Weekly review: Week ending 2017-11-24

Pottying: A-‘s pretty good at initiating for both pee and poo, and can take off her pants or be helped out of pajamas in time to use the potty. She has even dragged the potty around to have a change of scene. We timed a few outings for after she used the potty. She stayed dry for the 1-2 hours that we were out, and she used the potty when we returned. I need to think of a place she’ll enjoy going to that would be a good place to practice using in a public toilet (and where accidents won’t be too bad). She hasn’t been keen on wearing clothes lately, but maybe the next time she is, we’ll go to the science centre after she uses the potty.

Dressing: She occasionally wants to practise putting on clothes, and will wear many layers for fun (one time she wore four pairs of panties at the same time). She can pull on pants and panties, although sometimes she puts both legs through one hole. She’s curious about buttonholes and labels them on my pajamas. I’ll continue offering clothes, and I’ll set out some 3T t-shirts for her to try pulling on by herself.

Gross motor: A- was interested in twisting, jumping, running, and sliding, and has been inventing her own exercises at home. She likes scooting down an inclined mattress, jumping down from pillows, and jumping on a bag of lentils.

She likes taking out the plastic bags under the sink and putting them back in. She also likes putting things into bags (“shopping”) and nesting bags. I wonder if she likes the crinkling sound or the act of stuffing things into the plastic bag holder. Maybe I’ll give her some aluminum. I’ll clear out the wipes box and let her stuff things into it too. I wonder if we have a medium-sized cardboard box I can use for stuffing practice. She loves watching a video of her playing with and putting away the plastic bags. Maybe I can extend this by involving her in putting away other things, like her toys and books.

Identity: She’s been very much into being a baby. She sometimes asks us to feed her, often handing us morsels so that we can put them in her mouth. I’ve been offering her a choice between brushing her own teeth like a toddler and letting me brush her teeth like a baby – yay, she’s been letting me brush her teeth! She likes looking at pictures and video of herself as a baby, and will often recreate scenes with the chair, baby gym, or tummy time.

I’ve been experimenting with bedtime. i snooze in low-power mode while letting her play independently. It leads to pretty amusing pillow talk. A- likes trying out animal noises, asking for help with clothes, reading to herself, and asking for her favourite sections from books. (“No no fish” means the fish’s first speech from “The Cat in the Hat.”) Keeping a potty in her room is working out, too.

Language: So much. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” has joined her list of favourites, and she can say the whole title and quite a few words. She wanted a comb because of that book and because of “Goodnight Moon”, so we dug up the one that W- fixed. She chimes in if I read slowly, so I don’t need to pause for testing, just emphasis. She seems to be extending the concepts, too. As I was buckling her into her chair, I said, “One buckle. Two buckles.” She said “Red buckle.” It was actually white, but hey, patterns! I’ll request a few more Dr. Seuss Beginner Books from the library, and W- can pick them up for me if we don’t make it out. She picked up some words from “This Little Piggy Went to Market” and sometimes requests it at bedtime.

Playdough: She labeled the pizza she made and put it in a pretend oven. She also squished and pinched playdough.


  • She’s a little interested in tying. Maybe I’ll get a shoelace and teach her how to work with the lacing boards, and that can give her tying practice too.
  • She showed some interest in dropping coins through a slot and dropping beanbags into a container. Maybe I should set up the activities in the living room so that she can freely choose them when she wants, and she can combine them with other things.
  • She pretended to cook with the clay pot set, and handled the pieces relatively gently.
  • A- was surprisingly fond of pickled gherkins, possibly because I Can Read With My Eyes Shut mentions pickles on page 1.
  • She used the brush and the comb as rhythm sticks while walking around, imitating the music teacher.

Us: I filed my corporate taxes, issued more dividends to myself, bought travel insurance, and did some more consulting (checking the database, extending the quick jump script). W- handled practically all the cooking this week – yum, yum!

Next week: starting to get ready for the trip; thinking about how A- learns through play; checking on Neko’s health

2017-11-20 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.

More thoughts on toilet training

We’ve been home all week. A- seems to be getting the hang of going to the potty, although she sometimes has accidents if she’s distracted or if I prompt her too directly. (She likes feeling that it’s her own idea, I guess!)

I haven’t made it out of the house because she’s been refusing diapers, clothes, and being in the carrier. We’ll need to insist at some point because of our upcoming trip, but in the meantime, we can be flexible.

Let me think through what could happen. If she gets interested in going for a short walk, agrees to put on wool pants, a jacket, and other clothes for cool weather, and heads out the door with us, we can stay close enough to home that a toilet is ten or fifteen minutes away. I can also time any outings for after she has recently used the potty, which could give us enough time for most neighbourhood errands. If she has an accident, we can go home and change clothes. I can bring extras too, if I don’t need my bag for much else. Wool can keep us warm even if it’s wet. My carrier can be machine-washed, and I can carry A- by hand or in a sling.

Most of the places we walk to have reasonable bathroom access. The playground doesn’t have a bathroom, but we can wait to go until after she’s used the potty. Transit is a bit trickier. We can pop out of the subway to use a bathroom somewhere if we need to. I can save longer trips for when she’ll accept diapers or training pants, or I can sit her on top of a towel and a waterproof bag.

Since accidents are inevitable, we can just keep things neutral so that she doesn’t feel ashamed. I can carry a towel, a spray bottle, and some hand sanitizer in my bag to help clean up messes and model being prepared.

I want to set her up for as much success as possible. It’ll get easier as we get better with noticing her signals, accepting prompting, and dealing with accidents. Those accidents can help her learn more, anyway. In the meantime, I don’t need to push her. She’s learning lots of things quickly, and we have plenty of time to sort things out.

I liked going for walks with W- or even with just A-, so it would be nice to get back to that eventually. I’ll just have to compensate by exercising more around the house. That’s something I can work on while A- goes at her own pace, and it’ll help me model good habits for her too.

Okay. Bodyweight exercises for me, plus some fresh air while she waits in the kitchen because we can see each other through the glass door. If she shows interest in joining me, I can help her dress up and we can stay in the backyard, and then eventually go for walks around the block. If that works out, I can pack a grab-and-go kit, and we can work on prompting. I can look into clothing options, too.

Acceptance and toilet training

We’re in the middle of toilet training following the Oh Crap approach. It will go easier if I embrace the fact that there will be accidents instead of worrying about things like A- resisting diapers. My job is to help A- learn her cues and to keep toileting pleasant instead of turning it into a power struggle.

She’s starting to resist diapers, which is a good thing actually. If we move the potty to her room at bedtime or get another one, then she has the opportunity to take care of her own needs if our bedtime routine takes a while. I can do the double-sheeting trick to save myself a midnight bed-making, and we have backups anyway. Even if she pees, it’s just laundry and a little effort. No big deal. It will happen many times before we get the hang of this. Once it’s okay to get deliveries at home again, I’ll order a second mattress protector for the other room too, so we can rotate as needed.

I prompt her to potty a bit too much, I think, so I’m going to dial it down in terms of frequency and attention. She initiates well enough, but if I tell her it’s potty time, it’s a toss up whether she’ll go for it or refuse. I’ll still pay attention to see if I catch her signs, but I don’t have to direct her. Maybe I can say things like, “Potty time in five minutes.” or “It looks like you need to pee. Pee goes in the potty.” She knows where it is and what it’s for, so I need to trust her and let her learn.

For the past couple of days, she hasn’t been interested in going out. This is pretty convenient for toilet training. I probably don’t need to worry about under-stimulating her. There are options for almost all our other errands.

I would like to get to music class sometime, but that’s probably more for me than for her at this point. If learning more songs is what I enjoy about the class, I have two textbooks and I can teach myself using the piano or ukulele.

I want us to get used to spending a couple of hours outside even in cool weather. Maybe I can put off thinking about that until toilet training is well-established, so there’s no pressure to get out the door. I also liked how she walked a lot in the science centre and at the playground, but we’ll get back there eventually. When I want to make those more appealing, maybe I can put up pictures and talk about them. If that doesn’t do the trick and we’re still mostly homebodies, maybe I’ll frame it as something I want to do.

She doesn’t like wearing clothes at home. I wear layers because I feel cold. I should trust that she can figure out whether she feels cold or not and what to do about it. She knows how to ask for shirts, pants, and jackets. Sometimes she gets a bit fussy at night and then settles down once we’re snuggling or when she’s wearing pajamas. She knows how to ask for a snuggle, though, so that’s okay too.

I guess this is what toilet training will look like for us, at least for the next little while. I’m becoming more comfortable with following her lead. She’s got this.

What’s getting in my way when it comes to being more present as a parent?

I think of being more present as:

  • experiencing time as just enough (satisfaction), pleasantly fast (flow), or pleasantly slow (attention), as opposed to passing the time until something else happens
  • not wasting energy on frustration
  • communicating acceptance and flexibility
  • being able to observe and respond instead of glossing over things

What thoughts are getting in my way?

  • Am I doing A- a disservice by setting few limits? For example, would she benefit more from a regular sleep schedule compared to letting her mostly follow her own rhythm? I’ve read that toddlers can feel lost if they feel like they have too much power, and that the distinction between authoritative and permissive parenting is whether we hold kids to certain standards of conduct. I can deal with A- being upset if I need to insist on something (a hospital visit, time for my self-care, waiting for the next meal time instead of grazing). If it’s not necessary, though, I try not to insist. There’s plenty of stuff outside her control as it is. We’re probably all right. A red flag I can watch out for is if I find myself reacting to her reactions and regretting it.
  • Am I under-stimulating her? Am I forgetting to provide enough to support all aspects of her development? In this world, over-stimulation is probably more of a danger than under-stimulation is. If she ever got bored, which she shows no signs of at the moment, then she can learn to take the initiative. I make an effort to have more varied meals, and I rotate things out if she hasn’t played with them in a while. I worry about overlooking important skill components, but if I involve her in everyday life, we’ll come across gaps and I can help her with those. Reading about early childhood education helps a lot, too.
  • Am I letting things fall through the cracks? I’ve tried to be careful about making commitments and setting expectations. Consulting is on a best-efforts basis. Some weeks, I can work for a few hours. Some weeks, I prioritize other things. I’m getting better at not feeling guilty about ever-growing lists of ideas, half-forgotten thoughts, neglected email conversations, and being out of touch. If I had more discretionary time, I’d probably still have the same priorities, anyway.
  • What do I need to do in order to make the most of my time? What needs to be done first? I keep a list on my phone, so I don’t need to think about this too much through the day. I can review and prioritize tasks at start of my discretionary time.
  • Are there any questions I want to reflect on while doing other things? Is it worth doing so even if I can’t write things down, or should I wait until I can write or draw? One option might be to turn my attention to the chore that I’m doing, using that as practice in calming the monkey mind or noticing opportunities for improvement. Another option is to embrace that monkey mind and make a list of questions to think about, maybe jotting quick notes afterwards. Time for an experiment.
  • What are the unfinished things I need to hold in my head until I can wrap them up? I often get interrupted, and I don’t give myself enough time to leave notes for myself. I wonder what developmentally appropriate expectations are for waiting. Maybe I can gradually get A- used to waiting a few minutes, then longer and longer. A paper notebook might be better for capturing some thoughts than my phone would be, since writing is more visible and I don’t lose time to navigation. I’ve also been working on smaller chunks so that I have to maintain less in my head and I can finish things faster.
  • How can I improve our processes? How can I involve A- more, reduce costs, increase benefits, or explore alternatives? Where are the gaps and rough spots? What are the strengths that I can build on? It’s useful to think these thoughts about my current activity, since I have to pay attention. If I’m thinking about a different activity, then it can get in the way of being more present. Maybe I can work on transitions so I have time to write quick notes before moving on.

Hmm. I can let go of those worries, concentrate on paying attention to the current activity, and work on transitions and waiting. That should help me declutter my mind and get even better at spending time with A-. Onward!