Monday, March 30, 2015

Improvements

As much as we enjoy our house, there have always been a few things that we wanted changed.  We remedied the color of the house last summer, but there were some other projects that we wanted to complete as well.  As of February, everything is complete, and we couldn't be happier with the results!

Project #1:  The laundry/half bath.  When we first looked at the house, this was one thing that Adam and I agreed on:  the half bath was awkward.  It housed our washer and dryer, as well as a toilet and a utility sink.  While I loved having a utility sink, it was awkward for guests.  Everyone ended up washing hands at the kitchen sink.  Luckily, we own a stackable washer and dryer.  And equally as lucky, Adam had a plan.  So over the course of about 4-5 weeks (I hope I never have to see the inside of a laundromat while tugging around dirty clothes for a family of 5 again!), we had a half wall put in, tile laid, and a vanity installed.

Before:


After:


Project #2:  The upstairs landing.  At the top of the stairs, in between the two bedrooms, was this awkward 11x6 room that had no clear function.  Too small for a bedroom and with no closet, we used it for little more than the computer desk.  It felt like mostly unused space.  I kept thinking what a great reading area it would be, and Adam discovered that the wall wasn't load bearing.  Of course once the wall was gone, we had areas of the wall and ceiling that needed to be patched, two ceiling lights where we only needed one (one that was in the actual room, and the other in the hall), and gaping areas in the carpet where a wall had been.  So we had an electrician get rid of one light and center the remaining, someone patch the ceiling and re-texture the ceiling and walls, and finally the first week of February, new carpet (and that went in throughout the house, not just upstairs).  I love that we spend time up there now!  It's a great place to sit and read, play and gather as a family.  

I forgot to take pictures before demo started, but you get the idea.  Before:



After:



It feels like this is the layout our house was supposed to have all along!

Budding Artist

I was busying myself around the kitchen not long ago, and noticed this picture hanging on the side of the fridge.  It's been up there since we've been in this house, and even hung in our old apartment.  It's escaped my notice for so long, and for some reason it caught my attention.  This is a picture if our family, done by Claire when she was 3.  I remember she drew it when I was teaching preschool to Claire and her little friends.  We did a letter-of-the-week format, and I was teaching about the letter M.  We talked about the mail, and drew pictures for our moms and mailed it to them.  When she was 3, this was how she saw our family (and ignore the numbers written on top - Adam wrote a running time on it):


So much has changed in the three years since that artistic rendition of our family was created.  We bought a house.  We've added another family member.  We are all a little older and (hopefully) wiser.  And Claire has made some major improvements in her artistic abilities.  I realized I was collecting Claire's artwork in a pile, unsure of what to do with it all.  I can't keep every piece of paper and cute picture that comes from the hands of my sweet daughter.  But I don't want to forget it either.
Here are some of the cute things that Claire has created over the past year and a half or so.

Claire took to making books.  She made a lot of books.  In this one, she made up a story about a tiger.  This was the first animal that really looked like an animal.  


Inside the book are more pictures of the tiger, in addition to other animals.  I can't even tell what the others are (except for that cute little ladybug).  But the tigers are pretty obvious.



Claire made some major strides with her people.


And then again.  This one she drew last summer of Adam playing baseball.


And here is a more recent depiction of our family.  I'm holding baby Harper, and Claire is pushing her little Noli doll in a stroller.



Claire started doing something adorable last fall:  she started incorporating stickers into her art.  Here she used stickers of animal faces, drew bodies for them, and the created houses for them.  My favorite is the chicken coop.


At Christmas time, she wrote a note for Santa, letting him know that we would be at Grandma's house, so that he would know where to find her.  I loved that she labeled her elf drawing to make sure Santa knew what it was.


Of course, she's done her fair share of artwork involving fairy tale creatures and characters.  Mermaids make a regular appearance.  I love the sea creatures too.




 Here's another one that incorporates stickers.


Recently Claire drew pictures of Rapunzel (the Disney version, of course), when she first leaves the tower, as well as when they are in the boat with the lanterns. 




Of course, Claire has done a lot of drawing in school.  Here are some of my favorites:


This was one of the first things Claire wrote about in school.  They needed to write about what they like to eat, and Claire wrote (in awesome Kindergarten spelling) that she likes salmon, rice and broccoli.  



The flamingo is adorable.


This one was handed to us at the parent-teacher conference last month.  She wrote about us going to Target, and she was happy.  Funny girl!




This is a lot of stuff, but I love it all.  I'm excited to see what else Claire (and Henry and Harper, for that matter) will create for us.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I was sent to Peru ...

Three weeks after my sweet wife had our little Harper, a technology in education conference called Virtual Educa which focuses on technical solutions in education in Spanish speaking countries was held in Lima, Peru.  Since the Intel NUC was going to be part of Intel's showcase at the conference, they needed an expert on NUC ... and a Spanish speaker.  One person in the division is a Puerto Rican native and speaks Spanish natively, but he was unable to attend.  The result was that I was the only person who both knew the product line and could speak Spanish.  The NUC is this little Intel branded computer kit I've been working on since November 2012.

A second generation Intel NUC based on the Haswell silicon.

A double chin selfie in front of the conference center.


The conference center.

An honest living.


 Dubious public transit.

Some of the housing near the conference center.


More buildings.  Most in Lima looked like this.

I thought this flower was pretty, so I took a picture. 

Some interesting houses.  I liked that spiral staircase.

 Bright colors on tired buildings.

I was told this was the Ministry of Education building.  It was made to look like a stack of books.

Adjoining auditorium 

The demos were held in the Ministry of Culture building. 

 View of the street in front of the building.

Intel's demo space. 

A education solutions sales manager giving a presentation to various ministries of education.

I mostly went from the hotel to the conference and back.  So I didn't really get to see Lima.  I can say that I would never drive there.  The traffic was beyond comprehension.  The surprising thing that I didn't know about Lima is that it is renowned for its food.  It's kind of considered the Paris of South America.  The food was really something else.  It was the only thing I really felt I got to experience of Lima besides the education conference.  By the end, I really just wanted to see my family, especially Claudia.  I always miss her the most.



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