Category Archives: review

Weekly review: Week ending July 22, 2016

This was a big week. A- got her first ocular prosthesis, a scleral shell that fits in front of her small eye and supports the growth of her skull. She hardly even fussed, and has been very much her usual happy self. Her left eye is still smaller than the right one, which is normal. It’s a gradual process. I’m sure there’ll be bumps along the road. People in the Facebook support group have shared a few stories about dealing with infection or lost prostheses. But that’s just part of life, so – onward!

We took A- for an MRI in order to follow up on the results from her abdominal ultrasound and blood tests. The waiting room had a toy scanner, which was probably really useful for helping older kids become less afraid of the procedure. It turned out that it’s a small version of a CAT scanner, and it’s made by Philips. They call it a kitten scanner. It even comes with RFID toys that bring up relevant animations. Neat. =)

Tita Gay and Tita Myra drove up from the US to meet A-. We had fun chatting over lumpia and Vietnamese bun. It was so nice to hear about how Tita Gay had been helping my parents through some difficult times, and how Tita Myra was coping with her own health challenges. We ended up with too many desserts, but that’s okay. It just meant that we got to enjoy custard pastry (galaktoboureko, I think), egg tarts, strawberry shortcake, and banana fritters throughout the rest of the week.

I didn’t do any consulting, but that’s okay. It’s a little mindboggling to think that this was my first week without a couple of hours of consulting since April, when A- was just two months old. Next week promises to be a little lighter medical-wise (aside from the echocardiogram under sedation on Monday), so I might be able to check back in. I’ve got a couple of add-ons on the go, and I’m halfway through prototyping another.

I’ve been spending most of my time focused on A-. Aside from the big health-related milestones this week, it feels like I’m spending a fair bit of time nursing her or helping her sleep. It’s all good, though; past Sacha decided this was the best use of my time, and the reasons still stand. When I don’t want to distract her by talking to her, I read on my phone. I’ve gotten through a few ebooks on the Montessori method, looking for ideas for early childhood education. I like the idea of helping her develop her senses and observation skills, and the practical life skills will be good too. The usual Montessori exercises are for kids who are a little older (maybe 2.5 years?), but there are opportunities to apply the principles even earlier. My brain still feels a little fuzzy from time to time, but I’m looking forward to getting better at helping her learn – and learning tons in the process, too.

I’ll eventually want to have more structured notes for observations and plans related to A-‘s learning. I think Teach Your Baby had some suggestions for keeping a notebook, although it might be interesting to see what I can sort out with computers, tagging, my digital index cards, Emacs, and whatever scripts I write. I’ll probably start with adding more detail to my index cards, and making some kind of table to remind us to cover a variety of activities. I’ll figure out how to cross-reference stuff later.

Observations from this week: In the backyard, she’s been able to pick up small pine cones in either hand, when we bring them close to her in our hands. She can pass a teething ring from one hand to the other. She can easily grasp and mouth cucumber sticks and carrot sticks, and she seems to prefer using fewer fingers instead of using a full-finger grasp. Lots of vocalization, especially in the evening. It’s not crying – it sounds more chatty, although if it changes in tone a little, that seems to be a reliable indicator that she’s getting a bit tired.

In other news, W- has been really hitting it out of the park in terms of cooking: pesto using the basil from our planter boxes (gotta keep trimming them!), tarragon chicken, pad thai, bun… He’s been posting videos of A- in our Facebook group for baby updates, too. So awesome.

Next week: cardio, then reacquiring Philippine citizenship, then taking A- for more vaccines and following up with the pediatrician regarding results. I’m not sure I can go to the Peer Nutrition workshop on Monday, but maybe I can make it up some other time.

2016-07-23b Week ending 2016-07-22 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (0.1h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.0h – 0% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Connect (0.1h – 100% of Business)
  • Relationships (4.7h – 2%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (9.8h – 5%)
    • Drawing (5.0h)
    • Emacs (0.3h)
      • ☐ [#A] Do another Emacs News review
    • Coding (0.3h)
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (0.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (2.9h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (23.6h – 14%)
  • Unpaid work (69.7h – 41%)
    • Childcare (59.3h – 35% of total)
  • Sleep (57.3h – 34% – average of 8.2 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending July 15, 2016

This was a good week for walks. Most days we made it out for two, even three walks, and we’ve started going to High Park too. It’s a multipurpose activity. Either A- gets exposed to sunlight to help her eyes develop or she ends up taking a nap, and we get exercise (and sometimes groceries or books).

We listed the walk and a few dozen other activity ideas on a sheet of paper that we’ve stuck to the fridge door. This should help us cycle through different ways to engage A- instead of spacing out or settling into a rut. It’s important for us to learn how to support A-‘s learning and provide a stimulating environment. We got the sedation instructions for A-‘s upcoming cardiology exam. In preparation for informed consent for that and the MRI that the pediatrician has also requested, I looked up the research on the risks of multiple exposure to anaesthesia for young children. There are mixed findings, but the statistics tend to be on the grimmer side when it comes to potential learning disabilities and developmental delays. Ah well. Top priority is health, so let’s get that sorted out first. We’ll deal.

I’ve been thinking about tech areas to explore now that I’m getting more used to the little projects I do for my consulting clients. On the data side, I’m curious about data analysis and visualization. I’m also interested in natural language processing, both in terms of conversational user interfaces as well as text analysis. It’s a little harder to learn things in fits and starts. Even with W- focusing on A-, I did only three hours of work last Thursday. Still, that was enough time to get a couple more add-ons on the go, so that’s something.

Anyway, back to tech learning. I spent a little time defining a few intents and entities with http://api.ai, and I tested it with text and with WAVs. Speech recognition is likely to be the weak link in the chain for me, but maybe I can start playing around with a more individually-tailored agent. It would be handy to have more customized cognitive support systems for reminders, routine checklists, scaffolding, and mental stack management… The hybrid button-/text-based trackers I’ve been building for my mobile device have been quite useful. I tweaked them to save more data to my database so that I don’t have to pull in as much from the external site that I’m wrapping this custom interface around, although I ended up introducing a few regressions in the process because my unit tests didn’t cover the functions that actually update the third-party site. Hmm, maybe I should just mock those out and test. Also, at some point, it might be nice to make the trackers better at handling fuzzier input, which is where those conversational user interfaces might come in.

So yeah, a little bit of coding. Drawing is higher on my discretionary time priority list, actually. I’ve been staying up late to draw more detailed diary entries. I did my monthly review, too. It’s fascinating how dense the weeks and months are when I look back.

Next week is packed with health and medical stuff. The peer nutrition workshop on Monday might be a good way to meet other Filipinos and pick up some dietitian-recommended tips for helping A- gain weight. Starting Tuesday, A- will be fitted for her first ocular prosthesis, a scleral shell that will go over her small left eye in order to help her skull grow symmetrically. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation, we’ve managed to snag an MRI slot on Thursday. Taking it easy otherwise. So glad W- is here!

2016-07-19a Week ending 2016-07-15 -- index card #journal #weekly

output

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (3.1h – 1%)
    • Earn (3.0h – 97% of Business)
    • Build (0.0h – 1% of Business)
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (4.7h – 2%)
    • ☑ Make a list of baby activities
  • Discretionary – Productive (7.8h – 4%)
    • Drawing (3.5h)
    • Emacs (0.4h)
      • ☑ [#A] Do another Emacs News review
    • Coding (1.7h)
      • ☑ Log unknown commands for later processing
      • ☑ Fix sleep tracking for baby
      • ☑ Fix sketches link
      • ☑ Fix save and load
      • ☑ Try api.ai
      • ☑ Try submitting WAV to api.ai
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (0.3h)
    • ☑ Renew library card
  • Discretionary – Play (0.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (31.5h – 18%)
  • Unpaid work (60.2h – 35%)
    • Childcare (52.6h – 31% of total)
  • Sleep (60.7h – 36% – average of 8.7 per day)

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

Weekly review: Week ending July 8, 2016

A quiet week compared to the previous one. A-‘s alpha fetoprotein test came back normal, although the pediatrician would like an MRI just in case.

A- seems to be shifting her sleeping patterns a little. She’s a bit more awake during the day, with 2-3 naps – mostly 30 minutes, but occasionally longer. She’s been having fun blowing lip raspberries, and has also tried rapidly squeezing with her hands a few times.

It wasn’t all fun and games, though. She had her first struggle with constipation, the poor dear. All we could do was hold her (and take bananas off the menu). It was a good opportunity to reflect on pain and comfort and what to do when you can’t do much. I can’t solve all her problems. That’s outside my control. I can, however, choose my response to what life brings, and I can help regulate her state as well. I’m sure there will be many situations like that in the future, so it’ll be useful for me to think about things when we’re not in the thick of it.

Lots of paperwork this week. I renewed my health card, and I filed the paperwork for reacquiring Philippine citizenship, including A- in my application. In retrospect, I could probably have asked for additional copies of A-‘s adorably serious-looking ID pictures, but ah well. =) The important thing is that it’s done. I could probably have postponed it until I needed it, I guess, but it’s better to have it sorted out ahead of time. Ditto for passport renewals. My mom thinks that may come in handy for identification in the Philippines, so I’ll keep that current. No big deal, just two afternoons and some money every five years or so.

Speaking of the Philippines – I helped W- move the BBQ back after he sanded and stained the deck, and we had fun trying out the recipe from the Reddit post on Filipino BBQ-sytle chicken. Vietnamese bun is becoming more familiar, too. Yum!

I’ve also signed up for the peer nutrition program in Tagalog. That promises to be interesting. Take advantage of all the city services! It is totally awesome that the City of Toronto has services for different cultures. I hope it’s a way for me to pick up more everyday vocabulary. We’re trying to expose A- to Cantonese and Tagalog, and there are big gaping holes in my vocabulary that I don’t want to plug with English words unless I have to.

I’m starting to get the hang of building add-ons for my consulting client. It would be great to get a good pipeline of those going: lots of little projects that will eventually make it into production. Then I can add more complex projects on top of that, once we’ve got a good foundation of value.

Top priority is A-, though. Next week is pretty open, and then she’s getting her first prosthesis the week after that. W- started his parental leave at the perfect time. I’m so glad we can work on figuring out all this stuff together.

2016-07-10a Week ending 2016-07-08 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (7.5h – 4%)
    • Earn (5.8h – 77% of Business)
    • Build (1.7h – 22% of Business)
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.3h – 0%)
    • ☑ Call Healthiest Babies Possible
  • Discretionary – Productive (5.9h – 3%)
    • Drawing (2.4h)
    • Emacs (0.0h)
      • ☐ [#A] Do another Emacs News review
    • Coding (0.0h)
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (0.8h)
    • ☑ Cancel Evernote, move off it
    • ☑ Check MBNA credit card
  • Discretionary – Play (0.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (18.9h – 11%)
  • Unpaid work (66.9h – 39%)
    • Childcare (54.5h – 32% of total)
  • Sleep (68.5h – 40% – average of 9.8 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending July 1, 2016

More medical things on the go. A quick phone consultation with the ocularist helped us get a better sense of what to expect in terms of process and budgeting. If all goes well, A- will get her first painted shell in a couple of weeks, and we’ll learn how to maintain it. Also, A- got her 4-month vaccines. She came down with a fever and was a bit grumbly the following day, but recovered by evening or so.

We took A- for an abdominal ultrasound. It turns out that her liver has something with a blood supply, so now we’re waiting for the results of follow-up tests, and we may have to take her for more diagnostic exams next week. Fortunately, W-‘s on parental leave, and Canada has a public health care system. Whew whew whew. Anyway, just plugging along.

While waiting for results from a few of the blood tests, we amused ourselves by examining the privacy curtains in our area. They turned out to be brilliantly designed: a matrix of alliteratively-employed animals, like the waiter walrus and the engineer elephant. Our favourite was the ventriloquist viper, whom we had initially misidentified as a storytelling snake before catching on to the coverage of the entire alphabet. Much fun.

In terms of cooking, necessity was the mother of yummy dishes. I grilled pizza when it was too hot to bake it, and W- made shortbread when we found ourselves all out of eggs.

Lots of reading, mostly on my phone. Hooray for e-books! I enjoyed reading the summaries of parenting-related research in Zero to Five, Science of Mom, and Thirty Million Words, and I’m looking forward to trying out those tips.

W-‘s been working on the garden, and copycat that I am, I’ve been spending more time out there with him weeding and planning. It’s a good excuse to bring A- outdoors, too: research supports sunlight exposure as a way of avoiding or slowing down the development of myopia.

Speaking of development, the Healthy Babies Healthy Children visit this month was fascinating. The nurse conducted the NCAST teaching scale assessment, filling in a 73-item checklist as she observed me helping A- explore a rattle. The nurse recommended periodically focusing on teaching specific skills through play – a little like the Teach Your Baby book by Genevieve Painter that I bought based on my mom’s exporience. The nurse also recommended more frequently giving specific praise by naming what A- was doing well. It was pretty cool to have that kind of checklist-based observation, and I’m looking forward to playing and teaching even better. =)

Also, W- has gotten curious about Org Mode. Whee!

2016-07-03a Week ending 2016-07-01 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (3.1h – 1%)
    • Earn (2.4h – 77% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Connect (0.7h – 22% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.0h – 0%)
    • ☑ Book appointments with ocularist
    • ☑ Book 6-month follow-up
    • ☑ Research high chairs
  • Discretionary – Productive (10.0h – 5%)
    • Drawing (3.4h)
    • Emacs (1.4h)
    • Coding (0.5h)
      • ☑ Fix flickr-upload.js
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (0.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (2.6h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (25.1h – 14%)
  • Unpaid work (70.5h – 41%)
    • Childcare (59.2h – 35% of total)
  • Sleep (56.6h – 33% – average of 8.1 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending June 24, 2016

When I look back, I can see how this week turned out to be a pretty big week. I knew it had a couple of big medical things going in, but I was pleasantly surprised at how the week also managed to accommodate lots of socializing, lots of learning, and good progress at work.

We joined W-‘s family for a Father’s Day celebration at his brother’s place, bringing the two chickens that W- cooked over the rotisserie. I called my parents to wish them a happy Father’s Day too, and A- obliged with plenty of smiles for her grandparents and a family friend. After we were settled back in at home, W- decided to rotisserie another two chickens, which served us well through the rest of the week.

Having that food in the fridge turned out to be super handy, since it freed us up to focus on other things. Jen and E- visited us for dinner, a super casual affair involving sitting on the floor, spooning the babies solids, and grabbing whatever bites we could in between. Jen brought salad greens and mint from her garden, yum! Reading the Facebook-based parental support group for people with A-‘s condition paid off in an amazingly coincidental connection: another Jen’s daughter A* has left-eye microphthalmia and is only a few days older than A-. We’ve been exchanging notes, since we’re basically seeing the same specialists. It’s so nice to know someone who’s going on a similar adventure. I’m looking forward to meeting them in person. I met up with a friend and his son from my grad school days, too. It was fun chatting with him about parenting and life.

A- had a very big day on Friday. We took her to Sick Kids for general anaesthesia so that the ocularist could take an impression of her eye. Sjhe was okay with the 4-hour pre-operative fast, only getting a little fussy near the end. It was much harder to console her in the post-operation recovery room, though. She was too upset to nurse. Skin-to-skin contact didn’t help, and there wasn’t much room to rock or walk since she had to be tethered to the monitors. Tylenol was taking a while to kick in. Man oh man, the time dilation effect of a crying baby is definitely something. W- swaddled her, and that calmed her enough to nap a little. When she woke up, she still wasn’t keen on nursing, but she was open to being fed some breastmilk via eyedropper. (Good thing I packed that!) Then she napped some more, and then we were given the all-clear to go.

It’s a good thing W- was there. It was great to be able to swap off: one person in the thick of things, another person thinking of the next trick to try. Having backup also made things a lot more comfortable, as the pre-op and post-op rooms were both no-food-no-drink areas. One of us could step outside for a drink or a snack or a bathroom break without worrying about missing anything.

Anyway, now that the ocularist has that impression, he can make a custom-fit ocular prosthesis for her. We also got an update from the cardiologist: A-‘s ventricular septal defect is a little smaller (2.5mm, compared to 2.7mm on May 11), but there’s a muscle bundle forming in her right ventricle, so Sick Kids cardiology may have to keep an eye on that for possible surgery. Ah well, that’s life.

We’ve been feeding A- more solids, focusing on calorie-dense food such as sweet potato and avocado. She’s still gaining weight slowly, so the next step is probably to cook her food in butter or olive oil in order to add more calories. I’ve been sewing lots of bandana bibs, and they’ve definitely been put to good use.

As for ourselves, W- and I have been exploring the world of bun, a savory way to remix sausages and lumpia into a fresh and yummy Vietnamese salad that takes advantage of the basil that’s thriving in the planter boxes we have on the deck. We liked this nuoc cham recipe more than the first one we tried. Looking forward to doing this again soon. It would be nice to make it part of our regular rotation.

More ukulele practice playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which I can mostly play now. (With chords, even!) Time to learn another nursery song. Might be fun to practise every day. Babies love repetition, and so do learners.

Consulting: Figured out i18n, so it’s all systems go for the add-on I’m making for my client. I also did a little web scraping. Hooray for automation skills! =)

Next week: more medical stuff (pediatrician, abdominal ultrasound, Healthy Babies Healthy Children). Onward!

2016-06-26b Week ending 2016-06-24 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (4.1h – 2%)
    • Earn (3.7h – 90% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (0.3h – 7% of Business)
      • ☑ Doublecheck business preauthorized debit
    • Connect (0.1h – 2% of Business)
  • Relationships (7.7h – 4%)
    • ☑ Research RV muscle bundles
    • ☑ Buy tripod mount for GoPro
    • ☑ General anaesthesia
    • ☑ Research high chairs
    • ☐ Book appointments with ocularist
    • ☐ Book 6-month follow-up with eye clinic
  • Discretionary – Productive (10.8h – 6%)
    • Drawing (3.5h)
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Coding (0.0h)
    • Sewing (2.5h)
    • Writing (0.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (3.6h – 2%)
  • Personal routines (17.3h – 10%)
  • Unpaid work (67.3h – 40%)
    • Childcare (61.0h – 36% of total)
  • Sleep (57.2h – 34% – average of 8.2 per day)