Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dirty laundry

There are many advantages to living in the city, and, contrary to popular belief, you don't have to hold your nose to enjoy most of them (except on garbage days). In the city, you can avoid high gas prices by walking everywhere, go to some of the best restaurants late at night, and get a new cultural experience by simply riding in a taxi cab (okay... you might want to hold your nose for that one). However, for all the upsides there are some downsides: for example, my apartment has no central air, no dishwasher, and sometimes no hot water - especially if family is about to visit. Perhaps one of the biggest inconveniences is our lack of a washer and dryer. That leaves us with only three choices: don't wash our clothes at all, burn them, or trudge down to the dreaded laundromat. Usually we go with the third option, since we don't have enough matches.

There once was a time when we could get away with doing laundry just twice a month. That was before we had a child. These days we visit the laundromat at least once a week, thanks in part to Kyle's ability to dirty clothes before wearing them. The laundromat isn't far away, thank goodness, or we'd probably be burning his clothes too. Still, a short walk doesn't typically lead to a pleasant experience, especially on days when the laundromat is busy.

A packed laundromat is like a steel cage match. If there's a free dryer, and you can get to it first, it's yours. If you can't get to it, you run the risk of being trapped in the hot, tight quarters, forced to listen to the TV's talk show repeats ALL DAY LONG. So you do whatever you can to get to that free machine, even if you have to shove, tackle or punch several people along the way. Of course, that's the polite way to nab a machine. The laundromat vultures don't even wait for one to get free - they'll take your clothes out and throw them in a cart or on the floor if you're not there the second the machine stops.

Jennifer nearly got into a brawl with one of these vultures several years ago. It was right in the middle of that 2004 Sox-Yanks playoffs series, so the stress level was pretty high in our household. The normally mild-mannered Jennifer walked into the laundromat just minutes after her wash was done, only to find an older woman removing her clothes from the washer. Jennifer nearly pounced on her, grabbing the laundry and shouting "WE DON'T DO THAT HERE!" Several heads turned and I think somebody gasped, but the vulture didn't let the harsh words phase her. First, she was a lifetime patron and knew the only rule of the laundromat ("Don't overload"), and she wasn't going to let some young Southern girl tell her what to do. Second, she didn't understand Jennifer because she spoke only Polish.

We have tried to make our laundromat experience better by befriending the attendants. However, it's turned out to be a futile effort. We haven't been given priority for the machines. Instead, we tend to get Christmas gifts, usually in the form of a laundry bag, extra quarters, or "new" pairs of socks, t-shirts, and underwear. So while Kyle received some new onesies out of this friendship, I still nearly got a broken nose trying to clean them.

Anyway, I have to be going - there's a load of laundry waiting. If I don't make it back, please tell Jennifer and Kyle I love them... and have them run down to the laundromat in 45 minutes, or someone will steal our clothes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Welcome to DaveWeekly.com!

Hi, I'm Dave, and this is my new blog.

What you are looking at is the end product of years of hard work, in-depth research, long hours, and a mix of blood, sweat, and beers. Everything on this website has been precisely crafted for your viewing pleasure, having been screened by dozens of focus groups and consultants. Hundreds of thousands of people had a hand in making this blog possible. I am forever grateful to all of them, and I send out my heartfelt apology to those who were maimed in the process.

This isn't my first blog. As many of you know, I have been regularly writing a blog about the birth of my first child. Some entries from that blog are below. DaveWeekly is, in a way, a spinoff. It's the "Frasier," "Wolverine" and "Hannibal & Urkel's Playhouse" of blogging. It probably won't be as good as the original, but you might still find it worth checking out because, eventually, that's all you'll have. The baby blog has to end sometime before Kyle goes off to college. (To those of you who have never seen my baby blog: please ignore this paragraph - DaveWeekly is, in fact, a completely new and original creation, despite what you may have just read.)

Of course, I will still write about Kyle's adventures on these pages... it's hard not to, since he is the supreme controller of our household. However, on this blog I will stray and write about other things - random observations, day to day quirks of being in New York, and my adventures as a record-breaking Olympic swimmer/zoologist. The possibilities for this blog are endless, and that's why, in the end, you'll probably be very disappointed.

So, tune in at least once a week. I hope you can pretend to enjoy it. I will do my best to make sure that each entry I write is of the highest quality and that each joke is both funny and classy. Thank you for your time. Poop.

Father-to-be knows best

The following article was written in February for one of those free newspapers you often find on subway seats. The editor asked me to send a writing sample in a "list" form, so I jotted down a little bit of advice for other fathers-to-be. I know I come off as a jerk in this article, but it's all in good fun. The editor, though, took me too seriously, and I never heard from him again.

Anyway, since this was never published, I might as well share it here.

I’m going to have a baby boy in June. So right now I’m about five months pregnant, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at me, outside of my fatherly glow. I must say, it’s been difficult dealing with the sympathy pains and cravings, but my wife, Jennifer, says I’m handling it well. Oh... and I’m proud of her, too.

Now, I understand that a lot of you will probably be having kids in the future, and you may be wondering how someone like me deals with all the stress associated with preparing for a baby. Well, it isn’t easy folks, but here’s a little advice:

- Don’t brave it alone

Involve your wife in this experience. After all, she is actually carrying the child. I have found it so rewarding to share my pains and concerns with her. Each night, after she comes home from a busy day at law school and takes off her 400-pound book bag and 300-pound laptop, I get up from the couch and tell her about my daily struggles. I tell her that I’ve been stressing about being a role model for our child. What if I do a bad job? What if our child develops my horrible singing voice or my lackluster throwing abilities? What happens then?

My wife then grabs my hand and assures me that I’m going to be a great father, and I feel a whole lot better. She normally goes on from there, about her back pain or stretch marks or whatever. By that point, I’m usually zoning out or watching TV.

- Do the research

There are hundreds of books out there to guide you through the pregnancy, and I plan to read at least part of one before Jennifer gives birth. Until then, I just ask Jennifer questions, about 5 or 6 times a night. She’s been a wealth of information.

- Have fun

Jennifer and I won’t let the pregnancy stop us from having a good time. We’ll let the baby take care of that. Until then, we’re enjoying each night as if it’s our last. Once the weather gets better, we’ll probably go parachuting, bungee jumping, or speed skating. But I won’t take Jennifer out drinking - that wouldn’t be safe for the little one.

I usually have to enjoy that beer alone... but I always keep in mind that I’m now drinking for two.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

He's got a new attitude

Kyle turns two months old on Wednesday. A lot about him has changed since he came home from the hospital: he has put on quite a bit more weight, he now smiles often, and he's found new ways to dirty a diaper (and its vicinity). One of the most noticeable changes is in how he communicates. Kyle still rules the roost, but now he does it with a little more finesse.

That doesn't mean he has abandoned his Apocalypse NOW! cry. No, in fact, that one has become even more dramatic. As the decibels soar, Kyle twists his body and turns his shoulders so that his face is planted in his bed, as if he was shouting, "You better do as I say or I will EAT THIS MATTRESS!!!!" It's an empty threat, of course. First of all, Kyle couldn't possibly be hungry enough, since he likely ate just an hour earlier. Second, he has no teeth.

But Kyle is no longer a one-trick pony. These days, in addition to the Apocalypse NOW! cry, there's also the "Apocalypse Maybe," which often happens in the middle of the night. This is one or two major parent-waking wails, followed by a silence that could last an hour. Apparently Kyle woke in the middle of the night, thought he was drowning, screamed, realized he was only drooling, and then went back to sleep slightly embarrassed.

There's also the lesser "either the world is ending or I just want to suck on something" cry. Kyle performed this little act during his first trip to a restaurant last week. It's a lower-volume cry, and it often comes on slowly, gradually amplifying like a siren or a really annoying car alarm. It often can be stopped in time, if one is properly equipped. We were fortunate to have a pacifier with us that night, since Kyle thought my lager was too bitter.

Finally, there are those rare moments when Kyle doesn't cry at all. Sometimes he just kicks like crazy when he needs a diaper change. When he's hungry, he occasionally puts his hand to his mouth without making a sound, like he's doing in the picture I took below using a camera phone.

So, Kyle is getting better at communicating with us, which is a good thing. Hopefully he'll shed himself of the head-twisting Apocalypse NOW! scream before he gets too old. I don't think it would go over well on a date.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Kyle grows in Brooklyn

Okay, time now for more cute pictures. Take a look at this one of Jennifer and Kyle, shot about a week and a half ago:

Now feast your eyes on this one, taken last Thursday during a trip to Brooklyn's Prospect Park:

Notice a difference? If you said that Kyle looks a bit larger, you're right. Last week, our little one went through what the experts call a "growth spurt." These things typically happen several times during the early weeks of life. Kyle packed on some extra baby fat in just a few days, and he's come dangerously close to growing out of a good number of his onesies. He soon may need to borrow my shorts.

All this growing has made Kyle HUNGRY. Last week, he would demand to be fed every hour, and each feeding would take about an hour and a half. One of Jennifer's friends, who gave birth a couple months before Kyle arrived, said a mother might as well keep her top off all day during these growth spurts. That way she'll be ready for the baby's constant cravings. While I frequently asked Jennifer to consider this sound advice, she chose not to take it, since being topless would make things a little awkward around here, especially when we have friends and relatives visiting. Instead, she had me use a bottle to help out a bit more with the feedings and prevent Kyle from devouring her. Fortunately for all of us, Kyle's growth spurt now appears to be over. His diapers no longer fit like they used to, and he seems to be able to kick farther, but we won't know just how much Kyle has grown until he goes to the pediatrician and makes another attempt at wetting the scale. We have a hunch he'll show some big gains.

The end of the growth spurt has given us more "happy Kyle" time, and less "psycho hungry angry Kyle" time. That's made us all feel better, and has allowed us to do things besides feeding him, such as showering and eating lunch ourselves. Who knows? If Kyle continues to be in such a good mood, we might go out to eat as a family. I'd certainly welcome that, because I think I might be going through a growth spurt myself. I could really go for a burger right now... or maybe two.