Four Important (But Seldom Addressed) Back-To-School Points

Once again the time is upon us, as the tans begin to fade, the last remaining grains of sand come dislodged from the places that only sand can find and new school shoes gear up for a couple of month of kicking rocks to and from the bus stop accompanied by an infinite supply of grumbling. Ah yes, a new school year full of promise as well as challenges.

Not unlike most monumental happenings, the ones less likely to survive the shift are those that choose to milk the remaining minutes out of the passing time rather than prepare for it. Some simply find themselves in a been-there, done-that mentality and invariably get bowled over by the unforeseen challenges that arise. Weather it is your first back-to-school year or you live in a shoe; we all seem to know the basics, but those aren’t enough.

Here then are 4 things that don’t make most back-to-school list that are sure to give you that veteran appearance and calm the seas for your smooth sailing.

  1. Relax on the Day One Questions

We all know that we have the most important kid in the class and we really need everybody to see that only the best will do for our prince/princess, but think about the cross examination you are about to deliver so you can have every question answered on day one, and then multiply that by the 20 other parents dropping off. Don’t add to the confusion. You have 3 things to do when you get to the school, drop off, honk and wave….that’s it !

  1. Early is so Now

This was true back in my days of being dropped off, and now imagine it with the shrinking to nonexistent attention span of the triple-shot mocha choca locha malarkey, 4 minutes late to their own funeral, no time to say hello-goodbye mom on a mission. We snicker at them until inevitably we are them. Make it a goal to not be them. Be early. “On time” is so 2000.


  1. Put Yourself In Their Shoes

Even if the beginning of the school year is not a cataclysmic jump, like 8th to 9th grade, the beginning of a new school year is the prime environment for anxiety to grow in. Talk to your kids in the last few weeks of summer and find out how they are feeling about the coming year. If they are too young to fully express themselves, be proactive and incorporate a nighttime book that deal with this topic in a fun and professional way. Ask what they think the other kids are expecting and help them reach that goal, but most of all, just listen. Let you child know that you’re on their team! This will take any loneliness out of the vastness of the moment.

  1. Talk To Your Kids EVERYDAY About Their Day

This is not only underrated but the first item to slip through the cracks after the first few weeks. Most families start with the intent of making the first conversation around the dinner table resemble exactly the Ozzie and Harriet shows they grew up on (did I just date myself?), but then the calendar gets heavy, siblings are coming and going and before you know it “tell us about your day” is replaced with “there are Hot Pockets in the freezer”. Find the time to ask and listen how EVERYDAY is going for your kid, all year long. You will most likely be able to hear what they aren’t telling you this way.


So there you have it, four things that seldom make the traditional lists but are sure to save you gray hairs or pulling it all out.

Spend a Little, Get a Lot!

If you are thinking about listing your home there are items that you should address in order to maximize the potential for offers as well as the dollar figure of those offers.

While you certainly can go out and spend 100K on renovations and hope for a massive return, the best plan of action is to spend a moderate amount of money for the biggest return.

Here are the best ways to spend a little to get a lot and the most important areas to concentrate on:


Ask any real estate expert what the No. 1 upgrade with the greatest return is, and the answer will be the kitchen.

Here are some great mini-ways to boost sales

  • Add a splash of color with a new backsplash. New tile is attractive.
  • Paint! Find out what colors are trending right now and add a coat.
  • Go stainless steel. The cold feel of steel is a hot ticket item for buyers. Transition your appliances as they wear out and go with a similar metallic look in your light switches.
  • If you don’t have an island, get a rolling one. It shows that you know how to function in the kitchen and the buyer get’s the warm fuzzies.
  • Hang a pot rack with fresh new pots, pans and a hanging wine bottle holder. With the rolling island, your kitchen will catch every buyer’s eye.


The bathroom not only has to show functionality but probably shows the most wear of function from over the years.

  • Focus on your faucet. Bathrooms are not utilitarian anymore. People like to feel relaxed, like they are in a spa.
  • Go granite or marble with your countertops. If you are toying with the granite idea, your bathroom counter is most likely smaller than your kitchen counter and less expensive. This is a great place to start your first granite project.
  • Nix the overhead lighting in favor of wall mounts to add warmth and value to your bathroom. Make sure that around your mirror you have even lighting with no side shadows.
  • Heated floors attract buyers like crazy!
  • Upgrade your bath area. With an 85 percent return, install a shower with body sprays and stone surround tile. If you are not selling right away, you will feel like you are in a Zen garden every time you step into your bathroom.
  • Keep it clean. Dirt and grime can become embedded in bathroom surfaces very quickly. Freshen it up with new grout.



This might be where you get the most bang for your buck in the sense of dollars invested versus the boost to final listing prices. Some experts have assessed that the average ROI on landscaping is 150%!

“In terms of dollar amount, the standard suggested is to invest 10 percent of the value of your home in landscaping.  That is a general guideline,” said Erik Shorb, co-owner of American Plant.

On a low and quick budget here are some things to do right now:

  • Consult with a professional to choose color patterns for plants and placements
  • Hire a Gardner for regular upkeep until the house is sold.
  • If water costs are a concern, explore draught resistant landscaping ideas.
  • Line your walkway with visually appealing plants.
  • Get outdoor lighting. Your potential buyers will drive by at night to see what they home looks like.
  • Keep the yard weed free – preferably without the use of chemicals. That means getting your hands dirty.
  • Mulch and edge the lawn for a clean and tidy appearance.


Depending on the type and quality of its materials, a roof can be expected to last anywhere from 10 to more than 50 years. According to the National Organization of Realtors, the return on investment in a new roof when you sell your home is one of the best home upgrades you can make, returning 71.6% of your investment. A roof that has been recently replaced will also enhance your home’s curb appeal and make a great first impression on potential homebuyers, which can help you sell your home quickly in a tight market and get the best offer or can give you an advantage over comparable properties in a sluggish market.


More Space

Every 1,000 square feet added to a home boosts the sale price by more than 30 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Bathroom additions return the most, according to Remodeling Magazine’s report at an average of 86.4 percent. The addition of attic bedrooms, family rooms and sunrooms return anywhere from 70 to more than 80 percent and more and more people want dedicated rooms for hobbies and crafts, whether it’s an exercise room, knitting room or home office. Just don’t overshoot your work and add too much. Nobody wants a 6 bedroom 1200 square foot home.

You don’t have to take a second out just to sell the home but you should make an effort to make sure you get the most you can. A little now can go a long way later.

Home Security Systems-Wired or Wireless

By now we have all heard or seen the commercials of people thwarting would be robbers from breaking in from a remote location like the gym by just speaking over their system and be honest, we all want that vigilante rush without any of the dangers of confrontation. But it is all so new and wired home security systems have been around forever. Which is the best system for you and your needs?

Wired Home Security Systems

Wired home security systems need to have a ‘closed’ electrical circuit, meaning that when the alarm is turned on the circuit is completed. If there is any interference (such as the wires being cut) the alarm will go off. These systems require wires to be run from the control panel to each sensor.

While wired home security systems offer maximum reliability and are generally less expensive, they are probably not a great DIY option. Determining how to run the wires in an attractive way that’s difficult for burglars to defeat is tricky and time consuming.

Advantages of wired

  1. Wired systems can often accommodate several ‘zones’ of protection.
    2. They are reliable.
    3. The system tends to be less susceptible to radio or electrical interference.
    4. They use a backup battery system during electrical interruptions.Disadvantages of wired systems:
    1. Wired systems can be difficult to install.
    2. It can be a real challenge to hide all the wiring when installed in an existing home.
    3. Once installed, it can be difficult to remove and take with you if you should move.
    4. Wireless home security systems use radio waves rather than wires or cables, to communicate between the control panel, sensors and cameras.

    Wireless Home Security Systems

    Wireless home security systems can be a great DIY option. They’re battery powered, which means no complicated wiring is involved, and transmit a radio signal to the control unit in order to trigger the alarm. Many wireless home security systemcan be armed using a remote key fob witch that doubles as a mobile panic alarm, and some systems offer a repeater unit, increasing transmission range so that outbuildings can be protected on the system.

    Wireless home security cameras, on the other hand, are not always the best use of your money. Wireless cameras run on batteries and guzzle power; most batteries will only provide 24 hours of power to the camera. Another potential drawback to wireless home security systems is that most don’t have the ability to be connected to a telephone landline.

    Advantages of wireless house alarm system:
    1. It’s a great alternative for people living in older homes, condominiums or apartments.
    2. Since wireless systems have their own batteries, they can be installed in locations in a home where there is no electrical access.
    3. The system can be expanded as needed.
    4. Wireless security systems can be connected to a phone and/or computer systems for remote monitoring.
    5. Can be integrated with home automation systems, like ADT’s Pulse.

    Disadvantages of wireless systems:
    1. Sensors will need batteries to operate, so there is a possibility that the batteries will die if they are not checked often.
    2. Components need to be close to the central control panel. This can limit where some sensors are placed.


    When it comes to installation a wireless alarm system can be easier when compared to conventional hard-wired systems. In the traditional setup, wires must be run through the home to every entry point and motion sensor, which includes all doors and windows. Wireless home security systems tend to be easier to install, and they’re portable, so in the event of a move you can easily take the system with you.


How to Throw a Block Party!

A fantastic way to get to know your neighbors, create lasting friendships for you and the kids and enjoy the summer weather is a Block Party! Here is how to throw one!

These parties are believed to be a WWI innovation, originating from the East Side of New York City. It is reported that back then, the entire block was roped off and members of the block who had been to war were honored with patriotic songs and a parade.

Block parties became quite popular in the ’70s and are still a fabulous way to get to know your neighbors and have the kids meet new friends!

Date and Time

Pick a weekend that does not conflict with a national holiday or religious holiday. Also make sure it’s not a big vacation weekend. You can hold a meeting with a few neighbors to get a consensus of which would be an ideal day or time and then use this same panel to help you plan and execute.


Since the party is held on the streets, the block is usually roped off and the traffic is redirected. To do this, a special permit is required. This is required to be filled in 90 days prior to the scheduled date of the party. Contact your local government body or council to find out the details of the same because every city has different rules for this one.

Pick a Theme

It is very important to decide the theme of the party―all further planning depends on this factor, may it be food, decorations, or entertainment. The theme is usually a potluck brunch or dinner. You will also have to decide what are the things that will be made available and what are the things that everyone needs to get on their own.


The invites have to be fabulous―no two ways about it. Make sure that each and every person is invited; there are no exceptions to this rule. Also, the invites have to be given at least a month in advance. The invites should have all the details of the party―the date, time, theme, activities, and any special instructions that need to be given―like bring a snack or your own chairs. The RSVP should be added to the invites as well.


A majority of the decorations will depend on what the theme of the party is. If there is no particular theme that is being followed, then you can look into putting up buntings, balloons, and streamers―this depends on the budget. Since it is a potluck theme, you will have to specify that they have to get their own chairs or any other dish that is needed. This will be cleared in the invites, of course. And whatever you do, don’t forget to put up a sign stating that the street is closed for the block party. It is also important to have barricades put up so that there is proper safety maintained and people can easily access the street.

 Invite Local Law Enforcement and Fire Fighters

One of the highlights of a block party is to have the local police and fire department drop in. Some blocks even have a commemoration for local heroes like war veterans or celebrities. It is considered quite the fun to have these heroes grace the occasion. Many times, as a gesture of goodwill and to increase the camaraderie between the communities, the firemen will invite a young kid to come up to the truck and ring the alarm.

End Time and Clean-Up

Use the panel that helped you plan to also regiment cleanup. What trash is going where, separate recyclables, and figure out how the refuse are going to get to the proper places. It is also advised that you have a scheduled end-time. While there are bound to be a few late nighters that want to hang around, don’t surprise anybody when the music goes off. Keep the end time around when neighbors might like the neighborhood to be quiet.





American Flag Etiquette

Memorial Day is next Monday! As an important symbol of our country, everybody should understand the significance of flying the flag. On Memorial Day fly the flag at half-mast, a position reserved for when the country is in mourning, until noon, before raising it to full mast for the remainder of the Day.

Here is the full list of the proper way to fly the American Flag:

  • The custom is to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on flagstaffs in the open, but it may be displayed at night upon special occasions to produce a patriotic effect.
  • When the flag is hung vertically on a wall, window, or door, the Union (blue section) should be to the observer’s left. When the flag is hung either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the Union should be to the observer’s left.
  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement.
  • The flag should be displayed at every public institution and in or near every polling place on election days, and at schoolhouses during school days.
  • In a procession, the American flag should be to the right of any other flag or, if in a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
  • The flag should not be displayed on a float except from a staff, nor draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle.
  • When the flag is displayed on a vehicle, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis.
  • No other flag should be placed above the American flag or, if they are to be placed on the same level, to the right of the American flag.
  • The United Nations flag may not be displayed above or in a position of superior prominence to the United States flag except at United Nations Headquarters.
  • The flag, when displayed with another against a wall—both from crossed staffs—should be on the right (the flag’s own right), and its staff should be in front of the other staff.
  • The American flag should be at the center and the highest point when displayed with a group of state flags.
  • When flags of states, cities, etc., are flown on the same halyard, the American flag should be at the peak.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height, and the American flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.
  • When displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff.
  • When the flag is displayed otherwise than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out; or so suspended that its folds fall as freely as though the flag were staffed.
  • When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
  • On a platform, the flag should be above and behind the speaker, with the union uppermost and to the observer’s left.
  • When displayed from a staff in a church or auditorium, the flag should occupy the position of honor and be placed at the speaker’s right as he faces the audience.
  • When flown at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff position. It should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. Half-staff is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag must be flown at half-staff on all buildings on the death of any officer listed below, for the period indicated:
    • For the President or a former President:30 days from the date of death.
    • For the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives:10 days from the day of death.
    • For an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former Vice President, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives:From the day of death until interment.
    • For a United States Senator, Representative, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico:the flag should be flown in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia, on the day of death and on the following day; in the state, congressional district, territory, or commonwealth of such Senator, Representative, Delegate, or Commissioner, from the day of death until interment.
    • For a Governor:Within the state, territory, or possession, from the day of death until interment.
  • When the flag is used to cover a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.
Pleasanton CA Homes

SOLD! 4380 Entrada Drive, Pleasanton, CA 94566

SOLD! 4380 Entrada Drive, Pleasanton, CA 94566
Market Stats
IDX Search
Single Family Home
Main Features
3 Bedrooms
2 Full Bathrooms
Interior: 1,249 sqft
Lot: 9,088 sqft
Year Built: 1955
4380 Entrada Drive
Pleasanton, CA 94566

Doug BuenzDoug Buenz

Venture | Sotheby’s International Realty
(925) 621-0680



Listed by: Doug Buenz

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Summer Learning for the Kids

Summer vacation is coming for the kids, but our adult lives keep on going as usual. Trying to fit their schedule into ours can be challenging and more often than not our propensity to “plug them in” becomes too easy.

Just because they will be away from their daily source of higher learning does not mean that they can’t still stay engaged in summer learning and have a blast doing it.

Here are five ways to keep kids going in a positive direction this summer.


They are bound to create many experiences this summer, some good, some rooted in life learning. Keep a daily journal recording your summer experiences – this will keep reading and writing skills sharp.

Library Cards

It’s free, it’s local, it’s quiet and usually has much more to offer than just books with puppet shows and classes. Many libraries have reading competitions that kids can take part in.

Reading Lists

Just because school’s out, doesn’t mean story time needs to come to an end. Keep reading each day to help your child develop their reading skills. Have them make a list of the books that they want to read this summer. Their selections might surprise you.

Plug In (the Right Way)

There is more to the iPad than Minecraft and YouTube. There is a wide range of fantastic and free resources for just about every type of learner. Some of the most popular games that encourage creativity for younger children include drawing game SketchUp, building online with Lego Digital Designer or creating a digital flip book with FlipSnack.

Field Trips

Visit a museum of art, history, natural history or science. Go to a zoo or aquarium. Many museums have one day or evening per week offering free or reduced admission. Take advance of museum education programs and classes like pottery, painting, fused glassmaking, bird watching, scientific experimentation or photography.

Once they return back to school they will be asked by teachers and peers what they did on their summer break. A regiment of summer learning will give them experiences worth boasting about!

Let’s Go Camping!

We love the idea of the outdoors! We want to expose our kids to it or further woo our partner, but the problem is your only memory of actually camping is from when you were 8 years old and if memory serves correctly it wasn’t that great. That is because your parents were right where you are now, but they didn’t have the power of the Internet to help.

Here are some basic things that you need to make your maiden voyage outdoors a successful one that can be repeated time and time again.


This is going to be your biggest up front cost, but done right, should last you for many camping trips. The first thing you need to figure out is are you a tent or trailer family. DON’T go “all in” right away. You don’t need a 40 foot 5th Wheel to figure out if you like camping. Either get a 6-10 person tent or a used pop-up trailer until you know if camping is going to work for your family. Your shelter should evolve with your desire to be outdoors. DO spring for some decent sleeping bags and air mattresses. You won’t (and shouldn’t) always have access to electricity so stay away from electric air mattresses. Get pads or individual mattresses that the sleepers can blow up themselves.

Among the other necessities for heading out are:

  • Headlamps
  • Lanterns
  • Small Propane Stove
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Activity Gear (based on what recreation you plan)


If this is truly your first time out, go the National Park route. Here in California we have 28 National Parks to choose from. Explore the coast or the redwoods! The best thing about National Parks is the resource for planning. Generally everything can be done online. Book your site in advance, download trail guides and activities, and plan for amenities. Some National Parks have showers and general stores.

Upon arrival spend some serious time in the visitor center and meet with the Rangers. They are there to share their expertise and tell you the best things to do and what to look out for. Tell them that you are new to camping and you will receive that extra attention you need.


A 45-degree night is much colder when you’re outside in it for a long period of time. Pack warmer than you think and pack in layers. Wool caps and fleece are crucial to staying comfortable. Plan for the unexpected like rain or frost. Extra socks are a must too. We loose our heat through our feet and top of the head.

Boots are suggested to protect your feet, but don’t bring any footwear you need to “break-in”. There is nothing worse than having unhappy feet 10 miles from civilization.


Treat it like a two-day long dinner party or barbecue and take food that’s easy to prepare over a fire or propane stove. You’ll also want a frying pan and a kettle to boil water in for coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Sausages, steaks, cans of beans and similar fire-friendly foods are good for dinner. Make lunch simple and cold — sandwiches you make and pack ahead of time. There is no better breakfast in the world than eggs and bacon, but packets of instant oatmeal are more convenient if you want to get going first thing in the morning. Visit Trader Joes and buy a bunch of snacks, hanging out around a campfire is hungry work. Be sure to keep any perishables in a cooler.

Before going to bed, make sure all foodstuffs and similar are tidied up and packed away. There will be other critters around who will try to steal your food. Lock it in your car’s trunk at night and keep it out of your tent.

More than anything do your research. Check the weather and talk to people that have gone out before you. If your first camping trip is a success than you return and you might just be setting the table for your family to follow into their adult lives.


Easter Extravaganza’s in the East Bay!

The “hopping season” is upon us and our local area has a ton to offer for the little’s and their desire to find brightly colored eggs!


Saturday, March 31st from 830-1130am!

Join the 7th annual Egg Hunt and Pancake Breakfast at YMCA Camp Arroyo in Livermore.

The whole family is invited to join us for a delicious breakfast, and egg hunts are for kids 9 and under beginning at 9am and happen every 30 minutes after. Breakfast will be served for all ages until 11:15am.

The cost is $25 per family, regardless of number of members and includes food and egg hunts.

No advance RSVP is required and tickets are only sold at the door.

Camp Arroyo is located at 5535 Arroyo Road, Livermore CA 94550


Spring Eggstravaganza

Saturday, March 31, 2018 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Enjoy springtime fun at the Eggstravaganza featuring:

Egg Hunts at 8:30 a.m.; 10:00 a.m.; 11:30 a.m., Photos with Peter Rabbit and Flopsy, Arts and Crafts, Games, Bounce Houses, Entertainment, Face Painting

Children must be pre-registered to participate.  (Parents and grandparents are free.)  Onsite registration is not available.  Space is limited for each session. Please register early to guarantee your preferred time.
Dublin Residents $14 per child~Non-Residents $17 per child

Emerald Glen Park
4201 Central Parkway


Eggstravaganza March 31, 2018, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Hop down to the Danville Community Center for a fun-filled morning of egg hunts, arts and crafts, face painting, and more. The egg hunts and activities are by registration only (non-residents may register) with timed egg hunts by age. The City of Danville hosts this well-organized and lively holiday celebration.

Rain or shine, no refunds. In case of rain event will be moved to the Community Center.

Age 1 years 9:15 & 11:30 a.m.
Age 2 years 9:30 a.m. & 12 p.m.
Age 3 years 9:45 a.m. & 12:15 p.m.
Age 4 years 10 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.
Age 5 years 10:15 a.m. & 12:45 p.m.
Age 6-9 years 10:30 a.m. & 1 p.m.

Additional parking: 177 Front Street, Village Theatre Parking and street parking.
(925) 314-3400
$6-8, ages 1-9 years, danville.ca.gov | danvillerecguide.com go online and register. There may be waiting lists due to popularity

Danville Community Center & Town Green
420 Front Street
Danville, CA


Bunny Hop Scavenger Hunt

Date: March 31, 2018

Time: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Location: Downtown Pleasanton

Explore downtown with the fourth annual Bunny Hop Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 31st from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Children 10 years and younger are invited to participate. Start your journey outside of the Museum on Main at 603 Main Street anytime between 10am and noon.* Children will receive a goody bag and adults will receive a list of clues and locations to lead them to goodies throughout downtown at over a dozen participating businesses. Parents will be given the answers to all of the clues to help children find the treat locations. There will be goodies and special offers for the adults as well.