Category Archives: monthly

Monthly review: November 2016

A- has gotten so much better at controlling her hands: gently patting the cat, grasping food with her thumb and index finger, taking things out of containers and putting them back in… She laid claim to one of the sets of Duplo that we were going to give to her cousins, and had lots of fun exploring the different shapes. She’s been gradually shifting to using her fingers instead of her mouth, although the occasional thing still gets tasted, of course.

A- has also been working on her gross motor skills, getting the hang of creeping around everywhere on her hands and knees (so much more efficient than crawling on her tummy!), and even pulling herself up to stand with our help. She’s more expressively vocal now, babbling with different intonations based on her mood. She likes staying close to me or to W-, but she’s happy to spend time with other people once she has warmed up to them. She met the rest of my family on our trip to the Philippines – yay! She tried out many new foods, and seems to be a fan of sour tastes and chunkier textures. She’s an awesome 9-month-old!

A-‘s cardiologist said that the hole in her heart continues to get better, but they still need to monitor the muscle bundle developing in her right ventricle to see if they need to operate on it. We’ll follow up with another exam in February.

A-‘s head was getting too big for her old prosthetic eye, which kept popping out. Eventually it popped out in a crowded place where we couldn’t find it even after searching multiple times. Oh well, we knew something like that would happen eventually – that’s why we’d set aside an oops fund! We’ll try replacing it with a less-expensive clear conformer first, and we’ll wait until she’s eligible for funding for another painted prosthetic eye.

As for us, the first half of the month was about preparing for the trip, and the second half was about enjoying it. The trip worked out beautifully – like a staycation, but with family and friends I hadn’t seen in years. We cooked, ate, hung out, and took care of things – some bank-related stuff, and my parents’ Canadian visa application too. There’s more paperwork to be done, of course, but at least we got started.

I managed to squeeze in a bit of coding: turning over the add-on I’d been working on, and doing some data scraping for a friend. Didn’t get much writing or coding done while we were away, of course, but that’s all cool.

Life is good.

Blog posts



Time tracking slightly messed up by trip. Personal time way down, travel/family time way up, as expected. Sleep surprisingly the same – actually, slight increase, because I didn’t track sleep well during the flight. Hmm…

Category Last month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work 42.8 47.6 4.8 77.4 8.0
Discretionary – Family 1.9 6.3 4.4 10.2 7.4
Unpaid work – Childcare 35.1 37.0 1.8 60.2 3.1
Discretionary – Play 0.8 1.7 0.9 2.7 1.5
Business – Connect 0.0 0.4 0.3 0.6 0.5
Business – Build 0.1 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.1
Sleep 31.9 32.0 0.0 52.0 0.0
Discretionary – Productive 3.1 2.8 -0.4 4.5 -0.6
Business – Earn 2.8 0.6 -2.2 1.0 -3.6
Discretionary – Social 3.4 0.3 -3.2 0.5 -5.3
Personal 13.1 8.3 -4.7 13.6 -7.9

Monthly review: October 2016

It’s delightful watching A- figure out movement. She’s gotten more intentional with her hands: playing peek-a-boo by holding something up near her head, plucking the strings of my ukulele, exploring leaves (and trying to eat them!), grabbing the finger food that she likes.She’s a pretty active crawler now, and she can get quite fast when she’s going for the cats. She’s also been working on creeping, getting her knees under her and lifting her tummy off the ground. She mostly still inchworms – lifts herself up, drops down to crawl one span, and then lifts herself up again – but she has almost figured out creeping all the way.

There’s plenty of room for her to crawl around now that W- has finished J-‘s closet. We moved J-‘s stuff back in her room, and now A- has floor and closet space again! I organized A-‘s clothes and toys by type, and the system has been holding up well so far.

We’ve been spending time outdoors to take advantage of the last few warm and sunny days of the year. The backyard has been a great place to explore the tastes and textures of the herbs in our garden. We’ve also walked to quite a few parks and libraries close by. The socks don’t quite cover her legs when her pants ride up, so I made her a pair of leg warmers and a hat from a sweater. We lost one of the leg warmers already, but that’s okay, I’ll just have to make more. Gotta figure out cool weather walking gear!

A-‘s weight gain has slowed down a bit, but it’s still within normal range, so maybe last month’s rapid gains were part of a catch-up growth spurt. The pediatrician isn’t worried, so neither are we.

Probably due to all that growth, A-‘s prosthetic eye has been popping out more often. We’ll see the ocularist after our trip. In the meantime, we’ll just have to deal. She gets upset when we restrain her to put it back in, but recovers okay after W- manages to reinsert the shell. I still worry from time to time that we might traumatize her or cause her to distrust us, but oh well, this is our life.

Lots of sleep disruption too, but that’s also pretty normal for this age. We go to bed late and wake up late, but there’s still plenty of time in the afternoon for social stuff. I helped out Jen and Ewan, met Justin and Joy, spent Thanksgiving with W-‘s family, checked out meetups for Junction parents and Toronto parent educators, finished the Make the Connection program, picked up lots of vegetables because of the Peer Nutrition program (including five bunches of kale!), and checked out various baby activities. I made a pirate hat and vest for A- and I cobbled together a quick pirate costume for myself based on stuff in my closet and a DIY felt eyepatch, and we handed out Halloween candy.

Big step: I finally made it out to the dentist after two years of being away! I took the opportunity to find a new dentist, too, one who had good reviews for child dental care as well. W- took care of A- while I went for cleaning and a new patient exam. I needed two fillings, which is not a bad result for all that time. Level up!

Level up in my consulting project, too. Got past a couple of technical roadblocks with some help, and now the add-on should be ready for other people to tinker with it.

Busy month. W-‘s been in constant motion, too: working on the porch, upgrading the workshop, investing in tools and skills… Whee!

2016-11-04a-october-2016-monthly-journal-review output

Blog posts



Occasionally remembered to track stuff as more specific categories instead of childcare (ex: breakfasts, cooking), even if I had A- with me. Also managed to fit in a little time for consulting, yay!

Category Last month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Personal 11.3 13.1 1.7 22.7 2.9
Discretionary – Social 2.2 3.4 1.3 6.0 2.2
Business – Earn 1.6 2.8 1.2 4.8 1.9
Discretionary – Family 1.1 1.9 0.8 3.3 1.3
Discretionary – Play 0.9 0.8 -0.1 1.4 -0.2
Business – Connect 0.2 0.0 -0.1 0.1 -0.2
Business – Build 0.4 0.1 -0.2 0.2 -0.4
Unpaid work 43.3 42.8 -0.5 74.3 -0.8
Discretionary – Productive 4.5 3.1 -1.3 5.4 -2.2
Sleep 34.6 31.9 -2.7 55.4 -4.5
Unpaid work – Childcare 38.1 35.1 -2.9 61.0 -4.9

Monthly review: September 2016

A- has gotten a lot more active. She’s figured out how to roll both ways both directions, and can now roll over and over and over. Walls confused her for a bit, but she seems to have gotten the hang of them now – or at least she doesn’t keep rolling into them, then away a little, then back into them, then away, then back… She can also crawl short distances and sit or play mostly independently for a good number of minutes. She likes it when I play peek-a-boo, and she can whisk a cloth away to reveal me or a toy I’ve hidden. She’s been expanding her vocabulary, too: lip smacking, slobbery kisses, and more intonation. She’s definitely vocal about her appreciation of bubbles and other fine things.

A- has really taken to self-feeding in her high chair. A month of solid weight gains helped her make it past the 5th and 10th percentile curves, and she looks like she’ll be past the 15th percentile curve soon. Kamut puffs and Toodle-Os let her work on her pincer grip, and she tends to prefer bits of our meals more than baby cereals or purées. I’ve been applying what I learned in the nutrition workshop, making an effort to get in more iron for her and more calcium for me. She’s been settling into somewhat of a routine when it comes to eating, nursing, and sleeping (having mostly gotten the hang of longer naps, of which she usually has two). Between that and her increasing capacity for entertaining herself, I’ve actually been able to get back into cooking and other household chores. Whee!

The caseworker from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind assessed A-‘s vision and capabilities with the help of blinking toys, small objects, and a musical triangle. It was fascinating to watch her probe A-‘s field of vision, observation, and tracking. So far, it seems A-‘s doing perfectly well with one eye. The caseworker will close our file for now, but we can get in touch with CNIB if A- needs more help when she’s mobile. In other news, the cardiologist said A-‘s okay to travel, so all systems go. Yay!

TD lost our forms, so we redid the paperwork for A-‘s RESP. Added our first investment! In other education-related news, J- started university, and seems to be enjoying her program. They’re both off to a good start.

I switched from a digital index card workflow back to a paper one in order to accommodate changing baby-proofing needs (no more laptop chargers beside the bed, now that she’s crawling and rolling!) and prepare for our upcoming trip. It’s working surprisingly well. I draw after A-‘s asleep, or if she’s focused on playing on her own. The index cards are easy to carry to another room if I want to spend more time with W-. I can draw with my headlamp on, and I’m not as tempted to stay up late doing other things on my computer. ClearScanner on my phone takes care of deskewing and cleaning up images, and my Emacs functions for renaming and organizing images were easy to tweak for the new filenames and formats. I should probably think about colour at some point, but that can come later.

I’ve also been tweaking what I can do on my phone during nursing sessions. I’ve been trying out Orgzly for writing and a few Org-related things. Using Connectbot to SSH to my server has come in handy, too. I upgraded my server thanks to Linode’s anniversary promo, and I’m still thinking of more things I can do with the extra RAM.

Speaking of computer stuff – my fiscal year end is here, so I spent a little time reconciling my bank statements and getting things ready for taxes. I won’t be able to finalize the numbers until December or so, but it’s always nice to have an idea of how things will shape up. My notes from last year have been helpful, and I’ve been filling in more notes as needed. Hooray for Org Mode outlines and to-dos! It’s been a surprisingly good year, even with pregnancy and becoming the primary caregiver for an infant. My clients are super-flexible, and I’ve managed to get stuff done. Whee!

Social things this month: attended the midwives’ picnic and caught up with a few folks from the prenatal class we attended, started attending the Make the Connection program and the peer nutrition support site, and bartered the glass bottles A- barely used for two large bags of baby clothes. Moved to the Friday sessions at our neighbourhood early years centre, too.

W- has been busy with J-‘s closet reno and all the little things that popped up along the way, including getting the carpet professionally stretched in order to eliminate bumps and bring it up to the wardrobe. We moved all the upstairs stuff around so that all the carpet there could get fixed. W- built custom shelving, too. Neat.

Starting to get the hang of this, I think!

2016-09-30c-september-2016-monthly-review-journal output

Blog posts



Category Period 1 % Period 2 % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.1 0.4 0.3 0.6 0.4
Discretionary – Play 0.5 0.9 0.5 1.5 0.8
Unpaid work 42.5 43.3 0.8 70.4 1.4
Unpaid work – Childcare 36.9 38.1 1.1 61.9 1.9
Discretionary – Social 2.5 2.2 -0.3 3.5 -0.5
Discretionary – Family 2.0 1.1 -0.9 1.8 -1.5
Sleep 34.3 34.6 0.3 56.3 0.5
Business – Connect 0.0 0.2 0.1 0.3 0.2
Business – Earn 1.3 1.6 0.4 2.6 0.6
Discretionary – Productive 4.6 4.5 -0.1 7.3 -0.2
Personal 12.4 11.3 -1.1 18.4 -1.8

Monthly review: August 2016

It took me a while to write this monthly review. September’s practically done. This tells me I need to tweak my post-A-bedtime routines a little, but that’s okay.

It’s been an eventful year, for sure. Plenty of stuff for my annual review. I’m sure it will make more sense later on. At the moment, I’m just trying to capture enough hooks to let me get back into the memories. =)

After several consultations with dietitians (both public and private), upgrading to a high chair, and plenty of self-feeding, A- has been gaining weight at a steady clip. Whew! I added a detailed feeding log and more visualizations to our tracker, of course. Data data data.

There’s only a slight downside to A’s improved growth curve. It turns out that I’ve been lifting her incorrectly, and the extra weight has led to de Quervain’s tenosynovitis in my left hand. No big deal. I’ve modified my lifting technique, I’m careful not to put too much stress on my thumb, and I sometimes use an inexpensive over-the-counter brace. Since I can’t avoid using that hand, it probably won’t go away until we’re done breastfeeding or A- is more independent, but maybe I can avoid making it worse.

Since A- has been growing well, I bought a second-hand Manduca. That’s become our go-to carrier. The Manduca doesn’t require an insert for small babies, so I was able to use it with A- right away. It feels more secure than the ring sling. I’d like to learn how to use the mei tai too.

We booked our flights home, yay! It’ll be our first time traveling with A-, and it’s going to be a loooong flight. Hoping that Korean Air lives up to its reputation for family-friendliness.

With an average of two hours a week of consulting, I managed to fill the pipeline, yay! I’ve volunteered to help them with something time-sensitive, so I’ll be busy for the next few months. A- is still top priority, of course.

Lots of social things, too. Dinner with W-‘s family, park time with Rachael and G-, a nice walk with Jen, Ewan, and E-, and the final classes for Peer Nutrition. Also, J- had her friends over, and they made pesto from the garden basil. And they cleaned up. Wow. W- and I sat on the deck and marvelled.

Life is good.



Blog posts



Category Last month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work – Childcare 34.3 36.9 2.6 62.0 4.3
Unpaid work 40.2 42.5 2.2 71.3 3.7
Discretionary – Social 1.5 2.5 0.9 4.1 1.6
Discretionary – Family 1.2 2.0 0.8 3.3 1.3
Discretionary – Play 0.5 0.5 -0.1 0.8 -0.1
Business – Build 0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.2 -0.2
Business – Connect 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0 -0.2
Business – Earn 1.4 1.3 -0.2 2.1 -0.3
Discretionary – Productive 4.8 4.6 -0.2 7.7 -0.4
Personal 13.1 12.4 -0.7 20.8 -1.2
Sleep 36.8 34.3 -2.5 57.6 -4.1

Monthly review: July 2016

(Finally, a little time to catch up on my writing! =) )

Ah, July. Many of the medical uncertainties we’d been working on over the past few months were wrapped up, at least for now. A- got her first artificial eye – a scleral shell that will gradually be enlarged to help her skull grow symmetrically. The anomalous finding on her abdominal ultrasound turned out to be a benign hemangioma according to the MRI. Cardiology at Sick Kids got a closer look at her ventricular septal defect through an echocardiogram under sedation, and they’ll continue to monitor it along with our first cardiologist. It feels a little strange to have medical appointments scheduled months out instead of practically every week, and to not get a referral to yet another department, yet another section of the Hospital for Sick Children. In the five months that A-‘s been alive, there had been five weeks free of medical appointments, and even those were under the shadow of the next thing to research, plan for, and accept. It’s starting to feel like we have a bit of a handle on things.

We’re so lucky that parental leave was an option for W-. It allowed us to take shifts in consoling A- when the procedures upset her. W- made delicious dinners: pesto and bun from the summery abundance of our planter boxes, juicy rotisserie chicken when it was too hot to cook indoors, and even more yummy things I didn’t have the attention span to do. He even got into the habit of ironing and pre-folding the large flannel squares that we use as A-‘s diapers. That way, she wouldn’t be bothered by any doubled-up hems. Lucky girl, and lucky me.

I reacquired Philippine citizenship and included A-, so she has that option. I hope I don’t end up regretting the paperwork. Sometimes dual citizenship is helpful, and sometimes it makes things trickier. Anyway, might as well.

Lots of social stuff, too. Tita Gay and Tita Myra drove up from the US to meet A-, and it was great to catch up with them. I’ve been going to a peer nutrition program conducted in Tagalog in order to learn more about feeding the baby and also to find out about Filipino community resources. We met another family with a baby who has left-eye microphthalmia, and we swapped notes. Slowly making new parent friends!

A- has gotten much better at rolling, and she likes spending time on her tummy. She can reach her toys from the rocker’s reclined position. She loves playing with water from the hose or streaming down from a cup with holes. We’ve been introducing her to lots of different kinds of food, and she’s gotten quite good at putting things into her mouth. Growing growing growing!

2016-08-06b July 2016 -- index card #monthly #review output

Blog posts



Category Period 1 % Period 2 % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.3 0.2 -0.0 0.4 -0.0
Discretionary – Play 1.0 0.5 -0.5 0.9 -0.8
Unpaid work 41.6 40.2 -1.3 69.9 -2.3
Unpaid work – Childcare 34.0 34.3 0.4 59.6 0.6
Discretionary – Social 2.3 1.5 -0.7 2.7 -1.2
Discretionary – Family 1.4 1.2 -0.2 2.1 -0.3
Sleep 33.4 36.8 3.4 63.8 5.7
Business – Connect 0.1 0.1 -0.0 0.2 -0.0
Business – Earn 2.4 1.4 -1.0 2.5 -1.6
Discretionary – Productive 5.8 4.8 -1.0 8.3 -1.8
Personal 11.8 13.1 1.3 22.8 2.3

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



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