Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Would you consider...?

In looking at our homestudy date this week, I noticed that I've (we've) been paper pregnant for a year. Being paper pregnant has been different than being biologically pregnant. I feel quite honored to have had the opportunity to be both. One of the things that is noticeably different is the ability to make decisions about the child you would like to adopt. My bio girlios just came out and, boom, I get what I get and I don't throw a fit. When adopting, there are some hard questions to answer. And working to decide is difficult. Here are some thing to consider:

  • Would you consider adopting a child?
  • Would you consider sharing your life, your family and your resources?
  • Would you consider the time, perhaps years or more, to create attachment?
  • Would you consider adopting an older child?
  • Would you consider adopting a younger child?
  • Would you consider adopting out of birth order?
  • Would you consider a child with a heart problem when you're not sure about the severity of the condition?
  • Would you consider a child who is deaf or blind?
  • Would you consider a child who has mobility issues?
  • Would you consider a child with a genetic disorder?
  • Would you consider a boy instead a girl or a girl instead a boy?
  • Would you consider a child who has been in institutional care for some time and is delayed?
  • Would you consider a child who has mental difficulties?
  • Would you consider that your adoptive child may have issues that will not be manifested for years?
  • Would you consider different parenting tactics to build attachment?
  • Would you consider changing your mind?
  • Would you consider being flexible?
  • Would you consider changing your plans or putting your life on hold since you don't know when your child is coming or how old he/she is or what his/her issues are?
  • Would you consider how much you have to open your heart and your life?
These are just a handful of the tough questions surrounding adoption. Decisions have to be made. It's almost too much control, or too much of a false sense of control, in a situation that has so many variables. We are thankful for all the people who have gone before us because our journey isn't over yet. Even after all the questions, we still feel that adoption is something to consider. Seriously consider.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3.14 Ways to Improve Your Mathematical Intuition

When I went back to school to get my math endorsement, my teachers in several classes asked us to use our 'mathematical intuition'. The term caused me to furrow my brow. What is mathematical intuition?

I knew of intuition. Merrill-Webster defines it as a natural ability or power that makes it possible to know something without proof or evidence, a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why or something that is known or understood without proof or evidence. Going with your gut. Your first instinct. You have a feeling. A sixth sense. Back when I was in the pre-married world and dating, people would tell me, "When you know, you know."* People trust their intuition.

The part of definition that says "without proof or evidence" seems like a contradiction to mathematics. However, after taking a few courses, I understood better what mathematical intuition is. It's building a trust in your own mathematical abilities. In the past we've used words like 'reason' or 'common sense,' but those do not encompass the feeling of confidence that people should have in math and their ability to do math. "That answer feels wrong." "Something doesn't add up." "Something has gone awry." Having good mathematical intuition helps you see when the math isn't right. And with math all around us - life is a story problem- being able to trust your mathematical intuition is important.

So here are 3.14 ways to improve your mathematical intuition:

1. Recognize Patterns: A key part of mathematics and the applied mathematics all around you is recognizing patterns. I'm one of those people who looks at how gas prices move and wonders what was going on in the geopolitical world that caused the movement. I look at big patterns. When are milk prices the lowest during the year? When are certain vegetables in season? How much is packaging and product shrinking? There are also small patterns. How fast do my girlios grow through shoes? How many times does my dog have to bark before someone let's him out? How many calories am I eating daily? We recognize patterns in people's and animal's behavior. Start recognizing patterns in numerical behavior. There is no need to obsess in the patterns. Just recognize them and their anomalies.

2. Estimate: In order to guess better guess often. On the days that we go grocery shopping together, my husband and I over/under the bill. Guess on how much gasoline will fill the tank. Guess on how many steps to the mailbox. Guess on how long it will take you to get to work or school. Guess how much that new phone will cost with its down payment and installments. Make those numbers real. When I was in my science education classes in college I read about the Nobel Prize physicist Richard Feynman.** After Richard and his father read about T-Rex's height in the encyclopedia Richard's father explained to Richard that the dinosaur's head would fit through their second story window. I loved that. Richard's father was making the numbers real. Estimating not only can be used for guessing answers. It can also be used to show ratios, to equate values, to make numbers tangible and to build mathematical intuition.

3. Try and Err: To build some trust in your mathematical intuition, you have to test your mathematical intuition. Just like your regular intuition builds off of what you have already experienced, your mathematical intuition needs some experience. Positive experience. I do a lot of math tutoring on white boards. Why? Because white boards are forgiving. Easy to erase. People have a hard time making mistakes and getting past them. In math, you may have to make a lot of mistakes before getting it right. And when you get it right, you probably won't trust yourself until you have done it enough to feel comfortable with it. This may take some time. Just like breaking bad habits and replacing them with good habits takes repetition so does building your mathematical intuition.

0.14...Don't Fear Fractions: Fractions may not become your friends, but they are necessary. We use them in money without a second thought. A quarter really is a quarter of a dollar, 1/4. Cents are one hundredths. Decimals, which seem to make people much more comfortable, are really fractions in disguise. Decimals are fractions hiding in a base ten system. You often buy things in fractions without knowing it. Milk is sold by the gallon. Meat and vegetables are sold by the pound. Gasoline is sold by the gallon. Those are all fractions. Yes, the word 'denominator' seems like it has the word 'demon' in it, but it doesn't.

Good luck improving your mathematical intuition. Have your pi and eat it too.

*That always caused me to furrow my brow too. 50% of marriages end in divorce. Should I trust my 'know'? Statistically, intuition didn't seem very trustworthy, and yet people often trust it wholeheartedly. There are times when my normal intuition and mathematical intuition collide.

** Richard Feynman's books are fantastic. He's writes well and is very down to earth.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Mom, can I have cuddle time?"

I got up early this morning, and there were things on my mind. When things weight heavily, I don't sleep well, and it is just easier to get up and get on with it. I had fallen behind on a few things. The list was growing and registration for grad classes where seats are very competitive started today.

When I walk down the stairs in the morning, I am keenly aware that this is not only my home, but it is also where I work. I can't really escape it. Since I consider myself a poor homemaker, I often feel the burden to organize and tidy without the real motivation. This morning I felt some motivation, and I wanted to run with it. I was in task mode.

Unfortunately, my girlios got an early morning wake-up call too. Getting things done early was slow. I wanted to move from task to task trying to check off 'to do' items. The girlios didn't get the same agenda or the same motivation. My frustration was mounting. It wasn't going the way I had hoped.

My littlest began getting clingy, holding on to my leg. Quietly, she said, "Mom, can I have cuddle time?" I looked around my cluttered house. I could see everything that had to get done. Surrounded by a 'to do' list. I live where I work. I work where I live. "Mom, when is cuddle time?"

It's now.


The urgent was done. The rest can wait. I surrender my list. I live here. This is my most important work.

Monday, March 10, 2014

10 things I didn't miss about not running this winter

Tomorrow I get to take my running gear to PT and run my first mile since Jan 1. I am so excited. Yesterday, I went to the store with my lists from the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine and tried on neutral shoes with my new inserts. I found a New Balance pair I like. Shh. Don't tell my Asics. The weather is beautiful here today, and I'm ready to go.

Since it looks like Spring will actually come I thought I would run down the list of 10 things I didn't miss about being sidelined this winter.

1. Getting out of my warm bed. My bed and I have been very friendly this winter. It has been there for me in my grief. Love my bed.

2. Getting ready in the dark. After getting out of a warm bed, trying to get my clothes together for the right temperature because I didn't plan properly and trying to be quiet all in the dark is a bummer.

3. Running in the dark. Headlights are cool for a while, but I long for the sun. I love watching the sunrise on a morning run. That doesn't really happen in the winter at the times I can run.

4. The first 15 minutes of winter running. It's cold out there. I always give myself 15 minutes in the winter to warm up. Run at least 15 minutes. I normally run longer, but the first 15 minutes have been awful at times.

5Doing cold weather laundry. There is a lot of cold weather running clothes, and since they are all soaked there is a lot of laundry to do if I run about three times a week. Those clothes have to be cleaned fast too. They are stinky.

6. Coming back from my run and making a meal in my dirty running clothes before I shower. This happens more than I'd like to admit. I fit in my running before my husband goes to work or after he gets home before dinner. Since I am the meal planner, I often am cooking while "cooling down." Less than ideal, but got the run in.

7. My hands turning white and being so painful after my run. It's a circulation problem. I get that. Trying to figure out the right gloves and keeping my hands at the right temperature has been a constant winter struggle.

8. Overeating the calories I just burned. A few years ago when I did Weight Watchers between girlios, I realized that I had to run for 30 minutes to burn off two Girl Scout cookies. After running, I become a ravenous beast. Granted, I feel like my bum has expanded with the winter, but I have also been more aware of calories in and calories out.

9. Drinking really cold water on my run. Brain freeze. I drink room temperature water on a daily basis. Super brain freeze.

10. Sweaty hair-sicles. It's my signature winter running look. I produce sweat. It drips down my hair. It freezes. Eeww.

Honestly, this list was hard to come up with. There are so many more things I miss about running, even winter running, that I can't wait. I don't run for speed or distance. I run because I love it. It makes me feel strong and healthy. And it takes me outside. Wish me luck tomorrow.

To many more miles...
New Shoes!