Category Archives: review

Weekly review: Week ending April 21, 2017

We finished emptying the old raised beds and filling the new one. I planted lettuce, beets, peas, radishes, and chives, using popsicle sticks as markers. W- did all the heavy lifting, including moving the patio stones out to make way for sod. A- was as happy as we’d ever seen her: arms deep in the dirt, crawling around, making friends with earthworms. It was awesome.

A- is becoming more independent, and more insistent on doing things her way. She wasn’t too keen on me brushing her teeth last week. I was concerned about her enamel hypoplasia, so I did some more research. After coming across the risk assessment guidelines by the AAPD, I e-mailed our dentist a few questions so that I could properly calibrate my level of concern. To wit: Should W- and I firmly restrain her in order to brush her teeth thoroughly? What about the fluoride varnishes or toothpaste? Should I use xylitol wipes for her teeth, and should I find xylitol mints or chew xylitol gum myself? (Apparently xylitol is good for controlling caries and reducing maternal transmission of mutans streptococci.) The dentist quickly sent me a reassuring reply. We backed off a little, wiping her teeth and gums with a washcloth whenever she didn’t tolerate brushing. Eventually she let me brush her teeth again. It took about five days to get her used to the addition of xylitol wipes to her bedtime routine. I used them myself, and then eventually she let me use them on her teeth.

We went on a few outdoor excursions. I took her to Riverdale Farm to see chickens, ducks, turkeys, horses, cows, pigs, goats, and sheep. It was a bit chilly and she was sleepy, so she stayed in the carrier. I’ll take her there again when the weather warms up.

She was more active at Oaks ‘n Acorns. We checked out their Baby Explorers demo class. The room had a variety of ramps, shakers, scarves, beanbags, and tambourines, and a tunnel for the babies to crawl through. A- was one of the older babies there. She warmed up quickly and crawled around, although she didn’t give the tunnel a try.

We also went with Jen and E- to the park. E- got lots of walking practice, and he had fun in the playground. A- enjoyed swinging, too! She was so happy. Jen shared her orange with us, and A- liked the taste. Then we went back to Jen and Ewan’s place, where we had some yummy sandwiches before heading to PAT Mart for some bitter melon.

Since we’ll be spending more time in the sun this year, I bought two hats and some sunblock. I bought some glycerin in preparation for making home-made bubble solution, too, and I’ve been learning about the science behind bubbles.

There was no parent advocacy workshop because of the Easter break. The early literacy workshop was sparsely attended again this week, so I got to ask the facilitator about all sorts of professional development and emerging research.

Big leaps for A-. She points with an extended finger now, instead of with all her fingers. She recognizes words and remembers locations, even for toys that have been rotated out to the top of a bookshelf. W- has been reading her a small cloth book about clothes (“coat”, “socks”, etc.), and she’s taken to pointing at the book, pointing at the item, and asking us to help her put her coat on. W- also helped A- kick a stray ball around the backyard (well, kinda kick) before returning the ball to the neighbours. She seems to be doing the hand motions for the “Turn around, clap clap” part of one of the nursery songs from the baby time at the library. And A- is working on whistling! Wow! I’ve been inspired to work on whistling, too.

We nearly lost her conformer on the way back from the supermarket. The risks of taking a sleepy baby out for a walk! I checked the carrier, and then I retraced our steps through the store. I couldn’t find it! I started going over my backup plan, and then I thought to pat myself and A- down again. Then I heard the clatter of the conformer hitting the sidewalk… A- must have been holding the conformer in her hand all that time. Neat!

Turkey was on sale at the supermarket, so W- roasted one and we’re slowly going through it.

I filed my taxes and prepared W-‘s, although we’re still waiting for J-‘s paperwork before finalizing his return.

Playing Borderlands 2 with W- got a lot more fun when we switched to both playing sirens, especially once we got ourselves Legendary Binder class mods. We’re more aware of where the other person is on the map and how they’re doing, and it’s fun coordinating phaselocks so that tough enemies don’t even hit the ground. Even with our limited discretionary time, it’s still nice to play video games together.

Next week: winding up workshops, the JFRC potluck, and meeting up with the family home visitor.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (0.6h – 0%)
    • Build (0.5h – 88% of Business)
    • Connect (0.1h – 11% of Business)
  • Relationships (2.9h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (9.1h – 5%)
    • Drawing (2.6h)
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Coding (0.5h)
  • Discretionary – Play (4.8h – 2%)
  • Personal routines (20.7h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (68.8h – 40%)
    • Childcare (55.3h – 32% of total)
  • Sleep (61.1h – 36% – average of 8.7 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending April 14, 2017

We focused on the garden this week, taking advantage of warm weather and a long weekend. We disassembled the old raised bed in the middle of the garden and sifted the soil to remove all those roots. Then we moved the soil to the new 3’x12′ raised bed that W- built out of cedar, mixing in plenty of compost and peat moss. A- loved digging in and crawling over the soil, helping us screen the soil and pick out roots, walking down the backyard while holding on to our hands, and splashing water around when cleaning up. I think it will definitely be worth spending extra time, energy, and money on the garden this year. So many opportunities for sensory play. The size 5 shoes I got her fit pretty well. She spends most of the time barefoot or in socks, though, and the backyard is perfect for that.

I took A- to the ROM when it was rainy. We wandered around the biodiversity gallery. A- was okay with petting the mount of the beaver, but not the beaver pelt that was on the table, and she wasn’t keen on the mount of the raccoon or the snakeskin on the table. She was okay with touching walrus skin, though. It’s neat to have all these textures available. I also caught the museum highlights tour, and I wandered through the Asian ceramics gallery while A- was sleeping.

(A- got her own tour of ceramics and glassware at home thanks to W-, who patiently let her drink out of practically every type of mug or glass we had.)

It’s amazing to see A- learn and connect concepts. This week, she saw W- dip his potato wedges in ketchup before eating them. She promptly insisted on dipping more potato wedges in ketchup and feeding them to us – a two-step process! Dipping also encouraged her to taste a bit of the ketchup, and she dipped some cucumber into my curry too. She recognizes the clothes in the small cloth book, and she uses the book to ask for practice wearing the clothes. She continues to enjoy sprinkling things when we’re cooking. On the flip side, she sometimes resists brushing her teeth, sitting on the potty, or going to sleep. She wants more independence and control, I guess!

She recognizes more vocabulary words, too. “Sleep” often gets a fake snore of acknowledgment from her, even if she’s wide awake and we just mentioned it as part of regular conversation. She knows “lamb” and “giraffe” refer to her stuffed toys. Time to add more word/gesture pairs to our routines.

The parent advocacy workshop session this week focused on special education and working with the school system’s identification, placement, and review committee (IPRC) to create an individual education plan (IEP). My main take-away was that it can be a difficult and intimidating process, so it’s a good idea to bring a support person to the meetings. I found a detailed handout with ideas for accommodations and notes on teachers’ perspectives, too, and I’ll probably reach out to the author to see if I can track down some of the sources.

The early literacy workshop on Thursday was sparsely attended. A- was a little hesitant in the beginning, but she warmed up eventually. She enjoyed taking the books out of the box and putting them back in. Since there weren’t a lot of people around, we took advantage of the opportunity for mutual brain-picking. It was interesting hearing about the facilitator’s experiences raising his kids, especially in terms of helping them learn social skills.

We were slightly under the weather due to sniffles, but we still managed to do things around the house. W- rotisseried two chickens, and I made carrot muffins as a way of getting more vegetables into our lives.

I also did a lot of consulting: analyzing searches, fixing table CSS, copying over old data, and dusting off and completing a half-done change to an organizational visualization.

Next: more gardening!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (3.6h – 2%)
    • Earn (3.6h – 100% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.6h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (10.8h – 6%)
    • Drawing (1.4h)
    • Emacs (0.2h)
    • Coding (0.5h)
  • Discretionary – Play (0.6h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (19.2h – 11%)
  • Unpaid work (77.0h – 45%)
    • Childcare (63.9h – 38% of total)
  • Sleep (56.2h – 33% – average of 8.0 per day)

Monthly review: March 2017

W- has been back at work for a little over a month, and we’ve settled into comfortable routines. I focus on A- during the day, and we reconnect with W- when he gets home. After a bit of playtime, we settle down for her afternoon nap. He makes dinner or pulls it out of the fridge, we eat together, and I clean up while he plays with A-. Then we have some more play time before we give A- her evening snack and do our bedtime routines. W- sleeps early so that he can get to work before the morning rush, and I stay up late so that I can have some discretionary time for my own things.

We found out that A- has enamel hypoplasia, so brushing her teeth is a regular part of our routines. I took her to get a new conformer for her eye, and we scheduled the follow-up exams for her liver and heart in August. I didn’t hear back about her blood test results, so I guess her iron levels are fine. I ordered a textbook on ocular prosthetics, too, and I’m excited to read all the medical details. We saw someone from Surrey Place who reassured me that A- will probably be totally all right with monocular vision. Our Healthy Babies Healthy Children nurse went through the 12-month developmental checklists, and our home visitor gave us tips for language development.

In addition to A-‘s health-related appointments, we’ve been filling our days with various parenting workshops and early years drop-ins. I picked up a few tips on school accommodations and visual routines from the Let’s Get Started series, and I’ve also been enjoying the parent advocacy workshop. We’ve been regularly going to the Junction Family Resource Centre and the Parenting and Family Literacy Centre, and we made it out to the JFRC’s sensory play day too. I took A- to the High Park zoo, and we’ve started a new habit of going to the Royal Ontario Museum. (Sometimes with other people!) I find spending time with her to be surprisingly enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to helping her learn.

A- has been learning a lot about language. She added more variety to her babbling: nai, ha, pa, da, and ga. She now recognizes words for a few body parts (head, knees, toes, belly button), mittens, socks, and “all done.”

She’s also been working on her motor skills. She can crawl up and down stairs with supervision, although she usually needs a reminder to go down legs first instead of taking the direct approach. She likes practising taking off and putting on jackets, socks, and mittens with help. She’s interested in chopsticks, spoons, forks, whisks, and measuring cups. She eats crackers and bits of bagels. She pushes toys along while crawling. She can usually connect 2×2 pieces of Duplo if they’re facing the right way. She enjoys sprinkling rock salt and herbs on things we’re cooking.

It’s a lot of fun spending time with A-, and I’ve been thinking about how to share that experience with my parents. After lots of planning, we decided it’s best to hold off on flying to the Philippines until W- can come along. In the meantime, we’ve been doing video chats. She’s still getting used to their faces and voices, but it’s a good first step.

Speaking of family, I took some time to make a GEDCOM export of A-‘s family tree, taking advantage of the data entered by my mom and by W-. Might be interesting for her later, so it’s good to have a personal copy instead of relying on a web service to continue. I also set up Owncloud and borgbackup to improve my backup routines, and I finally set up a VM that makes it easy to confirm if my blog backups work. (They do. Whew!)

Lots of baking this month: a few iterations of roast potatoes, blondies, muffins, and cabbage rolls. We got the roast potatoes down pat, but there seems to be some variability in the quality of russet potatoes we get, so we’re looking into that too.

The new routines have been working out pretty well for discretionary time. I’ve been focusing on small improvements and personal tasks instead of increasing my consulting workload. The backups I mentioned above had been on my list a long time! I also did preliminary tax prep, although we’re still waiting for J- to do her numbers so that she can transfer tuition tax credits to W-. I sorted out my Ledger, learned the new features in ledger-mode, and added net worth and stock allocation reports. In the process, I discovered an unpaid invoice and got payment, yay! In terms of consulting, I deployed some code to add priorities and categorization, and I helped with an add-on that I’ve turned over to the other team. I even had time to watch a couple of movies.

If the rest of the year is much like this month, I think it’ll be pretty good! :)

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Feb March Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work – Childcare 41.0 44.3 3.3 82.2 5.5
Unpaid work 48.3 50.6 2.3 94.0 3.9
Discretionary – Productive 2.2 3.2 1.1 6.0 1.8
Discretionary – Social 0.3 0.6 0.4 1.2 0.6
Business – Build 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.1
Business – Connect 0.0 0.0 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Business – Earn 0.9 0.8 -0.0 1.6 -0.1
Discretionary – Play 1.0 0.8 -0.2 1.6 -0.3
Discretionary – Family 1.5 0.5 -1.0 1.0 -1.6
Personal 9.9 8.7 -1.2 16.2 -2.0
Sleep 35.9 34.3 -1.6 63.7 -2.7

Weekly review: Week ending March 31, 2017

A- got a new conformer (the ocular prosthesis that supports the bones around her eye socket so that her skull can grow more symmetrically). This one is taller, although it doesn’t keep her eyelids as open as the previous one did. We’re still going with a plain conformer instead of a painted shell, even if it draws more questions from strangers. (“What’s wrong with her eye?”) The conformers are much cheaper to replace than a painted shell, so we don’t feel like we need to hover over A- or turn places upside down in case of loss. Our ocularist shaped the conformer with a ridge to help it stay in the eye, since the regular shell shape kept slipping out. And hey, if someone recognizes it as a conformer for microphthalmia and strikes up a conversation with us, that’s awesome. Microphthalmia affects about 1 in 10,000, and I’ve already met a few people with this condition or who have a family member with this condition. Yay connecting!

I’m curious about the science and technology behind this whole process, so I ordered the Clinical Ocular Prosthetics textbook when it was 50% off last Monday. Springer was having technical issues with their shopping cart, so I had to contact customer service to get two failed Paypal transactions sorted out. Anyway, the textbook should be here in one or two weeks. I look forward to working through it and sharing my notes.

I decided to get a membership to the Royal Ontario Museum, and we went three times last week. We also went to the High Park zoo. The capybaras were not in their paddock due to weather conditions, so we didn’t get to see the new pups. There was a lamb, though!

Spending time with A- has been surprisingly enjoyable. We’re both learning so much, and we haven’t even reached the walking or talking stages. I expect her learning to really take off once she gets the hang of those things. Sure, she’ll become more of a handful as she grows more independent and tests her boundaries, but that might be a good opportunity to test all the things I’ve been learning from books about parenting, communication, philosophy, and hostage negotiations. ;)

I’m curious about what the possibilities might be if we’re still in a position to have a stay-at-home parent when she’s old enough for school. I have a generally positive feeling about public school here. J- did fine with a bit of help with homework and study groups. Still, I wonder what education could be like with individualized attention and things that don’t scale. I have a few years to explore our options before junior and senior kindergarten, which are optional in Toronto anyway. The things I’ve researched make me fairly optimistic about the possibilities in general, so it’s really a matter of the specifics. We’ll see.

Part of that preparation is learning how to work with existing systems, so that’s where the parent advocacy workshop comes in. We discussed I statements this week, and we’ll be talking about the school system next week. The social worker conducting the program has a lot of experience with families who homeschool their kids, so I’ve asked for more information on that too.

A- did all right on the 12-month checklists assessed by Lisa, our Healthy Children Healthy Babies nurse. Lisa also complimented us on our feeding relationship when she did the NCAST feeding scale.

Another milestone: A- can connect 2×2 Duplo pieces together much of the time! She sometimes needs a little help orienting the pieces, but still… Way cool! A- also assembles, pushes down on, and takes apart the salad spinner, especially if there are pieces of nori in it. She loves sprinkling herbs and salt. She sways from side to side when I sing certain songs, babbles with “da” and “ga” sounds, and strums her lips all on her own. So many fun things.

W- made sure we had plenty of yummy food in the fridge. This week worked out really well: shepherd’s pie, cabbage rolls, buckwheat noodles with banchan, pizza, congee, and instant noodles. The blondies were not as awesome as last week’s blondies, so I could use more practice.

We had time to go on a long walk with W-, and I even had a little time to catch up on movies. Over the course of several late nights, I watched Star Trek Beyond, Ghostbusters, and X-Men: Apocalypse. Yay!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (2.1h – 1%)
    • Earn (1.8h – 87% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.3h – 12% of Business)
      • ☑ Prepare invoice
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (3.0h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (2.0h – 1%)
    • Drawing (1.3h)
    • Emacs (0.7h)
    • ☑ Follow up on Paypal and Springer
  • Discretionary – Play (4.5h – 2%)
  • Personal routines (18.4h – 10%)
  • Unpaid work (80.4h – 47%)
    • Childcare (64.2h – 38% of total)
  • Sleep (57.6h – 34% – average of 8.2 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending March 24, 2017

The last session of the Let’s Get Started series focused on sensory processing disorders. Since no one was particularly concerned about that yet, we took the opportunity to ask questions about early detection and intervention, school accommodations, and parent advocacy. I feel reasonably good about the systems for education and public health here, but it’s always good to know what we can do to make things better and what options we can explore. I’d like us to be able to make good decisions about A-‘s growth, so in addition to learning how to work with the public school system, I’m also looking into homeschooling. Looking forward to helping A- get whatever she needs!

The parent advocacy workshop session focused on assertive communication. It got me thinking about what I want to learn from the workshop and how I want to approach the upcoming challenges and opportunities.

I took A- to the sensory play day at the Junction Family Resource Centre. She spent most of the time close to me, occasionally venturing forth to play with water, jelly, and cereal. She seems to be more reserved than the other babies, preferring to observe and to be a little apart from the crowd. I understand what that’s like, and I’m totally okay with it. At home, she babbles happily while hammering pegs, stacking cans, and crawling around. Maybe it’s familiarity, maybe it’s the quiet… We’ll figure out how to play to her strengths while mixing in exposure to new things. She’s growing to be nicely resilient, too, recovering quickly from upsets or surprises.

I’ve been thinking about taking her on little field trips so that she can see things and learn words. She’s been picking up new vocabulary pretty quickly, responding to words like “head”, “knees”, and “brush” with the appropriate gestures. I think it would be good to get into a weekly habit of going to places like the Riverdale Farm and the Royal Ontario Museum so that we can point to things and learn even more words. She’s a bit young, but it’s as good a time as any to start that routine. If I spring for the ROM membership that includes the ability to invite guests, it might even be an impetus to be more social.

Speaking of being social, we went to the Parenting and Family Literacy Centre. A- was a little sleepy and mostly clung to me. I chatted with some of the other folks there about gardening, food, and other shared interests.

Nilda visited us again this week, and she gave us tips for language development: labeling things in books and seeing if A- will point to them, repeating nursery songs and rhymes, and making animal sounds while showing the animal.

My de Quervain’s was bad this week, so it was hard to type or draw. I used my discretionary time to bake muffins and blondies instead. I also managed to sew a quick wet bag, woohoo!

One of our weekday evenings was more frazzled than usual. I didn’t even realize how tired and hungry I was until I flubbed the recipe I was trying to help with. Fortunately, W- rescued the cabbage rolls and it all worked out. I’m much more comfortable when the fridge is well stocked, so I’ll spend the time on weekends to do so.

I still managed to do some consulting, though. I deployed some code for categories and prioritization, and people are already happily using it. Yay!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (0.9h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.9h – 90% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.1h – 9% of Business)
      • ☑ Follow up on amended corporate tax return
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.0h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (2.4h – 1%)
    • Drawing (1.4h)
    • Emacs (0.5h)
    • Sewing (0.3h)
    • Writing (0.2h)
  • Discretionary – Play (1.7h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (16.3h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (85.6h – 50%)
    • Childcare (74.8h – 44% of total)
  • Sleep (61.0h – 36% – average of 8.7 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending March 17, 2017

The ocularist let us postpone our appointment due to scary weather forecasts. It’s a good thing A- stayed home, actually, as she ended up dealing with a stomach bug all week. We stayed home from everything – workshop, play date, early years centres. She stayed pretty energetic and hydrated, so we weren’t particularly worried, but it’s good to keep other people from getting sick. Anyway, she’s all better now!

She’s doing surprisingly well at drinking water out of a two-handled open cup. We didn’t even have to buy anything new, since the snack cup works perfectly fine for this purpose. We pour just a little water for her each time, since she still likes pouring everything out after each sip. She likes crackers and will also give bagels and pizza crusts a try. She likes noodles, and is interested in chopsticks and forks. W- regularly takes her on tours of the spice cabinet and the pantry.

She’s been practising her “ha” and “pa” sounds. She also seems to recognize the words “head”, “knees”, “toes”, and “all done”, and responds with the appropriate gestures. She knows socks are associated with feet (although sometimes she wants to try them as mittens).

She often wants me to help her put on or take off jackets, mittens, or socks, and she also asks me to put on or take off socks. She started pushing toys along while crawling, too.

Lindsay from Surrey Place came and answered some questions I had about monocular vision and any available resources. She has worked with a number of people with microphthalmia, but the people who have good vision in their other eye typically adapt well and don’t need their services. I guess I’ll just have to connect with people through conferences and Facebook groups.

We were on a baking sprint: roasting up a series of practically perfect russet potatoes, trying a different pizza stretching technique, and making blondies and baby biscotti for the first time. We had fun watching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, too.

After lots of trip planning, we decided to postpone going to the Philippines until W- can also go, unless there’s an emergency. I’ve been trying to make up for it with lots more video chats, although of course it’s not the same. It’ll probably be easier to travel when A- is more independent. In the meantime, life is full of tough choices.

The week was mostly focused on A- and my family, but I had a little time to help with the code I turned over to my consulting client. Still prioritizing our tasks over increasing my consulting, but it’s nice to be able to provide value even with a little time here and there.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (1.9h – 1%)
    • Earn (1.7h – 89% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.2h – 10% of Business)
      • ☑ Follow up on amended corporate tax return
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (2.9h – 1%)
    • ☑ Update A-‘s ledger
  • Discretionary – Productive (5.9h – 3%)
    • Drawing (1.6h)
    • Emacs (0.7h)
    • Coding (1.3h)
    • Writing (1.3h)
  • Discretionary – Play (0.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (13.9h – 8%)
  • Unpaid work (97.7h – 58%)
    • Childcare (92.5h – 55% of total)
  • Sleep (67.5h – 40% – average of 9.6 per day)