Monthly review: April 2018

Experimenting with more structure to help with tracking progress over time.

  • Gross motor
    • A- learned how to ride a scooter.
    • She had fun running around and around.
    • She walked most of the way to the library.
    • She walked all the way to the playground.
  • Fine motor
    • We got a lot of entertainment value from a sheet of embossed number stickers and a few sheets of colored paper.
    • She was interested in 12-piece jigsaw puzzles and helped me fit the pieces together.
    • She can peel diecut foam stickers.
    • A- completed the shape sorter easily, naming shapes as she pushed them in.
    • A- was interested in using scissors to cut along lines.
  • Sensory
    • I made some bath paint. A- likes using it to paint the bathtub wall and her body.
  • Language
    • Asking herself questions: “How can I figure this out?”
    • Identity: She referred to herself by a nickname while drawing.
    • Anticipation: I asked, “Do you want to go to Mind Museum or somewhere different?” She said: “I want to go to Mind Museum. See big dinosaur. I need a wrist band. Mama need wrist band too.”
    • Asking questions: “Why Mama say excuse me?” “What’s Mama doing?”
    • Asking for attention: “I want Nanay to focus on me. Put down phone.” (Or pen, if I’m writing.) “Look, Lola, I made it.” She also started learning how to gently touch someone’s arm to get their attention.
    • Describing: She said “A-‘s home has Daddy in it.”
    • Talking about missing things: She asked for a marker by saying “Where’s the red one goes in here?” and pointing.
    • Coining phrases: She wanted to specifically ask for a baguette, but didn’t know the word for it, so she called it finger bread.
    • Rephrasing: When I was trying to get her to change “I want Nanay to carry you” to “I want Nanay to carry me,” she rephrased it as “I want to be carried by Nanay.”
    • We’ve been talking about babies, kids, big kids, and grown-ups. She said, “Mama is a grown up.” Then she said, “I am a growing up.”
    • She said, “I am two years old.” She repeated it a few times. She doesn’t answer the question “How old are you?”, though.
    • She still mostly demands things (“I want a orange!”), but one time, she requested it: “Can I have an orange, Mommy?”
  • Music
    • A- can fill in the name of an animal when singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”
    • W- came up with a new song: “Vegetables make the poo go down.”
    • So much singing! A- sings spontaneously and when prompted. She sings many nursery rhymes, and she also makes up her own.
  • Art
    • A- drew lines up and down while naming them. She also drew wavy lines while saying “W.”
  • Self-care
    • We got a helmet and pads for when A- rides her balance bike, and I got a new hat for myself.
    • We went to the ocularist to adjust A-‘s conformer. She liked the ball that she got from the treasure box.
    • A- has a dry cough.
  • Household
    • She wanted to trim Leia’s nails together, and insisted on holding the clipper with me.
    • She spread the bath mat out carefully while narrating what she was doing.
  • Social
    • Photos: She crept under her high chair, smiled up, and repeated the process in order to get a good shot.
    • Cousins: She sat on G*’s lap and asked her to read Go Dog Go.
    • Playing games: She explicitly plays, invents, and modifies games. “I push mama. It’s a game.” “I like to play balloon game with Lola.”
    • Modulation: I told A-, “Daddy’s room is only for quiet people.” She calmed down and used her quiet voice.
    • Empathy: She gave me a hug and said sorry after I spilled my drink because of Luke.
    • She wanted to sit close to Lola, and she enjoyed reading and playing with Lola.
  • Pretend
    • A- mimed releasing the coin lock for a pretend shopping cart.
    • A- had an extended pretend telephone conversation with her tower. Not just hello and goodbye, but quite a few other turns in between.
  • Kaizen
    • We took some Duplo to the playground and had lots of fun.
    • I learned that I like honey water much more than an endless stream of cough lozenges.
  • Us
    • We sorted out my dad’s niche at Heritage Park.
    • We went to Mind Museum several times, usually with Diane’s family.
    • I enjoyed getting together with my barkada. We ordered pizza. A- alternated between hanging out and going upstairs for quiet time, so I was in and out of conversations too.
    • We had a nice stay at Hotel Queen. We ate bibimbap at a nearby restaurant, and they gave us plenty of rice cakes.
    • We went to the EarlyON centre. A- had fun playing with stickers, puzzles, and the tunnel. I picked the facilitator’s brain about ECE and childcare.
    • W- laid patio stones next to the raised bed.

2018-04-30 Emacs news

Links from, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News,, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel

Week ending 2018-04-27

We’ve been slowly recovering from jet lag and some post-trip under-the-weatherness. A- and I both threw up, but that was pretty manageable. I’ve been dealing with a dry cough. I found that I like honeyed water more than having an endless stream of lozenges, although the lozenges are handy when I’m not in the kitchen.

I realized that one of the things I was missing from the day was a sense of personal experimentation and growth. I’ve been making an effort to try little ideas every day, and I’ve been spending more time, attention, and money on new experiences. So, even though I packed snacks for A- and I could have waited to have lunch at home, we had huevos rancheros at The Beet. While waiting for our food, I helped A- peek into the kitchen and I narrated what was going on. I liked the results of preparing for playground trips. I’m looking forward to tinkering with more ideas.

We made it out to both the Annette family centre and the one at Dundas West. A- seems more comfortable with drop-in centres now, hooray! She used to cry a lot, but this time she got interested in the sandbox, the tunnel, the stickers, and the puzzles on the table. I borrowed a wooden mix-and-match animal puzzle to see if she can decide based on pictures when the shapes are identical, since she can do shape puzzles pretty well now. It seems to be at just the right level for her. She names the animals as she completes them, and

As for me, I picked people’s brains about child care, toddler activities, free play, and dealing with sick days as a stay-at-home parent. Whee!

Other moments:

  • A- can now peel die-cut foam stickers.
  • She walked most of the way to the library.
  • She wanted to help me trim Leia’s nails.
  • She liked the Winnie the Pooh book collection.
  • I was trying to get her to change “I want Nanay to carry you” to “I want Nanay to carry me.” (She confuses “me” and “you,” which makes sense.) After two attempts, she said, “I want to be carried by Nanay.”
  • She makes up her own phrases now. “Finger bread” – baguette.
  • She can talk about things that are missing. “Where’s the red one goes in here?”
  • She likes singing nursery rhymes as well as made-up tunes.
  • She had a long pretend telephone conversation with her tower.
  • We checked out the pop-up adventure playground and A- had fun digging in the dirt.

I started looking more seriously into having a mother’s helper or babysitter in case that capability is a useful addition to our toolkit. It’s hard to imagine occasional childcare since A- is hilarious and we all benefit from the time I spend with her, but it’s great for her to interact more with people who are not me (especially if I get to eavesdrop and pick up more play ideas), so we’ll see. J- is with us this week, so maybe they’ll play a little too.

Also, we’ve all filed taxes, hooray!

Week ending 2018-04-20

It was great to spend time with family and friends. We ordered pizza, caught up, and took turns watching the kids. A- alternated between having lots of fun with Diane’s kids and heading upstairs for some quiet play time, occasionally joining the main party to snack on chips. I guess group parties are doable with the right mix of people!
We stayed in Hotel Queen during our overnight layover. We were pleasantly surprised to get upgraded to a suite. For dinner, we had bibimbap at a restaurant around the corner, and the kind waitstaff gave us extra rice cakes to take home.
A- was assigned a window seat on the long flight between Incheon and Toronto, which made for a lot of awkward trips over the other passenger who really wanted to sleep. Oh well. On the plus side, A- actually voluntarily spent a little time in the car seat, which was great at snack time.
A- has really taken to the book that I drew about the Ifugao dollhouse that Kathy bought for G* and A*. She even describes her drawings using the phrases from the book.
I got lots of value out of a sheet of embossed number stickers and a pack of coloured paper. That kept A- occupied for a couple of meals.
Lots of time with Lola. A- really enjoyed their one-on-one interactions: not just ube ice cream, but also books and made-up games. Success!
Other moments:

  • A- was interested in 12-piece puzzles, even though she needed lots of help to complete them.
  • A- tried French onion soup and crepe, and liked both.
  • A- can say pretty complex sentences like “A- home has Daddy in it.” She also started asking questions like “Why Mama say excuse me?”
  • A- can say a few sentences about prospective events. “I want to go to Mind Museum. See big dinosaur. I need a wrist band. Mama need wrist band too.”
  • A- can fill in animal names during the song “Old MacDonald.”
  • A- can explicitly play games and change them. She liked playing a balloon game with Lola.
  • A- started learning how to gently touch someone’s arm to get their attention. She really liked Nana Shirl and wanted to keep talking to her during dinner.
  • A- independently climbed the stairs and slid down the slide at the playground.
  • A- liked scooting closer to Lola on the big cushions at Sofitel.

All in all, an excellent trip.

Playground kaizen

Warmer weather means more playing at the playground, hooray! I’d like to figure out how to make this almost a daily routine, and to see what we can learn along the way. I wonder what it would be like to elevate play not just for my kiddo but for a number of other families, and to wring out as much as we can from the time we spend there.

Today we experimented with little improvements in how we play at the playground. Since A- likes playing with the Duplo playground at home, I brought a number of Duplo pieces: a slide, three bricks, two minifigures, and a train segment. We quickly attracted a couple of preschoolers who had fun rolling their cars along the sand dunes and down the slide while A- watched with interest. A- also enjoyed sliding the train down the big slide.

A- had lots of fun swinging really high on the swing, and having me interrupt her swinging. She watched the big kids swing their legs back and forward, and she practised the motion while we ate snacks on the bench.

Bath before dinner worked out well, too. No sand in the bed, yay!

A few ideas to try next:

  • bring plenty of bubble wands for sharing, or even a bubble machine; bonus points if I can figure out a portable rig for large bubbles, although I’m not keen on lugging a lot of soapy water around. Maybe something like a Thermos jug, which I can then put into a grocery cart?
  • more snacks; treat it as afternoon picnic time
  • bring paper and pen for thinking
  • buy or make toy dinosaurs, bring paintbrushes, and bury the dinosaurs in the sandbox. Hmm… I wonder if I could use old playdough or plaster casting to prototype this. That might be even more fun than buying a box of dinosaur toys, although purchased toys are cool too.
  • make it more routine, maybe invite other people to drop by and chat
  • bring a tube and other unconventional sandbox toys
  • figure out how to dress up so that we can enjoy the playground even in light rain
  • figure out what I’m supposed to be doing about sun protection
  • figure out how toilet training can fit in
  • explore and model playing with loose parts

I can use the grocery backpack to test ideas that need props, and then get a small grocery cart if I think it’s worth the space at home. I can use luggage organizers to create modules: extra clothes, stuff for the splash pad, stuff for the sandbox, bubble kit, etc. It’s like having a mobile office.

I borrowed a few books about outdoor education from the library. Reading about nature schools and activities might give me more ideas for things to try with A-.

Plenty of room for me to learn stuff at the playground!

March 2018

We managed to get a referral to Sick Kids, so A-‘s dental surgery under anesthesia is scheduled for the end of May. I squeezed in a three-week trip to the Philippines before the next set of medical appointments, overlapping with Kathy’s move to the Netherlands. Now that we’re back, I can resume working on the night weaning that the dentists strongly recommended. She also got a new conformer, but she isn’t too keen on wearing it.

We made it to the farmer Q&A session at Riverdale Farm, had lots of fun with the sandboxes and slides at various playgrounds, and checked out High Park Zoo. A- ran/walked all the way to the subway once – I didn’t have to pick her up at all. She also wanted to ride her balance bike outside. She often goose-stepped around the house, too. We went to Ward’s Island with Jen and E-, and she had lots of fun at the playground there.

We practiced blowing feathers, and I stocked up on crafting supplies. A- liked the shapes that I cut out of felt.

A- ate some of W-‘s pasta and found it too spicy, so she frequently asks if food is plain or spicy before eating it. She prefers plain food, although she tries spicy food from time to time. She liked the spinach pancakes and breadsticks we made together. I’m looking forward to exploring more recipes with her.

Lots of fun language moments:

  • “Nurse more, nurse more, no more monkeys:” after W- saved her from falling off the bed head-first
  • “Phone said it’s okay to nurse beep beep”
  • “I want to nurse in carrier because I tired”
  • “Airport sleep in bassinet a long time, because is tired”
  • “Flight attendant!”
  • a nicely interactive video chat with Lola

My big thing this month was figuring out how to make small books for A-. I traced photos on my phone, laid them out with Org Mode and LaTeX, printed them on a duplex colour printer, and taped the pages together. A- picked up the phrases and ideas so quickly. I made three books last month, and I want to make more!

Lots of other little kaizen projects, too. We kitted out the play room with more storage, and I printed labels for the bins. We got network-attached storage and have been organizing our photos. I set up lots of voice shortcuts on my phone. Lots of tidying up in the basement, too. I gave the iPad Pro and Pencil to Kathy, since she can make better use of it then I can at this time. I prepared our personal taxes and helped J- sign up for NETFILE.

We’ve been working on being more playful and silly, and that seems to be paying off. A- usually lets us brush her teeth and put her conformer back in if we play pretend or sing silly songs. Looking forward to learning even more.

April is nearly done. The trip, taxes, catching up, and preparing for all those medical things in May… Much to do!