Archive for March, 2018

March 27, 2018

Eight Anniversary

I cannot put into words how wonderful Domingo is, and how lucky I feel to have him in my life. Every year I think this is as good as it gets, and I cannot possibly love him any more. Yet here we are, each year more in love than the year before.

One of this year’s sweetest moments was from January. While waiting for the induction to start at the hospital, Domingo told me he brought something for me. Since I had been on the gestational diabetics diet, I wasn’t allowed any of the sweet treats I love. During that time I had had a particularly strong desire for chocolate donuts. Domingo had packed a small package of mini chocolate donuts in his hospital go bag. That way, the moment I was given the ok to eat, I could satisfy my sweet tooth. It was an especially sweet moment because he insisted I eat them all, even though the hospital cafeteria closed at 3pm and he was left with only vending machine as his only option.

It should be no surprise that the sweetest guy in the world is father to the sweetest girls in the world. Alexis is better at remembering to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ than I am! Her favorite saying these days is “you’re the best!” and will thank you for the smallest things. Nicole is amazingly empathetic, and will often take the lesser toy or snack because she doesn’t want to see her sister be sad. A few weeks ago little sister was scolded for purposely annoying Nicole. Nicole told me I was too harsh and gave Alexis a hug, telling her she only wanted her to be happy.

I still can’t believe I got exactly the family I was hoping for. My business continues to grow, in no small part due to the support of my family encouraging me along the way. The wildlife around our house is a photographers dream. A few days ago I saw, and photographed, my first coyote.

What more could a person ask for?

I’ve heard disliking your older work you were once so proud of is a sign you are improving as a photographer. Seeing the flaws you didn’t see before shows you understand your craft better.

Sometimes I have the opposite problem.

Often the photos I don’t like in the moment are the ones that grow on me over time. That’s because I tend to be too focused on the technical aspects when shooting. Was the face properly in focus? Exposure correct? Any traces of blur? When something is amiss I tend to be pretty hard on myself. I don’t want to share these less than perfect pictures. I’m embarrassed I messed up, no matter how small the err. I’m annoyed I didn’t do a better job capturing my perfect little subjects. Over time I stop seeing the technical issues and start focusing on the subject matter, which these days is mostly my kids.

I recently did a set of three head shots, one for each of the girls. Once again I forgot to adjust my camera settings and the aperture is so narrow there’s a slight camera shake on Nicole’s. It kills me. We tried several more times, and never once repeated the same great candid expression. I try to put the flawed photo out of my mind, but the thought of the almost perfect image haunts me. Maybe it’s not as bad as I remember? I torture myself by opening the image file and zooming in in the eyes, where the blur is most noticeable.

The blur. It hurts.

A photographer friend recently convinced me to just print the photo out anyway. What’s the harm? He argued. All you’re out is the photo paper and ink if you don’t like it. He argued that you rarely spend millimeters in front of a photo anyway, you’re unlikely to be close enough to see the flaws.

I printed it. The slight blur made me cringe.

I mounted it in a collage frame as a place holder, I told myself, just until I managed something better. The slight blur annoyed me.

I hung it on the wall. I could still see it.

But every time I walked past it, I saw the blur less and less. My friend was right, you don’t tend to stand close enough to a photo to see all the minor issues. Distance and glass help hide minor issues. What I now see was my beautiful child’s smile. That smile makes me smile. I agonized over the mistake before, but over time I simply forgot about it. It’s not the only flawed photo on my wall. I have a ballerina with a slightly out of focus hand, and an astronaut whose lose hairs have a slight motion blur.

It’s hard sometimes to let go of the technical and just enjoy the art. Sometimes you just need time.

March 17, 2018

Micromanaging Myself

I feel like I’ve been more productive in the last couple of days than I have in the last couple of months.

To aid in my micro tasking endeavour (and because the lack of sleep has punched even more holes into my already leaky memory) I decided to try a productivity app. It started simple enough – import my chore list and business todo list into one centralized location. And then I remembered I wanted to put new cleaning tablets in the toilets. And, oh, the refrigerators new filter arrived weeks ago. And my list grew and grew and grew. And so did the number of check marks. I added a reoccurring task to return Nicole’s library book every Wednesday since I had forgotten a few times, to pay the daycare bill every Monday, lists of photos I want to take, home improvement projects I want to tackle some day. All my desperate lists are now organized into one, color coded master list. The list is now almost 200 items long, but rather than feel intimidated I’m feeling empowered.

The key for me was to keep tasks short, and easily achievable whenever possible. I’m sure there’s research on how short is best, but for me I try and target under 5 minutes. If that means a separate task for whipping off the counters in each bathroom, so be it. This isn’t always possible, especially for business related tasks where I don’t yet know all the intermediate steps. I add tasks for anything I need help remembering, or motivation to do. I’m the kind of person that once a doctors appointment is scheduled I ted keep it, but I rarely find time to schedule that appointment. So I make the task for the mentally “hard” part: scheduling, and not the physical “hard” part: going.

This also means being liberal with quantifying “tasks.” If it’s something I’ve made a mental note of, but have somehow not managed to do during the day day, I add it as a task, no matter how small. One of my tasks was to hang a photo over the mantel. After getting it up I noticed it still had some fibers from the packing styrofoam. I needed to dust it off, but the duster was in the garage and the kids were outside calling for me so I figured I’d do it later. I must have walked past that picture half a dozen times, each time thinking “I really need to deal with that styrofoam.” Making a checkbox for it was the extra little motivation I needed to just do it.

Two features that have been helping? Filters and labels. I have labels for “quick” tasks, for days I’m running behind on my daily target and need to knock out a few more before bed, a label for tasks that can’t be done at night when the kids are sleeping. I then create filter lists so I easily see what I can do from my phone while rocking Dana, or what needs to be done before the kids’ bedtime.

The next big thing for me was the ability to auto schedule anything that needs to reoccur: cleaning, periodic testing of datayze, etc. It’s helping me maintain a tidy baseline so I can avoid the pre-playdate panic mode. Let’s face it, mom of 3 doesn’t need anything else to worry about. Yes, please takes some of the mental load off me.

The app I’m using is Todoist for the curious.

March 12, 2018

Dana At Two Months

Dear Dana,

Nothing tugs at a mamas heart strings more than her last baby growing out of newborn size clothes, or newborn diapers, or needing the newborn insert removed from the car seat. You passed all three milestones at once, right around six weeks. You’re now up to 10lbs, and the 30th percentile for weight. There’s no denying that my itty bitty is growing. I’m trying to soak in as much of your newness as you as I can; your velvety soft skin, the sweet new baby smell, the silky soft hair atop your head and the peach fuzz in back. As happy as I am to see you growing, a piece of me wishes you’d stay this way forever.

New things you are doing this past month include smiling, holding, and coo-cooing. You started smiling just after you turned one month. You’re still really good at what Daddy and I call “concern face”, a furrowed brow and skeptical stair, but now you’ll just back and forth between the biggest smiles and concern. In terms of holding your very good at clenching your fist around my hair when I hold you, and once held onto the hem of my shirt when you wanted to nurse. You’re even good at hooking the toys of your gym with your toes. I thought it was just coincidence, but you’ve done it multiple days and I have the photographic evidence! You’re not grabbing yet, but should something venture near you, it’s yours.

We’ve been working on napping in the crib, and I’m happy to report it’s getting easier. You’ve had two long siestas (2 and 3 hours) and a whole bunch of half hour catnaps. At night you’ve blessed us with some 10-11 hour stretches, although 7-8 is more typical, and there are some days you wake up after just 5 for a feed. We’re still not on much of a consistent schedule, but we’re getting there. I can time the morning nap fairly reliably at this point. Once the afternoon hits I’m fallowing your lead when it comes to nap time.

You have discovered your fist and have given up interest in your binky. I even tried different types of binkis. No dice. Your fist is far superior. This month we’ll be introducing you to the bottle. Your two big sisters are eager to lend a helping hand!

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

March 10, 2018

Adding Dana to the Wall

One sign that it’s time to update the photos on the wall? When the kids can no longer recognize themselves in the. A disagreement started the other day about who was who in one of the couple of the framed photos. Both Alexis and Nicole where convinced the photo of a 18 month old Nicole was them. And that three month old photo of Alexis? Alexis was sure it was baby Dana and nothing could convince her otherwise.

I had wanted to get photos of Dana up on my wall for a while. All I needed was the motivation. Cue said motivation.

The top photo of Domingo and I is from our honeymoon, I suspect it will stay there forever. The photo of the three girls together will likely as well. Those are such special moments. I’m considering keeping the Nicole as an astronaut as the quintessential Nicole photo. I’ve been meaning to replace the photo on the left of Domingo and I with a family photo, but it’s still proving challenging. Alexis and Dana photos will likely be replaced some day with their quintessential versions at some point.

Alexis is so adorable. She noticed the new photos right away and actually thanked me for putting them up! She is amazingly consistent about always using her ‘please’, ‘thank you’s and ‘your welcome’s.

This weekend I also put up the butterfly footprints on our wall.

I had a bit of a dilemma with these. I had previously done Nicole & Alexis’ prints back when we moved into the house. At the time Dana was a daydream. I loved the frames I was using, and knew they may no longer be manufactured should I want to add another set of prints a few years down the line. So I purchased an extra frame in case the daydream came to be. I actually purchased 4 extra frames to cover all possible scenarios. A 4×6 frame in case I had the prints of a newborn child to add. Two more 8x10s in case I wanted to take all three kids’ prints from the same time period, but also wanted to keep the existing prints for my memory chest. And finally, a 10×14 as I couldn’t be sure how big a possible five year old’s feet would be and thought there was a chance I might need a bigger size. I over think everything.

I meant to also purchase a 5×7 increase the 4×6 wasn’t big enough, but there was none in stock. Wouldn’t you know the one frame I needed for Dana was that 5×7, which never came back in stock?

I thought Dana might looked tact on if I used a different frame. But I also liked the existing frames, and couldn’t find a close enough match. The solution? More butterflies! We now have two sets, when we moved in to our forever home, and when our family became complete. It might be a little too much for some people, but I like it. I did consider taking Nicole’s newborn foot print and faking a third set so I have one from when each girl was a baby, but six butterflies is probably a little too much, even for me.

Next up, a collage three years in the making. I just need to find the strength to move some furniture first.

March 6, 2018

The Bunny Done Good

Dana and I have been mostly home bodies thus far. Aside from accompany Nicole to a birthday party just shy of five weeks old, our outings have been mostly doctor related. I have been itching to get out of the house, and today felt like a good enough day to do just that.

Today Dana accompanied me for some Easter shopping. We needed new baskets, and things to go in the baskets!

The past couple years I’ve been getting the girls flip flops and jelly shoes. (I strive to fill the kids’ baskets with mostly useful things for the changing season.) The girls get excited for the shoes, but wear the flip flops for a day, and the jellies slightly longer. They just don’t find them comfortable. Instead they use their crocs for water play and hanging out near the pool. This year the Easter Bunny decided one special pair of crocs was better than two pairs of unused shoes. They take up roughly the same amount of space in the Easter basket too.

I’ve been feeling a bit guilty lately about being a mess-phobe. Back when Nicole was a toddler her preschool teacher remarked about how wonderful it was that I didn’t mind her drawing on me with chalk. So I was hoping to find something art related to put in her Easter basket. Nicole got a set of bath time finger paints for her birthday that she loved, which seemed like the perfect balance between creative freedom and controlled mess. I was about to purchase a set of six off Amazon for $20 when I decided to check target first. I’m so glad I did! They were $1 a piece! I got the full set – twice the number of colors – for each Nicole and Alexis for 60% of what I would have paid.

In years past I’ve also included sunglasses and stuffed animals, but we’re inundated with that stuff. Instead I was looking for something that can be used outside and settled on punch balloons shaped like animals. We finished it off with a chocolate bunny (for my chocolate lover), and a marshmallow bunny (for my marshmallow lover). Of course it’s one of each for each child, even though the chocolate lover will like the concept of the marshmallow bunny lollipop in concept way more than in implementation. Don’t worry, the bunny can take up the cause of finishing it after she rejects it.

I think these baskets will be the biggest hit yet. The bunny done good, and felt great getting out of the house!

This past month Datayze saw a paltry 1.5% growth in users and a whopping 23% growth in revenue. I’m now up to $627.76 per month, and it was a shorter month! It’s not the $1000/month goal I had set for myself, but I am headed in the right direction.

I intended to focus on emails again this month, however I was contacted about a nasty bug in one of my web developer apps. Given the symptoms it sounded like something that could be effecting all of those apps. I have long since wondered why those apps weren’t more popular, and now I might have an explanation. Even better, the person reporting the bug appeared eager in trying the tool again when it was fixed. It was an opportunity too good to pass up. The issue was a logic mistake with an easy fix. From initial investigation and final testing of the patch was no more than an hour. I will monitor the web development section of datayze in the coming months to see how users respond.

The amount of spam I get is starting to get out of control, and I’m the biggest culprit. Whenever someone encounters a 404: file not found error on datayze, I get an email notification. If the automated script can determine what URL the visitor likely intended, I get an email notification. A corollary to getting a lot of visitors is getting a lot of notifications. Some are for meta data files I’m not currently hosting (e.g. apple-touch-icon.png). Some of those errors are for specifications I’m not using (humans.txt, ads.txt, etc). Some are probing (e.g. wp-admin.php to see if my site uses wordpress). This information is useful, but it can wait until I’m ready to sift through the logs and plan out my next update. No need to send myself a daily notification, or fifty. Instead, I’d like to only be notified in situations that are actionable and time sensitive, such as a misspelled forum referral that can’t be auto addressed.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I want to solve problems, and the direction I want to take certain apps. I hope to find the time this coming month to start putting plans into actions.