Category Archives: review

Weekly review: Week ending 2017-12-01

More toilet training progress. I feel a little more confident about heading out, although we still try to get a diaper on just in case. A- occasionally asks for privacy when pottying at home, and strongly prefers having the potty in the kitchen instead of the living room. She can interrupt her bath to use the toilet. No accidents or used diapers all week. Wow.

We met up with Jen and E-, and we made it all the way to the Ontario Science Centre. I liked checking out the pick-your-own area in KidSpark, and A- enjoyed playing with the water table and the ball maze. A- took Jen’s hand and led her over to the ball ramps, so I hung out with E- while they played. Growing independence!

The weather was pretty nice on Friday too, so we met up with Eric and hung out at a playground for a bit. It was good to catch up, especially since A- decided Saturday was a stay-home day.

In addition to being able to go on longer outings, A- has also been able to play more independently at home. She mostly likes rummaging through bags and pantry goods in the kitchen. I got her a small pair of tongs, which she occasionally uses to move bags around. Yay fine motor control! I moved the cleaning chemicals from the cabinet under the sink to a cabinet out of her reach, and I’ll stock the under-sink cabinet with more manipulatives such as pipe cleaners and sponges.

We’re figuring out our new balance between autonomy and attention. I’ve been decluttering and cleaning to fight a flea breakout, but A- likes staying close and playing with me, so vacuuming usually has to wait until W- gets home. That’s okay, A- is higher priority.

The attention seems to be paying off in terms of language and cognition, too. W- pointed to the pot in the kitchen and asked A- what was in it. “Oatmeal,” she answered correctly, even though it had been a while since A- and I left it to cook. Another time, the only way to tempt her out of the bath was to wave a bunch of books at her and tell her I was heading off to read in bed.

With all that, I haven’t had as much time for my own things, but I did manage to squueze in some consulting late at night and during one afternoon. I exported some data for a team, and it was nice to be able to coordinate during the daytime while A- played independently. It looks like we might be able to get away without a babysitter for short, time-sensitive requests. Oh, and my Org agenda reminded me to renew my business name. Hooray for a system that can handle to-dos that repeat every five years.

We’re getting the hang of this!

Monthly review: November 2017

The biggest thing this month was potty training. We decided to postpone the pantsless approach recommended by the Oh Crap Potty Training book until life had settled down after our September trip, and that time had come. To my surprise, A- took to it readily. There were a few accidents at home, but nothing that couldn’t be mopped up with the towels and cloth diapers we kept handy. She’s now pretty good at going to the potty, especially if I trust her to know her own cues instead of prompting her too much. She refuses to wear diapers for naps or bedtime, and she often refuses clothes, too. We spent most of November at home, and we’re slowly gaining the confidence to go further afield.

Another big thing this month was reading Dr. Seuss. She loves The Cat In the Hat, The Thinks You Can Think, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, and One Fish Two Fish, and will say bits of the books as we read to her. She also likes prompting us to recite snippets throughout the day, so I’ve memorized large chunks of the books too. The Cozy Classics versions of Emma and Pride & Prejudice occasionally get requested at bedtime, and several rounds of Goodnight Moon too. All that reading means bedtime is an extended affair, but that’s all good.

Lots of new words from books, and plenty from everyday life too. A- often asks me to wear my gloves or oven mitts and “catch” whatever she names. She uses three-word sentences such as “all full bubbles” or “E- poo diaper.”

She’s interested in number words and in counting with her fingers. She seems to also matches up sets. When I doled out one scoop of cat food each for the two cats that were there, she named the cat who wasn’t and she asked me for another scoop of cat food. She thinks about the sizes of bags when nesting them, too.

There were a few days when “streetcar” was her favourite word, so we rode streetcars up and down all afternoon. I still didn’t break even on the transit pass I bought for the month. Between that and the classes we haven’t been able to make it out to, I’m getting better at ignoring sunk costs and focusing on what’s better for us in the moment.

She’s learning to play more independently. By far, her favourite activity is “shopping” for groceries with the bags in the kitchen and putting everything away afterwards. Our pantry gets randomized, but it’s worth it. Sometimes she wants me to help her, and sometimes she enjoys doing things by herself. I usually tidy up nearby while she plays, although one time I even managed to do a bit of consulting.

To balance that, A- occasionally enjoys being “baby A-,” asking us to feed her, flopping down for ” tummy time,” and recreating scenes from baby pictures. It’s fun (and good) to follow her lead as she negotiates this transition, so we do.

We’ve been stepping up housecleaning and decluttering, which is good. We spend most of our time in the kitchen or in A-‘s room, so I’ve been focusing on those areas. I wonder how I can make the living room more inviting. I prefer the kitchen myself, but it’s good to have more space for play.

Lots of consulting this month, since there’s a major upgrade in the works. I’m pleasantly surprised by my ability to do useful things in small, interruptible chunks of time. The rhythm I set up for my late-night discretionary activities seems to be mostly paying off, although of course sometimes A- has other plans.

I filed my corporate taxes, yay! This year, I decided to move my accounting from QuickBooks + Turbotax to Ledger + MyTaxExpress (under Wine), giving me another reason to stay in Linux. It took me a while to figure out what to do about foreign currency transactions and to get all the numbers on the tax form to add up properly, but now my books make sense. I can use version control on my ledger, too.

December will be mostly about consulting, paperwork, and the upcoming trip. For A-, maybe we’ll focus on self-dressing, and on setting up her environment for more autonomy and learning. Hmm….

Weekly review: Week ending 2017-11-24

Pottying: A-‘s pretty good at initiating for both pee and poo, and can take off her pants or be helped out of pajamas in time to use the potty. She has even dragged the potty around to have a change of scene. We timed a few outings for after she used the potty. She stayed dry for the 1-2 hours that we were out, and she used the potty when we returned. I need to think of a place she’ll enjoy going to that would be a good place to practice using in a public toilet (and where accidents won’t be too bad). She hasn’t been keen on wearing clothes lately, but maybe the next time she is, we’ll go to the science centre after she uses the potty.

Dressing: She occasionally wants to practise putting on clothes, and will wear many layers for fun (one time she wore four pairs of panties at the same time). She can pull on pants and panties, although sometimes she puts both legs through one hole. She’s curious about buttonholes and labels them on my pajamas. I’ll continue offering clothes, and I’ll set out some 3T t-shirts for her to try pulling on by herself.

Gross motor: A- was interested in twisting, jumping, running, and sliding, and has been inventing her own exercises at home. She likes scooting down an inclined mattress, jumping down from pillows, and jumping on a bag of lentils.

She likes taking out the plastic bags under the sink and putting them back in. She also likes putting things into bags (“shopping”) and nesting bags. I wonder if she likes the crinkling sound or the act of stuffing things into the plastic bag holder. Maybe I’ll give her some aluminum. I’ll clear out the wipes box and let her stuff things into it too. I wonder if we have a medium-sized cardboard box I can use for stuffing practice. She loves watching a video of her playing with and putting away the plastic bags. Maybe I can extend this by involving her in putting away other things, like her toys and books.

Identity: She’s been very much into being a baby. She sometimes asks us to feed her, often handing us morsels so that we can put them in her mouth. I’ve been offering her a choice between brushing her own teeth like a toddler and letting me brush her teeth like a baby – yay, she’s been letting me brush her teeth! She likes looking at pictures and video of herself as a baby, and will often recreate scenes with the chair, baby gym, or tummy time.

I’ve been experimenting with bedtime. i snooze in low-power mode while letting her play independently. It leads to pretty amusing pillow talk. A- likes trying out animal noises, asking for help with clothes, reading to herself, and asking for her favourite sections from books. (“No no fish” means the fish’s first speech from “The Cat in the Hat.”) Keeping a potty in her room is working out, too.

Language: So much. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” has joined her list of favourites, and she can say the whole title and quite a few words. She wanted a comb because of that book and because of “Goodnight Moon”, so we dug up the one that W- fixed. She chimes in if I read slowly, so I don’t need to pause for testing, just emphasis. She seems to be extending the concepts, too. As I was buckling her into her chair, I said, “One buckle. Two buckles.” She said “Red buckle.” It was actually white, but hey, patterns! I’ll request a few more Dr. Seuss Beginner Books from the library, and W- can pick them up for me if we don’t make it out. She picked up some words from “This Little Piggy Went to Market” and sometimes requests it at bedtime.

Playdough: She labeled the pizza she made and put it in a pretend oven. She also squished and pinched playdough.

Other:

  • She’s a little interested in tying. Maybe I’ll get a shoelace and teach her how to work with the lacing boards, and that can give her tying practice too.
  • She showed some interest in dropping coins through a slot and dropping beanbags into a container. Maybe I should set up the activities in the living room so that she can freely choose them when she wants, and she can combine them with other things.
  • She pretended to cook with the clay pot set, and handled the pieces relatively gently.
  • A- was surprisingly fond of pickled gherkins, possibly because I Can Read With My Eyes Shut mentions pickles on page 1.
  • She used the brush and the comb as rhythm sticks while walking around, imitating the music teacher.

Us: I filed my corporate taxes, issued more dividends to myself, bought travel insurance, and did some more consulting (checking the database, extending the quick jump script). W- handled practically all the cooking this week – yum, yum!

Next week: starting to get ready for the trip; thinking about how A- learns through play; checking on Neko’s health

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

Weekly review: Week ending November 10, 2017

The last workshop session of Make the Connection focused on being a play partner and scaffold for your toddler. Labeling things in a running commentary now feels pretty normal for me, and I’ve been working on organizing the environment and letting her take the lead. I rotated more of the toys and cleared some more space at her level.

I like the way our play has felt this week. I followed her interest in streetcars, bubbles, books, and mittens, and she’s been learning tons. “Streetcar” was one of her favourite words this week, so we made a few special trips to ride on streetcars until she was satisfied. The dish detergent I got on sale seems a bit harsh for extended hands-deep bubble time. We’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s baby-mild castile soap for washing her and that seems to bubble up fine, so I might switch to that for bubble sessions. There are a handful of books she asks me to read: “Cat in the Hat,” “Goodnight Moon,” “At the Supermarket,” “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” I mix in other books from the library or the Children’s Book Bank, too – things I might not mind reading and re-reading if they catch her interest. I like looking at the illustrations and the words, thinking about how they work, which means I don’t mind if A- asks me to read Cat in the Hat five times in a row.

We went to the playground, too. I guess the wool pants I made her kept her warm enough that she was fine playing, although she frequently asked for the mittens I’d forgotten to bring. I showed her how to stick your hands in your jacket’s pockets to keep them warm. The playground got a lot busier once school ended, so she shifted to sitting on the bench with some food. She didn’t want to go home, but I was cold, so we had to head home. She asked for the wool pants again on a different day. Looks like she likes them. I should make more from the wool sweaters I’ve been buying from the thrift store.

At home, she amused herself for a good number of minutes by filling a bag with cans from the pantry and dragging the bag around. She even put the bag away afterwards. More cutting practice, too: she pulled out the chopping board and wanted to cut the cucumber with a butter knife, so I helped her. She’s getting pretty good at keeping her fingers away from the knife, although she still needs guidance of course. Peeled cucumber seems to be easy enough for her to cut, and she likes eating it. Also, she was interested in buttons and buttonholes, so I might start the “push small things through a slot”-type of activities.

She has enough language to say things that are unexpectedly poetic. One morning, she spotted W-‘s face soap on the bathroom counter. She asked if she could wash her face, so I let her have a little dab of soap and some warm water. While washing, she said:

Wash face.
Happy me.
Happy me.
Daddy soap.

Three-word sentences are starting to emerge, too: “All full bubbles;” “A- poo toilet.”

A- has some cat pajamas that she really likes, and seems to be taking some care to keep them clean enough for reuse. One time, she wanted to wash her hands, so she pushed her sleeves up to her elbows. When it was time to wash those cat pajamas, she brought them all the way down to the washer in the basement and asked me to pour detergent into the washer’s drawer.

A- spotted the last pull-up diaper in my stash, and she insisted on switching to it from the diaper she had been wearing. She’s also gotten a lot better at pulling down and pulling up her pants (even the back side), and can be prompted to sit on the potty from time to time. She can tell us, “Wet pants.” Couple of signs of readiness, so we started the next phase of toilet training. Might get a bit messy, but it’ll be worth it.

As for us:

  • W- replaced the backflow valve in the bottom drawer of the dishwasher. The actuator is still broken, so we’re using just the top drawer. At least this way, the bottom drawer won’t accumulate dirty water.
  • I remembered enough of my old code to help my client with some troubleshooting. I should check in again this week to help them prepare for a major change.

Next week: adapting to cooler weather…

Blog posts

Focus areas and time review

  • A- (Childcare) (70.2h – 41% of total)
  • Business (6.5h – 3%)
    • Earn (3.5h – 53% of Business)
    • Build (3.0h – 46% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.8h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (1.4h – 0%)
    • Drawing (0.0h)
    • Emacs (0.8h)
    • Sewing (0.6h)
  • Discretionary – Play (2.1h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (11.6h – 6%)
  • Unpaid work (17.1h – 10%)
  • Sleep (59.4h – 35% – average of 8.5 per day)