January 05, 2006

VideoConferencing Software review

We now use three different pieces of software to communicate with our families, so here are some links.


Macromedia Breeze: this is what we use the most, and programming it is what I do for a living. It's not free and it's not really intended for low-end consumers, so I won't go into details, but I had to mention it since we use this all the time.

Skype 2 Beta: if both you and your loved ones are on Windows, this is the best way to go. Its Instant-Messenger-like features (you have a buddy list and you can tell when they are online) and its use of the telephone metaphore make it very easy to use even for your parents. This is what I use with my parents and they love it. Plus: full-screen video. Minus: no three-way video calls.

iChat AV: if your family is on Apple computers, iChat with an iSight is the way to go. Similar to Skype (it's basically an IM with video), but with up to 4 people at the time (not that we need to do this very often). We are going to use this with my in-laws. Plus: great quality video. Minus: you need a firewire camera such as the iSight.

So this is what we are using. I'm still waiting for a cross-platform solution that does what I need:

-IM (simple, no frills, Skype's is pretty good)
-extremely easy to use (Skype wins this one)
-no headphones required (good echo-cancellation is important)
-full-screen video (Skype and iChat do it)
-multi-user video (like iChat)
-free of course

A note: always buy a pretty good webcam with a microphone in it. This one looks pretty good for instance.

What software do you use to talk to your baby's grandparents?

Posted by patata at 06:02 AM | Comments (1)

November 18, 2005

Reel Moms

For people living in San Francisco. The Metreon shows movies every Tuesday morning at 11:00am for moms and babies, it's called Reel Moms. They don't dim the lights all the way down and lower the audio volume. Babies cry and no-one cares, since your baby might be next. Oh and they have a little free valet service for your stroller outside the theatre.

They show a different movie every week (most of them are a bit chick-flicky, which is unfortunate). We are going for the first time next week (Harry Potter).

The real reason for this post is to save the link to the "what's on next week at Reel Moms" page on the Metreon's web site, which is really hard to find: http://www.moviewatcher.com/jsp/reelmoms.jsp

So there you have it!

Posted by patata at 09:40 AM | Comments (1)

First Names and Last Names

NameVoyager is an interactive portrait of America's name choices. Start with a "sea" of nearly 5000 names. Type a letter, and you'll zoom in to focus on how that initial has been used over the past century. Then type a few more letters, or a name. Each stripe is a timeline of one name, its width reflecting the name's changing popularity. If a name intrigues you, click on its stripe for a closer look.

L'Italia dei Cognomi: type a last name and see its density on the map of Italy. They also have one for the USA

Kiss the rest of your day goodbye!

Posted by patata at 09:18 AM

November 02, 2005

Endorsement: Birth University

Now that we have gone through childbirth and the first two weeks of life with our son, I am ready to review the childbirth preparation / infant care classes that Mariah and I took back in August.

We spent $450 for two full-day classes at Sarah McMoyler's Birth University, and I have to say that it was money very well spent. I forget where I read that the only real fair price for something is what the customer is willing to pay for it (in other words, how much value it brings to the customer), and in this case I can say that the value Mariah and I received is much higher than what we paid.

In short: I am convinced that Mariah and I are much better parents than we would have been had we not taken the classes, and as a side effect our baby is a much calmer and happier baby than he would have been.

Disclaimer: I haven't taken any other Lamaze-style classes so I don't have any direct experience to compare Birth U. with, but I have talked to some friends about their experience with their classes and have read a bunch of pregnancy books, so take my opinion as you may.

The most important thing we walked out with is the breadth of knowledge about labor and delivery and infant care. Nothing that happened in the hospital surprised us, from the snagging of the bag to the IVs to the epidural. Same goes for when we came home. We felt prepared because we had been exposed to it in the classes. For instance, when Mariah's labor wouldn't start for days, I knew that it was "prodronal labor" because we had talked about it. I had at least heard about it and could speak about it with the doctors with some sort of confidence.

Actually, I lied: the most important things we walked out with are the two booklets (maybe 60 pages each) that she hands out and contain everything that she teaches. Those are THE BIBLE of fathers who have taken the classes. If you really wanted me to panic in the last days of pregnancy, all you had to do was hide those books and I would have probably jumped out the window.

Sarah McMoyler has been a delivery nurse for many years and is a mother of two, so she knows her stuff. One paraphrased quote explains her philosophy: [addressing the preggos in the room:] "I know some of you are on one end of the spectrum and don't want any intervention, while some of you are what I call "parking-lot epidurals", which would like an epidural in the parking lot of the hospital before you even enter. My goal is to bring you both somewhere in the middle, so that you are informed and make a choice that's right for you when the time comes". I like that. Practical, not dogmatic.

Another thing I liked was the emphasis on the partner as a birthing coach and fully involved father of a newborn. Mariah and I decided not to hire a doula (there's $1500 saved), and following her tips ("changing diapers is a dad's job") has allowed me to bond with my child tremendously since we got home.

You can find details about what's covered in the classes here and here.

Another thing I learned during her classes: there are two kinds of people in the world, when it comes to being afraid of something so huge and unknown as labor/delivery and child-rearing: those that want to know as much as possible and feel better with all the knowledge (me), and those who feel more secure in their state of blissful ignorance (Mariah, who had tears coming down her cheeks as we were watching the delivery videos during class). :)


Favorite paraphrased quote from Sarah: [to the pregnant ladies in the class]: "in the few days after delivery, there will be a lot of discharge coming out of you, sort-of-like a very heavy period. Unless the chunks are bigger than tangerines, don't worry about it, it's normal". I still laugh and cringe at the same time every time I tell this quote. TANGERINES! Ouch!

If you live near San Francisco, we highly recommend: www.birthu.com

Posted by patata at 10:31 AM | Comments (3)

October 09, 2005

While you're waiting...

A bit of light reading...Heaviest Births at the Guinness World Records website.

Mariah is a bit disappointed, she thought she was in the running! ;)

Posted by patata at 12:39 AM | Comments (1)

October 04, 2005

Online Baby Signs Dictionary

I was just reading beulah land, one of the many daddy blogs that I now check out daily, and he had links to this site that I had never seen before but was exactly what I was looking for:

Born2Sign online sign dictionary: http://www.signwithme.com/

It includes a ton of signs, each with a little video and a detailed description of the hand motion.

I have now removed this book/DVD combo from my Amazon Wish List! $32.97 and some paper saved! ;)

Now I gotta start memorizing them all (I have time...the baby isn't even here yet! btw, due date is exactly one week from today...c'moooon-BABY!).

Posted by patata at 08:53 AM | Comments (2)

September 23, 2005

La Piccola Scuola Italiana

a.k.a. yet another reason why I'm psyched to be having a baby in San Francisco: La Piccola Scuola Italiana is an Italian-immersion program that provides very young children a joyful and developmentally appropriate environment in which to learn and grow.

Brilliant, just what I was looking for. Thanks Mike Lanza for the awesome link. We'll definitely bring Guido Jack there starting next summer, it's only a bus ride away from home.

Oh, and in case you were wondering what the other reasons might be, here's a start:

Posted by patata at 11:48 PM | Comments (1)

September 19, 2005

The Parenting Blogs I read and How I Read Them All

It seems like everyone in the daddy blogging community these days is linking to everyone else (here, here and here). Not one to resist peer pressure, I wanted to share with you this single link: http://kinja.com/user/peldi

Kinja is a site that allows you to create your own page that aggregates all the blogs you want (in english, it combines them all into a single page, interleaving the posts so that they are in reverse chronological order, in effect making it look like a single blog). BTW, I found out about Kinja from UrlGreyHot, another daddy blogger I reviewed some time ago.

I use my Kinja page above to aggregate parenting blogs only, and is public, so feel free to check it multiple times a day just like I do!

As of today, these are the feeds that I aggregate:

http://www.apparenting.com - Attachment Parenting Blog
http://athomedaddy.blogspot.com - AtHomeDaddy
http://babychic101.com - Baby Chic 101
http://www.becauseimyourfather.com - Because I'm Your Father
http://www.beingdaddy.com - Being Daddy
http://blueroom.typepad.com/daddypad/ - DaddyPad
http://bob.chattablogs.com - beulah land
http://bucksmith.org - The Bunty and Buck Belly Blog
http://www.celebratingcolum.org - Celebrating Colum
http://daddychip.blogspot.com - daddychip
http://daddytypes.com - Daddy Types, the weblog for new dads
http://daddyzine.typepad.com - Daddy Zine
http://www.dadsonthecouch.com/wst_page2.php - Dads on the Couch - The Blog
http://www.dadventure.ca - Welcome to Wind
http://dailyyak.blogspot.com - the Daily Yak
http://falldusk.blogspot.com - Fall Dusk
http://flagrantdisregard.com - flagrantdisregard
http://www.flyingpaperclips.com - flying paperclips
http://www.fulltimefather.com/blog.htm - Full Time Father Blog (weekly, not daily)
http://glendajun.blogspot.com - Jun's Blog
http://www.jangarcia.com - Jan Garcia » my life and everything around it...
http://www.jelyon.com - jelyon.com redirect
http://kellystoetzel.typepad.com/city_baby/ - Big City Baby
http://www.kimthew.com - K I M T H E W
http://www.literarymama.com - Literary Mama: a literary magazine for the maternally inclined
http://www.parmet.net/david/ - Daddy, make a picture
http://www.patatamonkey.com - Patata Monkey
http://www.rebeldad.com - Rebel Dad: The stay-at-home dad revolution, online
http://roughdraft.typepad.com/dotmoms/ - DotMoms
http://thebeansdad.blogspot.com - The Bean's Dad
http://www.thingamababy.com - Thingamababy
http://urlgreyhot.com/personal/taxonomy/term/264 - Parenting blog | urlgreyhot
http://webgoonies.com - WebGoonies.com: Life of a father to be...
http://zayne.megatome.com - The Little Man

I will delete some because I never read them (or I find out that I don't like them as I read more of them), and I am always looking for new ones to add - so please add yours or one you like to the comments below!

Think about Google News but for parenting blogs only. I love it, thanks Kinja!

Posted by patata at 01:44 AM | Comments (1)

September 08, 2005

Welcome DaddyTypes readers!

Holy crap we just got daddytyped! (this is the closest I've ever come to being slashdotted)

Today my favourite daddy blog DaddyTypes posted a few links to our humble blog on this post.

So, to all of you who landed here because of that, welcome!

And an update: you can now use only one hand to count the weeks to the due date (5! Oct 11th!), and the excitement is definitely building up, as well as Mariah's weight, wow she's always hungry! I'm so proud....

Funny how women who are about to be moms behave more and more like babies towards the end of the pregrancy (eat, sleep, poop, cry a little, repeat). It's like the baby inside of them has taken over the host body! There's gotta be a sci-fi movie-plot in there somewhere... ;)

Anyways, this week-end we are having our baby-shower...we'll post comments/pictures soon.


Posted by patata at 08:09 AM

July 30, 2005

Clarendon Alternative Elementary School?

Ok, I realize it is WAAAY early to be looking into schools for the Guids, but we were doing this research on multi-lingual babies (which I'm totally excited about doing btw), and we looked for italian schools in San Francisco. This seems to be the only one that offers italian-related classes, but there's not much on their site: Clarendon Alternative Elementary School. They're pretty close to where we live, and the little info on their site sounds awesome, but now I'm dying for more! Does anybody know anybody whose kid goes to Clarendon Alternative?

BTW, only in San Francisco you can get away with the word "alternative" in the name of your school...love it.

Posted by patata at 06:30 AM

July 26, 2005

Found two pregnancy/parenting blogs in the Bay Area!

Yesterday DaddyTypes sent out a call for daddy blog links. I was pleasantly surprised to see these two, based in the Bay Area, whoo-hoo!

Pluse there's this awesome video-blog from england: www.FatGirlFromOhio.org. I love the (semi) daily video reports...can't believe he has the time to import/edit those every day...plus it's a lot of sharing...but that's what makes it special I guess...

Looking forward to more SF daddy-blogs!

Posted by patata at 01:15 PM | Comments (2)

June 17, 2005

Blog Review: URLGREYHOT and Lorenzo

For my first parenting blog review I have decided to start with one I really like: URLGREYHOT's Parenting Blog.

The author is Michael Angeles, an Information Architect living in Brooklyn, NY.

The blog starts in 2002 when his son Lorenzo is born. His posts from the first few days (scroll down) set the tone for what's a very intimate, private and soft-spoken blog, if you can say that about a blog...

Anyways, most of the entries from the first year are about milestones: the first laugh, the first tooth, crawling, sitting up, standing, walking...

He then talks about sign language, something I'm really looking forward to trying when our upcoming baby will be old enough (I heard you start at 6 or 7 months).

As his son gets older, the posts start to focus more on parenting and less on what the baby is doing. I like his focus on treating the child with respect and compassion...which I learned are mantras of attachment parenting, which he discusses in a few posts on this page

On to my favourite little posts: Better living through candle light, A start page for kids using the web (brilliant idea), To an internet kid, when things aren't ready yet, they're "Loading...", Plick and the last post (can't wait to do storyboarding with my son one day!).

The last post is on Jan 13th 2005, which is a little worrysome. I hope he will continue to blog aobut his parenting adventures and feelings, we sure need more compasisonate voices who are not afraid to share intimate moments.

Posted by patata at 08:32 PM

Researching the Parenting / Daddy Blogosphere

One of the reasons I started this blog was to fill what I thought was a void in information about pregnancy/parenting catered to people like my wife and I (see right column on the main page for details).

Of course, as soon as I posted my first entry I found a couple of links that were worth reading: DaddyTypes and Big City Baby.

From there, I found links to a ton of other parenting blogs, but I still haven't found one that I truly identify with and would read every day.

So far, the blogs I found could be categorized in the following:

I'm still looking for the perfect category: parents who blog together about how fun it is to have a baby and watch him/her grow, and who share tips about where to find pretty furniture and baby clothes and educational toys online and about things to do with your baby in San Francisco. Am I asking for too much? ;) Hopefully we'll manage to make this blog fit into that category, and we'll find others who do as well.

More links to come...

Posted by patata at 01:24 PM

June 14, 2005

BabyCenter newsletters

We have been getting a weekly newsletter from BabyCenter.com.

Aside from the fact that they assume that the person who signs up is a woman (the newsletter often includes sentences like "feeling better yet?" and "your uterus is now xx millimiters wrong", which are a bit disturbing for me to read), the service is free and farily unobtrusive. You tell them your due date, your email and that's it. We have ours go to a common email address that I set up, which gets forwarded to both of our regular email addresses, which is handy.

The site has a bunch of premium (read: pay) features, which I never felt compelled to read (way too much information).

Check it out: BabyCenter.com

Posted by patata at 04:05 PM