Turning 40; life as a 39-year-old

| review, yearly

Last year, I figured that life as a 39-year-old would be about adapting to grade 1 and A-'s developing capabilities, and hoped to continue spending time outside.

We successfully navigated virtual grade 1, turning in the required homework every day. We mostly treated homework as practice in emotional regulation and figuring out how to work with our brains. A+ liked it when I took on the role of grousing about homework, broke it up into sections followed by Minecraft segments, translated the math homework into Cantonese, or set timers. Sometimes it was challenging to get through the work, but it helped to point out that homework was a way for us to stay out of in-person classes. I hope we'll be able to have a similar arrangement in virtual grade 2 next year.

Friendships were a big priority for us. We took advantage of our exemption from synchronous learning to spend most weekday afternoons playing with friends at nearby parks, even through winter. The kids loved playing dress-up, dolls, and kitchen, and they had plenty of special moments together. I like the grown-ups in the group, too, and we've been putting our heads together trying to help the kids learn about friendships and fun.

Thanks to A+'s friendships, we've been exploring lots of new interests. We let her explore Minecraft this year because many of her friends play it. She's really taken to it, and I'm slowly learning to have fun with it as well. I even set up Minecraft Realms Plus subscriptions so that we could play with A+'s cousins. Fortunately, it hasn't completely taken over our lives. Friends were also good reasons to go skating in winter and swimming in summer. (We started braving outdoor pools.)

A+ continues to be a bookworm, yay! She's watched a good number of videos and followed up with lots of book tie-ins, particularly around Minecraft and Disney Descendants. I'm learning not to worry too much about her eyesight and let her enjoy it, with the occasional reminder to check in with her body in between books.

As a result of A+'s growing independence when reading on her own and when playing with other kids, I've found a little time here and there to work on my own things. I wrote some code to recolor my Supernote sketches and extract the text, and that helped me write about more of my thoughts. I managed to figure out how to run multiple tracks for EmacsConf, which was awesome. I often bring hand-sewing projects to playdates so that I can work on them while chatting with the other grown-ups. I set up the sewing machine in the living room, and that made it easier for me to work on dresses, skirts, and even some outdoor covers.

I've been able to tend to the garden almost every day. I'm getting more comfortable starting seeds, propagating cuttings, and rescuing tomato branches. We grew lots more bitter melon and cherry tomatoes this year. The potatoes were interesting to experiment with, although that might be something I'll get from the grocery store going forward. I enjoyed eating lettuce, radishes, and beans from the garden. People have been stopping to take pictures of the zinnias, and the kids had fun making flower crowns with the marigolds.

I've been drawing daily moments on my SuperNote A5X as part of our bedtime routine. A+ likes to flip back through them, and they've made my monthly review process easier. I'm looking forward to building up a good archive of them.

It's been a good year for learning more about the world and learning more about ourselves. Thanks to all that practice dealing with homework and interactions, I've learned that I lean more towards sharing reflections and offering carrots rather than using sticks. I'm getting more comfortable with the idea that I can't just tell A+ everything. Some things she just has to experiment with for herself. I'm looking forward to getting better at keeping the long-term goal in mind without also catastrophizing and worrying too much about long-term effects. W-'s really good at thinking through things, and I'm glad I get to learn from his wisdom.

Let's see what next year is like. I hope we can work out a similar arrangement with A+'s virtual grade 2 teachers so that we can spend the afternoons outside. I'm looking forward to exploring more projects and developing more skills as she plays or reads. When she wants to spend time with me, I'd like to get better at playing with her, and Minecraft seems like a good avenue for that. Onward!

Text from sketch

Life as a 39-year-old

  • Aug 2022: Recoloring sketches, connect the dots, library script
  • Sept: Eye checkup ok, new scleral shell, EmacsConf sched, porch railing
  • Oct: Wonder Woman, OpenAI whisper, OBS in the cloud
  • Nov: Snowman, Ethernet, EmacsConf prep
  • Dec: Emacs Conf tracks, skating, campfire
  • Jan 2023: Twiddler, skating, forts
  • Feb: Party for A+! Skating, sledding
  • March: Minecraft, Mineclone, atropine, glasses, tooth extraction, taking turns
  • April: Minecraft caving, laptops, garden
  • May: Minecraft Realms, cavity, booster seat, loose tooth, sewing during playdates
  • June: finished grade 1! biking farther, Minecraft worlds
  • July: swimming, pizza, sewing covers

Compared to when I was 38:

  • Stopped/reduced: LEGO Technic, house organization, cubing
  • Continued: outside time, SuperNote drawing
  • Started/increased: Minecraft, videos, playdates incl. 1-on-1, skating, swimming, container gardening, EmacsConf


  • Stopping/reducing: worrying
  • Continuing: outside time, play, moments, drawing, crafts, garden, EmacsConf, consulting
  • Starting/increasing: playing with A+


93 sketches this year versus 43 sketches during the previous year.

Blog posts

104 posts this year versus 96 the previous year. I didn't do as many weekly reviews, so this was more learning and sharing. Yay!


Category % 38 years % 39 years Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Discretionary - Productive 6.4 9.8 3.4 16.4 5.7
Personal 7.3 10.1 2.8 17.0 4.7
Discretionary - Family 0.5 0.9 0.5 1.6 0.8
Business - Build 0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.2 -0.1
Discretionary - Social 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Business - Earn 2.0 1.6 -0.3 2.7 -0.6
Discretionary - Play 1.0 0.4 -0.6 0.8 -1.0
Unpaid work 4.6 4.0 -0.6 6.7 -1.0
Sleep 35.7 33.4 -2.3 56.1 -3.9
A- 42.3 39.6 -2.7 66.5 -4.6

Less childcare, because sometimes she's lost in a book and I can do something else like sewing, drawing, coding. Less sleep because I've been setting an alarm so that I can water the garden before I wake up A+. W-'s been doing more of the cooking because we're often out at playdates, although sometimes I shift things around so that I cook lunch. I feel good about how our days generally go, especially when we're out for playdates.

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