Archive for September, 2017

September 28, 2017

Differences in Pregnancies

This pregnancy has been so amazingly different from my other two. I’ve had virtually no migraines, when that was a pretty common system with both my first two. Instead I’ve had way more morning sickness. It’s part of the reason most everyone around me guessed Z3 was a boy (spoiler, she’s a girl). My Mother in law was convinced I was carrying differently and that must be because Z3 was a boy. Alexis’ former daycare teacher was sure it was a boy because I looked like I had lost weight. I hadn’t, but I appreciate the complement.

I thought it would be fun to put together a list of how all my pregnancies differ.

Morning Sickness
1st/Zippy: No real morning sickness or food aversions to speak of. I did find myself loving sun dried tomatoes which normally I pass on.
2nd/Ziggy: Can’t eat black beans, pinto beans are fine. This is note worthy since my go-to lunch while working at Google was a burrito so I had to skip on black bean days. All other food preferences remain the same.
3rd/Z3: Food is the DEVIL. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to what I can eat. It was if some invisible force was rolling the dice each and every time I tried to eat. Something I could eat yesterday would turn my stomach today. Sometimes even bread was on my no-can-do list. I craved the flesh of a plum, but the skin makes my stomach turn. Morning sickness finally started going away around 20 weeks.

Diet (At least initally)
1st/Zippy: Cried on a five hour flight because I was hungry, all they had to eat was ham and cheese sandwhiches and that’s on the no-no list when pregnant.
2nd/Ziggy: Stuck to the no-no list reasonably well.
3rd/Z3: Forgot deli meat was a no-no item and lived off of ham & cheese sandwhiches for a week before remembering.

1st/Zippy: 3 months before we started trying, during the trying to conceive journey and every day pregnant.
2nd/Ziggy: Took a few off an on when we started trying to conceive. I was a lot more diligent about it after we got our positive pregnancy test, but I know I missed a few days here and there.
3rd/Z3: Pretty sure I last took one in the 1st trimester. At least I’m eating a lot healthier over all (now) and the carbs I was eating back then were heavily fortified with folic acid.

1st/Zippy: Started around 10 weeks with one that lasted four days. Got worse in the second trimester and stayed bad mostly through the third. Extra protein seemed to help.
2nd/Ziggy: I had 3-4 a week, not sure when they started, but it was towards the end of the first trimester and lasted through the rest of the pregnancy. Magnesium supplements helped.
3rd/Z3: I’ve had 2 or 3 total since becoming pregnant the third time. I’ve only needed to take medication for it once.

Gestational Diabetes
1st/Zippy: Nope!
2nd/Ziggy: Nope!
3rd/Z3: Partially failed the diabetes test. I’m on the diet (hence the eating a lot healthier now) but am not technically diabetic.

Weight Gain
1st/Zippy: 10 lbs. Lost a lot initially thanks to those pesky migraines making it difficult to eat.
2nd/Ziggy: 16 lbs. No note worthy weight loss at any point in time.
3rd/Z3: I was up to 10 lbs, but at 28 weeks I’ve dropped to a total net gain of 7 lbs thanks to the new diet.

Energy Levels
1st/Zippy: I felt pretty normal, assembled her crib at 37 weeks pregnant mostly by myself.
2nd/Ziggy: Got stuck under my desk trying to plug an Ethernet cable back in around 32 weeks, but otherwise can’t complain.
3rd/Z3: By 20 weeks walking upstairs was too much effort, I think I’ll nap on the couch.

1st/Zippy: Boppy please!
2nd/Ziggy: Ugh, no boppy!
3rd/Z3: Random pillow between the knees to spare my hips and is the only way I get any sleep.

Kids’ reactions to future pregnancies
2nd/Ziggy: Nicole would tell everyone she had a baby in her tummy too.
3rd/Z3: Both Nicole and Alexis would say they have a baby in their tummies too until I had to go on the gestational diabetes diet. Once Nicole learned I couldn’t have candy she quite adamantly determined she did NOT have a baby in her tummy. Alexis still likes to say she has a baby in her tummy.

September 23, 2017

A Not So Helpful Helper

I am in awe of how Kindergarten teachers handle their classrooms.

For several weeks I have been volunteering in Nicole’s classroom. I manage the art table and math table once a week when the students break into small groups. Last week the math table was cutting out “topping” shapes and gluing them onto their “pizza.” They then created a graph of how many of each toppings there were. I was too focused on the art table and didn’t notice one of the students at the math gluing the left over paper scraps to the table until it was too late. This week I was determined to keep a better eye on the math table. While helping them with their calendars, two of the students at the art table started dueling with their scissors.

I fear I’m not a very effective helper. My only solace is that those things would have also likely happened had I not been there.

Despite the chaos I greatly enjoy volunteering in Nicole’s classroom. It’s been a handy way for me to get the inside scoop and see what the range of skills are. There are some kids who are amazingly ahead and could probably skip ahead to first grade if our district wasn’t such a stickler for the age cutoffs, and some for who all this is clearly new. Seeing the range of where the kids are for each skill set helps me see where I need to focus our efforts at home.

As a parent, it’s definitely beneficial to get an up close view of the teacher in action. I attended the school night where her teacher discussed the skill sets the teacher felt most valuable. Kindergarten has a little of everything in their curriculum, but the emphasis is on learning to read. Seeing her teacher in action and how she works gives me ideas on how I can best encourage Nicole at home while doing homework, and how I can work in reading and writing even on math or science projects. Nicole’s teacher keeps a folder of “early finisher” worksheets, and I was able to find similar worksheets at home that we could practice with.

I also enjoy the access it provides to the teacher. I am a classic over thinker with a tendency to dwell, so waiting for a parent teacher conference to ask a question isn’t always a practical approach for me. I also don’t want to be a pest with constant emails. I can ask quick questions during recess while the kids are all playing that don’t feel important enough to warrant an email.

I might not be the best parent volunteer, but volunteering has helped me be a better kindergarten parent.

September 21, 2017

Overwhelmed by Homework

When I enrolled Nicole into kindergarten, I read through the kindergarten handbook cover to cover. (Yes, I am that kind of parent.) I loved their stance on homework: No more than half an hour any school day, never on the weekend or holiday, and at least twenty minutes of that half hour was to be reading time. We already did bedtime stories, though they usually weren’t twenty minutes long. We could stretch it. That only leaves 10 minutes of potential “work” time. It felt very reasonable for a kindergartner!

For years I’ve been seeing other parents share the overwhelming amount of work their elementary school age kids brought home. It seemed excessive, especially for working parents. There just aren’t many minutes left in the day between the end of the work day pickup, dinner, bath and bed time. But 10 minutes? Doable.

Homework started with a calendar – choose any 12 tasks in a 4 week month, 3 per week. Since homework was due back Friday, we’d have a “skip” day should things get to crazy.

Then there were sight words that needed to be gone over daily, in addition to the homework calendar, until they were memorized.

And then additional reading. Along with the 20 minutes of parents reading to Nicole, Nicole had to read two “readers”, paper back books designed to emphasize one or two sight words a piece. Then two “readers” and her “bag books” (4 total, albeit short, books) so she could also practice reading at the right grade level. And then yet another form of reading for Nicole to do.

Before I knew it “10 minutes of extra work” was a half hour or more per night, and we’d often have to skip or greatly lessen the amount of time spent on bed time stories because the kids were just so exhausted by the end of the day.

I started photo copying the homework calendar so we could work on it on the weekend. Sight words, too, got relegated to the weekend, but that was too spaced out for us to really learn them. I started picking Nicole up from the after school program a couple hours early on Wednesday, just so we could have time to get it all done.

I don’t know how parents with traditional 9-to-5 jobs do it. I feel like we’re barely fitting it all in, and only because I can be as flexible as I need to be with my schedule. So much for my let-them-play-not-work parenting philosophy. Perhaps if I started earlier this wouldn’t seem so overwhelming now. At least she doesn’t seem to feel overwhelmed, even if I do.

September 18, 2017

New Schools all Around

About a month after Nicole started Kindergarten, Alexis also got to start a new school. Our previous daycare/preschool combo closed it doors. Queue mini panic attack.

Thankfully, the old school didn’t close until after Nicole had started Kindergarten (so she wasn’t forced to do two major transitions back to back). Also Alexis was super excited for Nicole’s Kindergarten (I may have a few pictures of her holding up Nicole’s “1st day of school” sign at the little miss’s instance) so I think she was primed to be excited for a new school herself.

Still, I couldn’t help but stay up all night worrying about how her first day would go. Nicole had a rocky transition at roughly the same age when we moved. She missed her old friends at the “Dolphin room” at her old school. I still remember her telling me in the car on the drive home one day, her tiny voice quivering “Don’t like the Discovery room. Like Dolphin room.” We actually had plans to switch daycares to one I liked better but that didn’t have an opening for a few months, but after the rocky transition I just couldn’t do that to Nicole again.

Here we were again, at the fourth daycare I’ve enrolled one of my kids in. Moving can sometimes really suck.

I had planned to take the morning off so I could sit in the wings with Alexis as long as she needed me to. In my experience being present, but apart from the action helped previous transitions. We also brought a special transition teddy bear for Alexis to nap with, since naps were the hardest for Nicole.

We get to the new school, the new room with all the new faces and I’m bracing for the worst. Instead, Alexis spots a giant caterpillar tunnel. She hopped out of my arms, and crawled through the tunnel. I asked if I could take a picture of her going through the tunnel. “Ok, Mommy!” and she raced threw a second time. Then popped up, waved and said “Bye mommy!” I was in her room for all of five minutes before she was ready for me to go.

Ok. Lesson learned. Only transition to daycares with giant caterpillar tunnels.

September 12, 2017

Going Private

The bigger the growth I have with, the more I start thinking about privacy, and my current lack thereof. ICANN rules require domain contact information be public and accurate. Failure to abide by these rules could result in forfeiture of your domain which is not ideal for someone whose sole revenue is ad dollars generated from their website! But the bigger an audience my site draws, the greater the probability that it will draw someone who is a little too interested in me, personally, or my family. Do I really want my address and all my contact information public?

To combat this problem most registrars provide a proxy service for registration*, usually referred to as whois protection. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes it’s a nominal fee. Basically, the proxy acts as an intermediary. Instead of listing your personal contact information, you list the proxy service and they forward any communications they receive on your behalf to you. The contact information is still considered accurate, because inquires can reach you, but your specific details are never listed.

(*Side note, some top-level domains disallow the use of whois proxy services.)

There’s a bit of an online debate about whether whois protection is worth it.

A corporate address in the contact information is often viewed as more legitimate than a non-corporate address. For some, a proxy address is the least legitimate of all. A P.O. box could substitute for a corporate address, but then I’d have to remember and exert the physical energy to check it. There are some online services that will convert a physical address to an email one by scanning mail into PDFs and mailing it to you. That would be a preferred option, but the price is currently a bit high for me.

I use a google voice to hide my phone number, which is like a proxy, but does nothing to help obscure my physical address which I’m most concerned about. Datayze has used the services of a whois proxy since it was first registered. If it’s negatively affecting me, it’s not enough to prohibit growth. I decided I’m earning enough now that the nominal price of the whois protection across all my sites is a reasonable price to pay for the peace of mind it brings.

Maybe someday I’ll grow large enough to warrant an actual office space. Until then, this will do.

September 9, 2017

In Twos, not Threes

I am full of Mommy guilt lately.

Ever since giving birth to Nicole there was a part of me that thought about being a mom of three one day. I loved being a parent. I loved all things baby and pregnancy related. But we weren’t sure it would work out for us. California is expensive. Age is a factor. Careers are a factor. Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you envision. I didn’t let that stop me from daydreaming.

After Alexis was born we struggled to find a house and move out of our tiny apartment. Being on top of each other was stressful. Long commutes were stressful. Bay area housing was stressful. We decided the best course of action for family happiness was to move closer to Domingo’s work and give me the chance to do my own startup that I always envisioned. Another child didn’t feel compatible with all that. I thought our family was likely complete.

We gave away baby clothes and gear. We bought toys for the girls in pairs; princess shoes, dolls, matching outfits. (I never thought I’d be a matchy-matchy mom, but the girls insist on wearing the same clothes.)

Now that we’re about to add another child to the mix, especially another daughter, I’m starting to feel a tremendous amount of guilt that we don’t have these things in threes. Nicole and Alexis currently share a big girl room. They got to spend time together at recess in preschool, being just two and a half years apart. Nicole and Alexis are close in a way that’s hard to envision Z3 will ever be with either of her older siblings.

Z3 will be three years younger than Alexis, and will still in the toddler room when Alexis is ready to start school. They’ll never get recess together, never share a ride in the tandem bike. The girls will likely be ready to have their own rooms again, just as Z3 will be old enough to share a room. Nicole and Alexis have gotten fancy dress-up photos taken together. It was arranged through their preschool, so even if the preschool does it again while Z3 and Alexis are attending, Nicole will be the one left out.

Fairness is very important to me, even though I realize fairness for fairness sake is neither practical nor, well, fair.

My mom keeps reminding me that it’s ok for the girls to all have different relationships with each other. Different does not mean lesser. They are different people with different personalities and needs, and having different pairs o relationships are to be expected.

Perhaps the best way to cultivate each pair of relationships is to be sure each pair gets to spend quality time together, much like the Mommy & me days. In fact, when Mommy is giving one of the girls undivided individual attention, it may be the perfect time for Daddy to arrange for something fun for just the other two.

September 4, 2017

In Need of Nesting

When we first found out we were expecting I was filled with excited energy. I brought out all the storage containers of baby clothes from the back of the closet and started organizing, washing and fawning over how little everything was. I separated the clothes into piles, identified what we would keep, what was salvageable to be donated, and what did not survive storage. There was washings to remove old forgotten stains that somehow worsened over time, and washings with fabric conditioner to bring back the original baby softness.

This was all at the very start of the first trimester, when one is supposed to be over run with fatigue and morning sickness.

A few weeks later my energy dried up. The morning sickness hit. Not to worry, I still had time. The second trimester is when one feels the best, right? Last time around, while pregnant with Alexis and working full time I tackled our apartment, organizing old cables, bath toys, hair ties, making battery charts, battery boxes, first aid kids, etc etc. Surely that would happen again, right? It was strangely one of the things I was looking forward to with pregnancy.

Well I’m 22 weeks in, and that initial organizing of the baby clothes is all I’ve managed. The house is in disarray, worse then when we conceived. The house looks like I’m trying out for a new reality show called squatters. The closets are empty, the floors are not. I want to want to get organized, but I can’t muster the energy. Nesting was supposed to be part of the deal!

With just over half the pregnancy to go, hopefully I’ll find some motivation soon. If nothing else, to get the crib assembled and car seat installed so we can bring the baby home from the hospital safely.

Despite another increase in user growth, income continues to be on the decline. I made $211.64 in August compared to July’s $220.73. It’s a small difference, but an annoying difference given the trend.

Other than diversifying, revenue is something beyond my control. It’s yet another reason why I prefer to focus on user growth rather than income. I can’t control the advertising rates, or how interested users are in the ads (how shoppy, clicky they are), but I can continue to work on a really cool site that attracts lots of daily users. Once I have a built in audience, it’ll be easier to attract ad dollars by diversifying.

Overall I had a 7.5% growth in users. Even with Anonymous’ DDoS attack on my hosting company, in which I was collateral damage, I did have a stronger second half of the month. Most of the month was stagnant user growth, but it started to pick up in the last two weeks so I’m hopeful for a strong September showing. The Miscarriage reasurer audience nearly doubled this month, and the Miscarriage Chart audience increased by nearly 40%. The writing tools are down a bit, I’ll have to look into that.

The DDoS attack has me considering my exposure to future issues in my current setup. Once upon a time switching webhosts in my case required little more than copying a folder from one destination to another. Back then it wasn’t uncommon for a webhost’s uptime to start to fluctuate, or drop dramatically. Being nimble was a necessity. I designed my sites knowing I might switch hosts every year or two. I’ve been on Dreamhost just over a decade now and grown accustomed to letting them managing all my domain and subdomain configurations, as well as database set ups and all the rests. There are undoubtedly other issues I haven’t even thought of. Switching hosts, should the need arise, would likely not be seamless.

While I don’t expect DDoS of this scale to occur with any regularity, I am growing and that could mean outgrowing my current host setup. I need to figure out what it would take to move, even if it’s just from shared hosting to dedicated hosting and not from company to company.