Monday, January 23, 2006

Fun With Video: Take 2

Video sent by drmacro
Here's a try with another site, dailymotion ( DailyMotion has privacy features essentially the same as Flickr's (videos can be limited to viewing by friends and family).

This clip is elephants at the Elephant Orphanage near Kandy, in Sri Lanka. I took this with my little digital camera. You could stand right in among the elephants. It was very cool.

On my computer at home the video looks like it was downsampled a bit from its original (it looks a little pixelated when I view it from the blog but not using QuickTime). But it's quick and easy to upload.

Interior Paint

They have done the interior wall color and cabinet painting (as of Saturday morning). They may have finished the wainscotting by now (we didn't go to the site on Sunday).

This picture is Dada's room. The wall with the vent opening will be papered with the same paper that's in her room now, a pastel blue paper with subtle line drawings of animals and such(elephants, giraffes, palm trees and huts, etc.).

CIMG2927They have also finished the finish trim for the screen porch, so I think all that remains there is to paint and install the screen itself, which I'm sure will be one of the last things to be done.

The upstairs cork flooring should go in this week, along with the floorboards. Then it's mostly a matter of installing all the electrical and plumbing fixtures, completing the kitchen bar, and installing the counter tops.

We still have to select tile or stone for the kitchen and utility backsplash and slab for the master bath.

We're starting to stress about moving--so much to do and very little time to do it. Grandma Judy will be coming out the week of Valentine's day to help watch Dada while we pack and stuff--that should help a lot.

We've started interviewing realtors about selling the house. We got some bad news in our first interview, which is that our current house is not worth as much as we had hoped--apprently whoever did the drive-by appraisal for our financing seriously overvalued it. We shouldn't have any difficulty selling it for at least what we owe but we're not going to make much profit (keep in mind that we accessed most of our equity when we refinanced it in order to fund the construction). The good news is that houses on our street sell very quickly. Two sold just recently in 2 days and 9 days. With this news I'm going to revisit the possibility of renting, although I doubt it can be made to work for us financially. But if we could work out a break-even situation that would be attractive. Our friend Vanessa has just rented her house through a management company and I'm planning to talk to them about our house. You never know....

Here are more pictures of the interior paint. The camera doesn't really capture the colors accurately but you can get an idea.

Second bedroom/office

Upstairs hallway (looking toward master BR)

Upstairs hallway (looking toward hall bath)

Dressing room

Kitchen cabinets

Hangin' Out

It's been a pretty quiet weekend. We actually got rain, although not enough to really break the drought. This picture was taken at the playscape at Central Market as we tried to get in a little outdoor play time before the weather completely turned. The blanket is as close as I could get to putting a jacket on her, although I did succeed in getting her to wear a jacket later that day (when we took a walk with the dogs) by pointing out that it was the "jacket with stars". Apparently she finds her very cute pink jacket to be hateful.

Dada is currently all about the books. It seems like we spent most of the weekend reading to her: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Kitten's First Full Moon, Everywhere Babies, and so on.

She continues to build her vocabulary and has started to use two or three words more or less together (mommy? shower? clean? towel?) but not anything near sentences. She seems to have the concept of two down and we're working on counting to three.

She also decided to start sleeping in her toddler bed for reasons unknown to us. This is good because it means that Boo and would Nei Nei have place to sleep should they visit before the move.

We also played with Play Doh[tm] for the first time, which was fun. At first she didn't really know what to do with it but after a while she got into the swing of it. I suppose she'll be doing claymation animation before long.

Hanging from the bar


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Fun with Video: Take 1

Uploaded by drmacro

I have started to experiment with low-cost services for posting video clips on the Web and making them available from the blog. Take one is with the service vSocial, a Flickr-like free site that gives you 20mb per week of video storage.

The video is streamed in Flash format which should make it viewable in most browers, maybe even with WebTv and doesn't require you to download the whole video first.

Please let me know how this video works for you. On my computer the quality seems fine and access is pretty quick. The video itself is about 19meg, which would take a little while to download even with broadband.

The video itself was taken by Julie's cousin Steve Golden at last summer's Perkins/Sheets family renunion. It shows Dada at about 18 months, shortly before she had her big growth spurt where her legs grew to their proper length, taking her from dwarf to little girl almost literally over night.
Also featured prominently are Dada's uncle Tommy and his daughter Natalie, Dada's cousin and Peggy's first grandchild.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Dada's hair has finally gotten long enough to be put into credible pigtails and, by some feat of motherly magic, Julie was able to both create the pigtails and get them to last long enough for me to get some pictures.

This picture was taken at the Little Deli where we often meet for lunch during the week.

Dada's verbal skills continue to improve rapidly--she's picking up new words all the time and improving her pronounciation. We've been working on the "p" sound, as in "puh, puh, puh, poo!" But of course, as a toddler, she still has many painfully cute mispronounciations, such as "per-kel" for purple.

Cute Break

Here is Dada as Camille:


Dada is starting to learn to use the potty (what is now referred to as "toilet learning" rather than "potty training"). We have been taking a very low-key approach to toilet learning, doing little more than putting her in pull-ups and letting her know that her little potty is there if she wants to use it. But she's now gone pee-pee in the potty on her own initiative several times and seems to be getting the hang of it. I'm sure it will still be many months before we can abandon diapers completely but we find this to be an encouraging sign.

Julie has taught her a very cute trick, which is when you ask "What does the Queen say?" she says "hel-leew" in that British sing-songy way made famous by Monty Python. It's really heartbreakingly cute.

Final cuteness assalt

This is Dada the movie star, fresh from the opening of Camille, in her open-top roadster:


House Progress 14 Jan 2006: Exterior Almost Done

We're getting closer to the end on this house business. This week they got all the metal siding up and filled in the last bits of Hardy Plank[tm] siding on the exterior. Now all they have to do is the final exterior paint and then install the remaining awnings and the roof bits they left off during construction. The stone work is finished.

On the interior, the painters have done all the clear painting and are doing the priming this weekend. The interior painting should be done by the end of next week. Once the painting is done they'll install the cork flooring in the upstairs.

They're still working on the bar in the kitchen--apparently the dude who was supposed to do the concrete work went to Mexico for "four weeks" and hadn't come back seven weeks later so Doug the project supervisor is building the form himself and scrambling to get the concrete poured.

The builder says we should be able to move in in early February and everything seems to be on track for that. We met with Ed the finance guy this week and everything seems to be on track for the final close. We've started talking to realtors about getting our current house listed. So it's starting to seem a bit more real. Ed wants us to close by the end of January but it doesn't look like the forms for pouring the driveway can be in place in time for that to happen. As I understand it, to close you have to have a survey that shows all the flat work, in addition to the house construction being "essentially complete." But the builder said he didn't think he could get the driveway forms in place that quickly. All that really means for us is we'll have one more payment on the relatively high-interest construction loan.

They're making slow but steady progress on the finish trim for the screen porch--I've been watching them do it when I'm at the site at lunch time and it is pretty involved work so it's no surprise that it's taking a while.

Julie has been working very hard on getting all the fixtures selected and ordered. At this point everything except a few odd-ball fixtures have either been ordered or are already on site. We still have to select the drawer pulls and towel bars and like that.

Here are a few more pictures of the exterior with the essentially-finished siding:

Awning over master BR window

View from driveway entry (SE corner)

View from in front of Jay and Kay's house (NE corner)

View from Cumberland (NW corner) looking across Jay and Kay's back yard

View of back of house from other side of creek

Sunday, January 01, 2006

House Update: 1 Jan 2006

It is the new year and the house is coming along smartly.

Yesterday they started installing the flagstone for the side patios (generously financed by my father--we had originally cut the flagstone out of the initial construction in order to stay within budget). It looks great and will go a long way to making the exterior look a lot more finished.

CIMG2821We had a meeting on Friday with Ed the Designer to go over his color selections and discuss lighting fixtures. Yesterday we looked at the paint samples on the walls and refined our choices. They were also working on the final finish work in the master bath (including the sauna, yeah!). Here are a few pictures of the master bath with all the stone installed:


Here is the downstairs bath with the travertine tile installed:


They also got the high-tech dog door installed:


The builder said they tested it out and that it's really really cool.

They have finished the exterior stone work except for the cap along the top edge:


The cap will be this light-colored sandstone:


CIMG2816They delivered the materials to finish out the screen porch and should start on that on Monday. They also delivered the metal siding and should start on that on Monday as well.

This means that the exterior should be essentially complete by the end of the week. They expect to have the painting done in a couple of weeks. Julie has started ordering light fixtures and ceiling fans. I think they also plan to get the upstairs flooring installed this week.

The main outstanding interior item is the kitchen bar--they still need to pour the concrete pillars that go on each side of the bar--that should happen this week. Once that is in they can finish the bar and install the last bit of kitchen cabinetry.

Then we have to start selecting plumbing fixtures. I can hardly wait.

We seem to still be on track for move in some time in February.

Dada's 2005 Holidays

Here is Dada celebrating the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006 as we wait for the start of the Austin First Night Procession. The temperature was a freaky 75 degrees F (about 24 C for our non-U.S. readers). So we were downtown on New Year's Eve in our shirtsleeves. Very strange.

It's been a fun holiday season, Dada's First Christmas and Dada's birthday (she turned two on 29 December). As I didn't have any time off left for the year we didn't do a whole lot. We went to Houston the Wed before Christmas and I worked from a coffee shop while Julie and Peggy did pre-Christmas stuff. Peggy hosted 20 people for Christmas dinner.

We don't know the degree to which Dada understood why she was getting all these packages but she certainly enjoyed opening them and I think she understood that the gifts were from different people. One challenge for us was photographing the moment so that all the gift givers could share in the opening experience. We weren't always Johnny on the spot with the camera but I think we got most of it. I've created a gallery of gifts at the end of this post. The full set of pictures is on Flickr.

CIMG2768For Dada's birthday we had a quiet celebration at home. We were going to go to a restaurant with a few friends but as the time approached we were all either sick or tired (or sick and tired) and so we ended up just having Uncle Jay to the house for cake and presents. Julie made Dada a very nice cake, which Dada didn't go for but we enjoyed very much.

As expected, Dada got lots of presents (although thankfully, not tons of presents), so we let her open two or three every day so as not to overwhelm her. Not sure we'll be able to do that next year, when she'll undoubtedly understand just what this festival of greed--I mean giving--is all about. [But then maybe next year we can host Christmas in our new home.]

Dada continues to delight and amaze. She is learning her colors; she can correctly identify blue, red, yellow, orange, and green and we're working on purple and pink. As far as we can tell from the child care books we have, this is remarkably early to learn colors (the "What to Expect, Toddler Years" book says that "they may even be able to identify 1 color" by age 2.75). Not sure where this is coming from but it scares us just a little bit.

Her vocabulary and vocal skills are improving rapidly. She learns new words very quickly and her pronounciation is getting much better--yesterday she said "milk" quite clearly, rather than the "mee" she usually says. She's still talking mostly in single words but I'm sure she'll be a regular Chatty Kathy before too long.

CIMG2806Her current facinations include the moon, trains, airplanes, babies, guitars, and dogs. Yesterday, after an hour at the Children's Museum looking at trains and videos of people playing guitars (part of the Austin City Limits exhibit), we went to South Austin Music to look at real guitars. This is a little music store filled to the brim with guitars and stringed instruments of every description. She was enthralled and wanted to play them all (which she does by putting the guitar in her lap and plucking at the strings). I know she's too young to start learning to play but it's still all I can do not to buy her one of the little child-size acoustic guitars (they also make a 3/4 size Fender Stratocaster, but I think she'll need to be more like 5 or 6 before she's strong enough to hold it, much less play it). I did learn that there's a guitar program in Austin that takes children starting at about 4 years old....

She's now two and is definitely asserting herself more, testing limits and reacting more vociferously when she doesn't get her way, but she hasn't yet exhibited the worst terrible twos behavior. She's still good about going to bed without much fuss. She is full of energy, which is exhilerating but exhausting. After taking her to the museum, the music store, and the site yesterday morning, I was exhausted. Thank goodness she fell asleep in the car, because I certainly needed a nap. Gives me a much better appreciation of what Julie has to do every day.

We're looking forward to 2006. The house is coming together quickly and we can't wait to be in it. We're going to the site almost every day, which takes a lot of energy. We're having to make decisions every day and Julie is working very hard on selecting fixtures, colors, and so on. It's all going well (see related post on house progress) but I'll be happy to be done with it.

Here is the gallery of gifts:

(put pictures here)

From Grandma Nei Nei (Judy):


From Grandpa Ba (Bill):

Putting up stars with Daddy

From Grandma Boo (Peggy):


From "Aunt" Marcy:


From "Uncle" Jay and "Aunt" Kay:


From cousin Vanessa McVay and her children Derek and Sarah: