Category Archives: monthly

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Monthly review: August 2016

It took me a while to write this monthly review. September’s practically done. This tells me I need to tweak my post-A-bedtime routines a little, but that’s okay.

It’s been an eventful year, for sure. Plenty of stuff for my annual review. I’m sure it will make more sense later on. At the moment, I’m just trying to capture enough hooks to let me get back into the memories. =)

After several consultations with dietitians (both public and private), upgrading to a high chair, and plenty of self-feeding, A- has been gaining weight at a steady clip. Whew! I added a detailed feeding log and more visualizations to our tracker, of course. Data data data.

There’s only a slight downside to A’s improved growth curve. It turns out that I’ve been lifting her incorrectly, and the extra weight has led to de Quervain’s tenosynovitis in my left hand. No big deal. I’ve modified my lifting technique, I’m careful not to put too much stress on my thumb, and I sometimes use an inexpensive over-the-counter brace. Since I can’t avoid using that hand, it probably won’t go away until we’re done breastfeeding or A- is more independent, but maybe I can avoid making it worse.

Since A- has been growing well, I bought a second-hand Manduca. That’s become our go-to carrier. The Manduca doesn’t require an insert for small babies, so I was able to use it with A- right away. It feels more secure than the ring sling. I’d like to learn how to use the mei tai too.

We booked our flights home, yay! It’ll be our first time traveling with A-, and it’s going to be a loooong flight. Hoping that Korean Air lives up to its reputation for family-friendliness.

With an average of two hours a week of consulting, I managed to fill the pipeline, yay! I’ve volunteered to help them with something time-sensitive, so I’ll be busy for the next few months. A- is still top priority, of course.

Lots of social things, too. Dinner with W-‘s family, park time with Rachael and G-, a nice walk with Jen, Ewan, and E-, and the final classes for Peer Nutrition. Also, J- had her friends over, and they made pesto from the garden basil. And they cleaned up. Wow. W- and I sat on the deck and marvelled.

Life is good.

2016-09-09c-august-2016-monthly-journal-review

output

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Last month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work – Childcare 34.3 36.9 2.6 62.0 4.3
Unpaid work 40.2 42.5 2.2 71.3 3.7
Discretionary – Social 1.5 2.5 0.9 4.1 1.6
Discretionary – Family 1.2 2.0 0.8 3.3 1.3
Discretionary – Play 0.5 0.5 -0.1 0.8 -0.1
Business – Build 0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.2 -0.2
Business – Connect 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0 -0.2
Business – Earn 1.4 1.3 -0.2 2.1 -0.3
Discretionary – Productive 4.8 4.6 -0.2 7.7 -0.4
Personal 13.1 12.4 -0.7 20.8 -1.2
Sleep 36.8 34.3 -2.5 57.6 -4.1

Monthly review: July 2016

(Finally, a little time to catch up on my writing! =) )

Ah, July. Many of the medical uncertainties we’d been working on over the past few months were wrapped up, at least for now. A- got her first artificial eye – a scleral shell that will gradually be enlarged to help her skull grow symmetrically. The anomalous finding on her abdominal ultrasound turned out to be a benign hemangioma according to the MRI. Cardiology at Sick Kids got a closer look at her ventricular septal defect through an echocardiogram under sedation, and they’ll continue to monitor it along with our first cardiologist. It feels a little strange to have medical appointments scheduled months out instead of practically every week, and to not get a referral to yet another department, yet another section of the Hospital for Sick Children. In the five months that A-‘s been alive, there had been five weeks free of medical appointments, and even those were under the shadow of the next thing to research, plan for, and accept. It’s starting to feel like we have a bit of a handle on things.

We’re so lucky that parental leave was an option for W-. It allowed us to take shifts in consoling A- when the procedures upset her. W- made delicious dinners: pesto and bun from the summery abundance of our planter boxes, juicy rotisserie chicken when it was too hot to cook indoors, and even more yummy things I didn’t have the attention span to do. He even got into the habit of ironing and pre-folding the large flannel squares that we use as A-‘s diapers. That way, she wouldn’t be bothered by any doubled-up hems. Lucky girl, and lucky me.

I reacquired Philippine citizenship and included A-, so she has that option. I hope I don’t end up regretting the paperwork. Sometimes dual citizenship is helpful, and sometimes it makes things trickier. Anyway, might as well.

Lots of social stuff, too. Tita Gay and Tita Myra drove up from the US to meet A-, and it was great to catch up with them. I’ve been going to a peer nutrition program conducted in Tagalog in order to learn more about feeding the baby and also to find out about Filipino community resources. We met another family with a baby who has left-eye microphthalmia, and we swapped notes. Slowly making new parent friends!

A- has gotten much better at rolling, and she likes spending time on her tummy. She can reach her toys from the rocker’s reclined position. She loves playing with water from the hose or streaming down from a cup with holes. We’ve been introducing her to lots of different kinds of food, and she’s gotten quite good at putting things into her mouth. Growing growing growing!

2016-08-06b July 2016 -- index card #monthly #review output

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Period 1 % Period 2 % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.3 0.2 -0.0 0.4 -0.0
Discretionary – Play 1.0 0.5 -0.5 0.9 -0.8
Unpaid work 41.6 40.2 -1.3 69.9 -2.3
Unpaid work – Childcare 34.0 34.3 0.4 59.6 0.6
Discretionary – Social 2.3 1.5 -0.7 2.7 -1.2
Discretionary – Family 1.4 1.2 -0.2 2.1 -0.3
Sleep 33.4 36.8 3.4 63.8 5.7
Business – Connect 0.1 0.1 -0.0 0.2 -0.0
Business – Earn 2.4 1.4 -1.0 2.5 -1.6
Discretionary – Productive 5.8 4.8 -1.0 8.3 -1.8
Personal 11.8 13.1 1.3 22.8 2.3

Monthly review: June 2016

June was a big month for health-related things. A- went under general anaesthesia so that the ocularist could take an impression of her left eye socket. We’ll be taking her for her first prosthetic shell soon. Genetics didn’t find anything with known clinical significance, so that’s a bit of a relief. However, her heart has been compensating for the ventricular septal defect with the development of a right ventricle muscle bundle, so the Sick Kids cardiology department will keep an eye on that to see if it needs to be resectioned. An ultrasound found something in her liver that has a blood supply. It might be a hemangioma, might be something else, so the pediatrician would like to follow up with an MRI. We’ve gotten quite familiar with Sick Kids, including an amusingly designed curtain of alliterative animals in one of the waiting areas.

It’s a good thing W- went on parental leave. Perfectly-timed and super helpful.

Somehow we managed to squeeze in a whole bunch of social stuff, too. I caught up with folks I knew from IBM consulting around social business, hung out with friends and their babies, went to various parent/baby activities, gave a talk at Quantified Self Toronto (on baby tracking, of course), hosted a quiche party for a few old friends, connected with someone semi-local whose baby also has microphthalmia, and sorted out my sister’s compromised e-mail account.

Plenty of time at home, too. The Thai basil in the planter boxes is lush and leafy, except for a few gaps where I pulled up the seedlings that didn’t thrive. The peas climbed up the side of the cage and made a break for freedom. We’ve been letting A- taste strawberries, teeth on freshly-picked pea pods, and smell the lavender and basil from the garden. Also, thanks to the abundance of Thai basil, we’ve been getting the hang of recipes like bun. I have way, way, way too much oregano, too, and should revisit that souvlaki recipe at some point. Yum yum yum!

After clearing it with her pediatrician, we’ve been giving A- some solid food, focusing on calorie- and nutrient-dense foods like avocado and sweet potato. She’s gaining weight regularly, but it might be good to get a bit more into her so that she can catch up. On the other hand, she might really just be a small sort of baby. It’s hard to tell. Anyway, A- loves sweet potato and is pretty open to other tastes, although we have to spread it out so that she doesn’t get constipated again. The introduction of solids means changes to her poo. Fortunately, she’s actually managed to use the potty quite a few times. We do it part-time – catch as catch can, basically. Hey, whatever lets us reduce the number of poopy diapers to deal with!

I sewed a number of bandana bibs, and they’ve been quite handy. We’ve settled into a nice number of bibs, I think – enough to use, wash, and hang dry – although we’ll probably need more once we start using them to soak up A-‘s drool, too. I made a crinkly toy using part of a bag of chips, and A- liked it. Yay!

In terms of work, I’ve been getting the hang of building add-ons for my consulting client. I think we’ve figured out most of the pieces, so now I can work on cranking out more add-ons when I have time to code. A- is a bit more wakeful now, so it’s hard to find time during the day, except for the occasional 30-minute nap here and there. Maybe if I nap during those times, I can free up some energy to use a larger chunk of time when she’s asleep at night.

Anyway, work is lower priority at the moment. I want to get A-‘s medical stuff sorted out first, and there’s also plenty of stuff around her mental and physical development that I’d like to help her with. The Healthy Babies Healthy Children nurse used the NCAST teaching scale to provide feedback on a play session, and we’ve been working on playing even better based on her recommendations. (Better play! Whee!) A-‘s getting better at coordinating her hands and bringing things to her mouth. She’s starting to show an interest in tickling games, too. Looking forward to helping her learn, and learning a lot in the process.

As for me, I’ve been squeezing in a little time here and there to add whatever I need to my tracker, draw journal entries, write longer reviews, and learn how to finger-pick a few nursery songs on the ukulele. I figured out how to use the defish filter to correct the distortion on the GoPro. I haven’t taken a lot of videos, but I hope I’ll get the setup sorted out properly one of these days. Camera positions, comfortable clothes, a workflow for filtering and editing… Someday! In the meantime, drawings and notes help me remember. They work out pretty well, actually, since I can note things that I might not be able to catch on video anyway.

July’s big things: the ocular prosthesis, cardio at Sick Kids, reacquiring Philippine citizenship, and joining the peer nutrition program. Onward!

2016-07-12a June 2016 -- index card #monthly #review output

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Period 1 % Period 2 % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.2
Discretionary – Play 0.4 1.0 0.6 1.6 1.0
Unpaid work 39.2 41.6 2.4 67.6 4.0
Unpaid work – Childcare 33.4 34.0 0.5 55.2 0.9
Discretionary – Social 1.1 2.3 1.2 3.7 2.0
Discretionary – Family 2.0 1.4 -0.7 2.3 -1.1
Sleep 34.8 33.4 -1.5 54.2 -2.5
Business – Connect 0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.2 -0.1
Business – Earn 1.9 2.4 0.5 3.9 0.8
Discretionary – Productive 7.4 5.8 -1.6 9.5 -2.7
Personal 12.7 11.8 -0.9 19.2 -1.6

Monthly review: May 2016

A- has gotten a lot more interactive. She coos and smiles often, yay! She’s also starting to grasp things and put them in her mouth, and is developing a personality. My first Mother’s Day was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the things I’ve been learning so far. It’s been a surprisingly good adventure, and rumour has it that it will get even better.

This month I was mostly preoccupied with A-‘s slow weight gain, but things are starting to settle down. The tests are coming back normal, so maybe she’s really just a small baby. We’re treating thrush in her mouth, and I’m counting my lucky stars that it hasn’t been passed to me yet. I built a weight visualization chart so that I could easily see the weight trends based on the locations at which the measurements were taken, and I started tracking more details in terms of diaper and nursing.

Ching came over for A-‘s 100-day celebration with W-‘s family, yay! She brought a GoPro as a gift from my family, and we’ve been taking short videos. It’s fun to see A- gradually developing skills.

On my consulting gig, I finally got around to trying add-on development. Progress is slow, but progress is progress. =)

A little bit of sewing for A-: a reversible bonnet (that matches two of my blouses, fun!), a party dress out of red silk brocade, and a zippered pouch to hold a few diapers and wipes.

Next month: Medical stuff – A- is going under anaesthesia so that the ocularist can make an impression of her eye socket, for making custom-fit conformers. W- is going on parental leave starting June 20, too. Much happening!

2016-06-02b May 2016 -- index card #monthly #review output2016-06-02b May 2016 -- index card #monthly #review.png

Blog posts

Sketches

Monthly review: April 2016

Last month, I wrote that I was looking forward to:

  • working more closely with the healthcare system and learning more about what to do
  • improving our routines and tools
  • gradually building a habit of going out (parent/baby groups, exercise, etc.)

A- is gradually moving past the slug stage of infancy. We’ve reached the awesome milestone of social smiles and cooing, hooray! That’s been helpful in getting us through those early morning wake-ups and occasional fussiness. W- has been super wonderful. I’m starting to feel like I might actually be getting the hang of this, too!

Warmer weather and A-‘s increasing wakefulness encouraged me to take her out for social activities. I checked out lots of free baby- and parent-oriented activities in the neighbourhood. They provide good excuses to go for a walk, A- gets to hear lots of words, and I’m learning from being around other parents and kids.

It’s great that there are so many resources available in the city. After a close call with a plugged duct, I started going to the breastfeeding clinic nearby. The weight history they’ve been keeping has shown that A- is gaining weight more slowly than normal. Based on my research and my conversations with the nurse at the cardiologist’s office, this is probably due to her heart defect. Having graduated from midwife care, we’re now seeing a pediatrician. I hope she can help keep an eye on the big picture, what with all the medical professionals we need to talk to.

The benefits of continuous improvement are starting to build up. Here are some of the little changes we’ve been trying:

  • Pizza is a handy way to use up leftovers.
  • The ring sling is a handy way to keep A- close, especially when she’s fussy and wants to be held. I can put it on even if I’m holding her.
  • Salads are fresh, convenient, and easy to eat. If I cut up ingredients and put them in containers, that makes mixing a salad pretty straightforward. I want to get us used to eating more vegetables, so I’ve been exploring salads. I think I’m getting the hang of having salad ingredients on hand, and I’ve been having fun exploring classic combinations too.
  • If I do laundry every other day instead of everyday, that saves time and energy.
  • If I brush my teeth and shower after dinner instead of timing it for before bed, then I feel better during A-‘s bedtime routine.
  • If I forget to do my pre-bed routine before A-‘s bath, I can brush my teeth while W- washes her.
  • If A- is cooing and not quite ready for bedtime, it can be a good opportunity to call my parents over Facebook Messenger so that they can interact with her.
  • If I draw my journal in the morning instead of at night, I don’t have to try to squeeze it into our bedtime routine.
  • If I keep lots of small towels handy, nursing becomes a more civilized affair.
  • If she’s crying, I can give her a short period of time to try settling down before I pick her up and more actively try to calm her.
  • If I loosen the bottom rail of the ring sling a little bit more compared to how I was doing it before, A- can sit more securely.
  • If I start Emacs as a daemon, I don’t have to worry about it crashing when I restart X.
  • If I use Tasker to set up call forwarding to either my home phone or a free voicemail service depending on location, I can worry less about missing calls or messages.

As our household routines improve and A- grows, W- and I have been gradually getting back more time for discretionary activities, too. W-‘s been getting back into woodworking, and he has also been able to go to the gym a couple of times a week. He’s great at coming up with songs and rhymes for A-, too, and she has come to enjoy bathtime.

I’m less worried about squeezing in naps while A- naps. I know that I can sleep in or start the bedtime routine a little earlier if I’m feeling tired, and I can call in W- for reinforcements if A- is fussier than usual. This has freed up time for me to learn more things. I’ve been sewing clothes, accessories, and stuffed toys. In terms of coding, visualizing baby data has helped me feel more comfortable with the d3 library (including animations, yay!). I applied that experience on my consulting gig, creating a couple of visualizations of their data. My drawing and writing still tends to be pretty journal-focused, but I can now take the time to explore other thoughts or go into more detail.

Most of the next big steps in terms of A-‘s medical stuff will be in June (cardiology update, eye clinic impression-taking). May will probably be more about improving our routines and skills. More social stuff, too. W-‘s parents are hosting a 100-day celebration for A-, and my eldest sister Ching is flying in for that. I’m looking forward to bringing A- to more get-togethers for exercise and stimulation. It would be nice to get back into the swing of drawing and blogging non-journal-type stuff – perhaps more kaizen posts. More salads and gardening, too! =)

2016-05-04b April 2016 -- index card #monthly #review output

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Period 1 % Period 2 % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.0
Discretionary – Play 1.5 0.4 -1.1 0.7 -1.8
Unpaid work 41.6 42.2 0.6 68.7 1.0
Unpaid work – Childcare 35.6 36.8 1.2 59.9 2.0
Discretionary – Social 0.7 1.7 1.0 2.8 1.7
Discretionary – Family 0.7 0.3 -0.4 0.5 -0.7
Sleep 36.9 33.5 -3.4 54.6 -5.6
Business – Connect 0.5 1.2 0.7 1.9 1.3
Business – Earn 0.3 1.2 0.9 2.0 1.5
Discretionary – Productive 6.5 6.5 -0.0 10.6 -0.0
Personal 11.1 12.7 1.5 20.6 2.6

Childcare’s a bit up and sleep is a bit down, but that’s probably influenced by the fact that I’ve improved my tracking system to allow me to capture more details for late-night feeds. I thought about breaking childcare down into subcategories (maybe stimulation, routine care, medical stuff, nursing, and other?), but I can handle that with notes instead of separate categories for now.

Monthly review: March 2016

March was all about adjusting to life with a newborn. Sleep is still a little patchy, but our routines are gradually getting smoother as we figure out little improvements. I’ve been able to do some cooking and go on various errands. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was still able to do a little bit of coding, writing, and sewing. I got back to posting Emacs News after a short hiatus. I even managed to check on my consulting clients: they’re doing well and things are running smoothly, hooray. =)

A- was officially diagnosed with microphthalmia, and we’re waiting for the ocularist to schedule the next steps. She also has a medium-sized ventricular septal defect which may or may not resolve itself over time; we’ll see. Thank goodness for public health.

This April, I’m looking forward to:

  • working more closely with the healthcare system and learning more about what to do
  • improving our routines and tools
  • gradually building a habit of going out (parent/baby groups, exercise, etc.)

2016-04-03b March 2016 -- index card #monthly #review output

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Period 1 % Period 2 % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.8 0.2 -0.6 0.3 -1.0
Discretionary – Play 8.6 1.5 -7.1 2.8 -11.9
Unpaid work 17.9 41.6 23.7 74.6 39.9
Unpaid work – Childcare 3.8 35.6 31.8 63.9 53.4
Discretionary – Social 1.2 0.7 -0.5 1.3 -0.8
Discretionary – Family 2.5 0.7 -1.8 1.2 -3.1
Sleep 34.9 36.9 2.0 66.1 3.4
Business – Connect 0.7 0.5 -0.2 0.8 -0.4
Business – Earn 4.0 0.3 -3.6 0.6 -6.1
Discretionary – Productive 8.8 6.5 -2.3 11.7 -3.9
Personal 20.7 11.1 -9.6 20.0 -16.1

An average of 9.4 hours of sleep a day still feels a little short when it’s broken up into 1-2 hour chunks, but that’s okay, I’ll adapt.