September 2017

A- and I spent most of September in the Philippines visiting family. It was our first time to be away from W- for so long. Stretching the flights out with an overnight layover in Seoul was much more manageable than trying to do it with a short layover, even though that resulted in 33 hours of travel time. It was good to spend time with my parents, my sisters, and A-‘s two cousins.

We spent most of the trip at home. Kathy also took us to Museo Pambata, where A- liked playing in the pretend marketplace. She also planted and harvested rice in their pretend field. We went to the Mind Museum and A- was fascinated by the cut-away toilet and the kinetic sand. She liked the ball pit, ramps, and the slide at Active Fun. We visited my dad in the hospital and ended up staying in the hotel at Manila Ocean Park after a kalesa ride through the flood. A- was fascinated by the fish swimming in the aquarium lining the wall. A- slept through the celebration at the church, and had fun at the party afterwards. She slept on the van trip to Tagaytay, enjoyed staying at Taal Vista, and rode her first Ferris wheel, carousel, and horse at Sky Ranch. (She was so relaxed, she fell asleep about ten minutes into the horse ride.) Lots of fun outside, and lots of fun at home too.

A- loved hanging out with her cousins and imitating what they did. She wanted to imitate how G* balanced on one foot, and she bounced up and down on the bed when G* and A* were jumping on it. She pretended to fry an egg using the pan in their kitchen playset, and she liked carrying a basket of plastic food.

We called W- over video chat as often as we could. A- liked saying hi to him and interacting with him even over the phone. She also asked for the cats so that she could say hi to them. She missed W- a lot, sometimes asking me through sign language how much she needed to wait in order to see Dada. When we got back, she showed a strong preference for his company whenever he was around, and separation anxiety when he wasn’t. We had been way for almost four weeks, and that might have been a bit too much. Still, it was what we needed to do. It was good that we were there. We spent time with Kathy’s kids while she accompanied my dad to the hospital and to Singapore for lots of consultation.

A- picked up lots of words and enjoyed lots of social interaction while she was there, too. She invented her own sign for “grape” using the starting gestures for “The Great Big Spider,” and my dad enjoyed offering her grapes. She learned “Uh oh” and started using it after spilling something… and before intentionally spilling things, too. She liked picking up phones and saying “Hello, bye bye,” so I got into the habit of disconnecting hotel phones. She liked the bidet, and asked for it. She picked up “Oh no” from John V. after one saying. She learned the gesture of mano po from my mom after a day or two, and various fistbumps and high-fives from everyone. My parents got their own share of unprompted kisses, and they even came up with new games with her like nose-twiddling. When we got back, she learned the other two cats’ names and lots of words for everyday life (including, quite charmingly, “Yes please,” “Up please,” “More please,” and the like).

My dad gave A- her first camera and her first Swiss knife. She’s shown plenty of interest in both, and I frequently use them in front of her so that she can become more familiar with them. The camera is shock-resistant, which is great because that means she can handle it freely. She’s even pressed the shutter button a few times. The camera has built-in WiFi, so I’ve been uploading more pictures to my phone and then to Facebook. The Swiss knife, well, there’s a short list of tools that she can use under close supervision, and maybe she’ll grow into the rest.

A- wants to grow into so many things. She wanted to wear my carrier, my clothes, and W-‘s suspenders. She not only pretended to put her old conformer into Baa’s eye, but also wanted to wash it after dropping it on the floor. She wanted to unlock the filing cabinet with the keys that she insisted on holding for me. She learned how to get water for herself from the water dispenser.

We had the occasional tantrum: sometimes when she was overtired, which couldn’t be much helped; sometimes refusing clothes, which was totally understandable given the weather, so she spent quite a few days in just a diaper; sometimes refusing diapers, which was less negotiable. Overall, A- rose admirably to the challenges of a long trip and a different environment, which made it easier for me to adapt.

Speaking of adapting, A- turned out to be fine with spicy things, enjoying a few spoons of a laksa that I had for dinner one time. She’s fine with vegetables, too. When we got back, we discovered that she also really likes the green monster smoothies that W- makes (kale, blueberry, banana, yogurt, hemp seeds).

We’ve booked our flights for the next trip, this time with W-. I might actually be able to do more paperwork this time around. In the meantime, we’re settling back into life at home. October will probably be mostly about making the most of Toronto with music classes, parenting workshops, physical activity, parks, playgrounds, and trips to the science centre and to the museum, and catching up on stuff I postponed while we were away.

A-‘s learning so much. It’s all we can do to keep up! =)

Learning how to play with dough

​Every day brings new and wonderous discoveries of what a kid can do, even at 19 months old. 

Take play dough. We’ve been using the same batch I made a few months ago following the first recipe I found on the Internet. We have just enough to fill a sandwich container, and it’s all one colour: light green, since we had lots of green colouring left over from jelly-making days.

A- started off mostly being interested in cutting the dough with a baby knife and a dough scraper. I used to just roll out ropes and balls for her to cut. Last week, I decided to keep myself occupied by playing with the dough myself, learning more about thinking in 3D by shaping familiar objects or adding up layers. I made a cat. A- started petting it and doing the gestures for a cat-themed rhyme we often recite.

I made an egg and a pan. I mimed our breakfast routine, making a bowl and a plate along the way. She imitated that gleefully, asking me to make more eggs for her to crack and scramble. 

I made an airplane. She flew it around. 

I made figures for W-, her, and me. She gave them a hug. 

W- joined us for a play session. He made her a car. She vroom-vroomed it around.

I made her an apple. She said “Ap” and pretended to eat it. 

W- made her a banana. She said, “(Ba)nana, pee(l).” She tried to peel it, so I made her another banana with a peelable skin, and she peeled that. 

Meanwhile, W- made her two bananas, still joined together like we get them at the store. She took the pair of bananas, said “Nana, hu.” That boggled us. Hu? Hoo? What did she mean? She curled her finger under the stem connecting the bananas. Ah, hook! W- carefully hung the play dough bananas on the hook that we usually use for real bananas.

It was a little like doodling with play dough. We’d squish a quick shape together, name it, and see if she was interested. I knew A- was comfortable pretending with props – the tea set at the drop-in centre, the kitchen playset her cousins have – but I was surprised at how well she played with combinations of simple playdough figures and words. 

It makes me wonder: what else can I do at this stage to help her learn and grow? I doodle faces, stick figures, everyday objects, and sketchnoted thoughts when she’s drawing, and her pencil grip is starting to look remarkably like mine. (Hmm, might be time for me to learn how to write properly.) Her Lolo gave her a waterproof, shockproof camera, so we’ve started taking pictures and reviewing them together. We go to music classes so that I can learn songs to fill her week with. I’d also like to learn more about physical activity and nature so that I can help her grow in those areas too. It all seems almost like more of an education for me than for her. I’m learning a lot, guided by her joy.

It might not always be as awesome as this, I know. But it’s pretty darn awesome. =)

Weekly review: Week ending September 1, 2017

My dad’s in poor health, so A- and I flew to the Philippines on short notice in order to spend time with the family. I don’t expect to be much help as I’m still mostly focused on childcare, but I figure they might enjoy a glimpse of everyday life with A-, and it’s generally a good idea to be together during tough times.

W- is still at home, so we make sure to collect stories and photos to share with him. This is the longest we’ll be away from him in all of A-‘s life. Come to think of it, it might be the longest I’ve been away from him since we got together.

The last time we flew from Toronto to Manila by way of Seoul, we liked Korean Air but were still almost asleep on our feet because of the sheer length of the flights. A- got way overtired, which made all of us pretty miserable. Since I was flying by myself this time around, I experimented with a flight itinerary that included a 16-hour layover in Incheon, choosing the airport transit hotel for extra risk mitigation. My eldest sister arranged her flight from California so that she could join me in Incheon and on the flight to Manila. The overnight stay and the extra pair of hands were really helpful, and we managed to make it to Manila without too much stress despite the occasional tantrum.

A- took a while to settle in. For the first few days, she often wanted to stay in the carrier. I was beginning to worry about making sure she still got gross motor development time. She made tons of progress in terms of fine motor skills, language, and social interaction, though: fist-bumps, high-fives, kisses, mano, and new words like “bump!” and “uwa” (for underwear). Lots of pretend play, too. She wanted to use the baby carrier to carry her stuffed sheep, so I’ll see if I can make her a carrier when we get home.

A- readily tried all sorts of new tastes, and we figured out our snacking options over here: cheese, grapes (for which she invented her own sign, since she liked them so much), sandwiches, and energy bars when we’re out and about. She learned how to work the water dispenser, too.

My family wanted to go on a long road trip, but I was really uncomfortable with the idea, so I put my foot down even if they got upset with me. Things settled down after a day or two, though. Whew!

A-‘s more comfortable in the house now. She likes playing with her cousins, aunt, and grandparents, and they’re fascinated with her too. I’ve been able to help a little with the paperwork and get more information about my dad’s health and priorities. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to keep these priorities in mind: A- and me, Kathy and the kids, and my parents, with paperwork being a much lower priority. Still, if I can help organize information while A- learns more about hanging out, that works too.

Blog posts

I’ve been caught up in family matters and haven’t been able to write, but I look forward to reestablishing routines at least for my journal and for Emacs News.

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (0.6h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.6h – 100% of Business)
      • ☑ Prepare invoice
  • Relationships (0.6h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (1.7h – 1%)
    • Drawing (1.5h)
    • Coding (0.2h)
  • Personal routines (7.0h – 4%)
  • Unpaid work (14.5h – 8%)
  • A- (Childcare) (67.7h – 40% of total)
  • Sleep (30.1h – 17% – average of 4.3 per day) – this week’s numbers are messed up because of travel, since I couldn’t log well on the flight

Weekly review: Week ending August 25, 2017

My dad’s health took a turn for the worse, so we decided that it was a good idea to visit earlier rather than later. I scrambled to book a flight – just me and A-, so we could stay longer than W- could get off from work. The ocularist and the pediatrician both let me move our medical appointments earlier. I ended up rebooking A-‘s ticket because it turned out that she still fits into Korean Air’s bassinet, which saved me some money even after the change fee. I also took A- to the dentist for a quick check on her enamel hypoplasia (now pre-cavity, but oh well) because we wanted to make sure her recent fussiness was just regular toddlerhood and not a sign that she was in pain. I notified Toronto Public Health that I’d be missing the first two weeks of the parenting workshop I’d registered for, and I moved our meeting with the Healthy Babies Healthy Children nurse. I bought some clothes at Value Village, and I got a pillowcase that I turned into a dress for A-. W- prepared a travel consent form and got it notarized, just in case. I also dealt with some bad timing, but that’s just life. With all that out of the way, we were ready to go.

A- has been exercising her independence. She had a tantrum at Shoppers Drug Mart because she wanted to keep filling our shopping basket and I needed to get going. She started resisting baths, too. W- suggested showers, and that worked brilliantly. Maybe she decided showers were the way to go after having had a few showers at the pool.

She’s been picking up lots of new words and actions, too. She said “Hamma” (hammer) while listening to W- work on the porch. She can refer to one of our cats by name, and she refers to herself using the first two syllables of her name. W- noticed A- pushing a luggage lock around on the floor, so he brought over the big box of Duplo cars and we all had a blast vroom-vrooming cars around. Sheep and Giraffe now regularly sport diapers and sometimes even underwear. A- figured out how to close screwtop containers, too.

Other things:

  • W- made rice and peas from scratch instead of using the mix from a jar, and it was a revelation: subtly creamy and oh so yummy.
  • We got to watch Ghost in the Shell, too, which was surprisingly okay at 1.5x speed.
  • I turned over my consulting work in preparation for being away for almost a month. Let’s see if this works out!

A busy week of preparation!

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (3.1h – 1%)
    • Earn (3.1h – 100% of Business)
  • Relationships (2.5h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (4.3h – 2%)
    • Drawing (2.0h)
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Coding (0.8h)
    • Sewing (1.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (1.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (20.7h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (16.7h – 9%)
  • A- (Childcare) (73.6h – 43% of total)
  • Sleep (46.1h – 27% – average of 6.6 per day)

2017-08-21 Emacs news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups