Archive for April, 2013

This weekend we went to the park. We’ve been going every so often since the weather warmed up. Nicki loves to swing in the baby swing, and sit on her blanket in the grass watching the other kids play. Since the swing was occupied, I set her down in the grass. I had my camera with me and I was taking photos while Domingo kept an eye out at all the loose dogs around. Most people ignore the leash laws in the area and let their dogs run and chase Frisbees. Fine. Whatever. We want to pick up Nicki should a dog venture too close. Even a friendly dog that has never bitten before can bite if provoked and we don’t know how Nicki would react to her first dog encounter. She’s not exactly gentle with Lily kitty and she adores her kitty.

grass
Playing in the grass

An older woman walked by with her two terriers on leashes. The one was clearly nervous – hair on edge, defensive posture, the whole nine yards. The other was more curious and approached Nicki. The woman let the dogs get within two feet us. She introduced the curious one as “the friendly one” and then asked if Nicki would like to meet her dogs. We declined.

Nicki was tense. She wasn’t complaining or fussing, but she was also not smiling or making gestures like she wanted to meet the dog. The ‘friendly’ dog, perhaps sensing Nicki’s uncertainty, seemed to tense up to: tail low and still, shoulders back, head down sniffing in Nicki’s direction.

The woman was completely oblivious to what was happening. She noticed my camera asked if I needed the baby to smile for the camera and offered to hold the dog up over Nicki to get her to smile. (Because nothing can go wrong holding a nervous wiggly dog over a nervous baby’s head…) She could tell the baby wasn’t happy, but it didn’t occur to her the problem was the unfamiliar dogs. We kept saying, “no, that’s okay”, but she continued to offer. She went on and on about her grand kids loving it when she holds the dog above them. We were curt in our responses, hoping she’d get the hint and leave. After a few minutes she walked away, only to cycle back a few minutes later and ask again!

The situation was awkward, in part because neither Domingo nor I knew what the other was thinking. Domingo wanted to ask the lady to leave us be, but thought I would be embarrassed and upset. And sure, pre baby me would have been mortified. I hate confrontation and she was just trying to be helpful, after all. Yet hurt feelings would have been a worst that happened. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not so bad.

We made a decision that we both need to be comfortable with whatever the situation at hand is. If either one of us is uncomfortable, we’re allowed to say so. Better safe than sorry. We’re giving ourselves permission to be grizzly moms, err, parents.

April 25, 2013

A Job Update of Sorts

First the good news: I’m going to graduate this summer. My adviser has given her blessing for me to participate at Graduation in June (about 5 days before the deadline to register!) and I went ahead and paid for my cap and gown rental. Happy progress.

I’m having less happy progress on the job front thing. I’ve had a lot of interest in my resume, but finding a good fit almost seems impossible.

Most (all?) of the jobs I’m well suited for are located 45 minutes away without traffic. Today it took me two hours to get to my interview when driving during rush hour thanks to a stalled car. That’s obviously less than ideal for a young family. Nicki’s bed time is at 7. Even if I left at 5 (which is a sign of a serious slacker here in the silicon valley), I wouldn’t make it back in time to tuck her in! That means I’d basically be a weekend parent. Or we’d have to move to be close to my job. Domingo would have the reverse commute, but he still wouldn’t make it home before bath time.

All this is making me rethink the start-up angle again.

Pros:
* Flexibility. I’ve become quite use to this grad school perk. I typically pick Nicki up from day care before the 5pm rush, and whip out my laptop to continue working after she goes down at 7. Nicki’s sick and needs to come home? No problem.
* New Skills At my last job interview I thrived in the high level product ideas discussion. I loved brainstorming new features. I suddenly realized that maybe I’d be better suited in a technical project management (PM) role. Yet I have no experience to show I would be good at it. Even an unsuccessful star-up would give me experience points as a PM.

Cons:
* No fixed salary/benefits. I’ve been lucky in grad school to be on several fellowships & GSRs. Those will look like a king’s salary to what I would be looking at starting out.
* Possible skill atrophy. I am a data scientist. That’d be nearly impossible to capitalize as a startup. No company likes to share there data, and unless I’m trying to break into the hardware business (super expensive, and see above bullet point) it’s unlikely to happen. For that reason most of my ideas don’t involve (much) data science.
* Isolation. I loved my internships because I got to work with incredibly bright people. I find gradschool lonely at times. It would be lonelier still to do a start-up.

I realize how crazy a start-up sounds to a mother of a sub one year old, and that’s why I keep hesitating. My goal wouldn’t be to be the next facebook (a company worth billions), or the next instagram (bought for billions). I have a much more modest ambition to be able to replace a salary I would otherwise get from working for someone else.

So I decided to do what any data scientist would do: collect and analyze data to see if it’s a viable idea. I decided to put adds on my webapps projects page (my blog is just too fledgling to really analyze my ad revenue data). Using ad data will give me a baseline of how profitable I could be. In general, though, I’m not a fan of the ad revenue model, at least not as the sole source of income. There have been some reports of ISPs swapping out webpage ad blocks with their own ads. In other words some visitors can come to my site, view my content or use my web app, click and ad and someone else gets paid for it. Not cool. To be fair, I believe this practice is rare. Still, I don’t want to be relying on a revenue stream that could get hijacked.

I’ll probably also work on some mobile app ideas I have. It would cost money to list it in the iTunes store, but I could write that off as a business expense and mobile is a valuable skill set to have!

April 20, 2013

Analyzing Baby Sleep

A little over 2 months ago I decided to start tracking Nicki’s sleep. At the time she wasn’t sleeping very well and I wanted to have a dataset I could analyze.

nickisleepchart
Histogram of the number of hours Nicki spends sleeping.
It may appear like a left skew distribution, but that’s because I was using a sub optimal bedtime during the initial few weeks of my study. Without those weeks her histogram shows a normal distribution with mean 11:30-12:00.

For this analysis I mostly looked at correlation. Correlation shows the statistical relationship between two sets of numbers. It ranges from -1 to 1. Negative correlation [-1,0) shows two variables are inversely related. As one increases, the other decreases. Positive correlation shows two variables tend to increase or decrease together. The closer to 0, the weaker the correlation.

Correlation(Time put down, Time spent asleep) = -.72
When I put her to bed earlier, she tends to sleep longer.

The time I put Nicki down for bed is correlated with how long she sleeps – earlier bed times mean more sleeping! That makes intuitive sense. My circadian rhythm wakes me up at certain points, provided I’ve slept a decent amount. I’m now in the habbit of waking up at 7:00 am, regardless of what time Nicki wakes up. (Mommy misses sleeping in until noon on the weekend.) Nicki could be the same way. Earlier bedtimes mean there’s more hours between when she goes down and when she typically gets up, which could correspond to longer sleep intervals.

Every baby book I own says “Early to Bed Late To Rise“. In other words, put the baby to sleep early and she will sleep in longer. What do my numbers show?

Correlation(Time put down, Time Woken Up) = -.21
When I put her to bed earlier, she tends to wake up later.

So yes, she does tend to sleep in longer on days she goes down earlier, but it’s weak correlation. It could be that the relationship is weak, or that there are other factors at play. One possible factor is day light savings time. Specifically the position of the sun. We’re in the middle of Spring, sunrise is getting earlier and Nicki tends to wake up around sunrise. If I take a weekly average of her wake up time, I see it inching forward for the first three weeks.

Another aspect of sleep I care about is how long it takes her to fall asleep. The books all say over tired babies have a harder time falling asleep. Was it true for Nicki?

Correlation(Time put down, Number of Minutes needed to fall asleep) = 0.4
When I put her to bed earlier, she takes less time to fall asleep.

My analysis shows that, at least for Nicki, earlier bed times lead to better sleeping.

asleep
Still asleep after sunrise. Love the bear on her butt!

Of course, Correlation does not imply Causation. There could be other factors at play. Our bed time is between 7/7:30. On days she’s extra tired, she goes down a little earlier. Less sleepy, and bed time is closer to 7:30. A tired baby is more likely to fall asleep quickly and sleep longer.

If I were to do a true study I’d have to randomize her bedtime. That means some nights putting a wide awake baby down, and some nights trying to keep a tired baby awake. I may love data, but even I’m not that crazy. Still, it’s neat to see Nicki’s sleep numbers.

facesmilesm

Newly instantiated baby objects can be quite confusing. The initial software they come preloaded with is quite buggy. Luckily there’s a series of patches that get gradually applied that improve functionality considerably.

Today’s lesson: The object-permanence-patch:

Initially babies are born with a single level cache of size 1. An object in view of the baby is inserted into the cache, evicting the previous object in view. The baby’s memory access function is rather error-proned, and cannot access anything not in the cache. This is not very useful memory system, so somewhere between four and seven months the object-permanence-patch is applied. This patch upgrades the cache to a two level cache with increased size. Now when something’s evicted from the first level cache it enters the second level cache. Baby can now remember things that are no longer within visual range.

One side effect of the patch is the so-called separation anxiety bug. The separation anxiety bug can occur when an object, usually the parent object, is evicted from the first level cache to the second level cache. The baby’s main process attempts to promote the object back to the top level cache, but fails. Alas, babies do not have an error handler nor do they recover gracefully from errors. (Aside: a patch for graceful error handling is sadly not forthcoming any time soon.) A secondary bug can occur when the baby’s main process predicts the parent object is about to be evicted from the first level cache, before the actual eviction.

While it may seem that baby is stuck in an endless cry loop, there is a work around. Baby’s main process is still a single threaded at this point. A well timed interrupt can push a new function onto the function stack, distracting baby from checking the memory cache. Once the parent object has been successfully evicted from the second level cache in memory, baby will cease trying to restore it to the first level.

There is a patch for the separation anxiety bug, but sadly it is usually not applied until about 2 years.


Yes, we’re working on separation anxiety.

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

Babies grow too fast. Once again I find myself behind, playing catch up. This time it’s with toys! Despite the fact that she loves to play with the remote, and we have a up purposed keyboard for her to bang on, I didn’t realize we were ready for toys with buttons and dials until we were at the baby store last month and Nicki started playing with a piano marked for “6 months +”. Woopsie. Problem rectified!

This month it’s all about the developmental toys.

Without a doubt, one of my favorite baby gear purchases to date has to be the Fisher-Price Musical Table. Nicki was an early supported stander, but we don’t have many good surfaces for her to pull herself up on or practice standing. She really only practice when holding onto us or in the bathtub, (I have no idea why she thinks the tub is a ‘good’ place to stand, but she does.) Her standing skills seemed to stagnate for two months. Enter the activity table. She loves it. She wants to stand all.the.time. After two days she started bending her knees and bopping to the music. Six days latter she was cruising from corner to corner to get to the other toys. This past week she started walking with support. In under two weeks! The change has been amazing!

The down side to the huge shift in her new found abilities, however, is this means she’s already out grown the jumperoo. I don’t regret the purchase as she did enjoy it previously and I think it was helpful in strengthening her legs. I’m just surprised it didn’t last us longer. The playmat lasted us well into 7 months!

We actually have this table and the LeapFrog Musical Table. (Dada wanted to have one upstairs, it was an amazing sale – 50% off! – and she loved, loved, loved her table.) After owning both I agree with the online comments that the Fisher Price one will probably last longer. It has more play modes, and more buttons/activities. Both are excellent purchases, and were a big hit, but I predict she’ll still be playing with the fisher price one long after loosing interest in the Leap Frog. My recommendation is to go with Fisher Price, unless there is a good sale on Leap Frog.

Next up, a baby remote! We had a play date today and Nicki’s friend had a cute cell phone rattle. She had a blast pushing the buttons. Since we’re outgrowing the rattle stage, I wanted to get something similar that lights up with music. We did get the piano too, but it only has 5 very big buttons and I really wanted something to help her finger dexterity. I don’t really like the sound effects (the piano and table have much higher sound quality). Nicki doesn’t mind. She loves that thing.

We can’t forget the fill and spill toys. Nicki loves these. We still have her Easter basket with the plastic eggs out and she loves playing with them. Her friend also has a shoe box full of all plastic container lids which she was having a grand time with. (We are totally stealing the shoe box and plastic lid idea!). We previously had the Lamaze soft sorter but I wanted even more. More textures, more objects. So we went with this bug jar. Right now she’s more into the bugs than the container, but I’m hoping that will change with time.

Last, but not least, we got a ball popper. I was hoping it would encourage her to crawl, but not so much. She does love it, and she is getting really good at throwing the balls back into it! (We removed the spinner on the tail, it didn’t work.) She has been throwing all kinds of things in it, her plastic Easter eggs, binkys, rattles, stuffed animals… Even her Taggies alphabet blanket has made an appearance in the dragon. What makes this toy a major winner in my book is how much exploring she is doing with it. Everything and anything is going into the dragon, she’s even learning to throw!

copyright

I feel a bit like a grumpy ole curmudgeon for doing this, but I put up an official copyright notice. I really hate to do that, but after finding a second person using my baby photos of Nicki in as many days, I felt I had to do something. At least this time I believe it was an honest mistake, and not another person pretending photos of Nicki are photos of her child.

As I was writing the copyright notice, I kept thinking about when I first got online, and my very first websites. Like most of my peers, I would occasional use an image I didn’t own the rights to. I wouldn’t use any photos with an obvious copyright, but the non-obvious ones? Sure, I’ve done that. I had an inkling it was wrong, but I figured I wasn’t harming anyone. I wasn’t profiting off it, and everyone does it. I figured if I was caught I could just say “I didn’t know it was copyrighted” (half true) or “my friend sent it to me to use, I thought it was hers” (a total copout.) The ultimate irony: I’ve heard both excuses from people using my images without permission.

It’s easy to make mistakes. There’s a misconception that a link back to the original source of a photo and your not directly profiting off of it, using the photo counts as fair use. That’s like saying if you credit George R. R. Martin you can post the full contents of A Song of Ice and Fire on your website. One of the key factors in determining whether something constitutes fair use is how substantial the portion of the copyrighted material is being copied. A still from a movie or a passage from a book is a small piece of the whole work. Copying a photograph is reproducing the work in entirety.

But as difficult as it was to write my copyright notice, there is some good that may come from it.

Good for you: Less ambiguity. Some people have pointed out possible copyright issues with pinning on pinterest. In the past I’ve implied I’m ok with pinterest, now I’ve explicitly stated it. I’ve also decided to reserve only some rights, not all! That means I’ve given permission to post my images/photos on your website/blog under certain circumstances. When in doubt, you can always ask. I’ll probably be so tickled pink that you want to use my work that I’ll say yes.

Good for me: Consistency. I agonized over what to do with this latest copyright violation. I started filling out a DMCA take down request when I started having flash backs to my younger self. How would I have felt had my webhost informed me that I was in violation of someone else’s copyright and they had temporary suspended my website as a result? Make no mistake, the copyright owner and my webhost would have been well within their collective rights to do so (as would I in this case.) I truly feel most people are honest, just unaware. My policy gives everyone 3 days to respond when I email them about a copyright violation. I understand that someone might be on vacation, or travel, or otherwise occupied, so I’m just looking for a response in that time that implies their taking my request seriously. Absent that, or a way to contact them, I’m afraid I will have no choice but to follow through with the DMCA take down request. Seems fair, right? I feel less bad about filing the complaint if it’s a uniform policy I apply to everyone.

Will the new policy be effective? Probably not. I suspect in both cases the copyright violator found the photos using Google image search, and never visited my blog. If they don’t visit my blog, they won’t see my copyright notice. Regardless, I will feel better about taking action.

Someone asked me why not block Google from archiving my images. For the most part Google is my friend. I actually get a fair amount of traffic to my blog through Google image search. I want potential readers to be able to find me. Still, it’s a valid point. Copyright laws are only work in countries that agree enforce them, and I can’t stop someone if I don’t know their using my images. The only way to truly prevent copyright violations is to not let anyone have access to the photos in the first place.

Since I still intend to blog, the most effective strategy I can think of is to continue to post small images – big enough to display in a blog post, but too small to be useful elsewhere. (One of the reasons people became suspicious of the first copyright violator was that she did not have the high resolution versions of the baby photos copied.) Actually, that’s not true. The best strategy would be to post terrible photos that no one wants to steal, but that’s not a path I want to go down. At least not intentionally.

Updated 4/13: The second person violating my copyright has voluntarily removed my content when it was pointed out to her. I did not have to file a DMCA take down request.

April 10, 2013

Stolen Baby Photos

Yesterday evening I noticed a large bump in traffic forum on topix.com. Someone had posted a link to my blog on a public forum there which was generating a ton of traffic. This happens from time to time (normally it’s a link to my labor predictor) but this time it was to Newborn Photography page. I was so excited to see what strangers thought of my photography. External validation, how I love you.

Alas, it was not what I first thought.

The forum thread was dedicating to ‘outing’ one of their members. Apparently she had lifted some photos of babies online, one (some?) of which was mine. One of the forum members posted a link to my newborn photography page, as well as four other websites, as proof.

From what I could tell this individual, “crazy mom”, had collected a number of photos and posted them to her facebook page. My guess is she did a google image search and downloaded a few photos she liked (so I guess I got that external validation, after all?). Crazy mom probably never visited my blog. I don’t even think all the baby pictures were the same gender. The only thing they had in common was each baby appeared to have been born with a full head of hair. I think she was claiming she had a boy. About thirty minutes into my investigation, the forum post was deleted. I never did see which photos of mine she was pretending was hers.

Now, I’ve been online a long time – back before the days of Google, back when being a webmaster meant singling static HTML code onto geocities. Back then I built a fantasy website under the pen name ‘Aella Lei’. At the time I was into Greek mythology, and picked the name after one of Amazons Hercules fought during his 12 labors. It turns out that ‘Aella’ is also a french name and one day someone of that name happened upon my website. This Aella took a liking to my website, and wanted credit for it. Her theory was that since I was using the name as a pen name, and it was her given name, I owed her at least partial credit. I disagreed and ignored her.

Back then I was using a internet messaging client called ICQ. ICQ is similar to Yahoo Messenger and AOL Instant messenger except everyone had a unique number id that identifies them, rather than a unique screen name. That way there could be many ‘Aella’s. Aella set her screen name to ‘Aella Lei’, her profile website to my website, and for her bio she lifted sentences straight from the “about me” page on my website. I know this because one day she forgot she wasn’t me, and messaged me thinking I was the impostor.

Compared to Aella, this crazy mom’s brand of crazy is pretty tame. I found no evidence to suggest crazy mom was obsessed with Nicki. Still, this experience does serve to remind me that there are people out there who will fixate on individuals. Nicki is too young to have an opinion to have an opinion on how much information about her is online. It’s my job to make sure she’s protected. Perhaps it’s time to rethink how much I share online.

If by chance you happened to stumble onto my blog from topix.com, and you know who this person is who stole my photos, I’d really appreciate it if you could fill me in.

I didn’t think this day would come. Nicki rebelled against nap time in the crib from the start, so I gave up and put her back in the rock and play. Then we decided to try sleep training in the crib. We had marginal improvements that first week at home where I could be consistent, but her day care teachers are only allowed to let babies cry for 5 minutes. Naps at daycare were non-existent. She’d go the whole day without sleeping and pass out in the car on our way home. Without true consistency, it was looking bleak.

On Tuesday Nicki had her first fever. I broke out the rock and play for the first time in over two weeks just so she could get some sleep and start to heal. She embraced the rock n’ play like a long lost friend, as though we had never tried this dastardly sleep training thing. I put her down awake and she happily drifted off to sleep on her own, napping longer than she ever did in the crib. I was sure I was resetting the clock on all our hard sleep training work.

I was bracing myself for epic melt down for her Wednesday morning nap. I put her down. No wails. Wait, what? She was looking up at me, dry eyed, sucking away on her Binky. I hesitated a moment in shock, then quickly left the room and shut the door. I listened. Still quiet. I tip toed down stairs to check the monitor. She was curled up on her side ready to go to sleep, but fidgeting. A minute later, she was out. She slept for 28 minutes. The only difference I could think of was I let her keep the Binky when I put her down. Usually I don’t give it to her at all. So when the afternoon nap I made sure to give it to her again. She lay peacefully on her back for a few minutes before rolling over and going to sleep for 21 minutes (an average length nap these days).

We had suddenly turned a corner. Thursday she had her first nap in the crib at daycare in weeks. It was 30 minutes even! She was home with me again Friday. After our morning success of 38 minutes (!!!) I decided to try sans binky. She fussed for about 90 seconds before sleeping for 24 minutes. Since then we’ve had 3 more 30-40 minutes naps and no tears.

My goal is to get back up to two 60-90 minute naps a day. In the mean time we’re doing three ~30 minute naps so she gets adequate rest. I’m mixing it up with regards to the binky. I plan to not let her go more then 3 naps in a row with it. It appears to be helping, but I know it’s a sleep crutch and I don’t want her to become dependent on it. She stopped using the binky at night time around 5 months, and she is able to nap without it during the day.

Do you realize what this means?! Our sleep struggles might be OVER. That is until her next bought of teething. And when she next gets sick. And when she starts voicing an opinion about when bed time should be. And night terrors. But, beside that, OVER.

April 6, 2013

Cheated

Disclosure: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission with each affiliate link click. For more details please see my full disclosure about blog profit.

We purchased Nicki’s Easter dress crazy last minute (last Saturday afternoon). The original price of the dress she wore was $39.99, but under the price scanner it came to $25.99. These days I always double check everything with the price scanner. I’ve been burned too many times with sales signs that were put up before the sale actually started, or left up after the sale ended. But I trust the price scanner to be right. I mean, it’s the same backend system as the cash register, right?

After Nicki went to bed I sorted through the day’s purchases. That’s when I was suddenly struck the notion that my receipt didn’t make sense. I purchased 6 items, three from the clearance rack. Aside from the dress I bought the next two most expensive items were $12 regular price. My three “big ticket” items totaled $50, how in the world was my total $90?! (Confession: I have a really easy time remembering individual prices, but I’m terrible at guessing the total. I’ve lost all ability to do simple math without a calculator.)

I went back to the receipt and was shocked. My $2.25 St. Patty’s day shirt (bought ahead for next year) rung up at full price – $8.99. The dress, $39.99! And I got charged for 3 Pairs of pants, not the two I purchased. I was livid. I remember both those prices precisely because I did not want the items at full price. But the store was closed for the day, and, of course, nothing was opened Easter Sunday.

My best guess as to what went wrong with the receipt was that I didn’t read the fine print. Babies r’ us was also having a buy one-get one free (BOGO) deal on Fisher Price toys. I started kicking myself from having bought two Fisher Price toys on Amazon earlier that day, and doing the mental math to see how much I could have saved. That is, until Domingo pointed out the super fine print that said the first item had to be at least $29.99 and the second item could not exceed $24.99. I wouldn’t have qualified for the BOGO deal. My guess is there was a similar fine print for the St. Patty’s day shirt (ie it was only 70% off if my total purchase exceeded some amount) as well as for the dress. So I probably wouldn’t have been able to argue the different prices. Regardless, I should not have been charged for that non-existent third pair of pants.

I was left with two options: suck it up, cut the tags off the dress and get the Easter photos I wanted, or go back Monday to attempt argue for a different price and/or return everything thus waiting until the following weekend to do Easter-style spring photos. Normally I would be cool with the latter option, but this time I was taking photos more for grandparents than myself, and I wanted to be able to send them somewhat timely. So after twenty solid minutes of fuming, I cut off the tags. I will still be irate about this for weeks to come, have no doubt about that.

Fast forward to today I went after Easter sales shopping at Target, Wallgreens, etc. I was specifically looking for an Easter book I could read to her next year but I was tickled pink that one store had such a huge college of not just spring themed books, but classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Peter Rabbit in the Easter sale bin for 50% off! They were designed to be Easter basket filler (and were slightly smaller than normal print books), but I didn’t care. I picked up five books, including a ‘touch and feel’ baby animals book, Guess How Much I Love You and a glittery egg shaped ‘peel back and see’ book.

This time the price checker reported full price for all five books. Not a good sign, but I figured I’d ask the sales associate working the cash register. No dice, only the candy was on sale. Disheartened I headed back to the Easter display, but when I saw the big “50% off” sign plastered all over the books bin I decided to ask a second person. She wasn’t sure about the sale and thought only the egg shaped book, and maybe Peter Rabbit were on sale, but called over the manager to verify. The manager confirmed that none of the books were on sale and proceeded to remove all the sales signs. I was so bummed. But right before he left he looked back and said “Except hers, hers are on sale.” Score!

So I saved $18 on books, but was jipped out of about $21 in clothes this week. Still so so mad over the clothes. I guess now I’m going to have to check every item on the receipt before leaving the store. Everyone else in line are going to hate me.

April 4, 2013

Hallmark 2013

It’s that time of year again! Hallmark has released its dreambook sneak peek to its keepsake ornament club (KOC) members. Over the past couple of days and weeks the information is slowly starting to leak out online, which means I’ve been ogling ornaments again.

I will absolutely be getting this year’s A Visit from Santa and Cookie Cutter Christmas. Seriously, how cute is Cookie Cutter Christmas? Last year’s was nice too, but this one I think really shows the series potential. They have a special KOC event Tropical Version which I also love, but afraid it’s going to be too rich for my blood. It’s a KOC event ornament which means it’s only available to KOC members, and only on a specific date, and only at specific stores. The only way I’d be able to get it is on ebay, and probably will be too rich for my blood. There was a similar ornament 2011 Sweet Snowmouse that goes for over $100! Yikes! Another KOC event ornament I’m pining over (although a little less so) is Baking Bears Club. Adorable.

I’m definitely going to get One Sweet Gingerbread Boy (I love the gumdrop ornaments!).

The rest of the ornaments I’ve seen so far we’ll be passing on. This year’s Season’s Treatings is as disappointing as last years. I feel like the series has taken a cartoonish direction that’s just not my style. I’m starting to consider selling my 2011 one. The only reason I bought it was because I thought there was a chance I’d want the full series. I’ll also be passing on this year’s Snowball and Tuxedo, it has a cute concept but I don’t think it executed well on the idea. It’s not clear that the Tuxedo is whispering in Snowball’s ear.

I’m also skipping on Playful Penguins. It’s cute and all, but I don’t like the metal spring. I’m really picky on those sort of things. If an ornament doesn’t hang right, or has a too visible hook, I pass.

It’s an unusual year for me. Normally there are some ornaments that I make a mental note to try and snag at an after Christmas sale. Or at least some ornaments that I wait to see what they look like in the store. Not this year. I either love it, or hate it.

When I was looking for this year’s ornaments I stumbled upon some secondary market stores and realized past years ornaments are right now 10-40% cheaper then the typical going rate! I confirmed this on e-bay and bought 2005 Arctic Adventures for $22 shipped. Normally you see it for ~ $35 + shipping. Note to future self, buy past year’s ornaments in March/April.

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