Posts Tagged ‘Milestones’

May 23, 2015

Hello Again!

Hello from our new home!

The view from our master bedroom

I am happy to report that we are now home owners again! At long last!

It was getting painfully obvious that an apartment was not right for our family of four. There was no space for Alexis that wasn’t covered in Nicole’s toys, and the no place for Nicole to play where she wouldn’t wake up Alexis. We couldn’t afford to have the space we wanted, and the traffic congested made any small trip out of our apartment miserable. The silicon valley was just too impracticable for what we wanted. To make matters worse, with the average rents raising by about 20%, we were looking at another huge rent spike this coming year. The irony was not lost on us that we were paying much more to have a poorer quality of life than before we moved to silicon valley. It was beyond time to move.

You may have noticed a flurry of posts from me lately. I didn’t want to jinx the sale, and (more importantly) I didn’t want to hurt what little negotiating power we actually had. If a prospective seller was curious enough about us to google our name, find the blog, and learn we wanted out of Silicon Valley, they wouldn’t have much incentive to negotiate with us. In actuality it’s so much of a seller’s market right now that there isn’t much incentive for any seller to negotiate with any buyer, but why risk it? Now that we’ve closed escrow I’ve hit that pretty blue “publish” button on a lot of old posts.

I will likely still be somewhat sporadic in updating as we settle in. There’s a few things that need to be fixed up before this house really feels like home. We’re also a bit short of furniture too. Short term I’m focusing on setting up the home, so by early summer I can dive into my startup with minimal distractions.

Wish us luck!

May 1, 2015


Today is bittersweet, as it is my last at Google. As excited as I am for my next adventure, I will miss everyone terribly.

When we moved out to the silicon valley we knew it would not be forever. I couldn’t pass up the chance to work for Google, and having the trifecta of major US based search engines on my resume (sorry Duck Duck Go). Yet Silicon Valley is too expensive and too crowded for it to ever feel like home. We missed having space, both for ourselves and from our neighbors. Paradoxically even though spaces are so much smaller and cramped together and takes longer to get anywhere, and businesses are opened for shorter hours. A round trip to the store a few blocks away easily takes 45 minutes. The park and daycare are both an hour. It just wasn’t what Domingo and I wanted. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and the people I got a chance to work with and learn from, but it’s time for us to move on.

I’m trading in corporate life for start up world, which will allow me to work from home. Doing the start-up thing is a bit of a California right of passage, and a dream of mine since before grad school. I’m super excited to have the ability to chase this dream while still having the family life style we want.

More details to follow.

December 4, 2014

Hello Alexis!

Meeting my little girl

Alexis is here! Like her big sister, she seemed like she was going to stay in my belly forever. Labor started with Nicki just after midnight on the day I was to be induced. I was convinced Alexis would be that way too, but she was even more stubborn. When I arrived for my induction I learned I was contracting every 2 to 5 minutes, they just weren’t strong enough to do anything or for me to feel them. The induction itself took a little longer than expected, given that labor had technically already started. Alexis must have been holding onto the walls.

Domingo and I have now been joking no more kids until we can figure out how to explain to them that it’s not a contest to see who can stay in my belly the longest!

At the hospital. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I cannot get over how much she looks like her big sister, right down to the same amount of hair.

I can already see a lot of similarities between the two and a lot of differences. Alexis has many of her older sister’s expressions. She’s had some phenomenal sleeping stretches (and some not so great ones.) Unlike her sister, she chooses sleeping over eating, and seems happier in the swaddle so far than Nicole ever did.

The girls had a great first meeting. Nicki kept saying “baby came out!?” while alternating pointing at Alexis and my stomach. We had been telling her for weeks that the baby would come out of my tummy soon, and then when we were going to the doctor to help the baby come out. I don’t think it was real to her until she saw Alexis in person for the first time. We gave Nicole a special Big Sister present, and Nicole enjoyed showing it to Alexis.

Nicole is having troubles pronoucing ‘Alexis’. So far we’ve had a ‘Lex’, ‘Lexus’, and (my personal favorite) ‘Necklace’. I was thinking Alexis’ nickname would be ‘Alex’, but I think ‘Lexi’ is going to win out.

November 20, 2014

Past Due

Looks like Ziggy has no more inclination to come early than Nicki did. I had my 40 week appointment today, and despite a few braxton hicks, I’ve made very little progress. Of course anything can happen, I could go into labor over night, but it’s not looking likely so we went ahead and scheduled an induction. We’re less than two weeks from meeting our newest family member!

We are ready.

This past week I got the rock n play assembled, the bouncy seat assembled, and packed my hospital bag. It’s much smaller this time around – just a shoulder bag with a change of clothes for Ziggy and myself. Home is about a 10 to 15 minute ride away so Domingo can make a quick run if we need anything, but last time we really didn’t.

My parents have also arrived. They’ll watch Nicki for us when Ziggy comes. Nicki is over the moon excited about spending time with Grandma and Grandpa, even though she saw them just a few short months ago. She has been insisting that they sit next to her at dinner, give her her bath, and read her her bed time stories. At this point I’m questioning whether she’ll even notice that Mommy and Daddy have gone to the hospital!

Speaking of Nicki, she is clearly understanding that the “baby in mommy’s belly” is going to come out soon. She points out all of the baby’s things. A couple of weeks ago when we were running late for daycare I asked her if she wanted to feed her baby doll, to keep her occupied while I got ready to go. She fetched her baby bottle and held it to my belly button to feed the baby in my belly. The last few days also been singing happy birthday. Grandma asked her whose birthday it was and Nicole pointed to my belly.

Even though we’re ready, there’s still a lot I want to do around the house before Ziggy arrives. A home is never finished I guess. I’m feeling well overall, but my energy level is low. I’m not expecting to be able to post much in the next few days or weeks.

October 23, 2014



Last pregnancy I wrote a blog post about reaching the 35/35 point – 35 weeks down, 35 days to go until the due date. If we were counting until Nicki’s arrival it would have been more like 36/36 for me. I had my today 36 week check up and my OB confirmed my suspicion: while anything can happen, the two pregnancies are not entirely independent events. I’m likely to go late again. It might be another 36/36.

Here are my thoughts for being mostly through a second pregnancy:

I know each pregnancy is different, but I am constantly surprised at the ways in which each pregnancy differs. I expected different cravings. Last time I couldn’t stand apples, this time I love them. I’ve also been more sensitive to food in general. Black beans were the coolest thing since sliced bread, pinto beans made me ill. It doesn’t matter how they were cooked, I couldn’t stand pinto beans. Wierd no? I was also prepared for different in utero personalities. Ziggy is still more of a roller than a kicker.

One of the big surprises was in how different my sleep would be. Last time I loved my boppy pregnancy pillow. I can’t remember when I started using it, but I used it every night throughout the third trimester at least. This time I haven’t had a comfortable night with it yet! I’ve tried a few times, and each time the boppy’s been thrown to the floor after just a few hours later. I sleep much better without it.

Although both pregnancies I still want to sleep on my back. It’s been hard to train myself not to.

I have no belly button! Kindda. I *think* it can still be classified as an innie, but it’s getting close. If I stretch the skin around my belly button a little it looks like a small “popped” button. I keep wondering if this means my belly button will actually pop soon. It never did with my first pregnancy. It did flatten out last time, but I think not until much closer to my due date. It does still remind me of soft spot in fruit, though.

In other changes, as of 34 weeks I barely fit into my pre pregnancy jeans, and these days not at all. I might if I was carrying higher, but I can no longer button my pants. At least I can still wear my wedding rings. It’s one of those things that doesn’t actually matter, but makes me happy.

Infant car seats are a lot easier with modern cars. Ain’t LATCH systems great?

July 3, 2014

Little Sister

Going into today I’ve had four level 2 ultrasounds: a Nuchal Translucency screening for both Ziggy and Zippy, and 2 anatomy scans for Zippy. I have never once had a cooperative baby.

Zippy was so non cooperative but that our appointments always ran fifteen minutes or so late, and the reason for our second anatomy scan was failure to get all the required views the first time around. She was determined not to let anyone see that big beautiful brain of hers. I expected Ziggy to not cooperate, though my main fear was Ziggy’s propensity to stay curled up in a ball would prevent us from getting a gimps of gender. If she cooperated for all the other required photos, that would be it for us. We’d have to wait until she was born to know her gender. My fears were premature. Ziggy ended up the picture of cooperation.

Ziggy at 20 Weeks
Hello again, Ms. Ziggy!
Ziggy sure does like being curled up, I predict we’ll have a swaddle lover with this one.

Ziggy was so cooperative in fact, that not only did we have extremely clear confirmation of gender, but the technician was able to get a series of images that are typically omitted due to their difficulty. I’ve also gotten a lot better at identifying fetal anatomy too, and was doing pretty good at guessing what was on screen. Ziggy is the picture of health, the technician even commented on her “beautiful spine.” Guess I really was over worrying.

The down side of having a cooperator is no repeat anatomy scan scheduled for me. I will have to wait 20 or so more weeks to see Ziggy.

20 Weeks with Ziggy
20 weeks with Ziggy, and looking a mighty bit further along (and a bit lumpier) than with Zippy.

Weight gain at this point was non-existent with Zippy. This time I’ve gained a little, so I think I will end up with a higher overall weight gain. At least I’m looking obviously pregnant. Or so thought my co-worker last Wednesday when he asked if we were expecting number two, much to my delight.

I wish I had tracked weight gain and migraines better with Zippy. It would be interesting to compare. One huge difference is how much time is flying. It still feels like we were just finding out Ziggy existed, and now we’re only a few weeks away from viability!

April 4, 2014

Soon to be Four


Domingo, Nicole and I have a secret – we’re expecting a new addition to our family this November!

Introducing Ziggy!

We are super excited!

We decided to share the news a little differently this time around since this could be my last pregnancy. I want to savor every minute, and for me that includes blogging about it. It’s been challenging staying away from new baby related topics this long, and we’ve only known for 3 weeks!

I’m also already showing, which makes keeping this secret secret even more challenging! I had some pretty significant pregnancy bloating around weeks 5 & 6 and had to borrow some of Domingo’s t-shirts as mine were all stretched around my mid section. I looked further along than when I was 20 weeks with Nicole!. Now that the bloating has subsided I’m that could-be-a-baby-or-a-borrito-belly phase. I admit I don’t mind showing early, even though I’m still trying to keep the pregnancy a secret at work. Although I do hope it becomes more obviously baby soon. I loved my big pregnant belly last time. It goes to the whole ‘savor every minute of it’ aspect.

So I mentioned that we’re sharing the news differently this time around. Last time we felt comfortable sharing our news to individuals at 10 weeks, after listening to the heartbeat twice and held off on any kind of public announcements until 13 weeks. We’ve heard the heartbeat already and while we’re comfortable sharing the news here, we’d like to hold off on sharing our news to facebook until 13 weeks again this time around. After all anything could happen, and if it does I will need my blog as an outlet. To be honest, there are far fewer eyeballs that see my blog than my facebook page, which makes my blog feel more private, even though it’s public. That’s why I feel more comfortable sharing the news here.

November 10, 2013



Last week I started my new job at Google. I’ve been kind of mum about the specifics here (and it felt really awkward to not answer the question when asked directly, my apologies for the clumsily dodge.) I wanted to hold off on sharing the news because I wasn’t sure what changes I would need to make to my blog. I didn’t want to guess incorrectly and land myself in hot water before even starting.

I have always viewed my blog as a chance to grow my ‘brand’, a sort of social complement to my online resume. I hope to grow my reputation through my blog and as such I often write about the internet which has on occasion included my views on search. My dissertation and past publications are all on personalized search. Clearly this research was done outside the scope my Google employment and should be fair game to write about. On the other hand, Google is also interested in Search and if I post something related to my prior research it’s possible someone might misinterpreted the post as relating to Google’s research. To be clear I have never, and will never, discussed the details of my work in my blog, it’s the appearance of doing so that I want to avoid. For now, I will have to content myself with the ability to put ‘google’ on my resume for search expertise cred, and avoid blogging on the topic.

As an aside I hope my blog isn’t branded as a ‘googler’s blog’, just as I hoped it wasn’t branded a ‘mommy’s blog’. I am a Googler, I am a mom, but I’m also a budding photographer, math nerd, science junkie, bargain hunter, etc.

Another issue is that I use Google Ad Sense. I’ve written about it in the past, and had some fun playing with the numbers. I personally find the topic of blogging revenue fascinating, and I had hopped to continue writing on the topic since there are so few detailed articles on the subject out there. Alas, this area is now obviously off limits for me.

It’s a worthwhile trade for full time employment doing what I love. I can tell I’m really going to enjoy this next stage of life, if I can ever get around to unpacking those darn boxes!

October 23, 2013


Exhausted, Relieved, Elated, Happy, Drained, Ecstatic. Defended. De-Fend-Ed.

At 4:11 PM my dissertation committee wrapped up their discussion. I had passed with “flying colors”. It was surreal hearing those words. I expected to pass as all grad students who finish their theses are conditioned to expect. What I wasn’t sure on was how my thesis stacked up against the expectation, or how much work my committee would request I do before signing off on it. I was not expecting to walk out, title page in hand, with two signatures already and a third (remote) member ready to sign once it arrived to him. I was hoping, but not daring to expect.

My plan for the day was to go to bed early – no later than 11 pm. I’d drop off Nicki at daycare, then Domingo and I would drive down to Santa Cruz two to three hours before my actual defense at 2 pm. I’d have time to pay the filing fee when I arrived, do a full run through of my presentation before my defense.

The actual day turned out very different.

I’m a believer that impressions matter, and wanted to wanted to project a professional image so I decided to dress “business casual.” I had read everything from full suits required, to not to worry about appearances. Computer science tends to be a very causal field as far as attire goes, so I opted for the “dress one step above your interviewers” (or in this case committee members) rule. When we were packing last week for our move, I made sure I had an outfit I liked, that I could feel confident in. The trouble is, I didn’t set it aside. I expected to be unpacked by now (ha!). That outfit? Buried in one of my suitcases. So at around 11:30 I was madly searching for anything that fit the bill and wasn’t too wrinkled. Luckily I found a pale pink shirt and dark gray sweater that were relatively wrinkle free.

The last step before bed was to print my thesis. I had read that the committee may have specific questions about specific figures, and having a hard copy makes things easier. (My committee did have such questions.)

Last time I tried to print my dissertation it took 54 minutes, 25.9 seconds. Yes, I timed it. I’m a PhD, we do weird things like that. That was back when it was 172 pages, these days it’s 200 pages. That’s a rate of about one page per 18 seconds. At the time I thought the problem was my cheapie printer running out of buffering space. It turns out it’s my laptop and my laptop is dying. It’s having memory corruption errors. I know this because it blue screened of death on me TWICE while trying to print, and hung once and required a full disk check on boot up. After trying for over an hour I abandoned the idea of having a printed copy. But I couldn’t just go to bed at that point. I had no other presentation device. I needed to know whether my laptop would boot or I would be making an emergency run to BestBuy in the morning. That meant I had to wait through the full check disc process. It turned out that as long as I didn’t attempt to print, or open up a web browser, my computer had enough memory to give my presentation. I went to bed a little after 1.

Then Nick decided it was time to get up at 4. And again at 5:30. And finally at 6:30.

Daycare drop off went a little longer than expected. Nicki is handling the switch like a boss. The recommendation was four visit days. The second day she was content to play by herself away from me for twenty minute intervals. The third day she was good for a few hours. Her teachers have been so impressed by how quickly she’s been adapting. No Tears! Still I wanted to wait until snack time to leave, since she’s usually sufficiently distracted by tasty goodness that she doesn’t notice my exit. Snack time was a little delayed, and apparently I have been a little too consistent in my exit. Nicki noticed the pattern. She started to walk off in the direction of snack, but then changed her mind and came flying back into my arms. Little kids are excellent at deducing patterns when they want to be!

Back at home Domingo had not only managed to print my thesis in under five minutes, but had swung by target and picked up brownies and cookies for my committee. Have I mentioned before how absolutely amazing and what a life saver he is?

I finally found the phone number to order coffee for my committee members, a quick shower, and it was time to leave. Despite everything we were still making good time and would be on campus two hours early.

About 15 minutes into the journey to campus traffic stopped. There is exactly one route through the mountains to UC Santa Cruz – highway 17. There was a brush fire and the right lane was closed. Traffic was backed up for miles. We arrived at campus with less than an hour to go. A quick bite of lunch, a few minutes to set-up and it was go time.

October 17, 2013


It’s finally here – Moving Day!


We started the day by sending the under 28″ crowd to their respective care providers. I dropped Nicki off to daycare and Lily to “kitty camp” (our euphemism for the kennel). Boarding Lily for the day was a lesson’s learned from a few moves back. I had six of my friends help me move apartments, and in the hustle we noticed Lily was missing. She turned up under the kitchen sink – a hiding place she had never explored before, and that I almost didn’t think to look – after several moments of sheer panic and near tears thinking my indoor-only, can’t-fend-for-herself kitty was gone forever. While I wasn’t worried about Nicki running off into the wild blue yonder if a door was accidentally left open, I thought the transition would be easier for her if the day was as normal as possible.

Drop offs went longer than usual for obvious reasons. There were hugs, and near tears, and more hugs. Nicki has really bounded with her teachers, especially the ones that have been with her from just two months old! They’re her second (and third, and forth) mommies! Linda over at the boarders also takes amazing care of Lily – so much so that she actually sends us Christmas cards of our own cat!

When I arrived back at the house the movers were already there. They got the house packed up in just over two hours. The only hiccup was the crib. It wouldn’t fit through the door assembled and they weren’t willing to unassailable them. No problem, I’m handy with tools, right? Unpacking went just as smoothly.

Side note: I highly recommend Jericho Moving and Storage. I’ve hired professional movers three times and these guys are hand’s down the best. Everyone was great, courteous and extremely professional. The final bill came out to be 16% less than the quote, and that’s after we purchased insurance!

After the last of the boxes were in the apartment it was time to pick up Nicki. Lily got an overnight stay since there wasn’t time to get them both, and daycare highly frowns on overnight stays. The plan was for Domingo to make her dinner while I assembled the crib when we got back. That’s when we hit our first and only major snag.

The movers did dissemble other furniture. (I’m sure they just didn’t want to disassemble the crib for liability reasons.) They taped up all hardware components to the respective furniture to make reassembly easier. When they brought the furniture in, I noticed a cam connector on the floor near the entrance way. I set it aside figuring we’d eventually discover what it belonged to.

When I tried to assemble the crib I noticed that not one, but five of the eight connectors were missing. I had managed to keep track of the screws, but had somehow failed to notice the connectors and five had fallen out of the crib posts in transit. Panic. We didn’t exactly have a plan B sleeping option.

Luckily I had friends in the area who could come over and lend a hand with Nicki while Domingo and I tried to solve our crib fiasco. While I waited for our friends to arrive, Domingo went to the hardware store armed with what we thought was one of the missing five connectors. I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this. When he got home we realized the cam connector didn’t fit in the slot. Not even close. It must have come from a different piece of furniture. I pried out one of the remaining three connectors and realized it was actually a cross dowel. Back to the hardware store Domingo went.

Success. And only two and a half hours behind schedule.

Another side note: Baby Bargains recommends never buying a crib second hand because of the risk of missing parts/hardware. The guy at the hardware store kept referring to these times of items as “assemble once”. After this experience I’m inclined to agree.

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