Archive for March, 2015

March 28, 2015

Alexis at Four months

Dear Alexis,

Your daddy and I have a running joke that I didn’t give birth to a newborn, I gave birth to a three month old. You were smiling at just a few days old. You had excellent head control, and were giggling way earlier than one might expect. But your most astonishing feat? Supported standing. At three months old.

alexis standing

Whenever we go to put you down on the changing pad, or sit you in the high chair, you lock your knees and refuse to bend your legs. Daddy refers to it as ‘deploying your landing gear.’ I suspect you’ll be a cruiser before a crawler. Of course since you’re still only three months old, it’s anyone’s guess. You still need Mom or Dad to prop you up, and we’re never more than a few inches away. Our spare hand is always behind you just out of frame. But boy do you love your new found independence.

alexisfourmonths

You’re getting better at grabbing. You have managed to get your toes a couple of times, and the toys that dangle from your activity gym. We started putting you in your high chair in an effort to return to family meals. You dine on toys (when you manage to get them into your mouth) of course. You love the new vantage point. Like your sister you are completely fascinated with the world around you, and love having a seat at the table.

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My maternity leave is rapidly approaching it’s end. I thought it would be easier to return to work this time. Alas, it is never ease to leave your child in the care of another for the first time. I will miss our days together, just as I missed them with Nicole when she was your age. I know we like to joke that I gave birth to a three month old, but do me a favor and remain a tiny baby as long as possible, mmm kay?

Love always,
Mommy and Daddy

March 27, 2015

Fifth Anniversary

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Still working on that family photo…

Today marks the fifth year anniversary of our wedding vows, and what a journey it’s been!

Five years.
5 years of wedded bliss
4 places of employment
3 continents traveled together
2 amazing daughters
and 1 incredible adventure on the horizon!

I am so incredibly grateful for all we’ve been able to build together. Sure there are sleepless nights, spit-ups and hiccups, but I can’t imagine navigating life with anyone else by my side.

It’s been a surprisingly long week. My parents were visiting while I’m still on maternity leave, giving Domingo and I a chance to cross off some much needed tasks from our to-do list before I return to work. We also kept Nicole home so she could soak up some grandparent attention. Somehow even with the two extra pairs of helping hands the week felt more chaotic than our usual weekends.

One of my things I was desperate to do was get a hair cut. I hadn’t had a hair cut since I was five weeks pregnant with Alexis. It was long, straggly, and thanks to pregnancy hormones – or more specifically the lack there of – coming out in handfuls. It’s still coming out, but now that it’s much shorter and the ends no longer feel like a bristle brush, it’s not as annoying.

Another thing on my chore list was to go to the eye doctor. I hadn’t been since Nicole was a baby. I ran out of contacts a year ago, and broke my current glasses. Since we moved in October 2013 I was using my back up pair from when I first moved to California in summer of 2004. The good news is that my prescription hasn’t changed. If my understanding is correct, that means I’m a good candidate for laser eye correction! Mayo Clinic recommends not having it done while breastfeeding since related hormones can affect vision. I also want to wait until we have a house. A fix mortgage brings a lot of cost certitude. Our rent increased a whopping 24% last year, and is expected to climb further this year. I want to be sure of our financial picture before dipping into our savings.

Speaking of house hunting, we started the process! Hopefully soon I’ll have a happy announcement.

Lastly we started packing & organizing for the move. We had some items in our downstairs storage locker in the parking garage, but the fellow who parks there tends to park fairly close to the door. We made sure to remove the larger items that can be difficult to get out while he (and his car) were away at work. They’re now safely stored on our balcony. We also took recycled three old computers, and through out our vacuum after learning it couldn’t be repaired.

I still can’t believe how fast my extended maternity leave went.

When my first job was going through a series of layoffs, I couldn’t help but notice most of the people being laid off where new in their careers, like me. During our usual one-on-one I asked my boss if I should be worried. He replied “correlation does not imply causation.”

“Correlation does not imply causation” is one of my statistical pet peeves because it’s so often misunderstood and misused. It’s a typical response when the speaker wants to dismiss an observation or study he or she doesn’t agree with, without addressing the merits of the observation or study itself. If my boss had said “the square of the hypothesis is equal to the sum of the square of the sides” he would have been just as accurate, and just as irrelevant.

What is Correlation and Causation?

Correlation means two events tend to occur together more frequently, or infrequently, than could be explained by random chance.

Causation means one event causes another event.

If two events have a causal relationship, by definition there is also a correlation between the two. Events that are correlated is a superset of events that are causal. There exists some events that are correlated and not causal.

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Ice cream sales and crime rates (or sometimes shark attacks) tend to be a favorite example of a correlated relationship that’s not causal. All three increase in the summer when the temperature rises and people tend to be out more. Since the rate of each event rises in warm weather, and falls in cold whether, the events are correlated. If you know crime rates have increased recently, there’s a good chance it’s summer and ice cream sales have also increased. Criminals aren’t turning to a life of crime to support their ice cream habit, and ice cream isn’t altering a persons’ brain chemistry making them more susceptible to their impulses. The relationship is not causal.

What can be deduced if a relationship is Causal vs Correlated?

If the relationship between two events is causal, then altering the causal event will effect the other.

If the relationship between two events is correlated you cannot assume you can control one event by manipulating another, however it is perfectly reasonable to make predictions about one event by observing another.

If I witnessed an increase in ice cream sales, I might expect to see more reports of shark attacks in the news. I can’t grantee a band on ice cream sales to change the crime rate and vice versa. I can hypothesize that the band may effect the crime rate, but I cannot guarantee it. I would first need to conduct an experiment to see if manipulating one event causes the other to change, ie that the relationship was causal and not just correlated. The observation that two events are correlated is usually the precursor to such an experiment.

If I noticed the layoffs seem to disproportionately include younger employees like myself, it’s statistically valid to be concerned. This conversation happened right around the time I decided to go to grad school, so while it may have been a statistically valid concern, it wasn’t a very practical one.


This mathematical post brought to you by the number Pi. Happy Pi day!

Egads, I missed my blogversary again. Time is just racing by these days.

My metrics this year are basically flat, or down slightly. Not too terribly surprising since I’ve been either working or on maternity leave with less time to blog these days. I didn’t even write as much about my Ziggy Pregnancy as I did with Zippy. I’ve also been mostly sticking to my promise to blog less about Nicole, although I clearly miss it.

My most popular post by such a big a factor of 18x is my statistical model for labor. I really must follow it up with some more geeky posts. I’m kind of surprised the baby name uniqueness post isn’t more popular, but there’s also not a fun tool accompanying it. I am thinking about changing that! Stay tuned.

Nearly a year ago I tried to predict how much I would spend on Amazon.com this year. t’s always hard to make such predictions, as life is always changing. On the one hand, we had moved the previous year, and there were setup costs associated which we wouldn’t expect to need to pay again. On the other hand, at the time I knew I was pregnant (though we weren’t spilling the beans yet!) and there would be new baby expenses. My estimate was very crude, to stay the least.

Today only a tenth of a percent is left on my gift card balance. Not to shabby a prediction, although given my crude method of estimation, much of the credit goes to blind luck.

Impulse purchase were way down this year, although overall spending was nearly identical. Going through my order history for this year there’s about $70.85 of what I consider “purchase regrets” – things like an extra swim diaper we didn’t use, or a cheap toy that wasn’t even worth the $10 we spent. Part of the reason that number is so low is I’ve been better about returning things that were broken, didn’t match their descriptions or otherwise had material defects. The other reason is I spent so little time browsing on Amazon, even though I was home on Maternity leave leading during the Black Friday season. (Yes, I consider it a season.)

I can also proudly say that I didn’t let the fact that I had a gift card balance influence my decision to make a purchase much. If an item was cheaper elsewhere before applying the gift card, I purchased it elsewhere. I knew I would eventually use the full gift card balance, so why waste it? I came closest with hue, which was a bit of a splurge.

While reviewing my Amazon purchase history it’s become apparent how little I use Amazon prime. I like to go back every year and see whether it’s actually saving us money or not. This year the verdict appears to be ‘not’. The only benefit we take advantage of is the free two day shipping. Since they raised the rates it’s not really worth it to us. Or at least it won’t be when my subscription runs out later this summer. By then we should be beyond the points of need-this-tomorrow-for-the-baby and too-hard-to-take-the-baby-out. I doubt I’ll miss prime, but if I do I can always reactive it again later.

What I will miss is the year long 10% discount we had. I wish I could take advantage of TurboTax’s gift card offer again, but, alas, we won’t be receiving a refund this year. What I didn’t do a good job of was estimating our taxes and setting our deductions accordingly. Going from grad student to full time employee I earned a lot more, which means we owe a lot more. Oh well, next time.

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Maybe it’s the postpartum hormones (I can still use those as an excuse, right?), but I feel like I’ve blinked and my little toddler is now a little girl. She’s changing so rapidly, even now, when she’s well on her way to three. She’s doing more imaginary play, having conversations with her toys and integrating them in interesting ways. She’s given up naps. She even had her first hair cut a couple of months ago.

The biggest change I see in her is her language. It’s exploding. Each week there are new words, being strung together in new ways. She’s formulating more and more complex sentence structures to get her point across. The other day I picked her up from daycare and yawned in the car. Nicole asked if I was tired, and suggested I take a nap. We had a whole conversation about it.

When did she get so big? It’s hard to believe she’s just a few years away from kindergarten, from losing her first tooth, riding her first bike.

It’s true what they say: the days are long, but the years are short.