March 2016

Microphthalmia: small eye

March 3, 2016 - Categories: parenting

The doctors at the Sick Kids Hospital Eye Clinic confirmed the diagnosis of microphthalmia (small eye) for our baby. Her left eye is less than half the size of a normal eye, and the lens is still milky-white instead of clear – a sign that it prematurely stopped developing. She’s unlikely to be able to see anything more than light or shadow in that eye, if at all. It’s too small to operate on, and there’s no way to restore vision in that eye.

2016-03-03a Microphthalmia - small eye -- index card #microphthalmia

Everything else (including her right eye) seems normal so far, so it might be isolated microphthalmia instead of part of a syndrome. We’ll be scheduled for a full pediatric check-up anyway, just in case. She’ll probably be able to see fine with her right eye.

Lots of people get by with monocular vision. She’ll need to be careful about keeping vision in her right eye, of course. She’ll probably be near-sighted in he right eye like W- and me, so glasses will offer some protection.

As her head grows, she’ll need to wear ocular prostheses to get the eye socket to be the right shape and size. She’ll go for her first fitting in a few months, when the risks for general anaesthesia are lower. An ocularist will make a mold and then create prostheses for her. That’ll help keep her face balanced as she develops.

She’ll make an awesome pirate. Or cyborg. Or cyborg pirate. If she wants. Whatever life throws at us, we’ll just have to make the most of it. We’ll learn as much as we can, connect with other families figuring out similar challenges, and work on giving her a great start in life.

Here are some resources I found helpful for learning more about microphthalmia and anopthalmia (a related condition where the whole eye has not developed):

Treatment ( describes the process of expanding the eye sockets through prosthesis and tips for early intervention (ex: orientation and mobility training).

A practical guide to the management of anophthalmia and microphthalmia ( Related systems to examine, pictures to show the effects of prostheses, a detailed description of ocular prosthesis, and long-term management

A letter to new parents living with microphthalmia ( An article from someone with bilateral microphthalmia whose right eye developed enough to have usable vision, emphasizing the importance of constant stimulation, parental attitude, and Braille even for people with partial vision.

Facts about anophthalmia and microphthalmia ( describes prostheses needed until the age of 10.

Anophthalmia and microphthalmia ( Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases article that covers related genes, diagnostic methods, and management

Ocularists ( What an ocularist does and what to expect

Assistive Device Program ( Ontario program that pays up to 75% of the cost of equipment, including ocular prostheses; policy manual. The rest may be partially covered by insurance (through W-‘s work or my PHSP), or we can claim part of it as a medical tax credit.

IamA 15 year old male(in high school) that lives with an artificial(fake) right eye due to Microphthalmia since birth AMA! ( What it’s like for a teenager

Sometimes I feel a little intimidated. Will we be able to effectively identify and advocate for whatever could help her? What will it be like helping her get the hang of caring for her prostheses? Can we give her enough of a solid emotional foundation so that she can weather the challenges ahead? But maybe this obstacle will become one of the ways we contribute to the world. W- has been wonderfully supportive. There will probably be rough patches, but we can get through this together.

We’ll learn more over the next few months and in the years ahead. I’m working on getting a referral to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind so that we can tap into resources for kids with vision impairments. In the meantime, there are all the usual things to learn about life with a newborn, too. Onward.

Notes on cloth diapering so far

March 3, 2016 - Categories: parenting

Now that A-‘s umbilical cord stump has fallen off and things have settled down a little, it’s time to figure out the next step in my curriculum for surviving life with a newborn: cloth diapering. We’ve been thinking of going with cloth diapering as a way to reduce waste, save money, and have more flexibility, with disposable diapers for overnights or trips out.

2016-03-03b Notes on cloth diapers so far -- index card #parenting #diapers

2016-03-03b Notes on cloth diapers so far — index card #parenting #diapers

Over the course of several months, I had raided thrift stores for flannel sheets (two queen sheets at $6.99 each, one twin sheet at $5.99) to cut up into roughly 30″x30″ squares. I converted the remnants of the sheets into stacks of reusable wipes. I also picked up a number of flour sack towels. For comparison, I ordered some diaper flannel from the Internet. It’s a little denser and less nubby than the flannel sheets I picked up from thrift stores. Looks like the thrift store flannels are doing fine, though. I washed everything on hot to sanitize and shrink them before cutting the diapers, so the flats are actually mostly square. I sewed some one-size covers from the 1mil 72″ white PUL I ordered from Wazoodle, following the Little Green Bear tuckable diaper cover pattern.

The midwives also passed along some cloth diapering supplies donated by other families: small gPants and inserts, a couple of covers, and a stack of cotton prefolds. A- seems to be too big for the gPants. (Already?! She’s less than two weeks old! Maybe I’m not putting them on correctly… I’ll give them a try again before we wash and return them to the midwives.) As it turns out, I was putting the gPants on backwards. They fit, yay! We haven’t tried the prefolds yet.

We were a little worried about potentially poking her or us with safety pins, but it’s actually pretty manageable. I sharpened the pins on a whetstone, and we use a little coconut oil to lubricate it as well. Some of the flat diapers are more tightly-woven than others and require a bit more pressure, but keeping a hand between the diaper and her skin helps me feel more confident about pinning. The kite fold we started out with was a bit bulky in terms of both pinning and lying down. The happy anteater fold that W- found seems to be working wonderfully. There’s less fabric in the back, and it’s easy to pin in front – we’ve been getting by with one pin! I might still order those fancy diaper pins with locking heads when she’s more mobile and more curious, but in the meantime, things are working fine.

Laundry-wise, we’ve been doing a small load daily. It was a little ridiculous when it was just wipes, pads, baby clothes, but now that the diapers are in the rotation, it feels like less of a waste. Clothespins are great for increasing our effective line-drying density, especially for the small wipes.

It’s a good thing friends handed down larger baby clothes. In cloth diapers, A-‘s definitely out of newborn sizes! =) She can still fit into them if she’s wearing disposables or if we don’t snap the bottoms closed. She’s gaining weight nicely, though, so that won’t be true for long. I’ve ordered a few white bodysuits in a larger size, which should tide us over until we’re settled enough to check out thrift stores or fabric shops. =)

On a related note, it looks like knits are definitely the way to go for baby clothes, I think. She didn’t fit at all into the newborn kimono top I made (sleeves too small!), although some of the larger ones might still be okay. Now that she’s here, I can make things based on her proportions. (Well, eventually, when she’s less of a barnacle. =) ) Good thing I mostly focused on size-independent accessories such as wet bags and wipes!

Monthly review: February 2016

March 4, 2016 - Categories: monthly, review

All right! On to the next phase of this experiment: easing into parenting. We welcomed the newest member of our family this month, whee! Now for a crash course in learning all the skills needed to help a tiny human survive and thrive… It’s been an intense week and a half, but I’m slowly learning how to relax into it. W- is totally, totally awesome. It helps that he has been through this before and can remind me to not panic.

I’ve been able to squeeze in a little writing, coding, and sewing. Consulting is on hold for the near future, and all the things I used to do have been turned over to a wonderful and capable team. Emacs News and other community things are also on hold. I’m looking forward to resuming them when things settle down, but if anyone wants to volunteer, feel free.

Lots of learning ahead, which probably means lots of notes, sketches, and maybe even blog posts when I have the time to try to organize things into some semblance of coherence. =)

2016-03-03c February 2016 -- index card #monthly #review #journal


Blog posts



These time records are slightly out of whack, since I didn’t update them when I was Rather Preoccupied. I’m slowly getting the hang of my new tracking routines now that I want to track both myself and the baby (her diapers and feeding).

Category Period 1 % Period 2 % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.2 0.8 0.5 1.2 0.9
Discretionary – Play 6.7 8.6 1.9 13.5 3.3
Unpaid work 9.5 17.9 8.4 28.1 14.1
Unpaid work – Childcare 0.0 3.8 3.8 6.0 6.5
Discretionary – Social 0.9 1.2 0.3 1.9 0.4
Discretionary – Family 6.4 2.5 -3.9 4.0 -6.5
Sleep 40.9 34.9 -6.0 54.8 -10.1
Business – Connect 0.8 0.7 -0.2 1.0 -0.3
Business – Earn 5.6 4.0 -1.6 6.2 -2.7
Discretionary – Productive 12.4 8.8 -3.6 13.9 -6.0
Personal 16.6 20.7 4.2 32.6 7.0

Weekly review: Week ending March 4, 2016

March 6, 2016 - Categories: review, weekly

Second week of life with a baby. We did a field test of baby wearing and the camera backpack we’d converted into a diaper bag. We made it out to Dufferin Mall, changed the baby’s diaper, nursed in the nursing station, and even picked up a few supplies. Slowly gaining confidence and competence, hooray!

We started cloth diapering this week, too. So far, so good! We’ll still probably use disposable diapers at night and when we’re out, but it’s good to get the rhythm of laundry and diapering going.

I’ve been getting lots of practice in holding the fort. Actually, things are pretty manageable. I still haven’t made it out to the supermarket or the library on my own. With the way things are, though, it’s better to take it easy and minimize risks.

Starting to learn more about the landscape ahead of us: met with the doctors at the Sick Kids Eye Clinic to learn more about microphthalmia, and met with the pediatric cardiologist to follow up on the murmur.

We picked a name for her, yay! She’ll hereafter be known on this blog as A-. Hello world!

2016-03-06a Week ending 2016-03-04 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (6.7h – 4%)
    • Earn (0.0h – 0% of Business)
      • ☑ Prepare invoice
    • Build (6.4h – 94% of Business)
      • Drawing (3.6h)
      • Paperwork (1.9h)
    • Connect (0.4h – 5% of Business)
  • Relationships (6.7h – 3%)
    • ☑ Update family
    • ☑ Build data analysis tool for baby connect data
    • ☑ Easily dump CSV for baby connect data
    • ☑ Draft name announcement
    • ☑ Write about micropthalmia
  • Discretionary – Productive (6.4h – 3%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Sewing (0.3h)
    • Writing (5.8h)
    • ☑ Consider dentist change
    • ☑ Switch phone to personal credit card
    • ☑ Check out Telegram bot API
  • Discretionary – Play (1.7h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (16.6h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (78.5h – 46%)
  • Sleep (51.4h – 30% – average of 7.3 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending March 11, 2016

March 13, 2016 - Categories: review, weekly

This week actually felt pretty normal. Just the two-week appointment with the midwife, and plenty of time to settle back into household routines. I cooked a little (shake-and-bake chicken), went out for errands, and even got around to vacuuming part of the house. I still have to learn W-‘s tricks for calming A- in the middle of the night, but I’m sure we’ll sort something out by the time he goes back to work. A- still has her days and nights mixed up, so afternoon naps and low-power evenings will have to tide us over.

A- has started reaching out for the white/black/red-patterned quilt blocks I made. I’d like to do some sewing this week – maybe some soft cubes of red and black gingham so that she can look at and play with them, and maybe a few pairs of pants. Might even include a trip to the fabric store…

2016-03-14a Week ending 2016-03-11 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (6.1h – 3%)
    • Earn (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Build (6.0h – 99% of Business)
      • Drawing (6.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (1.2h – 0%)
    • ☑ Register newborn
    • ☑ Check with OHIP re name change
    • ☐ Buy rocker
  • Discretionary – Productive (3.4h – 2%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
      • ☑ Do another Emacs News review
      • ☐ Check expiry and create tasks
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (3.4h)
  • Discretionary – Play (1.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (26.9h – 16%)
  • Unpaid work (53.6h – 31%)
    • Childcare (45.5h – 27% of total)
  • Sleep (75.7h – 45% – average of 10.8 per day)

2016-03-14 Emacs News

March 14, 2016 - Categories: emacs, emacs-news

Links from, /r/orgmode, Hacker News,, Youtube, the Emacs commit log, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Weekly review: Week ending March 18, 2016

March 19, 2016 - Categories: review, weekly

I found time for a little bit of coding, sewing, and cooking this week. Awesome! I set up a backup of my sketches on my server, learned more about d3 visualizations by plotting nursing sessions on a timeline, sewed a soft cube with a rattle inside, and got around to cooking the sweet potato I asked W- to pick up. =) I also did some paperwork, posted Emacs News (yay!), and followed up on some things. We went for lots of good walks around the neighbourhood, including an extended walk to Home Depot in the Moby wrap. I’ve been practising with the ring sling and with a different hold for the Moby, too. Progress!

2016-03-19a Week ending 2016-03-18 -- index card #journal #weekly


Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (9.2h – 5%)
    • Earn (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Build (9.1h – 98% of Business)
      • Drawing (4.0h)
      • Paperwork (1.0h)
    • Connect (0.2h – 1% of Business)
  • Relationships (4.2h – 2%)
    • ☑ Buy rocker
    • ☑ Check re hearing screening
    • ☑ Call SickKids about doctor notes
    • ☑ Child benefits application extra info
    • ☑ Book tentative vaccination appointment in case pediatrician referral falls through
    • ☐ Trim Neko’s claws
    • ☐ 4-week appointment with midwife
  • Discretionary – Productive (3.0h – 1%)
    • Emacs (0.3h – 0% of all)
    • ☑ [#A] Do another Emacs News review
    • Baby viz
      • ☑ Click on a dot to go to the record
      • ☑ Add timeline view
      • ☑ Cache data in a local SQLite
    • ☑ Check expiry and create tasks
    • ☑ Set up sketches directory on my web server
    • Sewing (0.4h)
    • Writing (0.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (5.6h – 3%)
  • Personal routines (20.3h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (77.2h – 45%)
    • Childcare (59.4h – 35% of total)
  • Sleep (71.4h – 42% – average of 10.2 per day)

2016-03-21 Emacs News

March 21, 2016 - Categories: emacs, emacs-news

Links from, /r/orgmode, Hacker News,, Youtube, the Emacs commit log, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Weekly review: Week ending March 25, 2016

March 27, 2016 - Categories: review, weekly

A- was more awake this week, which was great. A lot of that wake time was during the graveyard shift, though, and some cluster feeding meant that my sleep’s been a bit more broken-up than last week. Still, I’m more comfortable with the idea of on-demand feeding than the idea of making her get on some kind of schedule, so it’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept.

Singing is turning out to be good mental exercise for my fuzzy brain: it’s stimulating for A-, I train my memory by learning lyrics, and it’s fun challenging my brain to think of the next line as I’m singing the current one so that everything flows smoothly. Both the hearing test and the 4-week checkup went fine.

I sewed another soft cube for the newborn of some friends, and I’m looking forward to dropping that off. I picked up some fabric, too, and I’m looking forward to turning that into clothes when things settle down.

On the non-baby front, I learned more about d3 visualizations and drawing graphs with a shared axis. I also checked in with my consulting client. We’ve got some ideas for visualizations I can noodle around here and there, so that should be fun. Managed to fit in some cooking, too – hooray!

This week’s achievements:

  • Sic Transit: A- and I took public transit to the 4 week checkup with the midwives, yay!
  • 9 Pounds of Awesome: What it says on the tin. And the scale.
  • Just Don’t Let Me Near Production Servers: A little bit of consulting. Seemed fine, but there might be a catch 22 there – am I too sleep-addled to tell if I’m sleep-addled? Playing it safe.
  • Cluster F: Frequent feeding. Early in the morning, too!
  • Open Air Poosplosion: Possibly related to the previous achievement.
  • Break Out the Carpet Vacuum: Definitely related to the previous achievement.

2016-03-28a Week ending 2016-03-25 -- index card #journal #weekly


Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (5.3h – 3%)
    • Earn (2.4h – 44% of Business)
    • Build (0.3h – 5% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
      • ☑ Check images for Quantified Awesome
    • Connect (2.6h – 49% of Business)
      • ☑ Help OAFB
  • Relationships (2.0h – 1%)
    • ☑ Trim Neko’s claws
    • ☑ Call Eye Clinic and ask about referral to CNIB
    • ☑ 4-week appointment with midwife
    • ☑ Take picture with Tracy
    • ☑ Check re genetic testing referral
    • ☑ Thank you notes
    • ☑ Take A- to hearing test
    • ☐ Check with OHIP re name change
  • Discretionary – Productive (12.3h – 7%)
    • Emacs (1.0h – 0% of all)
      • ☑ Do another Emacs News review
    • Coding
      • ☑ Dump SQLite as CSV
      • ☑ Add button for refreshing data
      • ☑ Add wrapper functions for website
      • ☑ Display latest status
      • ☑ Add relative times to visualization
      • ☑ Add relative time to API
      • ☑ Add a note input to my-track.html
      • ☑ Add visual feedback on successful track
      • ☑ Get childcare to open babyconnect
      • ☑ Fix X server
    • Sewing (0.8h)
      • ☑ Make cube for Jen and Ewan
    • Writing (1.5h)
    • ☑ Research bike trailer strollers
  • Discretionary – Play (0.9h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (15.7h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (66.6h – 39%)
    • Childcare (58.4h – 34% of total)
  • Sleep (65.2h – 38% – average of 9.3 per day)

2016-03-28 Emacs News

March 28, 2016 - Categories: emacs, emacs-news

Links from, /r/orgmode, Hacker News,, Youtube, the Emacs commit log, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups