Fox Nursery Pt. One

Even before I found out I was pregnant I loved this nursery that I had seen on Apartment Therapy.  The wallpaper really stood out to me. I wanted to copy the idea of a wallpaper accent wall whether it be in a nursery or not. nursery inspirtationWhen we found out I was pregnant I pretty much showed Cary this photo and said that it was what I wanted to transform our guest room into. This was pretty early on in the pregnancy and we decided that we should wait before making any haste design decisions. We also knew that we would want to find out the sex of the baby and maybe that would help determine what we wanted in a nursery.

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Struggling to describe fatherhood

In my late English literature survey course at UIC, my instructor spent a whole lecture section one day talking about “Frost at Midnight” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I remember sitting in the poorly, but warmly lit hall in Lecture Center, following along in my Norton’s anthology, always too afraid that I might spill a drink on or tear the tissue paper pages and ruin the set.

It was the spring semester and spring in Chicago is a time to look forward after what always seems to be a punishing and long winter. Continue reading

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Elliott’s Birth Story

Elliott was born on May 5th, 2014, four days before his due date. My doctor kept telling me that he was measuring big (especially the head), but that he was cozy in my womb. She predicted that he would probably be late and we had even scheduled an induction date for the week after his due date. Needless to say, I was surprised when my water broke on a Sunday morning. Continue reading

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Baby Go Time

Early May and we’re in month nine of Lindsey’s pregnancy.

I was wrapping up my last year at Hersey. There was an enrollment drop in the district, hitting my school the hardest and being the least senior member of my department, I was left without a schedule for the following year. The only merciful aspect of this was that we had several months to prepare for the new baby, so the bad news about my work was pretty easy to take as more of a bump in the road instead of an existential threat to our existence.

At Lindsey’s last appointment before the due date, our doctor had said that the baby was all set, but probably going to hang out for a few more weeks. There were no contractions. There was no reason to think that the baby might spend another month in his mother, which was great because I was completely unprepared to be out of school for a couple of weeks. Continue reading

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A Kitchen Surfaces

Note: This post has been sitting as a draft for more than three years. So… might as well publish.

For a while, it was a relief just to have cabinets. Having taken out our one bank of moist, decomposing base cabinets and replaced them with about three times as much capacity in both base and wall cabinets was exciting. We could take all of our food out of the temporary setup we had, of which we had to throw out about half for being full of plaster dust, and load it up in what would soon be a normal place.

The sun sets on our newly covered cabinets and walls.

Of course, we didn’t actually have half of a kitchen yet. A couple of guys had come to measure our base cabinets for the countertops and took our sink with them, so while we waited for them to come back, I bought a 24″ x 36″ piece of edge-glued pine for a makeshift surface.  It was a great morning when the countertop guys came back and gave us an actual cooking surface.

First, let me tell you about our counter tops.

After doing a bunch of research online into different surfaces and doing by best to estimate our costs based on displays inside of Menard’s, HOBO, and Home Depot, we thought that we would just entertain using one of those vendors advertised in the kiosks in Costco.

Here’s the thing about that: all Costco does is try to get you preferable pricing with contractors in the area. That’s all they do. Costco is a great place to get a lot of things, but for counter tops, you really can get similar deals elsewhere.

This is basically our color/texture palette. The countertop sample is on the left.

The material we chose ultimately is quartz and I would recommend it for anyone looking for an alternative to regular stone. We probably could have gone with granite since we live in the midwest (important when shopping for stone materials) and had room in our budget for it, but it’s not really our taste. Marble was never an option and we wanted something that was a little bit more functional than laminate. Quartz gives us something that won’t stain, can take a lot of abuse, and looks a little bit like some of the recycled glass countertops that we saw but could never afford.

We ended up being pretty happy with the samples provided by the guy that Costco sent to us. Being a dude working on a kitchen, I was nervous that I would end up choosing a sample that was too dark and masculine for Lindsey.

Stereotypically, I was hoping that whoever would come would stand in well for Lindsey and balance out my tendency to steer us toward a big dark counter surface. Instead, what showed up was about 250 lbs. of dude with a thick Chicago accent.

So he pulled out the box of samples and I started to leaf through them, trying to say to myself over and over again, “find something that Lindsey will like,” but also worried that I would pick something a little bit too girly and I wouldn’t like it. I picked out a few samples, two in cooler tones and one white one with specks in it. When I showed the counter guy the white one, he stuck it on one of the cabinets and said, “Have a look at that. Yeah. That’s a good safe play.”

In fact, everything was a play, and something about the way that this big dude was calling the girliest sample I pulled a play assured me that it would be a kitchen I would be comfortable in.

A nice, fresh countertop newly installed.

When the countertops went in, I was surprised at how great it looked. The white did not look girly at all, but stately, if not a little bit school-y, which makes sense given what Lindsey and I do for a living. The specks in the countertop give it a sense of depth that I did not expect.

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This blog has been moribund for quite a while. It has been pretty embarrassing actually, but it is time to come back to it. Pretty soon, Lindsey and I will have a newborn to write about this coming spring and plenty to think about and share with our friends and family. On the technical side, I would like to start writing more about planning and forecasting technology. I am sure we will have some food stuff and house stuff to share as well.

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Getting Ready for ICE 2012

I am going to be showing off my miniature whiteboard project at the Illinois Computing Educators 2012 Conference a week from this Thursday, in St. Charles, IL. It should be a good time. This is going to be the first conference that Lindsey and I both attend, which is exciting enough on its own. It will also be the first time I ever participate in a conference in any other way than scurrying from keynote to breakout, hoping that I’m taking good enough notes for anyone I hope to talk about stuff with later on. So that means that for my first ever conference presentation, I might get to mess it up in clear view of my wife. Continue reading

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That’s It! (for Ben’s CTER degree program)

Well, I suppose this is goodbye.

It has only been a short 16-months in the program, but it looks as though this is it for me and the CTER program. I had originally joined the program thinking that it would be good for me. Technology is something that I think about a whole lot and I love experimentation, so I thought that CTER was right in my wheelhouse and I could take it deep without having to step too far outside of what I knew.

I was right about the first point and wrong about the second and that is by far the best thing about the program overall. Continue reading

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Conflicted on Disrupting Class

Disrupting Class by Clayton M. Christensen is simultaneously the most compelling outsider view of education and contains some of the most naive assumptions and downright lazy narratives I have ever seen. So the questions I have been turning over and over in my head are: How much of this book is interesting? How much of it is new? How much of my opinion of it is really just a proxy war between my inner skeptic and my inner believer?

On that last question, I have no idea which one is going to win out in the end, or even which one I want to win out in the end. Part of the reason why I love the most skeptical parts of myself is because I get to explore the feeling of having my mind changed on things. (I’ll post more about that later when I write about what I’ve learned overall in my CTER coursework.) So, let’s figure out what in this book serves the soldiers of my mind’s inner conflict. Continue reading

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Your own private Cloudaho

In the 90s it was e-. Then Apple made everyone put i- in front of everything in 1998. That stuck around for most of the 2000s and then 2010 rolled around and we needed a new euphemism for things on the Internet. So we have “cloud” now.

Along with the marketing term though, we have Larry Ellison’s dream where software is sold as a service, not as a product, and everything is stored and delivered over the Internet. If you back up and think about what “the cloud” is though, it’s much bigger than just files and applications, in the world of Internet service companies, it’s an approach to server management where web sites are no longer tied to on specific dedicated server, but instead abstracted across multiple machines.

That second part is probably the more boring concept for most people, but from the perspective of a school tech geek, it’s actually much more exciting than Google Docs. Continue reading

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