Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

July 15, 2018

Puzzlemania

2018 will forever be remembered as the summer of the jigsaw puzzle in our house.

Jigsaw puzzles were a big part of my childhood. I remember sitting in front of the coffee table with my mom and sister, working on 5,000 piece puzzles together. The one in particular that sticks out in my memory was sheet music of Beethoven’s 5th. Growing up we had a collection a 100 and 250 piece puzzles that, when they became two easy, my sister and I would dump them over backwards and assemble them upside down. I even spent a summer with my best friend on an “impossible” branded puzzle which had no straight edges. Since that wasn’t challenging enough, the backside of the puzzle was stamped with the same image as the front side, just rotated so you could never tell by looking at a single piece if it was upside down or not.

We were always destined to be a puzzle house.

As new parents Domingo and I stocked up on baby puzzles. I remember baby Alexis chewing on the wooden knob of a Melisa and Doug Shapes puzzle, holding it in her mouth like a binky. I probably even have a picture of it somewhere.

When the kids got a little bigger we tried the foam puzzles, and the kind that are meant to be stored assembled where the backing has an outline of each puzzle piece.

The girls never really seemed that interested, and the puzzles stayed mostly in the closet, forgotten. We decided to change that this summer. I wanted to try and bestow my love of jigsaw puzzles onto them, to see if I couldn’t pique their interest.

This summer I purchased a 250 piece puzzle, just to see what the kids were capable of. Nicole, Alexis and I sat down to work on it together. The design ended up being a little more monochromatic (see above), and thus more challenging than I anticipated, but that didn’t stop the girls from getting into it. Even Alexis was able to put some pieces together, and she’s three and a half!

From there we broke out the 48 piece puzzles and when those were two easy, I mixed up the pieces and had Nicole do two puzzles simultaneously. When that proved too easy Domingo found some 100 piece puzzles. In no time the girls were assembling multiple puzzles a night together, though Alexis can do the 48 piece puzzles herself. Alexis told me quite emphatically recently that they did not need my help.

I can’t wait for Dana to get a little bit bigger. We’re going to get a coffee table, and then really see what the kids can do!

July 10, 2018

Dana at Six Months

Dear Dana,

As much as I still want to think of you as a newborn, I now have two pointy white reminders that you are most definitely not. That’s right, someone is cutting her first teeth! A full two months earlier than either of your sisters. You are determined to march to your own drum, and keep this “experienced” mom on her toes, that’s for sure!

We started solids last week, which was super exciting for your sisters who were eager to show you how it’s done. We choose your purees to match the vegetables they were having for dinner so they could show you how to eat the non-mashed kind. It was the best I’ve seen Alexis eat her peas in a long time, so I thank you for that. So far your favorite seems to be squash, but you did equally well with carrots and peas too.

This month we finally were able to break you of the swaddle habit. You seemed unable to settle down and go to sleep without the swaddle, but also uncomfortable when we swaddled you. It was an ongoing battle until I figured out why you like the swaddle so much. I believe the soft muslin fabric reminds you of mommy’s shirt. Every time we nurse, you like to pull Mommy’s shirt over your face. I think the swaddle blanket rubbing against your check reminds you of mommy and that’s why you find comfort in it, even though the act of swaddling is no longer comfortable to you. Once we figured that out I started loosely wrapping you in the blanket and you slept so much better. Of course this means you only get a blanket at nap time when we can keep an eye on you. Once it’s safe for you to sleep with a blanket at night, the muslin swaddle blanket will probably be promoted to blankie.


You love to stick your tongue out to let me know you want to nurse or nap.

Thumb suckings, and finger sucking for that matter, is now passé. I can’t remember the last time I saw your hand in your mouth. Instead you’re all about gnawing on anything that crosses your path, including mommy sometimes! Those teeth will likely fully erupt in short order.

I can’t believe how quickly time is flying, or that we’re already halfway through your first year. It doesn’t matter how big you get, I will always think of you as my itsy bitsy baby.

Love Always,
Mommy & Daddy

July 9, 2018

Here Comes Six

Six. How is it possible? I feel like it was just a few weeks ago that we were signing Nicole up for kindergarten, a month or so ago that we were bringing her home from the hospital. And now she’s six. Six.

Nicole requested her kid birthday party be at Chuck-E-Cheese again this year. Two years ago the experience was super smooth, but I was dreading it this year. As a special treat the birthday ‘star’ gets to go in the ticket blaster machine. For one minute the birthday ‘star’ collects as many tickets as possible, as wind blows them about. At least for the small kids, they get to choose a friend to accompany them. Two years ago, Nicole’s friend got intimidated at the last minute and Daddy accompanied her in the machine. Alexis was too small to attend the party then. This year Alexis was joining us, along with many friends from summer camp. There was no shortage of kids to choose from. I was sure Nicole would pick a friend over her sister, and that Alexis would be heartbroken to be left out.

In the end my fears were unfounded. Nicole chose Alexis. Not only that, but she happily pooled all her tickets from the day with Alexis so they could each get a toy. Nicole got a gumball machine, Alexis a magic mirror. This kid has a heart of gold.

We had are traditional swim in the pool with Grandma and Grandpa, and the great helium balloon release in the stair way. Both kids actually eat their cake this year, rather than pick at it, much to my surprise. Of course we had our traditional giant foil number balloon photo time. The only thing we weren’t able to do was a restaurant dinner like she wanted. I promised to make it up to both girls later by doing one on one lunch dates with them before the start of school.

July 8, 2018

Datayze is Two!

Two years ago I officially rebranded as Datayze, and forever changed the trajectory of my business.

Four days ago I did a major new launch, and this change could prove to be just as meaningful. Not only is the set up more professional – I can now monitor site health from my phone! but I can also do light weight debugging from the rocking chair. Productivity is up, and so is what I’m dubbing ‘developer confidence’.

This past year I’ve had six times the users, six times the revenue, and six times the page views. My Alexa rank is 127,191 surpassing the ranks of all my major competitors, and grown from 4,000 monthly users to a quarter million. It’s stunning to me that I’ve been able to maintain a near 20% month-over-month growth rate since Datayze’s launch. I remember when 600 daily users was a big deal, and crossing the threshold of 1,000 daily visitors. Then came the mornings where I’d reach for my phone as I was getting out of bed to see if Datayze had already had 1,000 visitors by 6:30am. Followed by mornings where I’d eagerly check to see if it was 3,000. Then there are the intangibles not reflected in the numbers. Datayze is having a real impact.

Working for yourself is difficult, exhausting and at times demoralizing, but also ridiculously rewarding. Revenue looks like it’s going to be way up this month, surpassing the monthly target I initially set for myself. It’s an incredible feeling. It’s taken me longer than I anticipated to get to this point as I had hoped to reach this revenue goal last year, and yet, I also never thought I could build such a popular site. (Which also says something about my revenue per user expectations.)

Growth will inevitably slow. It already is showing some signs of a slow down (though I’m still hoping that’s summer related.) I’m hoping to spend the following year diversifying more and insulating myself from seasonal patterns. Diversifying could mean a wider portfolio of apps, or multiple different revenue sources.

I also wouldn’t say no to an Alexa rank of 100,000.

Forgive me for a late update, I’ve been working crazy hours ahead of this last launch. I was desperate to get it out during the holiday week when traffic was low. So far everything looks great, but before I get into that let’s talk numbers.

In June I earned $630.34, just under $100 from March’s high. Users are down 6% overall, and down 9% from organic traffic, two numbers I’m not thrilled about. Mobile users is up 5%, while desktop is down 25% and my Alexa rank continues to inch upwards, a possible sign that summer may be keeping people away from there desktops. I’ll be keeping close tabs on the numbers this month.

Delaying the launch was outstanding issues in Time Until and Miscarriage Chart. Combined those two apps make up 66% of my traffic so they needed to work flawlessly ahead of the launch.

The primary hold up with the Miscarriage Chart had to do with my new approach to mobile. Prior to the launch I had been using PHP code to detect device type (mobile or desktop) and serve appropriate content for the screen size. The primary advantage of this approach was I could serve vastly different html per device. The drawback, however, the PHP code needed to be kept update with the ever changing device landscape. Now that tablets are becoming more common, there’s more device types and screen sizes I need to pay attention to. It was going to become unmanageable. I’m now doing the cleaner approach of using media CSS statements, but it took sometime to find a block of HTML code that could be display as desired correctly across all device sizes via CSS.

For Time Until I wanted to incorporate time selection into the datechooser modal to clean up the interface a bit. I had started this process last year and finally felt comfortable that it was bug free and wouldn’t hurt my brand. I wasn’t sure it was as intuitive as the original datepicker. This is we’re having more experience with interface design would be useful. The interface could still use a little more work – here’s where not having a UX experience is working against me – but it’s better!

The past month, and especially this past week has been crazy busy ahead of the new launch. During evening and middle of the night time feedings I’d test out my site on my phone. I’d open every app on my phone, test every possible input, including invalid ones. I’d check the site health on my new admin panel and logging bugs and issues into todoist, all from my phone. During the day I’d hammer out as many quick fixes as possible. Truth be told I’d rather have another week before the launch, as not all apps were working quite to the level I wanted, but most of the issues I was discovering existed in both my test bed, and the previous launched code already in production. I didn’t want perfect to be the enemy of good.

I was initially thinking I’d have a long night ahead of me, but I’ve been watching the admin panel and have confidence there are no major fires.

June 19, 2018

Peas in a Pod


Can you tell which child is which? Answer key at the bottom of the post

“Who does she take after? Nicole or Alexis?” Was a frequent question right after Dana’s birth, followed by “Did they all have this much hair?” The latter question was much easier to answer – yes! – as for the former? Alexis maybe? I remember studying Dana’s face from the hospital recovery bed, trying to see either big sister in her features. Dana’s face was rounder like Alexis’, but her hair resembled Nicole’s. She simultaneously resembled both of her big sisters, and neither of them at the same time.


My three kids as two week old newborns

When friends and family asked a few weeks after birth, I’d tell them that Nicole had the most hair of the three, Dana second and Alexis’ third. That’s what my memory lead me to believe. Seeing them side by side I think Dana might take that crown.

Now that Dana has filled out a little there’s no question she’s a near carbon copy of Nicole. If I wasn’t the family photographer, I’d swear I wouldn’t be able to tell some of those photos apart. And I used to think Nicole and Alexis looked so much alike as newborns! Ironically, everyone tells me Dana looks like Nicole whenever we’re out and about. I don’t see the similarities as clearly between 5 year old Nicole and baby Dana, though I do find there baby pictures nearly identical.

Dana’s personality is still starting to show, so it’s hard to say which one of her sisters she will take after there. So far she seems to be a mellow baby, like big sister Alexis. She’s perfectly content to hide out and nap in the ergo during weekend outings, and rarely cries. Although she can’t stand to hear anyone else cry (a phenomenon I don’t remember with either big sister).

I’m pretty amazed at how early sisterly love takes hold.

Alexis still hugs and kisses Dana every chance she gets, first thing in the morning, after breakfaste, before leaving for school… Even if it’s only been a few minutes since the last hug and kiss. Dana adores the attention, even when it nearly knocks her over. The other day at dinner she got so excited when Alexis walked past her on her way to the bathroom, waving her arms and doing the happy baby dance. Alexis turned to her and said “I go poo and pee, then I give you hug and kiss! Okay, baby?” It was pretty adorable. She tells me all the time that “I like Baby Dana.”

Nicole can often be found sitting next to a fussing Dana, singing or dangling toys to entertain her. She tells me she loves the baby, and the baby is so cute. I’m surprised baby cuteness would register to a not quite six year old, but it really has! She loves showing off Dana whenever the two of us pick her up from camp, referring to Dana as “her baby.” Not “her baby sister”, but “her baby.”

Watching their relationships develop with each other is my favorite part of being their mom.

So which child was which? Top left: Nicole, Top right: Dana, bottom left: Nicole, bottom right: Alexis.

June 10, 2018

Dana at Five Months

Dear Dana,

I have a confession to make. I still keep thinking of you as my itty bitty newborn. That’s partly because you are my last and I want to hold onto this baby stage forever and partly because, in a lot of ways you still have newborn traits.

Unlike you’re two big sisters who were on to the bigger bottles and drinking 6 ozes after only a couple of months, you still prefer a more modest 3 or 4 oz snack more often. Even overnight it’s rare you’ll take five oz at once as measured by pumping output afterwards. (I think that may be why you’re still waking up regularly once a night, that tummy just isn’t as full). Speaking of sleeping, you still have some newborn traits there as well. While you’ll occasionally nap for a few hours in the crib, you prefer frequent newborn cat naps on mommy. You’ll fall asleep nursing and wake up within a half an hour, refreshed and recharged. I rarely have a chance to put you down in the crib before your quick snooze is over.

You know how you’re not like a newborn? You insist on sitting. You get upset whenever we set you down on your back, either in your gym or on your blanket. You want to be vertical! I came down stairs once a few weeks ago to find you sitting next to daddy on the couch as he played with you, huge grin on your face. You looked so proud of you’re new found independence. We put you in the corner against the arm rest where there is at least some support, but you like to lean forward and do it on your own. It won’t be long now until you’re a completely independent sitter.

This month you started out the month officially a thumb sucker, just not when mommy has her camera. I can see this is becoming a game to you! The thumb sucking was short lived. Mommy picks up the camera, and the thumb comes out of your mouth with a huge grin. While you continue to suck it every once in a while, you’re using your hands more to explore your world lately.

We start solids next month and you seem R-E-A-D-Y. You have always been interested in what we’re eating. Day 1 at the hospital you would stop nursing and watch with interest when I crunches on some candy hearts. We were amazed at your ability to focus so early. To this day you stop what you’re doing and watch earnestly when someone near you is eating. You reach for nearby food, and making the tall tell chewing motions with your mouth. More importantly, you seem to need more than just milk to keep you satisfied. You may not be drinking much at each itteration, but you are requesting a meal more and more frequently.

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

June 5, 2018

Start of Summer

There was so much lead up to the start of the kindergarten – the start of school! – that is seems so surreal that it’s already over. Yet here we are. Summer break has officially begun.

This is the girls’ first summer apart. We enrolled Nicole in the summer camp program affiliated with the school’s after school program and I’m so excited for all the things she’s going to get to do! Each week the camp has a different theme and different set of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) activities to go with it. They have weekly field trips including amusement parks and going to the movies, and weekly in house events like magicians and bouncy castles. They even have a maker fair at the end of summer. Alexis is a little jealous, especially of the field trips. As am I!

Alexis will be eligible to join Nicole at the new summer camp next year, making the age cutoff by just one day. In the mean time her current preschool has a summer program of it’s own with themed weeks (also somewhat STEAM focused, though focused for her age group) and in house activities. They’ll also have a concert by a kids-oriented musical group, a puppet show, petting zoo and a visit from a reptile guy. Last year she loved holding one of the lizards. I think it was a skink?

We decided to keep Dana home a little longer. Initially I was planning on enrolling her in daycare in June or July, but I’m enjoying my time with my last itty bitty and making excuses why it’d be better for her to stay home. We’ll be enjoying our days filled with snuggles, songs and a bit of photography.

Of course we also have Nicole’s birthday in the middle of summer to look forward to, and all the associated festivities as well as family visits. Things are starting to look a better sleep wise too, and should that continues, we’re planning on a special road trip with the girls before the next school year starts.

Here’s to what will surely be an incredible summer!

In May Datayze earned $629.09 and had -0.4% growth. I hate negative growth, even when it’s to be expected, and even when it’s a fraction of a percent. It’s strongly motivating me to get this next launch out the door.

I had an unexpected interrupt this month with GDPR. I should have been more aware of its approaching deadline than I was. I only realized I could be affected a few days before the May 25th deadline. Fortunately, I have always strived to do the right thing when it comes to privacy, and that helped make becoming compliant easier.

I don’t store any information that can be deemed unique or personally identifiable. I don’t even store passages of text supplied to the writing tools, or results of the URLs crawled by the spider which could theoretical be personal. I do store other form inputs (like age in the miscarriage tool), but not unique and not identifiable. At least in some cases, it’s not even personal. I’ve gotten a handful of emails from users indicating they were using the tool relative to someone else’ pregnancy, like a husband for his wife, or a parent excited for a grandchild. I sometimes see exploring different values, presumably to get a sense of the range of possibilities.

The main hurtle in keeping up with GDPR was that I keep traffic logs which contain ipaddresses. I stored it for website analysis to understand how users use my site and light weight personalization like ordering the apps by preference so users can find the ones they will likely want faster. I opted to go the pseodnomization route of converting the last octlet to 0, since that seems to be the internet standard approach. I’m not sure what I’ll do with regards to personalization. I’m considering dropping that feature, or using cookies.

Other than that my planned big migration is ticking along. I keep thinking my admin panel is set and then coming up with a new idea that could help monitor site health. I recently wrote a server log parsing script that buckets all errors by type and by page. I’m still geeking out over it.

May 23, 2018

Operational Knowledge

I have been joking lately that I have experienced all of motherhood. Breastfeeding? Yep. Exclusively pumping? Yes. Formula? That too. Binkies and Thumb Suckers? Double yes. I also like to joke that my memory is a steal sieve. The realization there may be more truth behind that second joke, and that I may be forgetting more of the experiences than I realize, has started to get to me.

A few months ago my inbox started nearing capacity. As I was pruning some of the older messages I came across an email Conversation between Domingo and I, back in our apartment days. I was home with a sick toddler, while Domingo was at work, and told him how Nicole had figured out how to take her dolls’ clothes off and now all the dolls were naked. Not only do I not remember that incident *at all*, but I really couldn’t picture many sick days with Nicole the not quite two years we lived in Silicon Valley. I know they happened, but it’s hard to remember what they were like and how we passed the time.

Adding insult to injury, Domingo remembers all kinds of things I don’t. He remembers it taking hours to get baby Nicole to go to sleep, that sometimes she’d wake herself up a half hour in and he’d have to start the bed time routine all over again. I believe it, since it mirrors our experience with Dana, but my memories of rocking Nicole are more about her snuggled into the crook of my neck. I remember her as an excellent little sleeper.

I’ve come to the conclusion that for a lot of things I have mainly operational knowledge. I know how to do things, my memory is just a little foggy on how I came to learn how to do them.

As we enter new stages with Dana, or even new stages with Alexis, I often feel like I know what to do. I can recognize different rashes and know how to handle them, have a feel for how long we’ll last in each set of diapers. I have more strategies for soothing a crying child than I can count. It’s second nature. It’s like muscle memory. Too much like muscle memory. That’s the frustrating part.

While I may forget a lot, I tend to remember the details surrounding pictures. (That’s not the case for everyone, admittedly. I think the difference may have to do with how frequently I go back and look at old photos. All.the.time.) I also have old blog posts, and facebook status. Thinking back about our sleep experience with Nicole, I remember the post I wrote about needing to sleep train, which brought back some memories of rocky nights. Now I’m even more inclined to keep blogging, even though I don’t really have time for it.

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