Category Archives: review

Weekly review: Week ending April 7, 2017

My copy of Clinical Ocular Prosthetics arrived. I made an index card of the chapter on practical living tips. It covers mostly the same ground as A Singular View, with the addition of some tips on cleaning the prosthesis and selecting glasses. The illustrations aren’t as nice as the other book, though. I also read the chapter on psychosocial effects and checked out the pictures and profiles included in the book. Looks like it’s a bit of a toss-up: some people can pass off as normal or embrace their situation with a sense of humour, and other people were badly affected by bullying and low self-esteem. I look forward to digging into the more technical chapters.

After some discussion with W-, I’ve signed up for the toddler music classes offered by the Royal Conservatory of Music. I hadn’t been too keen on the other music classes advertised on posters around our neighbourhood, since I wasn’t sure how much value they added beyond the circle times we often go to, playing with music at home, and singing. The RCM classes are part of ongoing research into the neuroscience of early childhood music education, though, so I’m more interested in that than in, say, a franchised program that might be mostly run out of a manual. Rhythm, enjoyment, and ear training seem to be among the things that benefit from early attention, so we’ll give the classes a try.

A- woke up early on Wednesday, so we made it out to the PFLC in the morning. It was so busy, though, and she didn’t relax enough to venture forth. I guess we’re both a little slow to warm up. She felt more comfortable at the JFRC. We went to an early literacy workshop conducted by Dave Page. It was a small group – four babies – and she was the oldest baby there. She was totally fine crawling around, playing with toys, flipping through books, asking for more bubbles, and so on. We chatted about child development and I picked up a few new songs.

Neat language development of the week: A- fake-snores to signal that she’s tired or when she’s prompted by us talking about sleep or bedtime.

Lots of gross motor development, too. She’s been working on standing independently, and can do so for a few seconds if you set her on her feet. She had lots of fun walking on grass, and she even climbed up an inclined mattress. She walked up the stairs with us holding her hands for support.

She likes splashing her feet in the sink and pouring water from one container to another. She leans in to hug her stuffed lamb or our cat. She likes sprinkling herbs and salt when we cook, but don’t ask her to sprinkle cheese on pizza, because she’ll eat it instead.

We went to the ROM and caught the Gems and Gold tour. We also checked out the gallery of Canadian history, which had a section on the Franklin expedition. Their collection of early Canadian furniture was interesting, too. There were a few people walking around while singing – members of a choir on a school field trip, maybe – so it was an unexpectedly wonderful experience.

W- started cleaning up the garden. He disassembled the cage we used to protect the tomatoes and strawberries from squirrels. First step towards making the garden more toddler-friendly!

Lots of posts on my blog, since I took the time to publish a few drafts I had on my phone. A bit of ledger updating too, and time for a few movies.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (3.2h – 1%)
    • Earn (2.5h – 79% of Business)
      • ☑ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.6h – 20% of Business)
      • ☑ [#A] Prepare invoice – State “DONE” from “TODO” [2017-03-01 Wed 02:16]
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.0h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (7.1h – 4%)
    • Drawing (2.6h)
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Writing (1.4h)
  • Discretionary – Play (0.8h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (16.0h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (78.9h – 46%)
    • Childcare (70.1h – 41% of total)
  • Sleep (62.0h – 36% – average of 8.9 per day)

Monthly review: March 2017

W- has been back at work for a little over a month, and we’ve settled into comfortable routines. I focus on A- during the day, and we reconnect with W- when he gets home. After a bit of playtime, we settle down for her afternoon nap. He makes dinner or pulls it out of the fridge, we eat together, and I clean up while he plays with A-. Then we have some more play time before we give A- her evening snack and do our bedtime routines. W- sleeps early so that he can get to work before the morning rush, and I stay up late so that I can have some discretionary time for my own things.

We found out that A- has enamel hypoplasia, so brushing her teeth is a regular part of our routines. I took her to get a new conformer for her eye, and we scheduled the follow-up exams for her liver and heart in August. I didn’t hear back about her blood test results, so I guess her iron levels are fine. I ordered a textbook on ocular prosthetics, too, and I’m excited to read all the medical details. We saw someone from Surrey Place who reassured me that A- will probably be totally all right with monocular vision. Our Healthy Babies Healthy Children nurse went through the 12-month developmental checklists, and our home visitor gave us tips for language development.

In addition to A-‘s health-related appointments, we’ve been filling our days with various parenting workshops and early years drop-ins. I picked up a few tips on school accommodations and visual routines from the Let’s Get Started series, and I’ve also been enjoying the parent advocacy workshop. We’ve been regularly going to the Junction Family Resource Centre and the Parenting and Family Literacy Centre, and we made it out to the JFRC’s sensory play day too. I took A- to the High Park zoo, and we’ve started a new habit of going to the Royal Ontario Museum. (Sometimes with other people!) I find spending time with her to be surprisingly enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to helping her learn.

A- has been learning a lot about language. She added more variety to her babbling: nai, ha, pa, da, and ga. She now recognizes words for a few body parts (head, knees, toes, belly button), mittens, socks, and “all done.”

She’s also been working on her motor skills. She can crawl up and down stairs with supervision, although she usually needs a reminder to go down legs first instead of taking the direct approach. She likes practising taking off and putting on jackets, socks, and mittens with help. She’s interested in chopsticks, spoons, forks, whisks, and measuring cups. She eats crackers and bits of bagels. She pushes toys along while crawling. She can usually connect 2×2 pieces of Duplo if they’re facing the right way. She enjoys sprinkling rock salt and herbs on things we’re cooking.

It’s a lot of fun spending time with A-, and I’ve been thinking about how to share that experience with my parents. After lots of planning, we decided it’s best to hold off on flying to the Philippines until W- can come along. In the meantime, we’ve been doing video chats. She’s still getting used to their faces and voices, but it’s a good first step.

Speaking of family, I took some time to make a GEDCOM export of A-‘s family tree, taking advantage of the data entered by my mom and by W-. Might be interesting for her later, so it’s good to have a personal copy instead of relying on a web service to continue. I also set up Owncloud and borgbackup to improve my backup routines, and I finally set up a VM that makes it easy to confirm if my blog backups work. (They do. Whew!)

Lots of baking this month: a few iterations of roast potatoes, blondies, muffins, and cabbage rolls. We got the roast potatoes down pat, but there seems to be some variability in the quality of russet potatoes we get, so we’re looking into that too.

The new routines have been working out pretty well for discretionary time. I’ve been focusing on small improvements and personal tasks instead of increasing my consulting workload. The backups I mentioned above had been on my list a long time! I also did preliminary tax prep, although we’re still waiting for J- to do her numbers so that she can transfer tuition tax credits to W-. I sorted out my Ledger, learned the new features in ledger-mode, and added net worth and stock allocation reports. In the process, I discovered an unpaid invoice and got payment, yay! In terms of consulting, I deployed some code to add priorities and categorization, and I helped with an add-on that I’ve turned over to the other team. I even had time to watch a couple of movies.

If the rest of the year is much like this month, I think it’ll be pretty good! :)

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Feb March Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work – Childcare 41.0 44.3 3.3 82.2 5.5
Unpaid work 48.3 50.6 2.3 94.0 3.9
Discretionary – Productive 2.2 3.2 1.1 6.0 1.8
Discretionary – Social 0.3 0.6 0.4 1.2 0.6
Business – Build 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.1
Business – Connect 0.0 0.0 -0.0 0.0 -0.0
Business – Earn 0.9 0.8 -0.0 1.6 -0.1
Discretionary – Play 1.0 0.8 -0.2 1.6 -0.3
Discretionary – Family 1.5 0.5 -1.0 1.0 -1.6
Personal 9.9 8.7 -1.2 16.2 -2.0
Sleep 35.9 34.3 -1.6 63.7 -2.7

Weekly review: Week ending March 31, 2017

A- got a new conformer (the ocular prosthesis that supports the bones around her eye socket so that her skull can grow more symmetrically). This one is taller, although it doesn’t keep her eyelids as open as the previous one did. We’re still going with a plain conformer instead of a painted shell, even if it draws more questions from strangers. (“What’s wrong with her eye?”) The conformers are much cheaper to replace than a painted shell, so we don’t feel like we need to hover over A- or turn places upside down in case of loss. Our ocularist shaped the conformer with a ridge to help it stay in the eye, since the regular shell shape kept slipping out. And hey, if someone recognizes it as a conformer for microphthalmia and strikes up a conversation with us, that’s awesome. Microphthalmia affects about 1 in 10,000, and I’ve already met a few people with this condition or who have a family member with this condition. Yay connecting!

I’m curious about the science and technology behind this whole process, so I ordered the Clinical Ocular Prosthetics textbook when it was 50% off last Monday. Springer was having technical issues with their shopping cart, so I had to contact customer service to get two failed Paypal transactions sorted out. Anyway, the textbook should be here in one or two weeks. I look forward to working through it and sharing my notes.

I decided to get a membership to the Royal Ontario Museum, and we went three times last week. We also went to the High Park zoo. The capybaras were not in their paddock due to weather conditions, so we didn’t get to see the new pups. There was a lamb, though!

Spending time with A- has been surprisingly enjoyable. We’re both learning so much, and we haven’t even reached the walking or talking stages. I expect her learning to really take off once she gets the hang of those things. Sure, she’ll become more of a handful as she grows more independent and tests her boundaries, but that might be a good opportunity to test all the things I’ve been learning from books about parenting, communication, philosophy, and hostage negotiations. ;)

I’m curious about what the possibilities might be if we’re still in a position to have a stay-at-home parent when she’s old enough for school. I have a generally positive feeling about public school here. J- did fine with a bit of help with homework and study groups. Still, I wonder what education could be like with individualized attention and things that don’t scale. I have a few years to explore our options before junior and senior kindergarten, which are optional in Toronto anyway. The things I’ve researched make me fairly optimistic about the possibilities in general, so it’s really a matter of the specifics. We’ll see.

Part of that preparation is learning how to work with existing systems, so that’s where the parent advocacy workshop comes in. We discussed I statements this week, and we’ll be talking about the school system next week. The social worker conducting the program has a lot of experience with families who homeschool their kids, so I’ve asked for more information on that too.

A- did all right on the 12-month checklists assessed by Lisa, our Healthy Children Healthy Babies nurse. Lisa also complimented us on our feeding relationship when she did the NCAST feeding scale.

Another milestone: A- can connect 2×2 Duplo pieces together much of the time! She sometimes needs a little help orienting the pieces, but still… Way cool! A- also assembles, pushes down on, and takes apart the salad spinner, especially if there are pieces of nori in it. She loves sprinkling herbs and salt. She sways from side to side when I sing certain songs, babbles with “da” and “ga” sounds, and strums her lips all on her own. So many fun things.

W- made sure we had plenty of yummy food in the fridge. This week worked out really well: shepherd’s pie, cabbage rolls, buckwheat noodles with banchan, pizza, congee, and instant noodles. The blondies were not as awesome as last week’s blondies, so I could use more practice.

We had time to go on a long walk with W-, and I even had a little time to catch up on movies. Over the course of several late nights, I watched Star Trek Beyond, Ghostbusters, and X-Men: Apocalypse. Yay!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (2.1h – 1%)
    • Earn (1.8h – 87% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.3h – 12% of Business)
      • ☑ Prepare invoice
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (3.0h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (2.0h – 1%)
    • Drawing (1.3h)
    • Emacs (0.7h)
    • ☑ Follow up on Paypal and Springer
  • Discretionary – Play (4.5h – 2%)
  • Personal routines (18.4h – 10%)
  • Unpaid work (80.4h – 47%)
    • Childcare (64.2h – 38% of total)
  • Sleep (57.6h – 34% – average of 8.2 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending March 24, 2017

The last session of the Let’s Get Started series focused on sensory processing disorders. Since no one was particularly concerned about that yet, we took the opportunity to ask questions about early detection and intervention, school accommodations, and parent advocacy. I feel reasonably good about the systems for education and public health here, but it’s always good to know what we can do to make things better and what options we can explore. I’d like us to be able to make good decisions about A-‘s growth, so in addition to learning how to work with the public school system, I’m also looking into homeschooling. Looking forward to helping A- get whatever she needs!

The parent advocacy workshop session focused on assertive communication. It got me thinking about what I want to learn from the workshop and how I want to approach the upcoming challenges and opportunities.

I took A- to the sensory play day at the Junction Family Resource Centre. She spent most of the time close to me, occasionally venturing forth to play with water, jelly, and cereal. She seems to be more reserved than the other babies, preferring to observe and to be a little apart from the crowd. I understand what that’s like, and I’m totally okay with it. At home, she babbles happily while hammering pegs, stacking cans, and crawling around. Maybe it’s familiarity, maybe it’s the quiet… We’ll figure out how to play to her strengths while mixing in exposure to new things. She’s growing to be nicely resilient, too, recovering quickly from upsets or surprises.

I’ve been thinking about taking her on little field trips so that she can see things and learn words. She’s been picking up new vocabulary pretty quickly, responding to words like “head”, “knees”, and “brush” with the appropriate gestures. I think it would be good to get into a weekly habit of going to places like the Riverdale Farm and the Royal Ontario Museum so that we can point to things and learn even more words. She’s a bit young, but it’s as good a time as any to start that routine. If I spring for the ROM membership that includes the ability to invite guests, it might even be an impetus to be more social.

Speaking of being social, we went to the Parenting and Family Literacy Centre. A- was a little sleepy and mostly clung to me. I chatted with some of the other folks there about gardening, food, and other shared interests.

Nilda visited us again this week, and she gave us tips for language development: labeling things in books and seeing if A- will point to them, repeating nursery songs and rhymes, and making animal sounds while showing the animal.

My de Quervain’s was bad this week, so it was hard to type or draw. I used my discretionary time to bake muffins and blondies instead. I also managed to sew a quick wet bag, woohoo!

One of our weekday evenings was more frazzled than usual. I didn’t even realize how tired and hungry I was until I flubbed the recipe I was trying to help with. Fortunately, W- rescued the cabbage rolls and it all worked out. I’m much more comfortable when the fridge is well stocked, so I’ll spend the time on weekends to do so.

I still managed to do some consulting, though. I deployed some code for categories and prioritization, and people are already happily using it. Yay!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (0.9h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.9h – 90% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.1h – 9% of Business)
      • ☑ Follow up on amended corporate tax return
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.0h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (2.4h – 1%)
    • Drawing (1.4h)
    • Emacs (0.5h)
    • Sewing (0.3h)
    • Writing (0.2h)
  • Discretionary – Play (1.7h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (16.3h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (85.6h – 50%)
    • Childcare (74.8h – 44% of total)
  • Sleep (61.0h – 36% – average of 8.7 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending March 17, 2017

The ocularist let us postpone our appointment due to scary weather forecasts. It’s a good thing A- stayed home, actually, as she ended up dealing with a stomach bug all week. We stayed home from everything – workshop, play date, early years centres. She stayed pretty energetic and hydrated, so we weren’t particularly worried, but it’s good to keep other people from getting sick. Anyway, she’s all better now!

She’s doing surprisingly well at drinking water out of a two-handled open cup. We didn’t even have to buy anything new, since the snack cup works perfectly fine for this purpose. We pour just a little water for her each time, since she still likes pouring everything out after each sip. She likes crackers and will also give bagels and pizza crusts a try. She likes noodles, and is interested in chopsticks and forks. W- regularly takes her on tours of the spice cabinet and the pantry.

She’s been practising her “ha” and “pa” sounds. She also seems to recognize the words “head”, “knees”, “toes”, and “all done”, and responds with the appropriate gestures. She knows socks are associated with feet (although sometimes she wants to try them as mittens).

She often wants me to help her put on or take off jackets, mittens, or socks, and she also asks me to put on or take off socks. She started pushing toys along while crawling, too.

Lindsay from Surrey Place came and answered some questions I had about monocular vision and any available resources. She has worked with a number of people with microphthalmia, but the people who have good vision in their other eye typically adapt well and don’t need their services. I guess I’ll just have to connect with people through conferences and Facebook groups.

We were on a baking sprint: roasting up a series of practically perfect russet potatoes, trying a different pizza stretching technique, and making blondies and baby biscotti for the first time. We had fun watching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, too.

After lots of trip planning, we decided to postpone going to the Philippines until W- can also go, unless there’s an emergency. I’ve been trying to make up for it with lots more video chats, although of course it’s not the same. It’ll probably be easier to travel when A- is more independent. In the meantime, life is full of tough choices.

The week was mostly focused on A- and my family, but I had a little time to help with the code I turned over to my consulting client. Still prioritizing our tasks over increasing my consulting, but it’s nice to be able to provide value even with a little time here and there.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (1.9h – 1%)
    • Earn (1.7h – 89% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.2h – 10% of Business)
      • ☑ Follow up on amended corporate tax return
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (2.9h – 1%)
    • ☑ Update A-‘s ledger
  • Discretionary – Productive (5.9h – 3%)
    • Drawing (1.6h)
    • Emacs (0.7h)
    • Coding (1.3h)
    • Writing (1.3h)
  • Discretionary – Play (0.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (13.9h – 8%)
  • Unpaid work (97.7h – 58%)
    • Childcare (92.5h – 55% of total)
  • Sleep (67.5h – 40% – average of 9.6 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending March 10, 2017

Following up on last week’s recommendation to go see a dentist for A-, I took A- to her first dentist appointment. It turns out that she has enamel hypoplasia, a developmental defect that results in incomplete enamel. It’s associated with a higher risk of cavities, so we’ll be extra careful about brushing her teeth and minimizing sweets. It may or may not affect her permanent teeth. We’ll see. Anyway, it’s just something to deal with.

The first session of the parent advocacy workshop was an overview of the 6-week series, definitions of advocacy, and group sharing. It got me thinking about what A- could learn from how I advocate for her. I don’t know what kinds of accommodations we might need, but I hope to be able to take a collaborative approach to continuous improvement. I’d love it if A- absorbed the message “We’re all different, and it’s good to adapt our environment to reduce barriers and help us” rather than “I have to be treated specially because of my limits”. I’m still going to tap all the resources I can, but that’s because I like learning. :)

The Let’s Get Started session focused on visual routines, and I posted a few notes on that and previous sessions. I’ve been making an effort to use more visual props when talking to A- or transitioning between activities: a diaper, the potty, her high chair, the sleep sack…

We’ve been working on pointing, too, as I realized we hadn’t emphasized that and it’s usually a 12-month milestone. She’s starting to get the hang of it, gesturing towards things she’s interested in and sometimes even sort of pointing with a finger.

A- practised crawling up and down the carpeted stairs to the second floor. She sometimes needs a reminder at the top of the staircase to go down legs-first, but is otherwise surprisingly capable. We decided to skip installing baby gates for now since I’m with her, and she seems to like having stair practice time. She works so hard!

We went to the Junction Family Resource Centre and the Parenting and Family Literacy Centre. A- is getting better at playing independently. I had a bit of time to chat with the facilitators and the other parents, and even to flip through the red flags guide by the City of Toronto.

A- figured out a new sound (“Nai”) and seemed to recognize the words “crumple” and “cat”.

I did a little consulting, too. I added a categorization feature, wrote a tutorial, and helped transfer some more of my code.

I replaced my credit card and reactivated my library card, so that’s all sorted out now. I also updated my Ledger to correctly tally up my investments, explored tools for converting bank data, and created a net worth summary report. I needed the investment records in order to double-check the book value for my taxes, which I started preparing in a VM. I also set up incremental backups with borgbackup and a VM for testing my blog backups, yay!

It’s great to have focused time for process improvement. Looking forward to more tweaking!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (1.0h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.9h – 93% of Business)
    • Build (0.1h – 6% of Business)
  • Relationships (1.5h – 0%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (11.4h – 6%)
    • Drawing (1.5h)
    • Emacs (0.8h)
      • ☑ [#A] Do another Emacs News review
      • ☐ [#A] Do another Emacs News review
    • Coding (3.2h)
      • ☑ Set up WordPress inside a VM
    • Tracking
      • ☑ Add prices
      • ☑ Report in nwi-style
      • ☑ Fix locked in RRSP
      • ☑ Try out Studiotax in a VM
      • ☑ Pivot my accounts for easier balance checking
      • ☑ Update TFSA
      • ☑ Fix GIC balance
      • ☑ Set up combined ledger
      • ☑ Update A-‘s ledger
    • Writing (0.3h)
  • Discretionary – Play (0.1h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (12.9h – 7%)
  • Unpaid work (87.4h – 52%)
    • Childcare (76.2h – 45% of total)
  • Sleep (53.7h – 31% – average of 7.7 per day)