Friday, February 24, 2006

House Update: One Week Away(?)

Originally uploaded by drmacro.
Getting closer. The builder promises that by this time next week the house will be "complete". Major outstanding items are the kitchen countertops (material should be on site today or Monday), temporary light fixtures (to enable certification of occupancy in advance of getting final light fixtures), kitchen backsplash, installation of remaining plumbing fixtures, installation of the banister and railing (should be delivered today) and installation of screens on the screen porch.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

So Cute It Hurts

Originally uploaded by drmacro.
This morning I had to take my mother to airport, before Dada was up. When I returned, Julie and Dada were waiting in the kitchen, Dada in Julie's arms, wearing her new new heart-shaped glasses. As I came up to give her a kiss she gently pulled her glasses down and looked up at me over the tops, as she is here.

It was like a blow to the chest--the sheer force of the cuteness of the look literally knocked me back. This picture can't really capture the full force of the moment, of course, because part of it was the totality of the gesture, but you get the idea.

She then made it clear by her reaction that she fully understood the implications of her abilities. We urged her to use this power for good and never e-vil....

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Scary Clowns R Us

Originally uploaded by drmacro.
I took this picture of Dada with my camera phone. We had been visiting Babys-R-Us to look at toddler toilet seat adapters and Dada wanted to ride in the scary clown car (where Bozo looms menacingly over the childs shoulder while they innocently drive down an imaginary deserted road, rocking out to the car radio, unaware of the terrible danger that waits for them. HE'S RIGHT THERE IN THE BACK SEAT! GET OUT OF THE CAR! OH NOoooo!)

Anyway, she liked it. Apparently she has not yet developed a healthy fear of clowns. Or maybe she's screaming in terror having finally spotted Bozo in the rear view. It's hard to tell with the shades on....

Friday, February 17, 2006

Gotcha Day Video

gotcha-day-frame-grab-01In my last post I forgot to mention that I have posted the video of gotcha day on DailyMotion. This video is private to friends and family, so if you're not already on my DailyMotion friends and family list, send me an email and I'll send you an invite to access the video. The video spans from the morning of the 16th, as we left the hotel for the Beijing airport, to the afternoon as we returned to the White Swan hotel with our new daughters in our arms. While it's mostly focused on us, my father was careful to take footage of all the other memebers of our travel group because he was pretty much the only one with a video camera who wasn't also a new parent (or about to be). I haven't done much more than put a title at the start of the video and edit out the scenes where the camera was accidently on, but my father, being a professional movie photographer, produced a pretty good video just with raw footage.

And while you're at our DailyMotion site you can also watch our most popular video: Forrest and Lucy at the Dog Park 2. It's been viewed over 50 times since I posted it a week or so ago. Which means there must be a lot of people looking for dog or bassett hound videos. Who knew....

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Gotcha Day + 1 Year

Today is the one-year aniversary of "gotcha day", the day that Dada was put into our arms for the first time. Last year at this time we were in China in the White Swan hotel marveling at this wonderful little person we had been blessed with, overwhelmed by the reality of it, and quickly dealing with the immediacy of a child who needs to be fed and changed and bathed, all of it new to us. (Fortunately we had our parents with us, another marvelous blessing).

I think it's fair to say that we could not have been happier. We knew that we wanted to start a family, to be parents, and now we were. We knew that our lives would change in ways we couldn't imagine (and in ways we were pretty sure we could imagine) and we were entering into it with full acceptance, confident that we had made the right decision. One of the important aspects of adoption is that it cannot happen by accident. You have to want it and it's hard enough to do that you must be reasonably committed to doing it in order to make it happen. But it's still possible for one of you to not be fully invested in it. But we felt strongly that this was what we both wanted (and time has proved us correct so far).

The last year has definitely been an adventure, a change, a reordering of priorities, a restructuring of our lives and habits. We've had to struggle with the challenges all parents face, the issues of not knowing what to do at stressful moments, of functioning under stress and fatigue and self doubt. But we've delighted in the joy that Dada brings to everything.

For me, the joyous greeting I get when I come home from work is all I need to remind me why I gave up all those things I could do as a childless person, why suddenly a lot of things I thought were more or less important suddenly became almost entirely unimportant. The wonder of watching this child grow and learn day by day is just wonderful.

And of course none of this is new but it is our experience.

We've been incredibly lucky with Dada and we know that and try to remember that many many parents have a much harder time of it. Dada is a happy, healthy child--outgoing and sociable, generally as well behaved as any two-year-old can be expected to be, communicates remarkably well considering the limitations inherent in her age and early life. We are inexpressibly thankful for the blessing that she is and hope that we, as parents, can be worthy custodians the miracle she is.

Julie, as the primary care giver (as they say) has shouldered the heavier burden of parenthood and while I have some insight into what her typical day is like, I can't fully appreciate it.

One challenge we have as Dada's parents is that Julie and I are both introverts (as defined by the Myers-Brigs personality inventory) while Dada is pretty clearly an extrovert. This means that it is very tiring for us to interact with Dada over a long period of time because Dada, as an extrovert, wants constant interaction while we, as introverts, want quiet alone time. This makes it very interesting to be around Dada but also more tiring than you would otherwise expect.

Also, we're old--you don't really appreciate how old you are until you're chasing a toddler all day. Not that we're creaky or anything but we're not spring chickens either. On the other hand, we've both increased our upper-body strength significantly as a side effect of carrying around a 27-pound toddler.

CIMG3287To sum up, it's a been a wonderful year, full of joy and excitement and only a few moments of fear and trepidation and only a few of frustration and crushing doubt. I think I can speak for Julie when I say that we have absolutely no regrets about becoming parents.

Whether its synchronicity or just simple coincidence, today we were handed the keys to our new house. It's not quite ready to move into and we haven't closed on it yet, but the real doors are on it and we have keys. It seemed a fitting occurence on this day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dada's World

Took this picture today and purely by accident captured Dada in this reflective pose. Julie suggested that it is reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World. I like the texture of the tire tracks and the lighting. The fence divides the picture nicely.

I was just trying to get a good picture of the new fence they installed today. Sometimes you get lucky.

Monday, February 13, 2006


This is the first of the exterior sconces to be installed. These are from Hubbardton Forge, a collective that actually does hand forge at least parts of their lighting products. It was the builder's idea to put redwood plinths behind the sconces, which looks great.

Work is proceeding rapidly--they've installed the washer and drier, the refrigerator, most of the ceiling fans, the screen porch finish work is almost done. They've put up the fence posts for fence enclosing the back yard and should have it up tommorrow.

Dog drinking from toilet for first
We've got a PODS pod sitting in our driveway waiting for us to fill it with our crap. We started packing in earnest yesterday and expect to spend at least this week at it. I'm taking the week off to work on it and, hopefully, my mother will be here tommorrow (Tuesday) to help watch Dada while we pack (she called this evening to say she wasn't feeling well and didn't know if she was going to be well enough to travel tommorrow--let's hope it's just a 24-hour bug.

CIMG3216They also got the stairwell banister and the upstairs railing installed, but we're not happy with some of the details--the building supervisor indicated he's not entirely happy with the metalwork either but I didn't press him for details. We'll discuss it tommorrow but it's nothing that can't be changed.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dada Update: Feb 2006

A year ago we were in Beijing, China shopping: blog post for Feb 12, 2005. Five day's later we would have Dada in our arms. Full gotcha+1 year report to come.

Dada's vocabulary continues to build--she's starting to put two-word phrases together and talking all the time. Her drawing skills are improving rapidly--only a few weeks ago she could barely make controlled marks and now she can make circular and straight marks, dots, and so on (not that she can draw actual circles or squares, of course). Julie reports that she can now identify triangles and circles as of yesterday.

She seems to be in something of a growth spurt as her appetite has improved the last couple of days. She's also cutting a molar, which seems to take the edge off her normal joyous mood just a bit.

This week we will be packing the house for the move--Dada's Nei Nei (Gran Judy) will be coming to help watch Dada while we pack and I've taken the week off work. I wish I could say it will be fun....

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


They poured the driveway today, which was very exciting. By pure chance I arrived at the site just as the first cement truck was pulling in to unload the first batch of cement, so I got to watch most of the process of pouring and finishing. It was just about the time Julie would be leaving to pick up Dada from her mother's day out, so I called her on the phone and asked her to bring Dada down so we could all put our hand prints in the cement.

CIMG3112Unfortunately, when Julie did finally arrive (after a detour to go home and get some milk--apparently Dada was, shall we say, quite insistent on the matter), Dada had fallen asleep and we were not keen to wake her. So Julie went back home with Dada and I went back to the office, Julie and I having agreed to return as soon as Dada woke up. We were assured that the cement would be imprintable until about 5:00 or so.

A little after 3:00 I got Julie's call that Dada was awake so I zipped home and we rushed to the site. The head concrete dude smoothed a little section for us and we made our prints. I tried to do Dada's hand but she didn't go for it and we had to CIMG3109re-smooth and try again. She refused to put her hand in so we used her foot.

Getting the driveway in was the last really big bit of construction. Everything else is just installation of fixtures, counter tops, and some finish work here and there. Doug the foreman says we might be able start moving in as early as a week from Friday.

I was able to take some short videos of the pouring and smoothing process, of which this is the first of four:

Pouring the Driveway, Part 1

I also took this video, which demonstrates the quality of the soundproofing in the house. It starts with a cement truck outside an open window of the master bedroom and continues as I close the window:

Sound Check One

Sunday, February 05, 2006

House Update: Almost There...

Things are rapidly proceeding toward completion. As you can see they have formed up the driveway. Not sure when the pouring is scheduled but it needs to be soon because having the driveway in place is a prerequisite for closing on the final loan, which we need to do in the next week or so in order to keep our locked-in rate.

The interior is painted, the upstairs flooring is in, and the baseboards are in upstairs (but still need to be finished). The electrical outlets and switches are about half done. The remaining electrical fixtures and all the plumbing fixtures should be put in next week. The counter tops should be coming in soon too. We have a couple final decisions to make: need to pick slab for the master bath counter and the caps on the kitchen bar columns.

The kitchen bar columns still haven't been poured--they've been formed up but the pouring got delayed by rain last week, as did completion of the last bits of the roof.

Here are some pictures of the latest work:


Driveway form detail


Master BR with baseboards, evening light

Dada's room with baseboards and cork flooring

Cork flooring detail

The cork flooring is a natural, newnewable product. It's quite durable and relatively low maintenance. It's slightly squishy like linoleum.

Downstairs with all painting done, looking from livingroom

The front entry is to the left. The white wall in the center is the projection wall, which is painted with Screen Goo[tm] screen paint, which should perform almost as well as a special-purpose projection screen.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Dada Climbing the Ladder By Herself

Dada Climbing the Ladder By Herself
Video sent by drmacro
Dada is quickly building her physical skills. In the last week or so she has learned to climb the ladder at the playscape at Central Market, where we often go on the weekend. This video is her climbing the ladder all by herself.

The weather is beautiful but the cedar pollen is horrible. Yesterday was measured as the highest cedar pollen levels ever recorded in February, and the second highest level on record. We are all clawing our eyes out and everyone is a little grumpy and grouchy.

It's particularly maddening because the weather is so nice (clear, mid 70's) but it's tough to spend any time outdoors, so we are not keen to take Dada outside to work off her energy. This trip to Central Market was in the morning, before the pollen got really bad.