Weekly review: Week ending October 20, 2017

A- loves scribbling on paper, and she also likes asking me to draw things for her. I usually draw our faces, taking advantage of our brain’s inclination to see faces even in simple shapes. I label as I draw: “A- has two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and hair.” It looks like all that modeling is paying off. This week, she drew a rough circle, said “Eyes,” and added lots of dots. Neat!

She asks to see pictures every day, sometimes several times a day. She likes labeling herself, Daddy, the cats, her hat, Lolo and Lola, and washing hands. We printed out a few more pictures so that she has more to flip through. She got interested in removing pictures from and inserting them into the photo album. We also show her pictures on our phones and on the tablet. I’m gradually collecting pictures of everyday words so that I can help her expand her vocabulary.

She’s getting better at entertaining herself independently for a few minutes at a time. She mimed making noodles with a pot and imitated Neko cleaning her paws. She likes flipping through albums and through my box of sketched index cards. One time, she even told W- that she’ll wait by playing in her room until he could finish vacuuming.

Since it was pretty warm this week, A- often didn’t want to put on clothes. Fortunately, no one at the science centre batted an eye. Even on a cooler day, she resisted pants, but she eventually asked to wear a jacket. I’m learning to trust that she’ll ask for clothes when she feels cold, and she’s fine otherwise.

Another little moment that might be a milestone: A- handed a teaspoon to W- and said “One.” She gave him another, and said “Two.” She gave him another, and said “Three.” We’re not sure if she’s counting or just remembering the sequence, but since she’s interested in numbers, we’ll make sure to count lots of things.

So much reading, too! :) We found a nice place for storytime in our bedtime routine, snuggling in bed with a handful of books. She likes having us read “I Love You Through and Through” repeatedly, and she points to various body parts at the appropriate points. She likes the new books we borrowed from the library, too.

We finally made it to the city-run Recreation Discovery program. It’s like a compressed JFRC or OEYC: free play, circle time, crafts, and a story. A- was reserved, but she liked the books and the magnetic drawing board. She’s still pretty reserved in music class, but she’s starting to try to sing along when I sing outside it. At the Make the Connection parenting workshop, we learned more about temperaments and goodness of fit. A- and I are pretty similar, so it’s been easy to adapt to what she needs.

The balance bike I ordered for her is taking a mysteriously long time to turn up at the neighbourhood post office. I might need to follow up on Monday.

We had our final meeting with Healthy Babies Healthy Children. Nilda gave us our completion certificate and answered my remaining questions. It was super helpful to have their support as we were figuring out what we were dealing with, and the activities they suggested helped me learn how to help A- develop her skills.

I reflashed my phone to LineageOS with W-‘s help. That should make my phone a little more up to date. I also updated my ledger. I stayed up late one night to do some consulting, fixing the auto-follow tool in time for my client’s demo.

Next week: catching up and getting a little ahead…

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (6.6h – 3%)
    • Earn (5.0h – 74% of Business)
    • Build (1.7h – 25% of Business)
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (3.1h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (2.1h – 1%)
    • Coding (1.0h)
  • Personal routines (21.5h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (20.3h – 12%)
  • A- (Childcare) (63.2h – 37% of total)
  • Sleep (51.2h – 30% – average of 7.3 per day)

Week ending October 15, 2017

​There was a bit of sleep disruption last week, but overall, A- was back to a normal schedule. She seems to naturally be a night owl, so we’ll just adapt by taking it easy and avoiding early morning commitments.

We’ve definitely built a smoothie habit. She asks for them every day, and has invented her own sign for them. Not a bad way to get more spinach into her. She liked the applesauce that she had as a snack at the JFRC, eating it instead of spitting it out like she did when she was much younger. She was curious about watercress and seaweed. She liked  shrimp a lot.

The big thing last week was about playing more independently. At the playground, she climbed the stairs, stepped down to the platform, slid down the slide, and got off all by herself. She did five circuits without holding my hand! Wow. Having mastered the shallowest slide, she then went on to independently slide down two other slides on the same playground. She figured out how to rock back and forth on the spring toys there, too.

Lots of language, too. When I tried babbling back what I thought she said, she emphatically corrected me with “No, A- Baa” – she wasn’t just babbling, she was specifically asking for her sheep. She asked for her smock with “Smo” and for paint with “Pai.” She asked me to read several books, some again and again, and she pointed to various body parts as we read “I Love You Through and Through.” She tried asking the cats to do things (Up! Play ball!), which was about as successful as you expect it would be. (Not at all.) More successful was W-‘s attempt to teach her to say “Anothe(r)!” after she polished off her smoothie.

A- saw pictures of W- feeding her yogurt in her recliner, and insisted on recreating the scene. She really likes looking at pictures, whether they’re printed or on our phones. 

All sorts of details from our household routines surfaced during pretend play, especially with dough. She asked for a pan, oil, egg, fork, and plate as she mimed cooking eggs. She asked for a blender, blueberries, banana, yogurt, and a glass as she pretended to make a smoothie. She asked for an oven to toast her pretend-seaweed in, then filled it and rolled it up. She moved a little A- figure down a slide.

We bought her a table and two chairs from IKEA, and W- installed a potty seat in the upstairs bathroom. I bought flannel shirts for her from Value Village, since she doesn’t like clothes that need to be pulled over her head. Little investments in independence and comfort!

As for me, I tried structuring my daily journal as a spreadsheet that I can update on my phone. Seems to be working so far, since computer time has been harder to find than phone time. I looked into some database upgrade questions for my consulting client. 

I even managed to watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 one evening. Slowly getting back to normal…

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