Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Referring Posts

If you click on the "Sitemeter" icon at the bottom of this web page, you can find out a lot about the traffic that this site gets.

In particular, you can find the referrring page that directed traffic to this site.

In one case, the referring page was a Google search for "the monkey that talks with his hands."

Fair enough.

UPDATE: Another reader found this blog by Googling "sweet little monkey baby carrier." Exactly!

UPDATE2: Another reader was searching for tips for first time dads, but found the tips on ironing posted below. That's a shame: I have posted advice for new dads.

UPDATE3: For the person who found me while searching for the "rug doctor that leaks all over the upholstery," I can't help you there.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ironing tips

I'm heading out of town the day after tomorrow, to give a presentation of my research at a conference in a desirable location. I think it will be my first presentation since the end of my leave-of-absence to watch after Monkey. I am sure it will be my first airplane flight in almost two years where I won't be encumbered by a car seat, a diaper bag, a lot of luggage, and a Monkey.

Out of fresh shirts and clean underwear. Today I did laundry. Tonight I iron. Tomorrow night I pack.

I am also ironing a few shirts for the Monkey Mama. She does her best to maintain a professional wardrobe, on a budget, wearing maternity clothes, during the change of seasons. Especially since she'll have her hands full during my absence, I don't mind helping her out a little while I have the iron hot. (Even though they are maternity blouses, they seem so tiny compared to my shirts. Harder to iron, too.)

A few ironing tips, for those of you landing here from a Google search for "ironing tips":

1. Iron while listening to your iPod. (This was my first time; how did I ever iron before?)

2. Use all three corners of your ironing board.
* The pointy bit is for the "yoke" of your shirt: where the sleeves and collar meet. Pull the sleeve over the pointy bit, iron what you see, and you're on your way.
* Put the armpits of the shirt into the left and right square corners of the ironing board, and you'll have a clean run at the front and back of your shirt.

3. Like so many other forms of tedious labor, it helps to have a system or sequence. Sequence is everything.
A. Do the tricky bits first: Collar and sleeves
B. Then the yokes, using the pointy end of ironing board
C. Then the fronts and backs, working your way around the square end of the ironing board. These are the easy parts.
D. Finish with the arms.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sweating a Petworth home purchase

[I left this post in a comment thread at, called Sweating a Petworth home purchase]

For years in graduate school, I didn't make any money. Then I moved to DC and got a grown-up type job, and earned a grown-up type salary. Then I paid grown up taxes, and I thought, "Wow! I need a homeowner tax deduction and first-time-buyer-in-the-District federal tax credit!"

Living in Adams-Morgan, I perceived the value of the durable transportation infrastructure (read: Metro) that had just opened, especially when coupled with the transit oriented development strategy that the District set out to pursue.

I was cool with the green line, although houses I checked out in Shaw and Pleasant Plains skeeved me out. (A girl I was dating stepped on a dead rat in front of a "for sale" sign. No sale.) Petworth seemed like a nice, unassuming place to be. I rode my bike all through the neighborhoods, at all hours of the day and night. Plenty of good houses, with pleasing repetition, and a few oddball blocks with architectural interest.

Also, the year before a friend had purchased a 3-story 6BR rowhouse in Columbia Heights (Harvard St.) for short money. Six months later another friend bought a 2-story 5BR rowhouse about 5 blocks north and 5 blocks east for the same money. The time was right for me to buy a 4BR 5 blocks north and 5 blocks east of him; if I waited, I would have to go even further north, further east, get fewer bedrooms, or pay more. So my motives were primarily financial.

Then my girlfriend -- now my wife -- relocated to DC and moved in with me. So did her dog. Walking that dog around Petworth helped me understand that this is the friendliest place I have ever lived. "How you doin'?" is truly the Petworth anthem if ever there was one: a civil greeting, complete with eye contact.

Now I have a son, who was born in the back bedroom of our Petworth house. We have another child on the way, who will be born in the same Petworth bedroom. I've lived here for several years, and I feel like I belong to the neighborhood. I like my neighbors. I like the other families that I see sprouting up around here. I like my nailgun, and all the other tools I used to renovate my somewhat-creaky centennial house. I like the prospect of a Mocha Hut a few blocks away. I like the greenspace of the RCC cemetary, the water of the Warder Reservoir, and the triangle parks that appear on every corner.

I like Petworth.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


At a playground in Adams-Morgan the other day, I overheard hipster parents comparing notes about which foreign language their little precious children were being immersed in. "She's in French school." "His nanny speaks English, but we only let her speak Spanish to him." "Their grandparents are Russian." So trendy, maybe kind of elitist and overprogramming, but possibly in keeping with the cosmopolitan nature of a world capital like DC.

But holy smokes! The woman who looks after Monkey two days a week while his parents are working -- OK, she's his nanny, although the word seems snobbily Victorian and weird to type -- is a pediatric nurse originally from China. She speaks Chinese, and not much English. When I get back from work, we manage to communicate about how the day went, how and when the Monkey ate and slept, and whether there was "poo-poo." She adores our little Monkey Man, and when he does something especially novel or cute, she gets excited and speaks in flurry of Chinese that I cannot understand.

This week she was excited to show me the words he knew how to say. He rattled off a dozen or so of them, in context, by naming indicated objects out the window or in pictures in books. When I tried to repeat some of them, I could already tell that he was grasping the tonal nature of Chinese pronunciation in a way that I was not. (My years of kung fu training are no help, maybe because I learned kung fu with Tennessee twang.)

I know that he understands many, many more Chinese words than he can say. I am amazed at how many that is. I ponder what it means to have a parallel language thought process available at such a young age. (Does he think they communicate in a secret nanny language? How much of his gibberish is really cogent Chinese?)

The Monkey Mama and I are considering enrolling him in a Chinese immersion program when he is old enough. It would be thing to do, after all.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Light blogging has resumed.

I don't have any particular reason for doing so, nor do I have any goals or expectations. Maybe it will be nice to contemplate the space we are going to make in our lives for Baby August.

March madness

Yesterday was the first day of Daylight Savings Time, and the first warm day of spring. "Time to bust out the jogging stroller," I said to myself.

It's a double-wide, purchased in anticipation of Baby August. We already had a single-monkey stroller, and no stroller with jogging capabilities, so the double jogging stroller seemed like a good way to go. It took some figuring to determine which doors of our house can actually accommodate the girth of the thing, but that hurdle is passed. (Hurdles? Those would be very tough in a jogging stroller.)

Gratifyingly, the Monkey spoke the word "Fast!" for the very first time to describe our jog together. He also probably learned how to hack up half a lung and spit it out. That will not be gratifying.

I ran again with him this afternoon. On both days, I worked a playground into the route to give him some reason to come along -- other than the thrill of sheer "Fast!"

Today at the playground, I ran into the neighborhood playgroup that I used to see regularly on Thursdays while I was a full-time stay-at-home dad. All the kids are bigger, and walking better, and talking better. I was immediately busted with the double stroller (not that we're keeping Baby August a secret). Add that to the playdate that the Monkey enjoyed with two friends at the JP2CC earlier today, and it's a good day at home.

All it lacked was a nap (for him or for me). That means he was dog tired and cranky at the end of the day, and I didn't get any work done on the paper I'm writing for work.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Square peg, round hole

You know that game with the different shaped pegs and the different shaped holes? The Monkey is not especially good at it. He's better when he's fresh, not tired. And he can get a peg through if it happens to start at or near the correct hole. But if he gets one through, it's random chance as far as I can tell.

I'm not concerned: the kid is pretty good with his hands and shapes and things. But at 21 months, I was expecting a little more.