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. An disagreement started the other day about who was who. 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.

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

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »