Category Archives: monthly

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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

September 2017

A- and I spent most of September in the Philippines visiting family. It was our first time to be away from W- for so long. Stretching the flights out with an overnight layover in Seoul was much more manageable than trying to do it with a short layover, even though that resulted in 33 hours of travel time. It was good to spend time with my parents, my sisters, and A-‘s two cousins.

We spent most of the trip at home. Kathy also took us to Museo Pambata, where A- liked playing in the pretend marketplace. She also planted and harvested rice in their pretend field. We went to the Mind Museum and A- was fascinated by the cut-away toilet and the kinetic sand. She liked the ball pit, ramps, and the slide at Active Fun. We visited my dad in the hospital and ended up staying in the hotel at Manila Ocean Park after a kalesa ride through the flood. A- was fascinated by the fish swimming in the aquarium lining the wall. A- slept through the celebration at the church, and had fun at the party afterwards. She slept on the van trip to Tagaytay, enjoyed staying at Taal Vista, and rode her first Ferris wheel, carousel, and horse at Sky Ranch. (She was so relaxed, she fell asleep about ten minutes into the horse ride.) Lots of fun outside, and lots of fun at home too.

A- loved hanging out with her cousins and imitating what they did. She wanted to imitate how G* balanced on one foot, and she bounced up and down on the bed when G* and A* were jumping on it. She pretended to fry an egg using the pan in their kitchen playset, and she liked carrying a basket of plastic food.

We called W- over video chat as often as we could. A- liked saying hi to him and interacting with him even over the phone. She also asked for the cats so that she could say hi to them. She missed W- a lot, sometimes asking me through sign language how much she needed to wait in order to see Dada. When we got back, she showed a strong preference for his company whenever he was around, and separation anxiety when he wasn’t. We had been way for almost four weeks, and that might have been a bit too much. Still, it was what we needed to do. It was good that we were there. We spent time with Kathy’s kids while she accompanied my dad to the hospital and to Singapore for lots of consultation.

A- picked up lots of words and enjoyed lots of social interaction while she was there, too. She invented her own sign for “grape” using the starting gestures for “The Great Big Spider,” and my dad enjoyed offering her grapes. She learned “Uh oh” and started using it after spilling something… and before intentionally spilling things, too. She liked picking up phones and saying “Hello, bye bye,” so I got into the habit of disconnecting hotel phones. She liked the bidet, and asked for it. She picked up “Oh no” from John V. after one saying. She learned the gesture of mano po from my mom after a day or two, and various fistbumps and high-fives from everyone. My parents got their own share of unprompted kisses, and they even came up with new games with her like nose-twiddling. When we got back, she learned the other two cats’ names and lots of words for everyday life (including, quite charmingly, “Yes please,” “Up please,” “More please,” and the like).

My dad gave A- her first camera and her first Swiss knife. She’s shown plenty of interest in both, and I frequently use them in front of her so that she can become more familiar with them. The camera is shock-resistant, which is great because that means she can handle it freely. She’s even pressed the shutter button a few times. The camera has built-in WiFi, so I’ve been uploading more pictures to my phone and then to Facebook. The Swiss knife, well, there’s a short list of tools that she can use under close supervision, and maybe she’ll grow into the rest.

A- wants to grow into so many things. She wanted to wear my carrier, my clothes, and W-‘s suspenders. She not only pretended to put her old conformer into Baa’s eye, but also wanted to wash it after dropping it on the floor. She wanted to unlock the filing cabinet with the keys that she insisted on holding for me. She learned how to get water for herself from the water dispenser.

We had the occasional tantrum: sometimes when she was overtired, which couldn’t be much helped; sometimes refusing clothes, which was totally understandable given the weather, so she spent quite a few days in just a diaper; sometimes refusing diapers, which was less negotiable. Overall, A- rose admirably to the challenges of a long trip and a different environment, which made it easier for me to adapt.

Speaking of adapting, A- turned out to be fine with spicy things, enjoying a few spoons of a laksa that I had for dinner one time. She’s fine with vegetables, too. When we got back, we discovered that she also really likes the green monster smoothies that W- makes (kale, blueberry, banana, yogurt, hemp seeds).

We’ve booked our flights for the next trip, this time with W-. I might actually be able to do more paperwork this time around. In the meantime, we’re settling back into life at home. October will probably be mostly about making the most of Toronto with music classes, parenting workshops, physical activity, parks, playgrounds, and trips to the science centre and to the museum, and catching up on stuff I postponed while we were away.

A-‘s learning so much. It’s all we can do to keep up! =)

Monthly review: July 2017

Suddenly a toddler! A- got the hang of walking independently. She still holds our hands sometimes, but she’s also just as likely to want to walk on her own. In the kitchen, she’s been climbing in and out of her Learning Tower to wash dishes, sort utensils, and crack eggs.

August has a number of medical appointments that involve fasting, so we’ve been working on helping A- learn how to wait. We got the blood test out of the way, and we picked up a few tips from the child life specialist on making the hospital experience a bit more positive for A-. Getting ready for all those follow-ups!

She’s been working on lots of self-care skills: rinse and spit practice for brushing teeth, brushing hair, wiping her nose, washing her face, and wearing glasses. (She wanted to wear a ponytail, too.) She gradually got the hang of playing with feathers and gluing things onto paper, and she seems to be developing a pencil grip. Lots of new words: gyo(za), ham, noo(dles), da (down), up, baba (bye-bye). Because we’re not going to music classes in August, I bought bells and made scarves so that we could do some of the activities at home. She seems to like them, and sometimes asks me to strap the bells around her leg so that she can stomp or walk with them.

I managed to go to a couple of grown-up hangouts, not just baby-related things. I spent some time in a park with Jen and Eric, and I attended Tim’s retirement party. A- came along (of course) and stayed close. For A-‘s part, we checked out the Art Gallery of Ontario, the trains at Roundhouse Park, and Maker Festival (where we got a 3d portrait thanks to Alan Majer). Video chats with her Lolo and Lola are more interactive now, too: songs, rhymes, pointing, walking… I made handprint casts using plaster of Paris and a playdough mold. They turned out well. I just need to figure out how to mount and keep them so that we can get all misty-eyed when A- goes off to university.

We’re getting ready to transition out of the Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program. I feel more confident about doing early childhood education now. I still want to set up something like the suggestions I get from Nilda, as I’m often pleasantly surprised by A-‘s capabilities when we present her with the opportunity to explore.

Other things:

  • The 18-month sleep disruption plus teething (upper molars) meant I got

little focus time this month, but that’s okay. I’m looking forward to finishing the data exports and SQL improvements next month.

  • W- passed the building inspection for the porch rebuild, yay!
  • I helped W- and J- with their taxes. All sorted out.
  • I found a decent source of basil, so we’ve been making pesto. Yum yum yum.

My birthday is next month, so it’s time for another annual review and planning session. It’s been a terrific year. I’m learning a lot, and I’m looking forward to learning even more!

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Previous month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 30.8 32.6 1.8 56.5 3.0
Business – Earn 0.7 1.9 1.2 3.3 2.1
Discretionary – Social 0.4 1.4 1.0 2.5 1.7
Discretionary – Family 0.2 1.0 0.9 1.8 1.5
Discretionary – Productive 4.0 4.5 0.5 7.9 0.9
A- 40.6 40.8 0.2 70.8 0.4
Business – Connect 0.0 0.0 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Discretionary – Play 1.1 0.8 -0.3 1.4 -0.5
Personal 11.3 10.4 -0.9 18.1 -1.4
Business – Build 2.7 0.7 -2.1 1.2 -3.5
Unpaid work 8.3 5.8 -2.5 10.1 -4.1

Monthly review: June 2017

First steps! A- needed both hands in order to carry a small basketball, so she picked it up and tentatively walked a few steps independently. She has tried it out a few more times since then, although she mostly prefers to hold our hands while walking.

A- got a larger conformer. She cried for an hour while we waited for the ocularist to do his thing. I took her for a blood test on the same day, too, so it was a hard day for her. We managed, though. A- also got tooth #7 (bottom left lateral incisor), so she’s been a little out of sorts.

Lots of enrichment this month. We completed eight sessions of toddler music classes at the Royal Conservatory of Music. I picked up lots of new songs and rhymes. A- got better at tapping rhythmically, and she also got the hang of sitting down and standing up at the right spots in Ring Around the Rosies. She even warmed up enough to walk around along with me, picking up the pace when the music was faster. Nilda also suggested painting and playdough, both of which A- enjoyed. I sent A-‘s first batch of paintings to my parents in the Philippines so that they can enjoy a fridge art exhibition too. We’ve been going to the ROM

A- has been showing a keen interest in things around the house. She likes pulling a chair up to the sink to help us with the dishes. She collected weeds and maple seeds from the garden and put them into the bin we use for compost. She likes imitating us, and is quick to pick up new gestures.

It’s easier to feed A- a variety of food now. This month, we found out that she likes gyoza, watercress, ham, pepperoni, cherries, bell peppers, and blueberries. She’s not too keen on mangoes yet, but that’s okay. We’ve been enjoying more fruits and vegetables, too. Yay, summer!

A- got a little more comfortable with independence this month. She’s getting better at sleeping without being latched on, and staying asleep even after I take her out of the carrier. The tips I picked up at the Early Abilities orientation seem to have helped in terms of modeling play. She crawled through a very short tunnel at the OEYC. She liked standing on a stool and playing with the paper dots at the JFRC. She played with J- and Y-, which freed me up to do a few quick things around the kitchen.

Nudged by one of my readers who’s also interested in tracking time, I dusted off my development environment for Quantified Awesome and got things working again. It’s nice to code. If I nap along with A- in the afternoon, my brain’s sometimes fresh enough to think after A- goes to bed late at night. I have a long task list that I make slow progress on, but hey, at least that’s something. On the consulting side, I reorganized our data extract script and added more notes to document things.

W- worked on the concrete pad for the stair footing and numerous projects around the house. We harvested a few radishes from the garden and transplanted the tomato and basil seedlings I’d grown indoors. There’s a lot of room for improvement in terms of gardening, though. Ah well! A- likes digging in the dirt and pulling stuff up, so it’s already worth it even if our yield is very low.

July: more music classes, more outside time, and getting ready for all the long medical appointments in August.

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Previous month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.0 2.7 2.7 4.4 4.6
Unpaid work 5.8 8.3 2.5 13.4 4.1
Personal 10.2 11.3 1.1 18.3 1.9
Discretionary – Productive 3.5 4.0 0.5 6.5 0.8
Discretionary – Social 0.1 0.4 0.3 0.7 0.6
Discretionary – Family 0.2 0.2 -0.1 0.3 -0.1
Business – Earn 1.1 0.7 -0.5 1.1 -0.8
A- – Childcare 42.1 40.6 -1.6 66.0 -2.6
Sleep 33.0 30.8 -2.2 50.0 -3.7
Discretionary – Play 4.0 1.1 -2.8 1.8 -4.8

Hmm, an average of 7.1 hours of sleep a day… I feel too fuzzy if I miss the afternoon nap, so I might play around with this a little. It’s good getting Business – Build (mostly coding Quantified Awesome) up again, though – a pretty straightforward time shift from playing Trails of Cold Steel. I split childcare off into its own top-level category (A-) so that it’s easier to see that versus unpaid work time.

Monthly review: May 2017

There were quite a few sunny days this month, so we spent lots of time outside. At the playground, A- kept signing “more” while riding the swings, so I decided to do a little exercising myself while pushing her. She also figured out how to go down the slide by herself. Wow!

A- worked on carrying things while walking with help. She imitated household routines, helping us wash dishes and load the dryer. She experimented with the arms-first way of putting on her T-shirt, and only needs a little help to get the openings lined up. She went up and down the stairs at the ROM, and we checked out the Family Camera exhibit while we were there. We attended a parenting workshop on resilience, and I’ve been working on being even more specific when I encourage her or acknowledge her hard work.

We focused on language, since we were a little worried about her progress in that area. She picked up the hang of imitating animal sounds, and seems to enjoy looking at picture books and hearing names for things. I’ve been learning more names for things, too: different types of latches, flowers around the neighbourhood, and so on. A- has also gotten the hang of associating songs with gestures, and often does a gesture from a song in order to ask me to sing it. She also spent some time experimenting with the fridge magnets to see what they stuck to and how they behaved on different surfaces.

She passed the developmental screening at her 15-month checkup, and has been growing at a good clip. I took her to the dentist to check her teeth again. They’re okay. It was probably just a little staining.

Other things:

  • I transplanted the tomatoes and a few of the basil seedlings.
  • I read quite a few books while A- was asleep:
    • The Reflective Parent: More of a background on mind-mindedness
    • The Importance of Being Little: play
    • How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: problem-solving
    • Child of Mine: feeding dynamics
    • Week by Week: observing child development
    • Mind in the Making: skills
  • I used ffmpeg to automatically extract short video clips, which made it easier to review my video backlog. I also backed up the photos and videos to more places.
  • W- upgraded to the PS Vita Slim and gave me his old PS Vita. I’ve been playing Trails of Cold Steel on it.
  • I replaced my credit card and library card. Turns out they had fallen between the drum and the case of the dryer.
  • I spotted a coyote and a beaver (separately) in our neighbourhood.
  • For consulting, I created a hierarchical JSON for data analysis, fixed old data, and tweaked some SQL.
  • W- demolished the concrete pad and poured a concrete door sill.

Blog posts

Sketches

So much drawing this month! I got back into the swing of drawing one or two thoughts a day.

Time

Category Previous month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work – Childcare 36.2 42.1 5.9 73.2 9.9
Unpaid work 43.4 47.9 4.5 83.2 7.6
Discretionary – Play 2.3 4.0 1.7 6.9 2.8
Discretionary – Family 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.2
Business – Earn 1.0 1.1 0.1 2.0 0.2
Business – Connect 0.0 0.0 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Business – Build 0.3 0.0 -0.3 0.0 -0.6
Discretionary – Social 0.8 0.1 -0.8 0.1 -1.3
Discretionary – Productive 5.1 3.5 -1.5 6.1 -2.6
Personal 11.9 10.2 -1.7 17.6 -2.9
Sleep 35.1 33.0 -2.1 57.2 -3.5

Monthly review: April 2017

A- has been working on standing independently, beaming with pride whenever she balanced for a few seconds. She’ll keep getting up and trying if you sign “more.” She loves walking with help, too, even up and down stairs. W- helped her learn how to nudge a ball around. We spent a lot of time in the backyard, where she enjoyed digging in the soil, pulling up weeds, and exploring the new raised bed that W- made. She enjoyed crawling up and down the ramps and steps in the demo class at Oaks n Acorns. Now that the weather has warmed up a little, we’ve been going to the playground, swinging on the swings and sliding down the slides.

She figured out pointing with her finger, and she has gotten pretty good at letting us know what she wants. Pointing has also helped us teach her lots of words. She understands words like “coat” and “shoes”, gestures or points to the appropriate items, and matches illustrations and objects. She says “ba” for bubbles and “na” for no. I took her to Riverdale Farm to look at the animals, since we’ve been focusing on animal sounds for language development. We finished the early literacy workshop (which was more of a one-on-one consultation, whee!) and the parent advocacy workshop (which will come in handy when A- goes to school).

It’s a lot of fun watching A- imitate our actions. She drinks quite capably from a cup or water bottle, unscrews bottle caps, and tries to floss her teeth. She’s getting the hang of our routines, although sometimes she’ll resist them and assert her own will. When A- doesn’t want me to brush her teeth, I just try to wipe her teeth and gums with a washcloth. I asked the dentist if we should restrain A- when brushing or bring her in for a fluoride varnish. The dentist didn’t seem very concerned. She might be trying to avoid making A- anxious about dental hygiene, which makes sense too, so I just need to calibrate my own level of worry. We’re giving xylitol wipes a try, anyway, and I made xylitol mints for myself as well.

I’m a little less worried about A-‘s conformer. A- removed her conformer a couple of times when we were out walking, but she seems to be developing the habit of holding on to it or handing it to me after taking it out, which is awesome.

Hard to remember that W- has only been back to work for two months. Over the course of several weekends, W- cleared out the old garden beds, started a new one, and started the porch rebuild. A- and I have been going to various drop-in programs and other city resources. I’m so happy we’ve been able to arrange our lives this way. I’ve even been able to get back to doing more reading and writing in the early hours of the morning, and some video gaming with W- during the weekends. (Borderlands 2 co-op with two sirens, whee!) This is nice.

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Previous month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Personal 8.7 11.9 3.1 19.3 5.3
Discretionary – Productive 3.2 5.1 1.8 8.2 3.1
Discretionary – Play 0.8 2.3 1.5 3.8 2.5
Sleep 34.3 35.1 0.8 57.1 1.3
Business – Build 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.5 0.3
Discretionary – Social 0.6 0.8 0.2 1.4 0.3
Business – Earn 0.8 1.0 0.1 1.6 0.2
Business – Connect 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1
Discretionary – Family 0.5 0.1 -0.4 0.1 -0.7
Unpaid work – Other 50.6 43.4 -7.2 70.7 -12.0
Unpaid work – Childcare 44.3 36.2 -8.0 59.0 -13.5