Wednesday, November 25, 2009


This post is a little difficult for me to write, and I have good reasons to not post it. Yesterday I had my final review for my thesis project. What this basically means is that this was the last presentation I will ever make as an undergraduate architecture student, and (as long as I don't go insane and decide to get a master's--shoot me first if I do), it was the last one ever. We have been working on the same project down to the smallest details for the last 3 1/2 months, so you can imagine how much time, effort and stress this required. My teacher had me present first because she thought mine was the strongest one in the class. I was fine with it because I was last at midterms and only had one tired jury member.

Not so with the final. There were supposed to be three jurers there. Instead, surprise, there were six. I finished presenting and one of the guest jurers began his critique. He had not one good thing to say about the project, only a long list of everything wrong! This got the other jurers going and it was half an hour of bashing, redesigning my project and basically crushing me into the ground. I honestly did not know what to say to most of it, I only stood up there hoping that it would be over soon. Tough crowd!

This was bad, but wouldn't have been half as bad if they had reacted that way to everyone's project. Then we could have all complained equally about the tough jury. They were a little hard on the next few (although I do recall some compliments for theirs), but after that they got much nicer. They started saying how great people's layouts were (which I spent hours on myself), or how great people's concepts were and that if they just made a couple of small changes it could be a great project. Did I get anything like that? No. I was first, there was no one else to compare with. I know that they usually don't mention your layout unless it stinks, they won't say anything about your color choices unless they are lousy, they won't mention your perspectives unless they are unreadable or at a weird angle, and they don't comment on your path of circulation, space planning, parking, etc. unless it doesn't work. I feel like since everything was there on my presentation they just had to find something wrong, and boy did they! At least they didn't say that it wasn't thesis quality, like a couple of people got, but frankly, they deserved it.

I understand that going first is the introduction to the project and that they are still settling in to what it's all about. They are also settling in as a jury (they are there for 7 hours afterall). But this was one of the harshest crits I have ever gotten, and I don't feel that it was deserved. I can take criticism, that is part of architecture. But this was just too much! I can't think of one positive thing that they told me. I would have taken anything. "I like your renderings, but everything else is crap" would have been better than what I got. And by the way, my renderings were the best I've ever done, and I think the best in the class. Whatever.

I didn't realize how much it had affected me until our luch break when I went to the bathroom and just broke down. It was just really hard to hear so many horrible things about something that I have put my heart and soul into for so long. And shortly after my presentation my teacher approached me and asked why I didn't defend myself more. That made me feel even more crappy. Which by the way, I have had professors defend students to a jury before, epecially since they understand the project more than anyone else. Not her. Thanks.

I know that if I had not gone first, the jury would have understood what the project was all about and would have seen good things in my presentation. I found out later that the jury members were talking at lunch and said that mine was the best project in the class. Nice. The rest of the class must have really sucked since they couldn't find anything good in mine. If I ever sit on a jury I will make it a point to find something positive before I talk about what I think should be changed, even if it is the worst thing in the world. The fact that someone made it to the final and pinned something up is enough to be congratulated.

I still feel bad about it, but I know I'll get over it. It doesn't matter in the long run. My teacher is grading me and still thinks mine was the strongest in the class. I hate to graduate on such a sour note, especially when I have had so many good reviews in the past. This one was just not easy. If I felt like I deserved it then it would still suck, but not like this. I guess I needed to write this lest you think my architecture career has been only about praise, glory and bus shelters. It hasn't. Disappointment is a part of life, and that's okay. But ouch, that sucked!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Just thought I'd post one about sweet Marissa. This was the first day that was cool enough to go outside and play, and when I say cool I do mean 75 degrees. She was having so much fun swinging, hanging, sliding and falling on her head (glad I caught that one).

She really is a delightful child. She seems like the most social one so far. She has no problem running into the gym child care and is usually happy being left places. She loves playing with the other kids and is always involved in what's going on. She loves reading books and actually helps load and unload the dishwasher. She will put all the kid dishes away if I ask her to. One thing we haven't been able convince her not to do is play in the toilet, but I'm banking on this not becoming a lifelong habit.

She has been very expressive as well and you usually know what she wants. She says a lot of things very clearly like "gum", "candy", "eat", "juice", "milk", "book", "play", "bath", etc. She will come up to you and so sweetly and earnestly say what she wants; it's very cute. Whenever you ask her something her first answer is always no, but a lot of times no means yes and if you say yes she will nod and say "yes". Of course no also means no so it can be confusing, just never take the first no as her final answer.

The other really funny thing is that she loves her belly button. Not only does she suck her thumb for comfort but she has added touching her belly button with her other hand. It's kind of funny.

She is also our first child who won't fall asleep in the car no matter how tired she is. If my other kids are really tired you can always count on a car ride around the block to knock them out, but not Marissa. She doesn't cry, she just sucks her thumb and enjoys the ride. She'll be our long distance driver some day. She is still a great sleeper when you put her in her crib.

The pictures don't show it, but she is almost always wearing a bib, due to the continued drooling. I think she thinks bibs are just part of her outfit. If she find one on the floor she will put it on even if she already has one on.

Everyone comments about how small she is, and I guess she is. She is petite, sweet, happy, joyful and just a delight. I don't think I could have made it through school if she weren't such an easy child.
(Don't be fooled by the pacifier, it's just a toy. The thumb is where it's at for her.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A good laugh (just don't do it in front of her)

Recently Erin has been experimenting in "if-then" statements (threats), usually when she's tired. Like when she was reading a book out loud and Alex insisted that she stop reading till he had his pajamas on. In order to avoid a meltdown I asked Erin to wait for Alex. She then said, "If you don't let me read right now, then I will never ever read anything ever again!"

Then she asked for a second yogurt and I told her that we only have one per day. She responded, "If you don't let me have yogurt, then I won't eat for a week!" I couldn't help laugh at that, which is never good because she hates being laughed at. By the way, that one was really hard to follow through with.

This is the best one though. I was asking Erin how she knew I loved her. Then I asked if she loved me. She said, "Well, you're not the best mom, but I like you." That one really made me laugh, and she got mad. A follow up question revealed that if I were to give her fruit snacks every day like other moms I would have a much better chance of being one of the better moms.