Week ending 2018-02-16

The dentist recommended taking A- to an anesthesia dentist because she’s concerned that A-‘s teeth are worn down to the pulp and that there might be a hole that affects a nerve. The dentist she referred me to has an 8-hour no food or liquid fasting requirement for treatment instead of allowing breastmilk up to 4 hours before and clear liquids up to 2 hours before. A- still nurses through the night, so I may have to find another dentist, night wean her, or put all of us through a very miserable day. We’re hoping to get a referral to Sick Kids, since with all the other things going on with her, we want the anesthesiologist to have lots of experience with toddlers with other conditions.

The ocularist appointment was more straightforward. A- will get a new conformer in two weeks. We’re going to continue with the conformer approach instead of getting a painted shell because A- still takes her conformer out every so often. We nearly lost her current one. Conformers are cheaper and easier to replace. We’ll just put up with the occasional question from curious strangers (who can sometimes be a bit awkward or even rude, but I’ll just chalk that up to them being off-balance).

We visited her Po Po and Gung Gung for a Chinese New Year party. She had lots of fun hanging out with her Uncle Morgan, Auntie Cathy, and M-. We bought a Japanese cheesecake to serve for her birthday, and she actually blew the candle all by herself. She was very chatty and interactive, hiding jigsaw puzzle pieces in her sleeves and distributing or collecting them as directed, giving people high fives, playing with trucks, and scarfing down a decent amount of food.

We also visited Joy and J-. We all read books together and played with the toy kitchen. A- shared her cereal with J- and sampled her quesadilla, although she wasn’t particularly curious about the pinakbet.

A- easily named and inserted shapes into the sorter. It’s been quite a while since she last played with it and she used to need regular hints, but I guess something just clicked. Duplo clicked for her, too. She got interested in building tall towers (even standing on a chair to do so) and in simulating playgrounds.

Language highlights this week: “Wow” (in reaction to the printer and other awesome things), and “Give it a try” (which she said to me when I told her the bananas were still green). She’s been singing a lot, too. Muvili Zuma Zuma, Humpty Dumpty, Happy Birthday to You, even the song I made up for the swing… We made it to music class and picked up a variant of “Love My Baby,” and we went to the ROM afterwards because she wanted to see the animals.

At the playground, she wanted to be bounced up and down very quickly on the spring toys. She’s getting pretty good at asking for what she wants!

Thinking about impact

In preparation for possibly making it to a conversation tomorrow about quantified impact, I’ve been thinking about the impact I want my experiments to have and how I might be able to observe and measure them.

I realized that I’m less interested in looking at my impact on the wider world and more interested in looking at the impact on myself. I’m also interested in the impact on my family. This is partly due to the influence of Stoicism’s focus on the things that I can control, partly the freedom of not having external performance reviews, and partly an experimental belief that if I take care of my own life and share what I’m learning with others, wider impact will follow. I don’t need to seek it prematurely. I can focus instead on having a solid foundation to build on.

If I evaluated impact based on the outcomes for A-, I would leave that too vulnerable to chance (what if A- died unexpectedly?) or conflict (what if A- wanted a different path?). It feels more right to focus on doing my part well, and to evaluate myself accordingly. If other things work out well, that’s a nice bonus, and keeping an eye on how those things are going can help me check if I’m on track or drifting.

With that in mind, what kind of impact do l want for my experiments, big and small?

Deeper appreciation of life, meaning: My biggest experiment at the moment is parenting. Based on research, parenting is likely to increase feelings of satisfaction and purpose, and will probably be worth the reduced autonomy and increased vulnerability. It’s not so much about pleasure as it is about eudaimonia.

Deeper appreciation of W- and other people: Research is pessimistic on the effect of parenting on marital satisfaction and social connection, but I might be able to counter those effects by paying attention thoughtfully. I’ve certainly developed a deeper appreciation of W- over the past few years, and I feel like I’m getting to know Toronto better too. Parenting lets me see my family and my in-laws in a new light. I like being able to remember that everyone was a baby once, too, and I like being able to appreciate other people more.

Practice in equanimity: Parenting brings plenty of opportunities to apply philosophy to life. I like wasting less energy on frustration and directing more energy towards paying attention and moving forward. I’ve been able to keep my cool in varied situations, and now I’m working on being able to respond thoughtfully and creatively in the moment.

Push to learn and grow: I’m taking advantage of my desire to help A- by learning more about child development, early childhood education, health, science, and other things. I’m sure I’ll learn about lots of random topics along the way. I’m trading a bit of self-direction for motivation and pushes out of my comfort zone. I could start tracking this by writing down what I’m learning about.

Experiences, empathy: Not only with W- and A-, but with other people too.

Immersion into children’s worlds, playfulness, wonder, creativity: Good stuff.

Reduced friction, increased capabilities, increased effects: It’s good to deal with constraints like sleep disruption and limited attention, since I can find the rough spots and figure out ways to improve them.

Good boundaries, assertiveness, deliberation: I’m learning more about making decisions, asserting myself, and changing my mind as needed.

Shared notes, possible business ideas, credibility: Other people might benefit from what I’m learning or doing.

Increased Emacs community, learning from each other: I’m glad I can do Emacs News. Looking forward to having more brain space so that I can contribute tweaks too, since playing with Emacs improves my capabilities and tickles my brain.

The book All Joy and No Fun promises to be an interesting summary of the research into the effects of parenting on parents.

If I can be more thoughtful about the effects I want (or need to watch out for) from the various choices I can make, then I might be able to make better decisions or invest a little effort and get even better results. It’s fun thinking about these things!

2018-02-19 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.

January 2018

It was one of those big months that somehow manage to contain so much.

We reshot our family picture because my dad wanted us to all wear Columbia clothes. We spent a few days relaxing at home and enjoying family time. Then my dad slipped into delirium and we took him to the hospital, where he died. The cremation, wake, and inurnment were all wonderful celebrations of an amazing life. I’ve written about most of the things I want to learn from my dad’s example and that I want to pass on to A-. I look forward to seeing how they work out in practice.

Most of the paperwork is underway. There’s dealing with the reconfiguration of our family dynamics, too. There’s a big gap where my dad used to be, of course. On the plus side, I have an even better appreciation of the strengths of my mom and my sisters. We’ll get through this.

A- had a grand time hanging out with her cousins, aunts, and grandparents. She figured out how to sit down and cross her legs. She liked bouncing on the bed and falling down forwards and backwards. She mastered the well-timed shrug. She peeled and ate lots of tiny oranges. She asked Lola and Tita Kathy to read her lots of books. She got over her anxiety about dolls. She often hugged people and accepted hugs.

The flights home were quite manageable, especially since we had the luxury of empty seats beside us during the Incheon-Toronto flight. Sleep deprivation, sniffles, and jet lag hit us hard on our return, but things got mostly back to normal after a couple of weeks.

At home, she quickly went through her favourite activities. She figured out how to build an 8-block-high tower and delighted in knocking it down using different parts of her body. We figured out how to dress for winter and have been making

A-‘s language capabilities really took off. She started saying things like “Thank you,” “You did it!”, and “Give it a try.” She explicitly imitated us: “A- make coffee just like Daddy make coffee.” She picked up lots of adjectives and modifiers: “very very sweet oranges.” She learned how to talk about negation: “Nobody,” “Tita Ching no wear glasses. Only Lola wear glasses.” She talked about recent events and anticipated upcoming ones. She even tried her hand at negotiation and persuasion: “Blueberries! (nod nod) That’s okay. That’s okay.”

February will be about settling in again and taking care of A-‘s medical appointments. I also want to spend some time rethinking my workflow considering our recent phone and tablet upgrades, and to think about where other upgrades might make sense.

Week ending 2018-02-09

Gross motor: A- practised walking forward on her balance bike. It was just a few steps, but hey, progress! She also enjoyed swimming. We had the toddler pool all to ourselves for a while, and she enjoyed walking in the shallow water and even kneeling just enough to dip her ears into the water. At the Science Centre, she had lots of fun following E-‘s example and running up and down corridors, climbing stairs, and so on.

Fine motor: She can screw together the oversized nuts and bolts in her toolkit. She was interested in the Duplo blocks. She liked adding a paper butterfly to the ROM exhibit.

Language: She used the word “need” to ask for something. Her first request? “I need a hug.” She thanked me afterwards, too. She’s getting pretty good at talking about recent events, like pointing to the fridge and saying, “Daddy bought new eggs.” Ithink she can talk about how she felt, too. For example, a kid accidentally knocked her down at the Science Centre. When we were chatting about the day during her bath, we got to that part and she said “A- sad.”

Household: She insisted that we make muffins, and she even brought out the muffin tin.

Social: She had such a great day on Friday hanging out with Jen and E-, and she was so excited to see W- that she was squeaking as she ran to the door. Joy gave us a kitchen playset, which A- liked. A- also put up with me having coffee with Eric and chatting about leadership. We made it out to music class, but she was pretty reserved. At home, she loved playing games with me (peekaboo, moving tunnels, fall down, toss hair/pompom).

Independence: She insisted on privacy while using the potty. She wanted to do most things by herself. She put on her own coat a few times.

Other: She passed her eye exam – perfect vision and healthy pressure in her right eye so far. Amusingly, she was indifferent to the first sheet of stickers offered by the doctor, but she quickly snatched the second sheet. She enjoyed hanging out at the family centre afterwards.

Us: I donated more clothes through the EarlyON family and child centre. We got a couple of IKEA Trofast units to organize A-‘s clothes and toys. Gradual decluttering!

2018-02-12 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.