Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Notice to Burglars

Ok all you burglars out there: my stuff's up for grabs! I'm going camping!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I leave sometime next week and get back the day before yesterday...

I mean, not that I actually own anything worth stealing. I do have a TV I bought used for fifty dollars. Both my CD players put together probably aren't worth the gas money it would take to cross town to rob me.

There's always my engagement ring, but my marriage has been over awhile now so if you're really that desperate, go ahead and have at it. But, y'know, remember that I'm friendly with strangers, meaning I know a fair number of my neighbors. And (this being Texas) it's likely that one or more of them has a gun. Just keep your paws off my CDs and try not to let the cats out. Or the Doberman for that matter.

I think my camping list goes like this:
  1. Tent: check
  2. Lantern: check
  3. Hole where wisdom tooth used to be gushing blood: check
  4. Bodily functions conducive to conversations with random strangers in Walgreens: check
  5. Prediction for thunderstorms: check
This trip promises to be the very definition of fun! Can NOT wait!

I thought I'd tackle some tags before I went, but I'm beginning to see that one at a time might be all I can reasonably handle. I figured I should mostly go with men, since I did all women for the rockin' girl award.

So, going with most delinquent first: I got the Inspirational Blogger Award from DJ Kirkby (Thanks!) and would like to inflict it on:

People in the Sun: This guy inspired me to finally, finally finish my kid music post. Besides, he's just funny.

Total Spender: Another one that inspires me to laugh. Only problem is, lately either his internet or his liver gave out. Maybe both.

Unloaded: People like Ricardo just inspire me. I'd explain, but it would sound hokey, so I'll just leave it at that.

Ms.Q: Ok, so I tagged her twice and she's not male. But as I mentioned above, I had a wisdom tooth yanked out of my head this week and her post about letting go of fear really did help. I gave careful consideration to a full blown panic attack. The words, "I'm not doing this! I'm going home!" actually went through my mind. Then I remembered Ms.Q's post and thought, "I've gotten a belly button ring and had a baby with no anesthesia, both on purpose. This should be a piece of cake!"

Homeless Family's Blog: This is probably the most inspirational in the traditional sense of the award. I don't understand 3/4 of what John has to say, but if you can't be inspired by a blog dedicated to reducing homelessness, probably you ought to stop reading and go see if you can figure out where you last left your heart. Or, go rob my place. Just donate the proceeds from my engagement ring to the homeless, would'ja?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Drug Store Conversations Revisited

Drug store conversations with complete strangers must be inherently interesting. Either that or I have a big sign on my head that says, “Talk to me about bodily functions and/or your current psychosis.”

It definitely doesn’t read “I’m good at small talk.” Whatever the sign on my forehead, it does invite odd conversations. Perhaps it reads “Unlikely to be judgmental.” I'd like to think that one fairly accurate, although who really knows.

In any case, in addition to my conversation with an elderly pharmacist about condoms, I had a fairly in depth conversation with a young man about feminine products

This guy was seeking feminine napkins, having apparently been sent by a mom, girlfriend or sister. I was going to have to say something eventually, but lucky for me he had the decency to explain, “It’s that time of the month for me.” “Yeah, you got the lucky job this month I see.”

Those products are fairly confusing even for females who have been using them for more years than they would care to admit. This young guy didn’t stand a chance, and sure enough he soon asked for advice. His only direct instruction had been for something “thin”. Just to name a few there are ultra thin and regular thin and panty-liners which are thin anyway. “You didn’t get any other instructions? Wings or no wings? Long or regular? Super or regular?” No. Whoever did the requesting had only specified “thin”.

He went for the Always brand, which I told him was good, because the sticky stuff holds really well on that brand. You could probably use the adhesive for super glue, in fact. Next was scented or unscented. I said unscented, because really unless someone’s told you that they are or aren’t sensitive to that stuff, you never know if it’s going to cause them some kind of infection or discomfort or disease or what. So, some woman in the greater Houston area lacks feminine deodorant this month, thanks to me.

He narrowed his selection. “This one’s got wings,” I pointed out, omitting an explanation of why wings might be useful. “Yeah,” he said, “but this pack is smaller” “Yeah small’s good,” I told him, “’Cause whatever you buy is going to be wrong anyway. You might as well go for less.” “Yeah, you’re right.” he agreed, and made off with something hopefully somewhat sufficient. I, on the other hand abandoned my efforts, having had enough complication for the evening.


Here’s a random picture, just for fun. Isn’t this the CUTEST excavator you ever saw?

Appropriately enough, it’s called a mini-excavator. It seems like a trick of perspective or something, but that guy is taller than his excavator! Look at his elbow: it’s really is leaning on whatever that arm thing is called.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Houston: cooler than you thought

I keep hearing that Houston has sort of an image problem, which I think is somewhat undeserved. It's true that Houston doesn't get a whole lot of tourism, but it still has a lot going for it.

It's only about an hour from the beach (okay, so it's an ugly beach, but it's got waves and sand and that feeling of awestruck wonder just like other beaches).

Houston has so many different types of food that when I got here in 1990 I was sure I had moved directly to Epcot Center. Granted, I moved here from Vermont, which was 90-something percent white and might have had more cows than people at the time.

I've heard there are professional sports teams here. There's all manner of clubs and bars and live music. The newspaper won some sort of award and it has more comics than any paper I've ever seen, which as we all know is the really important part anyway.

Houston even has a beer can house! I haven't seen it with my own eyes yet, but just knowing a beer can house exists in Houston is a joy in and of itself.

Even so, the word "cool" does not immediately spring to mind when most people think "Houston." But, that's only because they haven't been to the art car parade. There are other art car parades in the country, but Houston's art car parade is the original - the oldest and biggest.

All this is just to brag about my daughter Cassie's art car parade pictures, which Christiane Van den Abeele made into a video:

Not bad for an almost 12 year old photographer, are they? My new profile picture is also thanks to her!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Music for Kids That Won't Drive Parents Up a Wall. Mostly.

31+ Children's Music CDs that won't drive parents up a wall
Just because you have a short person or two living in your home is no reason to listen to lousy kid music! Kids will more or less listen to whatever their parents do, but younger kids tend to gravitate toward catchy songs where the vocals really stand out.

These days there's so much more children's music than I could ever list. I can vouch for these personally though. (Affiliate links)

These could almost be grown up music, if they included some drug references or clothing removal or something:

Putamayo's Music for Kids -

World Playground

Dreamland: World Lullabies & Soothing Songs

Every CD I've heard from the Putamayo collection has been SO good! World Playground is my favorite, because it's got Manu Chao.

What Kind Of Cat Are You?!

Okay, so most adult CDs don't include a song devoted entirely to mucous, but it's still really good. You can listen to all of "Some Houses". Definitely take your kids to see him in concert if you can!

Shake Sugaree: Taj Mahal Sings And Plays For Children

This can be a little hard to find, but it's worth it even if only for the title song. There's nothing like a cheerful little ditty about poverty and prostitution sanitized for the preschool set. Besides, it has "Quavi Quavi" and "Funky Bluesy ABC's" too!

Gift Of The Tortoise: A Musical Journey Through Southern Africa

I think people tend to recognize Ladysmith Black Mambazo from Paul Simon's Graceland CD. There are so many songs I like on this CD, it's not even worth trying to choose one to recommend over another.

Mary Had a Little Amp

(various artists)
Aside from the clever title, it has Bonnie Raitt and Moby! What more could you want in a children's music CD? Oh wait, that's right...all the rest of the CDs on this list.

Choo Choo Boogaloo

Buckwheat Zydeco
It's got a transportation theme and Zydeco and "Iko Iko" all in one! "Skip to my Blues" is a great variation on an old favorite.

These are exceptional too:

Singin' in the Bathtub

John Lithgow
Another CD with a great song about underwear ("From the Indies to the Andes in his Undies") and lots of other fun songs too. My older kids were in love with this CD for quite some time and the baby now listens to it ALL the time!

Not For Kids Only

Jerry Garcia & David Grisman
There might be a swear word on this CD somewhere, but I'm pretty sure it's just "heck." Besides, how can you pass up Jerry Garcia singing "Teddy Bear Picnic"?

This Land Is Your Land

Woody Guthrie has a lot of great stuff for kids. This CD has both Woody and Arlo Guthrie singing together on some songs that were put together after Woody Guthrie's death. This is not to be confused with the CD of the same name with Willie Nelson, the Neville brothers, Danny Glover and others. I haven't heard that one, so I can't really vouch for it. But it's probably good.

Abiyoyo & Other Story Songs for Children by Seeger, Pete (1992) Audio CD

Kids love it, even all these years later. The song/story "Abiyoyo" has the word "damn" or "darn" I'm pretty sure. Or one of the two CDs has it. They're still both great CDs though. The family concert has a great version of "Skip to my Lou". There's an excellent picture book that goes along with the song "Abiyoyo". I'm sure there's more Pete Seeger.

TOTALLY can't help but recommend the book too. Kids love it, and if you care even a little bit about diversity in picture books, this is your book - small town life has NEVER been so diverse!


See You Later Alligator

Hans Mayer
The CD cover looks a little goofy, but you absolutely can not beat "God Bless My Underwear" for sheer silliness. "See You Later Alligator" and "My Brother Eats Bugs" are a lot of fun too.


Stuart Stotts and Tom Pease -
Another CD with a goofball cover but awesome songs inside. We sing "Mi Cuerpo" in Spanish and English all the time in my class.

Not Naptime

Justin Robers -
The "Nine Planets" song may have become prematurely obsolete, but it's still a great song. "Night Light" is another good one. My kids have always adored the title song. I think all his CDs get good reviews, but I'm only familiar with this one.

Swingin in the Rain

Maria Muldair
A far cry from her adult music ("Don't You Feel My Leg") but still so great! My kids especially enjoy the "Three Little Fishies" song, even if it's grammatically incorrect.

Family Folk Festival

(various artists)
I guess underwear must be endlessly fascinating to kids, because this one has one too that kids really seem to like. It has some traditional favorites like "Skip to My Lou" (John McCutcheon), "My Grandfather's Clock" (Doc Watson), and "The Garden Song" (Maria Muldair). I like "Ise Oluwa" best (Sweet Honey and the Rock).

Shakin' a Tailfeather

(various artists)
More old favorites on this one ("Rockin' Robin" and "Mary Mack"), there's a different version of "Shortnin' Bread" than the one I grew up with, and of course how could you not have fun with the title song?

American Children

(various artists)
I like the title song (Richie Havens) on this one a lot and "Tyrannosaurus Rex" (Peter Schickele) is fun to act out. And what can you say about a song called "I'm Proud to be a Moose" (Dave Van Ronk)?

Good Kid

The Allards
I like their Judaic music is great, but "Driving in my Car" was a favorite of my son's entire preschool class. It's a great song to dramatize with imaginary props.

Really Rosie

Carol King
And oldie but goodie. I had this one when I was a little girl.  There's also a movie and, of course, a series of picture books written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

Jazz for Kids: Sing Clap Wiggle & Shake

A really fun CD that includes "There Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens".  So how could you go wrong?

Big Blues

All you have to do is look at the cover, really.

These have actually driven me up a wall before. A teeny, teeny bit.  But there's no law that says you have to listen to them 500 times in a row just because your kid wants to:

Don't discount Raffi just because he's a hit with the three year olds! He's actually an interesting guy once you read his autobiography.

Yes, I admit it. I did read that. I think he does all kinds of child and environmental advocacy now too. All I know for certain is that I always love the bananaphone joke on Raffi Radio.

Buzz Buzz

Under a Shady Tree

Laurie Berkner
Under a Shady Tree won all kinds of awards, but I like Buzz Buzz better. "Monster Boogie", "There's a Little Wheel A-Turnin' in my Heart" from Buzz Buzz and the title song from Under a Shady Tree are my favorites.

Coconut Moon

The Green Chili Jam Band
The title song is good on this one, "Yo Yo Rodeo", and especially "Greetings". Plus, there's a song devoted to lard (named "Lard" of all things) that kids love.


Trout Fishing in America
I don't know much of their music. I just like the name of the band.

Turkey in the Straw

Phil Rosenthal
Apparently kids have loved the song "Aiken Drum" since 1715. Why stop now? Just because of the name, I bring it out around Thanksgiving (along with "Alice's Restaurant" for my own children).

Kids in Motion

"Animal Action" and "Beanbag Boogie" are fun movement songs. I wouldn't particularly recommend this one for long car rides though.

Joe Scruggs - Bahamas in PajamasI can't help it. I like the title song.

Bahamas Pajamas ~ Joe Scruggs

Catch That Train!

If you like musicals young kids enjoy Oklahoma!, Singing in the Rain, and Fiddler on the Roof I'm sure among others. The Head of Security used to shout "CAIN'T SAY NO!" out of nowhere from time to time when he was two. If you don't like anything I've chosen, try looking at the Music for Little People label. I've yet to go wrong with them so far.

Happy using up those gift cards folks!

P.S. This post quite obviously uses Amazon affiliate links.  Please see above or click here: Disclose and Disclaim for more info.


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