March 2018

We managed to get a referral to Sick Kids, so A-‘s dental surgery under anesthesia is scheduled for the end of May. I squeezed in a three-week trip to the Philippines before the next set of medical appointments, overlapping with Kathy’s move to the Netherlands. Now that we’re back, I can resume working on the night weaning that the dentists strongly recommended. She also got a new conformer, but she isn’t too keen on wearing it.

We made it to the farmer Q&A session at Riverdale Farm, had lots of fun with the sandboxes and slides at various playgrounds, and checked out High Park Zoo. A- ran/walked all the way to the subway once – I didn’t have to pick her up at all. She also wanted to ride her balance bike outside. She often goose-stepped around the house, too. We went to Ward’s Island with Jen and E-, and she had lots of fun at the playground there.

We practiced blowing feathers, and I stocked up on crafting supplies. A- liked the shapes that I cut out of felt.

A- ate some of W-‘s pasta and found it too spicy, so she frequently asks if food is plain or spicy before eating it. She prefers plain food, although she tries spicy food from time to time. She liked the spinach pancakes and breadsticks we made together. I’m looking forward to exploring more recipes with her.

Lots of fun language moments:

  • “Nurse more, nurse more, no more monkeys:” after W- saved her from falling off the bed head-first
  • “Phone said it’s okay to nurse beep beep”
  • “I want to nurse in carrier because I tired”
  • “Airport sleep in bassinet a long time, because is tired”
  • “Flight attendant!”
  • a nicely interactive video chat with Lola

My big thing this month was figuring out how to make small books for A-. I traced photos on my phone, laid them out with Org Mode and LaTeX, printed them on a duplex colour printer, and taped the pages together. A- picked up the phrases and ideas so quickly. I made three books last month, and I want to make more!

Lots of other little kaizen projects, too. We kitted out the play room with more storage, and I printed labels for the bins. We got network-attached storage and have been organizing our photos. I set up lots of voice shortcuts on my phone. Lots of tidying up in the basement, too. I gave the iPad Pro and Pencil to Kathy, since she can make better use of it then I can at this time. I prepared our personal taxes and helped J- sign up for NETFILE.

We’ve been working on being more playful and silly, and that seems to be paying off. A- usually lets us brush her teeth and put her conformer back in if we play pretend or sing silly songs. Looking forward to learning even more.

April is nearly done. The trip, taxes, catching up, and preparing for all those medical things in May… Much to do!

2018-04-23 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.

Dealing with preoccupation and a slow tempo

I occasionally feel like less of a grown-up than I should be at 34 years old. We need to redo some of the insurance paperwork because I missed a few things in January. My sister will probably need to take care of that paperwork when she comes next week. I wasn’t forceful or proactive enough when it comes to dealing with fleas, so A- and I are covered in bites. I sometimes don’t see things even when they’re right in front of me.

A general approach that could work for me is:

  • Be kind to myself and others. Self-recrimination wastes energy and doesn’t accomplish anything. It’s okay to feel embarrassed if I use that feeling to move forward. It’s good to think of lapses as temporary than as indicative of character traits: something I did, not something I was. If I look for ways to improve, I can test if those ways will be sufficient.
  • Keep an oops fund. Most mistakes can be easily recovered from, and sometimes for not much money.
  • Work around my weaknesses. Delegate. Keep notes. Use checklists. Simplify. Manage expectations. Even if I think this extra fuzziness is temporary, it’s useful to plan workarounds as if it’s long-term, since I’ll probably run into similar problems when I’m older.

I feel scatter-brained. I find it hard to concentrate and remember, and I waste time getting back on track after interruptions. Mostly this is because I like being so available for A-, which is a decision I’m okay with, so I should just figure out how to compensate for that until things get back to normal-ish. Paperwork is low priority for me, so I should make sure it’s taken care of by someone who can prioritize and review it properly, and I shouldn’t overcommit.

We can get through this step by step. I can’t talk myself into being more focused and more observant, but I can gradually build safety nets, and then I can practise slowing down and paying attention.

A slow tempo often frustrates other people. I know my dad and Kathy often got impatient, and W- sometimes does too. Still, I think I can manage starting slow and working on becoming more solid. I trust that I’ll speed up with experience and with the compound growth of continuous improvement. I’m good at multiplying the value of the time I spend, and there are a few areas where I feel fast, too. I want to figure out just the right tempo for things – not slower than I need to be, but not faster than I can, while erring on the side of underpromising. I think this might be useful for me in the long run. Let’s see!

Week ending 2018-04-13

Kathy and her family left for the Netherlands on Thursday. It was great to spend time with them while they were here, and we look forward to syncing up with them when they can take a vacation. A- enjoyed playing with her cousins, and she even played peekaboo with Tito John while they were packing.

A- has gotten more interested in drawing and writing. She drew lines up and down while naming them. Then she progressed to saying “W” while drawing a wavy line. She’s also had lots of scissors practice, and she can now easily cut across a sheet of paper. She often likes cutting narrow strips.

She still prefers to be carried when we’re outside, but happily runs around and around at home.

This week, she started spontaneously saying “Sorry.” Spilled something? Sorry. Dropped something? Sorry. She even said sorry when I accidentally bumped her with a broom. She also talked to herself a lot more while playing: naming tile colours while walking on them, referring to herself by a nickname while drawing, musing “How can I figure this out?” while building, singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in full.

I dealt with a plugged duct in addition to the maddeningly itchy flea bites. Cleared up the duct, waging war against the fleas. We’ll get the hang of this.

Choosing recipes with a toddler in the kitchen

Recipe suggestions for cooking with toddlers tend to focus on scooping and sprinkling, but I think young kids can do much more. A- was happily cracking eggs at 17 months, and she even sometimes managed to leave the yolks intact. She’s now a little over 2 years old, and she loves helping in the kitchen. We picked up a second-hand Learning Tower to bring her up to counter height, and it’s one of my favourite pieces of toddler gear.

I think toddler-friendly recipes should:

  • accommodate variations in quantity (A- sometimes wants to keep scooping!),
  • have weight measurements (great for quick corrections once the toddler is done scooping),
  • be forgiving about time and attention during cooking (to accommodate potty breaks, playtime, impromptu dance parties, etc.): for example, zucchini muffins are easier than spinach pancakes
  • be easy to clean up both during prep and eating: for example, we tend to not do tomato sauces
  • be grown-up friendly: we prefer family portions, not just kid-specific meals

Bonus points for:

  • permitting play and sensory exploration, like the way A- likes it when we make breadsticks because it’s just like playdough, and salad is good for tearing and spinning
  • allowing more independence: things that can be cut with butter knives, etc.
  • short ingredient lists using mostly common ingredients that are easy to keep in stock (since I sometimes find it hard to shop for groceries with a toddler)
  • ingredients that are safe to handle raw and don’t require constant cleaning/handwashing: cheese is easier to work with than raw chicken
  • being easy to pack for lunch or snacks
  • recipe collections that gradually introduce new skills, tools, and tastes
  • being easy to make ahead or prepare in short stages: for example, I can chop a few carrots while A- is napping, and it’s okay if they sit on the counter a bit if A- wakes up crying
  • being easy to manage with multiple kids: division of labour, minimal choking/eating hazards, etc.
  • individually identifiable portions: for example, making pizza

So far, A- likes helping us with scrambled eggs, pizza, breadsticks, spinach smoothies, zucchini muffins, rice, and anything that involves cheese or cucumbers. Of course, she’s involved in cleaning up, too. Working on expanding our repertoire!

2018-04-16 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.