He is just too busy to stop for the potty! This is a common experience among those who practice EC, and does not indicate a failure of the method. We just have to stay one step ahead of the little explorer and begin offering the potty based on timing rather than signals from the baby. I know that Baby D usually needs the potty in the morning just after he eats, and so I will offer the potty then. Sometimes we catch it and sometimes we don’t. At this stage my goal is to continue the association of moving the bowels and sitting on the potty. As long a s Baby D continues to make this connection the transition to independent toileting should be much smoother than if we relied totally on diapers. The most important thing for us will be consistency on my part in offering the potty at the right time. Sometimes I need to overcome LMS– Lazy Mom Syndrome!

The increased frequency of soiled diapers has given us more opportunity to sing the “You’ve Got Something in Your Diaper” song, which makes Baby D smile. These are the words, to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”:

You’ve got something in your diaper,

You’ve got something in your diaper,

You’ve got something in your diaper,

And it doesn’t smell so good!

Baby D, Investment Advisor

I suggest putting all your assets in apples, peas, and milk.


Those office parties...


A full day of work sure makes a guy tired!

In Gratitude For Public Libraries

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.  —Anne Herbert

I would like to take a moment to say thanks… for public libraries. Public libraries give all people access to the wealth of human understanding without asking anything in return. Obscure and out of print books, books too expensive for most people to own, books on any and every subject one could desire to learn about are freely lent for only a promise to bring them back. This is extraordinary! The support of a public library is one of the most important things a community can do and thankfully is a high priority. The existence of such wonderful places, though, seems to imply a responsibility for those of us blessed enough to have access to the books, music, journals, museum passes and such that the library provides. We have no excuse for not continually seeking self improvement. If we fund libraries through our taxes and then never use them we are impoverishing ourselves on a human level.

 A man who I belive to be a hero of educational philosophy, Mortimer Adler, educated himself at the New York Public Library after dropping out of school to go to work at the age of fourteen. He went on to become the only person to earn a doctorate degree from Columbia University without having the benefit of a bachelor’s degree, and then went on to dedicate his life to making a liberal education as widely possessed as possible. He founded the Great Books movement and contributed to the compilation of the Great Books of the Western World series, which put most of the most influential western books up until his time in one set– many of them accessible to the masses for the first time. None of this would have happened without the public library.

Residing quietly in our cities are repositories of the seeds of greatness. Libraries are unassuming places, never ostentatious, not resorting to flashy lights and catchy jingles to lure patrons. The library is there waiting to welcome all who desire knowledge and to share freely the wealth contained therein; jewels laid bare for the taking– jewels with the remarkable property of belonging to all who desire them and having the capacity to be possessed fully by many at once. There is great treasure available to us for the asking, the only price being the effort we put forth to acquire this treasure. Thank you, fellow citizens, for funding the public library. You are doing an immeasurable service to humanity.