Sunday, January 23, 2005

What we love about our condo on Jean Street 

Our beloved condo on Jean Street (Map) is officially on sale, and our first open house is today. I'm really going to miss it. (The following is the letter we gave to potential buyers)

We'd like to share with you the reasons we loved living in this condo and its neighborhood.

Basic Information

2 bedrooms
2.5 bathrooms
1339 sq. ft
2 levels, with its own entry

Condo tour

Living room

Dining room


Minibar in living room

Downstairs half bathroom

Master bedroom

Master bathroom

Guest bedroom

Guest bathroom

Skylight on second level

Laundry area


- Beautiful views of Oakland hills

- Lots of light and sun filled rooms (big south-facing windows, lots of light throughout the day)
- No shared walls with adjacent units (no one above or below) so very quiet and private
- Good efficient layout and useable space
- Good separation between living and bedroom spaces
- Modern (1997) condo with hardwood floors, marble fireplace, skylight, Berber carpet, etc.
- Pre-wired for DSL, cable and satellite TV. Easy setup for wireless internet.
- Deeded, secure garage space and shared storage rooms outside unit
- Low HOA dues at $230 per month

Great freeway access, without the freeway noise

- 1 minute drive to highway 580 – right at the junction to all directions
- Traffic tends to be lighter than other freeway segments

Great access to public transportation
- 7 minute walk to casual carpool to San Francisco (corner of Oakland and Monte Vista)
- Close to AC transit bus stops (e.g. bus stop for P line from San Francisco 7 minute walk away on Oakland and Moss)
- Short drive to Rockridge and MacArthur BART stations

Close to shops
- 2.5 blocks from Safeway, Ace Hardware & Garden Center, and Piedmont Shell
- 10 minute walk down to Grand Avenue restaurants, nail salons, book store, cafes, Grand Lake theater, banks, dry cleaners, farmers market on Saturdays

- 15 minute walk to Lakeshore Avenue – more shops, restaurants, banking, etc.
- 20 minute walk to Piedmont Avenue – more shops, restaurants, banking, etc.

Great neighborhood
- Beautiful and serene Morcom Rose Garden 1.5 blocks downhill

- Linda Park (dog park and playground) 10 minute walk away
- Safe, quiet, and diverse neighborhood
- Friendly neighbors
- Condo association small (only 7 units) and tight-knit

View of neighborhood

The sale of our property is being handled by Jackie Care at Prudential Realty. Condo in above pictures staged by Casa Di Vita.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Non-toy toys 

Babies don't really need fancy toys. They really delight in the most ordinary of things. Here are some everyday objects that Isabella became enthralled by:

magazines and newspapers - great crinkling sound, and tears into little pieces
glasses - parts move and make a sound when you shake it
keys - makes a little ring and tastes good
wallet - pulling all contents out
tissue box - pulling all the tissue out and tearing into pieces
water bottle
baby wipe container
rattling toothbrush
plastic cup
tupperware with cereal inside - sounds like music
credit cards - good to bite on
remote controls
stereo knobs - hmm, cause and effect!
any ball
measuring cups
pots and pans
wooden spoons
plastic bowls
toilet paper or paper towel tubes

creative do it yourself play areas:
surround an area rug with pillows
place sheet over dining room table or desk to make a tent
create a dirt or sand box with measuring cups, and shapes

Friday, January 21, 2005

Should you let the baby cry it out? 

Baby sleep is a very personal parental decision on how to handle it. But since you are interested enough to read this, I will share with you my thoughts on the matter.

I don't think it is ever too late to teach a baby anything so this is relevant for any age. But know that whatever you do takes lots of time and patience on your end. And, it is important that you and your spouse work as a team as your baby grows and understands more.

I learned that the key to any "sleep training" is consistency. Cry It Out generally works because parents don't stray from how to do it. Parents firmly communicate to the baby that it is bedtime and leave the room, and therefore never give mixed signals to the baby.

The other non-cry techniques may work, but it takes longer, and requires you to be good at being ABSOLUTELY consistent. If you veer "just this once", you have to start from scratch and start all over again because the baby will just revert back to the old habit. Being consistently tough for a long time while your baby protests loudly is a hard combination for many parents. Many cave in before seeing it through. This can lead to a frustrating experience for everyone, without it working, and the parent may give up exhausted, while the baby would have wasted a lot of tears. I actually think in the long run more tears are shed this way because this takes so long and there are so many starts/stops.

I think it's unfair for the baby to "waste tears" so whatever sleep training technique you pick, make sure to follow through with it to the end. It is a rough road, but the baby WILL learn - just don't start and stop without him learning something. How awful to make him cry so much and then parents waffle about CIO, so in the end he is upset, confused, and equally dependent as before.

If you are trying to veer the baby away from sleeping in bed with you, it is with any rules, you have to be firm. You wouldn't let a baby chew on a power cord because he is teething and he's protest crying, right? Correspondingly, if you want the rule to be that he can't sleep in bed with you, you have to set it just the same despite his protesting. And again, you must be consistent. You can't deny him one day and then let him the next, or you always deny him and your spouse caves. It confuses the baby and he won't learn that way.

Finally, while it is important to consider the baby when deciding what to do, it is also critical to think about yourself. (Airlines always say - put on your mask before helping others, right?) You can try to change your attitude, but I think that it is unfair that the parent must be denied their true feelings. We all want to be the best parent we can be, but lack of sleep for X months can push anyone over the edge. If you and your husband are tired, angry, depressed etc. about the situation, how does that stress rub off on your baby? How does that affect your relationship with each other and with other people? The baby may sense this tension which is not good for him either. Your baby will mirror your happy smile and hug you will give him if he is a good sleeper as opposed to wonder why you are trying to hide annoyance at finding him in your bed once again. So the best thing to do is what will make you and your spouse happy in the long run. That will help you project the most positive Mom energy to raise a wonderful child.

Sorry if I offended any readers out there - these are just my thoughts. Most important - take all this information and do what YOU feel is right.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Baby signs 

I started teaching Isabella some baby signs around a year old. I used the book Baby Signs. It's been helpful to understand her needs. Here are some useful sites for baby signs.

online ASL dictionary with video clips
Signing Baby with photos of babies doing signs

Monday, January 03, 2005

Nanny parenting advice 

OK, it may sound lame that I am picking up parenting advice from TV reality shows, but hey, I believe in best practices, and I've got a steep learning curve. And what's good for the British Royals can't be all that bad for Isabella, right? Here are some takeaways that I got from Supernanny and Nanny 911's Nanny Deb that I thought quite on the mark:

- Father and mother must work as a team, and rules must be consistent – they must support each other
- Mother should support father and let him develop his own style of comforting the kids; she should not interfere and try to "save" kids from the father
- Parents must set a schedule and family rules and stick to them
- Parent needs to be firm with kids and not a softie; always follow through on a rule
- There must always be consequences for bad behavior; an example are timeouts so kids can cool down (suggest 1 minute per child’s age)
- Do NOT spank; it sends a confusing message to children that it is OK to hit
- Make sure siblings understand that they are family for life, and that they treat each other that way - with love and respect
- Kids learn what they live - so if you don't want them to yell, you cannot yell
- Communicate with your kids – again, no need to yell
- Make kids respect their parents, not scared of them; you scare kids by yelling, hitting, and threatening; they respect you when you follow through on what you say
- Limit carbs and sweets so kids don’t get sugar high and become more difficult to manage
- The house rules should be no TV, video games, etc.; kids should do chores to gain a privilege, such as watching TV
- Get down to child's level more so as not to be so intimidating
- Always teach kids to say please and thank you
- Say what you mean and mean what you say
- Kids get destructive around the house when they're bored; so give them games or activities or play with them so they won't make the house too chaotic
- Spend quality play time with your kids instead of just yelling at them all the time
- How to do the timeout technique: ALWAYS give a warning; get down to child's level (don't warn from across the room); eye contact (make sure you look into their eyes); use an authoritative voice; explain why they're in timeout; put them there for # minutes per age; ignore any shouting and don't socialize with child; walk away and no conversation; if child keeps getting up, keep putting them back on the naughty spot without saying anything until they sit still for their time; when minutes are up, then get down to the level and explain behavior again; ask for apology then a hug
- If you've gotten to the point where discipling doesn't work and kids are too unruly, then try the rewards system instead (reward for good behavior and take away priviledges when kids are bad)
- Off the Hip technique: don't pick up child, go down to child's level, eye contact with child, calmly tell child to stop screaming, pull away, if continue to cling move away and not pick up, hug only after calm down
- Don't life the Child Technique - at eye level, tell the child that he/she has a choice (walk to X holding your hand or walk by themselves), ignore them if there is a temper tantrum, and get on with whatever you need to do