June 2017

Weekly review: Week ending June 2, 2017

June 4, 2017 - Categories: review, weekly

A- passed the developmental screening at her 15-month checkup. She weighed 9.11 kg (25th percentile, up from 15th) and was measured at 74 cm in length (15th percentile), with a head circumference of 44.5 cm (15th percentile). We hadn’t taken her for a weight check in a while, so it was reassuring to see that her self-feeding was working out the way it should. She also got her MMR and varicella vaccines. The nurse was definitely her least favourite person in the world, although the pediatrician seems to be a close second.

We attended a parenting workshop on building resilience. It was a good reminder about the importance of language in cultivating a growth mindset, and of modeling self-care and asking for help. The workshop was held at the Children’s Book Bank, which is a beautifully-organized place with children’s books where people can take one book home per visit.

A- seems to have focused on gross motor skills this week. She figured out how to pull the laundry basket in addition to pushing it, so now she won’t get stuck when she runs into a wall. She put a lot of effort into walking with help while holding a bag and, later, a heavy water bottle. W- saw her turn around while standing independently. At the playground, she figured out how to go down the slide by herself, too.

It’s been an interesting mix of independence and closeness. I showed her how to spread peanut butter on bread, and she spread quite a few pieces for me even though she preferred to eat other things. She imitated wiping with toilet paper, tossing the pieces into the toilet, and even flushing. One evening, she seemed to want to keep reading – she protested when we turned off the lights. When we turned the lights back on, she spent a few more minutes with her book. (“I was just getting to the good part!”, probably.)

But she was also very snuggly this week, even before the stress of the injections at the doctor’s office. She shifted back to two naps a day, with the second nap in the evening, so her bedtime has been quite erratic. Nilda shared some tips on helping A- through this cycle of dependence and independence.

A- figured out a new sound, the ending “p”, and experimented with babbling “hep” and “pop”. She definitely uses “mah” to approximate “meow” when referring to the cats, and occasionally blows raspberries to imitate their purring.

Other stuff:

  • For consulting, I tweaked a SQL script for slightly better performance. It turns out NOT IN is faster than NOT EXISTS.
  • I updated my ledger file and found an account maintenance fee for TD Waterhouse, which I’ve asked about.
  • I read a few chapters of Week by Week and Mind in the Making.
  • I backed up videos of A- to our home server and photos to Google Photo
  • Lots of cooking: pizza, fried rice, shake and bake, congee
  • I transplanted the tomato seedlings and some of the basil.
  • W- poured the concrete for the door sill.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (1.4h – 0%)
    • Earn (1.4h – 100% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.0h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (6.5h – 3%)
    • Drawing (2.7h)
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Coding (0.9h)
  • Discretionary – Play (4.6h – 2%)
  • Personal routines (17.1h – 10%)
  • Unpaid work (84.4h – 50%)
    • Childcare (74.3h – 44% of total)
  • Sleep (53.9h – 32% – average of 7.7 per day)

Monthly review: May 2017

June 4, 2017 - Categories: monthly, review

There were quite a few sunny days this month, so we spent lots of time outside. At the playground, A- kept signing “more” while riding the swings, so I decided to do a little exercising myself while pushing her. She also figured out how to go down the slide by herself. Wow!

A- worked on carrying things while walking with help. She imitated household routines, helping us wash dishes and load the dryer. She experimented with the arms-first way of putting on her T-shirt, and only needs a little help to get the openings lined up. She went up and down the stairs at the ROM, and we checked out the Family Camera exhibit while we were there. We attended a parenting workshop on resilience, and I’ve been working on being even more specific when I encourage her or acknowledge her hard work.

We focused on language, since we were a little worried about her progress in that area. She picked up the hang of imitating animal sounds, and seems to enjoy looking at picture books and hearing names for things. I’ve been learning more names for things, too: different types of latches, flowers around the neighbourhood, and so on. A- has also gotten the hang of associating songs with gestures, and often does a gesture from a song in order to ask me to sing it. She also spent some time experimenting with the fridge magnets to see what they stuck to and how they behaved on different surfaces.

She passed the developmental screening at her 15-month checkup, and has been growing at a good clip. I took her to the dentist to check her teeth again. They’re okay. It was probably just a little staining.

Other things:

  • I transplanted the tomatoes and a few of the basil seedlings.
  • I read quite a few books while A- was asleep:
    • The Reflective Parent: More of a background on mind-mindedness
    • The Importance of Being Little: play
    • How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: problem-solving
    • Child of Mine: feeding dynamics
    • Week by Week: observing child development
    • Mind in the Making: skills
  • I used ffmpeg to automatically extract short video clips, which made it easier to review my video backlog. I also backed up the photos and videos to more places.
  • W- upgraded to the PS Vita Slim and gave me his old PS Vita. I’ve been playing Trails of Cold Steel on it.
  • I replaced my credit card and library card. Turns out they had fallen between the drum and the case of the dryer.
  • I spotted a coyote and a beaver (separately) in our neighbourhood.
  • For consulting, I created a hierarchical JSON for data analysis, fixed old data, and tweaked some SQL.
  • W- demolished the concrete pad and poured a concrete door sill.

Blog posts

Sketches

So much drawing this month! I got back into the swing of drawing one or two thoughts a day.

Time

Category Previous month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work – Childcare 36.2 42.1 5.9 73.2 9.9
Unpaid work 43.4 47.9 4.5 83.2 7.6
Discretionary – Play 2.3 4.0 1.7 6.9 2.8
Discretionary – Family 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.2
Business – Earn 1.0 1.1 0.1 2.0 0.2
Business – Connect 0.0 0.0 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Business – Build 0.3 0.0 -0.3 0.0 -0.6
Discretionary – Social 0.8 0.1 -0.8 0.1 -1.3
Discretionary – Productive 5.1 3.5 -1.5 6.1 -2.6
Personal 11.9 10.2 -1.7 17.6 -2.9
Sleep 35.1 33.0 -2.1 57.2 -3.5

Quick notes on my current interface for time-tracking

June 8, 2017 - Categories: quantified

I don’t think I’ve posted a description of my current interface for tracking, so here are a few quick screenshots. This is the main interface that I’ve bookmarked on my phone and on my computer. It’s a simple web-based interface with lots of big buttons. It lets me track baby-related things as well as my time with a tap or two. If I need to do something more complicated, I can use the command button to pass a text command to my tracking interface. 

For example, here’s what clicking on the Track button will show:

I sometimes need to backdate entries, so tapping on Adjust gets me this screen:

When I have a little more time, I might tweak the interface a bit, but it will do for now. I’m glad I put this together. It makes time tracking something I can do even with a baby, yay!

All the reports in my blog posts are handled by Emacs Lisp functions that talk to quantifiedawesome.com and summarize my time data. You can find the code at http://sachachua.com/dotemacs and lisp/quantified.el .

I probably won’t be able to help anyone build a similar system any time soon, but maybe these notes can give you a few ideas. =)

2017-06-05 Emacs news

June 10, 2017 - Categories: emacs, 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.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Weekly review: Week ending June 9, 2017

June 12, 2017 - Categories: review, weekly

The big thing this week: A- took a few steps on her own! She still holds onto our hands almost all the time, but there have been a few times she wanted to carry the mini-basketball, so she needed to use both of her hands. A few tentative, wobbly steps – but progress!

I took A- for a new conformer. She’s got a good memory. She started crying as soon as we got to the waiting room, and she ended up crying for an hour. As soon as the new conformer was in, she stopped crying. Anticipation is the worst part, I guess. The poor dear! I took her for a blood test on the same day, and she cried as soon as she saw the nurse. Oh well, some things must be endured.

She’s pretty resilient, though. She slid down a bit too fast on the slide in the park and cut her lip a little, but she bounced back after some nursing, and then we went down the slide together a few more times.

We attended the Early Abilities orientation, since our home visitor had been concerned about A-‘s speech and language development. A- was a bit sleepy, so she was fake-snoring throughout the presentation. I got quite a few stares across the room, which turned into smiles when people realized I wasn’t the one snoring, it was A-. I picked up a few tips on modeling play and language for A-, to help her ease into a place when she’s slow to warm up. I tried it out at the JFRC, and she ended up having lots of fun with the play kitchen and the sensory play area. She even crawled a short way into the tunnel.

We started music classes at the Royal Conservatory of Music. She mostly snuggled with me, but that’s okay. It was still a good opportunity to learn new songs, pay attention to the concepts being used, and get a sense of how that paid program differs from the free circle times we’ve been to.

We made it out to the ROM for our Fieldtrip Friday. A- pointed to lots of specimens. She was fascinated by the benches in the bird gallery, and delighted in being pulled up on them so that she could pull herself forward and down. She tried drinking from the drinking fountain, too.

Nilda came with a brush and a bottle of tempera paint. Just like last week, A- spent pretty much the entire time snuggling with me, so I took the opportunity to ask Nilda about snack ideas instead. I think I’ve been too conservative. A- can probably figure out how to eat all sorts of things, even with only six teeth. Time to try sweet peppers, liver spread, and other yummy things.

I’ll help A- learn how to paint when she’s more relaxed, as it’s good for fine motor skills. I tried to sew her an apron, but she didn’t want to have the loop go over her head. Maybe we’ll paint without that first, and then introduce an apron or a smock when she’s more interested.

A- helped pick up maple seeds, putting them in the medium-sized recycling bin we’ve been using to collect yard waste. She’s taken to trimming the bush on the side of the house by pulling handfuls from it and dumping the leaves in the bin. After a few trips back and forth, she decided that it would be more efficient to lug the bin (with my help) next to the bush, and that worked out very well. The gears are turning!

She also insisted on emptying our small recycling bin into the large recycling bin that we take out to the curb, and she sorted out the minifigs that she had mixed into the shape sorter. Something something sensitive period for order indeed… Good to keep improving our processes and routines, then, so that she picks those up as she learns.

Other notes:

  • W- spent the weekend pouring concrete for the stair footing. Lots of hard work!
  • Discussed trip timing with my family.
  • Consulting: exported follower info, reorganized SQL extract script.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (1.5h – 0%)
    • Earn (1.4h – 93% of Business)
    • Connect (0.1h – 6% of Business)
  • Discretionary – Productive (4.6h – 2%)
    • Drawing (1.8h)
    • Emacs (0.1h)
    • Sewing (1.3h)
    • Writing (1.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (0.8h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (18.4h – 10%)
  • Unpaid work (82.2h – 48%)
    • Childcare (66.4h – 39% of total)
  • Sleep (60.4h – 35% – average of 8.6 per day)

2017-06-12 Emacs news

June 12, 2017 - Categories: emacs, 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.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Weekly review: Week ending June 16, 2017

June 17, 2017 - Categories: review, weekly

This week’s warm and sunny weather prompted us to play with water outside. W- dangled A- over the sprinkler, and she stretched her legs out towards the spray. She also had fun pouring water from one measuring cup to the other. We went to the sensory play day at the JFRC, where she played with water, pasta, and Cheerios for a bit before wandering off to the main room for some more paper-dot scooping. She played with play dough for the first time, too, squishing it in her fist and even imitating how I cut it with a wooden knife. She played with sand at the OEYC as well, scooping it up and pouring it into the sand wheels.

She crawled through a small tunnel set up at the OEYC. She’s getting more comfortable with exploring, yay! She warmed up enough in music class to shake the bells to various songs, walk around, and stand up or sit down at roughly the right places in “Ring around the roses”. At home, she put the jingly cat toys in the egg carton and shook it, smiling widely, and she took turns giving it to J- and Y-. (But not me – I got “gaaah!” and a smile.)

We followed up on Nilda’s suggestion to let A- try painting with a brush. A- took to that and to the paint dabber right away, dipping the brush in the tempera and swiping it across the paper. I mailed the first batch of her paintings to my parents and sister in the Philippines, so they can get in on the fridge-art action.

She’s definitely keen to imitate us: ripping lettuce for salad, washing and drying spinach for pancakes, trying to wear our shoes, asking for a kiss by making smooching sounds.

I’ve been working on getting more vegetables into our daily routines. The sale on bell peppers got us into the habit of accompanying breakfast with sliced peppers. A- likes feeding us while occasionally snatching the food away, and that’s encouraged her to try peppers from time to time too. I’ve been mixing spinach into scrambled eggs, snacking on silken tofu, and generally expanding our repertoire. Eating better little by little!

I dusted off the source code for Quantified Awesome. I’ve been working on getting a development environment up and running again, since coding can become casual fun if I have a safe place to try things out without worrying about messing up my main system. As for consulting, I’ve been working on improving the organization and maintainability of our data extract script, and that will probably pay off later on.

For next week, Nilda suggested focusing on counting, and letting A- practise fine motor skills with stickers and puzzles. I’ve got a dentist appointment on Friday, so we’ll see how that goes too.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (7.0h – 4%)
    • Earn (0.9h – 12% of Business)
    • Build (6.1h – 87% of Business)
      • ☑ Get tests to run again
      • ☑ Figure out how to run the system
      • ☑ Deal with package changes
      • ☑ Don’t log ActionController::RoutingError
      • ☑ bundle update
  • Relationships (0.4h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (6.7h – 4%)
    • Drawing (4.3h)
    • Emacs (0.9h)
    • Writing (0.3h)
  • Discretionary – Play (2.8h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (21.7h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (77.3h – 45%)
    • Childcare (67.8h – 40% of total)
  • Sleep (52.1h – 31% – average of 7.4 per day)

2017-06-19 Emacs news

June 19, 2017 - Categories: emacs, emacs-news

Weekly review: Week ending June 23, 2017

June 24, 2017 - Categories: review, weekly

It was a good week for arts and crafts. One afternoon, I set up painting stations for both me and A- outside. She decided that she wanted to paint with my small paintbrush instead of her large one, painted her piece of paper, and then added finishing touches to mine. I also turned her loose with crayons and a pad of paper, and I made playdough for her to cut and roll.

In music class, A- imitated how we used rhythm sticks and jingle bells. She walked around with me during the parts that involved walking, and stood up and sat down during the appropriate parts in Ring Around the Rosies. I picked up the textbook that the teacher recommended as an intro to early music education (Move, Sing, Listen, Play). It has lots of activities for preschoolers, but there are also a number of activities I can do with a toddler. I learned more about speech games, chants, improvisation, and rhythm. I asked the teacher a few follow-up questions at the session on Thursday. Answers so far: background music is not recommended because kids can’t focus on it and it teaches kids to shut off their ears; even if A- is mostly just exposed to my singing voice, that’s fine; concerts require a longer attention span, but the ROM open house might be a good opportunity to share more performances with her.

We checked out the Creating Together drop-in centre in Parkdale. The circle time there is high-energy and fast-paced, so it’ll probably be nice for A- when she’s a bit older. I prefer our neighbourhood centres for now.

To follow up on Nilda’s suggestions from last week, I borrowed a shape puzzle from the JFRC. The one with basic shapes is a good starting point because A- can fit the shapes in a variety of ways, instead of having to rotate each shape to just the right orientation. A- can complete that puzzle with a little help, so maybe I’ll let her practise with that a little more and get the next step up.

Nilda and I did a parent-focused activity about emotional refueling. Sleep, eat, take care of my personal routines, spend time with W-, journal, put together Emacs News, code, play, go for a walk… Life is pretty good, actually. I only feel really stretched when I stay up too late and A- wakes up unexpectedly early. Since I stay up in order to enjoy a bit of personal time for journaling, writing, and coding, it’s probably an acceptable trade-off.

A- has been working on sleeping more independently, anyway. There were a couple of times that she stayed sleeping when I took her out of the carrier, and she sometimes tosses and turns a bit by herself before going to bed instead of just falling asleep while nursing.

We had a video chat with Lolo and one with Lola. Lots of pointing to body parts, singing songs and using gestures, and pointing to the person on the phone. Yay! It felt like proper interaction. Looking forward to more long-distance grandparent-grandchild bonding.

W- entertained A- while I was at the dentist. My experiment of going more often for shorter periods of time seems to be working out well, although I might want to switch back to using the electric toothbrush so that I can clean my teeth more thoroughly.

After the dentist appointment, W- decided to take the rest of the day off and join us for a field trip to the Royal Ontario Museum. A- was a little sleepy, but she still enjoyed climbing up stairs, sitting on benches, and pointing at various animal specimens. (Some of which I labeled incorrectly, whoops! gotta pay more attention and not mix things up.)

I managed to dust off my development setup for Quantified Awesome, and I’m slowly getting back into the groove of coding for myself (and occasionally helping out other people). Thanks to Will Monroe for the nudge! It will probably take me a few weeks or more to wrap my mind around the multiple timelines feature I want to build, but it’s nice to have a development environment again where I can try things out without worrying about breaking my main install badly. I’m so glad that past Sacha wrote all these tests. As for consulting – I ran the revised script to extract data, and that worked out fine.

A- and I harvested some of the radishes from the garden. There were only a few round radish roots, but that’s okay. We cooked the radish greens and had them along with the white cut chicken. It was fun watching A- pull up radishes and be curious about the roots and leaves. Low actual yield, but the garden’s already worth it.

W-‘s been finalizing the plans for the porch. I read up on various approaches so that I could help think through stuff. He extended the concrete pad for the stairs, which took a bit more work but which was the Right Thing to Do. He also swapped out our kitchen sink drain for one that was easier to empty. Kaizen!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (10.0h – 5%)
    • Earn (0.5h – 4% of Business)
    • Build (9.5h – 95% of Business)
      • ☑ Set up dev environment on my laptop
      • ☑ Define menu as JSON and have it fleshed out
      • ☑ Status
      • ☑ Record – get last activity
      • ☑ Adjust – start X minutes from start of last activity
      • ☑ Help Will with Quantified Awesome
  • Relationships (0.1h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (6.2h – 3%)
    • Drawing (3.6h)
  • Discretionary – Play (0.6h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (19.1h – 11%)
  • Unpaid work (15.1h – 8%)
  • A- (Childcare) (70.4h – 41% of total)
  • Sleep (46.5h – 27% – average of 6.6 per day)

2017-06-26 Emacs news

June 26, 2017 - Categories: emacs, 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.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Notes on the Smart Start program at the Royal Conservatory of Music

June 27, 2017 - Categories: parenting

We’ve been attending the Smart Start 12-24month classes at the Royal Conservatory of Music, which I chose because I like how the conservatory actively does research in the neuroscience of early music education. (More on that later.)

The 45-minute sessions are generally structured like this: free play, bouncing and tickling rhymes, walk/stop/run songs, instruments, listening to a short performance by the teacher, songs with scarves or puppets, and a goodbye song. Compared with the free circle times we’ve been going to at our neighbourhood drop-in centres, the music classes:

  • have small, consistent classes with a narrow age range and the same teacher: This is one of the benefits of a registered program. A- seems to warm up faster in a small group with familiar faces, and she’s gotten to the point of feeling comfortable walking around with me during the movement section. A narrow age range also makes it easier for the teacher to pick developmentally appropriate activities.
  • are longer: Circle time is generally fifteen minutes long, compared to about 35 minutes of music time (excluding the 10-minute free play to help the kids settle into the side).
  • repeat songs more within each session: We might sing the same song more than five times in class, while circle time usually does the same song once or twice before moving on. (The drop-ins might do a song  three times, if it’s a popular song with varying lyrics like See the Sleeping Bunnies.)
  • have more planned variety over time: Because it’s a registered program, sessions can build on previous ones to cover topics systematically. Repetition within sessions and across sessions allows the introduction of uncommon songs.
  • expose kids to good instruments: Small classes and good funding mean that every kid can try the same instrument, and they can go through different instruments over time.
  • expose kids to professional performances: The kids can watch the teacher perform on various instruments at a level much higher than I can do at home or that I’ve heard at circle time. There’s a baby grand piano in the room, and the teacher plays that and other instruments as well.
  • lead into other classes: There’s a clear path for life-long learning.

It’s awesome watching A- learn. She’s beginning to anticipate the phrases in the bouncing rhymes, although she’s still pretty blasé about tickling rhymes. She walks around with me during the segment where everyone walks around in a circle. She picks up the pace a little when the tempo shifts. She sways and bounces to rhythms. She imitates how we play jingle bells, drums, rhythm sticks, and shakers. She sits down and stands up at the appropriate times in Ring Around the Rosies.

I’m learning a lot, too. I’ve picked up a couple of new folk songs and rhymes. It’s a good opportunity to observe and learn a little about the ideas behind early music education, and it’s great to be able to ask questions. The textbook that the teacher recommended (Move, Sing, Listen, Play) will help me reinforce the ideas when we’re at home. I like the classes, and I’ve signed up for more next month and the fall term.

I’m not here to push A- to be some kind of musical prodigy. I’d like us to have fun with music – to nurture our musicality. I’d like her to grow up knowing that music isn’t just something you listen to, but something that you can enjoy creating. Not just something you play, but something you can play with. Since the best way of doing that would be for her to “catch” that kind of enjoyment from me, I’m happy to take advantage of group classes where kids need to be accompanied by grown-ups. At this age, the classes are probably more for us anyway. Independent classes start at three years old, so I may as well make the most of our shared music education opportunities.

We learned a bit about the ideas behind the Smart Start program when we went to the conservatory’s open house last weekend. Dr. Sean Hutchins (a neuroscientist, the RCM director of research) talked about how the Smart Start program focuses on developing attention, memory, perception, and cognitive flexibility, and shared some results from their neuroscience lab that showed significant improvements in musical ability and related areas such as literacy and numeracy. I asked him how his research influenced how he helped his kids with their music education. He told me about the value of starting early, and how music and movement are inextricably linked for young kids. I also asked him if the lab had developed any observation tools that parents could use to keep track of their kids’ musical development over time, outside the lab. (I’m a data geek, after all!) The lab has a short questionnaire for parents, but he didn’t have an inventory or scale that I might be able to use to document A-‘s growth. Ah well, I’ll just have to read textbooks on music education and take qualitative notes. The RCM Science blog and Resources page might be good starting points for more information. He also recommended Dr. Laurel Trainor’s work, as she does a lot of research with infants and toddlers.

Anyway, the drop-ins are great for adding more music and socialisation to everyday life, so we’ll keep going to those ones too. Music classes seem to be a good use of our resources. I’m glad we get to do both!

Notes on the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program

June 29, 2017 - Categories: parenting

Back in May 2016, we were accepted into the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program because A- had a number of risk factors: A- was gaining weight very slowly, she had multiple congenital abnormalities, we were dealing with lots of uncertainty and medical appointments, and I was a first-time parent with no experience with little kids. We definitely needed all the help we could get.

The Healthy Babies Healthy Children program involved visits by a nurse and a home visitor. The nurse visited us every one to two months. The nurse helped us keep a close eye on A-‘s development using the Nipissing District Developmental Screens and the communication checklist. She also shared tips for interacting with A-, modelling the behaviours and explaining the ideas behind them. She used the NCAST Parent-Child Interacion Scale to closely observe how I interacted with A-. (The teaching scale involved a 73-item checklist!) With her guidance, I worked on giving A- specific positive feedback (“You shook the rattle!” instead of “Good job!”) and responding to signs of disengagement. It was also great to be able to ask her questions about the medical issues that came up.

The family home visitor came every one to two weeks. We often referred to the Nipissing checklist to plan what to do. She shared lots of activities that I could do with A-, and she even brought the materials. Thanks to her, A- got to try out things that it might not have occurred to me to start her on early: cruising along the sofa, scribbling with crayons on paper, painting with tempera paint, and so on. It was great to be able to ask her questions about parenting and community resources, especially since she saw A- regularly. It was also interesting to see A- gradually warm up to the family home visitor, despite the occasional reversion to staying close to me after a particularly stressful time.

Things have gotten much better over the past thirteen months that we’ve been helped by the Healthy Babies Healthy Children. On the medical side, we’ve learned more about A-‘s conditions, and they don’t seem to get in the way of her growth. Based on the checklists, A- has been developing normally so far. I’ve internalized many of the tips the nurse and home visitor have shared with me. Since there are higher-risk families they can help, it’s probably time to move on, although maybe we’ll wait until after the 18-month well-baby visit and the spate of medical follow-ups we have in August.

Even after we wrap up with the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program, I’d still like to keep a close eye on A-‘s development so that I can ask for help early if needed. Because we live in Ontario, I can get the PDFs for free from ndds.ca. I can talk to people about activity ideas and timing. The drop-in centre staff can suggest developmentally-appropriate activities. I can ask A-‘s pediatrician and Toronto Public Health questions, and the centres occasionally organize sessions with public health nurses too.

I’m glad we got to go through a program like this. I wish it were universally available. I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to continuing to apply what I learned.

A-‘s moods

June 30, 2017 - Categories: parenting

I’ve been thinking about A-‘s moods: what they’re like, what influences them, and what she likes doing when. If I can match my invitations and activities to her emotional state, then I can help her regulate her emotions and make the most of learning opportunities. Here are a few moods we’ve observed.

Reserved: When we’re outside, A- usually prefers to start by watching. If the place is busy, loud, or unfamiliar, it can take her some time to warm up. I don’t push her to interact. Instead, I might model playing with things myself, or simply sit with her and soothe her until she’s ready.

Quietly interested: Once A- has warmed up, or when we’re by ourselves at home, she’s usually calmer than many of the other babies I’ve seen. Most of the time, she’s quietly interested in whatever we’re doing. She has a neutral expression, and her eyes are bright and alert.

Playful: At home, A- often initiates play by doing something (throwing a ball, etc.) and looking at us with a smile or a laugh. She likes interaction, and will happily take turns or repeat actions to keep the game going. Sometimes she’ll be playful outside too, especially if we’re in a familiar place.

Laughing: I often hear A- giggling while W- plays with her, which is wonderful. I love the way he plays with her. He’s creative and energetic, and he usually gets her laughing and learning at the same time. He’s great at trying out new things with A-. When the chores are all sorted out, I like joining them for play – partly because it’s fun, and partly because W- is an awesome parent and I want to learn more. Sometimes, if I’m extra playful and silly, I can get lots of giggles from her too.

Afraid/upset: She’s got a good memory for places and people now, which is great when we go to the early years centres and a bit more challenging when we go to the doctor, the hospital, or the ocularist. When she’s afraid or upset, she cries and clings to me, and I try my best to soothe her. I remember having a hard time focusing when we were trying to soothe her after she woke up from anaesthesia. She was four months old and crying and crying, and my brain was fuzzing out. I’ve gotten much better at staying calm and holding her while she cries, trying to soothe her by rocking, singing, nursing, and talking.

Tired/hungry: When she’s tired or hungry, she’s usually pretty good at signaling what she needs. She’ll start with eye-rubbing, yawns, fake-snores, and babbles, and then cry if I miss those signs. For hunger, she’ll sign, and then push or cry if I miss those signs.

Resistant: When she doesn’t want something to happen, she’ll frown, wave our hands away, and protest vocally. This often happens when we try to brush her teeth or put her in her high chair, and it sometimes happens when we want to change her diaper or her clothes. Sometimes waiting is enough. Sometimes it helps to offer choices. Sometimes we just need to move on.

Pleased: She smiles and seems very pleased with herself when she figures something out or does something well. She often repeats the action many times, too. For example, when she got the hang of sitting down at the right time during Ring Around the Rosies, she asked us to sing it again and again, and she sat down smiling each time.

Snuggly: At bedtime or sometimes when she nurses, she likes snuggling up close. She also likes snuggling some of her stuffed toys. She used to hug one of our cats, too, but she hasn’t done that lately.

Hmm. Maybe I don’t have to be concerned that I’m not helping A- have as much fun as she does with W-, or that I’m not playful or creative enough. =) When she’s with me, she’s usually quietly interested in stuff, punctuated by plenty of snuggles and the occasional game. She seems to be developing well thanks to the different play styles she gets exposed to (yay, W-, J-, and Y-!), so that’s cool. Onward!