appetite,  instruction,  parenting

on math, date nights, and yummy food

My husband’s boss gave us the following sage advice for new parenthood: go on a date night once a week.

I didn’t realize how important and effective that advice was until last night’s date night (our first since September 1st). We’d gotten into more of a parenting routine over the past three months, including getting out and about with the baby to events such as a Halloween party or to a sushi restaurant for my birthday. However, we were always “on.” Watching one kid used to seem theoretically easier to me than watching 29 at a time in the classroom. Now, teaching a packed classroom would feel like relief from the days of constantly monitoring the baby and never knowing when a potential break would come. Yesterday we went to Sabur, an awesome Mediterranean restaurant in our neighborhood. A couple of hours of non-baby conversation in a chill atmosphere with delicious food felt just as refreshing as eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

PicFrame Chef’s mezze (hummus, pita, red onions, feta, polenta squares, olives, stuffed grape leaves)
Burek (pie made of ground beef, hand stretched phyllo, spinach, and cheese)
Warm goat cheese with roasted red pepper, garlic confit, and roasted eggplant served with crostini
Cevapcici (grilled Balkan sausages with onion, pita bread, and tzatziki)

Our non-baby conversations often revolve around education (K-12 and college) and STEM. We like sharing lesson plan ideas, talking about new technology, and even solving math problems together. This goes all the way back to our very first date in March 2009, when I gave my husband a few problems from an IB Math Studies training I’d recently attended (such as this one, which he couldn’t solve).


But, getting the right answer isn’t necessarily as important as the journey, and our prob-versations continued through dating and now regularly happen in our marriage. We had a great time solving this problem at home on the couch one night before I debuted it as a challenge to my 12th graders. challenge We’ve talked about how to use the Law of Cosines when writing code for LEGO robots and ultrasonic sensors in one of his class projects. We talk about how to design rubrics for projects like “create a robot that blows bubbles.” We even share problems like this with his dad, who enjoys solving them too: “The two hands of a clock are 4” and 5”, at some time between 1:45 and 2:00, the distance between the tips of the hands is 8”. What time is it to the nearest second?”

So when I saw this clock puzzle on Sam Shah’s blog, I thought it’d be a great date night problem. As soon as I finished saying it, my husband replied “oh, the answer’s [censored here to avoid spoiler alert], right?” Turns out he’d gotten it wrong at a high school math meet because of forgetting that the hour hand moves. We reminisced about solving the other clock puzzle (and how one of my students had solved it a completely different way but may have just gotten lucky with his solution) and about how a small group of my students had latched on to that complicated triangle pictured above.

working I did snap a picture at the time with the intention of blogging…but better late than never.

They never solved it, but their perseverance and collaboration was pretty awesome. Two of the kids in that group were the first students from our school to earn IB diplomas. Coincidence? I think not. I hope that my son will exhibit similar behavior in the future, whether he’s doing a jigsaw puzzle with us, learning how to solve a Rubik’s Cube from his uncle Anthony, tackling trig problems, or writing robotics code. I hope he enjoys the journey and knows that even though both his parents are teachers, we’ll always value the journey more than just the right answers.


  • Sarah Lantz

    What is the solution to this problem?

    “The two hands of a clock are 4” and 5”, at some time between 1:45 and 2:00, the distance between the tips of the hands is 8”. What time is it to the nearest second?”

    I teach high school math and would love to give this as a challenge problem!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers