“Mommy”

Still dreaming, I opened my eyes. I’m in bed. It’s night. No, not quite. The faint light from the window indicates morning isn’t far away. What did I wake up? Was I dreaming?

“Mommy!” The faint voice comes over the baby monitor again. Nope, wasn’t dreaming.

I check my phone. 15 minutes before ‘wake up’ time. I get up and trudge down the hall.

“What is it, Alexis?”

“Bunny asleep!” Alexis jesters to her sleep trainer clock. The bottom half of the clock, depicting a sleeping bunny, is illuminated, indicating it’s not time to wake up yet. “Alexis go back to sleep!” she states proudly with an implied ‘by myself!’ before laying back down in the crib herself.


I love the bunny clocks. They helped both Nicole and Alexis through a few rough sleep patches. In both cases it seemed to curb the number of night time wakings, and help reduce the extra early mornings. I still remember one time I happen to check the baby monitor just as Nicole’s head was popping up from the pillow. She looked at the bunny, verified it was still sleeping, and lay back down. All by herself. The bunny doesn’t stop them from calling out if they need something – diaper change, potty, water, whatever – but it does seem to reduce the number of random wake ups that seem to happen for seemingly no reason.

Occasionally the clock has back fired on us. Once Nicole came in our room distraught that the bunny had forgotten to wake up (she had just woken up extra early and was tired of waiting.) But, overall, it’s clear the bunny has had a positive effect on their sleep, and, by transitivity, on our sleep as well.

One positive unintended consequence of the bunny clock? Explaining daylight savings time. Last fall we told the girls the bunny would be waking up later. This spring, we told them the bunny would be waking up extra early. When you’re two and three years old, the concept of a changing a clock’s time is rather abstract. At four, Nicole has a better understanding of daylight savings. It’s easy to just blame the bunny, though.

March 7, 2017

Market Share

The growth that I’m been experiencing of late, while awesome, has me a little nervous. It clearly can’t continue indefinitely. At some point the growth has to slow. The question I’m asking myself lately is, can I predict when? I need to get idea of how big the potential market is, and how big my share in it is. That’s easiest to do with the pregnancy verticals.

For this analysis I’m sticking with US data, since 71% of my user base is located in the US according to Google Analytics.

The birth rate in the US has been holding steady at just under 4 million the past couple of years. We might reasonably estimate that about 2.5% of expectant mothers don’t have internet access (1% of the 18-29 demographic, 4% of the 30-49 demographic). That would give us about 3.9 million potential users who may be interested in my pregnancy tools in the US.

Diving into my usage logs, median access time into the Labor probability calculator is 20 days before the due date, with a standard deviation of 27 days. This indicates a period of about 1-2 months where pregnant women might be interested in when labor is likely to occur. Conservatively, let’s go with one month. Than in any given month we might expect a potentially interested audience in the US as 325,000. Last month I had just 5,000 from the US. That means I am capturing just 1.5% of the US market.

What I don’t know is what percentage of those women would potentially care about labor probabilities. Statistics, in general, don’t appeal to everyone. I know they’re often met with skepticism when shared in the online forums. Recently one anonymous user described my Labor Probability Calculator as a random number generator. This is probably my fault for not making the mathematics behind the tool more apparent. Still, I get the feeling that a large percentage of the estimated “potential” audience would never be interested in my labor probability calculator, regardless.

This miscarriage apps are more popular. Last month I had over 10,000 users from the US spread out over the miscarriage apps. There are a lot of unknowns when estimating the potential market here, as not everyone fears a miscarriage, and not everyone knows their pregnant early on, but I might estimate I have 3% of the maximum growth potential in the US. Again, before we factor out those who just aren’t into statistics.

Of course this is ignoring other countries, as well as other none pregnant users, expectant fathers for example.

So where would this put my potential growth overall? It’s still hard to say, since I need a way of predicting mathematical interest. I doubt there are enough expectant parents to carry the 30% growth trend into the fall. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were, though?

February saw my highest per day rate of $3.44. It was also a shorter month, so the total of $94.95 was only my second best monthly total. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but I’ll take it.

Users were up an insane 49%, and the trend line shows no sign of stopping. With the exception of the Saturday before the Superbowl I had over 1,000 users daily every day, including weekends. By the end of the month most week days were seeing nearly 2,000 users a day.

The initial goal for February was additional content, but the site improvements appear to have greater return per effort spent. I did publish two new articles in How To and have two more coming. I also really need to create a site spell checker, which has been on my todo list, since creating the initial spell checker back in November.

The big change to Datayze was an update to the miscarriage probability model. In my opinion, how I handled the update shows how far I’ve come.

Back in 2015 I updated the, at the time, most popular app, the Readability Analyzer. I had been using a simplistic heuristic for counting syllables that tended to underestimate the number of syllables in a word. As a result, the Readability Analyzer was predicting slightly better reading ease scores than it should have. When I replaced the simplistic syllable counter for a more reasonable one the results were more accurate, but less desirable. My user base was upset. I got a number of angry emails about it, and more than one person vowed not to use it again since it wasn’t “stable”, despite this being the only change in nearly two decades. The user base fell 36%. At the time it was my most profitable app, so seeing those users flee was hard.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago. I became aware of several large scale studies on miscarriage that tended to have higher per-week miscarriage incident rates than the current studies I was using in my model. They had a much larger participant pool. Excluding them from the model felt dishonest and would do everyone using my miscarriage apps a disservice. Adding them would once again create more accurate, but less desirable results. I was terrified that the change would kill my growth.

I spent a week fine tuning my model. I knew there were many women who check the app daily, and would be shocked and alarmed that the probability of miscarriage was increasing. I wanted to be sure of my model before making the change. Then, as midnight Friday approached I made the push. I put a note explaining why the model had changed and stressed that I would be available for questions. Friday night I could not sleep. I checked my phone constantly for emails. The first came at 4:33 am. A few hours later news had spread to the forums.

Normally I make it a policy never to interact when people share my apps in the forums unless they invite me to do so. (I don’t want to intrude, and I think it’s unprofessional to go around creating accounts on other sites just to respond to comments). This time, however, my apps that were intended to reduce stress were actually creating it. I felt compelled to reiterated why the change was made, and personally apologized to everyone who was negatively affected. The personal apology seemed to help, and so far there hasn’t been a mass exodus of any kind. It’s even possible that my stressing my commitment to model accuracy I may have helped my overall reputation.

My goal for March is to finally get that Site Spell checker app up so I can use it. I want to improve the synonym list for the Word Analyzer, and see what it would take to get a better page speed score. It’s also time I start thinking more and more about my social media presence, and what it should look like.

February 28, 2017

“Moo” and Other Things

Six-ish months ago we made the decision it was time to start weaning Alexis off of her binky. I fallowed our dental insurance advice to poke holes in her existing binkies which would break the suction and reduce the sucking satisfaction Alexis received from them, allowing her to break her binky habit more gradually.

The first time Alexis put the modified binky into her mouth it slid right out. It started slipping out of her mouth at night time as well. I’d sneak into her room to find Alexis holding her binky in her hand rather than keeping it in her mouth. Things were going according to plan. Until…

Alexis learned to bite down and chew on her binkies to keep them in her mouth. She ended up chewing through a few binkis. We ended up replacing them twice, before it became clear that we needed to take the next step. Enter the Binky Fairy.

For the uninitiated, the Binky fairy works by having the child gather up all his/her binkies. At some point when the child isn’t looking the binky fairy turns the binkies into toys.

The Binky fairy helped Nicole kick her binky habit, though there were a few rough nights. Nicole was more attached to the binky than Alexis when it was time to give it up, and there were a couple nights where she’d wake up in the middle of the night having forgotten about trading it for toys.

I had learned from my mistakes. We sang the “bye, bye, binky” song (or at least the refrain) while she gathered up the her binkies and put them on the ottoman for the binky fairy. The fairy replaced them with a new bath time toy, and new night time snuggle buddy, and owl she named “Moo”. That way when it night time approached we could easily keep reinforcing the idea that she traded her binkies for fun new toys.

Despite all that she didn’t 100% grasp what was happening. She asked for her binky during bed time story and cried “Alexis needs it!” when I reminded her that they were all gone. Fortunately the tears were short lived. I reminded her about Moo and she was content to hold him during story time instead. I was surprised that she did not ask for a binky when she awoke in the middle of the night!

The next day Alexis asked for her binky again, and again I reminded her about Moo. There were no tears, but she held Moo to her face, frowned, said “don’t like Moo” and tried to hand him back to me.

“Aww, Moo likes you!” I said, wrapping Moo’s wings around her in a big hug. That did it. She grabbed tightly and lied down with a huge grin on her f ace. So far she’s been asking about the Binky, but other than that first few minutes of that first night there have been no tears, only questions.

February 23, 2017

Soon to be Kindergartner


One of Nicole’s School Picture Day Photos.

A few years ago when Domingo and I went to daycare together to pick up Nicole we stumbled on to a preschool graduation. The neighboring school was having a graduation ceremony for their five-year-olds. The soon to be kindergartens were wearing caps and gowns, and marching in procession for their parents. I told Domingo how silly I thought that was, since the only requirement to graduate preschool is age. Domingo said I’d feel differently when it was my kid.

Okay, so they’re darn cute in the caps and gowns.

I registered Nicole for the big K. In just a few months I will have a kindergartner. Kindergartner. It’s still feels so unreal no matter how many times I say it. Kindergartner.

I’m a bit sad that the girls will be in different places next year. It was inevitable, I know, but having them at the same school program has been really special, especially in the last few months. Now that Alexis is in the twos room, she gets to spend drop off and pick up time with Nicole’s class. That includes some outside recess time, as well as inside art time. The two of them really seem to enjoy having each other around. I love how much Alexis idolizes her big sister, and how Nicole looks after her little sister. Alexis is picking up so much from Nicole!

Nicole is ready. Her teachers have been saying since last summer. She’s also excited.

So we’re three quarters of a year from officially starting school. In the mean time we’re continuing to get Nicole ready by continuing “homework“, and talking about all the cool things she’ll get to do in her brand new big girl school. So far she’s most looking forward to riding the bus, and building her own rocket ship to take her to Disneyland. Apparently that’s what you do in Kindergarten these days.

February 20, 2017

Mommy Naps

There are few things in life as perfect as a child sleeping in your arms. The way they snuggle into you as they find that perfect position, as though no matter how hard they try they can never be close enough. They way the go from squirmy to still as the sleepies take over and they drift of to sleep. The rhythmic breathing. The warmth of their little bodies. Tiny head resting in the crook of my neck. Fine baby hairs tickling my chin smelling of baby shampoo. Rocking a sleeping child is one of my favorite mommy moments.

This stage doesn’t last nearly long enough. Blink and it’s over.

I was caught off guard when it ended with Nicole. She was a feverish two and a half year old, used to napping in her bed but would take a “Mommy nap” whenever it was offered. This time she couldn’t get comfortable. I remember the way she cried when she couldn’t fall asleep until I lied her back down in her bed and sat next to her. I had had my last mommy nap with my first born, and never knew it.

So here we are with my youngest, two years and three months old. She’s not quite at the point of giving up naps, though she’s spent nap time in the crib waiting out the bunny clock before. Her nap days are numbered, as are her mommy naps. She’ll struggles to get comfortable in my lap, struggling to find a position where her feet don’t get squished against the cushions. But she still asks for Mommy naps, she still wants them, and I’m happy to oblidge. Who am I to say no?

I’m soaking in these moments while they last.

February 15, 2017

Soft Focus Phone Troubles

While artistic, that soft focus in the above photo was not intentional. That’s what the front camera on my phone was able to capture of my standing still child.

I started noticing problems with my front camera back around Thanksgiving. I waited downstairs for the girls to come see the trees all lit up the morning after Thanksgiving, eager to capture the expressions on their faces when they first caught sight of the trees. Most of the photos turned out blurry, as though there was a film on the camera lens. I chalked it up to poor lighting. Since then, the photos on my front camera continue to be hit or miss. Even in full daylight. Even when the subject is standing still.

I’m currently using an iPhone 6, which is a couple months older than Alexis. I went with an upgraded memory hoping to get more than the standard two years out of my phone. (Or at least, not have to delete stuff in a mad panic because I wanted to take more photos with my phone and was out of space.) It may have been optimistic on my part to think the memory limitations was the only thing holding me back.

In any case, I now find myself with a dilemma. To upgrade, or not to upgrade?

I’m about half way though the upgrade cycle. On the one hand, the iPhone 8 will likely be one heck of an upgrade, to mark the 10 year anniversary, and that includes a substantial upgrade to the camera equipment. If I replace my iphone now, it’ll already be outdated in just 7ish short months. On the other, do I really need a $1,000 phone? And that would mean another 7ish months of bury kid photos.

My inclination is to wait. Maybe they’ll be a good sale on a 7 if the 8 does prove to be $1,000, and too rich for my blood. In the mean time, I’ll have to use my big girl camera a little more. It’s also overdue for an upgrade, as I’m 170,985 shutter actions on a body that’s only rated for 100,000 shutter actions. So far though, no loss in image quality that I can detect.


Same outfit as above. Background photo on my phone taken with my big girl camera.
February 9, 2017

Platonic Love Languages

Before becoming a parent it’s always been important to me that I treat all my kids equally. I’ve been slowly recognizing equal isn’t always fair. Kids have different personalities, different needs and respond differently to different parenting techniques. I want them both to feel equally loved, and equally supportive, but it may mean spending quality time with them differently to get there.

The concept behind love languages is that there are different ways to express love, and individuals generally has a primary way they express and feel love. By understanding another’s primary love language you can build a deeper relationship. Usually Love languages are generally discussed in terms of romantic relationships, but it seems to me the concept could be extended to non-romantic, familia love as well.

The five love languages are:
– Words of Affirmation (the platonic relationship version might be praise)
– Acts of Service (making their favorite breakfast)
– Reviving Gifts (new toys)
– Quality Time (building puzzles together)
– Physical Touch (rocking, holding, hugging, etc)

The girls are both still pretty young. I’m not sure if they’re love language is a reflection of who they are as a person, or where they are in their development. I’d expect all babies respond best with physical touch, for example. But I hope that exploring love languages can make me a more responsive parent who adapts to what each child needs.

Figuring out Nicole’s love language was pretty easy. She’s always loved her quality time, especially one-on-one quality time with mommy. I think it helps her feel overall more secure. Getting one-on-one Mommy attention can get a little tricky when you have a sibling. When we keep up with the quality time, however, she seems more secure and is less like to seek attention later by acting out.

Alexis’ primary love language is a little harder to deduce. She gets one-on-one quality time by virtue of being the youngest and less independent, and because she’s less independent Mommy and Daddy do more things for her. It’s part of being two years old. My guess, though, is that she feels most secure with physical touch. Lately she’ll wake up in the middle of the night and call us into her room so she can have an extra goodnight hug and kiss. After she receives said kiss she always says “Thank you, Mommy! Good night.” It’s adorable, although a little exhausting.

One thing I’ve noticed about the love languages is that jealousy is more likely to show up if we give a one child’s love language to the other. Obviously Alexis still needs one-on-one quality time, and Nicole needs to be held and cuddled at times. But now that we know what can trigger the jealousy, we can be a little more prepared for it.

As predicted, it’s been a mixed month. Despite clicks being up 12% and users being up 13%, income was down 22% this past month. In January I earned just $80.95. That’s four times higher than this time last year, but sill lower than the trend. Despite that I’m cautiously optimistic about February for a few reasons:

– My users searches per day, my preferred metric, was actually down the first half of the month, and didn’t start to get back on track until the 16th. The second half of the month was much stronger (user search wise) than the first half.
– I’m in the process of changing my mobile strategy so hopefully I can start boosting those metrics more.
– I’m seeing near immediate effects from the improvements I’ve made to the site this past month.

This month I spent mostly fine tuning my website. I ended up redoing much of the supporting page layout and content management scripting. The one is more streamlined while offering greater flexibility in terms of setting meta parameters and descriptions. Two days after the change I noticed a large bump in search engine traffic. And that was the second noticeable bump in traffic after a change this month! I don’t want to jinx it, but at the current growth rate 1,000 unique visitors a day, everyday, including weekends, in February may be possible.

In addition to the overall site update the Word Analyzer and the Pregnancy Week by Week got a significant upgrade.

It took over a week, but I finally finished the first pass of a synonym list for the Word Analyzer. Now the Word Analyzer can suggest easier (and harder, if that’s what you’re after) words with greater/lesser audience familiarity. The synonym list is by no means complete. Only 35% of the words entered into the analyzer so far have had synonyms. Since the word analyzer is a relatively infrequently used app (currently between 10-15th most popular) it’s not clear if the effort to improve the list will be worth it. On the other hand, improving the apps functionality may draw more visitors.

The Pregnancy Week by Week’s update was more design focused. My favorite feature about the Pregnancy Week by Week comparison was the hand sizes. I loved seeing when a baby would be as big as mom’s hand, or a theoretical big sister or brother. The feature was somewhat obscured, and the old layout made seeing the full calendar and important dates more difficult. The new layout is much nicer, though admittedly a little slower.

For February I have a new app and two new articles planned already. February is a short month, but I’m optimistic.

January 27, 2017

Violating my Parent Rules

Like with all my other time my pre-child never-ever-would-Is, I find myself once again eating my words.

Nicole’s pre-kindergarden class has started assigning homework. She’s occasionally had art projects to do at home, but now they’re giving her a few activity pages a week to help prepare her for kindergarden, which is now only a little over six months away.

I’ve been using it as an opportunity to praise process. We reiterate that it’s okay to not know the answer, and okay to get the answer wrong, but it’s not okay to not try. We also get big praise whenever we come up with a new strategy to solve a problem. When we started she was inclined to just say “I don’t know” and guess randomly. Now she only guesses randomly when she’s over tired and having troubles focusing. She knows to sing the alphabet song to see what comes next, or find a number line if she’s having troubles associating a number with it’s written form. She’s getting better at trying, and she’s enjoying the extra one-on-one Mommy time. Often when Mommy decides we’ve reached our homework limit for the night, it’s met with protests and requests for “just one more.”

We’ve found that her homework fits in nicely with our bedtime routine after bath and before story time. We ended up purchasing some additional activity books so we can keep doing “homework” on a more regular basis. I’m still worried about over doing it, and I don’t want to break the positive association she has with homework, so we keep it to just a few pages a days. Sometimes we’ll skip it all together if she seems overly tired to begin with.

So what does homework have to do with my never-ever-would-Is? Before kids I was aghast to learn how lax the late homework policies in grade school have become. When I was growing up, I’d be docked a whole letter grade for each day late. Here, you can turn it in months after the fact without much penalty. Never ever would I let me kids turn in their homework late. Never ever would I let them turn it in incomplete.

This never-ever-would-I lasted until week four. I picked up her homework late this week, so we didn’t start her official homework until Wednesday night. Nicole was in need of an earlier bedtime this week and really struggling to concentrate. I figured sleep was more important so we’d turn it in a day late. Then the next day I figured we’d turn it in incomplete.

Pre-kindergarden doesn’t count, right?

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