Once there was a little Nick called Daddy

We often make up stories when putting Amelia to bed. Recently, she’s also been making up stories which she tells us as she falls asleep.

The other night, she told this one to Heidi:

Once there was a little Nick called Daddy. “Sigh, I’m bored.” said Daddy. “I know, how about the shops?” said Amelia.” “No.” said Daddy. “How about the beach?” “Hmmm, that’s a bright idea!” The end.

She has  made up many stories since, but that one remains my favourite.

3 Months

It’s been 3 months since my last post – which was part of my (now defunct) daily creative journal. Shortly after that post, I fell horribly ill and then (after I was all better) I decided not to continue with the creative journal. Plainly, it was more of a chore and distraction (rather than fuel for my creativity). It turns out that I do a lot of creative things everyday anyway, and they require a lot of my time and attention.

(I think Ben was a little disappointed that I stopped, but I feel that it’s better to try something and then decide to stop rather than: never trying it, stubbornly continuing with it despite your dissatisfaction, or simply continuing without considering if you want to.)

Much like the last couple of years, the last few months have been full of challenges, opportunities, and work, work, work. Parenthood and Hungry Sky have been keeping me busy and very occupied (in my thoughts and feelings). I think constantly about parenting and business, and often discuss these topics at length with Heidi and Minh respectively.

Family

In the backyard.
In the backyard.

Amelia has grown from a baby into a toddler. She seems incredibly clever to me. (Although I’m not sure that her any of her actions are out of the ordinary for children her age.) At 16 months, she feeds herself, runs around, plays with toys (her favourite is the shape sorter), turns pages on books and happily yells out some of the words (Me: “Is Spot under the bed?”, Amelia: [lifts flap in book] “No!”).

It was particularly interesting seeing how her play with the shape sorter progressed. She quickly realised that the round shapes didn’t require any particular orientation in order to fit through the round holes. So she would tip the shapes out, immediately grab the two cylinders, pop them into the round holes, and then give herself a clap. A few weeks later, she had sorting all the shapes down to a fine art. She would grab the shapes in matching pairs with two hands so that she could put them in promptly one after the other. As Heidi would say: “Clever bunny.”

Business

The other day, Minh was surprised to see that we had sent our 50th invoice. I think it was for an app, or possibly to the Art Gallery. Either way, I suppose that it was a milestone of sorts… for it to be business as usual… if that makes sense. Writing quotes, undertaking work, sending invoices – it’s our day-to-day work, and (like Amelia with her shape sorting) we’re getting it down to a fine art (or at least a standard routine).

Maybe that’s why we had to make some changes. I always imagined that we could use contracting as a starting point (to bootstrap the business), rather than an end goal. Minh and I made some changes to our business partnership, which has resulted in 1/3 of our time (and 50% of my time) being allocated to developing products (rather than undertaking contracts). That’s the idea anyway. In reality, I’ve been working maybe 75% (and soon around 100%) on contracts by bringing forward contract days. The corollary is that I’ll likely be working on products for all of July. Woohoo!

In regards to speculative projects, we’ve been working on an indie printing business (for card games) and I’ve also working with a few others to put together a shared working space for Perth game developers (the Department for Being Awesome). There are a few other projects we have cooking, but I can’t say much about them yet unfortunately.

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Cards we produced for Andrew Hawkins as part of a speculative printing business.

Other

It’s strange how when things change, it quickly becomes difficult to remember what they were like before. I remember not being a parent, but I can’t really summon how it felt to have even a day without interacting with Amelia. Likewise, there are many other aspects of my life that I’ve left behind and can barely remember. There are very few that I miss though.

I used to get terrible headaches well into my late twenties. These were often preceded by a sense of detachment (including loss of proprioception) and periods of intense deja vu (fairly disconcerting) but also absolute clarity (quite useful at times). Heidi called these experiences “Aura“, which seemed to fit the bill. I imagine she has some idea what she’s talking about, being a doctor and all. They used to upset me, but now I miss them. Odd how things work out. I’d even take the headaches to get them back.

2012 wrap-up

I usually end the year with a bit of a retrospective and considered plans for the next year, but I think that this time I’ll just give a brief recap of the months which are undocumented on this blog, and mention a few minor things that I have planned for this coming year. (Hmmm, maybe that isn’t so different after all.)

So here’s what you’ve missed:

  • June: A family trip to the UK. I learnt to appreciate the phrase “Make hay while the sun shines”. The weather reiterated the concept on a daily basis.
  • July: A long stop-over in Thailand. Amelia met the extended family and I caught up with an old school friend.
  • August, September, October, November: Work!
  • December: Work!… Oh, and a couple of weeks off – in which we further child-proofed the house and took care of some general gardening and cleaning. Yeah!

As you can see, I’ve been pretty busy with my business partnership: Hungry Sky. There’s also the day-to-day excitement of being father to a baby who has learnt to play, crawl, babble, eat all sorts of things, and walk while holding your hand.

Here are some random photos:

I find it amazing that Amelia’s already more like a little girl than a little baby.

Oh, I almost forgot about those minor things that I have planned for this year. In general, I want to spend more time just getting on with things. I tend to waste a fair amount of time deciding on the details of what to do. In the end, it’s better to just get things done – whether or not the result is “optimal”.

Bearing that in mind, I’m embarking on daily creative activities which I will post to this blog. I bought a book and everything. Check it out:

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There’s more information on the Make Something 365 website. I’m still not entirely decided upon a theme, but I’m thinking: Papercraft. 🙂

Leisure programming

Nowadays, I usually write technical blog posts over on the Guts Up! blog. However, I figured that I could write about some weekend leisure coding on my personal blog instead. (Also because I haven’t written anything here for a while!)

The great thing about leisure programming is that I play around with technology that (being prudent) I may not try out for commercial work. I’ve discovered most of my favourite design patterns, libraries, and languages via programming in my own time – and most of them do eventually make their way into my work code.

Today I decided to try out the (fairly recent) support for CoffeeScript (an elegant programming language) on nodester (a free nodejs server hosting platform).

Here’s a quick rundown of what was involved:

  1. I started by following instructions from the official blog post on how to setup a CoffeeScript project on nodester.
  2. Looks like the the code snippet indentation is wrong (or not displayed properly in my browser), but it’s a quick fix.
  3. The blog post notes that the fixed port will need to be changed to a nodester-provided port. Also a quick change.
  4. Hmmm, getting a 503. Check the log file. Turns out the coffee-script package isn’t installed on the remote server.
  5. Finally get it working by adding a package.json file (defining the nodejs version and adding a coffee-script dependency) and running: nodester npm install [appname]

(I’ve omitted the appname because it’s kind of a surprise for someone. Although it’s probably something that is easy enough to find out.)

Now that it’s working, I create a git repository on bitbucket and push the code there for version control. When setting up the nodester app, I created a local git repository (and “nodester” remote for deployment), so this is very straightforward. I just add the bitbucket repository as the remote origin, and then push the local git repository to it.

So now I have a small CoffeeScript server program that can deploy to nodester, with code hosted at bitbucket. All free and online. Good stuff!

Hmmm, I’m not sure what I really wanted to illustrate with this blog post. Maybe that there are very few barriers to getting web services up and running, and that programming is essentially the process of solving a series of (mostly very small) problems (usually by researching solutions and following instructions).

Eight weeks of parenting

It’s been eight weeks since Amelia arrived, and I’ve been pretty quiet online as a result. Partly due to lack of time, but also due to lack of interest. I feel more engrossed in my day-to-day life and less interested in the latest news or social gossip. I spend a lot of time reflecting on how things are going, and it all feels a bit too personal to flippantly share.

That being said, everything is occuring so quickly and I don’t want to forget what’s been happening (hence this post). I also wanted to write something for other people who may be wondering what it’s like to have a newborn. For us, it went something like this:

  • Week 1: Mostly staying in hospital, learning from the midwives.
  • Week 2: Sometimes wondering if we made the right decision to have a baby.
  • Week 3: Enjoying family time. Not wanting to go back to work just yet.
  • Week 4: Back at work. Heidi and I are stressed, and need to talk to each other a lot.
  • Week 5: Amelia is very colicky in the evenings. It’s difficult to bear.
  • Week 6: Feels like Amelia has doubled in size and is much more robust.
  • Week 7: Her colic is actually milk protein intolerance. Heidi is on dairy exclusion.
  • Week 8: Amelia is smiling and giggling and sleeping well. It’s very nice.

Staying at the hospital was fantastic. Although Heidi got pretty cabin-fevery towards the end. It was a very supporting environment, a bit like a training camp for new parents. Surprisingly (to me), most of the midwives had rather different opinions on child-rearing. I can imagine that some people would find that frustrating, but I saw it as reinforcement that how to take care of an infant is very subjective and that we should just choose what works for us.

My general parenting philosophy has been rooted in pragmatism. Some key points:

  • Feed her when she is hungry. Let her sleep when she is tired.
  • Infants don’t play mind games. If they are complaining there is a reason.
  • Infants don’t play mind games. Don’t take anything personally.
  • Togetherness is important. Sleep in the same room. Hang out a lot.
  • Parent as a team. Talk openly, make decisions together, support each other.
  • The baby’s needs trump the wants and convenience of others.
  • There’s no right way to parent. Just be conscientious and diligent.

Our early concerns about whether we made the right decision to have a baby were ostensibly due to the immediate dramatic change in lifestyle and appreciation for the amount of responsibility parenthood entails for such a long period of time. I imagine that it’s a natural response, and not something to feel guilty about.

An unexpected outcome of becoming a father is that I’m now a lot more assertive. I think it comes from the imperative to meet Amelia’s (and our) needs over someone else’s wants, expectations, or convenience. Here are some examples of things I’m now very happy to say to anyone:

  • Don’t try to play with her, she’s asleep.
  • That can wait, I’m tending to the baby.
  • Goodbye. (Followed by hanging up immediately)
  • No.

It’s been a change for us, since we’re usually rather accommodating. Overall, I think it’s very positive. Potential social unease and awkwardness tends to be mitigated as early as possible, and my business engagements have become more focused streamlined. I don’t want to waste time!

Another unexpected change has been the realisation that Heidi and I still have a lot to learn about ourselves and each other. Being a parent poses a lot of challenges and exposes personal characteristics that have never been tested or visible. I feel that we’re becoming better people, or at least a better partnership.

Perth at night as colour stripe

@tehkellys tweeted a fantastic photo of the Perth skyline at night. What struck me about it was the reflection of all the different colours of light in the Swan River.

I threw together a quick colour stripe version (click for full-size version):

Perth has an interesting night-time colour profile, which I had never noticed before. Hmmm, now I’m interested in seeing colour stripes for other cities.

Contemporary rhymes for baby playtimes

Heidi and I took Amelia to a new parents group yesterday.

As part of the proceedings, we learnt a few nursery rhymes and were challenged to come up with some of our own. Here are a couple we improvised this morning for Amelia’a playtime.

Firstly, for the body builder parent:

These are Amelia’s pectorials

These are Amelia’s guns

These are Amelia’s abbadabbadabbas

And these are Amelia’s buns!

Finally, here’s one for all new parents:

Milk in the front

Poop out the back

What’s in the middle?

Tickle attack!

Breakfast sandwich cake

I made this for a breakfast picnic on the weekend:

Here are the ingredients (I also used some milk and butter for scrambled eggs, a cherry tomato, and some apple and chilli relish):

I sliced the bread into four pieces and discarded the top crust, then arrange the ingredients into the following layers (from bottom to top):

  1. Bread
  2. Scrambled eggs
  3. Bread
  4. Vege-bacon, spinach, and relish
  5. Bread
  6. Philadelphia cheese topped with chopped vege-bacon and half a cherry tomato

It was delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of what a slice looks like. You’ll just have to make it yourself.

Obviously inspired by this ordinary Swedish meal: