wow, it is rough to listen to your baby cry. last week, my wife and i put Chicklet in her room and crib for the first time (she’s 6 months old today, and has slept in a bassinet attached to our bed every night till now). along w/ this change was our decision to try the cry-it-out method (CIO). cindy had been steadfast in her decision to pick Chicklet up every time she fussed at night – there is a philosophy (i don’t remember its name) that basically states that a child can learn to sleep the night by being soothed and loved, and that the child will eventually gather the self-confidence to sleep through the night on its own. perhaps this is true, but in all likelihood, either the kid naturally soothes himself and goes to bed easily, or by the time the child has learned to soothe himself he’s likely grown old enough to outgrow the fear of separation and darkness and whatever other reason kids cry at night.
anyway, we decided to try out the CIO method, w/ the understanding that if Chicklet cries for 10 min or more, we’d go in. that happened a few times the first night, maybe twice the second, and once the third. she’s slept the night for about a week now. tho she still wakes up crying, she soothes herself back to sleep in a few minutes max. it’s absolutely heartbreaking to listen to her cry, but she’s learned pretty quickly how to help herself out.
tonight i’m handling Chicklet all by myself, as cindy is in NY for a conference for 2 days. the last time i had Chicklet to myself, she was about 3 months old and my parents were visiting. cindy was only gone for 1 night, but that night held no sleep for me. i literally was holding Chicklet for nearly the entire night – every time i put her down, she cried (and we weren’t letting her cry it out back then). i was exhausted. what a difference a few months makes. i can totally handle this baby on my own, though i miss our family evening routines. ultimate point – i can actually get some work done now that Chicklet can sleep. huzzah!
talk about taking a break. my last post was back in october 07 – let’s see, what was life like back then? aside from my daughter not having been born yet, not all that much was different – of course, my daughter being born is all the difference it takes to go from day to night, black to white. two totally different worlds. life has been good since she was born in november – watching her grow everyday is pretty much all i care about at the moment.
i’ve finally gotten back into the swing of finishing some renovations on the house that i started before she was born – hopefully i’ll get them done in the next month so that i can move on to the next round of fixes: remove the crappy corrugated plastic overhang on the back porch and replace it w/ a trellis. i’ve also started the design for our landscaping, which won’t exactly be cheap, but is the first thing to do when increasing home value. major home renovation (aside from painting and installing wood floors) will have to wait.
i’m completing 100% construction documents for my current project this week. very exciting – i’ve been on the project since design development, though i’ve watched and sat on crits during schematic design. it’s a really nice and simple, small addition to a university building here in austin. next week i’ll move onto a new charter elementary school project, which will be really exciting. it’s set to be LEED silver, which means i finally will have the time to actually get LEED certified (which was on my to-do list since last september).
haven’t done much travel since the munchkin was born, aside from going up to dallas to visit w/ her grandparents. did go to houston one weekend for a friend’s wedding shower – it was pretty much my first time there, but only had time to visit the contemporary arts museum. great exhibit on…contemporary design. mies’ museum of fine arts was across the street, but you need more time to visit that. i’m excited to go back – some good architecture out there.
also went up to NY for the first part of passover – at 5 months old, it was munchkinface’s first flight. she did pretty well, but that was thanks to the tubes in her ears installed 2 wks prior – she already had 4 ear infections, so tubes were pretty much the only recourse aside from constant doses of antibiotics, which are not at all cool. she was a bit fussy in NY – i think the flight, plus change in scenery and new crib were a bit much. she got to meet some of her cousins and spend precious time w/ my parents and sister, which of course is the most important part of these visits. 2 days after we returned, my sister came to visit for 5 days – it was great.
ok, good update. back to work, and hopefully some more regular posts again.
yesterday we completed Addendum#2 on our rushed project, a school of engineering for a university in N. Texas. Cindy’s been ready to strangle me b/c i’ve been working late and weekends, not having much time to spend w/ her during the last few weeks of pregnancy. i’ve also had to finish painting the baseboards before they get installed tomorrow. so it was w/ great relief that i left the office yesterday at 5:30p – that’s right! not 3a! it was amazing. i went home, bought some more baseboards and mini-rollers, painted a bit, and went to bed by 11p – it was incredible.now i’m working at home, spiffing up a sketchup model of the project that the university will be able to use for fundraising. there’s a bunch still to do, but i’ve been divying up the day between work and painting baseboards. those should be ready to get a final coat in a few minutes, actually.tomorrow i move on to my next project – an infill/renovation for UT School of Nursing. it’s been in schematic design for a little over a month, on and off. it’s looking pretty nice, i’m looking forward to getting into something a bit smaller in scope and not as rushed. it also helps that we’re building new structure instead of living w/in the confines of a building’s earlier structure, which had been a bit confusing on the engineering project.my little baby’s on the way – we’re just over 2 weeks from her due date! i’m so excited that it’s hard to focus on much of anything, but it helps a lot that this deadline is finally over. now i can focus on cindy, the house, and work in a much more balanced manner.
haven’t really been posting since i started work, hope i can pick it up again soon. there’s been so much going on that i haven’t had much time to breathe, let alone blog. where to start?
last i wrote, i had just graduated and gone camping at canyonlands national park w/ my dad in utah. it was his first camping trip EVER, so we were really looking forward to it. the park was gorgeous – red, rocky, and desert. the area we hiked was the meeting point for three distinct areas of the park – one area that looked like the grand canyon, one that looked a bit like bryce cancyon, and another that was a bit like bulbous blobby rocks. my dad couldn’t handle more than 2 days of hiking tho – we couldn’t finish our first day’s 8 mile hike, but did ok on the 4 mile hike the following day. after camping we hit a hotel in moab and went rafting down the colorado – nothing serious, class 2 rapids at most. it was beautiful to coast down the river, though, and appreciate the scenery. this was my dad’s favorite part of the trip. i don’t think he’ll be camping again any time soon – or ever really. on the upside, the 6′ tall tent i got to make his camping easier will make future camping trips for my budding family quite comfortable. we never really do more than car camping anyway – park the tent at a campsite and go on day hikes.
about a week after i returned from utah, i started work. i’ve been here about 2 months now, and it’s been great. we’re in a major crunch and are trying to get our construction document set out in 2 weeks. it’s been a super fast paced project from the get go, but we’re in the home stretch. we’re renovating an existing classroom building from 1930 (2 story) and it’s 1980 addition (1 story). we completely demolished the interior, and are creating a 3 story atrium in the middle between the 2 buildings. the top story of the atrium will be a kalwall ‘box’, providing daylight to the atrium and surrounding hallways. the kalwall sits on a copper ‘sleeve’ – the move is if the copper and kalwall were fitted right into the center of the building. the atrium is divided in to 3 laboratory bays, separated by 8′ tall terra cotta walls – the rest of the wall from 8′ to the top of the kalwall is glass, so that the daylight can diffuse across all the bays. there are also 2 study pods that are going to hover in this space, sticking out from the second story of the existing building. these study pods are what i’m spending most of my time on right now. i’m covering them in reclaimed wood, and have been working on the size, patterning, spacing of the boards, and aligning the module with the structure. getting the spacing to line up with a 4′ module from the kalwall box and how the study pod protrudes through the existing wall and into the adjacent hallway has been really stimulating. here are some pics:
aside from work, we bought a house, and have been busy doing our renovations. this house was the right price in the right area, but was so ugly that i had real reservations about buying it. during our 3 visit to the house before going through with contract i finally started brainstorming renovation ideas that would not only make this house rock, but would also make us a hefty profit when we sell. i’m pretty sure that the house hadn’t been renovated since the first owner died or moved out. he lived in the house since it was built back in 1965. all of the walls were these dreadful shades of tan, peach, aqua, and sky blue. they were all lit by single incandescent bulb fixtures from the center of the room, which provided this shallow deathly pallor. i felt like we were moving into a slum when i walked down the narrow bedroom hallway. the killer was the living room – it has an 8′ wide sliding glass door w/ this amazing retro yellow/mustard curtain. it’s not really retro, tho, b/c it’s original. all of the walls were polyurethane coated wood panels, which bled into the kitchen where all of the cabinets were similarly finished. it was horrible. every room except of the kitchen and bathrooms was carpeted. here’s what happened:
we moved in, ripped out the carpet in every room, and got to painting. all paint was sherwin-williams harmony paint, which emits ZERO V.O.C.’s. indoor air quality is extremely important, and slowly people are getting more educated about the amount of chemicals we breathe on a daily basis. of course, that was to a degree all for naught b/c beneath the carpet in the living room, we found vinyl sheeting glued to the concrete slab. it took me 4 days of scraping to get that shit off. i rented a power scraper from home depot which got about half of it off, but i had to resort to using Jasco chemical crap to dissolve the glue, which had hardened over the last 50 years. i kept my pregger wife out of the house while i did most of that stuff. we painted the wood paneling in the living room white w/ a purpleish pink accent wall. it looks awesome w/ the retro curtain, which we kept. the front room, which had been set up as a dining room and formal living room when we looked at the house is now just the dining room. it’s too small to be both. it is now a bright white.
we laid hickory hardwood in the living and dining room using low V.O.C glue from Mapei. that glue is super strong – it took over a week for that stuff to come off of my hands. it was such a pain in the ass to lay hardwoods that i’m hiring somebody to lay the remaining 180sqft in the office and hallway. we should have hired somebody in the first place – it would have saved time and labor. it wasn’t really such a pain, but it’s definitely back breaking. we were originally going to go w/ bamboo, but the only bamboo in our price range was of low quality and therefore soft enough to easily dent and scratch. in terms of sustainability, then, our floor has the positive aspect of not being shipped halfway around the world, but not much else.
the baby’s room is now painted a soft cheery yellow w/ white trim, and will have carpet tiles in various shades of light green. we designed the room unisex, but cindy won the battle of finding out the sex, and we are now well aware that our baby is a she. i don’t like designing the room around a sex anyway. the hallway is now white instead of nasty tan, and it feels so much bigger and brighter. it’s amazing what white, or any coat of paint for that matter, can do to your perception of space. the master bedroom is still halfway primed – we’ll probably finish it in a month or so when everything else in our life settles down (hardwoods are completely installed, vacation is over). the bedroom will be mostly white w/ a khaki accent wall, which will go well w/ our natural beech wood furniture (it’s all ikea veneer, but that’s the color). we painted the office yesterday – white again. it had been some sorry shade of off-white – you didn’t realize how OFF-white it was until it was being repainted. a much cheerier room now. once the painting is complete, we’ll lay baseboards everywhere which will pretty much complete the current renovation. in about 2 years we’ll probably do a major renovation which will expand our square footage by 800-1000. the ideas are churning in my head – plenty of time for refinement.
anyway, we did most of that in about one week, and that had 8 of our best friends from college visit austin for a weekend. we packed just about everybody into the house which still had boxes and paint and hardwood everywhere. this trip had been planned long before we found the house or set the closing date. chaotic is the word. but we had a great time despite the incessant rain. it rained all summer in austin, and that weekend was no exception. as soon as they left, though, it stopped raining and we haven’t had a drop since.
so that’s about it. plenty in the span of 2 months, i feel. oh yeah – the reward program changed at the place where we had our registry, and we found out we’re eligible for the top prize – a 37″ flat screen sharp aquos lcd! i called up and the thing is already shipping – we should get it this week. super psyched to get something that rockin’ for free! it looks to be about a $1299 value. that’s a hardcore reward gift.
what a year it’s been, and not even half over yet! i got married in late december (i’m considering it part of this year for the sake of the major changes), have a selection of job offers from which to choose, my wife is moving to a new firm this summer, we’re looking to move into a new house by early fall, and we’re expecting our first child in november. i have to be thankful at a time like this b/c things are going so well. i hope they hold out like this for a long time.
so it’s been nearly 2 months since i’ve posted, and i’d say a bit has happened in my life in that time. this post won’t be an update on all of that b/c it will likely verge on novella status, but in excerpt fashion, here’s the rub:
- first thing’s first: finished the semester. rocked out some kick-ass details of the firehouse, and was pretty happy w/ final review. i feel the critique was legit, and i’m in the process of updating a few items on the firehouse before me and the schreibs submit it to ISSUE:, the UT graduate architecture publication. after that it will be engulfed in v.2 of my portfolio. i took incompletes in 2 classes, and am currently trying to finish up some of that work (my studio this past semester was the most intense of any in arch.school, and it’s recommended to only take on class in addition to the studio. i took 2 in addition to planning a wedding, so i’m finishing up 2 classes in extended fashion).
- second thing which is really more important than the first: got married. as my best man and father-in-law both remarked in their toasts – finally. i know, dating for nearly 10 years is lengthy. on the up side, we were both completely confident in our future together and had absolutely zero anxiety going into the wedding (aside from regular anxiety dreams, which for some reason always involved wearing the wrong clothing – me, cindy, and our parents all had anxiety dreams about wedding garb. weird). after the wedding, which was amazing and fairy tale-esque, we stayed at the W Union Square in Manhattan for two days, and were given a complimentary upgrade to a suite overlooking Union Square. it totally rocked. much better than the silly Waldorf that we nearly stayed at. i can’t even believe that was ever contemplated. we then jetblue-d our way back to austin, and have been completely surprised to find that being married after 10 yrs of dating and 2 yrs of living together does feel different! it’s wonderful, and i can’t explain it. bordering on sappy, i have no doubt that i made the best decision of my life.
- sheva brachos: following a jewish wedding are seven days of parties in the new couple’s honor, and at each party seven blessings are read to wish them a life of happiness and success. they were thrown by our rabbi in austin and were very nice. parties nearly every night following your wedding, though, is exhausting.
- dallas: about 5 days after getting back to austin, we drove up to dallas (through a torrential storm) to spend christmas w/ the in-laws and extended family (who obviously aren’t jewish). jews and christmas – whoever says they don’t mix doesn’t know whats up. jews secretly love christmas – not the celebration of the birth of christ, but the awesome spirit and happiness and food and partying that happens. i love spending christmas w/ my new family and look forward to it every year. especially the insane cousins who play reindeer games, and we’re not talking ben affleck and his shitty movies – we’re talking about reassembling the neighbor’s yard art in compromising positions. following christmas, there was cindy’s office holiday party held at the managing partner’s house in fort worth severaly days later, so she worked in the dallas office and i worked at her parents’ house. on friday before we left, i explored downtown dallas, which is going to be pretty kick-ass soon. lots of old building are being converted to condos and apartments, and there’s some world class art and museum fun to be had down there. i got to visit the nasher sculpture center for the first time, and though it’s not necessary to proclaim renzo piano a master, i have to proclaim the beauty and elegance of the building. review of the nasher must be held for another post. also went to the dallas museum of art to see a van gogh exhibit, but only looked at it for about 10 min before checking out other parts of the museum. NOTE: never go see a special exhibition, ever, unless you REALLY love the topic. they’re generally filled to bursting w/ people that are trying to fill their yearly culture quota, and are therefore impossible to navigate or enjoy.
- austin: drove back to austin in another torrential storm (no rain while we were in dallas – just driving to and from!). this storm was even better than the first as we got to race tornado warnings! we waited out the first warning in dallas and had some lunch, but then listened to Emergency Broadcasting Service announcements the whole way back as we drove through walls of water. lots of fun. we only made it back 45 minutes later than our estimate, though, which was surprising. we immediately fell asleep.
- new years eve: stayed home, and cindy prepared an amazing gourmet meal. seriously, super top-notch. started dinner late so that we could have desert at midnight. we had the nice playlist going, the champagne, the fireworks set off by the neighbors, the firepit in the backyard. couldn’t have been better.
- new years day: double-dipped the movie theater for the first time since college. saw ‘night at the museum’ and ‘007: casino royale’ (for the second time). ‘museum’ was cute, nothing great, but not horrible either. i laughed, but it was only worth the cost of admission b/c i knew i’d get to see 007 again, which cindy had not yet seen. honestly, this 007 movie at the very least tied the best of any sean connery bond flicks, if it didn’t outright take the crown as the best 007 movie ever. it was a ‘bourne identity’ type of bond – not a ridiculous amalgam of gadgets and perfect hair stunts. super ass-kicking. and the ending rocked.
- now: as i said before, now i’m trying to do work from my incomplete classes, write thank you notes from the wedding, and pull together last minute details for our honeymoon to buenos aires next week.
- oh yeah: i got a macbook pro! i bought it refurbished from apple, so it was discounted nearly 40%. great deal. it’s a core duo, not core 2 duo, but i’m sure that i’ll survive for a few years w/ this hardware! the reason i upgraded from a powerbook was so that i could run windows (which is unforunately requied to run the standard CAD and 3d modeling programs). cindy bought my powerbook from me, so ultimately my total cost for the new computer was about $500-600. pretty good for a major upgrade. i think that i’ll try to sell and upgrade my machines every year or two from now on. you can get a good price selling apple machines in that time frame, and the amount of money i invest in new hardware every 1-2 years will ultimately be less than if i waited, say, 3 years and paid full price for a new machine. bonus: now i have a built-in web-cam so i can video chat (you can skype me if you want – the button on the right will say if i’m online [sidenote: i don’t know nearly enough people on skype. it seems that everyone i know who uses it keeps it generally as a work tool. oh well]).
- admission: ok, this did end up being a large post.