Weekly review: Week ending 2017-12-15

We managed to make it out to the playground this week. I bundled her into a snowsuit and she enjoyed the swing, slide, and seesaw. Back at home, she was interested in standing astride the balance bike a few times. She also enjoyed lifting heavy things over her head and tossing them down. I encouraged her to throw bags of lentils from her tower down to her rocking chair, which helped absorb the impact.

A- can open doorknobs now! She also figured out how to repeatedly squeeze and open scissors, and can cut all the way through an index card if I hold the card for her. She’s interested in picking things up with her toes like I do.

A- sorted cans of cat food by colour into five groups. It was fun seeing her look around and light up when she saw a matching can. She also put one of her toys onto a Duplo car, said “Ride!”, and rolled the car down a slope, so she’s getting the hang of wheels too. She likes rolling things down a slope to hit a target, and calling out what she hit if she missed her called shot.

Now that pottying is well-established, we decided to stop offering videos as an option for potty time. It wasn’t worth the momentary upset whenever she wanted to watch more videos of herself and we wanted her to move on to another activity. She still asks for them from time to time, but she also accepts being told stories or being read to. She seems to pick up words and ideas when we review her videos together, so maybe I’ll find another place in her routines for video review. I can select videos and put them in an album for her, and that might guide her activities for the afternoon too.

A- occasionally requests Cattus Petasatus while she’s on the potty, which amuses us greatly. The Cozy Classics version of Pride and Prejudice is a regular at bedtime, too.

A- strung quite a few words together in these groups of frequently associated thoughts. For example, she liked the picture I took of her when she was upset and she didn’t want to wake up. She often said, “Upset picture, cat pajamas, no wake up, ni (nurse) bed,” practically all in one breath. When I was pretending to sleep in the hopes of getting her to sleep before 5 AM, she repeated sentences like “Mama, read you. Lights on.”

She showed some interest in music this week. She sang parts of Baa Baa Black Sheep and the little ditty we made up about Put Away. She asked me to bring down the ukulele, and she played with the strings while we sang. It made up for not having been able to go to music classes these past few weeks.

A- liked carrying her stuffed sheep around in a sling, carefully tucking a small blanket around it just like I tuck a blanket around her when she’s in the carrier. She’s also gotten better at both imitating us when we brush our teeth and letting me brush her teeth. She’s been working on coordinating the use of a fork and a spoon. She took her T-shirt and her pajamas off all by herself. She sometimes insisted on my waiting for her as she climbs up and down the stairs by herself. She liked doing things at the same time we did, whether it was taking pictures with the camera or cleaning the kitchen.

We got our flu shots, bought more gifts, and packed for the trip. I donated A-‘s outgrown clothes and walker to the JFRC. I found the Reddit JSON for upvoted posts and incorporated that into my Emacs News workflow. I started looking into photobooks, and I’m leaning towards figuring out ImageMagick incantations so that I have more control.

The major system update at work seems to be going well. I fixed a couple of small bugs related to tagged documents and header internationalization. No emergencies, yay! I’ll probably still bring the work laptop just in case.

Next week: travel and family time…

Contemplating A-‘s enamel hypoplasia

I get a little anxious about A-‘s teeth. She has enamel hypoplasia, and there are large spots where enamel didn’t fully form. I’ve taken her to the dentist a number of times, and I even got a second opinion. Both dentists recommended watching and waiting, trying to make brushing a pleasant habit instead of restraining her, holding off on fluoride toothpastes or varnishes until she can reliably rinse and spit, and playing the long game when it comes to minimizing anxiety about dental care – better to avoid potentially traumatizing kids. Most days I can get her to either use the electric toothbrush or let me brush her teeth. A- does like rinsing and spitting at home, but I’m not sure I can get her to do that at a dentist’s office after a possibly upsetting varnish, and she still sometimes drinks the water instead of spitting out out. It’s just a little nerve-wracking to watch the slow discoloration of the rear surfaces of her front teeth and wonder when she’ll be able to sit for treatment, while keeping things pleasant and worry-free for A- so that she doesn’t develop dental anxiety.

The research papers I’ve read recommend fluoride varnishes even for very young children, but I’m reluctant to push for something against the recommendations of two dentists who’ve seen A-. I think I can trust their experience and that they’ve considered the research findings, too.

It can be reassuring to plan for the worst-case scenario. Let’s say A-‘s teeth start hurting. We’d take her to the dentist to have a look. Let’s say the teeth most affected by enamel hypoplasia need to be filled or even extracted before A- can sit still for cleanings or less invasive treatments. We’d take her in for dental work under sedation. It would be expensive, but that’s something we can save for. She might have spacers to help with the growth of her permanent teeth. It would suck, but there shouldn’t be any long-term pain, and she would probably catch up in growth after that’s resolved. If she does end up with anxiety about dentists, well, maybe play therapy and psychotherapy can help. After all, she’s similarly unhappy with ocularists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, pediatricians, and nurses, but we don’t let that stop us from doing what’s necessary.

I think I’m partly worried that A- might not be able to tell us if her teeth hurt. She’s pretty good at telling us when she bumps her elbow or drops something on her toe, though. She loves eating frozen blueberries and doesn’t have a fever. Her gums don’t look like they have abscesses, although her top front teeth do have dark brown spots on the back.

I’ll probably take her to the dentist when we get back from our trip, partly for familiarization and partly for peace of mind. Maybe we can plan it for a day when W- can take us in the car. Or maybe we’ll get proper snow pants for A- and gradually work up to regularly spending time outside, so then we can make it to the appointment by subway. We can deal.

Lots of people get cavities. I still need the occasional filling, even though I try to take good care of my teeth. Lots of kids get cavities, and the Internet says the cavities tend to bother the parents more than they bother the kids. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not fully under my control, either. All we can do is deal with things and try to build good habits. It’s going to be okay.

2017-12-11 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.

Weekly review: Week ending 2017-12-08

Cognition: This week was a good one for sorting. A- grasped the concept of “same” when I demonstrated it with the cans in the pantry. She was able to put cans of red kidney beans together and cans of soup together, and she could even distinguish between chicken soup and mushroom soup.

Emotion: A- showed a little anxiety whenever we peeled oranges, burying her face in me until we gave her the all clear. It’s a good way to avoid getting squirted in the eye, that’s for sure.

Field trips: We discovered that a nearby community centre has a warm toddler pool and long weekend hours. It might become our new favourite.

Motor: A-‘s been getting the hang of the tongs that I placed under the sink for her. She can pick up plastic bags and ping pong balls now. She also spent some time having fun with stickers, and can usually peel them off the sticker sheets herself.

Lots of climbing up and sliding down the slide that we improvised from pillows and the other mattress in her room. She used to climb up the incline, but now she mostly takes the long way around. She also wears pants more often now, instead of going around bare. That makes sliding more comfortable. Besides, no clothes = no pictures or videos, and she likes being on camera and reviewing the videos.

Also, A- rather amusingly flaps her arms and calls that jumping jacks.

Household: A-‘s good at putting away dishes now. I take them out of the dishwasher and hand them to her, and she puts them on the shelves as she stands on the counter. I hover behind her for safety. We probably can’t rejig our kitchen layout to put the dishes lower, but this seems like a reasonable risk for more sorting and counting practice. Maybe when she’s bigger, she can use the tower as an in-between step for boosting herself up and lowering herself.

She’s gotten the hang of the microwave routine, too. We open the door together, put in food, cover it, close the door, press buttons (hooray for child lock), make a whirring sound, open the door, remove the cover, use a towel to carefully remove the pretend-hot food, and let it cool down. She had lots of fun labeling each step.

Sensory: lots of stepping on bubble wrap, and a bit of using her hands too. She likes the crinkly sound the plastic bags make, and trying to catch them when I toss them up in the air. Some water play in the sink, too.

Us: I made it out to the Philippine consulate to pick up my passport, and I bought a few gifts for our upcoming trip. W-‘s been working late, but we stocked the fridge with plenty of food, so we were fine. He completed the stairs and the temporary porch, so we can use the front door again. The camera W- gave me is working out really nicely even with our indoor light, so we’ve been building a habit of sharing photos and videos with him after dinner. Yay!

W- hung out with A- for a couple of hours on Sunday so that I could investigate an upgrade-related issue and do a braindump to help one of my team mates understand our data extract script better. It was nice to have that focused time.

Next week: more trip preparations!

Daily, weekly, and monthly journals: my Memento + Google Sheets + Tasks Free + Google Tasks + WordPress workflow

Journaling considerations:

  • A- nurses a lot in bed. I keep my phone handy and I write when she doesn’t want to let me go.
  • I also jot quick notes throughout the day so that I don’t have to keep them in my head. These go into the nearest synchronized device.
  • It’s hard to remember the context for those notes if too much time passes. A daily verbal recap for W- and a weekly summary for my blog seem to be just the right balance. Anything older than a week gets too fuzzy, while writing detailed notes every day takes too much time away from other things I’d like to do.
  • Monthly reviews give me a better perspective on big changes. It’s hard to keep enough in my head when I’m reading or writing on my phone, so I need help summarizing a month’s worth of highlights.

Here are the technical details:

I set up Memento Database on my phone and on a backup Android phone. I picked it because it can synchronize between phones in the background, and it can also sync with Google Sheets so that I can process things further.

My journal database has the following fields:

  • Date: defaults to current date
  • Note
  • Category: single value from a list. Most of my entries go into Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Language, Self-care, Other, or Us, and I add other categories as needed.
  • Highlight: a number indicating the level of review this should be included in: 1 – weekly, 2 – monthly, 3 – yearly. I display this field as the status, so that it shows up on the right side.

I have a shortcut on my home screen so that I can quickly add a journal entry.

I normally sort the list by date, with recent entries on top.

As part of my weekly review, I look at recent entries, fill in any categories I skipped, and choose a few to highlight. For example, last week, I wrote 17 entries and I chose 13 to include in the weekly review.

I configured Memento’s default export formatting to include only the Note field and to export that without the field label.

I filtered the database to show only the entries within a given date range where the highlight value was greater than 0.5.

I grouped it by category so that similar entries were together. This was better than fiddling with the sorting, since this takes fewer taps to set back to my default view.

After filtering and grouping the entries, I used the “Send all > Send as text” command to send it to Tasks Free, which is a task manager that synchronizes with Google Tasks. I like the way I can drag-and-drop tasks to reorder them, which makes prioritizing so much easier on my phone. I edit the text in Tasks Free, turning the keywords into paragraphs and moving things around for better flow.

After drafting the body of the post (and possibly switching between phones, if my battery ran low), I select all the text, copy it into the WordPress app, set the categories and the title, and post the entry.

The monthly review process is quite similar. I start with a filtered view that shows all entries for last month (133 entries in November), and I group it by category. I skim all the entries, not just the ones included in the weekly review, because sometimes little moments turn out to be significant or part of a bigger pattern. After setting the highlight values for the things I’d like to include in my monthly review, I switch to another filter that shows me last month’s entries with a highlight value greater than 1.5 (28 entries in November). I send it all to Tasks Free, edit the post, copy it into WordPress, and publish.

If I manage to squeeze in some computer time, I use Google Tasks to copy the text into Emacs and then use my regular Org Mode review/publish processes.

I’ve been thinking about how I can improve this workflow. Sending text to the WordPress app doesn’t seem to work (the text disappears after I save or publish), and it’s kinda nice being able to move my weekly review task around on my task list in order to accommodate other priorities. I also like the way Google Tasks keeps the data from completed tasks, which has come in handy a few times. Tasks Free editing is more responsive, too. Synchronizing with Tasks Free seems to be more robust than synchronizing with Orgzly, since I only have to watch out for editing the same task on two devices instead of watching out for the whole file.

I’d like to get back to drawing the weekly and monthly reviews, but maybe that can wait until A-‘s sleep is more settled and my discretionary time is more consolidated. The visual journals are more fun to flip through, but the bulk and chronological views I hacked into my WordPress theme are reasonable workarounds.

Working around my phone plan’s lack of roaming

Constraints:

  • I need to deal with SMS one-time passwords, especially for online banking in the Philippines.
  • I like my plan with Freedom Mobile, but they don’t offer roaming in the Philippines.
  • My Philippine prepaid SIM will expire if I don’t regularly load it.

I could leave my SIM plugged into a phone and set up some kind of forwarding or logging. However, this means I can bring only one phone to the Philippines. Having two Android devices was handy for setting up WiFi Baby Monitor and for writing even if my battery was running low. On the other hand, we could use W-‘s phone as the receiver, I can keep a power bank or charger handy, and there might even be a spare phone at home that I can set up.

Alternatively, I can try to set up my Fongo number for incoming texts. I’m planning to pay for Internet access anyway. Some services like Namecheap won’t let me use the Fongo number for two-factor authentication, but others do.

I can check with W- if he has roaming. If so, maybe I can use his phone number as a backup.

I can use my Philippine prepaid SIM as the contact number (likely to be more successful with Philippine banks anyway), enable roaming before I leave, and periodically reload online to keep it active. If I can find the Smart Pinoy SIM, that can receive text messages with zero balance and it expires a year after the last load. I might also be able to change the contact number online once we’re back in Canada.

Hmm… Plenty of things to try. I think I like the convenience of bringing both phones, since they’re already all set up for writing. I’ll try Fongo first, then I’ll try the Philippine SIM if that doesn’t work. If I have to keep my SIM active by buying a roaming SIM and/or spending a few dollars a month, it’s probably worth it, and it won’t be for a super-long time anyway. It’s a good opportunity to experiment with paying for convenience.