Archive for February, 2018

February 24, 2018

Too Much

This evening, as I was bending down to change Dana’s diaper and felt such a sharp pain I couldn’t help but let out a yelp and start to cry.

My pain level has been gradually increasing over the past couple of weeks. One day I’d be fine giving Dana a bath in the tub. Three days later I’d wince reaching over the edge of the tub to set her down. That yelp, which happened within earshot of my whole family, was my breaking point. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. As soon as the kids were in bed I called the advice line.

Everything is fine, but I am way, way over doing it.

When I called, I was told I shouldn’t be doing chores like vacuuming or laundry. I had just changed a load in the dryer a couple hours prior to changing that diaper. I had also spent the morning photographing my newest favorite subject, and all the moving, bend and contorting that entails to get the right angle for the shot. (Yes, I said I was done. Momtographer is never done. Besides, that was newborn photography, I’ve moved on to baby photography!)

Just when I was starting to get that nesting energy back I’m told that I need to start taking it easy again.

I’m trying to take it easy, I really am. I know the dust bunnies won’t cause any harm. But the task list that’s falling onto Domingo is totally unfair. He’s doing the cooking and the dish washing and the bed time routines and the homework and the pick up drop offs. He’s doing all my chores on top of his, and that isn’t exactly fair. He may not have given birth, but he’s had the kids’ cold now for what feels like months. Besides, I miss the dance parties with the girls. I don’t want to be taking care of myself and Dana at their expense. They need their mama too!

This week I’ll be setting my camera down. I had hoped to try again for a family photo (it gets so much harder with each additional person), but realistically next weekend will work just as well and Dana will still look just as ‘newborn’ as she does this weekend.

I told Nicole that the doctor wants mommy to have a special helper, and she’s super excited to fill the role. She likes to run upstairs and ask if I need anything. Alexis likes to ask to see my owie and give it a kiss. I have the best little helpers looking after me.

February 23, 2018

Renewed Focus

Someone once told me after having kids you become highly efficient with your time. You’re less inclined to waste it by checking Facebook at work. Instead, you’re all about getting your work done so you have you’re evenings free to be with the babes. I didn’t notice any changes in my efficiency after my first two, but boy do I now that I’m a mom of three!

I’m thriving right now on micro tasks and multi tasks.

Micro tasks are short easy tasks that involve very little mental effort. Putting the laundry away is a daunting chore, especially when there’s been so little sleep the past couple of nights. Getting the bathroom towels out of the laundry basket and rehanging them is not, especially if I’m on my way upstairs anyway. It’s much easier to find the energy to do little micro tasks than full on chores. There’s also something highly motivating about crossing off something on my todo list, no matter how small. The more micro tasks I complete, the more on top of things I feel, the more motivated I become. It’s a feedback cycle that works for me.

During the day I make a mental note of micro tasks I should do in the evening. Things like put the nail polish away, or the bed time stories we read the previous night back on the shelf. Once all the kids are asleep I spend a half hour to an hour getting things done. It feels great, and doesn’t eat up much time so I can still get a reasonable amount of sleep. Reasonable being relative of course.

My phone has gone from a fun time waster, to a useful multitasking tool. I’m shopping on the phone, something I rarely ever did before, typing up notes for blog posts or website edits, and editing photos with snapseed. Snapseed, by the way, is amazingly powerful. I have one photo where I manage to change the direction of the light source using nothing more than the exposure brush.

Where was this ability to get things done when I was supposed to be nesting and didn’t also have a newborn to care for?


One month before birth, one month after

It wasn’t looking promising, but somehow Dana and I managed to capture the majority of her newborn photos just as the newborn phase was ending. It feels like a pretty amazing feet considering all that was stacked against: baby colds, and lack of mobility. The better camera helped. I didn’t need so many practice shots, or blury shots necessitating redos.

Where we’re lacking still is sleeping baby photos. Dana has an amazing ability to resist naps in general, and naps on set especially. I’d set the thermostat high to get that toasty, naked baby approved temperature. Place a heating pad on set to make it extra cozy. Fill the tummy, rocked to sleep, place her down, pick up the camera and it’s “Good morning, Mommy!” Normally I would have continued well into the second month, but Dana isn’t having it and I don’t want to torture her.

Of course that means the photos were not lacking in are alert baby with beautiful eye contact!

I have now also learned why my 1-month-olds tend to look younger in photographs than my newborns. At least to my eye. When they’re first born they tend to be leaner. When there’s not an object in frame for comparison leaner translates to longer, which can make them seem older. By one month they’ve put on some chub before having a chance to really start growing. In photographs they seem smaller. It seems so obvious in retrospect. The classic newborn pose, resting in a slight dip, also helps them look more squished and smaller.

While I was happy with the newborn photos, I was starting to feel a bit guilty about the lack of maternity photos this time around. I really only took three styles: low-key, by the tree and the one above. I regret not powering through when I was feeling uncomfortable and at least taking some with the girls and I together, but I cannot go back in time. Since I was so lacking in maternity photos, and Dana was not too keen on sleeping for more newborn photos, I thought I’d do one of those before & after comparisons.

These were surprisingly difficult to do by myself. I am self conscious about my postpartum body, so I’m holding Dana on my left side rather than directly center in order to hide some of my tummy. It’s causing a bit of torque, which is putting pressure in places I don’t need pressure. With the added stress of juggling the remote I was feeling sore for a few days.

Worth it.

I know a lot of other people would disagree, but the pain is only temporary. The photos will keep forever.

February 15, 2018

A Bone to Pick

I have a bone to pick with my new camera. It’s too good. I can’t blame the camera for my mistakes any more!

I was comfortable shooting at a wider aperture because the old camera had a bit of a soft focus problem. Those itty bitty baby lashes didn’t look sharp on either side of the face. That made small issues with camera shake, depth of field or motion blur virtually undetectable. With my new camera they’re detectable! Nevermind that the image looks great for most standard printing sizes, if I can zoom in on her face enough to see the pores on her left check, I want to see them on the right as well! My new camera is rubbing it in my face that I don’t have as intuitive a sense of the depth of field as I think I do!

Kidding aside, I’ve noticed a huge jump in the quality of my images. The cameras internal logic is amazing. If I frame the image right, 9 times out of ten the end product is going to be great. The exposure compensation button makes adjusting the settings quick enough to follow the action a snap. I’m taking fewer pictures each burst, fewer frames in general, and still happy with the outcome. Aside for some depth of field ‘issue.’

They say it’s the photographer, not the camera. That’s true to an extent, clearly. A good photographer can overcome many of the limitations of a bad camera, but not all. Shoot in lower light than your camera can handle and your choice is motion blur or noise. (Or bring additional lights and equipment.) Shooting a faster subject than you’re camera can handle? Need a greater dynamic range? Your out of luck, Chuck.

Sometimes you do need better equipment to realize your limitations in order to grow.

February 12, 2018

Dana at One Month

Dear Dana,

You are the very definition of itty bity. When we brought you home you were under 6th pounds, and in the 7th percentile. You were swimming in your newborn sized going home outfit. Your legs were so skinny that your footed sleepers might as well have been a blanket. Whenever you pulled your legs up into the newborn balled position they’d come right out of the sleeper legs. Your newborn sized diapers kept falling off. We’d unwrap you from the blankets and find the diaper hanging off your butt or by your knees. You were 9 days overdue and in need of premie diapers and we still needed to fold them down so they wouldn’t disturb your umbilical cord stump! In fact, you wore premie diapers for almost two weeks!


It’s a super Dana! Tiny but mighty.

Sleep is going great, even without considering the derailment from the cold. Last night you went seven hours between feeds, and the night before you went seven and a half hours. I got to tell you, I feel like a new woman. We tried a nap in the crib for the first time yesterday and not a moment too soon. I noticed you put your legs up, just like Nicole did when transitioning to the crib from the rock n play, but at least you didn’t wake up. I’ve also put you down awake several times and watched you shut your eyes, drifting off to sleep on your own. It will be hard not to rock you through every naptime but I want to encourage these good sleeping habits of yours.


This looks familiar. You sure do like getting on your side.

You’re starting to get interested in the world around you. You’re not grabbing yet, but should something reach your palm you will bring it to your mouth. You’re tracking with your eyes, and sometimes move your head as well.
You also enjoy watching your big sisters. Speaking of whom, you’re big sisters adore you. They love to hold you, hug you, and show you toys. They bring your picture to their respective schools to show off “their” baby.


Birth Anoucement Photo

I can tell you’re going to keep Daddy and I on our toes. Nicole and Alexis had so many similarities, I expected you to take after them. In many ways you do, but in others you are clearing marching to the beat of your own drum. One surprising difference? You could take or leave the binkie.

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

February 7, 2018

Courage and Confidence

I’d be lying if I said there were never times when the prospect of 3 kids didn’t overwhelm me. Pregnancy is 9 months, and no matter how on top and in control I feel when we start trying for another baby, inevitably there are moments that make me question my sanity. When I was pregnant with Alexis, Nicole went through a very difficult sleep phase, which meant no sleep for any of us. This time around it was coordinating two different school schedules that made the prospect of another child feel completely unmanageable. How in the world was I going to make this work?

Someone told me that while the three can seem overwhelming since the adults are out number, in practice you’re so experienced by this point that it’s no big deal. That is proving true for us. Domingo is back at work (kind of, he’s home sick) and my parents have flown back to their home. It’s just me and Dana during the day.

The first time Domingo returned to work leaving me home alone with a baby I remember being overwhelmed. I was unsure of myself and my abilities. When Alexis was born I was nervous about the first time watching both a toddler and a baby by myself. What if they both needed me at the same exact moment? Even when I was more sure of myself I still relied on a helping hand from Domingo on days he’d work from home.

This time around has been very different. Whether it’s Dana and I hiding out on the weekend to (unsuccessfully) avoid the family cold, the middle of the night wakings wakings for food and diaper changes, or just Dana and me during the week, I got this. I am the master of one handed sponge baths. Domingo can work from home without fear of frequent interruptions. Today I even managed to take footprints on my own. The trick, I found, was not facing baby’s feet. When I did that, I had to hold the paper in front of me and pull her feet towards it. It’s awkward, difficult to see and leads to a lot of smearing. It was far easier to sit parallel to baby so I could see what I was doing. We’re still working on handprints. I have no idea how I managed them with Alexis, even with the extra help.

Here are my tips for saving your sanity when adding another baby to the mix:

  • Buy gear in duplicates, overstock. Yes, I know it seems wasteful, especially if this is your last baby, but you can’t put a price on sanity. I have a rock n play, pile of burp cloths and binkies, diapers and changing pads by the upstairs and downstairs rocking chairs. (Yes, I have multiple rocking chairs – 3 to be exact.) If I need to go upstairs because it’s big kid movie time, or downstairs because it’s big kid bath time I know I will have everything I need. As a first time mom it makes sense to prefer quality over quantity. Beyond, my advice is to go the other way – buy cheaper if it means you can have multiple. Gently used stuff can always be resold or donated for a tax write off.
  • Get ride of anything that wasn’t used the last time. Yes, those hideous onesies from great aunt Edna’s dentist are in great shape. They’ve been holding up well since they’ve never been worn. What makes you think you’ll put them on this baby if you didn’t put them on the last one? They’re just clutter at this point. The more you have, the more time is wasted looking for the ones you are willing to put on the baby. Save yourself the effort, give them to someone who will use them. Same goes for any baby item you haven’t used yet, no matter how expensive.
  • When it comes to time and attention, quality beats quantity. When kids are old enough to hold on to their jealousy, rather than just feel it in the moment I really like our one-in-one special time to be things they can do that the baby can’t to reiterate how much fun it is to be big. Currently I’m working on a treasure hunt we’re the final clue leads them to my little pony lip gloss.
February 4, 2018

Neonate’s First Cold

A couple days after bringing Dana home from the hospital, the Alexis’ cold crested. I called the advice nurse wanting to get ahead of the germs and spare my 6-day-old her first cold. It may have been overkill, but with all the news articles about the worst flu in decades, and associated deaths, I was not about to chance it. Not to worry, the nurse assured me, neonates rarely get colds. To steady my nerves and as a precaution, she gave me some tips and warning signs to watch out for.

The week passed, Domingo and my mom caught the cold but Dana, Nicki and I avoided it.

Then, on Saturday morning I noticed some of the funny rapid breath breathing sounds coming from Dana I had been warned to watch out for. The episode was short lived. Her breathing quickly returned to normal, and she otherwise seemed fine. No nasal discharge, no cough. At noon, each breath became audible as they were forced through the now obvious congestion. My baby was sick. The moment that realization struck me, as if on cue, she cried and everything got so much worse.

Dana couldn’t both breath and cry at the simultaneously, so each cry was punctuated by a grunting snort which made her even madder, which then made the breathing sound that much more labored. I couldn’t calm her, not with singing or rocking, couldn’t get her to latch or take the binky.

My not yet two weeker had her first cold, and it was terrifying.

While juggling the phone to call the pediatrician I somehow managed to get her calm enough to stop crying, and while the snorting temporarily subsided I watched her clavicle rise and fall with each breath as she struggled against the congestion.

Since Dana was so young, and I had reported fussiness while nursing, the pediatrician wanted to see her to rule out possible dehydration and confirm no fluid in the lungs. When babies are so tiny small problems can develop into big ones fast. Little passageways can become blocked easily. Thankfully everything checked out well. Her lungs were clear, oxygen level was fine. The pediatrician even confirmed it is just a cold and the scary flu. Just a cold. Dana will be fine in a couple of weeks. We are just going to be in for some long, sleepless and stress filled nights in the meantime.

January saw a 10% rise in audience size and a 13% drop in revenue. All total I earned $508.95, which is not to shabby given the shopping season has ended and ad clicks are typically worth less. Time Until continues to be the most popular app, and has a higher growth rate than the miscarriage apps which continues to surprise me. Overall growth was pretty uniform across all apps. The only top visited app that had a measurable (1.8%) decrease in users was the Passive Voice Detector.

There isn’t much progress to report. I had decided to stay the decision on maternity leave until Dana was born so I would have a better idea what expectations are reasonable. Now that she’s here it’s clear I need to be on a reduced work schedule while I heal. For now my work load is primarily responding to emails (January was a surprisingly busy month in that regard), fixing minor bugs, and possibly addressing critical issues if they rise to the level of interfering with revenue.

Something I need to give some thought to is how best to silo my sites. I recently was contacted by someone with a serious offer to acquire Datayze. I declined (I doubt I’d ever be interested in selling Datayze.) I do want to branch out into multiple sites and it may be worth selling off some off those other properties in the future. For that to be feasible, I need to give serious consideration to how I operate.

Currently I reuse code across my personal and professional sites. Why reinvent the wheel? The purchase agreement would need to address ownership of shared code to avoid ambiguity. A cleaner approach would be to create each site as an independent silo, with it’s own version of a wheel. I’ve already been considering moving Datayze to its own VM/instance so I don’t risk its uptime when working on my other sites. I think I may make it a policy of each website being completely self contained and running separately once they get big enough.