Monday, December 30, 2002

Notes On Rachel's Words

We don't really remember for sure what Rachel's first word was. Certainly, she was saying various things by her first birthday, and even a couple of months before that. For instance, when we were at Lake Britton last year she learned to say 'buh' for bird. She also started signing some even before that, mainly 'more' (put all 5 fingers of each hand together, and then touch the two sets of fingers together) and 'finished' (hands in front, palms forward, twist each hand back and forth opposite to each other). Some of the more memorable words she could use by her first birthday.

  • boooo-rrrrrIES: berries, particularly blueberries
  • daah-ee: daddy
  • nooooo: no, of course, but it was always VERY cute because of the length
  • DOH: toast
  • mama: well... Mommy
  • mao/rao: started using this spontaneously when she saw a cat
In the couple of months after her first birthday, she picked up a lot more, including:

  • tigu: Tigger
  • pabu: Pacifier
  • boo: book
  • emmees: lemons (she particularly used this with reference to the drawing my cousin Elisabeth gave me (which she drew) of two lemons still on a tree
  • apu: apple
  • dee-doo: thank you
We stopped keeping track of the words she could use a few weeks ago, because she was coming up with them too fast and it is too hard to remember them when we have time to make notes. And forget about all the words she knows! We've been getting a child development newsletter every week or so from and one of the things they often talk about is how many words kids can use and how many words they can string together into sentences. The newsletters have been saying that typical children her age should use a few 2-word sentences, but Rachel's already used at least one with NINE! And they say she should have 10-15 words they can use, and she's pushing 100 now.

It's really too bad I'm not a proud father, isn't it?

Monday, November 11, 2002

What a Drip!

My weekend was a bit of a fiasco from Day -2 (that's Thursday). It seems the sun roof in our Accord wasn't closed all the way so the inside of the car is now soaked. I was able to drive it to work this morning without getting soaked myself by putting a big sheet of plastic over the seat. Where did I find a big sheet of plastic? Funny you should ask... I got it from the new water heater I was forced to buy yesterday to replace ours... learned some interesting things about water heaters and plumbing, though!

For instance, I took a garden hose and hooked it to the old heater's bib and opened the valve. After a few minutes there wasn't any water coming out of the hose, so I figured it was empty. John and I cut the supply pipes (and, yes, we'd turned the water off already), disconnected the gas and started dragging the thing out. It was really rather heavy. When we were getting it out the door we wound up lying it down on it's side for a moment, only to have lots of very hot water come spilling out the supply pipe onto my foot. Hmm... and now it's blistering the paint off the back porch. OK, let's move it over a little more. Guesses on how long a 30 or 40 gallon water heater ACTUALLY takes to empty? No, not "a few" minutes, but more like 40 or more!

Monday, July 15, 2002

Baby Sign Language

We drove home from Lake Britton way up in Northern California, above Redding, the other day. I have been going there for a few years now for a week of waterskiing with friends, and this was the first time since Rachel was born.

The trip home was a long one; it takes at least 5 or 6 hours to drive back to Berkeley, a very long time for a baby. An eternity, really. We stopped twice, once for lunch, and once a bit later just for a little break. Once we got back in the car after the second stop, Rachel just lost it. She spent most of the last hour and a half of the trip home screaming at the top of her lungs.

At some point, I noticed that she was also repeatedly making the sign (hold your hands in front of you, palms facing forward, fingers pointing up, and twist your wrists side to side) for "finished". As in, I'm finished being in this car seat, Daddy!

Friday, February 08, 2002

RECO, a Racket, but not Racketeering

RECO, in our case, stands for Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance. It's a Berkeley ordinance that requires a certain percentage of the selling price be spent on certain energy conservation measures whenever a residential property changes hands. It might apply to commercial too, but I'm not sure. One thing that is nice about this one is that you don't have to spend it if you're up to certain levels in all the areas it covers. That's not true about the seismic requirement, but I'll get to that later.

This covers things like attic insulation, weatherstripping, chimney dampers, low-flow faucets and toilets, and probably some other things. It doesn't cover windows. I suppose I partly understand that because it's relatively hard to measure window quality, as compared to most of the things it does cover. I only partly understand it because it doesn't make sense to me that they want us to do weatherstripping on the exterior doors when the previous owner was enough of a freak to install Jalousie windows throughout the house!

Jalousies are those stupid windows that are like levelor blinds, only they're glass and they don't go up just rotate open and closed. The worst one in the place was one of the kitchen windows that doesn't actually close all the way because the stop at the bottom is too wide! I can stick my pinkie half way through the gap when the window's closed! Oh well... we can cover the requirement with other things, like a chimney damper, weather stripping, and attic insulation.

So, I also mentioned the city's seismic retrofit requirement. In addition to the RECO funds, escrow also has a percentage set aside for seismic retrofitting. If we do the retrofitting work, we get back the seismic money. If we don't do it (as, for instance, when there's nothing to do), we don't get it back. We've done it.

So far, we've changed the locks with much tougher ones, had the roof over our room replaced (and built up to give it a little angle so it will drain better), had the critical pest damage repaired, installed a damper on the chimney (that's part of the RECO - we have a year to get it all done) and had the seismic retrofit done.

We move in this weekend. And then I have to fly to New York for a week, leaving Dawn with Rachel, a lot of boxes, and a cat who can't go outside until he's had time to get used to the new house. That's going to suck.

Saturday, January 12, 2002

Adventures in Home Buying

As I mentioned yesterday, we closed escrow on our first house; it's very exciting and a little frightening.

We first saw the house probably in September or October when we'd been looking for a few months. I wasn't entirely crazy about it at first, probably because it was a bit more expensive than we wanted to spend, though it was a 3+ br/3 ba. The + is a half room they had staged as a baby's room; it used to be the second bedroom in a 2/1 before the master bed/bath were added in the 70s on top of a downstairs bed/bath addition in the 60s.

I guess it seemed a little funky or something. Anyway, I wasn't crazy about it, so we kept looking. In early December, we got a pre-approval from e-loan and called our realtor to say we wanted to see it again. Interestingly, just that morning the owner had decided to lower the price by 30k. We went to see it again and decided that we liked it enough to go for it. But our realtor was also the seller's agent, so she recommended someone else from her office to represent us.

Initially, we made a pretty low-ball offer; the house had been on the market for a while without getting any serious offers and there has been a clear dip in the market after 9/11, though I don't know how long that will really last. Unfortunately, 2 other offers came in before they were going to open ours, so we increased it to a little shy of the max we were willing to pay.

Evidently one of the other offers wasn't even worth considering, and the other was a little more than ours but probably had more contingencies. We also had the advantage that the seller's agent knows us and our family (she bought both of the houses my parents have owned as well as my aunt & uncle's place); I think she convinced the sellers that we were a better risk despite the difference in the amount of the offer.

Then we had a bit of trouble - she told our agent that they were countering at an amount that happened to be exactly what we had decided was the most we were willing to pay but when we got to his office to sign the papers, they'd actually written the counter at 5k more than that. We assumed the counter was wrong since it wasn't what she'd told our agent, so we changed it & initialed the changes. To make the long story short, just when we were about to call our agent to tell him that we were OK with the extra 5k (less than 1% of the total), he called to tell us they'd accepted our price. It seems the seller's agent had been trying to convince the seller to go to the lower amount and they'd insisted on the higher and she told our agent the lower by accident. Somehow, she later convinced them to agree...

Soon after we went into contract, we left for Tahoe. This was Dawn's second time joining some friends and me on a bi-annual trip to Tahoe for New Year's week. Had to make plans for inspections and such... and it's hard to sign things when you're hundreds of miles away and don't have a fax machine. So we took ours with us. Our inspectors did find some serious stuff (called Section 1), including some more pest damage and a leak in the (flat!!) roof over our bedroom. The seller agreed to drop the price of the house by the amount of the critical repairs so that we could use the extra money from the loan to make them.

So, now we're home owners and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. We took possession yesterday and had pizza with two of our best friends, Tani and John. It was very nice, but now the work begins. The first order of business is to go in tomorrow and put up shower rods & curtains and such. Second is the section 1 repairs, RECO, seismic retrofitting, and new locks, all of which we want to have done before we move in the middle of next month.

Friday, January 11, 2002

Close of Escrow and First Dinner

As of today, we're officially homeowners! We're taking Rachel (who is not quite 4 months old), a card table, four chairs, and two friends and ordering pizza for our inaugural dinner... and now the real fun begins.