June 5, 2006

Pregnant Lady In The House Helps Your Projects Get Done Quick

dwell_mag0606.jpgDwell Magazine has definitely been drinking from the baby bar these days; the last few issues have had more kidstuff in them than a babystyle catalogue.

The June issue has a story about a Portland, OR, family's renovation of a fugly loser ranch house into a modernist paradise-on-a-budget designed by the architect/dad, Brian White. Here's a bit of advice that I thought'd be useful for anyone with both a pregnancy and a big project looming:

Brian, along with Urban Design Build Company, came up with a two-phase construction schedule. In part, this was predicated onthe fact that Deborah [White] was now pregnant with their second child. Brian reminisces, "I would not recommend that the two coincide. However, I did find that that is the best motivation to get a project completed on time--it is hard explaining the reasons a project won't be finished on time to a pregnant woman." [emphasis added]
The house was done on Deborah's due date, btw. The kids: Grace & Markus with a 'k'.

"Cooler Ranch" [dwellmag.com, but alas, not online]


"The house was done on Deborah's due date."

I bet that went over real well.

Well, our house WASN'T done by my due date (and the baby came 3 weeks early to boot).

I spent months 3-7 of my pregnancy sleeping on a mattress in my dad's living room, and now my memories of my daughter's first few months are of scrubbing pots and pans in the bathroom sink every morning bleary-eyed from lack of sleep whilst she took her morning nap because our damn kitchen wasn't done.

All down to the damn cabinetmaker.

The same cabinetmaker we hired to make a version of a David Netto-stye changing table. The one we finally got to use when she was THREE AND A HALF MONTHS OLD.

Yes, besides straining my back from bending over that bathroom sink, I strained my back from bending over our bed, which we had to use as a changing table in the meantime.

And now, number 2 is due November 1st. And guess what? We have to finish our house before then -- skylights, some drywalling, painting, trim, and BATHROOMS (both of 'em) -- because we are moving to Switzerland on posting and have to rent the place out.

It is a curious but effective way to torture a pregnant woman.

we 'finished' our reno a week before the baby came 10 days early. as we had a home birth, it was an especially good thing. when the doula came and wanted to set up the tub, I started running around organizing things and unpacking in order to make room for it. she thought i was nuts. but that was basically my m.o. for the first few weeks - whenever someone came to visit I would take advantage of the extra person in the apt. to spaz around and finish something up. now, at 10 weeks, we are almost completely moved back in, aside from a few (no v.o.c.) painting projects and a few organizational details. for us it wasn't so much the deadline of the due date as it was the excitement that our little girl gets to come into a brand new home (it was a little dumpy before)

When I found out my wife was pregnant, I went into (I hate this term) nesting mode. My mother and wife kept telling me Youre nesting and I would scowl at them then go off and collect my twigs and twine. I realized, however, that the nesting instinct is nothing to be ashamed of. I imagine that other creatures also feel the call and experience the great pleasure of creating a world for their offspring to come into. Here was the situation: our old apartment was 450 sq. ft. dump in a shady area of Astoria with obnoxious neighbors and a landlord who was conducting his own Rich Dad Poor Dad real-estate experiment (his tenants all suffered from his penny-pinching and endless nagging). Not a place to bring my child home. My wife and I quickly made plans to move out and found a sweet two bedroom in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I think Brooklyn tops all the places I lived in NYC, at least so far. No offense to those in Astoria, but I thought the neighborhood sucked.

Anyway, we moved, then the real madness began. I canceled my cable and stopped watching TV all together except for Netflix. As I was putting together this vision of what my home could be, I tried to find other like minded people. Thats how I actually came to Daddytypes many months ago, and have been enjoying the site ever since. I got a lot of laughs off the site and was happy to see some other fathers were as interested as I was in the minutiae of gear, modern design, bizare tidbits, modern fatherhood I guess.

Our new place is of course a rental, but I figure if we are in it for at least 5 years, it will be worth the effort I put into creating the proper home ambiance for our child. In the painting and furniture decisions, I tried to create a cohesive interior for our baby . I say cohesive but its not in anyway overly color coordinated or trying to impose to much of one design philosophy; although the overarching motif is modern (I own a Rex rocking chair, Stokke Crib, bugaboo, you know the routine). I wanted something that was both primary and bold and very modern, yet not cold as I think some modern apartments can come off. Most off all, I wanted no clutter, so we trashed about 1/3rd of our possessions and found creative storage solutions for the rest. My wife seeing that I was possessed stepped out of the way and let me go to work stopping me at the right times from going to far, Dear God DONT Paint that ceiling detail it will look like we live in a MIAMI retirement home! and we jointly decided on the colors. We argued about furniture choices, I was downright mean spirited on one contested bookcase decision but have eaten my words and apologized profusely since it arrived because its damn near perfect. I basically finished the apartment a few days before my baby was born. Of course there will always be a few things left to do, but thats just tinkering. I want our apartment to stand out in our childs memory as a home she can return to in her mind whenever she wants later in life. The apartment is my homage to modern family life in the city---we all signed our names on the wall with the babys birth date. Anyway, I agree with the subject line for your article.

Knowing my baby was coming in nine months was the most intense motivator I have ever experience.

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