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)

Weekly review: Week ending November 3, 2017

For Halloween, we dressed up in construction-related costumes. A- wore flannels, overalls, and the high-vis vest I made her, and she even wore her toy hard hat for a while. I wore the bulldozer hat that I made out of cardboard, and W- wore his university hard hat suitably gore-ified with red tempera. We handed out chocolate, crayons, or stickers to hundreds of kids over about an hour and a half, with special loot bags (including full-size chocolate) for people we knew and kids with particularly nice costumes.

A- showed renewed interest in nesting cups and popping bubbles. She also showed a new interest in going in and out of a play tent, and she seems to have gotten over her fear of mittens – she even pretended to use one. Still doesn’t like dolls, though, as I saw when we went to the JFRC for the Halloween potluck and to the OEYC to ask for tips.

It’s amazing how much A- has absorbed from the books we’ve read again and again. I can ask her to turn to a page with a specified object. If I pause while reading, she often fills in significant words.

A- is picking up a sense of what belongs where. When we came inside after Halloween, she took off her shoes and carried them down to the workshop in the basement, since they’re the shoes she wears when she goes in there. She also moves things if they’re piled in the wrong place, and she likes pointing to drawers to refer to what’s in them. I’d like to be more thoughtful about what we have in our house and how it’s organized, because this is what she’ll get used to. She’s used to processes, too: she got my library card and wanted to check out a book by herself.

We checked out the pool at the Annette Community Recreation Centre. No toddler pool and no steps, but the water was warm and there were lots of water toys.

It’s getting pretty cool, so I splurged on wool fabric to turn into a blanket for A-, and a couple of merino wool sweaters to turn into pants for her. I’ll try to set aside one day a week for crafting. It’s an investment of time and money into potentially interesting skills.

The Make the Connection parenting workshop session this week was a combination of two topics: conversations and sharing. At this stage, it’s okay for me to focus more on comments than questions, and to help resolve conflicts with distraction, intervention, and modeling. When we went to the science centre with Jen and E-, it was great to see A- and E- take turns with the wheel.

Other quick updates:

  • I had lunch with Aaron and Bernie. Among other things, we chatted about art education, math, reading, and school. A- sampled my salad and kept herself generally occupied.
  • I did some consulting this week, too: backing up the schema and running our update script.
  • I’ve been reading more about estate planning on both the Canadian and Philippine sides. It’s complex, but we’ll figure this out.
  • W- finished cutting stringers for the porch stairs. Awesome!

Next week: winding up the Make the Connection workshop, more consulting, and maybe some work on business taxes.

Focus areas and time review

  • A- (Childcare) (66.3h – 39% of total)
  • Business (3.4h – 2%)
    • Earn (2.7h – 78% of Business)
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.7h – 21% of Business)
      • ☑ Prepare invoice
      • ☐ Write shareholder’s resolutions
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (7.5h – 4%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (1.3h – 0%)
    • Drawing (0.0h)
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Coding (0.5h)
  • Discretionary – Play (1.6h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (16.1h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (16.9h – 10%)
  • Sleep (55.0h – 32% – average of 7.9 per day)

2017-11-06 Emacs news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

2017-10-30 Emacs news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Weekly review: Week ending 2017-10-27

Because A- has been interested in a book about animal noises, we went to Riverdale Farm so that she could see farm animals in person. It was busy because of a Halloween event, but the barns were manageable. A- liked looking at the chickens and ducks.

We went to the ROM with Jen and E-. The coat check person still recognized us even though we’d been focusing on the science centre for the past few months. The kids had lots of fun pushing door buttons, swapping food in the lunch room, walking, running, and jumping in the hallways, although there weren’t as many things to interact with at the ROM as there are at the science centre. Still, it’s a good place to walk around indoors. A- wanted to push the stroller, so Jen helped her. I accompanied E- while he checked out the automatic doors.

When we went to the science centre this week, A- spent quite a fair bit of time dropping my cards through the slats in the bench. She also played with all her usual favourites: the water table, the ball maze, and the pretend supermarket.

We passed by the Children’s Book Bank before the Make the Connection parenting workshop at the Parliament Library. I was delighted to find toddler-oriented versions of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma” in a series called “Cozy Classics”, so I snapped those up.

Last week’s parenting workshop focused on language. We’ve been doing a good job at labeling things with simple, clear words, and A- has about 140 words that she regularly uses. I’m going to work on remembering to keep adding more advanced words as she uses words correctly.

At the library, A- liked checking out books by herself. She brought the books to the express checkout, climbed up on the step stool with some help, put my library card under the scanner (with a little help), put the book on the pad, tapped the right buttons on the screen, and put the book in my backpack.

One of the books that she loves reading is “Into My Mother’s Arms.” She’s gotten really good at pointing out things in the background when we ask her to: the shopping cart, the watch, the swing… She even labels some of them out loud, like the way we’ve been doing while reading.

She gestures along with me for songs like “The Grand Old Duke of York” and “Three Little Monkeys Juming on the Bed,” and she even chimes in with the words she knows.

I learned a new song at music class: “Down by the Station.” Also, she’s starting to warm up to music class again. She shook the shakers and waved the scarf around during the dance activity, yay! I picked up another song that’s season-appropriate, too: “Down, down, yellow and brown, the leaves are falling all over town.”

A- likes riding in the laundry basket. She can now climb into the laundry basket all by herself.

I don’t have to worry about reminding A- to go to bed. There were a couple of times last week when A- initiated our bedtime routine (bath, brush teeth, story, bed) all on her own.

Speaking of routines: I brought blueberries as a snack, and she asked for a spoon. She’s getting the hang of things.

She’s getting better at rinsing and spitting. One time, she started shaking her head after dinner, and she shook her head all the way up the stairs. It turned out that she had taken in some water and was rinsing her mouth, and she spit out the water after I lifted her up to the bathroom sink.

I checked out Once Upon a Child, a consignment store. Value Village is closer and easier to browse, though, so we’ll probably do most of our thrifting there. I’ve also checked out Salvation Army and other thrift stores in the past, but Value Village seems to have the biggest selection even though the prices are a little bit higher.

I cooked risotto for the first time. It was a lot of stirring, but it was an interesting texture to add to our food vocabulary.

I sewed a yellow vest with reflective ribbons for A-‘s Halloween costume. I made a cardboard bulldozer to wear as a hat for mine. W- helped me hot-glue and paint it. It was much easier to work on the workbench than on the floor. Good height, and I didn’t have to shoo away cats or worry about leaving things around that curious toddlers might get into.

My brother-in-law’s dad passed away. We sent our condolences, and Kathy helped us send flowers to the wake.

Our sleep and routines have finally settled down enough for me to carve out time to do Emacs News. Yay!

Turning 34; life as a 33-year-old

What a difference a year makes! In August 2016, we were just beginning to emerge from the tangle of diagnostic exams and new medical terms, trying to figure out what we needed to deal with. By August 2017, A- was walking, talking, interacting, and cheerfully developing on track, which was a great relief.

I’ve finally cleared some time to do my annual review, so here goes!

What happened this year?

We made the most of W-‘s parental leave with plenty of time together, a three-week trip to the Philippines to visit my family, and lots of home improvement (workshop, wardrobe, and part of a porch rebuild). After he went back to work, we established new routines which seem to be working quite well.

I checked out lots of parenting resources and workshops, consulted various agencies for help with assessing and monitoring A-‘s development, and gave myself a crash course in early childhood education. We’ve been making good use of our membership at the Royal Ontario Museum, and I’ve been singing lots of songs we picked up from circle times and toddler classes. I’m pleasantly surprised at how fun it is to learn about all sorts of stuff.

As we settled into regular routines, I reclaimed some discretionary time. It turns out that I can usually get an hour of discretionary time at night, if I stay up after A- has gone to bed. That’s been handy for updating my journal, doing some consulting (mostly SQL and a little prototyping), posting Emacs News summaries, and learning more.

What did I learn?

There were a few big uncertainties this year.

  • What were the parameters we need to work with in terms of A-? Microphthalmia means regular trips to the ocularist and ophthalmologist, prostheses, and some adaptation in terms of vision and socialization. Her ventricular septal defect seems to have no impact on her growth, and just needs routine monitoring to check on the right ventricle muscle bundles. The liver hemangioma also needs routine monitoring. Enamel hypoplasia means being more careful about cleaning her teeth, with possible dental work later. She doesn’t seem to have any developmental delays. Also, she’s pretty darn awesome!
  • Will I be able to adapt to stay-at-home parenting? This worked out surprisingly well, and I’m glad we structured our lives this way. I find it interesting, and I’m learning a lot. I’ve scaled down consulting because of time constraints and brain fuzziness, but that’s still okay. It’s been super-helpful to be able to adapt to A-‘s sleep schedule and interests.
  • How do we want to parent? I resonate with ideas from attachment parenting, Montessori education, and a few other parenting philosophies. I’ve been pretty good at staying calm and managing the usual new-parent anxiety. I’m learning more about early childhood education and child development.
  • What’s worth spending time and money on, and what can I postpone or avoid? Journaling has been very much worth it. Compiling Emacs News doesn’t take much time, and it’s been useful too. I can do enough consulting to keep my clients happy. Reading and improvement time pay off, too. I’ve also been able to do personal coding (mostly Quantified Awesome) and a tiny bit of sewing, but those are harder.We’ve been pretty frugal in terms of baby-related stuff, and keeping things simple has worked well for us. I started using the opportunity fund for A- – not because I think this will result in a prodigy, but because it’s enjoyable and good to explore all sorts of things together.
  • What are the health challenges facing my family, and how can we support them? It was a tough year for my parents and my sister, and they’re not out of the woods yet. I can’t help much with the day-to-day stuff over the distance, but I can check in with them over Facebook, listen, share stories, let them interact with A-, help with research, and respect their decisions.
  • What will it be like to take A- to the Philippines? Both A- and I got overtired on the flights during our first trip, so it really helped that W- was there. It was great being able to share the load with him on the ground, too. Nice spending time with family and friends!

A few questions I’ll explore this year:

  • How can we make the most of A-‘s preschool years? I think this year will be mostly about helping A- learn self-care and household skills. The more she can do by herself, the more capable she’ll feel, and the less frustration she’ll have to deal with.Independent classes tend to start around 3 years old, so I have a little over a year of participating in classes together. Music classes and a museum membership have been a good fit for us, and I’d like to ramp up physical activity and add a membership to the science centre. (Oct 2017: The science centre has been worth it for us. We’re there practically every week!)
  • How can I support W- as he takes on larger projects? Taking care of A- lets me free up time for W- to work on the porch, and reading about stuff helps me chat with him about the work he’s doing.
  • What does my family need? We’re keeping some of W-‘s vacation time in reserve for another trip to the Philippines. I’m also chatting with them more, since A- responds to Facebook video chats. (Oct 2017: A- and I traveled by ourselves to the Philippines to spend a few weeks with my family. Doing an overnight layover made things a lot easier to manage. It was great to spend time with family. I started looking into paperwork, too.)

How have I changed?

Compared to last year, I’m more confident about parenting. I use general areas of child development to guide my observation and planning so that I can offer A- a variety of options, and then we follow her interests from there. As I expected, parenting is the sort of thing that gets more fascinating if I geek out about it.

I haven’t been able to code much, since I’ve been prioritizing sleep and my journal. I feel less articulate – like my brain occasionally gets a little tangled – but maybe that’s just because I’m more aware of speaking, or maybe that’s sleep deprivation. It’ll probably sort itself out over time.

I feel reassured by the way we’re dealing with things. It’s nice to be able to test Stoic philosophy and find that it works well for me.

How did I spend my time, and how do I feel about that?

Category % 32 years % 33 years Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
A- – Childcare 14.9 39.2 24.4 65.7 41.0
Business – Build 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.8 0.2
Discretionary – Social 0.9 1.1 0.1 1.8 0.2
Business – Connect 0.7 0.1 -0.6 0.1 -1.0
Unpaid work 7.5 6.8 -0.7 11.3 -1.2
Discretionary – Family 3.0 1.4 -1.6 2.4 -2.7
Sleep 37.4 34.0 -3.4 56.9 -5.7
Business – Earn 4.5 1.2 -3.4 1.9 -5.7
Discretionary – Play 5.7 1.5 -4.2 2.5 -7.0
Personal 15.4 10.4 -5.0 17.4 -8.4
Discretionary – Productive 9.7 3.6 -6.1 6.0 -10.3

Childcare went way up, of course, since I had a kiddo for 100% of my life as a 33-year-old and 50% of my life as a 32-year-old. That took time away from pretty much everything else, but I’m okay with that. I’ve worked out a sleep pattern that usually lets me feel pretty rested: try not to stay up more than two hours longer than A- does, and nap when I can.

An hour or two of discretionary time isn’t quite enough to get deep into code. Fortunately, my consulting clients are super-flexible, and we can pick tasks that fit with the constraints on my time and concentration.

What is a typical day like?

We usually wake up when A- feels like waking up, which is around 11 AM or so. Some days, I set an alarm and wake up earlier so that I can take care of things or gently nudge A- towards being awake. After a relaxed breakfast, we head out for appointments, errands, or informal field trips. We might have lunch outside or at home, depending on the timing. A- usually naps in the carrier at some point. When we get home, we have an afternoon snack, tidy up, and play some more. We reconnect with W- when he gets home, and we might go for a walk to the supermarket together. We help make dinner, eat, tidy up, pack our lunches for the next day, and prepare for bed. We read a few stories, then settle in – sometimes with W-, and sometimes in A-‘s room.

What am I looking forward to?

Life as a 34-year-old will probably look like:

  • Embracing every stage as we go through it
  • Helping A- develop self-care skills and participate in household life
  • Going on a couple of trips to the Philippines to spend time with family and sort out paperwork