Buns

I’m 38 weeks along today! Started maternity leave yesterday and have been regretting not taking 4 weeks beforehand instead of just 2. I thought I’d be fine since we’ve been WFH due to shelter in place and I just sit on the couch all day and don’t need to physically go into the office, but sitting too long has been a lot more uncomfortable than I thought it would be… in addition to standing too long and walking around too long. I wasn’t feeling too bad up until the last few weeks so I underestimated how I would feel… I’m actually writing this while relaxing in the bath to try to get more comfortable 😅

Right before Father’s Day weekend Jack was finally able to find some yeast, so I decided to make custard buns. I made the filling the night before, then after making the dough the day of I took a break while it rested before putting them together and steaming. I thought that would fine for me but I was apparently standing too long each time – by the end of all three separate steps my legs were all red and swollen and I started feeling a bit dizzy! Oops.

On Friday, right after I finished my last day of work before leave, I immediately took a nap… which adorable little Dragon joined me for.

The next day we decided to have a special no-more-work-until-next-year dinner, so we had some foie gras.

Jack made it with an apple sauce made of applesauce… and some apple.

Yesterday on the first day of maternity leave I had two appointments, so today was my first full day of doing whatever I wanted. I decided to make more buns, so I made pineapple buns this time. I learned from last time and brought a chair into the kitchen so I could sit and take breaks… though I took so many breaks the dough expanded a bit too much and all the buns smooshed together!

May Home Project: Three Accent Walls

We’ve spent the last three weekends painting accent walls in our condo – one in the future baby room, one in our bedroom, and one in the living room. I originally wanted to find a cute peel and stick removable wallpaper for each accent wall instead, they were pretty expensive – we also have textured walls, and many peel and stick wallpapers say to only use them on smooth walls.

So I decided to go with painting accent walls, and eventually getting wall decals to go on them. Wall decals say to wait 4-6 weeks after painting to apply, otherwise the paint will stick to the decal, so we had to do it soon in order to be able to apply decals before the baby is expected.

The first room we did was the future baby’s room, with a grey-leaning light blue. Jack had decided, from watching professionals’ instructional videos on Youtube, that we would not need to tape the corners and just be good and make straight lines instead. He failed almost immediately and had to add tape to the rest of his sections. The tape we used on the baseboard also was kind of old so it didn’t stick well, and tape dripped onto the top of the baseboard so I had to use a tiny paintbrush to fill in the rest of the baseboard to make it not look as terrible. Definitely learned quite a bit for the next two walls!

The blue comes out a bit darker in photos than it looks in person. Here is the wall with the empty cube shelf, and the wall after I put some stuff back.

I’m setting up one of the little cubes as a little dino cube. I’m still planning on adding some more stuff, but this is what it looks like now. I also edited this photo a bit so the blue is closer to what it looks like in real life. (Yes, that’s a wand up top – it’s Cho Chang’s wand)

I picked a light purple for our bedroom because purple is my favorite color. My purple hair coloring is fading a lot since I haven’t been able to get it redone due to the shelter in place, and I kept feeling the urge to just dip my hair in the paint.

We shifted stuff around in our bedroom after we painted because we’re planning on having the baby in our room at the beginning. We left room for the recliner and it actually came a week earlier than the expected arrival date, a few days after we finished painting. Since this picture I’ve added a lamp so I can cross stitch in the recliner, and I still need to get a small storage basket and small bookshelf to store baby stuff for when we’re sitting there in the middle of the night and need to grab stuff without standing up.

Finally, we painted an accent wall in our living room red. Our old Santa Clara apartment (that we were in 2011-2012) had a red accent wall – it was part of the apartment building’s options to have them paint an accent wall for you, and the previous tenant had picked a red wall. They offered to leave it and only charge us the removal fee when we moved out, so we just went with it. This was our first apartment on our own in California, so we were purchasing a bunch of new furniture, and got a red rug, red cushions, and red kitchen towels to go with the wall. We still use those now, and even got red fatigue mats for the kitchen, so I decided to continue with the color.

This was the most complicated wall because it has a doorframe, and the edges of the doorframe are curved, so we decided to wrap the paint around to the other side rather than risk not getting a clean straight line at the curve, especially since our walls are textured. The red was quite a bit more finicky than the blue and purple though – due to the texture, we’ve had to go back in a fill in white spots that the roller couldn’t get to, and those white spots were extremely obvious in the red.

It also showed overlaps very obviously, which we didn’t have problems with when doing the other colors. We actually went back in the second day and did another two layers with the roller to try to get it less patchy, because the edges and areas around the outlets and screws that we did initially with a brush were very obviously darker, and there were also darker vertical areas where there were roller overlaps. You can still kind of see darker and lighter patches now, but it’s definitely better after some additional layers. (This is all using Behr Marquee One-Coat Prime and Paint, so multiple layers weren’t necessary in the other rooms)

I’m going to wait like a week to put our wedding canvas and shelves of plushes back on the wall, in case the red rubs off onto the back of them.

Jack is very excited to finally be done with painting. He had to move everything out of the way on his own because I can’t really help him; I am 33 weeks along right now.

Bonus: Jack’s unflattering photo of me with Dragon on the recliner while eating ice cream off a bowl on my belly. Dragon is cute though.

Pregnancy with an Auto-Immune Disorder During COVID-19 Pandemic: Drive-Through Testing, IV Infusion, and OB appointment

I’ve been meaning to write more about the process of becoming pregnant with my auto-immune disorder (pemphigus foliaceus), and I figured this was a good time to also include what’s been happening during the current pandemic. This is just my experience; please consult your own medical professional.

There’s a bunch of info below about how I got to this point (it is very long…), so if you’re more interested in what’s happened during the pandemic, you can click here to skip ahead.

Before we started trying to become pregnant, we talked with my general doctor and my dermatologist (who managed my auto-immune disorder). My original dermatologist referred me to another dermatologist that had had experience with a patient becoming pregnant with the same auto-immune disorder I have; it’s a pretty rare disorder (it’s in the National Organization of Rare Disorders‘ rare disorder database) so it I felt pretty lucky that a doctor nearby had dealt with this before. I actually completely switched over to having her manage my disorder. When we met with her, she also suggested we talk to a maternal-fetal medicine OB, so I made an appointment for a general consult, which would assign us to a random MFM OB. We got lucky again – the random MFM OB happened to also have had managed someone with the auto-immune disorder, and his main clinic was the one near us! He also suggested a general OB that was at the clinic closest to us that I eventually started seeing.

Most of this took place over about three months. Luckily all of these doctors are within the same medical system in the Bay Area (though across three different locations) – it was a lot easier to get referrals and appointments, and they communicate internally a lot. I can’t imagine how much longer just getting appointments to consult with them as a new patient would have been if they were all separate medical systems.

The general consensus was that the medications I was on are not safe for pregnancy, so I would need to switch to something else – and the something else they ended up agreeing on was completely stopping all my medicines and switching to IVIG infusions of Privigen.

With my auto-immune disorder, my immune system is overactive and attacks my skin when it shouldn’t, causing blisters on my scalp, face, chest, stomach, arms, armpits, and back – blisters that pop and don’t heal, and so are very susceptible to infection. My skin gets very fragile; before it was controlled, I would put bandages over the blisters to try to prevent them from rubbing against my clothing, but removing the bandages would cause the top layer of my skin to lift. In fact, when I first went to the dermatologist to try to figure out what I had, as part of diagnosing me, he rubbed a spot on my hand to see if the skin would lift – ew! There’s still a slightly darker spot on my hand where it lifted.

My previous medications were immunosuppressants, basically weakening my immune system and telling it to calm the fuck down. From what I can tell – and I’m still pretty unclear; even the Privigen website says “Exactly how Privigen works is not fully understood” – Privigen is made from the plasma of blood donors and has a bunch of antibodies that prevent my immune system from going haywire in the first place, so it does not need to weaken the immune system to stop it from attacking my skin. This was especially good since your immune system already becomes weaker during pregnancy.

I started the IV infusions at the very beginning of 2019, with a three-day “loading dose”. I went in three days in a row for three to four hours each day to an infusion center in Mountain View; I wasn’t sure what to expect so I just took PTO for all three days. They allow one visitor, so Jack came with me – I really don’t like needles (and still can’t look after all these years of blood draws and now IV infusions) so I look away and squeeze his hand whenever they insert and remove the IV, while he is very fascinated and watches very carefully.

The first day was okay. The infusion center has two main areas that are connected; each one has a nurse station surrounded by 8 recliners that each have curtains that can be closed. I’ve taken to asking for a corner seat if they’re available, so Jack can plug his laptop in while he sits with me and works. Each time before I start the infusion, they take my vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, O2, temperature), and then they give me Tylenol and Benedryl to counteract any side effects of the process of getting the infusion itself. They also offer a warmed paper blanket – I already get cold easily, and the IV flowing into you makes you cold! After inserting the IV and starting the Privigen infusion, they set it up so that the machine will beep at periodic intervals, for when the rate should change – the infusion rate is increased over time to avoid side effects of an immediate fast flow. The total dosage and rate is calculated based on my weight. The Benedryl made me very sleepy partway and I napped for a part of it. When we got home afterward I just passed out until dinner time.

The second day began pretty okay. I started bringing my own blanket so that I wouldn’t need to deal with warmed paper blankets, and napped half the time due to the Benedryl. However, after I went home, I had a really bad headache that didn’t go away even after my long nap until dinner time. It basically continued through until the next morning.

So, the third day I told them about the headache, and they added an additional bag of saline solution to the IV at the same time as the Privigen, to make sure I’m hydrated enough. This was the end of the loading dose, and I pretty much just passed out after I got home. However, two days later, my face got really tight, dry, and flaky, and the tight dryness lasted for about a week. I was worried this would happen every time, but luckily it only happened this one time at the beginning.

Since I started, I’ve gone back in for IV infusions every four weeks; in addition, over the first eight months, I slowly tapered off all of my medications one by one (at which point it was safe for us to start trying). It’s gotten pretty routine – I bring my own blanket, some snacks, and a book, game, or craft project to occupy myself until the Benedryl knocks me out and I nap until the infusion is over, and then I attempt to work from home for the rest of the day while I’m fighting off the Benedryl. Jack drives me there, stays with me (as WFH, hence needing to plug in his laptop), and then drives me home (other than once that he had a meeting he couldn’t reschedule, and also once so far during the pandemic). There were two things that changed over time though.

The first was that over about half a year, I noticed that I would sometimes get a lot of tiny red itchy bumps on the inside of the arm they inserted the IV. These would appear about a day after the infusion and last about a week; they were so itchy I would wake up in the middle of the night scratching them. However, it didn’t always happen, so it was really confusing. It took maybe another six months to try to narrow things down and discover that it was related to the rate of saline solution at the end of my appointments. When the nurses add the saline to the Privigen being infused, there is always more saline left at the end. Some nurses would finish it off really fast, and some would finish it slower. I get randomly assigned to a nurse on duty each time, so it was pretty inconsistent. I discovered that I would get the itchy red bumps on the days that the nurse would finish the saline very quickly, so I started asking them to finish it slower, and no more itchy red bumps! It just means that I have to stay longer each time.

The second change caused me to stay even longer. At some point in the last few months of last year, some recommendations changed or something, and they stopped doing saline at the same time as the Privigen. Instead, now they do half the bag of saline first, then the Privigen, then finish the saline. Unfortunately, since I have to get the saline pretty slowly to not get the itchy red bumps, I am now there for almost 5 hours each time.

Now to what things have been like during this pandemic.

The day before my scheduled April 1st IV infusion appointment, I missed a call from the medical center. They left a voicemail and also sent a message through the online portal; basically they were contacting me to ask four questions:

  • Within the past 48 hours, have you experienced a fever, chills, cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, or shortness of breath?
  • Within the past 48 hours, have you been exposed to anyone exhibiting any of these symptoms?
  • Within the last 14 days, have you had any long-distance travel or outside the United States?
  • Within the last 14 days, have you had contact with someone known to have coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or on the Grand Princess cruise ship?

I thought it was kind of funny that the last question was so specific.

Unfortunately, I had developed a bit of a dry cough the week before the infusion appointment. Nothing concerning and I wasn’t coughing that much – I’m pretty sure it was just due to the changing weather. However, this meant that I had to answer yes to one of the questions. I called them back and let them know, and they told me a nurse would call me back. I waited until the end of the day but did not get a call back, so I replied to the online message mentioning the cough and that I hadn’t gotten a call back yet (the original message said to call instead of reply if the answer to anything was yes).

Early the next morning, a nurse called me and told me that I would not be allowed get get my infusion until I had been tested for COVID-19. It felt kind of overkill – I only had a dry cough and nothing else; in fact I had been checking my temperature and I seem to run a degree or so colder than Jack in general. However, at the same time, I get why – I would be in the infusion center with nurses and other immunocompromised people for 5 hours, so it would be better to be safe. I just felt bad that they would be wasting a test on me.

The nurse said she would call me back after she left a message for my doctor (my dermatologist, since that is who the infusion is ordered through) and scheduled a drive-through testing appointment for me. Luckily they were doing them in the same building I do my infusions at; she called back and said that I had a 1pm appointment. It would be in the basement level of the garage, and I should follow the signs and call a number that she gave when I got there.

I was already anxious about delaying my IV infusion, as I had never had to before and didn’t know how long I could delay without the blisters reappearing, but in the hour or so before I had to leave for the drive-through testing, I got extremely anxious and panicky and could feel myself getting warm and flushed. I decided to bring some emotional support, and brought along a sloth plush that we had made a little mask for (he arrived after stay-in-place started so we put a mask on him and kept him away from the other plushes for a while in “quarantine”).

I drove to the medical center and was able to follow the signs to the drive-through testing (though the signs were pretty tiny and it was kind of dark in the basement level of the garage). I had gotten there about 10 minutes before the 1pm appointment, and at that point there was one car in front of me with a medical worker in a mask talking to them, and off to the side there was also another car parked and waiting. After a bit the medical worker finished talking to the guy in front of me, and a security-looking lady directed them to park with one spot open between them and the previous parked car.

The medical guy came to ask me for my name, appointment time, and take my car description and license plate. Then I was also directed to park with one space between me and the car that had just parked. After a bit the medical guy came to ask me if I had a mask; I had brought one with me but since I was staying in the car and I figured all the medical workers would have masks, I didn’t want to waste it if it wasn’t necessary. It looked like he was about to give me one, so I told him I had one and put mine on. Then I waited in the car for maybe 10-15 minutes; I discovered it’s really annoying to check my phone when the mask prevents Face ID from working (iPhone X), especially because I set it so notifications don’t show their contents unless it detects my face.

Then another medical worker in a mask came up and asked me to drive my car up to one of the tables they had set up near one of the entrances to the building. There was a doctor in a mask and plastic face covering in front of the table, and two medical workers in masks assisting her from behind the table and taking notes for her. The doctor introduced herself and asked what I was there for, and I explained that I only really had a bit of a dry cough, but they wouldn’t let me get my infusion without being tested. When she was telling the medical workers what to note down, she said something like “but we’re going to test her anyway because she can’t get her infusion”, which definitely made me feel like I was taking a test away from others that had actual concerning symptoms.

She took my vitals, and mentioned that I had a low-grade fever. I think I did not actually, but I got really warm from a combination of freaking myself out so much that I had gotten flushed, and not want to wear too many clothes there that I had to wash afterward, so I was only wearing a t-shirt with no cardigan and was cold in the car so I had the heat turned up pretty high. After I got home and took my temperature again it was normal, and when Jack stopped in the car after I got home to get something I had forgotten to take out, he said it was still really really hot from when I had the heat on earlier.

After vitals she also came closer to listen to my heartbeat and breathing. Finally the nasal swab… it was like a really long thin q-tip and it didn’t hurt, but it felt really weird and made my eye on the same side as the nostril water up. She told me that I was now considered a person under “investigation” for COVID-19, and to not go anywhere if possible. By 1:30pm I was driving home.

Originally when the nurse called to tell me I would need to get tested, they said it would take about a week to get results. The doctor that tested me said they’ve actually been getting them back in 48-72 hours… I got a message two days after the testing that I had gotten a negative result, so it was pretty quick. I immediately called the infusion center to reschedule, and I got a new appointment for 6 days after my initial appointment.

The day before my rescheduled infusion appointment, I had a dermatologist appointment that had been converted to a virtual appointment. A nurse called me to ask general questions, and then to give me the Zoom meeting code and password, and I connected to the meeting which the dermatologist was already in. Luckily at this point since I’m pretty controlled my dermatologist appointments are pretty much just checking in and talking about any potential concerns, so there wasn’t much lacking by switching to a video appointment.

The day of the IV infusion, Jack dropped me off at the medical center, armed with my mask and stuff I could either wipe off to disinfect or I didn’t mind leaving downstairs for a few days (for instance, I took the leather phone case off my phone so I wouldn’t have to wipe it down). When I got to the door, there was a lady standing right outside the door waiting to go in – there were some signs but I was staying far behind her so I couldn’t read them. However some medical workers came and just waved us in. Once I got in it seemed like it may have just been a station to check vitals of employees before they go to work; the medical workers just asked me what I was there for and waved me in around the station.

In the waiting area of the infusion center, I checked in and sat down to wait. They had blocked off various chairs so that you would be forced to sit far away from anyone else waiting. After only waiting a bit, a nurse came to get me to take my vitals. Usually they would bring me to the recliners first then take my vitals there, but instead that day they brought me into a smaller room first to take my vitals before bringing me to the recliners.

Once at the recliner, things were pretty much like they were normally, except that everyone had masks on and the infusion center seemed pretty empty. I’m not sure if it was because they were spreading out appointments or not though, as my rescheduled appointment was earlier than I usually have them and the nurse commented that she was surprised I was so early because they usually only have chemo patients come in that early. I just played Animal Crossing until I got too exhausted from the Benedryl and then napped. I messaged Jack when I seemed to be about 30 minutes from finishing (still finding it very difficult to use my phone with my mask on), and it was timed so well that he pulled up right as I got out the door.

Originally I had an OB appointment in the middle of March, but it was right after the shelter in place started and since the anatomy ultrasound a few weeks beforehand had been fine and I had no other concerns, my OB had decided that we could just skip that one. Instead, she scheduled the next one for around when I would need to do the glucose test, so that I could come in and do both at the same time.

And so, about a week after my rescheduled IV infusion appointment, I went into the medical center around 9:00am to do the glucose tests and some other blood tests. At the check-in area, they had marked large X’s on the floor for how far people should stand away from each other in line, and also from the check in desk. When I checked in, I told them that I had a 10:45am OB appointment, and that she had mentioned I could probably fit it in between the glucose test blood draws. Because of this, they decided to wait until 9:30am to do the blood draws and give me the glucose drink – I’d read people say it tasted bad but I actually kind of liked it! It was just a very sweet orange drink.

Then I was sent back out to the waiting room, where I played Animal Crossing for an hour until their timer went off and they called me back in for the first hour blood draw. After that was done, I went to my OB appointment. When I walked towards the elevator to get to the fourth floor, I saw a lady and a man waiting – the lady was about to get into the elevator that had just arrived, and the man looked like he was going to wait for the next one. I made a quick decision to detour to the bathroom and wash my hands, because I didn’t want to walk up and wait and risk the awkward interaction of the guy possibly offering to let me take the next elevator. It was at that point that I realized I had no idea where the stairs were and wondered if I could find them before my next appointment.

The OB appointment was pretty quick and uneventful; it did however include discussion of the ability to do a virtual hospital tour and virtual birthing class, since we can no longer do those in person. This was the first OB appointment that Jack had not been able to come with me.

I managed to make it back downstairs right in time for their timer to go off, so they called me back before I even sat down. Last blood draw and it was time to go home!

Overall my medical appointments were pretty much as I expected they would be during this pandemic. It sucks that Jack can’t come with me for anything, but at least right now it seems like if things continue until July, he will be allowed with me during birth.

Honestly, I anticipate not leaving the house (other than medical appointments) all the way until my maternity leave ends in the last few months of the year (still not sure how long I’ll take off). During my virtual appointment in the beginning of April, my dermatologist had mentioned that if things opened back up in May/June, she would write a note recommending I continue to work from home until birth, and that she felt my OB would probably recommend the same. At this point the Bay Area has extended shelter in place until at least the end of May, so it seems likely I will be at home until birth even without a doctor note.

Personally, this shelter in place has actually been pretty relaxing for me. I am very introverted, and just being around people at work (even if I’m not talking to them most of the time) is very exhausting for me. It’s especially good timing because we had already finished up our babymoon, and I had a very nice second trimester, but now that I’ve hit third trimester I’m starting to get more aches and pains so it’s good to not have to go out every day.

I don’t dislike social interactions and hanging out with people, but just chatting with people online and having occasional video calls feels like enough and I don’t feel restless wanting to meet up with people. Luckily for me just Jack, the cats, and daily walks around the neighborhood seem to be enough to keep me sane (Jack does all the grocery shopping) – and I’ve got so much more energy and time for projects I’ve been wanting to do! We’ve been putting a big dent in preparing stuff for the baby; I don’t feel like we’d have enough energy to get as much done as we have if things were still normal and we were going to work every day.

I definitely wish that the pandemic were not happening, and I feel for all the people it has affected, but I’m pretty at peace with how it’s been affecting us personally. I’m sure once I get closer to birth though, I’ll start freaking out about how that will work.

Babymoon Part 2: Penguins / Disneyland road trip

At the end of February, we took a road trip down to SoCal. We had already had it planned a while ago, and the timing worked out to use it as the second half of our babymoon. Our schedule was:

  • 2/25 – Drive down to LA
  • 2/26 – Penguins @ Kings
  • 2/27 – Disneyland
  • 2/28 – Penguins @ Ducks
  • 2/29 – Drive back up straight to Penguins @ Sharks

Here are some photo highlights of the trip!

Vroomba the Roomba: Making Him a Smart Boi

We recently got a new Roomba i7, which we promptly named Vroomba. It was a bit of a mess ordering him from the store we originally purchased from, with a package supposedly delivered while we were home that was not actually there, and still no replacement or refund almost 4 weeks later… but it went on sale on Amazon while we were trying to deal with it so we just got one there instead, a lot faster and cheaper than the one we first tried to buy!

Portrait of Vroomba made by a friend <3

Our previous Roomba (that we just called Roomba) was a 700 series that was introduced way back in 2011, bought by us in 2014, and finally shrieking death around two months ago. And I mean literally shrieking death – he started running with a high pitched screech that sounded like he was about to explode. So I was very excited to upgrade to Vroomba. A friend even made a portrait for him!

The thing I was most excited about was being able to control Vroomba from my phone – we were so behind the times with the previous Roomba! With two cats, we ran him every weekday to keep all the little itty bitty paws clean. However, he tended to get stuck on bathroom rugs or shut himself into bathrooms (which would sometimes lock the kitties out of their litter box), and also needed to be emptied every day, so we only ran him on days we knew we would come home after he ran. He had little physical buttons so it took a bit of an effort to turn him off for a day if we were going on vacation and didn’t want him to run – then we’d also have to remember to tap tap tap those buttons to re-enable that day for the next week. Total first world problem, but very frustrating (even though Jack was the one that always did it and he didn’t care at all! He did often forget to turn Roomba back on though).

Before Vroomba even arrived, I had been scrolling through IFTTT applets for Roombas and saw that there were existing ones to run once everyone had left the house! This was great because we sometimes work from home and don’t want Vroomba to run on those days. One snag though – the ones that were listed either relied on motion detection from an in-home system (nope, don’t got one) or location given by the occupants of the home. And Jack Did Not Want To Share His Location.

So what now? Make my own series of applets of course! I decided that IFTTT could probably start Roomba based on a Google spreadsheet that both Jack and I wrote to. I didn’t care about giving my location, so my side was easy. Just write to a cell designated for me whenever I left or arrived at the location.

But what about Jack? Jack has a Pixel 3, and was already running Tasker to set up various states on his phone based on whether he was home – where “at home” was set based on connecting to or disconnecting from our home WiFi. Great – now he could use it to write his state to the sheet when he connected or disconnected.

There were some finicky issues though – the task to write to spreadsheet would happen right as he disconnected from the home WiFi, and it seemed to be too early before the phone could figure things out and switch back to using data, so it wouldn’t actually be able to write to the sheet. To get around this, he added a one-minute wait before writing, and also as a backup waited another 30 seconds and then wrote again. Also, the writing to spreadsheet didn’t seem to allow writing TRUE or FALSE so the sheet would treat them as booleans – it kept writing ‘TRUE and ‘FALSE. Our workaround was to just turn it into an OR function so it would evaluate into a boolean 😅

I also wanted to add more controls around when Vroomba could be triggered to run – a global enable (in case we went on a longer vacation), limiting to only triggering him once a day, and limiting him to only weekdays after 9:30am and 5pm. Since I was already using a spreadsheet, I decided to do it all in the sheet and have one single cell that would indicate whether Vroomba should be triggered.

I used named ranges to make things prettier, and also discovered I could index into the days of the week with the INDEX function if I used the WEEKDAY function option to return days starting with Monday as 1, since INDEX starts at 1 (and not 0 – that still bothers me!)

At this point I hit a problem. I tried to set up an IFTTT applet to start Vroomba when the value of the cell changed, but after some research it seems that the onChange event does not happen if a cell is updated via an API. I was really trying to set up as much as possible with existing services and as little code as possible just because I could, so I spent a while doing some digging – all while Jack pointed out that it probably would have been a lot easier if I had just set up my own endpoint on BaconFriedRice to do all this rather than using IFTTT at all. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I ended up having to write a bit of code. I found that you can set up a Google scripts function to trigger on a timer, so I set this small bit up to run every 5 minutes and send a trigger email to IFTTT to start Vroomba.

And now another problem – the function to determine if Vroomba should trigger included some time functions, and typically the functions don’t update unless there is an onChange on the cell. Turns out you can edit sheet settings to recalculate functions more often!

Finally, now I wanted a push notification when Vroomba started. I had anticipated that the iRobot app would send one when cleaning started, but I guess it doesn’t if cleaning is started by an API (rather than scheduled in the app). So I used IFTTT once again – and set it up to be pretty cute with the Vroomba portrait!

It’s been working pretty well so far, though there have been some hiccups where IFTTT seems to be delayed in noticing that my location changed – or sometimes not even noticing. I’m also thinking of potentially changing our “not home” cells to be the time we left, and not starting Roomba unless we’d both been gone at least an hour (or some other minimum time). This is because we sometimes leave the house for a bit to pick up food on the days we work from home, and don’t want it to start in those cases.

Vroom vroom Vroomba!

Edit: Forgot to mention that when I was setting up the IFTTT notification that Vroomba had started, I wanted tapping it to take me to the iRobot app. However, I couldn’t find any documentation anywhere of its url scheme. I tried a few by guessing the format, but then I tried their Android app’s package name and it worked! So the url for my push notification is “com.irobot.home://”. It’s a little bit awkward because it opens the IFTTT app first then switches to the iRobot app, but it does what I want in the end. The first time, my device asked for permission to open the iRobot app from the IFTTT app, but luckily after that it remembered and didn’t ask me again.

Surprise Hike Date

I asked Jack to plan a surprise date that included one activity and one meal, and we had it this past Saturday! Honestly it was probably not the best day to do it as it was the hottest day in weeks and it turned out to be outdoors, but we didn’t die or burn so it was not unsuccessful 🤷🏻‍♀️

Short hike, picnic table lunch (with food quantities and the barcode to the bread so I could keep track of the calories 😍), and TeaHub on the way home

I managed to snag a Sprocket for 50% off on Prime Day so I used it for a spread… Unfortunately wasting a photo of the sticky note of food quantities because I forgot I could just put the sticky note in it