Prioritizing Parental Sleep

Overall I've really enjoyed being a parent, but poor sleep has been the hardest part. At times we've both been so tired that we weren't able to think clearly about how to fix the problem, which can be very tricky. We've figured this out more over time, however, and sleep has improved with each successive kid (n=3). Here's the main things that have worked for us, all in one place.

Note that kids and parents vary a lot: our three kids are different from each other, and your kids likely even more so. I'm hoping that many things on this list will be useful to many people, but it wouldn't be surprising for several of them to be a poor fit for any individual family. I've ordered them roughly down from the ones that I think are most likely to work for anyone who tries them. Perhaps unsurprisingly this is also roughly in the order of youngest to oldest; my impression is kids diverge more over time as their personalities come out.

Better Construction Cost Estimates?

When I wrote about how Somerville's affordable housing "bonus density" rules made it likely profitable to build 100% affordable housing, Chris pointed out that I was underestimating construction costs (I was using $150-$200/sqft, though also finding some parcels that looked good even at $600/sqft). I looked into this some and had trouble finding good estimates, and then I forgot about the conversation and posted about how a for-profit affordable housing investment fund could be a good idea. At which point Chris needed to again remind me that my cost estimates were likely too low. Whoops!

Chris gave two examples:

A Poorly Planned Loft Bed

Planning Lily's loft bed reminded me of a much more poorly constructed one I built in 2004, around when I started writing here. I had just started college and was sorting out a room layout with my roommate. The beds were three pieces: two vertical "H" pieces, and a metal frame to connect them and support the mattress. All of this predates my having a camera that's always in my pocket, so we'll have to make do with drawings:

The verticals had holes drilled in them which allowed you to stack a pair of beds to turn them into bunk beds:

Framery Phone Booth CO2 Accumulation

The lab the NAO works out of has a Framery O phone booth, for taking calls. It's very good at sound isolation, but being so small (~1.5 m3, 54 ft3) you might be worried about CO2 building up:

I decided to test it. Here are two rounds of sitting in the booth until the meter (Temptop M2000) shows CO2 levels plateauing, then exiting and leaving the door cracked until CO2 has returned to baseline:

The booth is advertised as having 21.5 L/s (45 CFM) of mechanical ventilation, and you can see it works well. With the ventilation disabled, however, it reaches 2k PPM CO2 in 12min, 2.5k in 25min, and plateaus at ~2.7k.

Ours was unplugged, I think because someone assumed the ventilation sound was a white noise generator. If it was just for noise masking it wouldn't be needed: the sound isolation is very good. But since it's for ventilation we should be keeping it plugged in. It's still very quiet: I measure -25db on my Mac in Audacity with the mic volume all the way up vs -39dB with the ventilation disabled. Even with the ventilation running it's still slightly quieter than the office with no one talking, just light noise from the building HVAC (-22db). The only case I'd see unplugging it was if you were using the booth for sound recording, in which case I'd probably make a habit of opening the door to let it air out between takes.

full post...

Planning a Loft Bed

The kids have gotten very excited about loft beds. I like the idea as well: they make good use of space. Lily's room, in particular is quite small, 7ft in the shortest dimension. A bed is just a bit shorter than that, so it's a good candidate for a wall-to-wall loft:

Here it is in the room, with a ladder running up the wall:

Bathroom Construction Cost Comparison

When we bought our house in 2015 it had one bathroom for our 4br unit. In 2016 I added a bathroom upstairs and then in 2019 I gut-renovated the existing one downstairs. I was thinking back over these, and I was curious: how did my costs compare on the two projects?

In both cases I acted as my own general contractor, hiring people for the plumbing and electrical but otherwise doing the work myself (with friends and family helping). First, the costs:

Upstairs (2016) Downstairs (2019)
Plumber $6,100 $5,826
Electrician $1,267 $2,651
Fixtures $823 $1,750
Materials $861 $1,733
Engineer n/a $1,550
Plasterer $1,000 n/a
Roofer $700 n/a
Window n/a $428
Permits $247 $103
Other $658 $381
Total $11,656 $14,422

Upstairs (2016)

Downstairs (2019)

Even though the costs only differ by ~25% there were a lot of differences between the projects:

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