Sunday, December 26, 2004

Be a good citizen year round 

Making donations is not only charitable, but it can also help you clean up your house and put some extra cash in your pocketbook.

Here's a useful article I found:

If you’re in the 27 percent tax bracket, for example, deducting $1,000 from your taxes gives you an extra $270. So your tax benefits can really add up. Here are some guidelines to consider when claiming a deduction for donated goods:

Make sure the organization you are donating to is qualified. You can ask the charity if the IRS has qualified it or check IRS Publication 78, which lists many qualified organizations.

Create an itemized list of the items you intend to donate that includes the condition and fair market value of each. Fair market value is defined by the IRS as “the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller.” For example, Goodwill Industries suggests that the estimated value of a woman’s blouse would be in the range of $4 to $10, depending on its condition. A man’s tie would be in the range of $1 to $5.

Get a receipt when you drop off your donated items.

Calculate your total donated goods in 2004 and report that on your tax return. Keep in mind donations over $500 require additional paperwork.

Consult your tax advisor for more details.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas 

"I am thinking of you today because it is Christmas
and I wish you happiness.
And tomorrow, because it will be the day after Christmas,
I shall still wish you happiness.
My thoughts and my wishes will be with you always.
Whatever joy comes to you will make me glad.
All through the year
I wish you the spirit of Christmas."

-- Henry van Dyke

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Where to take your baby in the East Bay 

Here are some ideas for places to go play with your baby or toddler in the East Bay:


Library or bookstores - the library / bookstores are great and you'd be surprised how interested a kid would be in them; many have story time for toddlers; some bookstores (like Barnes & Noble) have train tables; here are the links to both the Berkeley libraries and the Oakland libraries

Any Park / Playground - Any park if the weather permits; here is a list of playgrounds in Berkeley; I also talk about the playgrounds I like in this post; babies love watching other kids; once they get some head strength, you can prop them out on the swing with blannkets; when they can sit, you can plop them on the sand and let them play; my favorites are Berkeley Totland and Willard Park in Berkeley, Montclair Park in Oakland, the Albany Tot park on Dartmouth

Emeryville Public Market - lots of lights and activity plus there is a ball room and horse and car to ride

...quite honestly babies and toddlers can find amusement almost anywhere - BART station, pet stores, fish markets, fountains, street musicians, etc...

Paid admission

Tilden Park: you can feed the animals at Little Farm, plus if it's raining they have the indoor nature center; Steam Trains are fun to ride; the Carousel is historical

Studio Grow - great place; newly opened, open, bright and airy; lots of fun activities like water table, art room, dancing studio, kitchens, tumble room, etc.; I like the way they have Purell everywhere and emphasize cleanliness; only issue is that it is on the expensive side and the dining area is small

Habitot Children's Museum in Berkeley - in a basement so dark; fun, but every time we go there Isabella seems to get sick 2 days later

Oakland Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, Happy Hollow Zoo or any zoo


Bay Area Discovery Museum - in Sausalito so not in the East Bay, but we love it

Places to relax while kids play

Play Cafe - have some coffee or lunch

Tumble and Tea

Pri Pri Cafe


Music Together classes

Gymboree - great place to meet moms with kids the same age since they form the groups according to age

Kindergym, which is located on MacArthur near Oakland Ave

Kindermusik 800-615-5415

Here is another list of classes you can take

Baby friendly movie theaters

Parkway Theater - babies in arms can come with you as you order pizza and beer and watch movies on old couches; Monday nights only
Reel Moms - see a current release movie every Tuesday at 11 at Sony Metreon Theater in SF with your infant (up to 1 year old)

Swimming Classes
Albany 525-1130
Oakland 451-9622
Berkeley High School - drop-in class; warm pool on Fridays 2246 Milvia 3:30 and 4
Piedmont 420-3070

Infant massage
Kate Ellsworth 658-5104
Cybele Tomlinson 848-3852

When you need some support, here are some resources where you can find others:

Mother's support groups
Sherry Reinhardt
Kaiser Baby and Me 752-7557
Alta Bates hospital
Bananas 658-1409
Birth Ways
Birth and Bonding
Birth and Beyond 814-4361
La Leche League - a Berkeley and an Oakland meeting, plus a Berkeley toddler group, if you're still nursing

Father's support group

Father's forum 644-0300
East Bay Moms - they're a group with a membership that organizes activities

If you need some baby friendly exercise, try:

Baby Boot Camp
Fourth Street Yoga
Helene Byrne
Monkey Yoga Shala

When you just need a break for you:

Walnut Creek Kaiser has a Tot Drop

Massage for mothers (postpartum massage)
Deidre Abrons (510) 836-0273
Christina Del Gallo (510) 531-5963
Bridget Scadeng 526-3493

Friday, December 17, 2004

Take a break 

I've learned that one challenge of full time motherhood is getting a break. Imagine doing anything 24/7 while sleep deprived for X months straight - after a while you might implode. Here are some good suggestions that I got from others:

1. take a break - get a friend, relative, your husband, or hire someone to watch your child one time a week and do something for yourself -- read, sleep, walk, anything - NOT more work like cleaning, etc.

2. make a routine for you and your child (ie- mondays have a playdate with a girlfriend and her child, Tuesdays go to the library for baby bounce, etc.). That is, get out of the house every day and have some adult contact, and start building a community. The routine is helpful because you don't have to wake up every day and wonder, "what am I going to do today?" because you already have your week somewhat mapped out.

3. find a parents' group -- it's important to have other parents to talk to.

4. volunteer. one example is the childwatch at the Y where you can bring your child. Many benefits -- adult contact for you, social baby time for your child, helping the community, a place to go on rainy days, and free membership. They're always looking for volunteers.

5. try to have dates with your husband -- one on one time. If you're not feeling connected to your spouse, it's hard to feel grounded.

6. get as much sleep as you can. nap when your baby naps if you are tired.

7. maybe it's time to go back to work at least part time.

8. Finally, are you having trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Do things that used to be simple overwhelm you? Are you having trouble eating or sleeping (more or less than usual?) are you having any suicidal thoughts? In other words, are you having symptoms of actual clinical depression? If so, then see your doctor about treatment. In fact, it wouldn't hurt to talk to a professional about your feelings. If you are seriously depressed, you will need help from others. Do it for you and your child.