Category Archives: review

Weekly review: Week ending May 26, 2017

This week, A- picked up lots of gestures for the songs we’d been singing at circle time. She not only gestures while I sing, she also gestures to ask me to sing. “Rain is Falling Down” and “The More We Get Together” seem to be her favourites at the moment. She sometimes asks for those three or more times in a row.

She seems to take a lot of pleasure in imitating us, and has been paying attention to our household routines. She joined me in washing the spinach for banchan, loading the dryer with laundry, and putting away the stack of freshly-laundered wipes. It’s fun looking for ways to involve her in more of our chores.

The Duralex Picardie tumblers I ordered for A- arrived. She now uses proper glassware (shatter-resistant, yay), so her snack cup can be restored to its original purpose. She’s been having fun offering us food and snatching it away at the last minute, complete with a delighted “Gyah!” She spent quite a few minutes experimenting with the fridge magnets. They stick to the fridge, but not to the wall, and they stay on the window sill if she lets go of them. Wow! She also practised pouring with the small pitchers I borrowed from the JFRC. She still spills a bit, but that’s to be expected.

For our field trip this week, we checked out the Gooch family drop-in. It was a quiet afternoon and A- was the only kid in the main area, but she still mostly stayed close to me. The Gooch drop-in is in a building’s rec room. It’s a larger, more brightly-lit space than JFRC, with quite a few scheduled programs. The parent relief service might come in handy when A- is older. In the meantime, we might check out the main site at Shaw to see if that’s worth taking the TTC to every so often.

I need to be more careful when it comes to A- and the cats. She had a couple of run-ins with them this week. Fortunately, it was a light scratch, but still.

W- did lots of work around the house. He tuckpointed the bricks, filled in a large gap with expanding foam, built a step for the shed, and showed me how to use a hammer drill to help cut a brick to the right size. Neat!

More updates from family, and a video chat as well. Speaking of video, I figured out a way to deal with the video backlog that we’ve been accumulating. I used ffmpeg to grab the middle 3 seconds of each clip and stitch them together into a quick movie. This lets me appreciate A-‘s growth without doing a lot of editing. I got my Bluetooth headset working with my laptop, too, so I can listen to things late at night.

Other tidbits:

  • If I crack two eggs for my breakfast into a bowl after I pour out the scrambled egg for A-‘s breakfast, it’s easier for me to deal with any shell fragments and to cook the eggs evenly
  • If I do jumping jacks while pushing A- on the swing, she finds it amusing and I get more exercise
  • Now that the weather has warmed up, I’ve been setting the seedlings out. Might plant them next week.
  • Watched a bit of Orphan Black with W-. Played Trails of Cold Steel and a bit of Borderlands 2 as well.
  • Consulting: put together a hierarchical JSON file for someone doing data analysis.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (2.1h – 1%)
    • Earn (2.0h – 93% of Business)
    • Connect (0.1h – 6% of Business)
  • Relationships (1.0h – 0%)
    • ☑ Order glasses
  • Discretionary – Productive (7.3h – 4%)
    • Drawing (5.0h)
    • Emacs (0.3h)
    • Coding (0.8h)
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (1.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (10.3h – 6%)
  • Personal routines (11.2h – 6%)
  • Unpaid work (79.5h – 47%)
    • Childcare (67.9h – 40% of total)
  • Sleep (56.5h – 33% – average of 8.1 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending May 19, 2017

A- had a fever, so we took it easy for a couple of days. It was great to have a digital forehead thermometer that we could use to check her temperature. W- bought it during her last fever. She’s gotten pretty used to it, and will lean in and position her forehead as we bring the thermometer close to her. We checked each other’s temperature so many times that I think we may need to replace the batteries.

As A- cooled down from her fever, the weather warmed up, so we went to the playground for plenty of outside time. I pushed her in the swing for as long as she wanted, and we went up the stairs and down the slides a few times. We also went to the JFRC for their sensory play day. She splashed the water around for a bit and sampled the cereal that was in another bowl, but was far more interested in emptying and refilling my bag.

I took A- to the dentist for a quick examination. The dark spot that I had noticed on her right central incisor had lightened up, but it was a good idea to check anyway. The dentist confirmed that everything was still okay, and that we’re doing pretty much all the right things as well as we can. I asked the dentist about fluoride varnishes and other recommendations from AAPD, and she explained her reasons for minimizing additional fluoride exposure considering the fluoride that A- probably gets in her diet. Makes sense to me. Home care is the main thing. A- is definitely keen on imitating us (brushing teeth, flossing, etc.) and not too keen on us doing things for her, but she’ll let us wipe her teeth and gums with washcloths a few times a day. I hope it’s enough.

A- is quickly picking up other household routines, too. If we pull the dining chair up to the sink, she can stand on it and imitate how we wash dishes. She seems to enjoy the water play. Laundry is fair game, too. Most of our clothes are too unwieldy for her, but the small flannel wipes are just the right size to unfold and shake out, and then I smooth and re-stack them after her interest wanes and she moves on. She has also gotten pretty good at looping a long towel behind her neck and snuggling into it, almost like a boa.

A- continues to practise standing in short bursts on the mattress. Once she stood for a count of 60, which was the longest I’ve seen from her so far. Lots of snuggles and shared time with W- and A- this week, too, including some adorable turn-taking around hugging A-‘s sheep.

I asked Nilda about feeding dynamics. It turns out to be good to wait for A- to agree to sit in her high chair instead of occasionally giving in and letting her snack while sitting on the floor. I’m also feeling more confident about resisting what seems to be A-‘s requests for a snack a short time after a light meal, although I’ll let A- have another bedtime snack if our evening routine stretches out a couple of hours longer than I expected. Nilda also shared some sun safety tips: light long-sleeved shirts and long pants will help keep A- safe from both sun and bugs this summer.

We were planning to host W-‘s family for Mother’s Day. Since we were in a tidying-up mood, I simplified A-‘s play area and the diaper setup in her room, rotating out many of the toys and putting other things closer within reach. The party got cancelled, so W- wrapped most of the steaks and put them in the freezer. More for us, then! I’ve also been able to squeeze in some cooking, including a graveyard shift banchan-making spree.

W- bought a PS Vita Slim and passed his old Vita down to me, so I started playing Trails of Cold Steel. I enjoyed Trails in the Sky, and I’m looking forward to exploring this one’s world. I’ve also made sure to mix in some productive graveyard shift time, including a few chapters of the Week by Week textbook and a bit of reporting for my consulting client. W-‘s been busy, too. He broke up the concrete pad and buried the rubble. Level up!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (1.0h – 0%)
    • Earn (1.0h – 100% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.0h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (5.9h – 3%)
    • Drawing (2.9h)
    • Emacs (0.8h)
    • Writing (0.8h)
  • Discretionary – Play (8.4h – 5%)
  • Personal routines (18.1h – 10%)
  • Unpaid work (83.7h – 49%)
    • Childcare (73.9h – 43% of total)
  • Sleep (51.0h – 30% – average of 7.3 per day)

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

Weekly review: Week ending May 12, 2017

We saw a coyote loping down the middle of our street in broad daylight! Wow. It was surprisingly big in real life. I’ve seen signs in High Park warning people about coyotes, but I’d never seen a coyote until now. (Aside from the one in the ROM, of course.)

Speaking of the ROM, A- got a lot of exercise going up and down the stairs with my help – from the ground floor to the third floor and then all the way back down again. She’s also figured out that going up the steps at the playground will lead to a slide ride down, again with my help. Whee! She’s also been having fun standing up and balancing on the mattress before bedtime, and often pushing off the wall so that she can fall. This seems to delight her, and she does it again and again.

Nilda came again. We flipped through the farm animal books I borrowed from the library, and A- obligingly imitated animal sounds: a quick “babababa” like a chicken and something very close to a “woof” like a dog. She matched up the 3D objects with the illustrations, too. She also did the gestures for “Good Morning Train” and a few stanzas of “Roly Poly” – so much progress!

When we video-chatted with Lolo and Lola, A- showed them what she learned about body parts. On cue, she pointed to her nose, ears, and so on. Lots of pointing at the phone, too, where Lolo pointed to his own nose.

A- has gotten quite interested in smelling things. She discovered that furikake smells interesting, and often asks for it at breakfast.

I bought some more Duplo and a couple of books from the second-hand sale in Bloor West, and Michael McGuffin sent us the beginnings of A-‘s robot army. Whee!

I took A- to my doctor’s appointment. Putting her in a back-carry worked out all right. We got there early, so we had a picnic lunch in the park. She was fascinated by the pigeons.

I forgot my library card and credit card in my pants, and ended up fishing them out of the dryer vent several days later. Fortunately, I already made a checklist of things to do whenever I lose those cards (second time in a few months), so it was easy to update my accounts.

Lots of reading this week, including a print book. I finished reading “How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen” (borrowed as an e-book from the library), and I skimmed the relevant chapters in “Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense” (only available as a print book). I finally got to watch Doctor Strange, and I rewatched Deathly Hallows Part 2.

W- discovered that my seed-starting tray leaked water – fortunately before it messed up the carpet. We swapped it out for one of the roasting pans. I’m so lucky to have such a wonderfully patient and supportive husband who takes a problem-solving approach to things!

I put in a few hours of consulting to fix old data and get a few reports working properly again. I should’ve checked it two weeks ago. I’m still not happy with the manual way I have to hack around an encoding issue, but it will just have to do for now.

W- has been working on demolishing the concrete pad and planning the stairs. It was fun walking around the neighbourhood and looking at people’s stairs and bases. I’ve also been learning a lot about latches, thanks to the latch board that we borrowed from the JFRC. It’s fascinating to see what’s in plain sight!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (3.1h – 1%)
    • Earn (3.1h – 100% of Business)
      • ☑ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
  • Relationships (0.4h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (4.7h – 2%)
    • Drawing (4.0h)
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Writing (0.1h)
  • Discretionary – Play (6.2h – 3%)
  • Personal routines (23.0h – 13%)
  • Unpaid work (75.7h – 45%)
    • Childcare (69.5h – 41% of total)
  • Sleep (54.9h – 32% – average of 7.8 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending May 5, 2017

A- has been working on standing independently. When we’re hanging out on her floor bed in preparation for bedtime, she often stands for a few seconds, grinning widely to much clapping and verbal reinforcement, then sits down. She does the “more” sign to ask me if I want more, to which I sign and say back: “More!” If I don’t display her desired level of enthusiasm, she’ll actually move my hands to do the “more” sign, just like I did when I was teaching her how to make the sign when she was around 6 months old. The things babies remember! (Another fruit from a long-ago seed: she joins me in hiding under a scarf.)

She’s been really keen on walking around with help, even up and down stairs. We checked out the Toronto Association of Parent Educators’ meetup in the Wallace Emerson Community Centre’s gym, and A- liked just walking around and around in that big open space. She also wanted to play with a soccer ball and a tennis ball, since she’d been doing that at home. I took her to the ROM, too. The rotunda staircase has a shallow rise and a longer than normal run, so it was very nice to climb. She made it from the ground floor to the third level, then back down, then all the way back up again. She likes sliding down a slide with my assistance. As for fine motor control, she has mostly gotten the hang of unscrewing bottle caps, and she’s interested in screwing them closed too.

We continue to work on animal sounds and other language abilities. No moos or meows yet, but she says “ba” to ask for bubbles, so that’s a start.

So much progress in terms of cognition. She points at lots of things, including the flowers she noticed during one of our afternoon walks. She peeled a mandarin orange, biting the skin to create the first break and then peeling the rest off with her fingers. She put her dishes away in the dishwasher to signal that she was all done with the meal. She wanted to carry my backpack, put the electric toothbrush together, and chase and be chased (while being carried). She’s learning how to respect mealtimes, or at least let us finish even if she’s not hungry. She peeks under scarves when we’re playing peekaboo, and she’ll join us in hiding.

I’ve been learning a lot, too. We went to the ROM to check out the Family Camera exhibit, and I got to chat with one of the curators (turns out she’s married to one of the OEYC facilitators). A- and I wandered around the dinosaur gallery, too, as I’ve been learning more about dinosaurs so that I can name the different models included in the toy collection. Likewise, I learned about latches because of the latch board we borrowed for A-. I had some time to stir-fry vegetables, bake coconut macaroons, and keep our carrot muffin pipeline flowing.

I read a few books about early childhood education, too. Quick notes:

  • Theories of Childhood: follow up on Erikson and Vygotsky
  • The Importance of Being Little: weaknesses of our current school systems
  • The Reflective Parent: mind-mindedness, reflective practice
  • Montessori Today: interesting details on the Great Stories, elementary education

I’ve been doing most of my reading on a phone, and I take screenshots of things I’d like to think about further. I’d like to improve my process for following up on those, though. I’ll start by sketching quick index cards to summarize the key points before moving on to new books, so at least the notes are part of my Zettelkasten.

W- continues to work on the porch. Much to do and much to learn!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (2.5h – 1%)
    • Earn (2.3h – 91% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Connect (0.2h – 8% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.8h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (5.0h – 2%)
    • Drawing (3.7h)
    • Emacs (0.7h)
    • Sewing (0.3h)
  • Discretionary – Play (4.2h – 2%)
  • Personal routines (18.5h – 11%)
  • Unpaid work (76.7h – 45%)
    • Childcare (66.2h – 39% of total)
  • Sleep (60.2h – 35% – average of 8.6 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending April 28, 2017

So far, only the radishes have germinated. That’s okay, we’re keeping our expectations low. A- and I have fun in the garden whether or not things are growing. There’s always dirt to trowel and water to pour.

We finished the parent advocacy workshop and the early literacy workshop this week. The last session of the parent advocacy workshop was a scenario-based review of community resources, assertive communication, relationship building, and flexible thinking. A- and I were the only ones who attended the early literacy workshop, so we got to pick the specialist’s brains for two hours. This time, I asked about how he has changed over the 25 years he’s been working in the field, his experiences with the school system, and emerging research.

I got a few tips on encouraging A- to walk, talk, and make animal sounds from our family home visitor. She also recommended reaching out to Early Abilities for a possible speech concern, since they have a long waitlist. I’m not too worried yet. A- is great at letting us know what she wants through gestures, and she seems to be focusing on fine and gross motor skills at the moment. Still, early intervention is more effective than catching things late, so we’ll look into it. She tends to be cautious, so that might play into it too.

A- does, however, warm up with repeated exposure. After a few days of me wiping my teeth with the xylitol wipes, she’s now okay with having her teeth wiped by them too. I also experimented with a recipe for xylitol mints for me. They’re a bit sweet, but they’re not bad for a first try.

Also, speaking of letting me know what she wants, A- occasionally rolls me off the floor bed. She also sometimes signs for water and then takes advantage of the opportunity to dive for my pillow as soon as I turn to get her the water she asked for. Hilarious. We’re having more fun with social games now: peek-a-boo, tickling, etc. When we went to High Park to see the cherry blossoms, we bumped into another family from the JFRC. A- enjoyed sharing snacks with them and imitating the 3-year-old as she tossed pinecones down the hill.

I made carrot muffins for the JFRC potluck, yay! I left midway to go to the ROM, where I pointed at various animals and named them. I checked out their Philippine collection, too, and the statues from Greece and Rome. We also went to Chinatown to stock up on salted black beans for W-‘s favourite bitter melon dish.

Other things: I ordered a textbook on observation in early childhood education. Might be interesting. I prepared W- and J-‘s taxes, and I hung out in #emacs helping people while putting together Emacs News. W- took apart the porch – construction season begins!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (2.2h – 1%)
    • Earn (1.0h – 44% of Business)
      • ☑ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (1.2h – 55% of Business)
      • ☐ Prepare invoice
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (3.1h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (8.2h – 4%)
    • Drawing (2.2h)
    • Emacs (1.7h)
  • Discretionary – Play (6.9h – 4%)
  • Personal routines (23.3h – 13%)
  • Unpaid work (67.6h – 40%)
    • Childcare (54.8h – 32% of total)
  • Sleep (56.7h – 33% – average of 8.1 per day)