Category Archives: monthly

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Monthly review: April 2018

Experimenting with more structure to help with tracking progress over time.

  • Gross motor
    • A- learned how to ride a scooter.
    • She had fun running around and around.
    • She walked most of the way to the library.
    • She walked all the way to the playground.
  • Fine motor
    • We got a lot of entertainment value from a sheet of embossed number stickers and a few sheets of colored paper.
    • She was interested in 12-piece jigsaw puzzles and helped me fit the pieces together.
    • She can peel diecut foam stickers.
    • A- completed the shape sorter easily, naming shapes as she pushed them in.
    • A- was interested in using scissors to cut along lines.
  • Sensory
    • I made some bath paint. A- likes using it to paint the bathtub wall and her body.
  • Language
    • Asking herself questions: “How can I figure this out?”
    • Identity: She referred to herself by a nickname while drawing.
    • Anticipation: I asked, “Do you want to go to Mind Museum or somewhere different?” She said: “I want to go to Mind Museum. See big dinosaur. I need a wrist band. Mama need wrist band too.”
    • Asking questions: “Why Mama say excuse me?” “What’s Mama doing?”
    • Asking for attention: “I want Nanay to focus on me. Put down phone.” (Or pen, if I’m writing.) “Look, Lola, I made it.” She also started learning how to gently touch someone’s arm to get their attention.
    • Describing: She said “A-‘s home has Daddy in it.”
    • Talking about missing things: She asked for a marker by saying “Where’s the red one goes in here?” and pointing.
    • Coining phrases: She wanted to specifically ask for a baguette, but didn’t know the word for it, so she called it finger bread.
    • Rephrasing: When I was trying to get her to change “I want Nanay to carry you” to “I want Nanay to carry me,” she rephrased it as “I want to be carried by Nanay.”
    • We’ve been talking about babies, kids, big kids, and grown-ups. She said, “Mama is a grown up.” Then she said, “I am a growing up.”
    • She said, “I am two years old.” She repeated it a few times. She doesn’t answer the question “How old are you?”, though.
    • She still mostly demands things (“I want a orange!”), but one time, she requested it: “Can I have an orange, Mommy?”
  • Music
    • A- can fill in the name of an animal when singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”
    • W- came up with a new song: “Vegetables make the poo go down.”
    • So much singing! A- sings spontaneously and when prompted. She sings many nursery rhymes, and she also makes up her own.
  • Art
    • A- drew lines up and down while naming them. She also drew wavy lines while saying “W.”
  • Self-care
    • We got a helmet and pads for when A- rides her balance bike, and I got a new hat for myself.
    • We went to the ocularist to adjust A-‘s conformer. She liked the ball that she got from the treasure box.
    • A- has a dry cough.
  • Household
    • She wanted to trim Leia’s nails together, and insisted on holding the clipper with me.
    • She spread the bath mat out carefully while narrating what she was doing.
  • Social
    • Photos: She crept under her high chair, smiled up, and repeated the process in order to get a good shot.
    • Cousins: She sat on G*’s lap and asked her to read Go Dog Go.
    • Playing games: She explicitly plays, invents, and modifies games. “I push mama. It’s a game.” “I like to play balloon game with Lola.”
    • Modulation: I told A-, “Daddy’s room is only for quiet people.” She calmed down and used her quiet voice.
    • Empathy: She gave me a hug and said sorry after I spilled my drink because of Luke.
    • She wanted to sit close to Lola, and she enjoyed reading and playing with Lola.
  • Pretend
    • A- mimed releasing the coin lock for a pretend shopping cart.
    • A- had an extended pretend telephone conversation with her tower. Not just hello and goodbye, but quite a few other turns in between.
  • Kaizen
    • We took some Duplo to the playground and had lots of fun.
    • I learned that I like honey water much more than an endless stream of cough lozenges.
  • Us
    • We sorted out my dad’s niche at Heritage Park.
    • We went to Mind Museum several times, usually with Diane’s family.
    • I enjoyed getting together with my barkada. We ordered pizza. A- alternated between hanging out and going upstairs for quiet time, so I was in and out of conversations too.
    • We had a nice stay at Hotel Queen. We ate bibimbap at a nearby restaurant, and they gave us plenty of rice cakes.
    • We went to the EarlyON centre. A- had fun playing with stickers, puzzles, and the tunnel. I picked the facilitator’s brain about ECE and childcare.
    • W- laid patio stones next to the raised bed.

March 2018

We managed to get a referral to Sick Kids, so A-‘s dental surgery under anesthesia is scheduled for the end of May. I squeezed in a three-week trip to the Philippines before the next set of medical appointments, overlapping with Kathy’s move to the Netherlands. Now that we’re back, I can resume working on the night weaning that the dentists strongly recommended. She also got a new conformer, but she isn’t too keen on wearing it.

We made it to the farmer Q&A session at Riverdale Farm, had lots of fun with the sandboxes and slides at various playgrounds, and checked out High Park Zoo. A- ran/walked all the way to the subway once – I didn’t have to pick her up at all. She also wanted to ride her balance bike outside. She often goose-stepped around the house, too. We went to Ward’s Island with Jen and E-, and she had lots of fun at the playground there.

We practiced blowing feathers, and I stocked up on crafting supplies. A- liked the shapes that I cut out of felt.

A- ate some of W-‘s pasta and found it too spicy, so she frequently asks if food is plain or spicy before eating it. She prefers plain food, although she tries spicy food from time to time. She liked the spinach pancakes and breadsticks we made together. I’m looking forward to exploring more recipes with her.

Lots of fun language moments:

  • “Nurse more, nurse more, no more monkeys:” after W- saved her from falling off the bed head-first
  • “Phone said it’s okay to nurse beep beep”
  • “I want to nurse in carrier because I tired”
  • “Airport sleep in bassinet a long time, because is tired”
  • “Flight attendant!”
  • a nicely interactive video chat with Lola

My big thing this month was figuring out how to make small books for A-. I traced photos on my phone, laid them out with Org Mode and LaTeX, printed them on a duplex colour printer, and taped the pages together. A- picked up the phrases and ideas so quickly. I made three books last month, and I want to make more!

Lots of other little kaizen projects, too. We kitted out the play room with more storage, and I printed labels for the bins. We got network-attached storage and have been organizing our photos. I set up lots of voice shortcuts on my phone. Lots of tidying up in the basement, too. I gave the iPad Pro and Pencil to Kathy, since she can make better use of it then I can at this time. I prepared our personal taxes and helped J- sign up for NETFILE.

We’ve been working on being more playful and silly, and that seems to be paying off. A- usually lets us brush her teeth and put her conformer back in if we play pretend or sing silly songs. Looking forward to learning even more.

April is nearly done. The trip, taxes, catching up, and preparing for all those medical things in May… Much to do!

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….