Still in catch-up mode, but I’m hoping to knock these out this week (hoping). Just click on the first one in this wacky mosaic and read on through the first six days of March.
In my continued efforts to dig myself out of the ginormous hole I’ve made when it comes to Photo Diary, I now present you with the second half of February all in one post! If you’re looking for the first installment, click here.
A few weeks ago, my buddy Brett White and I started talking about our love of all things Christmas so we decided to record a podcast about it! You might notice I sound like I’m a little under water for the first 20 minutes or so. This is the first time I’ve recorded via Skype with the monitors on which was throwing me off like crazy. Also, I thought about cutting my daughter’s quick appearance, but it was just too cute.
And now for some show notes!
I highly recommend checking out Brett’s appearance on Hear Me Out. It’s even Christmas-themed!
The Santa’s Workshop LEGO set Brett mentioned can be seen here.
Dig my list of non-traditional Christmas movies over on Topless Robot.
For what it’s worth, right after recording, I saw that one channel shows The Santa Clause 1 and 3, while another shows 2.
Don’t believe me about Eggbert? The New York Times did a story on him a few years back.
I mentioned the MiniMate Christmas village from a few years ago which you can see above. Shot on my very first “smart” phone, I believe. As if you couldn’t already tell.
Here’s Muppet Family Christmas, which Brett mentioned and I haven’t watched yet, but I want to!
The 52nd episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast covers diaper snaps, weird baby clothes and more.
The Marah sampler I first discovered is called Float Away, the record I have is If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry. I highly recommend both. Also do yourself a favor and check out the Ditty Bops.
Head on over to KAMSnaps.com if you’re interested in redoing your cloth diapers.
Don’t get me wrong, Carter’s makes great clothes, they just put some weird stuff on their shirts.
The post I mentioned about not being too strict or too passive was written by Janet Lansbury, called “Respectful Parenting Is Not Passive Parenting” and can be found here.
I’ve got to be honest, when my wife first suggested taking Lucy to see Frozen in the theaters I was not thrilled. This kid wanders around the house while watching a movie she just spent the last 20 minutes screaming for while I was trying desperately to get an assignment written, how would she be out in public? I also am not super excited about the idea of going to see a kid’s movie that I’ll probably have to watch upwards of 40 thousand times after it comes out on DVD when I’d rather go see something with punching or monsters or whatnot. But, when Em threw the idea out on New Year’s Day, I didn’t really have an excuse, so off we went.
And I’ve got to say, she was awesome throughout the whole movie. She was a little unsure of those foldy chairs, but once we found a solid one and got her a booster, she was easily settled in. She also got a medium sized bag of popcorn — which I was excited to eat too — and was ready to rock. In fact, she was so quiet I almost forgot I was there with a 2 and a half year old for a few moments. Of course, after the movie, she could not stop telling us her version which mostly consisted of people losing gloves, people getting cold, snow, ice, a snowman and hair turning white. Between this movie and Tangled, actually, she has a big hang-up on hair changing color in movies. I wonder if she’d notice that happen in something like X-Men or if it’s only animated flicks.
The movie centers on sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) who lose their parents at a young age after Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her ice-making powers. To heal Anna, her parents take her to trolls who erase the memory of Elsa’s powers from Anna’s brain. After that, fearing what her powers can do, Elsa shuts herself away from Anna. Cut to a decade or so later and it’s time for Elsa to officially become queen. Anna meets a man named Hans (Santino Fontana) and falls in love. They announce their engagement to Elsa who starts losing it and winds up freezing the whole land before running off to the mountain.
Anna leaves Hans in charge before heading off into the mountains where she meets Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his pet reindeer Sven and an animated snowman named Olaf (Josh Gadd) who join her on her journey to save her sister. It gets crazy from there and I don’t want to ruin it, but there are plenty of twists and turns that kept me engrossed.
Needless to say, she dug the movie and in fact declared, “I love this movie” after it was over. My wife dug it and, I did too, for the most part. Early on I thought there were a few too many songs. I have a bit of a problem with musicals in general, especially the ones where the star sings in public and no one seems to notice or care. Take something like Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast, there are scenes in both movies where the lead sings in public and the townspeople join in. That’s fine by me. Yet in Frozen, there’s a similar scene, but no one in the town seems to care.
My wife actually noted something later on after we bought the soundtrack off of Amazon so our daughter could listen to it: these songs — and the film in general — are very Broadway. The songs feel more like numbers from The Great White Way as opposed to the usual Disney offerings, which is a nice change. Once I framed it that way in my mind, I was more okay with the front-loaded musical numbers.
All in all that’s a pretty minor quibble with a movie that I wound up enjoying quite a bit. Even though I didn’t dig them initially, I’ve grown to really love the songs. More so, I love the characters and how directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee played off of the typical Disney conventions in the film. I kept trying to figure out where the movie was going and was surprised at several turns, especially when it came to the resolution of the love triangle. Anna doesn’t need a man to save her. She’s as active in the story as anyone, limited only by her lack of experience out in the world. She never gives up and keeps working to save her sister even down to the very end. I don’t want to spoil the ending too much, but I loved how it flipped the script on what the trolls said needed to happen to save the day.
Much like Brave, I thought Frozen was not only a great film in and of itself, but also a wonderful example for my daughter that female characters can be strong and active, but also that they can work alongside male characters without conflict. These are important messages to send along to the next generation.
Sorry for the lack of posts last week gang, but our whole family got walloped by a cold and it’s been all I can do just to work and keep us moving along. We’re all on the mend now and this video from Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and the Sesame Street gang definitely helped.
Even with the cold and a crazy-busy week this week, I’m still planning on posting the podcast tomorrow and hopefully catching up at least a little bit on Photo Diaries. Wish me luck, I’m gonna need it.
The classic E.T. scene I mentioned in the episode.
The article I read from is called 10 Things To Remember When Your Child Gets Angry by Dr. Laura Markham as seen on Aha! Parenting.
The Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval went to the Music Together program. If it sounds like the kind of program you and your kid would enjoy, give it a look.
Finally, the Pop Poppa Of The Week is one of the few superhero dads: Red Tornado. I wrote about him over on UnitedMonkee in the context of Brad Meltzer’s Justice League Of America.
Over on my pop culture blog UnitedMonkee, I’ve talked a bit about my history with Jim Henson and The Muppets. I only realized after watching The Muppets film that most of my knowledge of that franchise actually came from Muppet Babies instead of the classic Muppet Show. I was just too young to really get into it and my world didn’t involve reruns of that show. And yet, it’s fairly impossible to be my age and not have at least a tangential relationship with the man’s work. I might have missed out on Dark Crystal and Labarynth as a kid, but like I said Muppet Babies was super influential, I was a big Sesame Street fan and also dug Fraggle Rock.
So, when the fine folks at Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment sent out a mass email asking if any recipients would be interested in reviewing Fraggle Rock: Meet The Fraggles or Fraggle Rock: 30th Anniversary Collection. Even though it had been ages since I saw the show, I jumped at the chance and was delighted to get a copy of Meet The Fraggles in the mail. I wanted to get this review up earlier, but my incredibly picky two-year-old refused to watching anything past the first episode for want of most established favorites like Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the umpteenth viewing of Brave and Cinderella.
So, I took some time out today while she napped to finally sit down and really get into this six episode collection — “Beginnings,” “We Love You, Wembley,” “Boober’s Dream,” “Red’s Club,” “Mokey And The Minstrels” and “Gobo’s Discovery” — which spans the show’s first few seasons. “Beginnings” launched the series, but also spawned about a million memories in my brain starting with that iconic opening theme song. All of a sudden, I was sitting in front of the gigantic, ridiculously heavy TV set my parents had in the living room until it died years later watching Jim Henson’s latest world come to life.
The beauty of this show is how complex and full it feels. This world is so gigantic and multi-scaled that it’s a wonder in both story and scale. Of course you’ve got your Fraggles, but there’s also the human world right outside Fraggle Rock as well as the giant Gorgs, tiny Doozers and whatever the Trash Heep is. There’s so much going on that you’re always moving from one scale size to another which varies the dramatic impact of the episode and scene. But, there’s also all kinds of technically wizardry going on behind the scenes. There’s a huge musical number in the first episode and I found myself just sitting back in awe at the Busby Berkeley-like production. So many Fraggles were up and doing their thing, plus a whole legion of Doozers. This DVD doesn’t have any extra features, but I would absolutely love to see a documentary or featurette about how this show was put together.
I also appreciated how the show’s writers tackled issues. Kids deal with a lot of wild feeling as they grow up, not all of which are covered as well on Disney or Nickelodeon these does. In the episode “Red’s Club” Red wants to start a club to help people, but the other Fraggles vote Gobo as the club’s president. This leads her on an ill-advised jaunt as she first starts her own club and then teams up with a Doozer who she keeps endangering just so she can help her. So, the episode doesn’t just deal with jealousy, but jealousy that comes from a very positive place and the ways it can get morphed.
I really enjoyed this six episode jaunt down memory lane and will continue to try and get my daughter to watch it. I think there’s not only a lot of entertainment to be seen in there, but also a lot of artistic greatness that will somehow ooze its way into her brain.
This week’s episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast talks about Sesame Place, Brave and includes a special appearance by my occasional co-host, Lucy Dietsch.
Here’s the official Sesame Place website.
During the episode, I mistakenly referred to the Twiddlebugs as Doodle Bugs, sorry about that. The book I mentioned is pictured above and was called Twiddlebugs At Work.
To check out my food posts about Disney World over on Monkeying Around The Kitchen, click here, that should give you the whole rundown.
Merida’s dad in Brave is formerly known as King Fergus, check him out above. If you want to buy the movie, do so via this link: Brave (Three-Disc Collector’s Edition: Blu-ray / DVD). I first wrote about the film here.
Mattel The Sing-A-Ma-Jigs – Pink is one of the two Sing-A-Ma-Jigs we have.
I’m really sorry about the janky version of this episode that went out. I was in a rush pre-vacation and didn’t check to make sure it was the way it should be. Here it is as originally intended!
In this episode we prepare for Disney World while also talking about a super fun party with friends, the waning days of Wizard and how that experience has helped me refrain my bad days now. Oh, and fun with baby talk!
I was actually right that a pidgin is a combination of two languages! I know this because I looked it up on Wikipedia!
If you’re curious to see what other offerings Golden Books have right now, check out the official Random House website.
If you’re interested in The Spirit Is Willing check it out on Netflix Instant, that’s what I did. If you want to read more about it, check out my review over on UnitedMonkee.
As the weather goes from great to grey, I talk about everything from nice weather memories and Mariah Carey to Mickey Mouse coloring books and how the movie Spring Break holds up as a good lesson on how to be a worthwhile person.
Here’s my wildly uninformed Sesame Street post from last year.
If you’re interested in checking out Sesame Street: Old School – Volume One (1969-1974) pick it up from Amazon.
And here’s a few images if you’re curious to see what Big Bird and Oscar looked like originally.
When I said that they hung out in a junkyard on The Cosby Show, I meant Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids – The Original Animated Series, Vol. 1 (with Bonus CD). I’m fairly certain Rudy and Theo never found themselves digging through trash.
The inimitable Mariah Carey singing “Always Be My Baby.”
A few months back, my wife told me about a series of storytimes at the nearby Cornwall Library. Since we’re not residents we had to wait a few days to sign up, but lucked out and got one of the last spots in the Tuesday morning 9:30 AM class which included kids from 18 to 36 months. When I went to sign up the lady tried to get me to do the 18 month and under, but I stuck to my guns for two reasons: 1) a woman and her daughter from our birth class was going to take that class and 2) I thought it would be better for her to be around older kids instead of being the oldest baby.
My wife’s been taking Lu to a weekend music class to give them some mommy and me time and also get her out there with other kids, something she doesn’t always get staying home with me all day. She’s told me how social Lu is at those classes, running around with the others, playing with kids, sharing and even cleaning up, so I thought that would be the case with this story group.
That wasn’t really the case, though for some reason. We’d get to every class and sit around in a circle with books set out beforehand. The kids would walk around, look at the books or stick with their parents. Lu almost always stuck with me. Then there were a few songs that were a bit over her head, but did involve clapping which she’s awesome at. Eventually we’d get to the story and then a few more songs, a game of sorts and then it ended.
I was kind of surprised at how shy and standoffish she was during the class. She gets like that even with her grandparents when they first get her for visits, but usually warms up pretty quickly. She didn’t really get there with this class, though. She’s also gotten really good at a lot of different sign language signs, but wouldn’t do a single one while we were out. I wonder if she’s shy or just wary of people. Either one she probably gets from me. I wonder if that’s in the genes or something she’s picked up on from being around me so much.
A new group of classes starts back up in January. I’m definitely going to sign us back up for that. Hopefully in another couple months she’ll be more social and communicative. I’m still proud of her for being curious about other people, approaching some of them and getting wicked good and putting on and taking off her “Lucy” name tag.
One of these days, I’ll get the hang of coming up with posts on a regular basis for Pop Poppa. One of the problems I have in coming up with topics is that parenting a child who’s not even two yet is both the same every day and always changing, which means while a topic might sound interesting one day, it’s changed a few days later or I’ve become so used to it, it doesn’t seem worth writing about. Anyway, I figured now was as good a time as any to update readers on where Lu’s at with a few things here and there, many of the topics I’ve written about previously or talked about in various Photo Diary posts.
We’re still working with the cloth diapers and wipes and my wife does that laundry every other day. As I mentioned in a somewhat recent post, we’ve been trying elimination communication which is still a little tricky. Lu doesn’t mind using her potty and sometimes we can get into a good rhythm where I get her on the potty every hour or so and she holds it until then, but sometimes my timing’s off. She’s also not really doing the sign to let us know when she has to use the bathroom which makes the whole process more difficult. Still, she’s doing well and I think she’ll catch on to the sign soon.
Speaking of signs, we’ve actually had some pretty impressive leaps in that department lately. Lu’s had the ones for “eat” and “all done” down for a while and we do our best to accomodate her when she uses them so she knows that we’re listening. She’s also got “hot,” “cold” and a few others down. The biggest surprise was when she started using the sign for “cat.” She’s been able to actually say “kitty” for a while now, so we figured there wasn’t much point continuing to use the sign, but out of the blue a few weeks back she started using her version of “cat” and does it while saying “kitty” which is pretty neat. She’s also talking pretty well and learning new words all the time, my personal favorite so far is “touchdown” which she says while raising both arms straight up in the air.
The kid walks like a champ. She’s getting pretty good at going up and down hills and is even learning how to use steps while either holding a railing or our hands. For a while, she had no interest in hand holding and would yank hers away if we tried, but she’s getting better at that too. She still gets a little antsy when we’re out running errands or at the grocery store, but even that’s getting a little better, though I’m also getting faster at the latter.
Lu still breastfeeds, but only in the morning, to go to bed and when she wakes up in the early morning. Though our freezer is packed with homemade baby food, these days Lu either eats what we’re eating or gets her own meal when we eat out. I’m been surprised to find that she’s more interested in spicy foods than my wife or I would have thought and only seems sensitive to temperature (which is why we taught her the signs for “hot” and “cold”). She tries just about everything, but isn’t the biggest fan of leafy greens and some other vegetables, but I think she makes up for it nutrition-wise thanks to her intense fruit addiction, I can barely keep the stuff in the house and even had to move our fruit bowl up high because she was taking bites out of everything from plums to oranges.
Naps have never been an exact science with us, though I have gotten her into a pretty regular schedule of going down for about an hour between 10 and 11AM. If I’m lucky, I get some work done and a shower in in that time. If I’m even luckier, when she wakes up crying, I can pick her back up and get her to fall back asleep. She usually wakes up crying if I try to put her back in her crib, so I’ve been placing her on a blanket on the floor in the living room and going about my business. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At night, she’s going down between 8 and 9PM and sleeps through to about 5:30AM. At that point I bring her into bed and she nurses until she falls back asleep. Just when I think she’s starting to sleep in more or switch things up, it turns out to be a fluke, but I still hope to get to the day where she’ll let her fall asleep for naps and the like on her own instead of fighting like crazy to stay awake.
One of my favorite things Lu seems to be learning is an appreciation of music. When it’s on she dances around and really seems to enjoy herself. She likes when I play guitar and is even starting to learn the rhythms to the songs a few of her toys play. My wife even signed up for a weekly class that the two of them are going to take that revolves around different music and instruments. It’s becoming pretty evident that the kid has good timing.
I try to limit the amount of TV watching in a day and have been doing an okay job of it, though some days are better than others. Our morning TV routine includes Sesame Street, The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake And The Neverland Pirates and Doc McStuffins. None of those shows are too annoying, though I am starting to notice reruns, something I’m not too happy with considering we’ve only been watching these shows for a few months. After that I get her down for a nap and then have the TV off for most of the middle of the day while I get work done. In the afternoon, I usually turn it back on to distract her a bit while I cook, but it rarely works. Maybe I need to just start blasting tunes!
So that’s a pretty general idea of where we’re at. If you have any more specific questions, drop me a comment and I’ll either respond there, or do another post answering them.
The video kind of speaks for itself. Amidst plenty of sleep problems and busy days of work, I smile every time I put on music and Lu starts bobbing her head and kind of dancing in place. If you’re wondering, the song is by The Cardigans and Lu really seemed to dig it.
I like to say that my first concert was in grade school when my dad and I went to see KISS, but the truth is that my real first concert was actually Raffi. If you’re unfamiliar with him, Raffi was a performer, writer and singer of children’s songs who was wildly popular in the early 80s. For Easter, my parents sent us a box filled mostly with candy, but also a present for Lucy. It turned out to be a DVD called A Young Children’s Concert With Raffi and was recorded in 1984.
My wife and I watched the disc with Lucy and she seemed to really dig it. I was surprised with how many of the songs I remembered like “The More We Get Together,” “Down By The Bay” and “Baby Beluga.” I might not be able to remember words off of the last dozen or so records I’ve purchased, but I can remember a good deal of “Shake My Sillies Out.” The same was true for my wife.
The other thing I found really interesting is how normal Raffi is. He’s just a dude in a Hawaiian shirt on stage singing and playing an acoustic guitar for a bunch of kids. (By the way, yes, anyone who’s about 30 now looked exactly like the kids in this audience when we were younger.) Anyway, my point is that, today it seems like everything aimed at kids is crazy, cartoony and over the top. I’m nowhere near an expert in that field because I still get to watch Mike & Mike in the morning instead of the Disney Channel, but it seems like from the Wiggles to the Imagination Movers, musical acts aimed at children all have to be color-coordinated goofballs who don’t seem the least bit human thanks to their over-embellishment.
I’m sure it’s not damaging, but it does seem odd that we can’t treat children like they’re intelligent, normal people. Raffi didn’t talk to the kids like they couldn’t possibly understand things, in fact he had fun with them and not in a way that comes off as fake to adults. Maybe my perspective is too skewed on this one, maybe I’m too old and I’m judging things that aren’t aimed at me, which is truly pointless (“I’m a grown man who dislikes the bright colors in children’s shows!”), but its’ just something that came to mind recently.
Last Thursday my dad and I went down to the city to see Van Halen play Madison Square Garden. We have a long history of seeing concerts together (Kiss, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, The Who and more) and it was a lot of fun continuing that. We had a great time riding the train down, grabbing some dinner at a place called The Stage Coach right across the street from MSG and the concert was amazing. But, there were a lot of dad-related things going on in my head in addition to enjoying the music.By the way, he took all these photos. First off, this was the first time I ever left Lucy with someone during the day to go do something fun. My mom watched her while we went to the show. My wife and I have left her with both sets of grandparents before, but this was the first time I went on my own. It was pretty hard. I obviously trust my mom as much as you can trust another human being, heck, she raised me, so I know she knows what she’s doing. It’s just that feeling of leaving that’s difficult when you’re so used to being around the kid all day, every day. Of course, she was fine and had a great time with Grandma, so that was all good. It’s one of those things where every time you do it, it gets a little easier.
While my mom took care of my daughter, I got to hang out with my dad one on one for a longer time than we’ve spent together just the two of us in a while now. It was a lot of fun. We had a great time riding down on the train talking about everything from football to marriage. Plus, I just can’t say how much I appreciated him and my mom setting this whole thing up to continue a longstanding concert-going tradition. My dad introduced me to Van Halen, so watching these guys rock out together standing next to him felt right. I think it’s important to keep those kinds of things going. Lastly, I thought it was super cool that Eddie Van Halen plays in a huge band like this with his son Wolfgang (that’s him on the left) as well as his brother Alex (drummer). I know it sounds crazy, but it’s almost like Wolfie was bred to take Michael Anthony’s place in the band. But more than that, how cool would it be to not only share a passion like playing music with your kid or parent and then take that a million steps further and actually perform with them? My dad and I have that passion for music and I think Lucy has it in her too. It’s cool how those kinds of things get passed on.
So, yeah, the concert was awesome and inspirational for reasons I’ll get to over on UnitedMonkee and maybe Monkey Diaries, but it was also an all around and multifaceted parent/child experience. Such a great time.
As I mentioned before, sometimes my guitar playing calms Lucy down. For a while, it seemed like she just wanted to grab the guitar or the strings, which made me a little nervous because the strings can be thin and maybe hurt her tiny fingers. Also, you never know where their hands have been.
Well, today, I played for her a few times, once actually plugged in as you can see in the above video. She was kind of cranky today and since all the usual boxes were checked off (fed, changed, napped) I plopped her down in the bedroom and plugged my amp in. She really seemed to like the song I played, which is actually the song I’ve been putting together for her for a while and only just recently breaking some actual ground on.
But, as you can see from the video, Lucy wound up being a lot more interested in my phone which I was recording her with. I had haphazardly leaned it against a shirt and while the sound coming out of the amp distracted her for a while, the allure of the iPhone turned out to be far too much for her to handle and you get to see the funny ending to the video. The kid’s got natural comedic timing, I swear.
Right off the bat, I’m going to tell you that “Baby One More Time” fails the Afternoon Delight Test. Sure, it’s got a lot of “baby” in it and might seem like a good song to sing to your kid, but as these things go, the lyrics get weird almost immediately. This one’s clearly about heartbreak and loneliness, as you can see from the lyrics (or hear in the video).
However, it does get kind of funny to read those lyrics with an actual baby in mind. You know, funny in the way that, in your head it makes you chuckle, but in real life it would just be sad and awkward. “Oh baby, baby/The reason I breathe is you/Now, boy you got me blinded.” Chuckles. Of course, the funniest line in the bunch is” Hit me baby one more time.” Lady, don’t let your kid bully you around like that!
Fun fact, one of my favorite bands Fountains Of Wayne was actually offered this song to do on one of their albums. They played and even recorded it, but didn’t think it really fit with them, so they passed. It then went on to be Britney Spears’ first big hit. So, I guess we have them to blame for still having to hear about a washed-up pop princess. Ah well, their version is still great and can be found on their B-sides and rarities record Out-Of-State Plates.
Anyone teaching children who’s this obsessed with denim, tunics and Shaun White hoodies should probably not be teaching, even a fake subject like music. Just saying. Gotta call this one a fail on Target’s part.
It’s absolutely true what they say about not being able to explain what it feels like to see the birth of your child. It’s completely unique and pretty indescribable to anyone outside the parent club. While you won’t be able to train for that feeling, though, there are a few things you can do to ready yourself for fatherhood. Assuming you’ve already gotten a good deal of your supplies and baby furniture, I highly recommend giving the following five methods of preparation a shot to help train your mind and body. Warning, they might not all be pretty, but they’re honest!
CARRY AROUND A PSEUDO BABYThe primary piece of advice I have for new fathers–especially ones who will be staying home with their kid like I do after mom goes back to work–is learn how to do everything one-handed. As a work-from-home dad, I’m constantly carrying my daughter either facing out or up on my shoulder and trying to do normal things around the house like picking up, grabbing a pacifier or even buying groceries with the other. The best way to train for this would be to get something heavy–preferably a small, compact mass–and carry it around like a baby for hours at a time. You’ll really feel the burn in your arm, but think of it like training for a sport, the more you do ahead of time, the more prepared you’ll be for game day (which is everyday, of course). Start off with something heavier than your kid is expected to be, that way when she’s born, you’ll actually be used to a heavier weight and she won’t feel as heavy. The most realistic baby-like construct I can think of would be a bag of flour with an ostrich egg for a head. If you can figure out how to combine those two things without the head falling off, let me know.
CRANK UP SOME METAL
No matter how well prepared you are for your kid on a daily basis, there will be times when she freaks out for no discernible reason. She’s unhappy and the only way she can let you know is by screaming her tiny head off. The loud, high pitched scream emanating from your darling daughter will signal a need to be changed or for food, but even when you get really good at translating the various cries, that doesn’t mean you have Flash-like superspeed. There will be time between realizing what she needs and actually being able to help. In that time, she will scream bloody-freaking-murder It’s a sad, heartbreaking thing to witness, but it’s also very hard on the ears. Listening to some old school metal like Megadeth will get your ears used to high pitched, loud sounds.
BATHE A WATERMELON
I got this idea from The Office. When Michael’s ex is expecting, he decides to take on a fatherly role. To prepare him for the birth, Dwight uses a buttered-up watermelon to simulate the kid. It’s not a bad idea. You could even use it for the first item on the list now that I think about it. Anyway, bathing babies can be difficult depending on how squirmy they are, but even the calmest, most water-loving infant will still become slippery as all get out when dipped in water. I figure trying out a bath with a watermelon will offer up a pretty good analog for a baby. If you can bathe a watermelon, you can bathe a baby.
WATCH A ZOMBIE MOVIE OR TWO
This one’s a two-fold bit of preparation. First off, ff you’re queasy about gore and plan on being around for the birth, it might make sense to desensitise yourself a bit. I recommend finding the more graphic entries in the horror sub genre like Zombie or Dawn Of The Dead. Secondly, the truth of the matter is that your baby will resemble a zombie on more than one level. She will be a slobbering, single minded creature who makes noises only found in monster movies (just replace “brains” with “milk” and you get the idea). You will love her with all your heart, but you will notice her zombie-like tendencies. Might as well get used to them with a few fun flicks.
BORROW A BABY (BUT DON’T LOSE IT)
If you don’t feel like picking up some sacks of flour or watermelons on your next trip to the store, the real best way to get ready for a baby is to borrow someone else’s, preferably while the parents go elsewhere. That will really give you the full effect of having another tiny life completely dependent on you. Food, waste management, entertainment, clean-up, it’s all on you. Just remember that you can’t just pass your kid off at the end of the day when you’re actually a parent. That would be cheating.
Good luck new dads! Any advice from other veterans out there? I can only speak for the first few months so far.
Lucy likes music, which I’m thankful for because it’s a pretty big part of my life and has been since as long as I can remember. I’ve found that she likes country, southern rock and folky stuff (as long as the guitar solos don’t go on too long) and a variety of other things, depending on her mood and mine. But, I’ve also discovered that playing the guitar for her can calm us both down when things are getting stressful.
We had kind of a tough day recently with gas pains causing her trouble on and off throughout most of the day, so a few times I tried to put on a mini concert for her to lighten the mood. I think banging on the strings distracts her and then throwing in the occasional picking of chords does the same. Nothing seems to impress her per se, but she seems to like the sounds I make, which leave much to be desired, trust me (I started off as a bass player, which says a lot). A few times, I’ve even noticed her tapping her feet excitedly against her bouncy seat.
Sorry about the darkness of the video. It’s not easy setting up the Flip in the bedroom, get her in the frame, watch the light, play and record. I really wish it was brighter, but I think you get the idea. The song I’m playing is one I’ve had bouncing around in my head since high school or maybe college. I have a small obsession with surf rock and those awesome lines bands like The Ventures wrote on a regular basis. As you can tell the parts with chords instead of notes is still pretty sloppy and I’m working that out. Anyway, Lucy really seemed to dig it at the time, which was was I was going for.
It’s a nice distraction for both of us because it takes her mind off of whatever’s bothering (or boring) her and gives me a chance to work on whatever song I’ve had stuck in my head for a while. I’ve even gone electric by plugging into my amp which she seems to like as long as I don’t go too crazy with the distortion pedals. I’d like to say I’m helping to build a foundation for her own musical journey as she grows up and discovers what she likes. Hopefully, if she wants, music will be a big part of her life and I can offer her a few things to listen to just like my dad did when I was younger.
I don’t consider myself a prude, but I’ve got to question the usage of Salt-N-Pepa’s “Let’s Talk About Sex” in a freaking jeans commercial. That’s right folks, if you’re unfamiliar with 90s hip hop, the tune heard in the above commercial is the exact same one in the video below with the word “jeans” replacing “sex.”
Weird, right? I don’t have a problem with sex being used to sell clothes by any means. Heck, if I did, I wouldn’t be able to watch television. My problem is having children in the commercial sing this strange bastardization of a song that’s not only good, but actually has an important message about being honest and open about sex and sexuality. Mostly, it’s just a damn weird idea. Who came up with this? Who approved it? Who in the Salt-N-Pepa camp gave them the okay to use their song? It’s a strange world we live in.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “How could a song called ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ possibly be one you’d sing to your baby?” Well, as any parent knows, you’re not always paying attention to your surroundings, because it’s always split between several things at once, especially if you’re trying to work from home as well. So, when I was listening to the excellent Motown collection I purchased just before our wedding called Motown 1’s (an excellent gateway drug into the Detroit Sound) and a song like this one popped on starting with “Baby, baby, baby,” I immediately started singing it towards Lucy.
I very quickly realized that this was an odd song to sing to my kid. “Baby, don’t leave me/Ooh, please, don’t leave me” just sounds desperate when singing to a three month old . It goes further down the awkward rabbit hole from there. Lots of love songs can wind up working on different levels, (mostly) making sense when aimed at a romantic partner or a family member, but not this one. The themes of love and abandonment in the song places it pretty squarely in the romantic love category, though I guess a parent could sing this one in regards to a wayward teen or older child. That just makes me sad, though.
So, this song obviously fails The Afternoon Delight Test (which is fully explained here, if you have no idea what this post is about). It’s still an amazing song sung by one of the all time best girl group of any era, but probably not the one to sing to your kid.
This one might need some explaining unless you’re already a fan of Arrested Development. If not, there was a scene in an episode called “Afternoon Delight” ( you can and should watch here) in which Jason Bateman sang a karaoke version of “Afternoon Delight” with his niece at a company Christmas party. They’re singing the nice, sweet song originally recorded by Starland Vocal Band and soon enough they get to some lyrics that turn a nice duet between uncle and niece into something unintentionally creepy.
I explain all this as a way to introduce a new feature on Pop Poppa called The Afternoon Delight Test. Sometimes I’ll be singing a song that has the word “baby” in it to my daughter only to realize that it’s a love song and therefore not the most appropriate thing to be singing to your kid. In an effort to help others not make the same mistake I have, I’ll do one ADT post a week with a PASS or FAIL grade. If a song passes the ADT, that means it’s okay to sing to your kid, if it fails, avoid the dedication and sing to no one in particular.
The first song I’ll be testing is a personal favorite of mine. It’s called “Alright For Now” by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I’ve dug this song since high school when I bought the Petty box set Playback through my buddy who was a member of some record club (hey, look who’s dating himself). The other day I started playing it and was feeling pretty good with opening lyrics like “Goodnight baby, sleep tight my love/May God watch over you from above.” Seems pretty safe, right? Practically a lullaby. Well, here’s the song:
It definitely PASSES the ADT in my book. You can scope out the rest of the lyrics here, but I don’t see anything that would make singing “Alright For Now” to your kid accidentally creepy. The line about not repaying what the subject of the song has done for the main character might not make a ton of sense, but people do talk about their kids that way. Anyway, I’m glad it passed because, as I said, it’s a favorite of mine, but also I was singing it to Lucy the other day, she really liked it and there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a song and hitting that awkward set of lyrics. Success!
Ask any dad and he’ll tell you that he’ll try anything to stop his kid from crying. In my case, after changing our darling daughter and bouncing her around or trying to burp her, there’s not a whole lot I can offer. The missus is still breastfeeding and not pumping quite yet, so my options are limited. With her still home, that option is obviously open and I’ll practically be a bottle feeding ninja by the time she goes back to work, but as of right now, I’m trying out different music on Lucy to try and calm her down.She likes the Beatles, but the one performer who always seems to calm her down–with some accompaniment by dear old dad–is none other than the Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash. For Christmas, my inlaws gave me the Legends box set, which is on my computer, as opposed to all the other Johnny Cash records I have which are on my iPod. For whatever reason, the other day when Lucy was having one of her mini freak outs, I decided to try playing Johnny Cash’s music and guess what? She loved it. Better than loved, she was transfixed. The first track on the first record of that set is the classic “I Walk The Line.” I’m not sure if it’s the staccato guitar playing, Johnny’s deep voice or me singing along that gets her or all of the above, but that one track seems to always calm her down. Now I’ve just got to learn every other non Super Hits track on the records to be in a place where I can warble along with the master and hopefully calm the kid down.
I’ve tried some other music with differing results. I was hoping the faster aspects of The White Stripes or The Raconteurs would appeal to her delicate sensibilities, but that wasn’t the case. I also tried a little Fall Out Boy because I know all the words, but she was lukewarm to them. Finally, after somewhat successful forays into Charlie Daniels Band, The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, I hopped over to the weirdly smooth tones of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, but she wasn’t having any of that. Maybe I should start her out on something a little jazzier like A Saucerful Of Secrets. I can forgive her for that as she seems to get a little bored with the solos and just wants to hear the lyrics. She’s definitely my girl. I do my best to vocalize the solos to keep her interested. You should hear me do “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” I’ve got the violin and guitar solos down better than some of the words.
Needless to say, most of my music listening has been predicated on her moods and what I think might lead to less screaming and more sleeping. I’ve got a LOT of music on my iPod and a good deal on my laptop to try and go through. She also seems to be as big a fan of Stephen Kellogg as I am which is good because I know a good deal of the words to his songs. The only downside I’ve found is that singing some of them–like “A (With Love)”–make me a little teary eyed and she doesn’t like the interruption in my singing. I’m starting to understand why people think they’re good enough to go on American Idol, especially if their kid thinks they’re a good singer. My daughter’s only a few weeks old and I think I could fly to the moon on the slightest, possibly-from-gas smile I get as I sing along to “Ring of Fire” or “Octopus’s Garden.” It’s shocking how tightly we can get wrapped around those tiny little fingers, isn’t it?