Category Archives: review

Week ending 2018-03-10

A- got a new conformer last week. Progress: she didn’t cry in the waiting room, although she still burst into tears as soon as she saw the ocularist. We’re continuing with the conformer approach instead of switching to a painted shell because A- still rubs the conformer out of her eye from time to time, and it’s easier to replace a conformer. Maybe we’ll switch when she’s closer to school age.

I asked her where she wanted to go for Field Trip Friday. She said, “Riverdale Farm. I miss that. I have fun. Big sheep make big noises.” So we went, and we enjoyed looking at the baby goats. We passed by the Children’s Book Bank, and I was delighted to find that you can take double the number of books on Fridays. I picked up a few more Seuss books.

We’ve been making more of an effort to explore and catalogue places so that we can make the most of Toronto’s resources. We checked out Baird Park, which has a playset with a short tunnel that A- actually worked up the courage to go through. She liked going down the twisty slide on my lap, and then graduated to going down the twisty slide at Lithuania Park with a little push. I posted a few park reviews in Google just in case other people find those notes handy, and I should find some way of organizing my own copy of the notes too.

A- has been having fun with both fine and gross motor skills. She practised using a ladle to pour and a butter knife to spread. She goose-stepped and danced.

A- can talk about more abstract things. She scribbled and said she was drawing “nervous.” One time, W- was carrying her up the stairs to change her diaper, and she was getting a little wriggly and distracted. He said, “Focus.” She said with enthusiasm, “Diaper!”

She likes being involved. When she was at the sink, she said with delight: “Yes! I’m busy!”

One time, she insisted that I carry her up bridal-style in my arms (which she accomplished by flopping in a certain way and protesting if I tried changing things). I was mystified, but it all became clearer once we got upstairs and she wanted me to read Emma to her. The Cozy Classics version has just twelve words, and “carry” is one of them. “Frank Churchill carry. Emma,” she said. Aha!

She often sings nursery rhymes and other songs. She sang part of “Mamma Mia” while dancing, and then obligingly repeated while I suppressed my laughter long enough to record her on video.

Little improvements:

  • W- set up a Synology DS718 network-attached storage server. Wheee! I feel more grown-up with proper backups. I set up borg backups for my server and my laptop. Next: Docker containers for testing the backups…
  • I set up lots of voice shortcuts to help me with groceries and with tracking. For example, I can say, “Okay Google, baby awake” and it will log that in my system. I explored Tasker’s Memento support, too.
  • I figured out how to use Org Mode and LaTeX to typeset drawing templates for children’s books, and I used that to make a book about smoothies. Next: photos, more layouts
  • Lots of tidying up in the basement, too. Whee!
  • I switched to writing in Markor on Android. I briefly enabled Markdown support in WordPress, but it was messing up some of my other posts, so I turned it off again.
  • I set up god-mode in Emacs, which does make phone use a bit easier.

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!

Week ending 2018-03-02

We went to Riverdale Farm this week. A- was a little wary of the sheep, but she eventually got more used to the noise. We visited her grandmother. A- ate lots of strawberries and practised fetching things.

A- had lots of fun spinning around and around, whether it was on the platform at the Ontario Science Centre or in the kitchen at home. With a tray, too, for extra challenge points! She enjoyed rock-climbing, and so did I. She walked most of the way to the subway, too, and she walked astride her balance bike from the living room all the way to the kitchen.

She sang all of Humpty Dumpty and Hey Diddle Diddle, and has been dancing and playing instruments “just like music class.”
We played with catching and blowing feathers, too.

A- had a tantrum because she didn’t want me to go to sleep. I think adjusting her sleep schedule will have to be more about waking her up rather than trying to nudge her to sleep earlier. On the plus side, she echoed some of the sentences from the books we’ve been reading: “One step, another, fall down, and then pick myself up and try it again.” “I know it’s hard.”

I figured out how to make books! I drew a 12-page book about night weaning and an 8-page book about A-‘s conformer. I’m looking forward to making more, especially as I collect ideas and fine-tune my workflow. I managed to do Emacs News entirely on my phone, too, which bodes well for traveling without my laptop. I also worked on documenting files to back up.

Next week: new conformer, more books, and setting up some storage!

Week ending 2018-02-23

What a week!

A- was so active. She liked dancing by herself or with us, sometimes inviting us by singing part of “Shall We Dance.” When we went swimming for her birthday, she picked up rings with her arms and feet, happily wore a flotation device, and kicked in a reasonable approximation of swimming. She walked astride her balance bike out of arms reach and all the way from the living room to the kitchen. She was interested in rockclimbing, especially after we strapped on the smallest pair of shoes at the climbing gym. (Still a bit big, but manageable.) She liked the new lights from IKEA, and got the hang of turning them on and off by herself.

A- regularly used prepositional phrases, saying things like “A- put fish cracker in mouth.” She went through a phase of saying “I don’t like it,” but is back to asking specifically for what she wants. I can say “Show me sleepy” and other adjectives from her favourite books, and she’ll do it. She picked up more social graces, too – she said “Excuse me” after passing gas. She talked about things that happened and how she felt, like when she accidentally dropped her potty and she was upset. We went to the Children’s Book Bank and picked up a nursery rhyme book and a book about Chinese ceramics by the artist who drew McDull.

It’s been a musical week as well. She was looping over “Happy birthday to you” and “Muvili zuma zuma.” She arranged chairs like in music class, had us sit in them, and did a few of the songs and rhymes. She was interested in banging on the piano, tapping the rhythm sticks, playing percussion on the table, and blowing on the recorder. “Just like music class,” she said.

A- enjoyed the Chinese New Year party at Uncle Morgan and Auntie Cathy’s. She loved going up and down the stairs with Uncle Morgan. She even have everyone goodbye hugs. During the week, we visited Popo for a relaxed afternoon. A- ate lots of grapes and learned a few Cantonese words. We went swimming with Jen and E-, and we had a late lunch with Eric afterwards. A- ate lots of fries. We also went to the Science Centre with Joy and J-.

The pediatrician is going to see about referrals to Sick Kids dentistry and endocrinology. More tests ahead, but that’s okay, we can handle this.

Week ending 2018-02-16

The dentist recommended taking A- to an anesthesia dentist because she’s concerned that A-‘s teeth are worn down to the pulp and that there might be a hole that affects a nerve. The dentist she referred me to has an 8-hour no food or liquid fasting requirement for treatment instead of allowing breastmilk up to 4 hours before and clear liquids up to 2 hours before. A- still nurses through the night, so I may have to find another dentist, night wean her, or put all of us through a very miserable day. We’re hoping to get a referral to Sick Kids, since with all the other things going on with her, we want the anesthesiologist to have lots of experience with toddlers with other conditions.

The ocularist appointment was more straightforward. A- will get a new conformer in two weeks. We’re going to continue with the conformer approach instead of getting a painted shell because A- still takes her conformer out every so often. We nearly lost her current one. Conformers are cheaper and easier to replace. We’ll just put up with the occasional question from curious strangers (who can sometimes be a bit awkward or even rude, but I’ll just chalk that up to them being off-balance).

We visited her Po Po and Gung Gung for a Chinese New Year party. She had lots of fun hanging out with her Uncle Morgan, Auntie Cathy, and M-. We bought a Japanese cheesecake to serve for her birthday, and she actually blew the candle all by herself. She was very chatty and interactive, hiding jigsaw puzzle pieces in her sleeves and distributing or collecting them as directed, giving people high fives, playing with trucks, and scarfing down a decent amount of food.

We also visited Joy and J-. We all read books together and played with the toy kitchen. A- shared her cereal with J- and sampled her quesadilla, although she wasn’t particularly curious about the pinakbet.

A- easily named and inserted shapes into the sorter. It’s been quite a while since she last played with it and she used to need regular hints, but I guess something just clicked. Duplo clicked for her, too. She got interested in building tall towers (even standing on a chair to do so) and in simulating playgrounds.

Language highlights this week: “Wow” (in reaction to the printer and other awesome things), and “Give it a try” (which she said to me when I told her the bananas were still green). She’s been singing a lot, too. Muvili Zuma Zuma, Humpty Dumpty, Happy Birthday to You, even the song I made up for the swing… We made it to music class and picked up a variant of “Love My Baby,” and we went to the ROM afterwards because she wanted to see the animals.

At the playground, she wanted to be bounced up and down very quickly on the spring toys. She’s getting pretty good at asking for what she wants!

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.