Breaking Water ... and News!
Solution and more reading by George Barany (April 10, 2014)
This puzzle welcomes Josephine Knudson (see photo on main puzzle page), born April 10, 2014, 7:54 a.m., 7 LBS (64-Down) 13 oz, and 20 inches, to LAURA (3-Down) and PETER (9-Down) KNUDSON (part of 17-Across).  The puzzle also reveals Laura's maiden name, NYRE (68-Across), the baby's older sister CARLENA (part of 39-Across), and the name of the family dog, LEINIE [26-Across; see photo to the right]—who I am told was named after a local brew.  Everything else in the puzzle should be decipherable by persons outside of the Knudson/Nyre families and their friends [It seems that with ERIN (12-Down), I have managed, quite by accident, to get in the name of Laura's best friend from high school].  Also, we tried to make the fill and the clues on the easy side.  It was nice to squeeze in material related to newborns, like CALM (1-Across) and CRIB (30-Down); others you should enjoy discrovering for yourself!   More below the solution ...

Laura Knudson and I became acquainted earlier in calendar year 2014 for professional reasons at the University of Minnesota, and somehow it came up that I construct puzzles whereas Laura is an avid solver.  We hatched the idea to use a crossword puzzle as a birth announcement, something that I have done previously for others (click here, here, here and here for examples).  However, there was an immediate problem—Laura and Peter had yet to decide on a name!  Moreover, they had elected to wait until the day of delivery to even learn the baby's sex. The best they were able to do was to share with me a short list of finalists for both girl and boy names.  Since our construction process requires several days even under the best of circumstances, this represented quite a challenge! My solution: to encode the name by putting a CIRCLE (47-Down) around certain letters in the final answer grid, a trick that I had learned from none other than Will Shortz and Michael Shteyman back in 2006, with respect to Just for the record, our proposed answer grid for the other gender outcome is shown belw.  Obviously, the instructions would have been different, i.e., After completing the puzzle, go to the square (which is circled) that has the number 2, and trace out a an approimate ellipsoid by following the circles in counterclockwise order until you reach the square that has the number 5. Read the circled letters in order, and you will learn the name of this puzzle's hero. Oh, BTW, had the baby been a boy, we were prepared to change the clue to SON (63-Down), although the clue currently used winks at another puzzle

Finally, I am proud to say that the new Knudson baby shares a birthdate with my own beloved daughter Deborah, who marks her first quarter-century this year.  Click here for a puzzle I wrote about her a year ago, for her 24th birthday.

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