Turning 35; life as a 34-year-old

This year was less about dealing with uncertainty, and more about discovery and delight. As a confident talker, A- is quite an active participant in her own learning and growth, and I’m enjoying learning how to collaborate with her. It’s great to see the results of the things we experimented with last year, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we continue to grow.

It helped that lots of medical uncertainties got resolved. The pediatrician said we could stop going for ultrasounds for A-‘s liver hemangioma. The hospital cardiology department said it was okay for A- to go to the community cardiologist for routine monitoring, instead of coming to the hospital for exams under sedation. Dental surgery took care of the cavities that were possibly due to either breastfeeding or enamel hypoplasia. We’ll continue to see the Eye Clinic twice a year, and the ocularist a bit more frequently than that. With most of the those concerns out of the way, though, I felt comfortable wrapping up with the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program and heading out into the wild world of parenting without training wheels.

We signed up for music classes and made it to about half of them, skipping a number of classes due to trips to the Philippines and jet lag recovery time. Even though A- continued to be mostly reserved during music classes, she talked about them positively, singing the songs at home and imitating the teacher. For my part, I picked up a few more nursery rhymes. We tried nature classes, too, although A- seems to prefer music classes at the moment.

I’ve been making an effort to make friends and help A- connect with people. That seems to be working out wonderfully. I liked building friendships with other parents and their kids, and A- enjoyed interacting with them too.

My dad’s health declined rapidly, so we made three trips to the Philippines during the year. A- and I got the hang of travelling by ourselves. A- enjoyed spending time with my family, although she was a little anxious around the medical equipment supporting my dad at home. When my dad died, W- was in the Philippines with us, which was very helpful. The celebration of my dad’s life was inspiring. I can only hope to live so well, in my own way.

Continuous improvement

It was great to slowly, slowly gain space for thinking and continuous improvement:

  • I started journaling quick keywords in a database app on my phone. I built a workflow for highlighting, summarizing, and linking entries. I also used the same app to keep track of A-‘s words. I started learning about pedagogical documentation.
  • I automated more things with Tasker, AutoInput, AutoShare, and Google Assistant on my phone, and shell scripts and Emacs Lisp on my computers.
  • We upgraded to a colour laser printer. I figured out how to make children’s books by using Org Mode and LaTeX to create the templates and process drawn images. I found Medibang Paint useful for drawing on my phone.
  • I got back into drawing with sketched thoughts and moments from everyday life.
  • On the work front, I turned over my regular maintenance work to the dev team. I worked on a few prototypes, and I learned how to write VBA scripts to process mail in Microsoft Outlook, too.
  • I sorted out my photo organization and rating system.
  • I started backing up to the NAS that W- set up for us.
  • I set up Google Pay on my phone, which is handy with a toddler around.
  • I switched to doing my business books in Ledger and filing my corporate taxes with MyTaxExpress under WINE in Linux.
  • We decluttered various areas in our house, and we organized A-‘s play area and bedroom. We added more kid-sized furniture, too.
  • I played with cardboard and made a bulldozer hat for Halloween. I also sewed A-‘s construction vest costume. Yay getting back into making!
  • We took advantage of some of the city’s resources: swimming pools, the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum, Riverdale Farm, the Make the Connection workshop, and various parks and playgrounds.
  • I got a bike trailer and have actually managed to make it out with A- on five round-trips.
  • I followed a guar gum giant bubble recipe from the Internet and learned the secret of making large bubbles. (Fun!)
  • I experimented with having babysitters from an agency. A- was okay with them, but she strongly prefers spending time with me, so I’ll just postpone big consulting projects until I have more discretionary time.
  • I drew visual routines and started working on musical cues as well.
  • I learned more about supporting pretend play, language development, independence, and other areas of learning.

35 to 36: Looking ahead

This might be my last year spending all this time with A-, if she goes to preschool next year. How can I make the most of this opportunity? I’m looking forward to helping A- learn about self-care, independence, socialization, and exploration. Bring on the “why?” stage!

I’m also looking forward to learning more about pedagogical documentation, drawing, taking pictures/videos, and other ways I can share things with her and with other people. Making books for A- is fun, so I’d like to do more of that too.

Personally, I want to work on streamlining and improving our routines, learning through reading and reflection, and maybe picking up another technique or two that I can use for automation.

In terms of relationships, my family’s dealing with all the changes from last year: my dad’s death, my sister’s move to the Netherlands, the transition of the family business. We’ll see how all of that works out, and what I can help with. I’d also like to get even better at building friendships, especially with the help of baked goods or shared activities.

W- continues to be awesome. I love being able to do both long-term planning and on-the-fly adjustments with his help. He’s working on the porch this year, so I’ll see how I can give him more space to do that.

I think it’s going to be wonderful.

Time

Category % 33 years % 34 years Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
A- 39.2 46.7 7.5 78.5 12.5
Discretionary – Family 1.4 3.3 1.9 5.6 3.2
Business – Connect 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Business – Earn 1.2 1.1 -0.1 1.9 -0.1
Discretionary – Productive 3.6 3.5 -0.1 5.9 -0.1
Discretionary – Social 1.1 0.9 -0.2 1.5 -0.3
Business – Build 0.5 0.3 -0.2 0.4 -0.4
Discretionary – Play 1.5 0.7 -0.8 1.2 -1.3
Unpaid work 6.8 5.4 -1.4 9.1 -2.2
Sleep 34.0 31.2 -2.8 52.4 -4.7
Personal 10.4 6.2 -4.2 10.4 -7.1

My tracking was thrown off a little by the trips, but this should still give me a rough idea of how things worked out. A- was more awake and wanted more interaction, so childcare went up and practically all the other categories went down. The sparkline definitely looks like it’s trending upwards. 11.2 hours of childcare is roughly 12 noon to 12 midnight, with a 45-minute gap daily for doing chores while W- plays with A-, and maybe the occasional longer break during the weekends. I usually left my tracker set to Childcare even during meals, though, and sometimes during subway trips or errands as well.

sparkline-childcare.png

I got around 7.5 hours of sleep a night, often shifted around (staying up late for discretionary time, sleeping in to catch up). It was a little hard sometimes when I wasn’t well-synced with A-, but it was worthwhile. Productive discretionary time was surprisingly stable on a yearly basis (maybe two hours times three days a week), but somewhat varied on a monthly basis. I spent about 40 minutes a week on Emacs, mostly doing Emacs News and a little automation. Drawing declined from September to December, but is slowly on the rise again.

sparkline-discretionary.png

On a yearly basis, consulting was also stable at around two hours a week. It was also pretty bursty on a monthly basis, ranging from 0% to 2.8%.

sparkline-consulting.png

As mentioned, I’ve been working on being more social:

sparkline-social.png

Even with the increase in childcare, my day feels pretty pleasant and manageable. More sleep would be nice, but I also like keeping a journal, drawing, writing, compiling Emacs News, and working on little tweaks. Still, I’m okay with spending time with A- instead of creating space by getting a babysitter. I learn a lot from A- too, so it works out. We’ll see how it goes!

Quick summary:

  • Aug: routine monitoring of cardiology OK, swimming, new conformer, flight with A-
  • Sept: journal gap – busy with trip
  • Oct: baby nostalgia, pretend play, furniture, journal spreasheet, HBHC
  • Nov: Make the Connection, three-word sentences, potty training, reading, corporate taxes
  • Dec: passport renewal, door knobs, flight
  • Jan: A- and my family, Papa’s death and wake, paperwork
  • Feb: phrases, organization, eye exam, party
  • Mar: making books, new conformer, voice shortcuts, NAS, pretend play, dentistry consultation, timer, flight
  • Apr: visiting family, bug bites, focusing on kaizen
  • May: journal summary, doctor exam, babysitter experiment, Autoshare, shopping trolley, Google Pay, okay to enjoy the moment
  • June: bike trailer/stroller, organization, picture descriptions, alphabet cookie cutters, “stop babysitting experiment,” giant bubbles
  • July: lights, decluttering, routines, work laptop upgrade