Category Archives: review

Monthly review: December 2016

After enjoying lots of time with old friends and family, we flew back to Toronto and settled into our household routines. The flights back were a bit more comfortable, thanks to the timing and the rest areas at the Manila and Incheon airports. It took A- and I a few weeks to get over jet lag, since I mostly went by her cues. Short days and cold weather made it harder to reset her circadian rhythm, but we eventually synced up with W-. We even got back into the habit of walking again, once we were mostly lined up with daylight.

One of the unexpected benefits of going on this trip was the realization that congee and bibimbap can be part of our everyday routines, thanks to inexpensive and easily-cooked ingredients. I just need to marinate ground beef or pork in soy sauce, brown it, and keep it in the fridge, and gradually build up a supply of banchan when there’s time. Yum yum yum. W- picked up a container of gochujang, and we’ve been making good progress through it too.

Since we lost A-‘s painted shell, I took A- to be fitted for a clear conformer. This one kept popping out, though – sometimes twice a day, sometimes even when she wasn’t touching it. Eventually we lost it somewhere in the house, which was very mystifying. I’ll be taking her for another one in January. I hope this one fits better, or else I might have to tweak the budget a bit.

On the plus side, A- has gotten the hang of clapping. It’s awesome. She claps for herself, she claps for us, she claps when she wakes up and it’s another nice day… :) She’s also gotten a lot of practice in putting things on top of other things/cats/parents. She likes putting things into and taking things out of baskets, which makes laundry time more interesting. She’s getting more confident about crawling even around the corner and out of sight, and she’s often keen to walk with our help.

W- created a play area in the living room, and we’ve been spending a lot of time in it. New lights and more floor space really changed the feel of the room. We also put up elephant stickers in A-‘s room, which feels a lot more like a nursery now. (W- oiled the hinges, too, so it’s easier to go in and out without worrying about waking her up.)

A- continues to follow the 15th percentile curve in terms of weight. She got the second half of the flu shot, so she’ll probably be okay this season.

We went to Brantford for W-‘s family’s Christmas thing. A- was okay with the long car ride, although we needed to make one stop on the way there so that she could nurse. That was the day we lost her clear conformer, too, so we were a little frazzled. She mostly stayed close to us, although she warmed up enough to explore the gifts and hang out with family.

I did a little bit of consulting, mostly just maintenance. I also did some coding and troubleshooting for my blog. It was a little embarrassing to not have noticed the broken paragraphs for so long, but oh well!

Lots of writing on my phone – the new workflow with Google Tasks seems to be working out well. We’ll see how next month goes!

Blog posts

Sketches

Category Nov Dec Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.2 0.7 0.5 1.2 0.8
Discretionary – Play 1.7 2.6 0.9 4.4 1.5
Unpaid work 47.6 43.7 -3.9 75.7 -6.5
Unpaid work – Childcare 37.0 36.3 -0.6 63.0 -1.1
Discretionary – Social 0.3 0.2 -0.1 0.3 -0.2
Discretionary – Family 6.3 2.1 -4.1 3.7 -7.0
Sleep 32.0 35.3 3.4 61.2 5.6
Business – Connect 0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.3 -0.3
Business – Earn 0.6 0.3 -0.3 0.6 -0.5
Discretionary – Productive 2.8 3.1 0.3 5.3 0.5
Personal 8.3 8.1 -0.3 14.0 -0.4

Weekly review: Week ending December 30, 2016

We lost A-‘s ocular prosthesis again, this time somewhere at home. It had been slipping out once or twice a day, sometimes even when she wasn’t touching it. People in the online support group said that’s often a sign that it’s too small. We’re going to see if the ocularist can step up his game and make one that’s a better fit, or if it’s time to shop around. 75% government funding and additional help from W-‘s health benefits soften the blow a little, but if a replacement isn’t eligible for coverage, it’s a lot to pay for something that might not fit well. We’ll just have to see. I don’t think it would be practical to patch her eye 24/7 to help keep it in, so we’ll just have to work on finding it whenever it comes out – at least until she becomes responsible enough to keep track of it herself, which could take several years. Anyway, that’s life.

On the plus side, we’ve been enjoying the Junior Engineer set that my sister and her husband gave us. It’s a collection of beams, plates, axles, pins, nuts, bolts, cubes, triangles, and wheels – a bit like LEGO Technic, but for the younger crowd. A- likes pulling things out of the basket and offering them to W-, who then figures out how to incorporate those things into whatever he’s building. I’m methodically working my way through the models in the instruction manual. 3 down, 85 to go.

A-‘s play area in the living room is shaping up nicely. The Junior Engineer set is there, as well as the toys W-‘s family gave her at the Christmas get-together. W- installed a ledge for displaying a few books. We have a bin for rotating toys so that we don’t have too many out at once. This also makes clean-up easier. It’s become a nice place to hang out with A-, and we’re developing a good rhythm of playing, doing chores, and going for walks.

We were out for a walk almost every day, except for that time there was a lot of freezing rain. We’ve been skipping the snow suit for walks in the neighbourhood – the blankets and scarves I wrap around us seem to be enough to keep her warm in 0-degree-ish weather. This means it’s easier to get out of the house, and to come back in after. Yay walking!

The Junction Family Resource Centre turned out to be open, so we dropped by for snack time and circle time. A- was a little quiet – once again getting used to the stimulation of having all those kids around, I guess – but she seemed to have fun taking all the rattles out of one of the bins, and putting them back in again. She ate two apple slices and three slices of cheddar all by herself. Such progress since the last time I had taken her to the JFRC!

We chatted with my mom on Christmas and she gave us a few updates on the health issues that she and my dad are dealing with. Ah, life.

Lots of cooking. We made a number of banchan to accompany roast beef in bibimbap bowls: spinach, mushrooms, carrots… Congee made with mushroom soaking water picked up a deliciously earthy flavour. The roast vegetable techniques from the science of cooking book – cutting the vegetables into batons, steaming them in the roasting pan under a tight cover of foil before uncovering and browning them – resulted in tender, sweet roasted veg. The meat-stuffed vegetable recipe from the visual cookbook J- gave me didn’t turn out as appetizing, but maybe I just need to double the filling and add more salt. Hmm… I want to get better at capturing and building on our cooking notes, too, so I might write more about cooking here.

Capturing ideas and fleshing them out on my phone is working well. I’ve been using Tasks Free to jot down ideas for sketches, and that makes my limited computer time more efficient. I like its drag and drop capabilities and synchronization more than I like Orgzly. There’s a script to synchronize Google Tasks with Org Mode, anyway. As a result, I drew quite a few non-journal sketches this week.

I also managed to do a little coding. I finally got around to adding a date filter to my theme. While testing it, I realized that my blog had been quietly dropping paragraph breaks – how embarrassing! I discovered that just as A- woke up crying from a nap, so I was rather frazzled, but W- stepped in and took care of her. Fortunately, I managed to quickly narrow down the problem and fix it by upgrading a plugin. Got two blog posts out of that, too.

And I even got to play video games with W-! A- had been going to sleep at 9 or so, which gave me some time to join W- on a new playthrough of Borderlands 2. Whenever A- woke up, I put down the controller and dashed upstairs to spend time with her. It usually took a short time to settle her back down. Sometimes W- dropped my character out so that he could keep playing, and sometimes he filled in the time with other activities. He’s a couple of levels ahead of me, but it all balances out with the way Borderlands 2 handles experience. Anyway, spending time with him is on my priority list too – video gaming time is cheaper than therapy. :) It’s fun to be able to team up again.

Next week: more writing and playing, perhaps!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (0.5h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Build (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Connect (0.5h – 100% of Business)
  • Relationships (3.1h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (6.4h – 3%)
    • Drawing (2.8h)
      • ☑ Braindump a bunch of sketches
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Coding (1.3h)
      • ☑ Investigate WordPress date filter, add to theme
      • ☑ Fixed paragraph breaks in WordPress, no more wall of text
      • ☑ Set up inbox
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (1.8h)
  • Discretionary – Play (10.7h – 6%)
    • ☑ Play Borderlands
  • Personal routines (15.3h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (74.3h – 44%)
    • Childcare (61.9h – 36% of total)
  • Sleep (57.6h – 34% – average of 8.2 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending December 23, 2016

A- has been hard at work devising little games for herself – amusement and exercise all together. She spent an afternoon clapping and blowing happy raspberries, and then graduated to moving my hands to clap instead. She practised putting things on top of other things: blocks on a book, orange segments on W-‘s hand, bubble wrap on top of a very patient cat. She took stuff out of and put stuff into laundry baskets.

She’s gotten more comfortable with wandering a little away from me. Sometimes, when I’m in the kitchen, she creeps over to the living room and plays with a small collection of toys that we keep on a low shelf.

Her growing independence and ability to entertain herself meant that we were able to do a lot of cooking: another hunk of roast beef, an array of banchan, two pizzas, congee, and even a side-by–by- side comparison of Glico Premium and Vermont curry. (Glico was spicier and Vermont was sweeter; both had nice depth.)

We’ve also been figuring out our sleep and home routines. During her first awake period, we have breakfast and play a little. Depending on how much sleep I got, I might share her first nap with her. Then we have lunch, do chores (usually folding laundry), and go for a walk. After a snack, she has another nap while I write or play on my phone. More play time, then dinner, which is easy with a well-stocked fridge. Then we hang out with W-. She might get an evening snack depending on how things go. Then bath time and bedtime for her – maybe 8 or 9 in the evening, and sometimes earlier. After I settle her into bed, I can usually get 2-3 hours of discretionary time in the evening. I’ve even been able to catch up with my ledger, write posts, and make an adjusted cost base spreadsheet. (Although it turned out I’d wasted some effort – I’d forgotten that I had already made a spreadsheet like that a couple of years ago, which I found only when I started an index of important files. That’s why I need an index!)

W-‘s been busy, too. He spent some time painting, finishing, and lighting the front part of the living room in order to turn it into a new play area for her. It took a while to find a shade of paint that he liked. So many different kinds of neutrals out there! The results look great, though, and with the new flood lights he bought from Home Depot, the space feels much more usable. I snagged a set of elephant decals that were marked down to $2, and they make A-‘s room look a lot more fun and nursery-ish.

Little improvements!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (0.9h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Build (0.4h – 47% of Business)
    • Connect (0.5h – 52% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.7h – 0%)
    • ☑ Download low-res pictures from FB
  • Discretionary – Productive (5.4h – 3%)
    • Drawing (3.1h)
    • Emacs (0.8h)
      • ☑ Investigate effort filtering in Org Mode
    • Coding (0.5h)
      • ☑ Fix quantifiedawesome account deletion
      • ☑ Fix Yahoo account
      • ☑ Tweak tracking interface
    • ☑ Make ACB spreadsheet for US
    • ☑ Set up individually encrypted files
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (0.1h)
  • Discretionary – Play (4.3h – 2%)
  • Personal routines (13.9h – 8%)
  • Unpaid work (89.0h – 52%)
    • Childcare (73.4h – 43% of total)
  • Sleep (53.8h – 32% – average of 7.7 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending December 16, 2016

The forecast called for a lot of snowfall, so we suited up and got groceries before that happened. We made a respectable array of Korean side-dishes (banchan), and we had bibimbap all week. It was awesome. There were so many options, we had to practically empty the fridge every time we assembled a meal. I started setting up two portions of sides at dinner – one in a bowl, one in a food container – and that made breakfast bibimbap so much easier, since I could just empty the container into a bowl, top it with rice, and reheat the whole thing. Yep, that’s going to go into our regular rotation of recipes.

I took A- to the ocularist for a clear conformer. It’s less expensive than a painted scleral shell, so we don’t have to worry as much about her losing it. Her skull has grown a fair bit in the last few months, so the new conformer does a better job of supporting the growth of her eye socket and filling it in. She seems to be okay with it, although she’s been popping it out every other day or so. I’ll ask them if we need another fitting.

W- has been working on setting up a play area in the front part of the living room. That way, A- can hang out on the main floor. Little by little, we’re reshaping the house to fit our changing life. I’ve been decluttering her room, too, putting aside the clothes she has outgrown. I thought about scavenging sewing materials from the pile, but I don’t think I’ll have time to sew soon, and I still have a backlog anyway. So the clothes can go to other places: friends, Facebook groups, or Value Village if no one needs them.

I’m not too keen on Value Village as a donation destination, but since I’m rather less keen on Salvation Army and the other options are a bit out of our usual errand routes, Value Village will do. I suppose that even if clothes end up as recycled fabric, that’s still better than them ending up in landfill. I’d like to eventually clear my time and pipeline so that I can upcycle some of the outgrown things into small and useful things around the house, but I’m not going to hold on to things just in case.

Speaking of errands, A- and I made it downtown together with W-. He had something to return to MEC, and he wanted to check out some of the shops in the Eaton Centre. I didn’t get anything, but it was a pleasant enough outgoing just as it was. We visited W-‘s mom while we were downtown, and she got to see A- practise standing and walking with help.

I’ve been slowly working through my backlog. I posted a bunch of journal entries I’d written on my phone, and I did some consulting before the contractor shutdown over the holidays. We’ve mostly settled down into a routine of two naps and a decently long sleep, so I feel more confident about using the naps and a little of her long sleep to take care of stuff.

Since we were slightly jet lagged and kept waking up early in the morning, I decided to do more household chores with A- around. That way, we could take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity rates. It’s not the same as focusing on her and playing with her most of the day, but then again, it’s probably good for her to see us doing chores and even to get involved here and there. It’s easy to keep her interested and engaged while we’re doing laundry or peeling potatoes. Some recipes give me plenty of time and flexibility to play with A-, while others can be safely interrupted when A- needs attention. I want to figure out a good set of things that work well, and then we can add to that as she becomes more independent or even more able to help.

Small, continuous improvements…

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (2.1h – 1%)
    • Earn (1.7h – 82% of Business)
    • Build (0.2h – 11% of Business)
      • ☑ Amend last year’s tax return
    • Connect (0.1h – 6% of Business)
  • Relationships (5.3h – 3%)
    • ☑ Take A for second part of flu vaccine
    • ☑ File insurance claim for clear conformer
  • Discretionary – Productive (3.1h – 1%)
    • Drawing (1.9h)
    • Emacs (0.1h)
    • Coding (0.3h)
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (0.1h)
    • ☑ Make ACB spreadsheet for Canadian index
  • Discretionary – Play (0.2h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (11.8h – 7%)
  • Unpaid work (69.0h – 41%)
    • Childcare (60.8h – 36% of total)
  • Sleep (76.4h – 45% – average of 10.9 per day)

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

Sketches

Time

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

Weekly review: Week ending December 9, 2016

We hosted a get-together at Kathy’s house for my friends. W- and I made a double batch of pork buns, Papa brought bibingka and other desserts, and we had green mangoes and bagoong too. It was nice chatting with everyone and seeing how they are now. It feels just as easy to chat with them as it did when back then, and it’s great to see people figuring out ways of life that fit them better.

We also went to Tim Ho Wan for more of G* and A*’s favourite shrimp dumplings. There was nearly too much food, but W- and I managed to finish all those scrumptiously soft pork buns ordered. In the name of research, of course. So much yum. I wonder how they make that dough…

It was a bit of a mad scramble to pack all our luggage. We ended up taking a balikbayan box because of all the gifts and hand-me-downs. W- was amazing at wrangling everything while I took care of A-.

The flights back went pretty smoothly. We managed to get lounge access in NAIA, so that covered snacks and a place to stretch out a bit. Switching to the child meal instead of the baby meal worked out okay. I gave A- the bits she wanted, such as rice and eggs, and I polished off the leftovers. This also meant that I could eat a little something while W- held A-, then we could swap while he ate, and then we swapped again so that I could eat my main meal.

We had a six-hour layover in Incheon airport. A- enjoyed crawling around the play area on the fourth floor. There were recliners in the rest area, and we all got some sleep – even A-! It was pretty good. That made the 13-hour flight back to Toronto a lot more manageable. We took a cab home because of the luggage and the cold weather. It turns out car seats aren’t required in public utility vehicles, including taxis, so I just held A- on the way home.

We spent the next few days restocking the fridge and settling back into our household routines. Our trip reminded us how nice it is to keep congee and banchan on hand, so we’ve been cooking that. Yum yum!

A- was almost completely flipped in terms of day and night, and with the short sunlight hours, I hardly got to see any sun for the first little while. I managed to get us to the appointment with the pediatrician for the second half of the flu vaccine, though. Kathy’s hand-me-down snowsuit certainly came in handy – it was -5C and A- had outgrown everything else!

I submitted my business taxes. Nice to get that out of the way. I noticed I made a mistake in the quick tax calculation for HST last year, so I amended both my HST return and my T2. I also managed to squeeze in a little consulting (one report and a small tweak to my code).

I’ve been prioritizing sleep and important tasks over writing or drawing in my journal, at least while jet lag makes our schedule awkward and unpredictable. We have a few daytime appointments next week, and then things should probably settle down a bit.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (5.0h – 2%)
    • Earn (0.8h – 16% of Business)
    • Build (4.2h – 83% of Business)
      • ☑ Filed taxes and amended previous tax returns
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (8.1h – 4%)
    • ☑ Do second part of flu vaccine
    • ☑ Made biscotti
  • Discretionary – Productive (1.8h – 1%)
    • Drawing (0.8h)
    • Emacs (1.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (3.0h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (11.9h – 7%)
  • Unpaid work (60.7h – 36%)
    • Childcare (49.8h – 29% of total)
  • Sleep (49.0h – 29% – average of 7.0 per day)