Category Archives: review

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

Time

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

Weekly review: Week ending November 10, 2017

The last workshop session of Make the Connection focused on being a play partner and scaffold for your toddler. Labeling things in a running commentary now feels pretty normal for me, and I’ve been working on organizing the environment and letting her take the lead. I rotated more of the toys and cleared some more space at her level.

I like the way our play has felt this week. I followed her interest in streetcars, bubbles, books, and mittens, and she’s been learning tons. “Streetcar” was one of her favourite words this week, so we made a few special trips to ride on streetcars until she was satisfied. The dish detergent I got on sale seems a bit harsh for extended hands-deep bubble time. We’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s baby-mild castile soap for washing her and that seems to bubble up fine, so I might switch to that for bubble sessions. There are a handful of books she asks me to read: “Cat in the Hat,” “Goodnight Moon,” “At the Supermarket,” “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” I mix in other books from the library or the Children’s Book Bank, too – things I might not mind reading and re-reading if they catch her interest. I like looking at the illustrations and the words, thinking about how they work, which means I don’t mind if A- asks me to read Cat in the Hat five times in a row.

We went to the playground, too. I guess the wool pants I made her kept her warm enough that she was fine playing, although she frequently asked for the mittens I’d forgotten to bring. I showed her how to stick your hands in your jacket’s pockets to keep them warm. The playground got a lot busier once school ended, so she shifted to sitting on the bench with some food. She didn’t want to go home, but I was cold, so we had to head home. She asked for the wool pants again on a different day. Looks like she likes them. I should make more from the wool sweaters I’ve been buying from the thrift store.

At home, she amused herself for a good number of minutes by filling a bag with cans from the pantry and dragging the bag around. She even put the bag away afterwards. More cutting practice, too: she pulled out the chopping board and wanted to cut the cucumber with a butter knife, so I helped her. She’s getting pretty good at keeping her fingers away from the knife, although she still needs guidance of course. Peeled cucumber seems to be easy enough for her to cut, and she likes eating it. Also, she was interested in buttons and buttonholes, so I might start the “push small things through a slot”-type of activities.

She has enough language to say things that are unexpectedly poetic. One morning, she spotted W-‘s face soap on the bathroom counter. She asked if she could wash her face, so I let her have a little dab of soap and some warm water. While washing, she said:

Wash face.
Happy me.
Happy me.
Daddy soap.

Three-word sentences are starting to emerge, too: “All full bubbles;” “A- poo toilet.”

A- has some cat pajamas that she really likes, and seems to be taking some care to keep them clean enough for reuse. One time, she wanted to wash her hands, so she pushed her sleeves up to her elbows. When it was time to wash those cat pajamas, she brought them all the way down to the washer in the basement and asked me to pour detergent into the washer’s drawer.

A- spotted the last pull-up diaper in my stash, and she insisted on switching to it from the diaper she had been wearing. She’s also gotten a lot better at pulling down and pulling up her pants (even the back side), and can be prompted to sit on the potty from time to time. She can tell us, “Wet pants.” Couple of signs of readiness, so we started the next phase of toilet training. Might get a bit messy, but it’ll be worth it.

As for us:

  • W- replaced the backflow valve in the bottom drawer of the dishwasher. The actuator is still broken, so we’re using just the top drawer. At least this way, the bottom drawer won’t accumulate dirty water.
  • I remembered enough of my old code to help my client with some troubleshooting. I should check in again this week to help them prepare for a major change.

Next week: adapting to cooler weather…

Blog posts

Focus areas and time review

  • A- (Childcare) (70.2h – 41% of total)
  • Business (6.5h – 3%)
    • Earn (3.5h – 53% of Business)
    • Build (3.0h – 46% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.8h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (1.4h – 0%)
    • Drawing (0.0h)
    • Emacs (0.8h)
    • Sewing (0.6h)
  • Discretionary – Play (2.1h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (11.6h – 6%)
  • Unpaid work (17.1h – 10%)
  • Sleep (59.4h – 35% – average of 8.5 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending November 3, 2017

For Halloween, we dressed up in construction-related costumes. A- wore flannels, overalls, and the high-vis vest I made her, and she even wore her toy hard hat for a while. I wore the bulldozer hat that I made out of cardboard, and W- wore his university hard hat suitably gore-ified with red tempera. We handed out chocolate, crayons, or stickers to hundreds of kids over about an hour and a half, with special loot bags (including full-size chocolate) for people we knew and kids with particularly nice costumes.

A- showed renewed interest in nesting cups and popping bubbles. She also showed a new interest in going in and out of a play tent, and she seems to have gotten over her fear of mittens – she even pretended to use one. Still doesn’t like dolls, though, as I saw when we went to the JFRC for the Halloween potluck and to the OEYC to ask for tips.

It’s amazing how much A- has absorbed from the books we’ve read again and again. I can ask her to turn to a page with a specified object. If I pause while reading, she often fills in significant words.

A- is picking up a sense of what belongs where. When we came inside after Halloween, she took off her shoes and carried them down to the workshop in the basement, since they’re the shoes she wears when she goes in there. She also moves things if they’re piled in the wrong place, and she likes pointing to drawers to refer to what’s in them. I’d like to be more thoughtful about what we have in our house and how it’s organized, because this is what she’ll get used to. She’s used to processes, too: she got my library card and wanted to check out a book by herself.

We checked out the pool at the Annette Community Recreation Centre. No toddler pool and no steps, but the water was warm and there were lots of water toys.

It’s getting pretty cool, so I splurged on wool fabric to turn into a blanket for A-, and a couple of merino wool sweaters to turn into pants for her. I’ll try to set aside one day a week for crafting. It’s an investment of time and money into potentially interesting skills.

The Make the Connection parenting workshop session this week was a combination of two topics: conversations and sharing. At this stage, it’s okay for me to focus more on comments than questions, and to help resolve conflicts with distraction, intervention, and modeling. When we went to the science centre with Jen and E-, it was great to see A- and E- take turns with the wheel.

Other quick updates:

  • I had lunch with Aaron and Bernie. Among other things, we chatted about art education, math, reading, and school. A- sampled my salad and kept herself generally occupied.
  • I did some consulting this week, too: backing up the schema and running our update script.
  • I’ve been reading more about estate planning on both the Canadian and Philippine sides. It’s complex, but we’ll figure this out.
  • W- finished cutting stringers for the porch stairs. Awesome!

Next week: winding up the Make the Connection workshop, more consulting, and maybe some work on business taxes.

Focus areas and time review

  • A- (Childcare) (66.3h – 39% of total)
  • Business (3.4h – 2%)
    • Earn (2.7h – 78% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.7h – 21% of Business)
      • ☑ Prepare invoice
      • ☐ Write shareholder’s resolutions
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (7.5h – 4%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (1.3h – 0%)
    • Drawing (0.0h)
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Coding (0.5h)
  • Discretionary – Play (1.6h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (16.1h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (16.9h – 10%)
  • Sleep (55.0h – 32% – average of 7.9 per day)

Turning 34; life as a 33-year-old

What a difference a year makes! In August 2016, we were just beginning to emerge from the tangle of diagnostic exams and new medical terms, trying to figure out what we needed to deal with. By August 2017, A- was walking, talking, interacting, and cheerfully developing on track, which was a great relief.

I’ve finally cleared some time to do my annual review, so here goes!

What happened this year?

We made the most of W-‘s parental leave with plenty of time together, a three-week trip to the Philippines to visit my family, and lots of home improvement (workshop, wardrobe, and part of a porch rebuild). After he went back to work, we established new routines which seem to be working quite well.

I checked out lots of parenting resources and workshops, consulted various agencies for help with assessing and monitoring A-‘s development, and gave myself a crash course in early childhood education. We’ve been making good use of our membership at the Royal Ontario Museum, and I’ve been singing lots of songs we picked up from circle times and toddler classes. I’m pleasantly surprised at how fun it is to learn about all sorts of stuff.

As we settled into regular routines, I reclaimed some discretionary time. It turns out that I can usually get an hour of discretionary time at night, if I stay up after A- has gone to bed. That’s been handy for updating my journal, doing some consulting (mostly SQL and a little prototyping), posting Emacs News summaries, and learning more.

What did I learn?

There were a few big uncertainties this year.

  • What were the parameters we need to work with in terms of A-? Microphthalmia means regular trips to the ocularist and ophthalmologist, prostheses, and some adaptation in terms of vision and socialization. Her ventricular septal defect seems to have no impact on her growth, and just needs routine monitoring to check on the right ventricle muscle bundles. The liver hemangioma also needs routine monitoring. Enamel hypoplasia means being more careful about cleaning her teeth, with possible dental work later. She doesn’t seem to have any developmental delays. Also, she’s pretty darn awesome!
  • Will I be able to adapt to stay-at-home parenting? This worked out surprisingly well, and I’m glad we structured our lives this way. I find it interesting, and I’m learning a lot. I’ve scaled down consulting because of time constraints and brain fuzziness, but that’s still okay. It’s been super-helpful to be able to adapt to A-‘s sleep schedule and interests.
  • How do we want to parent? I resonate with ideas from attachment parenting, Montessori education, and a few other parenting philosophies. I’ve been pretty good at staying calm and managing the usual new-parent anxiety. I’m learning more about early childhood education and child development.
  • What’s worth spending time and money on, and what can I postpone or avoid? Journaling has been very much worth it. Compiling Emacs News doesn’t take much time, and it’s been useful too. I can do enough consulting to keep my clients happy. Reading and improvement time pay off, too. I’ve also been able to do personal coding (mostly Quantified Awesome) and a tiny bit of sewing, but those are harder.We’ve been pretty frugal in terms of baby-related stuff, and keeping things simple has worked well for us. I started using the opportunity fund for A- – not because I think this will result in a prodigy, but because it’s enjoyable and good to explore all sorts of things together.
  • What are the health challenges facing my family, and how can we support them? It was a tough year for my parents and my sister, and they’re not out of the woods yet. I can’t help much with the day-to-day stuff over the distance, but I can check in with them over Facebook, listen, share stories, let them interact with A-, help with research, and respect their decisions.
  • What will it be like to take A- to the Philippines? Both A- and I got overtired on the flights during our first trip, so it really helped that W- was there. It was great being able to share the load with him on the ground, too. Nice spending time with family and friends!

A few questions I’ll explore this year:

  • How can we make the most of A-‘s preschool years? I think this year will be mostly about helping A- learn self-care and household skills. The more she can do by herself, the more capable she’ll feel, and the less frustration she’ll have to deal with.Independent classes tend to start around 3 years old, so I have a little over a year of participating in classes together. Music classes and a museum membership have been a good fit for us, and I’d like to ramp up physical activity and add a membership to the science centre. (Oct 2017: The science centre has been worth it for us. We’re there practically every week!)
  • How can I support W- as he takes on larger projects? Taking care of A- lets me free up time for W- to work on the porch, and reading about stuff helps me chat with him about the work he’s doing.
  • What does my family need? We’re keeping some of W-‘s vacation time in reserve for another trip to the Philippines. I’m also chatting with them more, since A- responds to Facebook video chats. (Oct 2017: A- and I traveled by ourselves to the Philippines to spend a few weeks with my family. Doing an overnight layover made things a lot easier to manage. It was great to spend time with family. I started looking into paperwork, too.)

How have I changed?

Compared to last year, I’m more confident about parenting. I use general areas of child development to guide my observation and planning so that I can offer A- a variety of options, and then we follow her interests from there. As I expected, parenting is the sort of thing that gets more fascinating if I geek out about it.

I haven’t been able to code much, since I’ve been prioritizing sleep and my journal. I feel less articulate – like my brain occasionally gets a little tangled – but maybe that’s just because I’m more aware of speaking, or maybe that’s sleep deprivation. It’ll probably sort itself out over time.

I feel reassured by the way we’re dealing with things. It’s nice to be able to test Stoic philosophy and find that it works well for me.

How did I spend my time, and how do I feel about that?

Category % 32 years % 33 years Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
A- – Childcare 14.9 39.2 24.4 65.7 41.0
Business – Build 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.8 0.2
Discretionary – Social 0.9 1.1 0.1 1.8 0.2
Business – Connect 0.7 0.1 -0.6 0.1 -1.0
Unpaid work 7.5 6.8 -0.7 11.3 -1.2
Discretionary – Family 3.0 1.4 -1.6 2.4 -2.7
Sleep 37.4 34.0 -3.4 56.9 -5.7
Business – Earn 4.5 1.2 -3.4 1.9 -5.7
Discretionary – Play 5.7 1.5 -4.2 2.5 -7.0
Personal 15.4 10.4 -5.0 17.4 -8.4
Discretionary – Productive 9.7 3.6 -6.1 6.0 -10.3

Childcare went way up, of course, since I had a kiddo for 100% of my life as a 33-year-old and 50% of my life as a 32-year-old. That took time away from pretty much everything else, but I’m okay with that. I’ve worked out a sleep pattern that usually lets me feel pretty rested: try not to stay up more than two hours longer than A- does, and nap when I can.

An hour or two of discretionary time isn’t quite enough to get deep into code. Fortunately, my consulting clients are super-flexible, and we can pick tasks that fit with the constraints on my time and concentration.

What is a typical day like?

We usually wake up when A- feels like waking up, which is around 11 AM or so. Some days, I set an alarm and wake up earlier so that I can take care of things or gently nudge A- towards being awake. After a relaxed breakfast, we head out for appointments, errands, or informal field trips. We might have lunch outside or at home, depending on the timing. A- usually naps in the carrier at some point. When we get home, we have an afternoon snack, tidy up, and play some more. We reconnect with W- when he gets home, and we might go for a walk to the supermarket together. We help make dinner, eat, tidy up, pack our lunches for the next day, and prepare for bed. We read a few stories, then settle in – sometimes with W-, and sometimes in A-‘s room.

What am I looking forward to?

Life as a 34-year-old will probably look like:

  • Embracing every stage as we go through it
  • Helping A- develop self-care skills and participate in household life
  • Going on a couple of trips to the Philippines to spend time with family and sort out paperwork

Weekly review: Week ending October 20, 2017

A- loves scribbling on paper, and she also likes asking me to draw things for her. I usually draw our faces, taking advantage of our brain’s inclination to see faces even in simple shapes. I label as I draw: “A- has two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and hair.” It looks like all that modeling is paying off. This week, she drew a rough circle, said “Eyes,” and added lots of dots. Neat!

She asks to see pictures every day, sometimes several times a day. She likes labeling herself, Daddy, the cats, her hat, Lolo and Lola, and washing hands. We printed out a few more pictures so that she has more to flip through. She got interested in removing pictures from and inserting them into the photo album. We also show her pictures on our phones and on the tablet. I’m gradually collecting pictures of everyday words so that I can help her expand her vocabulary.

She’s getting better at entertaining herself independently for a few minutes at a time. She mimed making noodles with a pot and imitated Neko cleaning her paws. She likes flipping through albums and through my box of sketched index cards. One time, she even told W- that she’ll wait by playing in her room until he could finish vacuuming.

Since it was pretty warm this week, A- often didn’t want to put on clothes. Fortunately, no one at the science centre batted an eye. Even on a cooler day, she resisted pants, but she eventually asked to wear a jacket. I’m learning to trust that she’ll ask for clothes when she feels cold, and she’s fine otherwise.

Another little moment that might be a milestone: A- handed a teaspoon to W- and said “One.” She gave him another, and said “Two.” She gave him another, and said “Three.” We’re not sure if she’s counting or just remembering the sequence, but since she’s interested in numbers, we’ll make sure to count lots of things.

So much reading, too! :) We found a nice place for storytime in our bedtime routine, snuggling in bed with a handful of books. She likes having us read “I Love You Through and Through” repeatedly, and she points to various body parts at the appropriate points. She likes the new books we borrowed from the library, too.

We finally made it to the city-run Recreation Discovery program. It’s like a compressed JFRC or OEYC: free play, circle time, crafts, and a story. A- was reserved, but she liked the books and the magnetic drawing board. She’s still pretty reserved in music class, but she’s starting to try to sing along when I sing outside it. At the Make the Connection parenting workshop, we learned more about temperaments and goodness of fit. A- and I are pretty similar, so it’s been easy to adapt to what she needs.

The balance bike I ordered for her is taking a mysteriously long time to turn up at the neighbourhood post office. I might need to follow up on Monday.

We had our final meeting with Healthy Babies Healthy Children. Nilda gave us our completion certificate and answered my remaining questions. It was super helpful to have their support as we were figuring out what we were dealing with, and the activities they suggested helped me learn how to help A- develop her skills.

I reflashed my phone to LineageOS with W-‘s help. That should make my phone a little more up to date. I also updated my ledger. I stayed up late one night to do some consulting, fixing the auto-follow tool in time for my client’s demo.

Next week: catching up and getting a little ahead…

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (6.6h – 3%)
    • Earn (5.0h – 74% of Business)
    • Build (1.7h – 25% of Business)
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (3.1h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (2.1h – 1%)
    • Coding (1.0h)
  • Personal routines (21.5h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (20.3h – 12%)
  • A- (Childcare) (63.2h – 37% of total)
  • Sleep (51.2h – 30% – average of 7.3 per day)