Archive for April, 2017

April thus far has been derailed by illness. Early in the month Nicole came down with the stomach flu. After a few days home from school with Mommy, Nicole started feeling better but then I came down with. I’m grateful we were sick sequentially rather than simultaneously, but it meant nearly a week of lost work. Then there were the colds. I was just getting passed the mild first one, when the killer second hit. I lost my voice for nearly a week, and barely had the energy to spend any time out of bed.

Lack of progress is understandable when one’s been sick, but it’s frustrating nonetheless. Factor in the fact that Datayze has seen (predicted) slowdown in growth for April, the leak that caused our master bathroom to rain down in the living room (and corresponding hole the plumber needed to make that I’ve yet to have patched), and a general frustration of still yet not having the house organized after two years and you can see why I’m going a little stir crazy.

Today I opened up my Time Until app and realized I have a little under 1800 potential work hours left in 2016. Seems like so many, but I know from experience how quickly that time can go. I was also surprised to realize both I’m currently working 50 hours a week, and that I only have about 50 reliable kid free hours a week. I guess that’s why I haven’t had a chance to get the house where I want it to be?

My goal for the next 1800 kid-free, chore & work hours in order of likely easiest to likely hardest:
– Furnish all the rooms. Seriously the living room is still completely barren, and the playroom could use some kind of organizational structure for the excess toys.
– No more piles of anything, anywhere. Our apartment was never tidy, but I got to the point where everything had a place, even if it wasn’t in it’s place. I’d like to get to that place again. Aside from the master closet, the upstairs closets are pretty empty and there are piles of stuff in various corners of various rooms. I could just shove everything into the closet, but I’d really rather be organized about it.
– Get Datayze per day and per month user count up. I’d really like to have a minimum of a quarter million monthly users and a 10,000 daily users. That’s about a factor of five from where I am now, and corresponds to an average 23% growth rate over the next 8 months.

I love after holiday sales. This year I snagged not one, not two but SIX chocolate bunnies. The initial plan was just one for myself, but then I started thinking about how they’re best by date wasn’t until the end of the summer, and how excited the girls would be to surprise them with a chocolate bunny in the middle of the year. I wasn’t sure how I would surprise them, but I was confident an idea would come to me.

A few days ago Nicole started telling me about a dream she had involving a treasure hunt. She followed a map to chocolate coins. Hello, idea!

We thought we’d do a treasure hunt with the girls. We’re not reading yet, and riddles are a bit advanced for them, so we opted for what I dub picta-clues: picture clues that told them where to go.

The idea was to exercise their spatial reasoning skills while playing a fun game. I took the pictures from all kinds of different angles. There was the areal view of the rocking chair and the behind the couch of the fire place. The next clue was hidden in an area circled on the photograph. Ironically the only one that posed any kind of challenge was the straight forward, eye-level photo of the windowsill behind the dinning room table.

Nicole enjoyed the hunt so much she was actually disappointed to find the bunnies after the fifth clue because it meant the hunt was over. When I asked her how many clues we should have next time, she quite emphatically told me twenty. I’m not sure there are twenty places to hide clues in our house!

The experience got me thinking again about one my business venture ideas. A few years ago I got this idea for “Mathematical Mama”, a website for parents of preschoolers and elementary aged kids with fun activities to promote stem skills. I even purchased the domain, (Well, technically I misspelled it and purchased the correctly spelled version just last August. Curse you dyslexia!) I was hoping to differentiate myself from other early learning websites by picking concepts like numerical literacy or base counting and breaking down the concept so a parent who isn’t particularly stem inclined can understand what it is their trying to impart on their young child.

If only it didn’t take so long for these websites to grow organically. Even if Datayze continues at it’s current rate of ~30% a month, it’ll be another 20 months to reach my goal. The original plan was for Datayze to be just one item in my business portfolio, but that may have been naive on my part.

My first mother’s day in silicon valley was a gut punch. Nicole’s daycare hosted a special brunch for all the moms. I had only been working for a short period of time, and knew I was pregnant and would be taking a rather generous maternity leave. I didn’t feel comfortable taking the day off to attend. Nicole’s teachers assured me it wouldn’t be a big deal for me to skip the brunch, and seeing as she was just shy of two years old I knew she wouldn’t remember one way or the other. Logging on to facebook that afternoon I noticed a picture of story time following the brunch on the preschool’s class’ page. Out of the sixteen person class my child was the only one sitting on the floor. I was the only parent who didn’t attend.

Part of the reason I wanted to start my own business was to have the flexibility in my schedule so I could spend more time with the kids, and be the kind of parent I wanted to be.

I find it ironic how sometimes things can backfire on you.

I remember our first Halloween party at the new place. Nicole was three. The school was having a parade of costumes following a “trunk or treat” where a section of the parking lot was cordoned off and teachers waited with trunks full of candy to partition off to the kids. When Nicole saw Domingo and I standing in the crowd of parents during the parade she started crying and trying to hide behind her teacher. She thought we were coming to take her home before the trunk or treating (their version of trick or treating)! Today was the girls’ spring party at school. When I arrived the preschools were putting the final stickers on their bags for the Easter hunt. Alexis took one look at me and pancaked on the floor, afraid I had come to take her home before the hunt.

That’s parenting for you, I guess.

I never feel like a perfect mom. Often a good mom, rarely a great mom. I struggle sometimes, as do we all. But one of the things I’ve learned lately is that there are times when you cannot win. But at the end of the day, everything is always works out. As upset as the kids were to see me, they still had a great time at their parties once they realized we weren’t going home. Thinking back to that photo of the mother’s day celebration with Nicole sitting on the floor instead of in a lap, she had the biggest smile in the whole room. Kids are resilient. It’s time to try and let go of perfection and just be.

April 11, 2017

Hallmark 2017

For the first time in three? four? years I’m really excited about Hallmark’s yearly collection of keepsake ornaments. There are a lot of great ones, and not just of the traditional style ornaments I tend to like. If you’ve ever wanted a collection of just Disney, or even just Disney princesses, or just star wars ornaments, this would be a good year to do it.

It’s early yet, and most merchant websites don’t have product pages set up yet. I’ll do my best to link to the item I’m talking about, but that won’t be possible for all of them. If you’re interested, you’ll have to scroll through the dreambook to find the ornaments I’m talking about.

The ornament I’m most excited about it Father Christmas’ Reindeer. It’s similar to last year’s tabletop of the same name and a limited release. I love the old fashioned Santa’s and reindeer. The dream book lists it for $20. Since it’s a limited release I will likely purchase it at full price.

This years’ Snowball and Tuxedo, Cookies for Santa is next on my list. I love the way they incorporated baking, one of my favorite holiday activities. Normally I wait for the after Christmas sale on this series, but I suspect it may not be around if I wait and I’d be sad to miss out on it.

Next are the mini ornaments. I like Petite Penguins and A Creature was Stirring (the one with a mouse reading a book). Guessing I will get those at full price as well.

Penguin Express, the unofficial Kris’ Penguin’s series ornament, is on my list, but likely as an after Christmas sale. It’s adorable, but I’m not very excited about trains in general. I’d like to have it on my tree, but I won’t be heart broken if it’s not.

Welcoming Wreath, and Beary Festive (Mary’s Bears Series) are also in this category. I’m more inclined to spend the time to hunt down Welcoming Wreath and Beary Festive than Penguin Express at an after Christmas sale. I like them, I’d like to have them on my tree, but they’re also generic and I’m sure they’ll be another one in the series that I like just as much should I miss out on them.

I’m underwhelmed with this years Season’s Treatings (Cherry pie) and Cookie Cutter Christmas. A good deal, or a plea from Domingo could entice me.

The only ornament I’m really disappointed with is Inside Story. I became aware of the three ornament series when I saw a black and white sketch of this year’s version. I thought I would love it. Since it’s only three ornament series I decided to go ahead and try and collect them all. Normally I only collect the ornaments of a series I like, but a three ornament series doesn’t have much wiggle room I purchased the 2016 version at a slightly higher price than I would have normally done off ebay fearing a price increase. That yellow color of the 2017 ornament? Cannot stand it. Would not put it on my tree if it was free. That will teach me to purchase early. I feel like I wasted my money.

At least my overall love of Hallmark has been rekindled.

Edited to add better links

April 5, 2017

Potty Cheer Squad

Teddy bear potty

Alexis has always been Nicole’s mimic. When Nicole announced she didn’t like pants with buttons, Alexis went through a phase of insisting “no buttons!” while getting dressed, even though none of her clothes have buttons in the first place. So it was no surprise she showed an interest in using the potty after watching big sister Nicole do it. Shortly before turning two she would announce “Potty!” while running to the bathroom whenever she had to go. Alexis would then sit down on the little kids potty and use her diaper. We were sure potty training in earnest wasn’t far away. Before she ever gave us enough advance warning to remove her diaper in time, however, she lost interest.

Domingo and I like to use mini rewards to encourage emerging behaviors like peeing in the potty. Nicole’s always liked the fruity, gummy candies best so she got gummy bears. For our little chocolate lover, we decided to offer M&Ms when her interest in the potty returned.

At first Nicole was a bit miffed to learn Alexis would be rewarded for using the potty. Four year old logic is all about equality, not equity. She had forgotten all about the days of gummy bears, and wanted the same reward for the same deed. While I could understand where she was coming from, it seemed rather indulgent to give Nicole, whose been a potty pro for over 18 months, a reward for continued potty use. Our compromise was to give both girls the same reward when Alexis successfully peed in the potty. Rather than risk a jealous divide, we thought we’d try to unite them onto the same team. The result was a big sister cheer leader who was the first one to tell Alexis she could do it, and sing her praises when the deed was done. We needed to make sure Mom and Dad were aware and could dole out the rewards, after all!

March’s numbers are the strongest yet for my business! Income wise, Datayze earned $182.98, nearly double February’s total. My lowest per day user count was 1,505 this month, making it my first month with 1,500 users each day, in addition to my first month of 1,000 users each day! Overall, users are up 37% throughout the month.

Even though users are up, growth appears to finally be slowing down a bit. The numbers rose much slower each week in March than they did in February. If I account for the fact that March has 3 extra days compared to February, than users are only up 25%. I’m also starting to see what I believe is a summer pattern. Search result clicks on the weekends have been largely unchanged while weekday clicks are still raising, albeit more slowly than before. The hourly patterns of when users are active is also shifting. I’m anticipating only a 10-15% growth in April as a result.

Despite the desire to start focusing on content again, this was another mostly maintenance month. Some big changes: the tab menu will now resize on browser resize to remain a single, unbroken line, and the top submenus will reposition to fit in a mobile browser. I’ve also changed the blue colors on the site. I loved the old header color on my laptop, but it displayed as gray everywhere else. Since I’m building a business, and not a personal website, I decided to go with a color that would look great everywhere else, even if that meant I wouldn’t like it as much on my personal device.

As for new content, I did write another how to article: Understanding Scientific Studies (Miscarriage Edition). I wrote it after being incredibly annoyed at the number of misquoted studies, since they almost always misinterpret risk to be higher than it actually is which can cause undo stress and increase anxieties. My hope is that someone reading this article will be better equipped to spot this kind of exaggeration and ignore bad statistics on the web.

I’m trying something new for April. My to-do list is currently standing at 26 items, 11 have been marked as priority to be addressed in April. New content will be pushed as it becomes available, but fixes will be pushed all at once (and likely just once) at the end of the month. I’m hoping this will help keep me on tract to produce new content.