Archive for May, 2015

May 29, 2015

Alexis at Six Months

Dear Alexis,

I’m beginning to understand why parents have a tendency to baby their youngest. As a parent of one I had free time to read ahead. I was always researching what comes next, what emerging skills to look out and how best to prepare for them. With two I’m lucky if I have time to shower. I’m so used to thinking of you as my little newborn it only occurred to me a few days ago that you should be eating solids soon. In my defense, you also only recently started to show signs that you’re interested in food. I guess you aren’t hitting all your milestones super early!

sixmonthsmiles

We had a bit of a rocky move to the new house. I didn’t time things well which meant a rush hour drive from silicon valley to east bay when both you and your sister were tired and hungry. What should have been a smooth hour drive turned into 120 minutes of slow going. Not that I can blame you for getting a little stir crazy towards the end. Part of the desire for our move was to escape this kind of rush hour traffic! Painful drive aside, both you and your big sister love the new place. You quickly learned the high ceilings made impressive echoes and enjoyed showing off your voice in delightful squeals and screams.

Speaking of voices, you have been using more and more of yours. You’re jabbering a ton. You enjoy talking to mommy, daddy, big sister, even your binky. The latter we discovered one day after you seemed to be having an incredibly long nap. We peeked in on you and saw you having quite the conversation with the binky. You love your binky even more than your sister loved hers.

fasinating

You are also getting more and more into your toys. This month we broke out the rest of the infant toys we had still in storage. You love each and every one of them. You chomp on the nodule atop Chan Poo’s (our nickname for the Vulli’s blue chan pie gnon teether) head, spin the egg in the jumperoo, and bang the monkey and elephant rattles together. You’re an equal opportunist when it comes to toys, and will gladly accept anything we – or your sister – gives you to play with. It keeps us on our toes as your sister loves to fetch both your toys and her toys to share with you. The other day she said while giving you back the taggy blanket you had dropped. “Baby likes toys. Nicole likes toys. Nicole has lots of toys.” You are one lucky little girl!

happybaby

Life here in the suburbs is quieter and more relaxed than what we’ve experienced before. We fall asleep to the sounds of crickets instead of sirens. I’m so excited to be starting this next chapter in our lives.

Love Always,
Mommy & Daddy

Our last two moves were a somewhat protracted experience. We opted to pack ourselves to save money. (I’m nothing if not frugal.) Neither time did we adequately consider just how long it takes to pack, or just how much stuff we needed to move ourselves after the movers come. What seemed like just a box or two always turned out to be a couple of car loads. Moving last time was difficult with just one small child so we decided to look into a packing service this time around.

boxes
That’s a lot of boxes

The packing quote came out to be a little less than a week and a half’s with of rent since our rent was so high. Mathematically speaking if it helped us turn in our keys 10 days sooner, we’d come out financially ahead. Despite this, I still felt the need to continue my packing and organizing effort. For a week prior to the move I devote every spare moment to packing. Well I only saved us two hours of the packers time, despite putting way more than 2 hours into my packing effort. That was not time well spent on my part.

Lesson learned: Spend the energy on purging, not packing.

The packers were super quick in part because they don’t organize the way you might. They take a box to a room, fill it, and get another box. There’s not thinking involved. No “where will this go in the new house?” or “is the vacuum cleaner still working well enough to bring it?” Everything comes, and everything comes in whatever box it fits in. Even things that you think are clearly trash because they most definitely do not want to be wrong! Our movers even packed the used underpad we were using as a play-doh catch mat, dried play-doh crumbles and all. And finding it again? Oh boy.

One might think the time spent unpacking is linear in terms of the number of boxes, but for me it’s more like exponential. I am determined not to have a junk closet so anything I unpack needs to have a place to go. When I encounter a box whose items don’t have a clear home my progress slows substantially. Keep or toss? Find more room on the shelf, or put it back in the box? After a long day when you’re only partially settled into a new place, longing for bed, back in the box is a tempting choice. The greater the number of boxes the harder it is to actually find anything as you need it.

There’s also a monetary cost associated with carting all that useless stuff around. I’m paying for the movers to pack it, the space on the truck (assuming a non trivial volume – Which it is!) and the movers time to cart the boxes off of the truck once we’ve arrived at the house. The monetary cost is probably small, but still non zero.
My time would have been better spent figuring out what we no longer wanted, donating what still had reasonable utility and purging the rest.

Oh well. Only 50 boxes left to go. Make that 49.

May 23, 2015

Hello Again!

Hello from our new home!

view
The view from our master bedroom

I am happy to report that we are now home owners again! At long last!

It was getting painfully obvious that an apartment was not right for our family of four. There was no space for Alexis that wasn’t covered in Nicole’s toys, and the no place for Nicole to play where she wouldn’t wake up Alexis. We couldn’t afford to have the space we wanted, and the traffic congested made any small trip out of our apartment miserable. The silicon valley was just too impracticable for what we wanted. To make matters worse, with the average rents raising by about 20%, we were looking at another huge rent spike this coming year. The irony was not lost on us that we were paying much more to have a poorer quality of life than before we moved to silicon valley. It was beyond time to move.

You may have noticed a flurry of posts from me lately. I didn’t want to jinx the sale, and (more importantly) I didn’t want to hurt what little negotiating power we actually had. If a prospective seller was curious enough about us to google our name, find the blog, and learn we wanted out of Silicon Valley, they wouldn’t have much incentive to negotiate with us. In actuality it’s so much of a seller’s market right now that there isn’t much incentive for any seller to negotiate with any buyer, but why risk it? Now that we’ve closed escrow I’ve hit that pretty blue “publish” button on a lot of old posts.

I will likely still be somewhat sporadic in updating as we settle in. There’s a few things that need to be fixed up before this house really feels like home. We’re also a bit short of furniture too. Short term I’m focusing on setting up the home, so by early summer I can dive into my startup with minimal distractions.

Wish us luck!

May 15, 2015

To the Crib

prenap
The face before the crash

Nicki hated being swaddled, but was quite content to be snug as a bug in the rock n play until almost nine months. Given that Alexis was my little cuddle bug and loved being swaddled all the way through four months, I thought she’d practically live in the rock ‘n play.

That would be a big, fat Nope.

For the past week or so she’s been really struggling at night, thrashing about in the rock ‘n play. She just doesn’t seem to be comfortable in it anymore. Since hitting the four month sleep regression her sleep has gotten steadily worse. She was to the point of waking up every 45-90 minutes for the first couple of hours when she first went to sleep, and then again starting at around 2 am. That, of course, means no sleep for the rest of us.

We were hoping to hold off moving her to the crib until we moved. We worry about the girls being practically on top of each other here in the apartment, and keeping each other awake. If we waited until we moved, we could get all our rocky transitions over with in a single shot, rather than stringing them out over a longer time interval. She’d move out of rock n play from the master bedroom at our apartment to a room of her own and her crib in the new house, all at once. At least that was our thinking. Even though we were only a week away from our planned move Alexis (and by transitivity us) was sleeping so little it just seemed like something that couldn’t wait.

So off to the crib she went.

I went with her. The crib was in the office, and I slept on the couch next to her. I wanted to be able to respond quickly, and sooth her back to sleep before she woke big sister.

As expected her first night was rocky. She woke up almost as frequently as she’s been waking up. Last night? So much better. She slept most of the way through the night. No more thrashing. No more frequent wakings. And equally as important, less waking each other up than we feared.

Hopefully this means better sleep for everyone.

I had seen the idea floating around pinterest, and thought about doing some as wall art a la project balancing act. I had it penciled in on my never ending to do list, with the intention of doing them eventually. When Alexis came home from school on Friday with a potted plant with her footprints that I suddenly felt like I needed them. Like right now.

For mother’s day this year I decided I wanted to make butterfly footprints with the girls. Luckily for me we have a lot of finger paints around these parts.

alexisbutterflynicolebutterfly
Might have used a bit too much paint…

They were fairly easy to do. I had Alexis in the high chair so I’d have easy access to her feet. Nicole’s were a bit trickery because she’s in that I-do-it-myself phase, and after the first butterfly attempt she was ready to let loose her own creative juices. I promised her more time in the box when we were finished, and that bought me a few extra minutes.

I will love this addition to our playroom. I am thinking about framing the photo of Nicole with her finger paints to go along side them. My only reservation is that it doesn’t exactly sit right with me to have a photo of one of the girls and not the other. (My sense of fairness apparently extends to my wall hangings.) At least in this case the finger paint is the subject and her face is obscured, I suspect in a few years it won’t be obviously Nicole.

footprints
Done over again with less paint. I love the way they look on the wall!
May 1, 2015

Xoogler

Today is bittersweet, as it is my last at Google. As excited as I am for my next adventure, I will miss everyone terribly.

When we moved out to the Silicon Valley we knew it would not be forever. I couldn’t pass up the chance to work for Google, and having the trifecta of major US based search engines on my resume (sorry Duck Duck Go). Yet Silicon Valley is too expensive and too crowded for it to ever feel like home.

We missed having space, both for ourselves and from our neighbors. We can hear our neighbors through the walls, and struggle to keep our kids quite enough to not disturb them. Even though spaces are so much smaller and cramped together it takes longer to get anywhere thanks to the insanely confessed roads. A round trip to the store a few blocks away easily takes 45 minutes. The park and daycare are both an hour even though they’re only a few miles away. Paradoxically even though there are more customers, businesses are opened for shorter hours. Our local bank branch here closes at 5, whereas the branch in our grocery store in the suburbs closed at 7.

The Silicon Valley lifestyle just wasn’t what Domingo and I wanted. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and the people I got a chance to work with and learn from, but it’s time for us to move on.

I’m trading in corporate life for start up world, which will allow me to work from home. Doing the start-up thing is a bit of a California right of passage, and a dream of mine since before grad school. I’m super excited to have the ability to chase this dream while still having the family life style we want.

More details to follow.