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Weekly review: Week ending August 21, 2020

| review, weekly
  • Journal: So many improvements! I added the ability to browse by tag and by forward/backlinks, and to bulk-tag or bulk-thread several entries together. I got it to show me scans from A-‘s portfolio directory. I used texthero to explore my journal data, looking at terms based on tf-idf.
  • I stayed up late to sew a quarter-circle skirt for me and a gathered rectangle skirt and a peasant dress for A-.
  • While reading a book in the bathroom, A- noticed that the word “two” wasn’t spelled the same way as the word “too” from the typing practice program. She asked me about it. I explained that some words sound the same but have different meanings and spellings.
  • W- refinished the table. A- helped. She wanted to paint her table too. After some discussion about the design she wanted (“black is boring”), we rustled up some red and white acrylic paint. She mixed it to the kind of pink she wanted, and she painted the top of her table. She also liked making pink water and pouring that on the patio stones. She ended up washing off the paint while playing with water. I painted it again, and W- added a clear coat on top.

Blog posts

Time

Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Discretionary – Productive 7.4 10.9 3.5 18.2 5.8
Personal 3.3 5.8 2.5 9.8 4.2
Business 3.0 5.0 1.9 8.3 3.2
Discretionary – Play 0.0 0.4 0.4 0.7 0.7
Sleep 31.0 30.3 -0.7 50.9 -1.1
Unpaid work 3.8 3.0 -0.8 5.1 -1.3
A- 51.5 44.6 -6.9 75.0 -11.5
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Weekly review: Week ending August 14, 2020

| review, weekly
  • I finished my annual review.
  • I tinkered around with my Quantified Awesome Docker image. One step back, I think, since I’d actually managed to get it working on my local system before but I deleted my Dockerfile by accident.
  • I started learning how to analyze my time data with pandas and visualize it with matplotlib. I didn’t notice any particularly useful patterns that I might want to use for decisions, though.
  • I sewed matching skirts for us.
  • A- wanted to have ice cream in a cone as part of her evening snack. She had been asking for it for a couple of days. W- asked A- whether she thought she could skip asking tomorrow if he gave her ice cream tonight. She assured him she wouldn’t ask. I suggested making a written agreement, and to our great surprise, A- was on board with that idea. W- drafted a quick agreement and A- carefully signed it with her name, with a little help with spelling.
  • A- wanted to go to the pet food store along with W-. I made ear-loops for her mask since she didn’t want the head ties. There weren’t a lot of people in the store, so we went in. We wore matching masks and matching skirts. She sanitized her hands before and after going to the store, and she followed all of our instructions. First store outing in months!
  • Come to think of it, it might be interesting to build a Zettelkasten for A-‘s pedagogical documentation. I can trace the development of her interests and build richer stories that way.

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 29.1 31.0 1.9 52.1 3.2
A- 50.5 51.5 1.0 86.5 1.7
Unpaid work 3.5 3.8 0.3 6.4 0.5
Business 2.9 3.0 0.2 5.1 0.3
Discretionary – Play 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Discretionary – Social 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Personal 3.7 3.3 -0.4 5.5 -0.7
Discretionary – Family 0.8 0.0 -0.8 0.0 -1.3
Discretionary – Productive 9.5 7.4 -2.2 12.4 -3.6
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Weekly review: Week ending August 7, 2020

Posted: - Modified: | review, weekly
  • I finally got around to making a Rebrickable profile. It’s been interesting looking through the sets and MOCs I might be able to build. Since it pretty much does most of what I want, I don’t have to worry about building an analysis tool. Great! A- wasn’t too keen on finishing LEGO Friendship Flower. I think she likes pretend play sets more, so we’ll focus on those. I need to think of more scenarios so that she can expand what she knows. It’s hard for her to come up with ideas about how life works. Maybe more reading, too.
  • I reflected on roleplaying games and how to enrich A-‘s pretend play.
  • I used Python to analyze the text in my diary entries for the past year. Making a word cloud was pretty neat, since Python gave me a lot of control over it. I cached the frequency counts and category lookups in CSVs so that I can tinker with the graphs more quickly.
  • We made a few LEGO games from the bricks we have: Kokoriko, City Alarm, and Minitaurus.
  • A- was curious about minotaurs because of the LEGO Minitaurus game. I told her stories, made minotaur headbands for us, and made up rhymes.
  • We made up LEGO Heroica stories while playing games: fighting fires, making friends, scaring away adventurers. A- liked adding twists to games, too, like a cursed treasure box that kept following us around and a “bad air” that made my character turn into a dark druid.

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Discretionary – Productive 5.0 9.5 4.6 16.0 7.7
Business 0.0 2.9 2.9 4.8 4.8
A- 49.4 50.5 1.1 84.8 1.9
Unpaid work 4.1 3.5 -0.6 5.9 -0.9
Discretionary – Family 1.5 0.8 -0.7 1.3 -1.2
Personal 5.5 3.7 -1.8 6.3 -3.0
Sleep 34.7 29.1 -5.6 48.9 -9.3
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Turning 37; life as a 36-year-old

| review, yearly

This year looked nothing like last year. COVID-19 had a huge impact, of course, and then there’s life with A- (now 4.5 years old) and all her growing capabilities.

With our day settling into reasonable routines, I’m slowly getting to work on personal projects again. Our babysitting experiments pre-COVID sometimes gave me 2-7 hours of focused time. What luxury! A-‘s pretty attached to me, though, so it was the rare babysitter who could keep her interest for a long time. When the pandemic curtailed babysitting sessions, I settled into a routine of snuggling A- into bed and then staying up for 2-3 more hours. I’m still figuring out the trade-off between getting sleep and doing stuff. I learned how to use ReactJS to add all sorts of things to my journal system (dark mode, pictures, sketches). I made a font based on my handwriting. With W-‘s help, I was able to co-organize a virtual Emacs conference. I checked out resources on early childhood education. I started drawing again. Whee! I still have a lot of technical debt from things like using an old version of Rails, but I’ve shoved a few services into Docker containers and tried to limit their access. I hope things will hold for another year.

We got A- used to mostly sleeping in her own room, so I sleep a bit better now. A- got her own library card and proudly checked out her own books. We started giving her an allowance too, which she saves up for snacks and subsidized LEGO sets. I share some of my earnings from consulting with her if I work on client requests during the day. Sometimes she asks me if I can go and work some more so that I can give her more money.

A- still prefers to play with me, but she’s starting to figure out things that she can do independently while waiting: usually LEGO, Khan Academy Kids, RelationShapes, or reading. That gives us a little more time to do stuff around the house. W- shifted to working from home because of the pandemic, and he does most of the cooking. For my part, I learned a better technique for making pizza (broil in a cast iron skillet and then finish on the stove), and I’ve been making sourdough bread every other day or so. (Nothing too fancy, just a basic recipe.) We’ve been making do with our toaster oven, as the regular oven is out of commission. Homemade popsicles have become a household staple, too.

We started regularly spending time outside: sledding in winter, biking in summer, and afternoon snack time when the weather is good. It took a week or so of holding A- by the armpits or the bicycle seat, but she figured out how to ride a pedal bike without training wheels.

We had plenty of fun at home. A- can read now! We like to take turns. We experimented with starting plants from seed, and we added more plants from home improvement stores and from friends. Tomatoes and basil flourished in the garden, and the bitter melon did okay too. We bought balloon-twisting supplies and learned how to make various animals. We picked up a Snaptricity kit that the neighbours had left out, and we played with circuits. We moved from building with cardboard to building with LEGO. In particular, the LEGO Heroica board game fired up A-‘s imagination. In addition to her usual pretending to be a baby, she pretended to be a wizard, a golem, a goblin, a barbarian, a ranger… She pretended to be lots of other people (complete with names) and things too (she was a little baby prosciutto at some point).

A- grew more social. Before COVID-19, we regularly had playdates. A- also happily played with her cousins and her Lola when we visited the Philippines last year. Of course, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in the works. We’ve settled into a daily ritual of video-calling my mom, and I occasionally make PDF slideshows or mini-books to share during our chat. While playing, A- often mentions her Lola or her friends. I’m her main play partner these days, and we’re figuring out more about playing together and playing separately.

A- still has tantrums, naturally. She stomps around like the fiercest baby golem there could be. But the tantrums pass more quickly now. She’s better at communicating what she wants, we have more ideas for ways to help her cool down, and she’s very slowly learning how to manage her own emotions.

Plans for next year

I wrote last year that kindergarten was just around the corner. Hah! It looks like we’ll be homeschooling A- for junior kindergarten. We’ll see about returning to school when things settle down. In the meantime, I plan to spend the next year digging into play-based learning. I’d like to get better at improvising stories and role-playing adventures. I figure A- will naturally peel away from me and become more independent, but while she’s interested in playing with me, I’d like to take advantage of that and look for ways to make play more fun for both of us.

Here are the things I want to focus on this year.

  • Managing energy:
    • Sleep and managing my own plans: Sleep is a big one. I stay up because it’s easier to focus on things in 2-3 hour chunks and I don’t have babysitting time at the moment. The trade-offs might not be worth it, though, so I need to get better at planning, prioritizing, and making myself go to bed earlier.
    • Enthusiasm: A- is strongly influenced by my energy level, so it’s useful to tweak things so that I enjoy them a lot. Learning how
    • Low-energy times: We have a bit of an afternoon slump, and that’s okay. She almost always resists napping. Sometimes she wants to still stay close, and sometimes she wants to play separately. When she wants to stay with me, we read or play outside. When she wants to play separately, there’s LEGO or Khan Academy Kids.
  • Taking small steps: I’ll probably have ~1 hour of discretionary time a night, so I want to get better at breaking projects down into really small steps and prioritizing tasks so that I can make the most of that time.
  • Making learning visible: A- is learning so much even without us deliberately following a curriculum. I want to get really good at making her learning visible so that she can feel great about learning and build on what she’s curious about.
    • Capturing: My journal system is getting pretty good at handling pictures and sketches. I can work on including videos and portfolio items.
    • Reflecting on what I see: This raises my notes from anecdotes to pedagogical documentation.
      • What could A- be thinking?
      • What does that make me think about?
      • How can we build on that?
    • Showing A- her learning: I want to take advantage of daily touchpoints with Lola and with W- by telling stories about what A- is learning, since that makes it audible and visible. I also want to organize longer-term stories to show how A- has grown over time and to prompt her to revisit old interests. I’d like to involve her in planning, too.

Lots of things to learn!

Sketches

Time

Category % 35 years % 36 years Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
A- 42.7 46.7 4.0 78.7 6.6
Business 1.3 1.8 0.4 3.0 0.7
Sleep 33.8 33.6 -0.3 56.6 -0.4
Discretionary 9.7 8.8 -0.9 14.8 -1.5
Personal 6.3 4.8 -1.5 8.1 -2.5
Unpaid work 6.1 4.4 -1.7 7.4 -2.9

Hmm. It looks like childcare has actually taken more time than last year: an extra 6.6 hours a week. I’ve been able to do a little bit more work, too. I felt like I had a little more discretionary time, but I actually had a little less. W- worked from home, so he handled more chores. A- happily took all the extra time. I’m getting better at squeezing in a little bit of housework, though!

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Monthly review: July 2020

| monthly, review
  • LEGO Heroica was the big thing this month. After some initial anxiety, A- jumped right into the world. She loved playing the wizard, and she loved pretending to be a goblin or a golem. We tried a paper-and-pen RPG for little kids, and she got the hang of that too.
  • I experimented with different mask sewing patterns. Quilting cotton made a better outer layer than softer fabric did, and Procool interlock was nice for the inner layer. A mask bracket was great for breathability.
  • I added sketches and more features to my journaling system.
  • I reflected a lot on early childhood education. We’ll probably do junior kindergarten at home, and we’ll experiment with mostly child-initiated activities instead of focusing on crafts.
  • We worked up the courage to use the library again. Whee!
  • We spent some time outside exploring art and bubbles. A- seems a little hesitant about mark-making, but playfulness helps.
  • A- enjoys doing Khan Academy Kids. She was initially frustrated by an activity involving counting syllables, but she seems to have gotten the hang of it now.
  • We’ve been making great use of the popsicle mold that W- got. We use a base of Greek yogurt and vanilla or coconut milk and pandan extract, and then we add fruits.
  • A- discovered my little toy penguin. She had fun imitating its sounds and actions.

Blog posts

Sketches

Time

Category Previous month % This month % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 30.3 31.5 1.1 54.7 1.9
Discretionary – Family 0.4 1.2 0.7 2.0 1.2
Personal 3.8 4.3 0.5 7.5 0.9
Unpaid work 3.0 3.3 0.3 5.8 0.5
Discretionary – Play 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Discretionary – Social 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Business 1.2 0.5 -0.7 0.9 -1.1
A- 51.7 50.7 -1.0 88.1 -1.6
Discretionary – Productive 9.6 8.4 -1.1 14.6 -1.9
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Weekly review: Week ending July 31, 2020

| review, weekly
  • I picked up books from the library. Wheeeeee! Now that books are back in circulation, we can learn about all sorts of stuff.
  • I wrote some Python code to compare my Bricklink carts in terms of average prices. It’s probably overkill, but it was fun to code.
  • The silicone mask brackets did a great job of making our fabric masks more breathable.
  • We made the LEGO Heroica Ilrion set following the instructions. It was a bit challenging to play through, but we persisted.
  • We had enough curved pieces to make the LEGO Friends Lighthouse Rescue Center, although we didn’t have the cylinders and the light brick for the very top. I showed A- a video about wildlife rescue, and we pretended to rescue a seal and a bunny. I asked A- to scribble where the animals had broken bones, the treatment, and the starting letter of their names and her name.
  • I was looking for more popsicle recipes. A- pointed to my screen and said, “What’s that?” I asked her if she could read it. She said no, so I said we could just scroll past. W- was curious about my refusal. I told him, “It starts with c-h-o-c-o.” A- leaned closer and read it out loud: “chocolate coconut cream popsicle.” She really likes being able to read things for herself.
  • W- printed out two simple D&D-style adventures for young kids that just focused on fighting four monsters with various abilities. I was the DM. I also controlled one character (the fighter) while A- played the wizard. We used Heroica microfigures and cones to keep track of heroes and health points. A- got the hang of it quickly.

Blog posts

Time

Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 31.6 34.7 3.1 58.2 5.1
Unpaid work 2.1 4.1 2.0 6.8 3.3
Discretionary – Family 0.2 1.5 1.3 2.5 2.2
Personal 4.3 5.5 1.2 9.3 2.0
Discretionary – Social 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Discretionary – Play 0.3 0.0 -0.3 0.0 -0.5
Business 1.2 0.0 -1.2 0.0 -2.0
Discretionary – Productive 7.6 5.0 -2.6 8.3 -4.4
A- 52.8 49.4 -3.4 82.9 -5.8
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Weekly review: Week ending July 24, 2020

| review, weekly
  • I watched some presentations from the Play First summit. I think some of the ideas might be a good fit for A-. I’d like to get better at supporting and building on her play.
  • We did lots of sensory and art exploration outside. That was lots of fun, and A- really liked painting with her feet.
  • I made PDFs to share with Lola during video chats. A- seemed to like that too. She asked me to make a PDF of Tagalog words using our cat pictures, so I made a book of opposites.
  • We dove into building lots of things with LEGO. Microscale tutorials are fun to work through together. We also made things up ourselves. A- liked the model of our kitchen.
  • I made a goblin mask for A-. She liked pretending with it. We swapped wearing the goblin mask when we played the monster player in LEGO Heroica. I wonder if I can get her interested in decorating masks.

Blog posts

Time

Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 29.0 31.6 2.6 53.1 4.4
A- 50.7 52.8 2.1 88.7 3.5
Business 0.4 1.2 0.8 2.0 1.3
Personal 3.9 4.3 0.4 7.2 0.7
Discretionary – Play 0.0 0.3 0.3 0.5 0.5
Discretionary – Social 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Discretionary – Family 0.7 0.2 -0.6 0.3 -1.0
Unpaid work 4.4 2.1 -2.3 3.5 -3.8
Discretionary – Productive 10.9 7.6 -3.3 12.7 -5.6
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