Week ending 2018-04-06

A- settled back into Manila life quite readily. She warmed up to her cousins in a hours instead of a few days. She was initially scared of Lolo Frank, but now she knows him by name. She knows more people by name in the office, too. She’s still a little reserved, but that’s normal. It doesn’t help that people here tend to touch kiddos without asking. I’m getting better at heading people off.

She’s gotten better at exploring her environment and even indicating that she wants pictures or videos of a certain thing. At a restaurant, she crawled under a high chair, grinned, crawled out, and then repeated the process until I could take a proper picture of it.

She had lumpiang shanghai and said, “I like this so much.” She also liked mangoes, bananas, and chicharon. She liked ramen at Santouka and teriyaki at Pepper Lunch. It’s easy to tell when she’s had a good meal, because she gets so active afterwards.

She’s been learning how to ride a scooter around. There’s plenty of smooth floor space here, so that might be something to do during trips. A balance bike might be good for her too. I wonder if I should buy one locally or just ship ours back and forth.

A- really enjoyed playing with her cousins. They adapted to the gradual simplification of the living room as toys got packed for shipping. A- even asked G* to let her sit on her lap and read to her. We’ve been using the Little Engineer set to build shopping carts, flower gardens, chairs, and slides. She had fun giving the big teddy bear hugs, although I remain firm in my resolution to minimize the number of stuffed animals we have in the house.

I’m covered in bug bites, and so is A-. Mostly mosquitos, I think, although Kathy suspects additional bugs came in via the Ifugao doll house. Oh well! I’m doing a very bad job of resisting the urge to scratch, even though I know scratching just makes it worse. I brought hydrocortisone ointment this time.

John G. arrived. Home stretch for their family!

2018-04-09 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.

Week ending 2018-03-30

This weekly review is delayed because travel threw our rhythm off a bit, but my journaling system is holding up nicely.

A- ran/walked all the way to the subway station. I didn’t even have to pick her up once, although I did carry her bag after a short distance. She also had fun pretending to slide down a twisty slide at home, which consists of corkscrewing down a large pillow.

Lots of pretending to be a cat or pretending to be one of her cousins, with me also getting assigned an appropriate role. (“Pretend Tita Kathy feed pretend Ate G*.”) She also imitated the Mojo Jojo voice W- used for the fish in the Cat in the Hat, which totally cracked us up. She found a fancy dress in her closet and enjoyed dressing up in it too.

After tasting a little of W-‘s spicy pasta and spitting it out, A- has taken to asking me if things are spicy or plain before eating them. She usually believes me, but sometimes she’s still cautious despite reassurances.

Not much progress on gentle weaning, although one time she asked me to pat her back instead of asking me to nurse her to sleep.

The packing cubes were definitely a good idea. I felt way more organized.

The flights to Korea and the Philippines were okay. The car seat didn’t get used much after the first two minutes of novelty. The rest of the time, her stuffed sheep sat in it, strapped in and very safe. Sometimes A- wanted to kick me out of my seat and sit in the big seat all by herself. Mostly she sat on my lap.

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Incheon for our overnight layover. The East Tower was not as well-appointed as the West Tower, but it was adequate. We woke up in the middle of the night and ordered room service. The omelette was generously-sized, and I ordered rice on the side in case A- wanted it. Room service actually works pretty well considering A- sometimes takes a while to feel hungry, and she likes eating every two hours or so.

Anyway, now we’re in Manila! We’ll be here until the 20th.

2018-04-02 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.

Strangers talking to us

A- will probably be strongly influenced by how I interact with people, so it’s good to give that some thought. I am a bit reserved, and I’m sometimes reflexively suspicious of strangers who talk to me out of the blue. I’ve been making an effort to smile at people and engage in the usual chitchat about the weather. There are certain things that get the conversation off on the wrong foot and I haven’t quite figured out how I want to handle them. Let me think about what I like and don’t like, and what I want to try next.

Let’s start with positive stuff, so I don’t feel like such a curmudgeon. What I like about the way strangers sometimes interact with A- and me:

  • Observation: “You seem to really like digging!”
  • Offering: “Would you like to play with this?”
  • Joining in: Impromptu dance party
  • Recognition: “You did it!” “That looks like fun!”
  • Inviting A- to make contact: extending a hand for a high five or a fist bump, but not making it awkward or insistent.
  • Empathizing

Things I don’t like:

People just reaching out and touching A-! This makes me want to back off or swat their hand away. I understand that baby skin looks so soft and inviting, and I get that people want kiddos to pay attention to them, but this just creeps me out. I’m tempted to experiment with stroking them right back and seeing how weird that makes them feel, but that just prolongs the interaction. So far, I’m getting better at saying, “Please don’t touch.” Some people really don’t get the hint, though. I may have to practice saying stronger variants.

What’s the harm? Nothing much, I guess, but I want A- to learn about bodily autonomy both ways (her body is her own, and other people’s bodies are theirs), and it creeps me out that other people want to satisfy their curiosity by touching people, and it’s supposed to be okay just because they’re touching a kid. Uh, no.

I am, however, totally okay with people crouching down to her level, saying something like “Would you like a high five?”, extending their hand, and waiting for her to respond.

I also cut little kids some slack, although I’ll still wave them off if I’m in arms’ reach. Just because someone wants to hug or kiss or touch someone doesn’t mean that person has to be hugged or touched or kissed. I’m getting better at intervening with something like “Wait, please. A-, it looks like ____ would like to give you a hug. Would you like to hug or wave hello?”

What’s wrong with her eye? Another one for dealing with other people’s curiosity. There was a Holland-Bloorview ad that resonated with me. It said: “Asking is better than assuming. But do you really need to know?” When I feel relaxed, I say things like, “She was born that way. It doesn’t hurt, though, and she can see fine with her other eye.” I might also practice saying “Why do you ask?” and when people say, “Just curious,” going with “I don’t feel like satisfying your curiosity right now.” Or maybe “Why do you need to know?” said with a smile.

And then there are playful approaches: “She lost it in a hockey fight!” “She’s a pirate in training.” “Aaaaah! Did it fall out again?”

There’s also “Isn’t it amazing how we can adapt to situations? A- can see just fine with her other eye. She can also hear just fine too, so let’s include her in the conversation!”

Or maybe that old standby, “Would you like to ask her? It’s up to her if she wants to answer or not, of course!”

How cute! Or “What a cutie,” or other variants that focus on appearance. I understand that that’s many people’s default compliment for kids (especially girls). People are usually quite genial, so I’ll try to be gracious about it. It might be fun experimenting with playfully asking A- if she wants to be cute today or a more interesting adjective. “Cute” kinda feels a little dismissive, limiting, and more focused on the eye of the beholder, and it tends to have an expiration date… I wonder if “Are you a cute little baby today or an awesome big kid” sets up too much of a contrast. “Cute is out, awesome is in.” might be too conceptual. “Baby sheep are cute. A- isn’t just cute, she’s awesome! Speaking of cute sheep, there’s a new lamb at Riverdale Farm! Have you been?”, maybe? Long thing to say, but redirects the conversation…

I’m okay with A- getting compliments, and I hope she doesn’t get a complex about her appearance. “Cute” is just a bit weird, though, or maybe I’m just a bit weird about it. :)

Boy or girl? I’m guessing people don’t want to make the mistake of assuming gender, but aren’t used to avoiding gendered pronouns. I guess I could jump straight to introducing A- by name and interest, since A- has a gendered name. Then it would feel less like her gender is the first thing people need to know about her.

How old is she? People are probably just calibrating their age guesses and figuring out how impressed they should be with whatever A-‘s doing. Maybe I’ll practice poking them ever so slightly back. “You first! How old are you?” Or maybe directing people to ask her instead (answers optional), so she gets practice in conversations.

Are you from China? Maybe people are trying to calibrate their race guesser? I get this occasionally from non-Asians awkwardly making conversation. Filipinos tend to think I’m Chinese too, but generally don’t mention it until I say something in Tagalog that prompts an “Ah! Akala ko Intsik ka” from them. Maybe I’ll practice the Southern “What a thing to say.” Or maybe “You first! Are you from ___?”

Ooh. This Citylab post has a fun idea for dealing with the “Where are you from?” question: “Mars!” This post gives me a more positive view of why people might ask. Maybe I could distract and redirect with “Isn’t it wonderful how Toronto is such a diverse city and anyone can be a Canadian? Where are you from?” Or maybe “It’s fun to guess where people are from. Are you from ____?”

Ideas to play with!

Week ending 2018-03-23

The big thing this week was the initial consultation with the dentistry department of Sick Kids. They plan to put A- under general anesthesia and fix her top four incisors. They said it looks like totally normal early childhood caries now, so no worries about enamel hypoplasia, and they strongly recommended night weaning as a way of reducing the risk of repeat dental surgery. Since we haven’t been able to be 100% solid on cleaning her teeth before bedtime, night weaning probably makes lots of sense.

Now that we’ve got A-‘s medical things scheduled for May, I decided we could squeeze in a quick trip to the Philippines so that she could spend time with Lola and see her cousins and Tita Kathy before they move to the Netherlands. If A-‘s teeth turn into an emergency situation, I hope travel insurance will help us sort everything out.

We took the ferry to Ward’s Island with Jen and E-. It was lots of fun even though everything was closed. The kids played with the pirate ship playground and had fun tossing leaves. A- favored Aunt Jen quite heavily, even telling me to stop. She also practised climbing up the ladder because she saw E- do it. It was great to see her becoming more independent.

A- was up early one day, so we made it out to Riverdale Farm in time for a farmer Q&A session. I learned a little bit about the sheep and the other animals at the farm. We got to touch the sheep’s nose and wool, which A- liked a lot. We combined that with a trip to Children’s Book Bank and the Regent Park playground, where A- had fun climbing up, sliding down, and digging in the sandbox.

A- was very interested in squeezing glue onto paper and sticking on pompoms, googly eyes, and ripped pieces of paper. She also liked playing with dough while I made breadsticks. Those and spinach pancakes were big hits. For gross motor development, she walked her balance bike up and down the sidewalk.

Lots of fun with language this week. She can use the word “sapatos” to mean shoes, and she can say the first two lines of Cattus Petasatus.

W- told me how she was jumping on the bed and he saved her from falling off head-first. He said she looked a little shocked, and then she said, “Nurse more, nurse more, no more monkeys.”

For my part, I’ve been trying to wean her with the help of timers on my phone. That prompted this hilarious attempt at social engineering: “Phone said it’s okay to nurse, beep beep.”

She really liked the Five Little Ducks song. I changed the lyrics to refer to Papa Duck instead of Mama Duck, and she insisted on changing the song so one little duck always comes back. She was interested in playing the recorder, and she actually listened when I asked her to play it quietly because people were sleeping.

Lots of pretending to be a cat qnd pretending I was Mama cat. She also enjoyed pretending to be Ate G* and pretending I was Tita Kathy.

On our side, W- fixed a leak in the dishwasher drain pipe, and I generated and printed labels for many of the toy bins.

Next up: travel!