Archive for July, 2017

I’m sure it’s no surprise to regular readers that I’m frugal to borderline cheap. Buying pregnancy tests in bulk, and saving the extras are well within my normal frugal tendencies. So when Domingo and I decided to start trying for a third child, I planned to use those left over pregnancy tests I had saved. We had succeeded in conceiving Alexis much sooner than I anticipated, so I had quite a few left over. The only problem? They had expired in April of 2015 and it was nearing the end of 2016.

I did some research online and the general consensus was that an expired pregnancy test was fine to use. The older the test, the more likely it had lost some sensitivity to hCG, the human pregnancy hormone. An expired test is therefore more likely to give a false negative reading. Since are few conditions where one would have hCG in their system and not be pregnant, a false positive is unlikely in general. Therefore, I concluded, the primary risk of using an expired test is that I might have to wait a little longer to find out the good news. If I was pregnant, hCG would slowly increase in my system and eventually be enough for the expired test to pick up. What’s a few extra days wait?

If only that was my experience. Instead I was treated to a new kind of false positive I had never heard of before, the disappearing false positive.

To back track a little, the main form of false positive is an evaporation (evap) line which happens when the test strip dries in such a way that the second line is visible. A tall tell sign of an evap line is the line is grey, and appears after the testing time window, when the test is dry. Generally speaking, a line within the testing window should be considered positive.

The second month we tried, the second line indicating a positive appeared at the 4 minute 30 second mark. It was a full thirty seconds within the time window. Hurray, pregnant!

I’m the kind of obsessive person who likes to go back and look at the positive test throughout the day, take pictures of it, etc. I do the same with negative tests too, minus the pictures of course. Two hours later I could only see the second line while holding the strip under a bright lamp and holding it at just the right angle. A little while later I couldn’t even see it then. I wondered if my eyes were playing tricks on me. I tried not to let my mind dwell on the second line that was no longer there. If I was pregnant, I rationalized, I’d get another positive test in the next day or two. I tested the next day, and the next, and the next. Negative across the board.

Two months later the same thing happened. This time the second line was more pronounced, and appeared at the two minute mark. It didn’t fade away into nothingness until 6 hours later. This time I was a little more mentally prepared for the possibility that I might not be pregnant.

After doing some digging online I found a line that disappeared within 24 hours is exceedingly rare, the result of a faulty test and should be considered as a negative. My frugal tendencies had lead to unnecessary heartache.

July 20, 2017

Not Code Words

A realization hit me recently: the majority of my contacts view me as a stay at home mom. Fellow daycare moms have made that assumption when organizing play dates, as well as former colleagues. Even at my dental checkup the dentist even said to me “well, at least you’re not working so you don’t have to worry about maternity leave” when I told him about my pregnancy. If someone knows me as a mom, chances are they think I’m a stay-at-home-mom.

I’ve never been much of a self promoter. I read that it’s important to trumpet your own horn when you’re a self employed (who else is going to?) so I have made an effort to talk about major milestones I hit on social media. After all, it was my hope that if my business failed, it would at least look good on my resume. It seemed odd to think how common this misunderstanding of what I do was, but to be honest I have never really thought about why I might be giving this impression until I came across the story of another mom-turned-entrapuener.

This other entrapuener had worked on her side business for three years before leaving corporate world to turn her side business into her main business, all when her kids were very young. Despite the success she was having, many friends and family assumed she her primary interest was to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) and the business was just a cover. In their eyes it was a vanity project, resume fodder to hide the fact she wasn’t working. Others in the comment section reported the same experience. Suddenly all those past interactions I had been having made sense.

To be honest I was more than a little annoyed. When one assumes I’m not working they’re assigning zero value to anything I produce. If Datayze is a vanity project, then by definition it only serves my vanity. All those hard long nights, all that effort, all worthless.

I realize this is partially a monster of my own making. I have been very open about my desire for better work/life balancing being one of the reasons I left my previous job. The flexibility to divide my time between my business and my family the way I want to has been one of the perks I enjoy about my current setup. If you’re inclined to believe “running my own business” is code for “not working”, I can see how I might appear to fit this mold.

So now I’m left with the question of how do I combat this perception. Do I brag more about the successes? Humblebrag about how busy I am? I don’t think I’m comfortable with any more self-promotion than I already do, and I hate to perpetuate the cult of busy. Or do I point out the inherent stereotyping behind of this kind of assumption? Difficult to do without coming across as antagonistic. Probably not worth my time.

I guess undeniable success is the only way to go.

July 17, 2017

A Bust of a Premiere

Between Nicole’s birthday, and the new baby I’ve been pretty distracted. I haven’t really been thinking about shopping or Christmas, which explains why the Hallmark Ornament Premier skipped my mind this past weekend.

Since I had some time available this morning I went to our local hallmark store. It wasn’t until I was standing in front of a shelf at ornaments unable to spot a single ornament I was interested in that I realized I wasn’t even sure which ornaments were supposed to be available in July, and which were coming out in October. Fortunately, I had my previous blog post which could serve as a list. Most of the ornaments I wanted were coming out in October, not July. Serves me right for not being prepared.

Cookies for Santa, should have been available now, but there wasn’t a single one at the hallmark store. Not even on display They couldn’t be sold out already, could they? I asked, apparently it was a shipping mishap. They hadn’t received any of the Cookies for Santa ornament, and suggested I try back in a week. Instead I drove to our next closest Hallmark store.

The second hallmark store was a little further away, but not a Hallmark Gold Store, which meant they sometimes bent the rules and sold members only ornaments without memberships. They had Cookies for Santa, and Father Christmas’ Reindeer which was huge, much larger than I anticipated and way to big for our tree. Despite liking the ornament I had to pass. They also had inside story for individual sale, which wasn’t as mustard yellow as I was expecting, but still too yellow for my tastes.

I wasn’t initially planning on getting Sweet Lil Santa, but at this point I had been to two Hallmark stores and only had one ornament to show for it. At least it was inexpensive and would match my other gumdrop ornaments.

Despite my initial excitement the July premiere ended up being a bit of a bust. The ornaments I was on the fence about initially, I remained on the fence with. Some of the ornaments I initially loved, didn’t work out. Nothing new struck my fancy. Hopefully the October premiere will meet expectations better.

With my first, I was worried about potter’s syndrome. With my second, I was worried about spina bifida. This time around there hasn’t been something specific I’ve been worried about, just a general feeling of dread that something would go wrong. During the drive in to my doctor’s appointment on the 11th I was going over what-if scenarios in my head. What if there’s no heart beat? Would I tell everyone about the pregnancy? It was after my NT screen and would be considered a second trimester loss, but the pregnancy wasn’t public knowledge yet.

At this early stage appointments are mostly just checking vitals, chit chatting and listening to the heartbeat. My doctor had my lie back on the table, squirted the jelly on belly and… nothing. No rapid swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. Oh god, this is it. I thought. She kept moving the wand around, but we couldn’t hear anything.

“Don’t panic,” she told me. “I can hear the baby, I just can’t get it on the Doppler.”

“I think I felt the baby move a few minutes ago,” I lied. She would have to be superwoman to have the kind of hearing to hear a heartbeat not on the Doppler. I was sure she was just trying to reassure me.

“Wait right here,” it was a silly request, I was covered in gel with my stomach exposed, “let me get the ultrasound machine so you don’t have to worry.” I could feel the tears forming in the corner in my eyes. I have heard of these kinds of appointments before. They never end well.

As soon as the wand was on my belly I scaned the screen for a flicker of a heart beat. For a brief moment, Z3 was still on the screen. My breath caught in my throat. And then, Z3 hiccuped. The slight movement was enough to bring the heart into view, complete with the flickering. I have never been so relieved in my life. My doctor turned on the sound and we listened to the Swoosh Swoosh Swoosh.

“Baby was hiding pretty far back there,” my doctor told me.

I kept saying I wasn’t worried, but I’m sure my doctor saw right threw me. “Let’s take a quick look” she said, moving the wand over to show Z3’s various body parts.

We had just been discussing early prenatal testing. I opted out of the blood test which would have revealed the gender, despite desperately wanting to know. My insurance would only cover one type of prenatal testing and I had choosen the NT scan with ultrasound to confirm no abnormalities were present. Since we had the ultrasound out already, my doctor was willing to take a quick peak. I thought I saw girl anatomy, but my doctor thinks the line could have been the umbilical cord. Even if we didn’t get an early guess at gender, I appreciate the chance to look.

So far every pregnancy for me has had one big scare. With my first, we needed a second anatomy scan to verify her brain was developing normally. With the second, there were concerns I might have been worried about leaking fluid only a few weeks into viability. Z3 was just getting the scare over with early.

July 12, 2017

Another Kind of Five

Nicole’s fifth birthday wasn’t the only reason to celebrate the number 5! We’re well on our way to being a family of FIVE.

I feel like I’ve been holding on to this secret forever. When we were pregnant with Alexis, I was comfortable spilling the beans early. One of Nicole’s teachers asked me when we were going to have another and I blurted out “November” only a few days after the positive pregnancy test. We knew if something went wrong we would keep trying for a second. Nicole was too young to pay attention to just how long I was pregnant, so whether mommy was pregnant for 9 months, or 15 months, Nicole would be getting a little brother or sister eventually.

This time around things were much less certain. Given our ages, and the desired age gaps between the kids, it didn’t make sense to keep trying indefinitely. Telling the girls early meant we might need to untell them should something go wrong. I wasn’t comfortable with that, and I couldn’t risk telling other people for fear the information might reach their ears.

I’m kind of surprised no one guessed. I feel like I was showing at 8 weeks, and I’ve had all the typical first trimester pregnancy symptoms of fatigue and morning sickness. Maybe everyone around us was just being polite.

We told the girls two a week ago, so they’d know before my parents visited. I took a video of us breaking the news. After I told them there is a baby in Mommy’s tummy Nicole asks excitedly “for real?” and Alexis jumps up and rushes to me saying “let me see!” She’s actually asking to see herself on the phone I’m holding (she loves watching herself on videos) but it totally looks like she’s asking to see the baby in my tummy. Adorable, if not a little misleading.

We’ve tentatively taken to calling this baby Z3. I wanted another zi–y name to match Ziggy and Zippy, but the only thing I could think of was Zitty. Future child would have despised that nickname. So Z3 it is!

July 10, 2017

The Big 5

My baby is growing up way to fast! It feels like she was born just a few weeks ago, how in the world is she five already?!

Our birthday balloon photos on the party day are quickly become my favorite birthday tradition. Fortunately this kid is still happy to obliged by crazy momtographer tendencies. Put on a party dress for photos? Sure. Do it again with a different pair of sunglasses? No problem! She even enjoys coming up with her own poses.

Yesterday we had a small party for family with a helium balloons and princess cake. As always, the cake was a bit of a swing and a miss. Both kids enjoyed looking at the cake and were excited for a piece, but both kids also only picked at their piece before asking to get down from the table, or requested goldfish and pretzels to eat instead. Both kids will eat angle cake well, but they just don’t get excited for it the way they do the character cakes which makes me reluctant to serve it on their birthdays. Ah well, birthday dilemma.

Afterward the family party we went to a restaurant where Nicole got a special birthday dessert. She was so excited for her birthday restaurant and birthday desert that she told both the hostess who sat us and our sever (several times) that it was her birthday. On the way out the hostess remembered us and wished Nicole a happy birthday for the second time. She loves her birthday attention.

The kid party will be next weekend. We’re having a low key art party. I bought a whole bunch of art supplies: canvas, sun catchers, beads and the like. I haven’t gotten many RSVPs yet, but Nicole’s closest friends did RSVP in the affirmative. Nicole will be super happy, even if they’re the only ones that are able to make it. Since neither Alexis nor Nicole are really big on frosting, we’re considering getting an ice cream cake for her kid party.

Nicole is bringing in frosted cookies for school tomorrow. I learned my lesson last year about bringing homemade stuff. We set some aside some cookies for Alexis, just in case she isn’t able to join Nicole’s class for treat time. (Their school usually lets them visit each other’s classrooms when we bring in a treat, but you never know what will actually happen the day of.)

All in all I think this birthday is a little more low-key than last one, but no less fun. The addition of a restaurant dinner was a big heat, and she’s really looking forward to the planned activities at her kids’ party.

One year ago I rebranded and moved all my apps from to Since then, growth has exploded. I remember when I used to be excited to have 600 visitors on a week day. A year ago I was happy to get 300 visitors a day. Now it’s a common occurrence to have had close to 1,000 unique visitors by the time I wake up in the morning and start my day. Page visits are up across all apps, and user satisfaction seems to be near an all time high.

After months of hard work I’ve finally struck the right balance between technical enough for the Math enthusiasts to trust my apps, and approachable enough to not scare away the general audience. The rebranding likely helped in this regard too. I regularly get emails assuming datayze is run by a team, and not an individual. I’ve put a tremendous amount of effort into making datayze a smooth, sleek website and it seems to be paying off. I’m much more optimistic about the future of my small business this year, than I was at the same time last year.

I still have a lot of work ahead of me if I’m going to grow to where I need to be. I need to get users up. I still think I need a minimum 10,000 users a day to be viable and while growth will likely continue slowly without additional input from me, I’d like to get there as quickly as possible.

The best strategy, I think, is to continue to build new apps, particularly apps that build off of the existing ones which can appeal to the audience I already have.

A side goal I have is to improve my Alexa rank. I’d love to hit the magical “100,000” club, the point at which Alexa considers the differences in ranks to be statistically meaningful. My Alexa rank does appear to be correlated with the amount of traffic I get, but some of it’s other reported statistics of datayze, such as bounce rate and top queries, is way off.

The Alexa rank is purely an ego metric for me, since I rely on google Adsense and don’t solicit advertisers. Still, it was quite rewarding crossing the 1,000,000 threshold this past January. Once you cross the 1,000,000 threshold your rank is graphed and I love seeing my progress rather than an “insufficient data” message. I am, after all, a data person.

July 3, 2017

Forgotten Memories

Confession time: I Facebook for me. It’s wonderful to connect with friends and family separated by distance, but I primarily use Facebook as a means of keeping track of moments I’d rather not forget. I’m carefully choosing a handful of photos to represent the year, the funniest quips from my kids, the details that make my days special. It’s to the point now where my favorite activity to do first thing in the morning is visiting “on this day” facebook feature and rediscovering things I had long forgotten about.

Second confession time: Sometimes I stay up just a little longer than I know I should in order be awake at midnight and able to get another batch of “on this day” memories.

Some moments I have long since forgotten. I recently rediscovered a story about Nicki insisting on sleeping with her nasal aspirator. Even re-reading my facebook post I still cannot recall that night. Most, though, are memories that just need a little nudge to come rushing back to mind. Rereading my own words, and seeing my past photos I not only remember those specific details I shared, but I get to relieve those surrounding experiences and emotions. The trials and tribulations. I remember how difficult sleep training was how it feels to have a baby snuggled in the crook of my neck. I feel connected.

Science shows “even simple interventions (e.g., taking a few minutes to document the present) could generate unexpected value in the future…. Mundane or not, these memories were still part of their identities.” That’s not all science shows. Since our facebook profiles are often a carefully cultivated highlight reel, revisiting them can boost self esteem. Perhaps my facebook obsession isn’t as bad for me as I think it is?

I guess, as with all things, it’s about the balance struck. Taking a moment to reminisce is probably not that bad for me. Staying up to late and missing out on sleep might be a different story. For now, I’ll keep cultivating.

June was my first month of zero growth since Datayze was officially rebranded last July. It was bound to happen eventually. I’m trying not to be too discouraged. Comparing June to May I had a negative 2.5% growth, however if you account for the fact that June has one less day than May, then I had a positive 1.2% growth. I haven’t done a statistical analysis on the difference, but I suspect it wouldn’t be considered significant and I can safely consider June’s growth a wash.

I have reasons to be optimistic going forward. The second half of the month was stronger than the first, so there’s a good chance growth will return next month. I also earned $225, a 7% growth over last month. Although I prefer to look at audience growth as a metric of success, I’ll take revenue growth in a pinch!

Unfortunately the month of stagnant growth through a monkey wrench into my projections. I use time series analysis to estimate future growth. The recent past is weighted more heavily than distant past since it’s predictive power is usually stronger. Since the most recent month had no growth, my model is predict a drastically reduced growth over the next few months. That means I’m no longer on tract to reach $1000/month by December. Now it’s looking more like middle of 2018, which is also discouraging, especially since June marks the two year anniversary of starting my own business after leaving google. I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay for progress to be slow, the overall trend is in the right direction!

As for progress, it’s been a slow month in that regard too. We took a much needed family vacation. I have ideas for two new apps, one in the motivation category and one in the pregnancy category, but haven’t gotten around to coding them. I have been under the weather and behind on a number of things.

Here’s hoping for a more productive and encouraging July!