Category Archives: monthly

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February 2018

In addition to our usual field trips to the Science Centre and the ROM, we went to Riverdale Farm. A- named the animals and enjoyed talking about them, although she found the sheep a little loud. We also started visiting family more often, for both big things like Chinese New Year and A-‘s birthday as well as small things like an afternoon of hanging out.

A- wanted to build a Duplo tower so tall that she had to stand on a chair to add blocks to it. She got pretty good at inserting shapes into her sorter and screwing together the nuts and bolts in her toolkit.

She walked astride her balance bike all the way to the kitchen by herself. She carried empty containers on a tray. She danced a lot and imitated other aspects of music class. She enjoyed bouldering. She wanted to try out a life jacket while swimming, and she kicked her legs too. She picked up diving rings with her foot.

She sang Humpty Dumpty, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and Hey Diddle Diddle practically in full. I could prompt her to show me a sleepy face, a sad face, and so on. She talked about recent events and how she felt, often revisiting moments that were particularly significant to her. She echoed many of the things we often say, such as “Give it a try.” She asked for specific things using “I need…” and often thanked us.

She played more independently, often amusing herself for a number of minutes or toddling off to a different room while telling us to stop. She confidently touched different textures in books. She asked to be pushed faster while in the playground swing, and she wanted to go down the twisty slide.

Her eye exam went well. The pediatrician is working on referrals to Sick Kids for dentistry and endocrinology.

We replaced our printer with an HP M277dw, and I learned how to use it to make short books for A-. I figured out an Emacs News workflow that I can do entirely from my phone, and I set up Syncthing for my files too. We organized A-‘s toys and clothes into IKEA Trofast drawers. I uploaded old photos to Google Photos. Progress!

March: A new conformer, a consultation with the anesthesia dentist, more children’s books, and lots of time with A-. We’ll figure this out!

January 2018

It was one of those big months that somehow manage to contain so much.

We reshot our family picture because my dad wanted us to all wear Columbia clothes. We spent a few days relaxing at home and enjoying family time. Then my dad slipped into delirium and we took him to the hospital, where he died. The cremation, wake, and inurnment were all wonderful celebrations of an amazing life. I’ve written about most of the things I want to learn from my dad’s example and that I want to pass on to A-. I look forward to seeing how they work out in practice.

Most of the paperwork is underway. There’s dealing with the reconfiguration of our family dynamics, too. There’s a big gap where my dad used to be, of course. On the plus side, I have an even better appreciation of the strengths of my mom and my sisters. We’ll get through this.

A- had a grand time hanging out with her cousins, aunts, and grandparents. She figured out how to sit down and cross her legs. She liked bouncing on the bed and falling down forwards and backwards. She mastered the well-timed shrug. She peeled and ate lots of tiny oranges. She asked Lola and Tita Kathy to read her lots of books. She got over her anxiety about dolls. She often hugged people and accepted hugs.

The flights home were quite manageable, especially since we had the luxury of empty seats beside us during the Incheon-Toronto flight. Sleep deprivation, sniffles, and jet lag hit us hard on our return, but things got mostly back to normal after a couple of weeks.

At home, she quickly went through her favourite activities. She figured out how to build an 8-block-high tower and delighted in knocking it down using different parts of her body. We figured out how to dress for winter and have been making

A-‘s language capabilities really took off. She started saying things like “Thank you,” “You did it!”, and “Give it a try.” She explicitly imitated us: “A- make coffee just like Daddy make coffee.” She picked up lots of adjectives and modifiers: “very very sweet oranges.” She learned how to talk about negation: “Nobody,” “Tita Ching no wear glasses. Only Lola wear glasses.” She talked about recent events and anticipated upcoming ones. She even tried her hand at negotiation and persuasion: “Blueberries! (nod nod) That’s okay. That’s okay.”

February will be about settling in again and taking care of A-‘s medical appointments. I also want to spend some time rethinking my workflow considering our recent phone and tablet upgrades, and to think about where other upgrades might make sense.

December 2017

The big thing this month was flying to the Philippines to spend time with family. A- has mostly settled in. She gets quite anxious around my dad, who’s a lot sicker than he was when we visited in September.

This month, A- figured out how to sort cans into five groups by colour, label how she was drawing, cut with a serrated knife perpendicular to the chopping board, roll and slice play dough, drop coins into a slot, and turn doorknobs (!). She was interested in stringing beads with help, picking up plastic eggshells with her toes, cutting index cards all the way through with scissors, standing astride her balance bike, and lifting bags of lentils overhead so that she could throw them down. She loved getting shopping bags from under the sink, putting cans in them, dragging them around, and putting everything away. She also loved sliding down an inclined mattress and rolling things down to hit various targets.

We discovered a nice toddler pool in a nearby community centre back in Toronto. Despite the cold, we managed to make it to an outdoor playground too.

A- regularly uses four- to seven-word sentences. She seems to have a few favorite sentence groups – snippets from books, or connected thoughts such as: upset picture; cat pajamas; no wake up all; ni bed. She can name everyone she regularly sees, and she likes labelling their actions. When I offer her choices, she uses more words to describe what she wants.

She wants to be more independent, and sometimes even asks me to wait in one place while she goes and does something. She sometimes gets upset when I eat something she’s got her eye on or if I do something for her when she wants to do it by herself, so I’m happy to let her take the lead. She imitates what we do: washing dishes, carrying a stuffed toy in her sling, putting things away, strumming the ukulele strings. She’s doing all right.

I’m learning to make the most of the tablet and phone that my dad insisted on giving me. I’m a little intimidated by the thought of dealing with Customs on the way back to Canada, but it’s the right thing to do, so I’ll just keep a spreadsheet with the gift totals.

My dad might have surgery shortly before our scheduled return, so I’m thinking of extending my stay a few weeks while W- sticks with the original itinerary. We’ve had a lot of serious conversations just in case this is the end, and we’ve also had lots of storytelling and family time.

I learned more about estate tax law in the Philippines. I’m reasonably confident that we’ll be able to sort this out, especially with the recent tax changes.

We were in the middle of dealing with a flea problem in Toronto, so it’s been nice dealing only with the occasional mosquito bite here. We’ll just have to get back to vacuuming regularly once we’re in Toronto again.

The major upgrade at work went well. I helped with a few bugfixes and problem investigations. I’m glad I brought the work laptop, although it will be an interesting challenge bringing everything back if I’m traveling by myself.

Monthly review: November 2017

The biggest thing this month was potty training. We decided to postpone the pantsless approach recommended by the Oh Crap Potty Training book until life had settled down after our September trip, and that time had come. To my surprise, A- took to it readily. There were a few accidents at home, but nothing that couldn’t be mopped up with the towels and cloth diapers we kept handy. She’s now pretty good at going to the potty, especially if I trust her to know her own cues instead of prompting her too much. She refuses to wear diapers for naps or bedtime, and she often refuses clothes, too. We spent most of November at home, and we’re slowly gaining the confidence to go further afield.

Another big thing this month was reading Dr. Seuss. She loves The Cat In the Hat, The Thinks You Can Think, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, and One Fish Two Fish, and will say bits of the books as we read to her. She also likes prompting us to recite snippets throughout the day, so I’ve memorized large chunks of the books too. The Cozy Classics versions of Emma and Pride & Prejudice occasionally get requested at bedtime, and several rounds of Goodnight Moon too. All that reading means bedtime is an extended affair, but that’s all good.

Lots of new words from books, and plenty from everyday life too. A- often asks me to wear my gloves or oven mitts and “catch” whatever she names. She uses three-word sentences such as “all full bubbles” or “E- poo diaper.”

She’s interested in number words and in counting with her fingers. She seems to also matches up sets. When I doled out one scoop of cat food each for the two cats that were there, she named the cat who wasn’t and she asked me for another scoop of cat food. She thinks about the sizes of bags when nesting them, too.

There were a few days when “streetcar” was her favourite word, so we rode streetcars up and down all afternoon. I still didn’t break even on the transit pass I bought for the month. Between that and the classes we haven’t been able to make it out to, I’m getting better at ignoring sunk costs and focusing on what’s better for us in the moment.

She’s learning to play more independently. By far, her favourite activity is “shopping” for groceries with the bags in the kitchen and putting everything away afterwards. Our pantry gets randomized, but it’s worth it. Sometimes she wants me to help her, and sometimes she enjoys doing things by herself. I usually tidy up nearby while she plays, although one time I even managed to do a bit of consulting.

To balance that, A- occasionally enjoys being “baby A-,” asking us to feed her, flopping down for ” tummy time,” and recreating scenes from baby pictures. It’s fun (and good) to follow her lead as she negotiates this transition, so we do.

We’ve been stepping up housecleaning and decluttering, which is good. We spend most of our time in the kitchen or in A-‘s room, so I’ve been focusing on those areas. I wonder how I can make the living room more inviting. I prefer the kitchen myself, but it’s good to have more space for play.

Lots of consulting this month, since there’s a major upgrade in the works. I’m pleasantly surprised by my ability to do useful things in small, interruptible chunks of time. The rhythm I set up for my late-night discretionary activities seems to be mostly paying off, although of course sometimes A- has other plans.

I filed my corporate taxes, yay! This year, I decided to move my accounting from QuickBooks + Turbotax to Ledger + MyTaxExpress (under Wine), giving me another reason to stay in Linux. It took me a while to figure out what to do about foreign currency transactions and to get all the numbers on the tax form to add up properly, but now my books make sense. I can use version control on my ledger, too.

December will be mostly about consulting, paperwork, and the upcoming trip. For A-, maybe we’ll focus on self-dressing, and on setting up her environment for more autonomy and learning. Hmm….

Monthly review: October 2017

It took us a while to recover from jet lag and disrupted routines after September’s trip, but eventually things settled down and I was able to write again: first my weekly reviews, and then Emacs News. Switching my journaling from hand-drawn (digital) index cards to a spreadsheet might help me keep it going with my phone even when discretionary computer time is scarce. Emacs News was a little lower priority, but I can probably swing staying up late once a week. I did some consulting once I got back, too: just small tasks with disproportionate impact. Getting the hang of time again…

Halloween was fun. Our construction-related costumes were a good excuse to sew reflective ribbon, hot-glue cardboard, and make potato prints. The stickers and crayons we experimented with handing out this year in addition to chocolate went over very well, and it was great giving special loot bags for people we recognized or for costumes we liked a lot.

A- is becoming more capable of exploring things on her own: flipping through index cards, filling and dragging bags of canned goods, “washing” dishes in the sink, drawing and painting, rocking back and forth at the playground, and going up the stairs and down the slide all by herself. I still focus on her so that I can label what she’s doing and respond to her requests, but it’s amazing to see her taking the initiative.

A- often asks me to read books to her. She can point out objects in the background or turn to a specified page, and she fills in significant words when I pause. She fills in pauses in songs, too, and often chimes in with the words or gestures that she knows. Yay!

A year ago, we weren’t sure if there might be developmental delays that we’d need to learn how to deal with. The Healthy Babies Healthy Children program helped us keep a close eye on her development and learn how to provide an enriched environment. Since A- is doing fine now, we wrapped up with HBHC so that they can focus on other families. It was so nice to learn about parenting with the help of a public health nurse, a home visitor, and all the other city programs we’ve been through.

November will probably be about adjusting to cooler weather, working on toilet training, and following A-‘s interests.

Blog posts


September’s data was messed up because I haven’t bothered fixing my time records from our trip, so these are just the numbers from October.

Category This month % h/wk
A- – Childcare 39.6 68.7
Sleep 32.8 56.9
Personal 10.6 18.4
Unpaid work 9.2 15.9
Discretionary – Family 2.8 4.9
Business – Earn 1.7 2.9
Discretionary – Productive 1.4 2.3
Discretionary – Social 0.8 1.4
Discretionary – Play 0.7 1.2
Business – Build 0.3 0.5
Business – Connect 0.0 0.0

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! =)