Meeting with the Teacher

To continue yesterday’s post about my kid being bored, my wife and I paid a visit to his day care to talk with one of his teachers. She’s actually one of the ‘head’ teachers there at the school, and had done her due dilligence.

She brought with her a six page summary of how our son was progressing, where he needs some work, and other aspects of his behavior to see if it was what we experiencing at home (and how to correct some of it.)

But overall it verified our thinking… the curriculum is not challenging him enough. He does have some issues with paying attention with group activities, but the problem there is that they don’t change much from day to day. He seems to be the type that gets everything the first time around, paying a lot of attention in the beginning. But once he gets it, he trails off to something else.

Bottom line for us is that we need to get a game plan together. We need to figure out if there’s another resource we can tap to keep him on a learning path (and keep him curious), and what that entails. We’re under the assumption that as he grows, some of the behavioral aspects that aren’t working for group learning will work themselves out with our efforts and his teachers.

I’m just glad we had the meeting in the first place. Alden’s current teacher was a vast improvement over his previous one, and seems to care a lot about how he’s coming along.

(Wed) 4/22/2015 – My kid is booored at school.

The day care that I take my son to has closed circuit cameras in the lobby where you can watch what your child does throughout the day.

Normally I don’t bother to look at them since I’m in a rush to get out the door and get started with my work. But today, I slowed down and spent a few minutes to observe what he was doing.

Well, he wasn’t engaged. He paid attention for the first minute or so, then started crawling from the other kids towards the far closet in the corner of the room where the teachers keep their advanced toys/educational materials.

I know this because he leads me too this area when I pick him up in the evening and we have some time to kill before the school closes. The closet has everything from small puzzles to play sets where you can put miniature items and place them on mats with matching pictures.

So beyond the initial thought that he’s misbehaving, I’m considering his current classroom. It’s got a ton of 2-3 year olds in it, and he towers over all of them. He’s only there because he’s doing some bedwetting during naptime about 2-3 times a week. He’s being held back until that situation improves.

But here’s the concern. Do I hold my child back from advancing to a classroom that’s more challenging just because he has a bedwetting problem? Being biased from the parent side of things, I’m thinking that’s an issue that will iron itself out over time, and that his educational quality is of a greater importance.

In summary, it’s time for my kid to up a level. We’ll see how this plays out, but I’m hoping to have him in a different classroom by the start of next week.

The Worst End-Game Scenario on Projects

Today was one of those days you see coming but can’t prevent. When you’ve attempted to contribute in a meaningful way for over a week, and nothing hits with either the internal team (no matter how many drafts you create) or impresses the client (of which is pressuring the folks you work for to come up with something ‘impressive’).

Someone has to be the fall guy, and today it was me. I feel bad about it, but life goes on.

Week 24 – More Sickness, More Sleep Deprivation, and Moving Up in Daycare

Alden - No Clothes, No BarfHey there,

Got a little bit more time to write this week, as everyone’s gone to bed and I’m hoping… *hoping* my son doesn’t cough himself awake. This happened all weekend, and came to a climax yesterday evening when he could hardly breathe. A late afternoon pediatricians’ visit, steroids and a 15 minute session with the nebulizer, and he finally got what resembled a decent nights’ sleep (me included). We’re planning on putting him on some sort of preventative care for the next month, but boy does he HATE that thing. I would too if I were two years old, trying to figure out the world, and this noisy, vibrating, mist spewing thing is attached to my face like an Alien… all while watching Curious George on Netflix.

The torture starts early with kids…

Sick, Sick, Sick:
Oh, and the bronchitis/lungs of death wasn’t the first thing that came around. Apparently our day care provider was handing out fresh bouts of stomach flu, aka diseased lunch/snacks that someone neglected to check the expiration date on. I thought he had gotten through it without any problems, but no such luck. I found it out when I attempted to give him a piece of fresh scone at the Coppell Farmers Market, and he decorated the front of his shirt and pants with not one.. but two barf rockets resembling the banana oatmeal mix I gave him. He promptly screamed afterwards.

So I apologized to the startled vendor (who must have thought “This can’t be good for business…”), and proceeded to wheel my barf-covered son to a secluded area behind a tent. Secluded of course, means I’m shielding the clean-up from everyone on the tent-side of the market. The outside crowd has my on full display, as I keep my kid standing, screaming in agony while I wipe handful after handful of barf from the stroller. We take his clothes off next, put some fresh stuff on from the diaper bag, and haul him off to the one thing I came to do the market to do… pick up an online order from a local meat and dairy vendor.

We get up in front of the line, and there are two groups in front of us. The first is a rather large (I’m being kind) woman who was babbling and droning on and on about how much her daughter looked like the lady she was speaking too. She was also having a great conversation with the two others she was with. No one was talking about picking up an order… apparently oblivious to the time bomb I held in my hand that was NOT pleased to be in 90 degree weather, smelling like rotting oatmeal.

It took about 43 seconds before Alden started crying and screaming. At first, I felt a little bad having to keep him there, but then I changed my tune. I wanted him to scream his head off. I wanted that wailing, agonizing, piercing cry that I’ve been so used to in the past few months to pierce the thick skulls of the people in front of me. Anything to get them to hand over their cash in exchange for whatever they came there to do… beyond discussing NPR stories they heard on the way there.

Finally we get to the front of the line. I spell out my last name in between fits of screaming and crying, and eventually hand over my phone to show them that yes, we did actually place an online order that you confirmed. What they didn’t apparently do was get the order right, as both vendor reps were ripping frozen bags from the bottom of two huge refridgerators, trying desperately to find what they thought they had packed for us. When that didn’t work, they did the right thing and offered a replacement as well as an extra set of eggs. I paid, thanked them, and got my kid back into the car… firing up the air conditioning and making plans for a stroller/kid hose down when I got home.

24 hours later, the next phase of sickness hell came in the form of an overnight cough… as explained above.

Sleep Deprivation Central:
Since my schedule is a bit more flexible than the one my wife keeps, I can bend and twist to the curveballs my kids health puts me on. But the weekend was a killer. I had three straight days of less than three hours of sleep a night, and had fits of what you might define “napping” during the day. Interruptions like phone calls, meetings, text messages, and the usually lot of electronic communications kept me from going into a sleep coma. As of Thursday night, I’m finally looking forward to a good night’s rest… except that I’m blogging and chewing into that as we speak. But I digress…

Daycare – Level Up:
Our son is now officially in a ‘Pre-School’ classroom, where he can enjoy having a teacher stare at him while he’s placed on a toliet and encouraged to either pee or poo. This will occur about six times a day, which is expected to continue at home. Outside of our kid nearly dying from sickness, I’ll look forward to trying to do this myself. As Alden’s has seen me go to the bathroom as a matter of necessity (since he can’t be without me most of the time), he should be alright with the tables turning every so often.

The other thing is the pacifier. It’s going away, though he’s not really aware of this event occurring. The toughest part will be the overnights, where it’s been a mainstay from the beginning. I only hope that this isn’t another catalyst for me losing sleep because he panics at a pacifier that’s no longer available. Good times await!

See you next week!

Week 23 – Alden’s 2nd Birthday, Target, and Running Every Day

Alden's Happy!Hi all,

We had my son’s 2nd birthday last weekend. It was a get-together at a local indian buffet on Saturday, followed by a visit to SEA-LIFE aquarium in Grapevine (which we’ll be coming back to again, given his reaction to all the big fish). Turned out much better than his 1st birthday, which felt more like a big exercise in logistics with a Hare Krishna temple. We scaled back and just ordered TrailerCakes and said “Yay!”.

Target Work
I’ve been grinding on a new project for Target this week. Can’t give details, but it’s been fun/fast paced so far. Should end after at the latter half of next week, but it’s wireframing and research till then.

Running Every Day
Against the advice of common sense, I’m going to attempt to run every day in the morning. I manage about three times a week going at a moderate pace, so we’ll see how my old knees/ankles hold up from day to day during the work week.

Thanks for reading!

– R

Week 22 – ER Visits, Vegas Mom and Screen Addiction

Hey there,

Dealing with some major sleep deprivation issues today, so this update will be rather short.

Target Project!
Starting a new project today with Target that should last a couple of weeks. Can’t give away any details, but it should be a fun exercise.

ER Visit on Friday
Our son came down with one of the worst Crupe coughs I’ve experienced in quite a while. He could hardly breathe. Between calling 911 and getting him to the hospital for a steroid shot, it was crazy. We finally all got to sleep at 6:00 am and it pretty much ruined any sleep pattern we had established with him. But, he’s doing fine and just suffering from general congestion at this point. He also likes Picolo a lot.

Mom’s visiting from Vegas
I’ll only say… it should be interesting and fun.

My Son’s Screen Addiction
Not sure what to do here. He went cold turkey once with the iPad, laptop and TV. We reintroduced it, and now he can’t do without out whenever he’s home. The cold turkey phase this time will probably be more acute and a struggle, but it may have to be done if that’s his default everytime he walks through the door. We’ll see.

Hope you all have a great week!

My personal frustration with UX recruiters …

I may be writing this without proper perspective, but here goes… and no offense to any recruiters who might take offense to this bit.

Please, please, please stop trying to fill ‘senior’ UX positions that ask for 5-7 years experience. They aren’t ‘senior’ at all. They are mid-range, sole contributor positions meant to generate a lot of deliverables, usually in an agency-like fashion to hit accelerated timelines on project teams. There’s nothing senior about working your ass off in Axure, Fireworks and Visio to produce deliverables without experienced representation of your ideas.

Senior roles in UX are a combination of hands and brains work. You have much more involvement and influence in the project lifecycle. The best roles are ones that take ownership of the user experience from executive or project manager inception of a project, all the way down to Q&A and tracking usage with analytics. That’s a senior role. In my opinion, anything else is mid-range at best.

I have no delusions about what I need to do to land the kind of job/contract/position I want. I have to network my butt off, and be prepared with the right opportunity comes along. I cater to a very limited sub-set of clients. My experience scales on a broad range of fields, and working remote is a hard sell for those who have been burned by it before, or have trust issues or work preferences for seeing their co-workers face to face. I understand all of that.

The problem is that UX recruiters do not. Most are incentivized to fill an available position with the most talented recruit they can find, and manage that relationship the best they can. What’s left out of this process is putting the extra effort to find a *great* fit. That not only helps folks like me, but separates a recruiting agency from the rest of the pack.

In the past 8-10 years, I have yet to find one… and that’s pretty depressing.

Week 21 – Pressure Cooking, Birthday Preparation and House of Cards

DadandAldenHey there,

I finally reached my 16 GB limit on my phone for only the second time. My constant recording of videos and pictures of my son doing various things at home and on the road filled up my smart phone storage faster than I thought it would. My wife criticizes me for not paying enough attention to our other four-legged daughter Panda (and filming/taking pictures of her), but that’s what happens when a new kid enters the fray. So far, the dog hasn’t complained much. If it did, she’d probably threaten a random poo in the Media Room and a few treats in exchange for some stomach petting time. Standard dog demands I guess.

The Path of the Pressure Cooker
I’ve been given the first of hopefully many recipes to work our pressure cooker with. I’m currently making a goat mutton curry with lentils, potatoes and rice. We *hope* that our son will eat some of it as well. Since he’s going into another teething phase, anything hot/warm really bothers him. Anyway, I’m excited. It’s one of those devices you can set, let it whistle, turn off the heat, and leave it along for a while while it cooks and voila. Instant meal. Hopefully more to come and report with this one.

Alden’s 2nd Birthday Preparation
So it looks like we’ve narrowed down our two-day activities with Alden by having cupcakes at day care on Friday, followed by a trip to the Sealife Kid’s Aquarium on Saturday morning with friends and family. We thought about having a general birthday party and inviting over a 3rd circle of folks, but it’s just too much hassle. A lot of food ordering and clean up after tons of socializing that I’m not apart of (I’m usually following Alden around to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself).

House of Cards
I’m nearly done with the 2nd season of the series, and it seems like they’re running out of dramatic/thought provoking things to do with the storyline. The vice president, his wife Claire, and the bodyguard all get drunk and have sex with one another? Really? That’s usually the time when you put down the pen/paper, stop writing, and let those age-related waves of amnesia float over your consciousness to bury the really, really wrong ideas you have about entertaining your audience. Outside of that weird scenario, the 2nd season is kind of ‘meh’.

So when that series fails to deliver, I’m watching Season 8 of the Office for the first time. It has its moments. By the way, Dwight and Jim should have been written in a spin-off series following the demise of the office. Outside of the Andy Bernard character, it was really the only redeeming quality left that could have persisted after Steve Carell’s departure.

Hope you have a great week!

Week 20 – Redesign woes, fantasy football, and the field mice invasion.

Alden, SortingHey there,

Not running on much sleep today due to my wonderful son getting me up at 6:00 am with what we thought was another ear infection. Turns out he just has molars coming in, and needs a shot of pain killer now and then. He’ll probably catch up on his sleep in day care while I power through the early afternoon with some updates and other things. Then I’ll collapse in a corner and pass out.

Another Favorite Bites the Dust –
One of my go-to sites for purchasing loose leaf tea has finally bit the dust with its newest redesign. is a small shop in Snohomish, WA, and we’ve gotten our indian black tea fix from them for over 9 years. I used to order from their site probably every 2-3 months, stocking up on everything from Makaibari Estate teas to Glendale Clonal mixes. After two pounds of tea gets consumed, we order another two pounds.

So what happened? Lots of problems:

1. It appears that all previous user accounts were wiped out. All saved shipping and credit card information gone. That’s a pain.
2. A ‘span filter’ on literally every page of user transactions (modifying cart, logging in) is required. Problem is, the spam filter fails if you don’t fill it out on the first pass. You may put the right answer in, but it won’t care. More pain.
3. About 40% of the previous black tea they had offered online has been removed. I can still order some favorites, but the variety is clearly gone.
4. Some content pages for featured teas have no images on them at all. Just a lot of broken links and no info.
5. The buy-flow process is an embarrassment. Shipping and payment information on the same page, below the fold? Where’s the assurance that my data is undergoing a secure transaction? It’s not clear at all, and don’t get me started again on that annoying spam filter mechanism.

Couple the above with my own personal impression that the design is really ‘cold’ (no human feel to it all. Just a boxy interface with images), and I can only imagine how much of a dive the sites analytics are undergoing right now. I wouldn’t let my own dog order anything from the site, if she could.

Fantasy Football and the NFL Draft
Good times keeping track of rookies in last week’s NFL draft and how they impact fantasy. I knew next to nothing about them, but only kept track of certain names and their potential for getting playing time during the regular season. If you can’t tell, I’m still hunting for some decent flex options, be they in a PPR or regular league.

Mice have discovered our sunflower seed stash
We keep our sunflower seeds in the garage for easy access whenever we need to refill the feeders in the backyard (… which is once every three days. Finches are ancient ancestors of goats it seems). During the week, we discovered a hole chewed out of the side lining of one of the bags. We pretty much assumed it was field mice getting in through the front entrance of the garage. Either way, we’re putting up snap traps and hopefully won’t kill off a whole family of them (but that’s what usually happens).

Hope y’all have a great week!

Week 19 – Still sick kids, expensive art and birthday plans

Alden EatingOla,

Kid has come down with a “can’t sleep because I’m coughing every 30 seconds” kind of cough. He’s had this before, and usually a short of Ibuprofen at 2:30 am does the trick. Not so much last night. After seeing his pediatrician today, we suspect the culprit is inflammatory in nature (where his lungs get irritated by something, rather than it being an outright cold). Either way, we’ve re-introduced his breath machine (a perfectly good but incredibly loud mist generator for clearing out toddler lungs), and hopefully that will straighten out any crap he’s got going on.

Mucho Dinero Artwork
My wife when to a place called the Lathing Stock with her best friend and purchased a 20 pound piece of art to hang on the wall in Alden’s room. She cracked up when I asked her if she had any concerns with the giant dog-driven car falling on our son’s head and killing him. Paranoid, I know… but looking out for my son’s health all the same.

Wrapping up the Seasonal Housing Updates
The last couple of updates to the house deal with painting the outside wood trim and the wrought iron fence/faux door/guard rail on our house. The first couple of handyman weren’t interested in the least, but two I saw on Tuesday morning look promising. I would do it myself it it weren’t for the face that the wood trims are high up on the house, and I don’t have any interest in spending 4 hours with a wire brush/sanding paper to get all the minor rust stuff off of everything. So an outsourcing we will go…

Need a Convertible Crib?
We just put ours up for sale. You can find it on Craigslist here:
DaVinci Emily 4-in-1 Convertible Crib with Toddler Rail (M4791E)

Alden’s Birthday Plans
So we’ve been debating what to do for Alden’s 2nd birthday. We’ve considered bringing friends and family together somewhere (like an outdoor park or a kid gym), but I think we’re settling for a cupcake celebration during Friday’s day care session, and hitting the aquarium or zoo with family members on Saturday. As much as we’d like to have a bigger party, we’re looking forward to deflating a little from all the activity we’ve been carrying on.

That’s all for this week! Hopefully I’ll have some exciting news regarding my consultancy and upcoming work. Thanks for reading and hope to see you then.